The Heart Behind the Power of Half

Kevin Salwen had a great career during his 18 years at The Wall Street Journal, then launching two national magazines and ultimately his own entrepreneurial ventures. He had a mansion, fancy cars, great vacations—and an idealistic 14-year-old daughter named Hannah who made him rethink his entire way of life.

It was during a drive with Hannah three years ago that she noticed a Mercedes on one side of the street and a homeless man on the other. She then asked a question that inspired Salwen to make a change that has now led to a book called The Power of Half, which the father and daughter co-wrote and recently took on a nationwide signing and speaking tour. 

“She recognized the huge disparity. Even though she had been working at a homeless shelter and the Atlanta Food Bank a bunch, this day the disparity really struck her and the injustice hit home,” says Kevin Salwen.

“She said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of a family that just talks about making a difference. Let’s make a difference.’ My wife and I tried to explain we give a generous check each year to charity and finally said what do you want us to do, sell the house? And she said ‘Yeah.’”

Incredibly, Salwen took her up on the challenge, selling his house and moving to one half as large. The other half of the sales price was entirely donated to charity or invested through firms that benefited charitable causes. What he learned from the process was that there were far greater unexpected rewards to gain from all that his family gave away.

“We had over $800,000 to use, and we took close to a year to work out how to donate or invest it. What happened in that year was an amazing process, because it was bringing our family closer and doing magical things for our relationships,” says Salwen. “We decided to write the book not to say, ‘look what we did,’ but to say our relationship is completely transformed. We’re now closer and more interconnected than ever before. You can bond your own family by trying the same, and the book gives a road map of what to do so that others may do it too.”

Indeed, the book shows many other ways that people can apply the principle of “half’ in their lives, even if they’re too young or too broke to own a house in the first place. Salwen believes the most important thing is imparting the thought that there has to be “a higher purpose and feeling to work,” and that you can’t rely on your work life to make yo “Kids find meaning in it, realize they have power and they can create their own project on behalf of something in their life. Build your own way to meaning, like cut down time on TV and online and use your free time to help the community,” says Salwen. “If you do it with a family or group, you’ll have connectedness or bonding. We are faithful people, we’ve always raised our kids that the Lord puts in  you a sense of right and wrong.  You need to be out there and realize the world is bigger than you.”

6 Comments

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qt5259 commented…

I'm not sure if that was meant to be somewhat sarcastic or not (it's always tough to tell by text alone) but either way I'm not worried about what they do with the money; this story hardly seems to be a get rich quick scheme. They are already very rich it seems, and my guess is that whatever proceeds they receive from this book will just be drops in the bucket by comparison. Also, it seems that they already have a track record of being more generous with their resources than 99% of Christians I know (including myself), so I'm sure they will do something good.

On a related note, I think I might just have to buy that book...

Norm

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Norm commented…

It was a joke. Judging by the story, I have no doubt that this isn't a get-rich-quick scheme and I am sure they are absolutely amazing people/Christians, but my point was to add a little humor and irony if they weren't to donate the profits made off of the book. Not trying to be offensive.

84,950

qt5259 commented…

I certainly wasn't offended, so no worries here. Just thought I would throw my 2 cents in there. Thanks for the clarification though, I admit, that would be at least ironic if they did not donate the profits.

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KenDV commented…

There is a portion of a sentence, or more, missing in the last paragraph. Can this be corrected?

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kevinsalwen commented…

Hey all, to be clear, we are indeed donating half of our book proceeds to charity, to The Hunger Project (www.thp.org) specifically. It's a question we get frequently (and a legit one, if you ask me).

We're encouraging people to build their own Half projects. While we don't expect anyone else to sell their house, we believe everyone has more than enough of something in their lives. For instance, you (and your family) could watch half the hours of TV each week and use that new-found time to visit kids in a cancer clinic; or you could spend half on your next vacation and use the money to help another family visit their sick kid. The options are as varied as your imaginations.

For more info, our website is www.thepowerofhalf.com

Thanks
Kevin

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