I’ve met so many brilliant people through the Do lectures, but there’s one who perfectly encapsulates both the the magic of the event and the power of the Do ‘Encouragement Network’.
Claire Elsdon was a stockbroker. Claire Elsdon was also a motorcycle adventurer who took a year-off broking stocks to ride solo from London to South Africa. She’s one of only a handful of people who have ridden the length of Africa alone, and I think she’s the only woman.
During her epic journey, Claire realised that the lifespan of her motorcycle would inevitably have a close correlation with her own, especially in such challenging African terrain, so she became a passionate obsessive about the art of motorcycle maintenance.
In Malawi, she was invited to help a microfinance charity which was completely reliant on its 80 strong fleet of bikes for their operations but were nearly broken by excessive running costs.
She designed and ran a maintenance training workshop for their staff all over the country called “Love Your Motorcycle”, which helped reduce their fleet running costs by 60%. In Tanzania she trained mobile midwives how to look after their motorcycles too.
When she came back she took time off to try and write a book about her trip but ended up back in London, working in The City, and as she says ‘living in monochrome, not technicolour’.
I met Claire over dinner at The Do Lectures 2015 and my jaw dropped as she quietly and modestly revealed more and more of her story. The biggest surprise was that she didn’t know what to do next and had come to this mad Wales weekend seeking inspiration.
I went to get a drink and bumped into Mark Shayler, one of the Do co-founders who was fretting that one of the next day’s speakers had pulled out at the last minute. I went back to Claire and asked if she’d like to tell her story, and because she’s brave and awesome, she said yes straight away.
This is Claire telling her story.
What’s missing from the video is the audience reaction which was a unanimous ‘go do it!’ More importantly, the reaction was unanimously ‘we’ll help’.
And so we did. Half a dozen of us have directly rallied behind her and helped her to plan, fund and reimagine what she can do to live in vivid African technicolour. The Do Lectures’ unofficial encouragement network has powered Claire to take her geeky passion for motorcycle maintenance and turn it into something special and meaningful.
Claire is not a stockbroker anymore.
She’s a Motorcycle Maintenance Missionary (more grease work than God’s work), living in Tanzania and her new organisation Pikilily is alive and kick-starting a motorbike revolution.
This is all Claire’s work but the Do Lectures empowered her in a hundred tiny ways, and we’re all here to keep her living the life her Grandmother urged her to live (watch her talk to hear that piece of beautiful wisdom).
I’ve never met anyone who regretted getting involved with the Do Lectures, but I know dozens who have subsequently lept out of monochrome and into technicolour. Founder David Hieatt says that the Do Lectures is the best way he knows to “fry people’s brains”. In a good way.
You can follow Claire’s journey and support her here:http://www.pikilily.com/