Meet the Little Artist Raising Money for People in Need

Today in my Do Good 365 series, meet a little girl with a big heart who’s using her talents and ideas to make a difference in the people’s lives. She’s quite the social entrepreneur and you can support her work by purchasing her paintings from her website!

Read her story below and don’t forget to Like my page on Facebook (assuming you’re on there) by clicking the link below: https://www.facebook.com/dogood365

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Jack Ma’s Creating Many of China’s Jobs and Boosting E-commerce

Jack Ma (Ma Yun) is the founder of Alibaba, one of China’s and the world’s most valuable companies at an estimated worth of $235 billion. It’s pretty impressive when you consider that Ma founded the e-commerce giant with $60,000 in angel investment from 17 friends. The idea for Alibaba came to Jack Ma when he visited the US for the first time in the 1995 and was introduced to the internet. He typed the word “beer” and the search engine turned up no results related to China. His first search was as random as they come, but highlighted a bigger opportunity that no one had yet capitalised on in China.

Alibaba's headquarters located in Hangzhou, China
Alibaba’s headquarters located in Hangzhou, China

Ma would bring the internet to China and pioneer online shopping for anyone with net access. He developed and launched an escrow service called Alipay in 2004 with no transaction fees bringing consumers and businesses together. On September 19, 2014, Jack Ma took the company to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) raising $21.8 billion in its debut, placing it as the biggest U.S.-listed IPO in history.

Inside the offices of Alibaba
Inside the offices of Alibaba

Thanks to Ma’s vision, the Alibaba Group has grown from 15 employees to 30,000 in 16 years. Ma has stated that the company has directly and indirectly created 40 million jobs. At just age 50, the self-made tycoon has already amassed a net worth of $30 billion and has no plans of slowing down now. He’s come a long way from growing poor and being rejected from numerous jobs to creating an e-commerce empire. I’ll be watching to see what Ma does next in the world of business.

Social Enterprise, Solarbox repurposes London’s iconic red phone booths with ‘green’ tech

“Allo! Allo! This is London calling!” — Britain’s bright red phone booths have been repurposed and painted green. It’s one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen for what can almost be classified as relics. With the United Kingdom having approximately 83,100,000 mobile (smart) phones in use and a penetration of 62.2% in 2013, phone booth usage has declined.

Solarbox was founded by two young entrepreneurs and former students of the London School of Economics, Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenney in June 2013. It was funded by UnLtd, LSE Entrepreneurship and Siemens.

The social enterprise aims to transform “disused telephone boxes into free solar powered charging points” for smartphones. You heard correctly; it’s FREE! If you are wondering who will foot the bill for energy consumption, well remember it’s solar powered.

Solarbox’s business model revolves around partnering alongside established community (30%) and commercial-based businesses (70%) that will pay to advertise to users of the service. The ads are displayed on a tablet housed inside the booth. The founders have stated that they want to ensure advertisements are “short, fun and exciting”. Hopefully that means they are no longer than six seconds!

From a graphic designer’s perspective, I think they have a clean and simple logo that successfully communicates part of their goal. As an urban planner and entrepreneur, I am fascinated with what both Harold and Kirsty have done. In one go they have managed to promote upcycling, green technology, urban design, historical preservation, and social integration all with an old phone booth; impressive stuff.

The first solarbox was launched on October 1st, 2014 with plans to introduce another 10 throughout the London streets by the end of 2015. Solarbox will open every day of the year between the hours of 5:30am to 11:30pm. Of course, all the liability for charging your smartphone is on you if it gets damaged or stolen, so safety first.

Here’s a feature on the solarbox with its co-founders:

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10 Ways for You to Approach a New Year of Business

The start of a new year can be both exciting and daunting (mostly the latter) as you again set out your goals for the next 365 days.

I prefer latching on to the excitement of a new beginning as it comes with energy, positivity and a renewed purpose. Look ahead to the unforeseen and relish the thought of the innumerable opportunities that await you and your business venture.

Appreciate each day that you are given and use every minute to cultivate new habits that will help to propel you forward. Read more.

Life is filled with unpredictable moments and even the best laid plans sometimes get thwarted. Do not be deterred by disappointment. It’s all a part of the journey and the upside is, each one of those bad moments comes with its own valuable lessons.

In my previous blog I shared entrepreneurial lessons I had deciphered from Virgin Founder Richard Branson’s autobiography, ‘Losing My Virginity’. Here are 10 more that I picked out to help both you and your business thrive in 2015 in no particular order:

  1. Your reputation is the most valuable asset you will ever acquire; protect it;
  2. In order of importance, your employees come before your customers;
  3. Know when your luck has run out and walk away with your life intact;
  4. You will be more passionate about a business venture when it involves fun;
  5. Part ways with business partners and save your friendship when your singular vision for the future become different;
  6. A parachute and a life jacket are good for longevity in business;
  7. Start small and scale as you see the opportunities;
  8. Bootstrap (fund) your own projects when you cannot get any loans or raise venture capital;
  9. Build a brand, not just a company;
  10. Growth is not achieved in a straight line, but a series of short advances and retreats.

