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My visa’s been approved, and right now my passport is with one of Dad’s employees who was in KL. I’ll get the passport back tomorrow before my flight.

Here are the details:

KL to Amsterdam – MH016
Departing: 17/06/08 23:55
Arriving: 18/06/08 06:35

Amsterdam to KL – MH017
Departing: 21/06/08  12:00
Arriving 22/06/08 06:05

I’ll be bringing my laptop, camera, and webcam; hopefully I can get some video blogs up here.

Still need to work out how to get to the StayOkay hostel from Amsterdam, but I should be good.

Yay!

I just read the book version of One Red Paperclip, a quest by Kyle McDonald to trade up a red paperclip for a house. It reminded me of all the crazy things people have set out to do, with varying degrees of success.

Sean Aiken’s One Week Job; the Pursue the Passion tour; the 1 Second Film project where for $1 (goes to the Global Fund for Women) you can be a producer and possibly join Oprah (my producer ID is 9859 btw); selling a million dollars worth of web advertising or different works of personal art; or just making a million dollars in a year.

I’ve done my version of an Inspiring and Slightly Nutty Web Thing – after being sick of an empty mailbox and watching Ryan Fitzgerald get a zillion calls just by posting his phone number, I got myself a P.O. Box and asked people to send me mail. The P.O. Box is still available, and so is the offer – feel free to send me anything (as long as it’s legal and not food, because AusPost will confiscate it) to:

Tiara Shafiq
P.O. Box 6216
St Lucia, QLD 4067
Australia

I mostly got mail from other Mefites, but it was good fun, and particularly lovely as I went through a really bad patch in life after making that video – so all the letters helped.

This website is one of those Slightly Nutty Web Things too. How many people document their progress at applying for something online – and risk having it all fall apart? The end decision was the one thing I couldn’t control. I was rather hoping that this website will bring some sort of Internet fame…it hasn’t reached Red Paperclip levels (and possibly won’t unless KP NL accepts me), but I did meet a whole bunch of interesting people this way. All the KaosPilots past and present and future, general supporters, social activists like Beth Kanter who promoted me on BlogHer, all sorts of folk.

Even though the project now has taken a sharp turn into a different European country, and has another potential to go really wrong, it still has the potential to go really right. Or at least really interesting. I already have an offer to go to Biel to train with BrainStore for 3 months. If KP NL doesn’t work out, there’s another adventure. If KP NL does work out…well! We have quite a ride on our hands!

Obviously there are quite a few turning points for all those projects. The point where it becomes not just a private fun game, but hits the big time. Where things go “haywire”, as Kyle put it. Something can make the difference.

I’ve been getting a fair bit of attention the past few months because of EducateDeviate. I was actually shortlisted for KLue’s Blue Chilli Awards, but I think I’ve been kicked out because I couldn’t make interviews and photoshoots this week (no fair! there should have been advanced notice!). Second time a magazine has turned me down at the last minute (feh). Interestingly, an article I wrote two years ago, which led to one of the most-commented posts on EducateDeviate until now, has now become an email/blog forward thanks to it being posted on one of the Malaysian homeschooling Yahoogroups. So there’s my Internet notoriety. Heh.

The people I’ve highlighted above didn’t fear the repercussions when they set off on their projects. They made careful choices along the way (such as Kyle’s careful choosing of the trades he made) but were more than willing to make big risks and just do really extraordinary things.

The most extraordinary being that they started.

What is your inspiring but slightly nutty idea? Have you done it already? Why or why not?

The KaosPilots NL are developing some creative financing ventures for potential students. Among them is a corporate-supported fund to cover fees for the first year, and work experience programs. They’re also working on getting Government funding.

They seem to be pretty focused and thorough on the funding ideas; the funding page just went up but there’ll soon be entries from those that have found creative ways of supporting themselves. Another plus point for them!

Also, I got a postcard from them this morning. Aww thank you! It’s purple with “Arabic” writing that says “this card can change your life”. I think they meant to send me something too with it, because there’s a strip of sticky tape in one corner, but it got lost in the post. Sorry guys!

Don’t forget to get your chance at KaosPilot A-Z 2!

KaosPilot A-Z 2

I am giving away a copy of the now-rare English edition of KaosPilot A-Z, which is filled with essays and stories about social entrepreneurship from KaosPilots board members and friends, such as the late Dame Anita Roddick and Alan Webber of Fast Company, as well as an alphabetical look into life as a KaosPilot.

This book can be bought for DKR 280,- or €40, which doesn’t include shipping and handling. I got mine from a second-hand dealer and it cost me AU$70 all up. And I’m going to give my copy away!

All you have to do is answer these simple questions. All the answers can be found on the KaosPilots.NL website. You’ll also need to describe the KaosPilots Netherlands in your own words. Don’t worry, we don’t need essays 🙂

Anyone can enter! Just get all your entries in by 30th April 2008. The results will be posted here by the 3rd of May at the very latest, and I’ll get in touch with the winner to send the book over.

Don’t hesitate, it’s just a simple task.

Enter Now!

