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Bobby Sager: The Most Selfish Man on The Planet?

Conor Sheils sits down with renowned philanthropist Bobby Sager at Rise Up to find out about how he's saving the world with his selfishness…

In our society, putting oneself first is often frowned upon. But one man is saving the world - thanks to his own selfishness.

Bobby Sager - who describes himself as possibly the world's most selfish man - has spent the past 15 years travelling the world and making a difference to those most in need. Sager - previously head at Gordon Brothers Group - grew up in Boston, the son of a salesman and a housewife.

Having made his fortune at the helm of numerous companies, Sager would then quit his job, leaving his old life behind to travel the world, helping others with his family.

"I grew up in a modest background - my father was a salesman and my mother was a housewife. We weren't poor but my beginnings were modest," Sager tells CairoScene.

"I got into business because I wanted to make money, I wanted to make money because it gave me choices in my life. Fifteen years ago I decided that I had made enough money and now I wanted something else for me and my kids," he continues.

"I didn't want my kids growing up as spoiled brats. I wanted them to see the world for what it really is."

During this time Sager has spearheaded a number of projects helping widows of the Rawandan genocide to reconcile with the wives of their husbands' killlers through business and helping women in Palestine to set up micro companies on an international scale.

However Sager makes no bones about the reasons for his philanthropy.

"I don't do this because of some debt to society, I do this because I am selfish. I do all of this work, travelling all over the world for long periods of time, sleeping in tents and living a very basic life because I am selfish and I want to live the most fulfilling, rewarding and interesting life possible."

And Sager's selfishness has already seen him and his family travel to tens of countries and helped thousands of people in desperate need. Unlike many philanthropists Sager doesn't believe in what he calls charity and instead he says he believes in moving to a region and learning what people really need before helping them to achieve it themselves.

"Charity humiliates people, it makes them feel small. I don't believe in it," he explains. "At the end of the day I'm still a businessman who believes in getting a return on my investment. Just because it isn't a financial return - it doesn't meant that it isn't vital. I want to see my investment work."

A brash, outspoken Bostonian, Sager has no qualms about outlining his method of philanthropy.

"People often use the analogy about teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him food, but in reality, if you don't teach him how to sell the fish then it ain't worth shit."

In spite of all of his life-changing deeds, Sager insists that he hasn't left his old ways behind, and he becomes animated at the suggestion that his present good deeds are a way of attoning for past sins.

"I don't have the emotion of guilt. It's not a case of swapping one thing for another. I'm greedy as hell, I just don't need any more money. Now I'm greedy for something else. And people better hope that I keep on being greedy because the more greedy I am the more people who get helped."

Sager currently heads up the board at Polaroid - a venture which he believes will provide 'sustainable funding' for his philanthropy projects.

Sager's mission has taken him across the planet, but he admits that he has faced many challenges along the way.

"Of course I've faced dangers and challenges along the way. As an American in Afghanistan, or a Jew in Palestine - what do you expect?"

But his approach has always been to tackle these challenges head on, and find constructive ways to overcome them. "For instance, when I'm [in Palestine] I make a point of telling people that I am Jewish.

"I tell them that my family and I are Jews and that we want to help because we feel that Palestinian people are unfairly oppressed. I want to challenge stereotypes through my work."

But Sager is insistent that a single person or family is not enough to make a real impact on a global scale. "If people just read this article and think 'Oh, that's cool' then the whole thing has been a complete waste of time.

"Unless people actually stop treating life as a spectator sport and get out there and take action then there is no point in this. The first step that we as a society can do is is to start helping each other in whatever way we can. If everybody did the same then the world would be a much better place," he says.

"When my daughter met Nelson Mandella, she said to him 'you are a hero to my Mother and Father, who are your heroes?'

"He replied 'My heroes are not presidents or ministers, my heroes are ordinary who do extraordinary things, they are my heroes.'

"We all have the ability to be ordinary heroes."

For more information on the family's latest work visit the Sager Family Foundation's Facebook page.

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