Nipun Mehta is a pretty amazing guy even though he would probably tell you he’s just an average joe. He thought about people in recent history who helped transform their worlds through their generosity. Seeking a word to capture the fullness of who they were and what they did, he coined the term “gif-tiv-ism” to describe “the practice of radically generous acts that change the world.”

While you probably have never heard of Nipun Mehta, you probably have heard the term, “Pay it forward.” Mehta and a group of friends wondered what would happen if you applied this concept to a business venture. So they started a restaurant, Karma Kitchen, in Berkeley. When you have a meal at Karma Kitchen and receive your bill, the amount will be $0.00. This is because a customer before you paid for your meal. If you would like, you can then pay forward for someone else’s meal. Not only did this radical business model work – there are now Karma Kitchen restaurants in cities all over the world!

Mehta and his friends started out by asking, “What designs emerge if we assume that people WANT to behave selflessly?” Soon a philosophy emerged based on four shifts that they believed could transform society:

  • a shift from consumption to contribution
  • a shift from transaction to trust
  • a shift from isolation to community
  • a shift from scarcity to abundance

This philosophy led to the creation of ServiceSpace, a volunteer-run organization built on the energy of compassion capital. ServiceSpace has now evolved into an amazing global ecosystem of more than 350,000 members that has delivered millions of dollars in service for free.

Nipun Mehta and his friends had a radical idea. They followed that idea and let it show them the way forward. At every step of the way, they made radical choices to do things in ways that hadn’t been done before. They are showing us a new way forward for our world.

Mehta shares his story in this 18-minute TEDxBerkeley talk. Watch the video below and see what new ideas, thoughts, or inspiration arise within you.

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