12 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Richard Branson’s Autobiography, Losing My Virginity

As some of you who follow my blog and social media accounts (via Facebook and Twitter) would realise, I am a big admirer of Sir Richard Branson. I’ve been a loyal reader of his blogs on the Virgin.com website, tweets, YouTube videos, and magazine contributions through Entrepreneur Magazine. I have learned, like many others in the world, a great deal of valuable business lessons that have helped me to grow my own start-up, Phresh Ideas and Designs established in October 2010.

The updated autobiography is available on Amazon
The updated edition is available on Amazon

I have never been so big on receiving gifts as much as giving them, however, this year I was willing to be the receiver after catching sight of what was to come my way. This was the first time that I had read one of his books and my wife was gracious enough to get it for me as a Christmas gift. Add ‘Losing My Virginity’ (The Autobiography) by Richard Branson on your list of books to read. It’s an incredible combination of life and business lessons. Having spent the past three days leafing through 573 pages of text and private collection of photographs and a few cartoons, I completed the book. I can happily say without reservation that it was time well invested. There’s nothing quite like acquiring knowledge from those more experienced in a specific industry or space than you are.

“What goes up must come down” was said by Isaac Newton and has since become easily one of the most popular quotes to date. This quote can be applied to everything that happened to Richard Branson through the highs and lows of his entrepreneurial career. From the day he started his first magazine, Student as a teenager in 1968 to creating a very “hip” (cool) record label, Virgin Records in his twenties was all very impressive. Consider too how he started Virgin Atlantic by leasing a single Boeing 747-200 for a year within two decades became one of the world’s favourite airlines. Virgin even successfully challenged “monopolies” like British Airways (10 years their senior) while they were at it.

Richard Branson in a take-off pose with one of his Virgin Airlines plane in the background
Richard Branson set for take-off with Virgin Atlantic in the background

It seems following your instincts has tremendous value and being extremely decisive on what looks like a worthwhile project or business opportunity is the characteristic for success or failure.

These days he spends his time exploring the limits or lack thereof in the future of space travel and space through his company Virgin Galactic. While pursuing “the final frontier”, Branson manages to focus on global warming and climate change issues exploring new sustainable fuels for aviation and cleaner energy through Virgin Green Fund. Through his interest in using his influence to solve social, economic and political challenges on a global scale, he was able to gather some of the world’s most influential leaders, The Elders. Former South African President Nelson Mandela was an original supporter in this initiative up until the time of his death.

The future of space tourism travel unveiled
The future of space tourism travel unveiled

To most, the model of the Virgin Group almost seems to be as unorthodox as any Fortune 500 company that has ever existed. It’s an ecosystem of companies in there hundreds as opposed to one gigantic entity. In hindsight, a combination of destiny and design makes Branson’s empire perhaps one of the best approaches to growing a start-up.

I sometimes look at my own life and wonder if I will ever learn to take more risks and go against the status quo, all while following my interests. So far I have accomplished a great deal as an entrepreneur through freelancing as a graphic designer. I can see where maybe I should pivot from being primarily a service-oriented business to one that is largely product-oriented. That way I can pull off earning more revenue even when I am asleep.

virgin-records
Branson sits in the window of one of the earlier Virgin Records store, London

Sir Branson started off the first Virgin business in 1970 (Virgin Mail Order) selling discounted vinyl records with a small team of two and grew his business pursuits into a team of 50,000 people strong in just 40 years. Here are 12 lessons I learned from Richard’s autobiography:

  1. Lead by example in everything you do.
  2. Learn to negotiate good deals.
  3. Welcome competition, but never let them walk all over you.
  4. Follow your interests and make them a reality.
  5. If there is a market with two dominant players, it can use a third “to stir up the pot”.
  6. Understand the value of your influence as a person and use it for good causes.
  7. Some of the best business deals are done outside of the business environment, like over lunch.
  8. Keep reinventing yourself.
  9. Trust your instincts; that gut feeling you get will steer you in the right direction.
  10. Life is better with family and great friends.
  11. You must take a lot of risks to get to where you want to be.
  12. Always keep a notebook and pen handy to take notes;

Bonus lesson – always protect the downside (risks) of a startup venture.

We should all make a go at growing our businesses. We have nothing to lose, but opportunities. The Christmas holiday was here and then it disappeared without a trace. Here’s to hoping you all enjoyed yourself with family and friends and got the gifts you wanted. The New Year is just a few days away, so here’s to wishing you the very best for 2015.

How One Practical Entrepreneur Followed His Passion All the Way to the Bank

Until 20 minutes ago (December 15th @ 7:22pm) I had no idea who Magnus Walker was. Now I’d describe him as an inspiration; a man who followed his dreams without hesitation and fear.

