Simon Sinek asks why. Why do leaders fail? Why do people follow? Why do you care? In the TEDTalk above, he discusses what sets great leaders apart from leaders. As he says in the video above:
People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
What this means is that you must clearly define and relay why you are doing what you are doing in order to inspire action. He reviews some great products and inventions and talks about who succeeded and who failed highlighting the difference between them and their competitors and each time, you see the ones who live with purpose are the ones who are successful. Sustainable success must come from purpose. If you find yourself feeling lost on a project or in your career, ask yourself why you are doing it. It has to be for more than just the money.
Alexander Mark was feeling like he had to do something. He wanted to make a difference, but didn't feel like the opportunities in school offered a true chance to do so. He decided to start his own company.
Alexander had designed t-shirts for contests and had a passion for having his own line someday. Using his design skills, he decided his company, One Hundred, would support global clean water initiatives with the profit. For each t-shirt you purchase the proceeds go to support groups on the ground. In a recent drive, One Hundred raised funds to support the International Lifeline Fund in creating boreholes in Uganda. They've now gotten two funded.
Alexander's drive and passion are inspiring. It's a reminder that making a difference means you don't have to necessarily be boots on the ground, but can use the skills you have to inspire change. Access to clean water is a huge problem. As it says on One Hundred's site, 1 in 7 people are without. One Hundred is a great solution for improving those numbers. Support them and buy a shirt today.
I'll end with this quote from One Hundred's blog post on what happens after a well is dug, because I agree with their thoughts on charity:
We here at One Hundred believe that charity doesn’t end when a school is built, or a well is dug. True charity needs to be long term, with commitment to extended education programs to help empower those most in need of help to help themselves. Clean water is the beginning; what happens after that is up to all of us.
Here's wishing Alexander and all those at One Hundred all the best.
Django Reinhardt is known as the creator of 'hot' jazz, one of the more distinctive styles. It requires dexterity and fast hand movement along the fretboard to be able to play this style of Jazz. As you watch the video above, you can see how rapidly Django's hands are moving. This is all made more amazing when you realize that his hand is partially paralyzed. Django was 18 at the time and he and his common-law wife were caught in a fire. They survived, but doctors wanted to amputate Django's leg and the deformity of his hand left his musician's life questionable.
As part of his recovery, his brother gave him a new guitar and Django practiced as he recovered. Shortly thereafter, he discovered jazz and fell in love with the style. Forming the group you see in the video, Django began playing with his new style. Even though he had the challenge of playing mostly with only his thumb, index and middle finger, Django was determined to play and challenge himself. He was passionate about the music. He serves as a testament to anyone who feels like, 'I can't do this because of x.' Django proves that even with limitations, you can innovate and rethink how something is done.
William Kamkwamba is proof that one person determined to bring change can be irresistible. At the age of 14, because he was faced with terrible famine and drought in his home country of Malawi, he had to drop out of school to help provide for his family. As William says in the video, "this is a future I cannot accept." Rather than despair and face this future, he went to the library and found a book called 'Using Energy' and decided to build a windmill so he could provide light and energy for his house.
William's family thought he was crazy. The villagers thought he was crazy as well. 'Here we are in a drought and he's building a windmill?!' This didn't stop him. Lacking materials, William gathered what he needed at the scrapyard across the street. Using the diagrams in the book as a guide, William used a tractor fan, wood scraps, and a bicycle to build the windmill and help realize his dream.
After building the windmill, William figured out how to wire his house and power 4 lights and 2 radios. Villagers were soon lining up to power their cell phones. Then reporters showed up and William started gaining attention not just in Malawi, but in Africa, then the world. By the age of 19, William was on the stage at TED Global in Tanzania talking about his creation. In that video, a very visibly nervous William says the next one he builds will be to pump water for irrigation.
William builds the second windmill and is overjoyed because it means that his family will no longer have to travel to get water. They have water at their house. All of this without the utility companies we have here, realized by a teenager who believed. He did the hard things. Having an idea is easy, but making it come to life is definitely the hard thing. You will have detractors, you will have naysayers, but they are only short-sighted and become believers because of you. William realized this.
The story of William Kamkwamba should serve to inspire any citizen in the US to action. We live in a country where resources are easily available for us to do anything. William's family was in a life or death situation, as they faced drought, starvation and a very bleek future. But, as William said, 'This is a future I cannot accept.' He was determined. He remained positive and focused even though people were dying around him. What he built was a different life, not only for himself, but for the villagers. They now have water and electricity, two things we take for granted on a daily basis.
A villager in Malawi, who knew no world outside his village, has become recognized as a thought leader and inspiration to others. Here are some of his accomplishments since first building the windmill:
- Spoke at TED Global
- Spoke at Maker Faire Africa
- Presented at classes at many colleges, including MIT
- Spoke at TED in the US
- Wrote a book about his experience
- Went back to school and finished high school
- Now attending Dartmouth College in NH, class of 2014
William's life is completely different than if he'd resigned himself to his fate. Amazing! Looking at what William has done makes it really hard for us to say, 'If only I could...' The power is in you. You just need to get out of its way. Thank you, William.