Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy – too afraid to follow our convictions, too fearful to trust ourselves.

A number of years ago, I was working on a project where part of our mandate was to create a place where people congregate, a place they felt they belonged, a platform from where they could be heard. We were open to everyone – from upcoming musicians and singers to charities raising awareness of their causes and everything else in between. We used to incorporate these happenings in our calendar of events. But little did we know this calendar would take on an additional purpose.

It was meant to be a monthly publication – a small leaflet promoting the activities taking place, some free, some paid, to which visitors could come. Having a strict budget, or should I say no budget, we were meant to find a sponsor who would place an advertisement on one of the pages. Time was ticking and no sponsor was found. Truth be said, being somewhat of a purist, I was rather glad, not wanting some ugly ad to ruin our lovely design. But there was something else – I had this feeling there was a different use for that page, something we had missed.

This leaflet would reach thousands of people. So the question was – what message would add the greatest value?

Some time before, my boss had given me a story entitled “The Star Thrower”. Always of the belief that every person matters and every action counts, the story really resonated. And as I sat at my desk, contemplating what to do with this extra page, there on my desk was a little starfish. That was my Eureka moment and the start of a new section entitled b-inspired.

Ensuring we had the right permissions to print it, we included the story. The typesetting was done, the printing was underway and the delivery date confirmed – there was no turning back.

When the boxes full of leaflets arrived, my boss called me into his office and asked me to bring the leaflet with me. I had a sense of trepidation – since I hadn’t included the ad I thought he wasn’t going to be too impressed and I would have to bear the consequences.

As I walked into his office, I handed over the leaflet. Knowing he could read me like a book, I explained what I had done. But it was too late. He had already started looking through it, turned it over, and there it was – the story in lieu of the ad. Much to my surprise and relief, he looked up, smiled and came over to give me the biggest hug.

“Well done, I am really proud of you,” he said.

I was stunned. There I was expecting to be berated and instead got a pat on the back.

There were so many other surprises that went along with the ‘b-inspired’ journey:

  • The stories people would send us to be included in future issues
  • People waiting expectedly for the events leaflet – to see what the story was going to be
  • Seeing one of the stories on a client’s employee notice board two years later

Never did I realise what could unfold from sharing a little story. So next time you wonder if what you are doing makes a difference, may I suggest you put aside the doubt and trust that regardless of how seemingly small it may appear to you, you do indeed make a difference.



Headhunter turned talent spotter, Deborah creates the connect between people of character and companies with principles. The Founder of AMANI™, she is an advocate for business being a force for good, vested in the impact business has in both economic and social terms across various strata of society.