Meet Dr. Paul Polak (NYT: subscription may be required). Born in Czechoslovakia. Escaped from Nazi anti-Semitism with his family to Canada, about which he says, “Pretty much anybody could see what was coming. My dad said, ‘There’s going to be hell to pay soon,’ and made plans to escape. But when he tried to tell our family and friends, they said things like ‘But what would we do with the furniture?’ I got from him an eye for seeing the obvious.” Having grown up hearing similar stories, that alone just killed me.
Goes to medical school. Becomes a shrink. Makes a fortune in real estate in his spare time (I hate people like this!). And for the past 30 years, he’s devoted his life to inventing and marketing devices that make a real impact for impoverished people in developing countries. His take on operating like a business vs. operating like a charity is eye-opening. And he interviews hundreds of families living on $1 a day ever year. Why? “Any businessman knows this: You’ve got to talk to your customers.”