People sometimes ask me, what gives me the drive to get up every morning and take on the world, the answer is days like this.
It’s what I live for as an entrepreneur, the exhilarating experience of translating a chance encounter into, insha’Allah (God Willing), a lasting, fruitful partnership bringing together the best of the business and philanthropic worlds.
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart famously once said, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it!” Although he’s not solo-piloting a plane around the world, I couldn’t help but think of these words having hosted James Caan, a pioneer of different sorts, in our Wakefield HQ last week.
After our last meeting in Monaco, James showed a keen interest in the SingleMuslim and Penny Appeal journey and true to his word a few short weeks later I was waiting to receive him and two of his trusted senior aides at our Wakefield train station.
Following a whistle stop tour of our offices, James and I, alongside a handful of our colleagues locked heads exploring potential collaboration. We started with a blank slate and high hopes and we finished with a mission, a plan and by the end of the meeting already trawling through LinkedIn for potential recruits (we’re looking for a solid investment manager based in the North of England, is that you??)
James came to my den but he reminded us he was the real dragon. Watching the cogs turn in his head was like watching a magician, it’s no surprise he’s built all that he has. His style was collaborative, open and reflective, inviting his own ideas to be challenged, scrutinised and built upon. He spoke back and forth with his colleagues as partners, not subordinates. He quickly and brilliantly digested all the stories and figures we threw at him and synergised our vision with his passion for making a positive impact through the power of entrepreneurship.
The penny dropped (so to speak) when he looked up and casually remarked “Penny Appeal is on track to raise £22 million this year for those most vulnerable in the world… I think we can double that.” – I literally had goose bumps.
One of the gems I took from this interaction was how seamlessly James moved from planning to action. He didn’t waste time. Once we were all on board, he led us into execution mode, starting very intentionally with looking for the right people to hire, after all, team work makes the dream work!
Our new combined effort takes a whole new approach to transforming small change into a big difference. There literally isn’t anything like it in the humanitarian sector and the more our teams unpack its potential the more I’m so honoured to be on this journey with James and his colleagues.
I’m certain together we can be greater than the sum of our individual parts and I’m so excited about what we’re planning to launch – watch this space, we’re going to need your help!