Some reviews of KaosPilot A-Z 2:

Fast Company
WorldChanging
Pioneers of Change

Reviews of the original Danish edition, KaosPilot A-Z (the version I’m giving away is in English)

On Thursday I was reading City News (a free weekly paper in Brisbane) and there was an article about Virgin Blue’s new headquarters in Brisbane. In the article, when asked about whether Sir Richard Branson was going to come to the opening:

A Virgin spokeswoman said while the entrepreneur would regularly drop by the headquarters, including a visit this weekend to the existing headquarters, his schedule was full for the mid-year opening.

(emphasis mine)

Thursday night it occurred to me that if Branson was going to be in my neighbourhood, it could be possible for me to meet him. I’ve admired the guy since I read Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It last year and figured he would be quite an interesting fellow to talk to. (Also: hello EducateDeviate interview and KaosPilot mission.)

I look up Virgin Blue’s contact details and find Colin Lippiatt, who is their Public Affairs Manager. I mull the idea over with Mark, who thinks it’s crazy, but still worth a try.

Friday morning I call up Colin. Told him that I read that Richard Branson was coming over, could I have a meeting? He told me he didn’t have Branson’s schedule, but gave me the number for Danielle Kieghery at Virgin Management – the woman with Branson’s schedule.

Aha!

I ring up the number and get her voicemail, which helpfully provides a mobile phone number. I debate whether to call the mobile. I leave a message, saying I’d like to do a short interview for EducateDeviate, my youth blog. After a few minutes I call up her mobile number, and reach her.

The background is noisy; turns out she’s in the middle of an interview. She tells me that Branson’s schedule is super full so she can’t really slot me anywhere, but I can send her an email over. Before I get her email address though, she has to leave.

I Google her name (and find that I’ve been misspelling it) and find her email address. I shoot off five quick questions and thank her semi-profusely for talking to me and giving me the opportunity.

I haven’t received a reply or a call-back, and I’d be quite surprised if I get either. But at least I am now one degree closer to Sir Richard Branson. The weekend’s just started, and if I wasn’t so busy today (Saturday) I would have stalked their Fortitude Valley office (thank you Yellow Pages) and just hung around until Branson and crew showed up. I’ll only need 10 minutes, after all. It did work for Astrid. Perhaps by Monday this story would have a pleasant ending.

I was expecting to be asked a lot more questions and be interrogated over who I was and what I wanted, so I was surprised that I was let through really easily. Tim Ferriss (he of the 4-Hour Work Week, which I just bought yesterday, damn my book addiction) had a challenge to contact some of the most prominent people around, and I think I did a pretty good job. This guy’s got a whole blog dedicated to meeting Richard Branson; I wonder if he’s been successful.

Who else should I contact? I’ve been trying to work out how to talk to Sir Ken Robinson after this brilliant TED talk, but his website’s under construction. And there’s Oprah Winfrey, whom I’ve been emailing for years without success (perhaps it’s because I am not American). If Anita Roddick was still around I’d like to talk to her too.

I’ve been successful with a few others – Dad led me to Jack Sim, who runs the World Toilet Organization (and whose email I really should reply to), and Uffe Elbaek, who formed the KaosPilots, is surprisingly approachable, quick, and very friendly. Then there’s all the fantastic people I meet by accident – I didn’t know how great they were till I met them and got to know them better. (also: hola, spidey! Really my best story of this kind, though now she’s not a celebrity to me but a dear friend and sister. Love you.)

There’s a few other people I’d like to swap ideas with – not just in relation to KaosPilots, but in general about life, education, making the world a better place, and being alive. Some of them aren’t quite as famous as others, but they’re still all inspiring and awesome.

What’s your story? Who did you get to meet under extraordinary circumstances? Also: if you can control Sir Richard Branson’s schedule, can you slot in 10 minutes for me? 😉

I’ve just returned from a Leads Club meeting – the idea is that business owners get together, promote their business, and share leads (potential clients/partners). A couple of people also speak up about something related to their business; today it was sub-prime lending and trends in mobile phones. Some of the members are really good with leads, and some have received good business from there.

If you’re in Brisbane and you’re interested, do drop by for a Thursday morning meeting. You’re allowed to come to two as a guest without having to make any commitments.

I’ve received some ideas and advice, and maybe I’ll get some leads out of there too 🙂 It was a bit more formal-business-oriented than I’d prefer, but at least it was a great way to put the word out there about my KaosPilot venture.

GiveMeaning is a website where people can put fundraising proposals up online and get support & ideas on how to make their fundraising efforts effective. They can also help collect funds for you.

I have put up my WBAKP proposal online and I need 100 votes by April 21, 2008 (a month or so away) for it to be active on the website. (I suppose this is to weed out spam and frivolous proposals).

Vote for Wanna Be A KP on GiveMeaning!

I’ve also applied for a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellowship. Theoretically, someone else is meant to nominate you (and if you want to, go ahead! ;D) but there wasn’t anything saying you can’t nominate yourself. Fellows get all-access paid participation to the Pop!Tech conference in Maine in October, as well as a leadership/skills development workshop aimed at developing big strategic programs, and year-long access to mentorships and networks. They’re particularly looking for those under 35, and those outside the US. Hey, I fit both criteria 🙂

Firefox is annoying me with its constant crashes. It’s just as unstable as IE before I switched over 4 years ago. I think I’ll be switching to Opera.

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