It would be easy to say that you’ve never met anyone like Jaz Ampaw-Farr before. Her passion for the potential we can unleash if we were to be just 2% braver and her insight into how to remove the barriers that hinder connection between ourselves and those we seek to influence make Jaz one of those people you will never forget.
Jaz’s story is one of growing up in the midst of the most appalling abuse, poverty and hardship, a period during which she encountered five teachers (and, importantly, one pimp) whose belief in her literally saved her life. Through her varied work, she relates her fantastic journey of how saying ‘yes’ allowed her to progress from council estate and foster care to advising international governments on education policy.
There are many messages that leaders take away from listening to Jaz as she shares her story across the UK, in the US (where she’s being called the ‘British Oprah’!) and elsewhere. Clearly, the impact we can have in transforming lives comes through loud and clear, but there is more to it than just that.
Jaz also embodies the idea of bravery and the willingness to be defined by what you’ve tried even if you fail, rather than by what you could have done. Both her (very) brief stint on the BBC’s The Apprentice and her career as a stand-up comedian are good examples of this. And she shows that a human being can be subject to the worst depravities of her fellow humans and not only survive, but thrive – and do so without anger or bitterness.
It is true, we are more than our stories – and Jaz shares ideas and insights from her life in her work with leaders and educators with humour, honesty, energy, authenticity and an unswerving optimism in people. Full of practical advice, her message is neatly summed up in her own words to those five teachers from her past, and in the title of her book: Because of You, This is Me.
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