How Giving Up A Year’s Salary Changed This Dad’s Life

Eugene Cho walks the walk.

After witnessing the injustice of a $40 a year teacher’s salary in Myanmar, Eugene Cho vowed to give up his own salary for a year. Empowered by his experience, Eugene founded One Day’s Wages that encourages people to appreciate the value of one year of their own salaries in communities around the world.

In addition to founding One Day’s Wages, Eugene also is an entrepreneur, pastor, and father of three. In his free time, Eugene enjoys playing ball with his kids in his backyard and taking photos for his Instagram. Eugene recommends we fight our own ignorance by sharing a meal with someone we disagree with. Although Eugene’s advice may be unconventional, that’s exactly what makes it so powerful.


Tell us about yourself.

My name is Eugene Cho. I’m a husband, father, pastor, humanitarian and activist. I live in Seattle, Washington with my wife and three teenage children. I’m the founder and Lead Pastor of Quest Church – an urban, multi-generational church in Seattle, Washington – as well as the founder and Executive Director of the Q Café, an innovative non-profit community café and music venue.

In 2009, my family and I also started One Day’s Wages (ODW) – “a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” This past year, I wrote my first book Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

What is Q Café?

Q Café is a non-profit neighborhood cafe in Seattle featuring direct trade espresso and tea, live music, art and community events. We proudly serve Stumptown Coffee; support local artists and musicians through our art gallery and live music venue; host many groups through the rental of our space; host community events; and help collect resources for the homeless community.


One Day’s Wages has a huge impact on a global scale. How did you come up with the idea for it and how do you motivate people to participate?

I had an opportunity to visit Myanmar in 2006. Among several experiences, I visited a makeshift school in the jungles of Myanmar and discovered that teachers’ salaries were $40 – not per day, or week, or month, but per year! I was stunned by some of the injustices they faced at the hands of their government and simultaneously, their sense of hope and courage. After this experience, I came back to Seattle and shared my experience with my family.

We decided to give up a year’s wages which was more difficult than we ever could have imagined. We spent three years saving, simplifying and selling off things we didn’t need and eventually managed to save and donate $68,000 (my salary) to start One Day’s Wages.

In 2009, we started One Day’s Wages and it has grown to become a grassroots movement of people, stories and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. In six years, we’ve had thousands of people from over 44 countries give over $2.9 million dollars to support our work.


What are some of the most pressing challenges our world currently faces? How can we go about solving them?

So much to say here but let me just say this: There’s so much hatred, fear, and division in our cities, nation and around the world. I know it sounds very simplistic and I’m not suggesting that this is the cure-all but one of the main reasons why there’s so much fear and misunderstanding is that we don’t know one another. We fear what we don’t know. We fear who we don’t know.

So, my advice is very simple: Don’t be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then, listen. Really listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human.

Finally, I challenge people to eat a meal with someone they disagree with on an impassioned issue. It may not change you but it will build relationships that we desperately need.

Why did you join 

  1. It’s beautiful. It really is. So easy to create and yet, so beautiful.
  2. It’s a simple but substantive way to share my story in one page.
  3. It helps foster community. Not only do I love sharing my story but also learning the stories of others.


Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.

One response to How Giving Up A Year’s Salary Changed This Dad’s Life

  1. Eugene, you are a great man. You make this world more wonderful because of your strong belief on helping others out.

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