A Colourful View From The Top

This is a book on a mission to inspire the next generation to dream bigger than they ever thought possible through twenty-one extraordinary stories by leaders of colour achieving excellence in business. Their inspirational journeys contain valuable lessons to help all leaders empower diverse talent to succeed, making their businesses more successful as a result.

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Meet the luminaries

Jonathan Mildenhall

Co-founder and Executive Chair, TwentyFirstCenturyBrand
“This book is probably the most significant milestone of my career. I’ve had so many different career successes, and I hope that I paved the way for so many people to follow me and do great industry defining work. But this is a legacy piece of work that is going to inspire a generation after generation of new leaders.”

Amali de Alwis MBE

CEO, Subak
“Don’t let preconceived notions and stereotypes restrict you. If you don’t like the box you have been put in, draw and label another box that feels more right for you, or better yet, rub out all of the boxes and exist in the blank canvas.”

Karen Blackett OBE

UK President, WPP
“Affirmation: Today I will remember that impossible is nothing.”

Valerie Brandes

CEO & Founder, Jacaranda Books
“I grew up in Hackney in the 70s and 80s, the second youngest of 11 children. There was no one telling me you could do anything. There was no idea of anything outside of my world. So in a sense, devoid of anything, all I could do was everything. There were no opportunities therefore there were endless opportunities. When there’s nothing, there is everything.”

Dominic Carter

EVP, Publisher – The Sun
“Own your authentic difference because in doing so you get to own your true power.”

Gus Casely-Hayford OBE

Director, V&A East
“In order to truly appreciate THE world you have to be prepared to step outside YOUR world.”

Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE

Chair, Shakespeare’s Globe; Chancellor, Coventry University; MND NonExec director, Co-op Group; Trustee, Radcliffe Trust
“Spend as much time building your character, passions, thought leadership and community as you do your professional qualifications. It’s the former traits that help people cut through in today’s business world.”

Sophie Chandauka MBE

Head of Americas Risk Management and Intelligence at Meta
“I enjoy the idea of defying gravity. That’s where you thought my station in life should be. That’s where you think I belong. Every day that I’m able to do something and declare that ‘we are here’, I love it!”

Frank Chinegwundoh MBE

Consultant Urological Surgeon
“Because quite often when we’re trying to plough forward and trying to get to where we want to be in our careers and we don’t see many people who look like us, it may feel a bit isolating. I think whether the person has had certain experiences. But actually when you read such a book, you find the commonalities in your story. And that gives you strength that you’re not alone.”

Christianah Hodding

Founder & Director, CHRISTIANAHJONES
“Affirmation: Today I am going to be unapologetically me.”

Shelina Janmohamed

Director of Consumer Equality, Ogilvy UK
“The most powerful thing that any of us have is our own story. I think the voice that we use to tell our story is the most powerful tool to do that. Our voice is like a fingerprint, you can recognise somebody by their voice. It’s unique to them in the sound that it makes as well as the way that it talks. So it’s about leaning into your story.”

Vania Leles

Founder & Creative Director, Vanleles Diamonds
“Learning how to be the best is never a waste of time. Put yourself in places where you can learn expensive lessons without having to pay the cost.”

Ric Lewis

Executive Chairman and Chief Investment Officer, Tristan Capital Partners
“You control the role that doubt plays in your life. Doubt can come from many sources (including yourself) but only you have the final say in determining how much doubt influences your actions.”

Srin Madipalli

Founder, People & Robots
“Travel can be one of the best ways of educating yourself about new cultures, ideas and ways of being. Travel can really help define who you were born to be.”

Sharmadean Reid MBE

Founder, The Stack World
“Spend time reflecting on what brings you joy so you can marry your passion and wellbeing at work and beyond.”

Rania Robinson

CEO & Partner, Quiet Storm
“Affirmation: Today I will inspire someone close to me to be creative.”

Trevor Robinson OBE

Founder, Quiet Storm
“Manage stress levels through both patience and constant flexibility – think about the long game and what your future self will thank you for.”

Suki Sandhu OBE

Founder & CEO, INvolve and Audeliss
“If you want early stage career success you have to commit to being the very best you can be. Focus on exceeding all the expectations other people will put on you.”

Michelle You

Co-founder & CEO, Supercritical
“Look for the potential in everything you do and are passionate about. The status quo can and will evolve with your creativity and focus.”

Mohsin Zaidi

Executive at Hakluyt & Company, Author
“When you are unafraid to ask questions, you have the opportunity to learn a great many things that might otherwise pass you by.”
Huge thanks to Nigerian British illustrator Sam Adefé who captured the inner child and wisdom of each of our luminaries.

Get this book to the people who need it!

21CB are donating the book to every majority-minority, state-funded secondary school in the UK, but we need your help to get a copy into EVERY state secondary (approximately 4,100 schools).

We’re partnering with the National Literacy Trust and GoFundMe to achieve this goal.

“There is nothing more powerful to change culture than stories.”

Jonathan Mildenhall, Co-founder and Chair, TwentyFirstCenturyBrand

The story

The idea for the book was conceived after the murder of George Floyd when the two co-founders of 21CB, Jonathan Mildenhall and Neil Barrie decided that they had to do their part to change the narrative of people of colour. Over the next two and a half years we curated the stories of twenty-one incredible people of colour who have achieved extraordinary success across a number of professions. We call them our luminaries. The book was published by Constable in March 2023.

The Launch

The launch was designed to reflect the mission of the book, creating an intimate, interactive and inspiring experience between our target audience and business leaders of colour.

The event was hosted at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, a space devoted to recording, preserving and celebrating the history of the African Caribbean diaspora.

Isaiah Wellington-Lynn chaired a panel discussion with the illustrious luminaries featured in the book who, candidly shared their extraordinary and personal stories of navigating imperfect systems to achieve greatness, and the valuable life lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Events & Publicity

Contact us

We’d love to hear from you.

If you’re looking to work with us: talent@21cb.com

If you’re a client: hello@21cb.com