People, Purpose, Profit, & Planet; Unleashing a World in Chains

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Music is what I must do, business is what I need to do,
politics is what I have to do.
Bob Geldof

The dream that gave birth to UNLEASH – unleash a world in chains, a workplace in chains, has niggled away at me over time and more recently the experience of a reorganization from the bowels of hell.

The main stage of UNLEASH World is well regarded as a place that celebrates diversity, the future, exponential technology, inspirational stories, inclusiveness and more. Like everyone else, I feel the world of political polarization around me, the trappings of capitalism, the fact that most of our customers are the largest industries and corporations in the world. As such, they also happen to be the largest polluters of the planet. 

UNLEASH has therefore been building new social initiatives into our flagship event programming. On climate change, poverty and we will continue our mantra on helping shape a new vision for globalization… All in a year of Brexit and global political turmoil when a worker on a median salary of £23,474 would have to work 167 years to earn the median annual pay of an FTSE 100 boss!

In doing so, one of our keynotes is perhaps one of the most recognizable faces in the world when it comes to alleviating poverty. This man owns an unbreakable world record for creating a movement, community and an event in record time and scale. Bob Geldof inspired an entire generation on charity and Africa, born in Dublin, Ireland – a country proudly named the most generous and charitable nation in Europe in 2018.

+30 years ago, like many Gen Xers, the box TV images of skeletal children from Africa with hopeless eyes sunken on faces invaded by flies. Queen stole the show that day; unexpectedly, I was proud as punch that Geldof and Bono were flying the flag for Ireland.

There wasn’t much going on in Ireland at the time, as a nation. We were still drowning in the black cloth of the catholic church (… moving statues and sightings of the Virgin Mary were rampant). Perhaps it was that childhood experience of mass unemployment and in some ways radicalization, in Ireland during the ’80s that inspired me as an adult to find inspiration and help contribute to the Future of Work and the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

Band Aid, Live Aid, and Live8 concerts have shaped the image of Africa for generations and spurred concerted action to fight extreme poverty.

Geldof and Bono have since moved from charity fundraising to working on debt cancellation and the deeper structural causes of poverty. They supported the successful Drop the Debt campaign and Live 8 concerts in 2005. 

Bono and Geldof went onto work with ONE, an African advocacy group which today has nearly 10 million campaigners around the world and raised over $37.5 billion to tackle extreme poverty. 

Recently, I bumped into Dikembe Mutombo an example of that inspired generation, a member of ONE. A giant in humanitarian terms and not just in life and sport (7foot 3”) who is doing amazing things each and every day to help the poor.

Live Aid was a pretty amazing feat and in the world of events, one that will hardly ever be beaten. The best event planners will be left dumbfounded at how he booked everything pretty much on a whim in roughly three weeks. He deserved his knighthood for his efforts and impact in doing so!

And it’s not hyperbole to say that it changed the world and defined an entire generation. 

Here are some of the numbers that helped put Geldof in the history books.

1.5 billion: The estimated number of viewers who tuned in to watch the concerts, in 100 different countries.

$190 million: The amount that Live Aid raised for famine relief in Ethiopia. 

162,000: The number of people who attended the two main Live Aid concerts — 72,000 in London’s Wembley Stadium and 90,000 in Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium.

70: This was the total number of acts and artists that performed on the stages in London and Philadelphia. It’s a list that includes Madonna, U2, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Elton John, Queen, Black Sabbath, Run-DMC, Santana, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran, Bob Dylan and Tina Turner. 

16 hours: The continuous length of the entire Live Aid concert. The show in London started at noon and ended at 11 p.m. In Philadelphia, things got underway at 8:51 a.m. and ended at 11:05 p.m. (4:05 a.m. in London), meaning that the entire thing ran for 16 hours. Though, as you can see, between London and Philly, there were actually more than 27 hours of total performances.

1: The total number of artists who appeared at both the London and Philadelphia concerts. It was Phil Collins, who, after performing at Wembley took a helicopter to Heathrow Airport. He hopped on Concorde and made it to JFK Stadium to do a second set, and play the drums for Eric Clapton, and the reunion of the former members of Led Zeppelin.

The magic number? I can’t help but wonder how many times will he say bollocks on the UNLEASH World Main Stage!



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