Your First Million


Long before we overpopulated the planet to within a hair’s breadth of 7 billion people, there emerged a “million meme” that likes to attach itself to an amazing variety of events and actions. I think million-man marches and million-signature campaigns are the top two.

It’s been my opinion from the start that size, and size estimates, are less relevant than people think. I often remind people of the Margaret Meade quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. Or I ask them to consider the events which snowballed into the ouster of Ben Ali from Tunisia, after years of unhappiness and sporadic protests, largely because of the focus of attention on the actions of just one young man, Mohamad Bouazizi.

While most people listen to my “small is good, too” theories, it’s clear they do still like the big numbers. And the media, objects of lust for all activists trying to garner attention for their cause in an increasingly competitive and often hostile environment, the media like the big numbers very much.

So, how can you get your first million?

The simple answer is: two by two. To begin, you need to find two highly committed people, with enough integrity that they honor their commitments, and have them agree to do two things. Sounds easy, but you might be surprised (or not, if you’ve been campaigning for longer than say, a week) at how few people have the stamina to get all the way to the submit button without their attention wandering, or the latest must-see kitten farting video distracting them from their declared intention to sign your petition.

If you don’t pick the right two people in step one, step two will be really difficult, if not impossible. Because step two is, they also have to find two people that are enough like them to also sign the petition, and to also recruit two more of their ilk.

“Ah,” you say, “it’s never going to work doing it two at a time!” In fact, the numbers are arbitrary. You could use 3, 4, 5, etc and if every person is fully committed and completes both steps, you will reach a million.

The math is simple:

You recruit 2 – they recruit 2 more each (+4) – who recruit 2 more each (+8).. once your original action has been repeated 20 times, you’ve passed your first million!

How do you get started?


  1. Pick the activity (examples: joining a group, voting in an online poll, attending an event, signing a petition, posting a tweet, sending an email, etc – simple actions are best)
  2. Find those two special people who are almost as good as you
  3. Explain the idea to them ( or show them this article!)
  4. Get their agreement
  5. Arrange to contact them again to get their confirmation that they did complete both steps.
  6. Remind them to get confirmation from their two contacts
  7. If one or both fail, repeat until you have successfully recruited two people who complete both steps



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