Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Knowledge to Action Youth Leadership Summit 2012



Youth Summit Feedback

 Ryan Kressinger

- What new skills did you gain? Team Building, Motivational techniques, leading a team.

- What new things did you learn about yourself? I found out how well I progress when leading a team and being in my flow as we call it, as I was told I come into my own and helps others really well. Also I was able to accept something's I never believed I could and was able to speak about it as well.

- How has this experience changed your way of thinking/your views? I think the experience has opened my eyes more in to seeing that you can achieve anything if you believe in your goal and find each step you need to complete before reaching your goal. Also it has made me think more about other people.

- If given the chance would you do it all over again? I would jump at the chance and go again. They would like me to go 2 times next year so I am trying my best to find out as much as I can so I can make sure I attend. Harry also told me he wanted me to be a lead coach at future summits and will be trained as a life coach, and I would begin in SanDiego next year and then followed by the one here in the UK.

- What was the highlight of your experience in the 6 days? The highlight for me was every day because we learned something new and was able to place it in different parts of our everyday life to see how we can apply it. Also it was probably Thursday and Friday because with my team and coach we was able to speak about many things I have personally not before spoken about.


From: Chaniece Nugent-Whittle
Sent: 06 November 2012 14:10
To: Leigh Christodoulou
Subject: feedback




The youth leadership summit has been one of the best weeks of my life and I have learnt so much. It has changed my life for the better and has made me a more positive individual. It has made me more determined to make a difference and follow my dreams, I would love to be involved in helping other young people and hopefully change the lives of other youth.

I don’t think anyone who didn’t come to the summit will understand how amazing it is unless they experience it themselves. I am grateful to have been a part of YLS and I was made very welcome and comfortable there.

Thank you Angela for allowing me to be a part of it and hopefully I can grow with YLS as the years go on. I have learned various leadership, communication and teamwork skills whilst I was there and have learnt that I can do well and that I should believe in myself more.

My best moments on being on the summit was having the motivational speakers come and talk to us about different topics. They were all inspiring in different ways.

Lastly being with all the other youth everyday taking part in different activities; the leap of faith jump was amazing and so glad I participated in the summit.



Chaniece Nugent-Whittle

Dear Katherine, Greg, Mark and Chris


Please see the message below from my son, Alexander Penny, who attended the Youth Leadership Summit. 


We are immensely grateful for the experience he was privileged to have last week.  


Thank you deeply for making that possible, particularly as I can see first hand that he has gained an incredible amount, which is a particular joy as a parent to see.  Alexander works very hard at everything he does, but it doesn't always come easily and he often lacks the confidence to get the most from life.  


He is noticeably more positive in general and clearer about his goals and ambitions.  It is already apparent that he has greatly benefited from the emotional and well-being guidance too.   He has been teaching me the "centering" exercise, which he learnt from Steve Jack, which it is obvious he will find helpful in this run up to his gcses and in everyday life.  


Thank you all for making this possible and for genuinely doing something so valuable for young people- especially in the notoriously challenging but seldom supported teenage years.


Having watched me learning to trade and him hearing directly from Greg what a liberating career trading can be, Alexander would jump at any opportunity to learn from the experts!  It particularly appealed to him the ability to have a successful career alongside being able to have time to have a family and specifically he would like to work to improve the standards of housing in shanty towns.   


He also said he was glad he was one of the positive people in terms of his attitude to wealth and wealthy people, which Greg explained as being key.


Please read his own message below.


With our most sincere thanks


Selina Sasse and Alexander's father, Edward Penny


-----Original Message-----


Dear Katherine, Greg, Chris and  Mark


 Thank you so much for granting me my place on the course, allowing me to attend.


 It was an amazing experience which I got a great deal out of. (Hopefully I'll be returning as an alumni). I feel I have learnt the power of teamwork and positivity trough the great speakers which took part ( especially Judymay who I had supper with one night and was very caring and interesting to talk to).


  I've already noticed I feel more at ease talking to strangers and acquaintances which I feel will be a very use full life skill and my friends have commented on my positivity. I've also been trying to explain the things I learnt and the gains of these things but they have been quite reluctant and distrustful at points as they're not used to people smiling at school!




