For all intents and purposes the general theme of my blog is to inspire collaborative creativity. To help people realize the vital importance of working together to not only achieve business success but also social betterment. This article focuses on the “exceptional people” that have created the infrastructure necessary to inspire change, make a difference and improve a life besides their own!

These individuals are the silent champions that are not credited in mainstream media, yet their efforts are far more glamorous, courageous and valuable than a majority of Hollywood’s finest faux social advocates. Networks should all focus on paying homage to these individuals instead of broadcasting the trivial rhetoric we are forced to consume each day about some pop star’s troubles. These remarkable individuals represent a new breed of entrepreneur, the “social entrepreneur”. Courageous, compassionate and committed to transforming society, these brilliant men and women have turned their business skills into tools for change, development and hope. Their unrelenting desire to help others without the expectation of anything in return, really does make them truly extraordinary.

1. Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy

Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy

As founder of Aravind Eye Hospital, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy (“Dr. V”) gave sight and hearing back to millions of people who would otherwise be blind and deaf.

Dr. V. came to the conclusion as a young man that “intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.” So, instead of retiring at the age of 65, Dr. V. mortgaged his home and opened a hospital to perform free or low-cost cataract surgery – if untreated cataracts can lead to blindness – on poor Indians. In his first year, Dr. V. performed over 5000 surgeries.

2. Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman

Edelman is the author and editor of a number of books on social justice, including Social Injustice and Public Health (2005), which expounds her belief that “a primary goal of public health is to address the root causes of social injustice: widening gaps between rich and poor, the unequal distribution of resources within our society, discrimination, and the disenfranchisement of individuals and groups from the political process.” Edelmen is the founder of Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) an initiative that encourages preventive investment before children get sick or into trouble, drop out of school, or suffer family breakdown.

3. Byron Katie

Byron Katie

Times magazine described Byron Katie as ‘A visionary for the new millenium’. Byron applies the Gandhian concept of “Be the change you want to see in the world” to one’s thoughts, with a deceptively simple technique and stunning clarity. She offers a constant ‘invitation’ to go inside oneself and to take responsibility for any situation by questioning one’s thinking.

Byron Katie’s method is called The Work, and is effective in bringing joy, happines, inner peace and an end to confusion. It has been described as a kind of Socratic Dialogue. “Believing our untrue thoughts is a sure way to scare ourselves to death” Byron Katie. ‘The Work’ has changed the lives of thousands of people.

4. Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus

Nobel Peace winner in 2006, Professor Muhammad Yunus has transformed Bangladesh and founded a bank that has loaned billions of dollars to millions of poor families, all without any collateral.. This country is the only one in the world which is on course to reach the millennium development goals of reducing poverty by one half by 2015. That is a statistic not to be missed!

His new book “Creating a world without poverty” outlines his vision for the eradication of poverty.

5. Mario Capecchi

Mario Capecchi

He lived as a feral child after the Nazis sent his mother to a death camp. His ‘unworthy’ ideas were rejected by the scientific establishment. Last year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for a medical revolution. He made his dreams a reality and never quit. He is truly exceptional!

6. Mimi Silbert

Mimi Silbert

In 1971 Mimi Silbert founded Delancey Street with four residents, a thousand dollar loan and a dream. She envisioned a place where substance abusers, former felons and others who had hit bottom would, through their own efforts, be able to turn their lives around.

Silbert has since built an empire grossing 20 million dollars a year with locations in New York, New Mexico, North Carolina and Los Angeles. She has never accepted a single penny of government funds.

7. Kailash Satyarthi

Kailash Satyarthi

Kailash Satyarthi has been instrumental in freeing thousands of child slaves from numerous industries. He has evolved various strategies and methods to secure freedom for the slave children. These include direct action, secret raids, judicial interventions, parental motivation, community mobilization, persuading and pressurizing employers, etc. Hundreds of real life stories of his liberation operations have motivated countless people to join the fight against child labor.

As you know, this list is by no means complete, there are several truly exceptional people that should be included on this list – so, if you have a blog take some time and write about them also. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

“Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.” – Erma Bombeck