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Unusual Suspects: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things in the Digital Era

The most remarkable shifts in our digital landscape often emerge from the unlikeliest of individuals,  ordinary people who dare to do extraordinary things – the ’Unusual Suspects’.

Sophie Krantz
Sophie Krantz

In the age of the internet, smartphones, and incessant social media updates, it's tempting to assume that all noteworthy innovations stem from Silicon Valley's elite or the boardrooms of multinational corporations. But the reality? Significant shifts in value creation often come from the most unexpected places. The most remarkable shifts in our digital landscape often emerge from the unlikeliest of individuals,  ordinary people who dare to do extraordinary things – the ’Unusual Suspects’.

William Kamkwamba: as a teenager in Malawi, he built a windmill from scrap materials after seeing a picture in a library book. This wasn't for a science project or to gain social media clout. He built it to power his family's home and, later, to pump water for his village. Kamkwamba's windmill changed his community, drawing attention to the possibilities of sustainable solutions even in resource-limited settings.

Shubham Banerjee: a middle schooler from California who transformed a toy LEGO kit into an affordable Braille printer. Recognizing the high cost of Braille printers, he used his ingenuity and available resources to make a difference for the visually impaired. His creation, Braigo, challenges the notion that impactful tech solutions must be costly or complex.

Ibu Kartini: in Indonesia, was frustrated with the waste problem in her coastal community and started a movement called "Bank Sampah" or "Trash Bank." Here, residents can exchange recyclable waste for cash. This simple, effective solution not only cleans up the environment but also provides economic value, turning trash into a resource.

Bruno Rondani: in Brazil, he launched 100 Open Startups. This platform connects startups with large corporations, facilitating collaboration and innovation. But it's not just another networking site. Its unique ranking system ensures that the best ideas rise to the top, regardless of who's behind them. It's democratizing innovation in its truest sense.

These are our unusual suspects.

In the digital era, it's not the vast resources, extensive funding, or elite education that determines who will revolutionize an industry. It's passion, perspective, and the drive to see a problem and tackle it head-on.

Each figure saw a gap, a space where traditional leaders either weren't looking or couldn't find a solution. Yet, with resilience and innovation, they each carved a niche, created value, and, in doing so, changed the world around them.

As we navigate the complexities of our digital age, remember that the most transformative solutions might not come from the places we expect. Instead, they'll emerge from the garages, the classrooms, and the small community meetings. From the minds and hearts of the ordinary people with extraordinary visions.

Let's celebrate these unusual suspects. They remind us that in the ever-evolving landscape of the digital era, anyone - regardless of their background or resources - can make an indelible mark.

Amplified ambition drives global goals. Who's on your radar, in your worldview, in your network? Usual or unusual suspects? 

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Sophie Krantz Twitter

Sophie is a global strategist who writes on global leadership in the digital age. She works with leaders worldwide to amplify their ambition and accelerate their agency to drive global goals.