Thank you so much

Alexander penny

Friday, 13 April 2012

The future of charitable giving: Networking, delegation and cause-related marketing

The future of charitable giving: Networking, delegation and cause-related marketing

Just before Christmas my partner Greg Secker and I were invited by Sir Richard Branson to visit his Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa and discuss both his and our charitable work. As well as visiting a charity our own Foundation supports, we had the opportunity to discuss with Sir Richard how to ensure the future of charitable giving and how to make foundations as financially secure as possible. Here’s some of what we took away:

The key to charitable giving is creating a sustainable framework from which to operate. How many times have we all said that we would like to volunteer or even just give our old clothes to charity but never get around to doing it? Doing one-off small acts of kindness is rewarding but it is almost always more rewarding when you know you are doing it as a collective and know that your contributions are sustained in an impactful framework. The impact is greater and faster when people join forces and there is a certain camaraderie that is formed when you are doing something for the greater good.

The challenge with once-off giving is that the charity starts to rely on the income and then when it is removed having built their budgets upon it, they begin to fail. Charities need commitments from organisations and these must be of a symbiotic nature. A good example of this is Nabisco biscuits in the US. Their sales had been falling year to year and they needed to boost their profits so they decided to use cause-related marketing and team up with the World Wildlife Fund. They designed a new special edition range of biscuits, each representing the 4 most endangered species, and changed the box string to green. They promised to donate 5 cents from every sale to the WWF. The results were equally wild - $100,000 was raised for the charity and sales increased by 20% over the course of the two year promotion.

So how do we get our business leaders to think differently? In a chat with Sir Richard Branson in his game lodge he says, “Leaders stay at the coal face for too long, delegate early and then you can make better decisions about the company’s greater vision”. Greg Secker says, “You can think and you can work, but you can’t do both at the same time. The strategy should look like:

1)      Delegate early, leaders should be thinking and planning the vision rather than being caught up in day to day

2)      Identify an appropriate charity that would bring in revenue to the organisation by association

3)      Align and plan goals, put the marketing directors from your organisation and the charity together to agree outcomes and steps

4)      Monitor and change as appropriate

5)      Ensure PR represents both the company and the charity. Tell a story that touches the heart of the matter”

Running a Foundation is about touching peoples’ hearts so that you move them into action. There is nothing more powerful than knowing your own vision and being able to share it. One of the things that impressed me the most about Sir Richard Branson is the way that he shares his vision and brings people together, organising monthly think tanks at Neckar island and other venues around the world for leaders to get together to discuss social change and current topics. When the earthquakes in Haiti hit, Branson immediately gathered a group to discuss how they could join forces to help. He is a pioneer of using leveraged networking to make things happen. This is also a good example of how Branson seamlessly delegates even if it is to other social entrepreneurs.

We need to think differently as business leaders to embed charity into our business plan  so it becomes an integral and symbiotic component where one needs the other to succeed, this way the charity is not the first thing to get cut in times of economic downturn. What we’ve learnt over the past year was how to build a charitable vehicle that runs smoothly and how to leverage the power of the people to make things happen. We have used our expert knowledge of trading the currency markets to create novel systems that generate large sums of money for charity. All the way we have thought out of the box and asked ourselves, how can we build a system that helps the company and the charity symbiotically?

Our greatest fundraising vehicle is our annual Flying Trader project where Greg trades from a helicopter high over London sending his trade calls down to our trading floor as hundreds of clients follow his trades simultaneously. Last year it raised over £150,000 and in our recent trip to The Ubuntu Education Fund we were able to see how that money was already making a difference.

The money comes from ticket sales to attend the events and our broker ETX Capital gives all brokerage commissions to the Foundation. It is a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship as the more our clients trade, the more money they earn themselves and the more commission they generate for charity. The broker is also happy as we are increasing the volume of people regularly trading and we encourage our clients to use ETX as a broker because of their charitable giving. Our delegates also form a close and more trusting relationship with us because they can see we are not only teaching them to trade but we are also helping charities in the process.

