When we work closely together in new combinations and collaborations, one plus one can equal three. We’ve certainly found that to be true over the past 15 years at Virgin Unite, as we have united people and entrepreneurial ideas to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the world.
It was a pleasure to join leaders from many of the organisations Virgin Unite has incubated and supported for a discussion in New York recently. We met to strengthen and celebrate the connections between The B Team, The Elders, The Rocky Mountain Institute, The New Now, Ocean Unite, The Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator and Big Change.
It was the first time getting so many leaders from the initiatives Virgin Unite has supported together in one room. It was great to see them all and bring so many wonderful people into close contact. We discussed a broad range of topics, ranging from the future of leadership to peace and human rights, the climate crisis to better ways of doing business. We heard from each of the leaders on what they are focusing their time and energy on, and shared learnings. We also talked about how we can all amplify our messages more effectively to help spread calls to action and positive news even further.
Virgin Unite’s Jean Oelwang set the scene, highlighting how these people and their teams have committed their lives to tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges. Amy Stirling from Virgin Management highlighted the role business has to play in supporting non-profits. Jules Kortenhorst from The Rocky Mountain Institute outlined the scale of the challenge facing us all to tackle the climate crisis.
David Nussbaum from The Elders urged for optimism and encouraged other leaders to step forward. I loved this comment: “Optimism is our best opportunity. Do not get paralysed by fear and keep pushing, making incremental changes to get things done.” Kennedy Gachiri from The New Now called for consistent and unwavering commitment over time. Raquel Moses from the Caribbean Accelerator spoke of the opportunities to renew and refresh the region through entrepreneurship and innovation.
Essie North from Big Change discussed how we need to connect symptoms with problems and reimagine education so every young person is set up to thrive in life not just exams. Karen Sack from Ocean Unite emphasised the need to mobilise and seize opportunities to protect the ocean and the planet. “We’ve got 18 months to take the decisions needed that will affect us for decades.” Halla Tómasdóttir from The B Team spoke of building bridges and “radical collaboration like we have never had before”.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen time and time again what magic can happen when brilliant people collaborate on projects to have a positive impact in the world. The quality of the leaders is outstanding, and having such formidable people heading up organisations is so vital.
Virgin Unite’s overheads are covered by myself and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100 per cent of all donations received go directly to initiatives we create or support, such as the ones highlighted in this blog.
Head over to Virgin Unite to learn more about their work.