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Remembering a great man

In memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, late Chairman of the Social Innovation Exchange

[May 16 2012] Today would have been Diogo Vasconcelos's birthday. Our present to him is our commitment to social innovation, and our official announcement that SIX will become an independent entity this year. A thriving independent SIX was something Diogo felt strongly about, and something he has helped us to achieve. Over the last year we have made significant progress on our independence journey - growing the network, creating and delivering a new brand, and streamlining our activities.

We are inspired every day by Diogo's passion, which is demonstrated in this video but also in every other way. At this time there are no better words than those of Simon Willis:

“This contempt for the impossible extended deep into his work to improve society, his passionate animation by the possibilities of the future. He was at heart a visionary, an innovator and an entrepreneur – one of the most common of his recent phrases “we have to fix the future!” and his approach was to combine the philosophical and conceptual with the local and practical. He believed as many visionaries have that huge change could come from small groups of well motivated people working together at the local level. His excitement and deep understanding of the Arab spring (he had of course immediately made friends with a number of the key activists in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere) was based on this profound optimism about what ordinary people could achieve together. He felt that his birth in May of 1968 meant something – that his life was lit from inside by the hope and radicalism of the Paris spring.  The traditional divisions of left and right were laughable to him – he relished difference as a challenge to find common ground and make real positive change. And he was a disruptive force – like all true innovators. He was of course fascinated by disruptive innovation and loved to describe himself as a neo-schumpeterian. But he himself was a disruptive innovative force – leaving no situation or room he entered quite the same. (…)

As a friend and colleague that you could rely on he was beyond compare. He was warm, gentle, funny and kind. For a man driven to change the world he was surprisingly mischievous and even silly. But at the same time took seriously the ordinary decencies of day to day life, politeness, respect, gratitude. (…) You always left him feeling lighter and more hopeful than when you met.  People felt lucky to know him or privileged. This is partly because he was so fundamentally generous. Generous with his time, his ideas, his networks and contacts, generous with his readings and his books, with his compliments, generous with his warmth and affection. This meant that he ended up as a friend of ours said recently always in your mental landscape – your thinking was deepened, your sense of possibility expanded.  His range of interests and passions is impossible to summarise; food, music, jazz, Norway, technology (Diogo could not have too many channels of communication!) America, Africa, islam, democracy and so on and so on. He was fascinated – he was intensely engaged with the world and constantly delighted by what he discovered there.

I want to try and remember…..

If you trust people you will discover what they have to offer.

Respect the fundamental humanity in all people equally.

Inspire by example.

Live as if you are as good as you can be.

An idea only becomes interesting if you take personal responsibility for using it to make some small positive change in the world.

We far more often limit our possibilities by aiming too low rather than too high. (Diogo was always saying “lets put a man on the moon!!”)

(…)

Diogo. We miss you so much."

Simon Willis, Vice President and Global Public Sector Practice - Internet Business Solutions Group

Diogo's wikipedia page was also launched today - see here for the page in Portuguese