We will be holding another six flying Trader days this year, the first starting in March. Our target is to raise £250,000 in total for our chosen charities, Barnardo’s and The Ubuntu Education Fund.

Katherine Scott, founder of the Knowledge to Action Foundation

Monday, 26 December 2011

Virgin UNITE shows us how to ‘Screw Business as Usual’! Part Two

With the first part of our trip to Sir Richard Branson’s UNITE charity allowing us to meet the South African entrepreneurs of tomorrow; the second half gave us the pleasure of meeting some truly inspirational people who work to improve medical and education facilities in rural South African communities.

Our first stop started with an early morning flight to Ulusaba, Branson’s Private game reserve set in the heart of Sabi Sand on the border of the sprawling Kruger National Park. The high-light of our time in the bush had to be the visit to Christian Slater’s newly opened crèche in one of the surrounding villages. The whole village had come out to sing and dance and welcome Christian, Richard and the group. It was a vibrant display of community with all of us being touched by the young children’s songs and their proud introductions. Everyone signed the walls with our hand prints, depicted as leaves on a tree to commemorate the opening of the crèche.

During the afternoon game drive everyone was on fine form with groups of entrepreneurs teaming up in different Land Rovers to view the big five. Sir Richard was true to form, jumping from his jeep and hiding in the bushes and leaping out with loud growls, to the freaked out group in the jeep behind us – never a dull moment in the Branson camp and practical jokes and tongue in cheek comments remain order of the day, lightening the mood and creating a sense of playfulness.

Following a spectacularly presented gourmet lunch on the terrace, 500ft above the game reserve overlooking the Sabi Sands with a view that was simply breath-taking – we were ushered into the grand lounge for a Q+A session with Sir Richard. This no holds barred session was a dream come true for seasoned and budding entrepreneurs alike. Sir Richard shared with us his secrets of success, and answered all questions with complete candour and the most incredible humility. What becomes abundantly obvious when spending any time with this business “mega-tycoon“ is that his team absolutely adore him, and there is a kindness in his voice that demonstrates a really genuine admiration of his cohorts that is literally palpable.

Finally the most moving part of the trip was our visit to the Bhubezi Community Health Centre run by the inspirational Dr Hugo Templeman. The clinic was a shining example of progressive health care in rural South Africa. Seeing over 200 patients a day they test for TB and HIV, offering antiretroviral and other life-saving medicines.  The clinic not only offers health care but also provides skilled jobs to local people in their medical divisions, making sure money is ploughed back into the community. Dr Hugo Templeman is a pioneer in HIV treatment and prevention, and is looking for critical funding to keep their clinic running after government funding pulls out next year. At the back of the health centre the Starkey Foundation Hearing Mission had set up tents and were fitting the community with free hearing aids. Having just returned from Indonesia, The Starkey Foundation group travel the world with their founder, Bill Austen, fitting over 400,000 free hearing aids to people in disadvantaged areas. Over the course of the day at Bhubezi they fitted over 400 hearing aids. It was truly emotional to watch a little boy hear for the first time and cry with his family and then to see and old man regain hearing after 20 years and get up to dance with joy!

This trip showed us that we are just at the beginning of our journey and that there is so much more that we want to do. We have already entered into discussions with some of the other entrepreneurs to start a crèche of our own in the Ulusaba area. In addition to this, we are looking to team up with members of the UNITE team to bring the Knowledge to Action Youth Leadership Summit to South Africa next year. The more we talked about it, we felt that this vital training could truly benefit the people who would later go on to be a part of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, as the training covers so much in the area of emotional management and self-worth. This, alongside their identity around making money, was one of the main aspects that we found the entrepreneurs were struggling with during the mentoring sessions held at the centre. (Knowledge to Action Youth Leadership Summit video.)

