I am very lucky to have a number of people in my life who act as mentors and guides. When you work alone as a business sometimes you need a little push and encouragement, someone to tell you are doing the right thing - or the wrong thing. Someone to bounce ideas off and offer inspiration and guidance. One of these people is Samir. We met when he came to Electric House to give a small talk to a number of small business owners in the creative sector on Creative Business Mentoring. They ranged from PR to dress makers. It was a small and intimate gathering and gave us all the opportunity to ask a few questions. At the end of the session he kindly offered further help should we want to follow up.
Samir has a fascinating career history, with a masters in mathematics, was CEO of an airline company at 29, worked for the Ministry of Defence, guest lectures at Oxford and King's LSE, founded several successful companies including Debut Contemporary, worked with Bosnian refugees and other charities such as Repossession.
Never one to miss an opportunity to engage with someone inspiring of course I followed up and at our first meeting one of the most provocative things he said was that I needed a manifesto for life (he pointed me in the direction of Vivienne Westwood). I needed a purpose and to give something back. I went away with this very much on my mind. Maybe a week later Keith, the brother of one of my very dear friends from Kenya, contacted me to say that he had set up an volunteer organisation called Gap Creative to provide art, drama, music and photography programmes for a number of orphanages near his home town of Nakuru in Kenya (coincidentally the same small town that my father was brought up in!) and asked if I would be prepared to get involved in setting up the photography arm of this.
'No' is not generally a much used word in my vocabulary, particularly when it comes to travel, adventure or photography - and particularly those three in combination. So, my flight to Nairobi is booked for a week Monday. I am booked in for my jabs. I have had pledges of over £300 from kind friends and family to purchase some cameras, printer and inks and will be setting off to spend a week with Keith in Nakuru meeting with the orphanages, talking to the kids, devising a workable programme for the volunteers who start coming out in January and making a short documentary about the work that will be happening out there.
I'm meeting Samir next week and can't wait to tell him all about it. But as he sagely said; when we open our eyes and mind to opportunity it comes knocking.