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Change Makers: Valerie Keller and James Chen

Co-founder and CEO of IMAGINE, Valerie Keller joins Michael on this week’s Change Makers. Valerie’s journey began in a cult, growing up in the cornfields of Indiana and led her to her to become one of the world’s pre-eminent purpose leaders. With IMAGINE, she works closely with global leaders to unleash the potential of business to achieve the Global Goals. In this interview she talks about the bridge she found from her unorthodox early life into the corporate world, and what inspired her to always operate with purpose as she progressed through her career. She also explains why it’s important to ensure the work you do is fun and fulfilling both for yourself and others, why COVID-19 has fostered a more united society and how this should continue as we move into a new normal.


Philanthropist and Chairman of the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, James Chen also sits down with Michael this week to talk about how he is tackling the world’s largest unaddressed disability – poor vision; as founder of award-winning charity Vision for a Nation and the campaign Clearly. In this episode, James explains his unique take on philanthropy that involves catalysing change by investing in high-risk, moon-shot solutions and creating a domain expertise in specific focus areas: early childhood literacy and poor vision. This approach allows him to learn from and privatise his failures, while socialising his successes for greater impact. James also shares why family values are so important to him and how they inform his philanthropy, and the story behind his investment in Rising Phoenix, the major new Netflix film documenting the story of the Paralympic Games.

James Chen with June Sarpong MBE and Prof. Brian Cox at Sightgeist 2019
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Chapter 1 outlines the concept of mission and how the breakthrough brands of today have succeeded by building a mission that inspires belief, generates a following and instils a purpose beyond profit.