Grace Clapham: creative entrepreneur, innovator, and recently crowned Inspirational Leader for the region in the Talent Unleashed Awards, this woman represents change in multiple ways. She talks to us here about her latest venture, The Change School, what keeps her going and her desire to change systems and connect people to themselves and each other.
You’re a true multi-hyphenate. Tell us about the journey to Change School and your dream for it.
The journey for The Change School started about 3 years ago but only came into fruition more recently. After having gone through a personal transition and being at a cross-roads I was looking for a space that I could go to that would allow me to develop myself to my maximum potential and still be surrounded by a value-led community. I wanted a space that wasn’t a retreat or a traditional education system and couldn’t find anything so I decided to create my own space. Prescribing to Maya Angelou’s belief that “ if you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, change your attitude” – I decided to do something about it. It was then that Change Ventur.es our 21 day programme for individuals looking to grow personally and professionally (happening again this October 2014 in Bali and applications still open) was born and from there we started building the bigger picture The Change School. My partner Solonia and I have now embarked on a bigger future for The Change School and are only at the very start.
The vision for The Change School is to provide a physical and intellectual space where individuals in transition can align themselves with purpose and passion for maximum impact whilst becoming better global citizens. We are building programmes for the different stages of an individuals life cycle, something we call the Change Cycle. We believe at different stages of your life you go through key pivotal moments and need a space and various programmes that allows you to work on different parts of yourself whilst being surrounded by a value-led community all the while building better global citizens. The Change School intersects between education, travel, wellness and personal development create an all-ecompassing approach and experience to help individuals aligning your life and your work.
We believe that the world would be a better place if people were more connected to themselves and to each other – building upon a shared goal of self-realization and the desire to make a positive impact on the global community.
A failure along the way you hated but ultimately learnt from?
I don’t think there is any failure that I’ve hated as I believe you make choices based on what comes your way and those choices turn into opportunities or learnings. I try not to use the word failure as I don’t believe you fail but either you transition, leave behind or progress on a new path. I do regret not finishing my Masters degree in Diplomacy and Trade as I am one to complete and be committed to anything I start and that was definitely something I didn’t complete because my career took precedent at that point.
Your energy is legendary. Where does your motivation come from? What gets you the most down?
Thanks! My motivation comes from wanting to make a difference, as generic as it sounds, it’s true. I’ve always had this desire inside since I was younger to make a difference. As kids we were given the most amazing experiences that taught us so much; helping paint an orphanage home in the rural areas of Indonesia to living with Dayaks in Sarawak, supporting the disabled in Australia and then working with local communities in South America. Each and everyone of these experiences in my life has allowed me to see and be open to different perspectives. It also makes you remember never to take anything for granted in this world and to think when you leave, what have you done to make it better. Another big part of my motivation comes from the people who I’ve had the pleasure of working with, help or support in some shape or form. Seeing the individual changes no matter how small they are just keeps me on my path. I also have to say my peers and those who have believed in me from the beginning including my father and mother keep me going – as it’s a hard road when you’re trying to make a change and you need to be fueled when you’re busy fueling others.
What gets me down is when my closest friends or family are struggling or sick, otherwise I’m blessed to be where I am today. Sometimes I worry that very little effects me but I think its these moments that drive me even more to make things happen faster and better.
Greatest life hack you would promote?
I would say greatest life hack is understanding what you can and can’t do and then finding ways of doing the things you can’t do in a manner that doesn’t put you out of pocket. Barter and the gift economy is my best friend! Another is having a virtual assistant to sort out your CRM and figure out how to be more effective and efficient for less costs.
What would be the one thing you would change in the world?
We live in a time right now where we need to be have better understanding of cultures and each other so that we can truly appreciate this world we are in and each other, yet we are still so far behind. I would like to change systems and build better global citizens who are able to better understand themselves and others for maximum impact in their community and themselves, which we have started to do with The Change School.
Tell us a story about one person who made an impact on you and how.
I can’t choose one, sorry! I seem to always use the same people but the 2 people who have made an impact in my life have been my Oma (Grandma in dutch) and my father. These two individuals had the biggest hearts and always gave back to their communities and those around them. They taught me to live compassionately and give more generously in what ever way I can, and that those less fortunate than us need to be supported, nurtured and embraced for who they really are deep down and empowered to reach their maximum potential. Sometimes it was to the detriment of not taking time out for themselves as I have started also seeing this happen to myself but it’s all worth it. They showed me that giving vs taking is what makes the world go around. In addition they never judged on class, race or culture – everyone was the same no matter what.
I don’t think its a story as such but I do remember our house was always a open guest house for anyone that my dad picked up along his journeys that needed a place to stay. It was known as Hotel Clapham as we’d sometimes have individuals living there for months!
“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it” – Clarence Budington-Kelland
Objects (old and new representing change)
The first is one of my first baby rings that my mum gave me…the second is my wedding band.
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Grace has lived in Asia for nearly 20 years. Driven by purpose, passion and innovation, she considers herself a ‘Changepreneur’. Passionate about connecting the dots, she organises, mentors and curates various eco-systems and communities within the Asia region such as Plus Social Good, Creative Mornings Singapore, SheSays Singapore and The Hub. Recognised as a Grey Goose Guild Iconoclast and recently winning the Inspirational Leadership Award, she nevertheless retains her extraordinary humility and willingness to give.
We are inspired by her collaborative courage and open heart , and are proud to have her as a Fieldtester, a group of inspiring friends that regularly test MATTER products in their workplace and travels to help us improve durability and design. Grace wears The Classic Wideleg in Tri Colour Twelve, Size 1.