Toilets, mobile phones and at-home DNA tests surprised Bill and Melinda Gates in 2018

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51902523_10156009969561961_166770036755660800_nTalk about surprise and delight. Bill and Melinda Gates have delivered another inspiring letter to the world outlining key areas for action for philanthropists, business, government and anyone interested in improving the world. It’s also an excellent example of creative communications in action!

I always look forward to reading the dynamic duo’s annual letter and was delighted to see it pop up in my LinkedIn feed during a late-night social media trawl. What first caught my attention was a video featuring a surprise game of “Guess this word” between Bill and Melinda.

So, before I jump into the letter, I wanted to highlight this creative use of video on LinkedIn with a surprise “guess this phrase” game between the couple. They used the game as a gateway to converse about a range of social issues including improving women’s lives around the world and the grand challenges of climate change. Watch out dinner party guests: I’ll be expecting cute card games at our next round-table!

While this creative approach may not suit every situation, it’s worthwhile considering the next time you’re launching a new initiative or even just releasing your company’s latest annual report and getting your senior leaders to play a game!

Now back to the compelling content of this latest correspondence from Bill and Melinda. In their ‘his and her’ style letter, the well-known philanthropists share some of the things that have inspired them over the years and how these surprises are moving them to action.

From the opportunity to use at-home DNA tests to help prevent premature birth, to the desperate need to find an economical and environmentally-friendly solution to the toilet, the letter outlines a range of opportunities for the world to begin solving major social issues.

While I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to read the letter, I’ve also curated a couple of the most interesting points below:

  • Connectivity is a solution to marginalisation and mobile phones are most powerful in the hands of the poorest women, including millions of Indonesians making a living through Go-Jek, a popular mobile platform for rides, food deliveries, and other services AND the country’s first Unicorn company!
  • An entire NYC will be built around the world every month and if we’re going to solve climate change, we need to get to near-zero emissions on all the things that drive it—agriculture, electricity, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings
  • A project involving at-home DNA tests has led to a simple blood test that could be the answer to minimising the risks associated with premature births; but what’s most surprising is why is there so little attention given to something that impacts 10% of the people in every part of the world?

There are nine surprises in total and each gives cause to pause and reflect. As well as inspiring plenty of action, the letter also includes some excellent ‘explainers’ and simple evidence to begin discussions with colleagues, friends and family.

Once you’ve had a chance to read the letter, let us know what surprised you the most  by leaving a comment below.

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