Since starting my own business a year ago, I have been asking myself this question quite a lot. After a decade of working in the charity and human rights sector where I was so solidly defined by the causes I was working on, it was daunting to figure out what I was about now.
Of course, my values and what I believe haven’t changed. Yet, sometimes you can get so caught up in defining yourself by the opinions of others that you constantly feel like what you do is not “worthy” enough – I was definitely guilty of this.
I’ve been working with an amazing business coach for the last few months and she has helped me work through my own assumptions and misconceptions about my new work. I was overwhelmed by the feeling that what I was doing wasn’t good enough – that I was wasting all my education and that I had “sold out” by no longer dedicating myself to a single cause. I’ve started to realise that my academic background and years of working for social change have given me an incredible foundation and understanding of the world around me. It is precisely this knowledge and perspective that I bring to my work now: this is my USP and also what drives me in my business.
The other day, I saw this tweet and it crystallised what I have been thinking for a long time…
Ideas that can benefit the world are often complex and difficult to present in ways that are simple and clear for everyone to understand. Increasingly, I see that divisive and negative messages – messages of fear and hate – are more easily communicated. This realisation can be seen in both the Brexit result and the election of Donald Trump and more widely the ongoing denial of climate change, anti-migrant sentiment and demonization of the poor. These are all complex problems that people spend years trying to understand and research, and the answers experts come up with aren’t so simple to communicate. The solutions are often presented in inaccessible ways that only appeal to an “elite” or “expert” audience and the logical parts of our thinking rather than our emotional and symbolic values.
I want to use my skills to help progressive change makers communicate complex messages in a simple and effective way. To bring world-changing ideas to life by empowering diverse and unheard voices to step up and be able to have a positive, global impact.
Bringing to life complex and important ideas is my purpose and now I see clearly that it is desperately needed. I believe that if more voices – both in number and in diversity – can fill our public and private spaces with clear and simple but nuanced and accurate messages then there is a real chance to change the path we are all on. This realisation is the reason I believe in TED and why I’ve spent the last 6 years creating a platform with TEDxEastEnd where new audiences can hear these diverse and compelling voices. However, now, I feel I can take this further into my professional work with individuals, charities and companies. Whether it is public speaking coaching, helping people craft compelling stories, or working with companies to curate events that give a platform to more than just the usual suspects is my contribution and I’m proud of it.