The things I love most about doing what I do are the amazing people I get to meet, no two days are even close to being similar and the exposure to a countless stream of world changing ideas.
I’ve always been a natural connector and constantly looking to learn from new and strange sources. The Coethica social media rollercoaster of the last few years took me from a pretty isolated laptop to a whole new global community of friends, colleagues and connections – all with that similar values set that I’d craved for so long. It’s only now comfortably coming to terms with how to have a productive relationship with so many people!
Occasionally though, it takes a perspective on the entire planet to stumble across fantastic people and concepts much closer to home.
Meet Chris Arnold (@CJASmallerEarth), a Liverpool based entrepreneur that is responsible for Your Big Year,
amongst other projects and businesses. I”d heard about Chris and his role as Founder of Camp Leaders through a local non-profit I was helping, and whilst impressed with the apparent success of Camp Leaders I didn’t know much else. I really noticed Chris at an event I’d attended to hear Philip Blond (author of Red Tory and head honcho at Respublica) speak at not long after the ‘Big Society’ concept was unleased on the UK politcal stage by David Cameron. At this grand event held at Liverpool’s architecturially stunning Anglican Cathedral (the traditional looking one not Paddy’s Wig Wam) Chris was the side act promoting something called Your Big Year.
Chris is a seriously cool guy; understated, driven and very focused. Upon finally catching up with Chris to say hi and find out more about our parallel missions I was amazed to hear what Smaller Earth, and in particular, what Your Big Year actually was. Chris is big on leadership, entrepreneurship, education and citizenship – abundantly clear through all of his projects.
Whilst Chris’ resume is impressive, Your Big Year stands out a mile, or to be more accurate, 25,000 miles. YBY is a competition run through Smaller Earth to offer a year long trip across 5 continents to meet community and world leaders. As prizes go, I can’t think of a better one I’ve seen anywhere.
The latest competition has seen over 60,000 applicants from 221 countries (that’s more countries participating with us than the Olympics and the UN), Chris and Smaller Earth have built an inspiring competition to positively impact the world.
2012 also sees the final of the YBY event integrated into the Global Entrepreneurship Congress which includes Sir Richard Branson and Sir Terry Leahy to be held in Liverpool in March.
Last year’s finalists were spectacular individuals aged between 18 and 51, with the two winners (Carielle Doe from New York and Michael Teoh from Malaysia) having just rounded off their trip. Read about their life-changing year and the incredible and sometimes famous people they have met, and the rewarding projects they have worked on.
I also would recommend checking out Michael’s Facebook pages including his appearance on CNN and meeting Ted Turner!
The story begins again for the new winners on March 15th and I’m already jealous.