I was just browsing YouTube like I’ve always done looking for interesting things to watch and decided I’d look at some TEDx videos. The title “Go with your gut feeling” caught my attention.

I sat and listened to someone who if judged by his appearance alone, you’d probably not be able to guess his story. This guy, however, is one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever had a chance to hear. From writing a letter to Porsche at the age of 10 wanting to be their designer, to moving his life from Sheffield, England to Los Angeles, California via ‘Camp America‘.

He’s gone with his gut feeling his entire adult life. It’s taken him on some adventures that makes you realise that when you pursue what you feel you should be doing, life has a way of making it happen. Magnus’ best insight to me was when he said, “success really is the freedom to do whatever you want to do”.

Call it “luck” like he has, or call it a combination of vision and aspiration. Whatever you call it, I call it success.

Watch Magnus’ TEDxUCLA delivery of his unbelievable ride through life. Video’s below.

My T-shirt Campaign Launch on Teespring.com

I’m trying to reach my goal of selling 50 t-shirts.

Yesterday I discovered www.teespring.com where I created and launched my own campaign. It’s basically a crowdfunding approach and I’ll need you to help me out. I only need five (5) backer to get my design printed with your pre-orders. My campaign will end December 15th! I’m hoping you’ll be one of my backers.

‘Do good’ is a simple mantra to live by and a daily challenge to yourself to do at least one kind act for another being. Good will always come back to you (Karma). My design also features a tick or check mark to signify the deed’s been done. Lowercase was used to complement the image.

Design will be screen printed on American Apparel Crew. Product features the following:

Fit: Fitted Unisex Tee | Fabric: 100% ringspun combed fine jersey | Details: Soft, premium fabric | Sizes: XS to 3XL

View it below and hover over design to see the back. This is why we have turned to you and WordPress. With your support I can have my t-shirt made.

3 Big Dreamers Who Became Fearless Doers!

This past week I have learned some valuable lessons from three personalities from the world of business and the land of dreams through very brief interviews via Twitter. The challenge and the fun part of doing these interviews using tweets, is that the “tweeterviewee” [I made that up] only has 140 characters per tweet.

Cedella in one of her t-shirt designs inspired by her father, Bob Marley’s track of the same name

First, Cedella Marley, internationally-recognised fashion designer and daughter of the late great Bob Marley (Reggae Legend), shared with me some important lessons. Cedella professes doing what you love, following your passion and making it a reality after she spoke about her days with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. One of her most recent work (seen globally) was Jamaica’s Olympic Collection for @PUMA in London 2012.

Sandals and ATL Group CEO, Adam Stewart

My “tweeterview” with CEO, Adam Stewart of the Sandal Resorts International (SRI) brand, echoed that success only comes with a tremendous dedication to hard work and highlights how the media can sometimes trivialise the road to success by only showing “the glitz and glamour” perspective.

The final tweeterview involved notable fashion designer Lubica Slovak, known for her signature Lubica flower applique. She stated that her competitive advantage comes from doing what she loves and loving what she does. She proved too that inspiration is indeed all around us and that passion is secretly and obsession as well. In short, she has a passion for fashion.

Lubica after her showing at The Collection Moda 2013

You can never learn to be inspired by the uninspired, so why do you think you can be a dreamer when you surround yourself with people who never take the time to put their head amongst the clouds.

Dream BIG and live fearlessly!

To follow any of these personalities tweeterviewed, click on there Twitter handles below. See also their tweeterviews (below).

@cedellamarley | @AdamStewart | @LUBICAfashion

Editor’s Note: Updated on May 3, 2015

Tweeterviews
3 questions tweeted & 4 tweets with answers.

Don’t Be Afraid You’ll Miss A Note Tooting Your Own Horn!

I am a member of the ‘Graphic Illustration Professionals’ group on Linkedin.com. The following question was asked “I love design, but hate self promotion. What are some fields that maximize a designers’ creative passion, without spending so much time trying to get noticed?”. Here was my response to the person that asked. This may help you if you are an Entrepreneur/Freelancer.

I think a lot of professionals face that issue because of the fear of looking as though you are greater than everyone else thinks you are, but the truth is if you’re not acknowledging that the work you do as a designer is great work, then sometimes people are not going to be noticing you.

I will be the first to admit that while humility is a wonderful characteristic to have, there is nothing wrong in highlighting to people that you are pretty good at what you do. If you look at some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world you will see that they spend millions on marketing telling everybody just how great and wonderful they are and that their product and company is the leader and number one in this industry/sector or space.

With that being said, there are still several approaches to getting noticed and one of those is to be seen as an ‘expert’ in your field. Give advice for free unless your hired. Become an “industry leader”. This could be done via your own blog (WordPress for e.g.). When people see that they can look to you for design advice, they will also begin to look at your work. Ask for testimonials from clients and have them sing your praises. Get referrals; that allows you to be exposed to others who may like your work. Share interesting articles via Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. It is also advantageous to comment on other designers work. All the best man!