What was amazing for Greg and I was to see how we are already on the right track with the work we are doing with The Knowledge to action Foundation, having found sustainable and quirky ways to raise money for our charity initiatives through our Flying Trader Missions, we realized that we have already started ‘Screwing Business as Usual’!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Virgin Unite shows us how to ‘Screw Business as Usual’! Part One

The work we do with The Knowledge to Action Foundation has taken us on many adventures but none so mind blowing and inspirational as the five day trip we have just done with Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Unite team in South Africa.  The theme of the trip was embedded in the message behind Sir Richard’s new book ‘Screw Business as Usual’. The book focuses on how companies around the world are starting to think differently about how they do business. It’s not just about making money, it’s about looking at sustainable ways to make a difference; to switch from profit focus to caring for people, communities and the planet.

Over the course of the week we were taken on a whirlwind trip across South Africa where we met young entrepreneurs and were shown examples of how easy it is for both businesses and individuals to embark on a whole new way of doing things, solving major problems and turning our work into something we both love and are proud of. In 2004, Richard established Virgin Unite, his non-profit foundation run by CEO, Jean Oelwang. It mobilizes the talent and resources from across the Virgin Group and beyond to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way.

On the trip we were joined by six other entrepreneurs whose businesses were in the 2010 Sunday Times Fast Track 100 fastest growing companies in Britain, including Paul Caplan, the Chairman of Go Outdoors, the UK’s largest supplier of outdoor camping and adventure equipment and Tony Banks the Chairman of Balhousie Care Group, Scotland’s fastest growing care home provider. It was not only an opportunity for us to learn from Richard and the Unite team but also to gain inspiration and network with the other UK entrepreneurs. We were also joined by a team of philanthropic leaders from Australia including Jane Tewson, who has been working at the forefront of social change for 30 years. She has founded five charitable organisations including the UK’s most successful charity, Comic Relief, better known as Red Nose Day.

Our journey started in Johannesburg with an introductory briefing followed by a tour of Constitution Hill, an old prison where victims of the apartheid government where imprisoned. The following day was of epic proportions with a schedule that only Branson could dream up. In the morning we visited two of the entrepreneurs from the Branson centre to see first-hand how their businesses are uplifting the community. We met with a passionate young clothing designer, Lesego Malatsi, who is the founder of Mzansi Designers, a company which designs African-inspired clothing. Whilst visiting his factory we could see the difference he was making, employing 16 full time staff and bringing an African flavour to the International fashion scene at this year’s London fashion week. We then visited Tshepo Nawane, an entrepreneur who runs a recycling company in Soweto, paying customers to bring recyclable waste – in so doing, cleaning up the community.

Before lunch we were whisked off to the opening of the first Virgin Active gym in the Soweto townships. On arrival we were met by Africa dancers, drummers and men on stilts. All the Virgin Active staff were dressed in red leotards and bandannas. The energy was electric and the buzz around Branson contagious as we walked through the state-of-the-art gym while being mobbed by photographers. Branson got into the spirit and mixed some dance tunes in the DJ booth before changing into an aerobics outfit and hitting the dance floor with 30 ladies singing “I’m a maniac… a maniac on the floor!”

After our high-impact workout we were taken to The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship to meet the inspirational students and teachers. The UK team of Entrepreneurs were teamed up in ‘speed dating’ groups together with 10 of South Africa’s leading entrepreneurs to mentor the young business owners on how to overcome their challenges. This expertly coordinated mega coaching session was clearly impactful on both the students and us entrepreneurs. We were all left feeling a renewed sense of ‘Can Do’ attitude.

Only hours later we found ourselves at the book launch. The event was hosted at Randlords, a dramatic venue with a sprawling view of Johannesburg’s CBD.  In attendance were some of Johannesburg’s finest business men and woman all of whom were ready to hear Richard’s message on doing business for social change and were even given the opportunity to view stands that the young entrepreneurs from the Branson Centre had set up in the venue.

It was truly inspiring to see how so many budding and young entrepreneurs have been helped by the UNITE charity, and having the opportunity to talk to them individually and hear their stories was something that won’t be easily forgotten. The next half of our Branson trip will take us to meet yet more amazing people who are working to improve medical and education facilities in rural South African communities.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

There's more to charity than just handing money over; seeing how it helps is equally rewarding

The Knowledge to Action Foundation has had a very successful first year this year, raising in total an impressive £161,381.44 . Our goal was to always share the money between our two chosen charities, Barnardo’s and The Ubuntu Education Fund as well as pay for this year’s Knowledge to Action Youth Leadership Summit. The best part about running a foundation is always the part when you get to give the money away. At our end of year Christmas party in London we were delighted to be able to present both Barnardo’s and Ubuntu with a £60,000 cheque each.

