Hi, my name is Lyle Benjamin. I’m the founder of three nonprofit organizations, 16 Things Kids Can Do, Planned Acts of Kindness, and One Planet One People.
I didn’t start out wanting to change the world, I just wanted to repay a debt. When I was a child, I had a difficult family life and I started working when I was 11 years old in New York City just to get out of the house.
During the course of my work, I met people who worked in owned other stores on the block and some of these people took an interest in me and would stop by the florist where I work and invite me to lunch where we sit and talk.
And there I was thinking why are they doing this, I’m an 11–year-old snot nose kid who knows nothing about anything and they’re taking time out of their day to be nice to me. Definitely not the same treatment I was getting at home.
And this continued with parents of friends, teachers at school, and places where I worked and I grew to realize that these people were really a lifesaver for me. I appreciated their acts of kindness so much that I wanted to become an attorney and devote my life to helping others because of the kindness that I was shown.
So after going to law school and being offered a job with the Attorney General’s Office in Albany, New York, I decided the profession wasn’t compatible for my goals of helping people.
I then turned a college sideline business into a full-service design, marketing, and printing company where I created a prototype for a national self-help magazine. I sold my printing business and moved to New York City and pitched it to Time Warner and Kable News. Both companies offered me contracts, and six months later I published “Relationships Today” the first national newsstand magazine exclusively devoted to helping people with all types of relationships: intimate, family, friendship, and work.
Over the years I’ve done many successful entrepreneurial businesses but then about 12 years ago I realize that I strayed from my original path of helping people. I was making companies look good through my event planning business but that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing to repay my debt.
So, I gave it all up and started my first nonprofit, 16 Things Kids Can Do, and then in November 2016 after the election, I realized that the country was going to go down a path that was going to get more and more divisive and people would end up dying because of it.
So I created a program called Planned Acts of Kindness, where I gamified Karma, and the more you do the greater your rewards. Over the next couple of years, I added more and more programs based on kindness, and in 2019 Planned Acts became its own nonprofit.
And in that same year, I was asked by Simon property group to create a program for Earth Week, and I created One Planet One People and over the next couple years I created more and more programs under One Planet One People so that in 2021 it became its own nonprofit also.
The problems of the world — climate change, pollution, pandemics, war, and social, economic, and health inequities — are not going to be solved by governments and companies alone, they’re going be solved by ordinary people like you and I working together on common causes with a common focus.
This decade is going to determine Quality of Life for billions of people on the planet. And like it or not we’re all in this together. We must stop the fractional approach institutions and governments use to solve these issues because — as the pandemic has shown — it simply doesn’t work.
We must cooperate to succeed. We must cooperate to survive.
So, I’ve written a book entitled ONE: The Fight for Survival of the Human Race which goes into the 40+ collaborative programs and initiatives that individuals and institutions can use to push back on these global issues and provide quality of life for kids, people, and the planet.