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Dare to be different

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Any wonder why we achieve little? The answer is simple; we follow the bandwagon and we are no different to millions of others. People that have been successful have been as a result of following the road not taken; they have been challenging the status quo and that made a difference.

Not long ago, it was unthinkable that an ordinary person could own a radio and TV station until when Gospel Kadzako did it. He does not come from a wealthy background; he does not have the most prestigious qualifications. The only thing he has is that he believed that he could make a difference; he dared to be different.

In The Millionaire Mind, it is well explained that successful people are different. They do not follow the crowd and those who do not follow the crowd are often criticised for being different. Have an idea that people will criticise and run with it; that is what is going to make a difference. Offer your services in so exceptional way that others would need to learn from you. By the time they are learning from you, you have already covered many more miles in your business and service delivery. You are never the same; you have made it.

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Napoleon Dzombe’s Mtalimanja logo has an exciting motto in it. It simply reads: Grow big or go home. That is certainly the mantra that has grown Mtalimanja into a multi-billion business. Dzombe made a difference. He dropped out of school when he was in Form Two and informed his father that he wanted to start a business. His father gave him a cow. Dzombe sold it for K77 and that marked the beginning of his businesses. Using the money, he bought salt that he would distribute to farmers in rural areas in exchange for groundnuts or maize upon harvesting. That is how Dzombe dared to be different. The difference has seen Mtalimanja becoming one of the biggest exporters of soya, a conglomerate with business interests in sugar, rice, toothpicks, mats and many products.

It is daring to be different that matters. When revolts against British colonialism were more justified to be through armed revolutions, Mahatma Gandhi opted for non-violence and that is what he is renowned for. In the midst of abject poverty and segregation in the United States of America, Martin Luther King Jnr brought hope to the downtrodden blacks of America with his speech ‘I have a dream’. The speech resonates in the minds of people throughout the world over half a century years after his assassination. He dared to be different.

Neil Armstrong was a Nasa astronaut and the first man on the moon or, more accurately, the first man to set foot on the moon. He was also an accomplished test pilot and a figure so large in American and world history that you can bet many generations from now people will still be talking about him as well as his moon landing. Armstrong dared to be different. If he had not decided to be different, then his name would have had no space to be remembered for in history.

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Daring to be different is all that makes a difference. Your social economic stand is nothing; it is the different path you take that matters most. Consider the story of William Kamkwamba. When The Daily Times wrote a story on Kamkwamba’s wind turbine in November 2006, the story circulated through the blogosphere and Ted Conference Director Emeka Okafor invited Kamkwamba to talk at TEDGlobal 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania . His speech moved the audience and several venture capitalists at the conference pledged to help finance his secondary school education. His story was covered by Sarah Childress for The Wall Street Journal.

He became a student at African Bible College Christian Academy in Lilongwe. He then went on to receive a scholarship to the African Leadership Academy and, in 2014, Kamkwamba received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where he was a student and elected to the Sphinx Senior Honor Society.

In 2013, Time magazine named Kamkwamba one of the “30 People Under 30 Changing The World”.

In 2010, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was selected as the University of Florida common book, required for all incoming students to read. In 2014, it was selected as the common book at Auburn University and University of Michigan College of Engineering as well. William made an appearance at each university to discuss his book and life.

This is the same Kamkwamba whom famine forced to drop out of school, and he was not able to return to school because his family was unable to afford the tuition fee. If he had not dared to be different, his life story would have remained unknown.

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