Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

He just went in and did it

John Hegarty admires the philanthropic work of Mick Ebeling

September/October 2015

John Hegarty, 71, is a co-founder of a leading British advertising agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Mick Ebeling, 44, is an American producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and the author of “Not Impossible”

I haven’t met Mick Ebeling, but I would love to, some day. He lives in Los Angeles, one of the most pampered parts of the world. In 2013 he learned that a 14-year-old boy named Daniel had lost his arm in the conflict in Sudan. Mick had an idea: he would replace Daniel’s arm with a prosthetic one, made from a 3D printer. Mick hardly knew how to operate a 3D printer, and he had certainly never been to a war zone. But he went to Sudan with a crew of just two other people, and, somehow, managed to find Daniel and print and fit him an arm. Then he taught the locals how to use the printer and make more prosthetics.

Mick is a remarkable man. Most people would raise money for a charity and be content, but Mick said, “I will go there and see if I can make this happen myself.” He’s a great example of something I often talk about, called creative ignorance: if you don’t know what you don’t know, it won’t bother you. That’s the lovely thing about Mick’s quest to solve this problem: he didn’t consult everybody and find out how not to do it. He didn’t have the relevant skills, but he didn’t think through the implications of that. He just went in and did it. He said, “I’m going to learn on the go,” and he made it happen.

Mick has the power to draw people to him, in a way which is entirely positive. Part of that is being able to pitch your ideas. All creative people have to be salespeople; the great artists were great salespeople, in a way. You have to pitch your ideas – and that’s what’s so great about “Not Impossible”. It’s the most inspiring book you can read about how to apply your skills to a problem, about how to have an idea and convince other people of its value. 

Readers' comments

Sign in or Create your account to join the discussion.