John was born into poverty, brought up in care, and has lived through a lot. His life’s journey has included spells as a thief, prison inmate, artist and poet. Now an established iconoclast, activist and publisher, John Bird is the force behind The Big Issue, the world’s most successful street magazine. He is an inspirational business leader with an outstanding record of using business as a tool for social change.
John was nominated for life peerage by the House of Lords Appointments Commission in October 2015 to become a non-party-political “people’s peer”.
In his maiden speech he stated:
“Someone said to me, ‘How did you get into the House of Lords?’ and I said by lying, cheating and stealing.”
At a time when Corporate Social Responsibility is preoccupying business leaders and consumers alike, John Bird offers an authoritative, fresh approach, and some original perspectives on the interaction of business and society. His diverse experience, combined with his exuberant personality, erudition and often trenchant views make him a compelling and entertaining speaker.
John has spoken at the UN in New York, Nairobi and Istanbul, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. The UN Scroll of Honour, an MBE and the 2005/6 Beacon Prize for Creative Giving are just three of the many accolades and awards he has received. Since founding The Big Issue in 1991 with Gordon Roddick, John has overseen its development into the UK’s most successful social enterprise, stretching from Tokyo to Totnes and helping thousands of homeless people worldwide.
His autobiography “Some Luck”, published by Penguin is a compelling story of John’s journey from poverty, rejection, and struggle to eventual redemption. He has also taken part to the Quick Reads campaign and wrote the bestselling ‘How to change your life in 7 steps’ (Random House).