“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world; the unreasonable persist in trying to adapt the world to themselves. Therefore all progress depends on unreasonable people.”
- George Bernard Shaw.
Sir Bob Geldof tells a brilliant story. The point can be a little elusive, however. Don’t get me wrong, he was poignant, interesting and charismatic. But when he walked off the stage at the sold-out Business Chicks luncheon I found myself slumped slightly, humming Cilla Black’s brilliant first line of the title track from the movie Arthur, “What’s It All About?”
When I turned to the people sitting next to me – I received a similar reaction.
My new lawyer friend to the right said: “I’m just not sure what the point was. Or what he was building up to.”
My unemployed tech marketing specialist mate on the left said: “Perhaps it was one of those talks where the speaker doesn’t provide the answers and everyone walks away, ponders what they heard, then comes to their own conclusions and realisations.”
He takes a gallant side step from the traditional beginning, middle and end storytelling style the movie business has trained our minds to expect. His style is fluid, un-anchored, undisciplined, and yet still strangely impactful.
Sir Bob doesn’t have the answers. Sir Bob is encouraging us to think.
He was great at rattling off stats. Or maybe I was just trying to get down as many points as possible and single lines of data are easy for my brain to retain and process:
- 42 per cent of homes in Spain have no income earner.
- 63 per cent of people in Spain under the age of 23 are unemployed.
- One in five Americans rely on food stamps to eat.
- Seven of the ten fastest growing nations in the world are African.
These are impactful stats. They are big, scary numbers and Sir Bob lobbed them at us with conviction. Pausing after each one to give us a moment to take in the information. Or in my case, write it down. Then eyes back to Bob.
“Suddenly I was Mr Bloody Africa…”
It was 1984. The popularity of Sir Bob’s band, the Boomtown Rats, was beginning to wane; his interest in Africa was piqued. He told of how he was watching the 6pm BBC News bulletin one night with Paula. Fifi had just been born. All of a sudden the television screen was filled with scenes of the famine crisis in Ethiopia. 30 million people were dying. Michael Buerk, the journalist on the ground described the scene as biblical: People can’t make any noise when they are dying. It’s quiet. Their lungs are collapsing. The only sound you hear is the buzzards.
Sir Bob had the idea to get some mates together, write a song and raise some money. Eight million pounds later they had made a difference.
So what’s it all about? I suppose my outtake from Sir Bob’s talk was that anyone can make a difference, but you have to want to. Sir Bob is 61. He’s made his mark. We’re young and we’re a new generation. It’s time for us to step-up.
In the words of Goethe: “Whatever you can do or dream, you can do, begin it.” Well, that’s how Bob concluded anyway.