John Bird founded The Big Issue in 1991, and since then he has spread the business all over the world.
He was born into poverty, brought up in care and has lived through a lot. John’s life journey has included spells as a thief, prison inmate, artist and poet. Now an established iconoclast, activist and publisher, he is the force behind The Big Issue, the world's most successful street magazine.
John Bird is an inspirational business leader with an outstanding record of using business as a tool for social change.
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.
He was nominated for life peerage by the House of Lords Appointments Commission in October 2015 to become a non-party-political peer. On 30 October, he was created Baron Bird, of Notting Hill in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
John Bird on Leadership
"I have met many successful leaders and count some of them among my friends. I'm told I'm a good leader too. Keeping the Big Issue together through all its trials and torments has certainly been a test of my own leadership skills. The fact that The Big Issue is stronger than ever today is in part testament to my ability to lead from the front.
My life has been about leadership and inspiring others to become leaders - even if it is just to take leadership of their own lives. Creating and motivating new leaders is what I do best.
My leadership style is to be engaging, questioning and above all inspirational, because my own life story and experiences have been inspirational. The people I have known, the experiences I've had, and the places I've been - all still inspire me today.
Bad leaders can ruin whole organisations, and even nations, while great leaders inspire those around them to feel better and do better. Great leaders can turn even an ordinary business or organisation into an exceptional one. Successful leadership breeds success."