Changemakers

An interview with Claud Williams

Changemakers is a series of interviews with people on the frontline of influence and inspiration. Through it, we’re talking to individuals on a mission to change beliefs and create positive change with lasting impact.

In our next interview we speak to Claud Williams founder of development brand, Dream Nation. A high-achiever with a gift for helping people reach their potential, Claud shares his story of dreams, determination and drive to make a difference.

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Your website describes you as a ‘serial entrepreneur’. In your own words, who are you and what do you do?

I’d describe myself as someone who’s trying to make a positive impact on the world. I do that in non-traditional ways, and I tend to be quite innovative with the way I approach it.

I’m also very much at the start of my journey – I don’t feel like I’ve become everything I’m going to become as of yet, so in many ways I still count myself as a beginner or a novice.

You entered the world of business at a young age. Tell us about what inspires you to keep innovating in that space?

What first attracted me to business was the ability to make a difference – to have big impact on the world and on people’s lives.

I fell into entrepreneurship one summer holiday, when I decided to organise a basketball tournament because I had an injury and couldn’t play. It was my sister who made me realise I was running a business – she handed me Richard Branson’s first biography, and he became one of my biggest inspirations.

I realised that when you run your own company, when you have that sort of authority within your business, and within the world, then you do things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

Self-belief and hard work are themes that come through strongly in your work. Why are they important to you?

Firstly, I’m quite severely dyslexic, which has taught me that we’re all dealt different cards in life, however, when we are strategic with what we have and when we work hard, we can still play the game and win.

Another lesson comes from when I fell in love with basketball. I made the school team, and I remember how in the county finals game, we got demolished. Seeing my teammates distraught was one of the feelings I had ever experienced, and I decided I was never going to let that happen again.

I started practising every single day, and the next year, we went undefeated. We got to the final county game, played the same team and destroyed them, and the year after that, we went on to win the national championship.

Those experiences taught me that the end result is in your hands. It might take a lot of work, it might take some time, but ultimately, if you do the work that’s needed, you really can turn almost any situation around.

You founded Dream Nation in 2013 as a ‘development brand fit for the 21st century’. Tell us about what inspired you to pursue that vision.

Being the president of the Afro-Caribbean society at university really taught me the value of community and bringing people together. Then, after graduating I won a handful of business awards, and was asked to give a TEDx talk. That was a fantastic experience, but I remember thinking if I was in control, I’d do things a bit differently.

That year, I read the biographies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, which taught me about using your skills to have a wider impact on the world, and all the ideas eventually moulded into one

I combined what I’d learnt about the power of community, my experience at TEDx and the inspiration I got from reading about creating impact, and decided to host my own event. It was on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech, focusing around the idea of being a Practical Dreamer.

After that, so many people were writing in to me to say how much it had impacted them, or that it had changed an element of their lives. I knew I needed to make this bigger, and I decided to make Dream Nation my full job.

What kind of people do you work with?

Dream Nation is open to everybody. We mostly attract young people, with a large proportion from Black and Asian communities, but the common theme is that everybody is highly ambitious and hungry – they want more for their lives.

You’re an ambassador for the Aleto Foundation, a charitable organisation set up to inspire the next generation of leaders. Has that paved the way for the work you do now?

100 percent. I was selected by the Aleto Foundation as an up-and-coming black leader back in 2011, which in all honesty changed my life.

A few years later, I was asked to come on board as the chief ambassador for the Foundation, and a lot of the principles that build the foundations of Dream Nation come from seeing the benefits that type of support gives people.

What are your tips for staying inspired?

Giving yourself a great network of friends and supporters is crucial, and so is surrounding yourself with the people that inspire you. Get lots of sleep and exercise, pick a huge goal which inspires you, and change your perspective to think more about the opportunities to learn than anything else.

Take the time out to do the things that you love, and lastly, just remember that you’re human – don’t try to do everything, you’re not superman or superwoman!

What would you say to your 18-year-old self if you met him now?

Keep dreaming, read more books and you’ve got this.

Image source: Claud Williams