It is always important to us to connect with the reason why we raise the money and to know what it will be spent on. For this to happen Greg and I make an active effort to not only connect with the heads of each charity but also to learn as much as possible about their projects.  This was the biggest factor in us coming out to South Africa over the Christmas period; to see how things are working on the ground level.

Days after arriving in South Africa last week, we flew to Port Elizabeth to visit The Ubuntu Education Fund to see how the money raised from The Flying Trader project has helped and the work they are doing with their Early Childhood Development Program. The Ubuntu Education Fund is a community-based organisation that provides thousands of children and their families with life-saving health services and essential educational resources. Their unique approach to community development has been recognised by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Aspen Institute’s African Leadership Initiative.  Ubuntu’s Co-Founder and President, Jacob Lief, was recently chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Ubuntu’s Early Childhood Development Program (ECD program) was started because there was an obvious void in the support pregnant mothers and young babies were getting in order to provide them with the building blocks of life. Ubuntu realised that many children were being enrolled into school at the age of 6 with almost no foundation to grow from. It was therefore becoming a vicious cycle of too little too late with many kids unable to keep up with the pace of learning at school. The ECD Program provides 0-5 year olds with educational and developmental training to prepare them for school ahead. The program also focuses on pregnant mothers, helping them with their nutrition and preparing them for the birth ahead. If a mother has HIV the program also assists in educating the mother how not to pass HIV onto their child. Ubuntu has a baby clinic where mothers can take their babies for vaccines as well as providing breast feeding support classes.

On arrival at Ubuntu, Greg and I were welcomed by Gcobani Zonke who showed us around the centre. It was a hot day and the end of term for the final year students who had just written their last exam. We got a warm welcome from the teenagers who sang me Happy Birthday in Xhosa and English. It was fascinating to learn what each child would be studying at university in the year ahead. Their group was peppered with future biochemical engineers, doctors, journalists and social workers; impressive! The biggest change to the centre from our visit last year was the newly built ECD class room complete with mini toilets and basins for the kids. Very cute indeed! We were pleased to hear that the money had gone to completing the classrooms and paying the teachers’ salaries for the year. It was also fantastic to see them preparing the plot of land for the community vegetable garden with the view of using the vegetables to feed the kids at lunch times.

One thing that did strike us was the distinct lack of furniture in the building. The kids were all sitting on the floor and the staff kitchen had no tables and chairs. When we enquired further, it turned out that the Major of Port Elizabeth had promised furniture that had never arrived. Our hearts really went out to them as it felt as though they had come so far only to be let down at the last hurdle.  We decided then and there to do something to help. The next day we had our Christmas party for our South African clients in Johannesburg and I got on the stage to auction off some prizes. Our winning auction prize was an exclusive 3 hour one-on-one morning trading session with Greg at our Llandudno beach house complete with gourmet breakfast cooked by a private chef.  And with over R70,000 raised for Ubuntu’s furniture the impromptu auction was a huge success!

Next weekend we approach the climax of our visit to South Africa as we accept Sir Richard Branson’s invitation to the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg. As well as spending time with Sir Richard on his private game reserve we will take the opportunity to discuss our philanthropic ideas and missions with Sir Richard and hopefully get to understand more about his Virgin UNITE charity. Likewise we will share our experience and stories with Richard on our visit to Ubuntu and the rest of the work the Knowledge to Action Foundation does.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Charity with Sir Richard Branson: philanthropists work better together

The Knowledge to Action foundation was first conceived in November 2010 when Greg and I were at The Ubuntu Education Fund’s spectacular gala dinner in New York. With The Dave Matthews band playing and hosted by Chris Rock’s wife, it was an incredible evening with close to 700 people in attendance. The star studded crowd pulled together in the spirit of giving and among them managed to raise over $2 million dollars for this worthy cause. We were both blown away by how much money the evening raised for the charity. That evening really showed us that when people work together big things can happen. This inspired us to ask ourselves, “What could we do to make a difference?”

I had been on the board of Ubuntu in London for a few years and so had experience with charities and Greg had always dreamed of creating a foundation that would ultimately be something that we could be proud of beyond just making money. Greg had spent so many years working tirelessly to make his business a success but had always felt he wanted to create a legacy that would positively impact the world at large. We were in the perfect position to work together to create this positive legacy and so while on holiday in South Africa we took out our note pads and brainstormed the future of The Knowledge to Action Foundation.

We outlined the two charities that were close to our hearts and decided on supporting Barnardo’s in the UK and The Ubuntu Education Fund in South Africa. Essentially each charity represented our own individual backgrounds. Greg’s grandmother was an orphan and was taken in by one of Dr Barnardo’s orphanages. He always says if it wasn’t for Barnardo’s he may not be here today. I was born in South Africa and have always felt close to my roots endeavouring to give back to the country I love. We also wanted the foundation to focus on children and initiatives that supported youths in creating the future of their dreams.
The Foundation hosts a variety of initiatives throughout the year. The Flying Trader project is our main fundraising vehicle which in turn financially feeds our annual initiatives such as supporting our two head-line charities with their chosen projects, Barnardo’s Hub Project, teaching young people essential skills for the work place and Ubuntu’s Early Childhood Development program, providing 0-5 year old township children with the building blocks of early education.

In June the first Flying Trader event was launched and Greg took to the skies in a series of four helicopter flights, trading above the City and sending his live trades and tips down to an audience of over 500 Knowledge to Action traders.  So far a phenomenal total of £161,381.44 has been generated, and six more ‘Flying Traders’ in 2012 should ensure that this total well surpasses the target of 250,000.
As well as supporting Barnardo’s and The Ubuntu Education Fund, proceeds from Flying Trader also go toward the running of The Knowledge to Action Youth Leadership Summit, which was first launched this October. The ground breaking 5 day residential course took place in Kent, and saw just under 100 14 – 17 year olds from across the country come together to learn key development skills which will help them to achieve future success. The program was led by industry guru, Harry Singha, who has over 20 years’ experience working with young people and has been the lead coach on many of Tony Robbins youth seminars. The key subjects covered over the course of the week were: health, wealth, emotions, relationships, leadership, contribution and purpose. The first Summit was an extraordinary experience, with everyone involved – adults and children alike – coming away feeling truly enriched. There has been great feedback from the course and 2012 is already set to be a success, with The Foundation’s goal being to sponsor 200 children to attend the programme.

To top off an already successful year the cherry on the cake would have to be the trip with Sir Richard Branson to his luxury game reserve in South Africa. Greg and I attended the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 awards earlier this year. This event, sponsored by Virgin, is geared to celebrate UK’s fastest growing companies, with Knowledge to Action picking up 49th place. During the seated lunch attended by over 250 people, we were addressed by Sir Richard Branson himself who spoke about his UNITE charity in South Africa and offered us a place on his up-coming safari trip in December. During our stay we will be visiting Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg as well as spending time with him and a group of 10 honoured guests at Ulusaba, his private Game Reserve set in the heart of Sabi Sand on the border of the sprawling Kruger National Park. The three-day adventure will be rounded off with a banquet dinner with Christian Slater and Dr Hugo Templeman.

Greg and I will also take the opportunity to discuss our philanthropic ideas and missions with Sir Richard and hopefully get to understand more about his Virgin UNITE charity. Likewise we will share our experience and stories with Richard on Ubuntu and the Knowledge to Action Foundation.

Before meeting Sir Richard, Greg and I are visiting the Ubuntu Education Fund HQ here in Port Elizabeth and we will be able to see how the money raised through the Flying Trader project has helped the charity and the children they look after. I’ll be blogging again next week talking about our visit to the charity and looking ahead to meeting Sir Richard and discussing our philanthropic ideas with him.