Over the past few years I’ve given a fair few interviews, and have been grateful for the continued interest and enthusiasm from others for our work. Most interviews have focused on combinations of my time working in Africa, my technology interests, or the evolution and development of FrontlineSMS. Until now, none had asked me to go way back and talk about my background, family and upbringing, or dig deeply into what drives me and my work.
Last week, Kate Ebner on “Visionary Leader, Extraordinary Life” did just that. You can read the write-up below.
Finding What Lights You Up: The Unassuming Wisdom of Mobile Innovator and Anthropologist Ken Banks
Ken Banks finished up his hour on our radio show and, moments later, tweeted “thanks for the therapy!” with a cyber smile. During his radio hour, Kate invited Ken to tell his life story at length for the benefit of our listeners. The story began in Banks’ childhood — in Jersey, England, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy, France. To date, it takes place in Africa where Banks is bringing mobile technologies to enable effective communications channels for communities in the developing world through his organization kiwanja.net and his free, open-source software FrontlineSMS.
Why did Kate invite Ken to spend so much of the hour telling his story? “Ken’s story is one of overcoming loss, uncertainty and adversity to find his path. He is an optimist with high standards for himself and the world. He hasn’t always been able to see how the pieces of his story quite fit together. We can relate to those feelings and circumstances. How Ken moves through life — the decisions that he has made and how he makes them — is so instructive and inspiring for all of us.”
Here are just a few of the wise nuggets that Ken Banks imparted during his hour on Visionary Leader, Extraordinary Life:
Everyone should be given a chance to maximize their potential. Inspire people to feel they have something to contribute to the world and help them find ways to make it happen. Read Ken’s blog post, “Enabling the Inspiration Generation.”
Just think about how you can help 4-5 people. You don’t need to save the whole world. If everyone helped just 4-5 people, the world would be a better place.
Anything is possible. Regardless of the cards you are dealt in life, pick yourself up and walk on. You don’t need parents in high places, or lots of money to make a difference in the world.
Do something that feels right. Don’t let others dictate your path. Only you will know what is right for you at any given moment in your life. If you feel good about what you are doing, don’t give up.
Make your own opportunities. If you haven’t found the one thing that immediately switches you on, get out and put yourself in the kinds of environments where you have a better chance of finding it. You won’t find it sitting at home and watching television.
Maximize every opportunity. You are only as good as the last thing you have done. It doesn’t matter that you gave a great talk last year – it’s all about the one you are doing now. If you give everything 100%, it will start to pay off and you will build momentum and people will want to support you and your ideas.
This interview was in part dedicated to our Mother, who passed away one year ago last month.