October 12th, 2020.
Welcome to this week’s exciting birthday blog spotlight! In honor of our incredible co-founder, Michael Cesar, we are taking this week to thank him for all of his work in creating and leading this amazing company. Michael works tirelessly to help make Duet a living, breathing, and growing product of a better way of giving.
If you have seen Michael speak at an event, met him in person, or seen his live sessions on our social media, you can guess where he might be from. Michael grew up in London, England and settled in Los Angeles upon his acceptance to the University of Southern California. Since then, he and his co-founder Rhys Richmond have imagined, reimagined, and built what is now GiveDuet.org. After the first trip to Lesvos, Greece, Michael remembers his first thoughts about the foundation and its creation. “Rhys and I were standing at a white board, blown away by the disconnect between what was needed versus what was arriving to Lesvos in the form of donations. We drew up a diagram that, after many many edits, became the Duet three-sided model.” In his interview, Michael mentioned their practice with cinnamon. A small jar of cinnamon became their pawn in testing to see how the model would work. If a refugee needed cinnamon, it would have to first be requested at a local market that was partnered with Duet. The cinnamon would then be registered on our website waiting for a donor to come through and make the generous choice to pay for it. Now, with a paid for jar of cinnamon, the refugee who requested it could pick up their spice the next time they came through the market. Then they knew it was a real idea that could do some good in the world. “Punch in the gut kind of moment. Like, imagine if we could actually build this somehow?”
As a co-founder, Michael has seen the growth of this company up to where it is now. When asked what his title means to him, he explained that he is so happy to have helped grow such a productive and passionate team. “Everyone that I work with truly believes that this is a new and improved way of helping those who need it, and that has been a main factor in our success.” Michael has helped to compile a team of driven, high-performing individuals that all have a passion for the subject matter, and has made this work environment a very positive one to be a part of.
“It really is my baby,” Michael explains, “it’s an expression of how I view the world. It has been my outlet for encouraging a way of life filled with respect and genuine care for others. Not for personal gain, but rather a desire to see others succeed.” Michael has put his whole heart into Duet, and continues to help make this company the fast-growing and high-functioning company that it is today. With all departments working on a mostly voluntary basis, it is clear to see that the innovation created at Duet comes from people who care deeply about the subject matter.
I had to ask him, however, Why Duet? Out of all the humanitarian crises in the world, why was the idea of Duet so important to him and Rhys? Michael grew up playing rugby, a sport that has a massive emphasis on respect and teamwork. He played in his own league but coached younger kids to play in his free time. He loved the idea behind coaching in an athletic context. “How can you make a huge difference in someone’s life with just the slightest bit of interference to encourage the bigger effect in performance?” This was his connection to Duet. Coaching is about sharing your time and working with someone to help them improve their performance. When working at Duet, Michael honors the balance between autonomy and interference.
Michael has made such a positive impact on the Duet way of giving, and I am so lucky to be a part of this team with him! As a thank you for all of his hard work, we are attempting to wipe our site clean and have all of our items donated the end of this week. It is the proper way to celebrate someone who has turned this company into something real and made it their baby! If you would like to donate an item, please click the button below.