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Inspiring Stories marks 10 years championing New Zealand’s future leaders

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Ruth James

Aug 12, 2021

Since launching in 2011, Inspiring Stories has become one of New Zealand’s leading social enterprises backing young Kiwis to unleash their potential to change the world. 

From establishing New Zealand’s largest social innovation summit, to acknowledging Kiwi greatness with the annual Impact Awards, Inspiring Stories have supported thousands of young people to engage in the big issues of our time, build capability, and make a difference for the future. 

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to attend their 10-year birthday party. This celebration was all the more meaningful for me because I had previously been given the opportunity to meet Guy Ryan, Founder of Inspiring Stories. Guy shared his story of adversity and how he overcame many hurdles on his journey to build his charity to where it is today. 

Like many startups and fledgling businesses, Inspiring Stories has grown and adapted over the years to best serve its people. However, a longstanding success that the charity has been running for 10 years is their renowned Festival for the Future (FFTF). Last weekend FFTF was hosted at Wellington’s TSB Arena, hosting 1,200+ attendees as well as hundreds participating online. 

For the full rundown on FFTF 2021, check out our blog post featuring a chat with Impact Award winners – Dignity NZ.

In honour of Inspiring Stories’ 10 year anniversary, I want to share the stories behind two individuals who I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the years through this remarkable charity. 

April McLennan, Founder of Limitless

April McLennan founded Limitless in early 2016 at the young age of 18 after taking part in one of Inspiring Stories’ accelerator programmes, ‘Live the Dream’. 

A charitable trust built to equip young people, Limitless helps Kiwis to better understand their values and passions to pursue a meaningful career. Essentially, Limitless has created a safe space for rangatahi to figure out ‘what next’ when they leave school.

April says, “We’ll each work about 80,000 hours in our lifetimes – imagine what we can achieve in that time if we are really passionate about our jobs, and have a greater sense of purpose”.

In mid 2016, April was selected as one of three New Zealand delegates to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California. Now in its fifth year, April and her team have run three conferences for year 9 and 10 students in Canterbury.They have also developed various workshops and support pathways for students to discover their passion and channel it into meaningful career pathways. 

You can hear April talk about her journey here at the 2017 Festival for the Future. 

Talei Bryant, Founder of Find your Fish and Future Leaders coach

Talei Bryant is a mental health ambassador from the Bay of Plenty region. She founded the ‘Find your Fish movement‘ to help young people find their passions and equip them to face the ups and downs of millenial life. Talei also dedicates much of her time to volunteering and has big dreams for transforming her community.

I first met Talei two years ago when we started hosting the Future Leaders coaches in our Wellington Xero office. One of Inspiring Stories’ numerous initiatives is their Future Leaders programme designed for a diverse range of young people from rural and provincial New Zealand.

Talei first got involved in the Future Leaders programme after relocating to Whakatane, following a tumultuous two years out of high school. Having supported her family following the tragic death of her father, Talei was seeking an opportunity to find purpose to her work and make a positive impact in her community.

Talei says, “I believe the Future Leaders programme will change the future of New Zealand for the better. The opportunities, the networking, and the skills you learn are vital for the youth of today. The Future Leaders programme has changed my life in the best way possible.”

Now as a Future Leaders coach – Talei is changing the lives of the young people in her own community. Watch her talk at FFTF2019 on Inspiration to Action here.

Xero is proud to be an Impact Partner of Inspiring Stories. Their values and beliefs align deeply with Xero’s, from our Social and Environmental Impact, our work in recognising the importance around wellbeing and good mental health, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is a no-brainer to work alongside them and support their mission.

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