When our ad ran on Hulu in late November, we got a couple of emails from people that thought our work deprives Americans of opportunity. Some used very strong language:

from nullJoe ****** <joe***@verizon.net>
to nullinfo@samasource.org
date nullSun, Nov 22, 2009 at 7:00 PM
subject nullYour company
mailing list null<info.samasource.org> Filter messages from this mailing list
 
hide details Nov 22

I am about sick and tired of hearing about all these companies like yours that take work that could help our country and take it away from us to give to other countries.  The USA is falling apart because of egotistical, money hungry assholes that care more about finding ways to make more money no matter what it does to the rest of us!  So as far as I’m concerned bring the work to us or keep your ads off of our AMERICAN television systems!

 
 
When you put your heart and soul into a job that pays nothing, takes up every ounce of your energy, and doesn’t even give you equity, emails like this one really hurt. So, against the advice of my colleagues, I wrote back:
 
Reply

 

null

leila*****@gmail.com ✆

 to Joe, info

show details Nov 22

 

Dear Joe,
We are a nonprofit helping the poorest people in the world, including low-income entrepreneurs in the US. If you’d like to engage in a constructive dialogue about how we could help more Americans, please let us know — we’d be happy to.
Best wishes,
Leila

 

Admittedly, it’s probably not the best use of a CEO’s time to respond to angry internet TV watchers, but there was something about Joe’s message that really got to me. Many people think that work generated by an American company must be done by Americans, or else we’re somehow hurting our economy. I don’t get it. Why should people assume that giving work is a zero-sum game?
 
Anyway, three days later, we received this:
 
Reply

 

null

Joe *******

 to me

show details Nov 25

 I live in Ohio which has one of, if not the highest unemployment rate in the country.  I have been looking for work unsuccessfully for over a year.  There is an old K-Mart building in my town that would be perfect to renovate into a building that would suit the needs of your company perfectly, which would in turn provide many jobs for my area.  If there is anything you could do to get this going, it would be greatly appreciated!  I appologize for my previous e-mail, but I hope you can understand the reasoning behind it.

Thanks
Joe ******

 

Now Joe is investigating ways to start a Samasource program in Ohio. I haven’t heard from him in a while, but I think this is pretty cool.