On the evening of Oct. 23, 1983, he wasn't a hero. He wasn't a knight of the British Empire. He wasn't an ambassador of world peace and goodwill.
He was just a musician, and not even a world-famous one at that. His band, The Boomtown Rats, had met with some success, but Bob Geldof was not a household name when he sat down to watch the BBC News that evening 31 years ago.
The lead story was about famine in Ethiopia, where millions of children were on the verge of death because of drought and political infighting. Geldof, like many others, was deeply moved by the story.
So Geldof called another musician friend, Midge Ure of the band Ultravox, and suggested they do something about it. Together, they wrote a song about the situation and invited the cream of the crop in the UK to join them in a studio to record it. One month and two days after seeing the BBC news report, the song "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid was recorded. It went on sale five days later, going straight to number one and becoming the fastest-selling and best-selling single in UK music history.
It spawned a similar project in America called USA for Africa and the song "We Are The World." It gave way to a massive summertime concert called Live Aid. These projects collectively raised many millions of dollars and made a huge impact in Ethiopia and elsewhere.
Today, Geldof is worth an estimated $1.2 billion.
Geldof became wealthy and famous because he successfully combined his skills, connections and values to do great work.
Skills, connections and values. That's all Geldof had in his personal toolbox on Oct. 23, 1983. He was a skilled musician who had a network of far-more-famous musician friends, and he had a set of values that guided him to act.
What will you do to leave your mark on the world?
As an entrepreneur, chances are good that you are presented with opportunities on a regular basis to make a positive difference in the world. It is too easy to dismiss those opportunities because you are too small to individually make a difference.
Take a look inside your toolbox. You have skills, connections and values, just like Geldof did.
What can you do with your skills? Who can you call on with your connections? And what can you impact with your values?
Blake Mycoskie created TOMS Shoes so that he could provide footwear to impoverished children. With every pair of shoes sold, a pair is donated to someone in the developing world. Since launching in 2006, TOMS has given away over one million pairs of shoes in 40 countries worldwide, including Ethiopia and Haiti. To create jobs, Mycoskie plans to have one third of its shoes produced in these impoverished countries by 2015. He has also expanded into eyewear using the same one-for-one business model. Guided by values, TOMS has become a phenomenal success.
Steve Ells founded Chipotle with a "food with integrity" mission. They source their ingredients as locally as possible, and uses organic ingredients wherever possible. They support small farmers and community farms, and serve more naturally-raised meat than any other food chain. The cheese and sour cream at Chipotle come from cows that have never received Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. As part of their core business model, Chipotle aims to support local farms, organic farming and healthier and humane treatment of animals.
Do you have a plan to leave a positive impression on the world?
Or do you simply have a plan to make money?
If Ells were guided solely by financial gain, he would have sourced cheaper ingredients, not locally grown and organic ingredients.
If Mycoskie were guided entirely by the dollar, he wouldn't be giving away a pair of shoes every time he sold a pair.
And Geldof, if guided by profit, would have never given away 100 percent of the royalties from the best-selling single in the history of British music.
As you plan your business growth, carefully examine your skills, connections and values. If you choose to, you can leave a lasting positive mark on the world, and become emotionally and financially wealthier for the experience.