Wellness

Anti-Wolf Of Wall Street Jeremy Balkin On His Wakeup Call To Change The Culture Of Finance

01/24/2014 11:57am ET | Updated January 24, 2014

Jeremy Balkin knew he wanted to work in finance as early as age 13. He had already established his first investment company by the time he was in college at the University of New South Wales.

But on December 27, 2008, everything changed for Balkin. While climbing a rope up a 40-foot cliff (yes, extreme, he admits) he "suddenly heard this loud 'pop' noise," he wrote in a 2013 blog for HuffPost. The pop was his left humerus bone snapping. He woke up in the hospital with an 18-centimeter titanium plate and 14 screws in his left arm.

In his TED Talk entitled "The Noble Cause", he explains that upon waking up in the hospital, the surgeon said to him, "Jeremy, you are a very, very lucky young man."

"I made a vow that never again would I value my self-worth based on the money I was making," he said in the TED Talk. "Or allow my energy to be dictated by the volatility of the stock market."

Balkin joined HuffPost Live in Davos, Switzerland at the 2014 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, and spoke more about this wakeup call. "In my rehabilitation, I realized that I'm very lucky to be on this earth and would devote every ounce of my being to being the best person I could be," he said in the clip above.

He established Give While You Live, a fundraising platform to inspire his finance-world clients to embrace philanthropy. According to the Give While You Live website, its next big push is to send a team to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro while raising funds to support cancer research and prevention.

"My mission in life is to positively influence the allocation of capital, make money by doing good," he said in his TED Talk. "If we can change the culture in finance, we will change the world."

Five years after founding Give While You Live, Balkin established Karma Capital, which "matches great ideas with capital", to further his mission. After the financial crisis of 2008, everyone was asking the "what" of finance, he said, but no one was considering the "how" or the "why".

Balkin admits that this large-scale change certainly won't happen overnight. "Changing the culture of finance is going to be a long painful road ahead, kind of like a marathon," he said in his TED Talk. But being no stranger to long-distance running, he's pushing hard through the finish line. "When I put my heart and soul in something, I've got the horsepower to go the distance," he said. "This is a marathon worth running... Who's joining me?"

Watch more from Balkin in the clip above and get live updates from Davos below: