I’m now CEO and a 12 year old is still my boss
It’s rare that you meet someone whose vision is so compelling and authentic that you too believe what they believe, and it’s an even rarer occasion when an eleven year old is the person inspiring you.
Well, this is exactly what happened to me at the start of 2014 when I first met Oliver, the founder of Kids helping Kids, a nonprofit startup and organiser of Ice Cream Day, which is a school based initiative to support the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
When we first met, Oliver had already run the first ever Ice Cream Day at his primary school, and with only a couple of hundred kids, they managed to raise just over $500.
I’ve maintained a keen interest in Oliver and Ice Cream Day’s progression throughout the year and I’m very proud to say that in 2014 Ice Cream Day ran across 26 schools, which equated to about 11,000 ice creams.
Both 2013 and 2014 were a great start, however Oliver’s vision and ambition to provide a platform for kids to help kids doesn’t stop there – his goal is for Ice Cream Day to run in over 5000 schools, which at that scale would effectively raise about $2,500,000 each year.
I can’t tell you how invigorating it is to see such a young person with so much ambition and the drive to see it through.
But before going into why I feel privilege to now be working with and for such a young and inspiring person, I think it’s important to let you know why Oliver’s vision is so compelling.
As it often does, Oliver’s vision began with and was a result of his environment. In fact, it started at school, with one of Oliver’s close friends who was very ill at the time receiving support from the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Seeing what was happening, and the support his friend was provided, Oliver wanted to do his part and saw it as his opportunity to do good in the world (his words, not mine).
Oliver talked over his ideas with his friends and family who supported him wholeheartedly. He then sent a direct email to Unilever (the owner of Streets Ice Creams) asking that they support him in raising funds by donating ice creams to his school.
A couple of days later he received a response and his dad a phone call saying that they’d be happy to help, they even asked how big his schools fridge was!
Ice Cream Day was born there and then.
Oliver’s belief is that kids should help kids and that amazing things can happen when children are empowered. He has shown courage, tenacity and the type of entrepreneurial flair that should be admired.
The fact that he’s only now 12 years old is of little relevance to me and fortunately both he and I share very similar beliefs, although, I didn’t quite realise why I was so connected to his vision until I watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on starting with why and why great leaders lead. Once I’d watched this our connection made so much more sense.
Great leaders have a vision and purpose that is clearly articulated and that truly connects with the people around them.
I’ve only been involved with Ice Cream Day and Kids helping Kids for a couple of weeks and it’s already transparently clear that Oliver’s original and ongoing vision not only connects with me but with everyone involved in the initiative. It also guides our strategy, drives our execution and keeps us focused on one day enabling kids to help kids in 5000 or more schools across the country.
Ice Cream Day is just the start for Kids helping Kids. It’s going to be an exciting journey.
To help us do that or find out more about Oliver and his journey visit icecreamday.org