Mike Usmar has a nice reply when people ask him about his work with 'at risk' kids.
"I like to say they're at risk of being the next Bill Gates," he says.
Usmar isn't a household name like Stephen Tindall or Sam Morgan, but he's making a difference in the households where he reckons it really counts.
Like Tindall and Morgan, he's intent on helping grow our economy by shifting paradigms.
Usmar is the New Zealand and Pacific head of the global Computer Clubhouse movement, which puts technology in the hands of kids in 'under-served' communities through a network of clubhouses. The idea is to get a critical mass of young people fired up about science in technology - a passion they'll hopefully develop into careers.
When Unlimited spoke to Usmar, the sixth clubhouse was about to open in his patch. The immediate aim is to grow the network to 12, which will equate to about 37,000 young people and their family members reaping the benefits of what the clubhouses offer.
Technology is a great democratiser and is challenging the comfortable perceptions people have that kids in poorer areas will just grow up to be the next generation of factory workers, Usmar reckons.
"I think we've got competitive advantages coming out of these very communities that we've chosen to write off," he says.
"While we are an NGO [non-government organisation], we never lose sight of our belief that we are intimately connected to the GDP of this country. That's not because we're a 'feel good'; we have to transform these communities that we live in."
Usmar's not alone in the belief new thinking is needed to give this country a kick in the pants. Whether working in specific organisations or collaborating across sectors, creating new impetus for change characterises Unlimited's 2012 Influencers.
Here's how we came up with the list. We asked our wider networks to nominate people for our judges to consider or add to. After cross referencing their lists - and some discussion - we came up with the list of 25 influential people.
It's not a scientific process and the list is not exhaustive. But we think it's a worthy exercise to celebrate our leaders, our disruptors and our trend setters to highlight the need for change and celebrate those making it happen.
Influencers come in many guises. Some are big hitters working at the forefront of major changes - Theo Spierings introducing bold strategies as the new Fonterra CEO, for example, and Joan Withers, chair of the first SOE up for partial sale, Mighty River Power.
Other big names have drawn attention this year as collaborators - think Rob Morrison, Jenny Shipley and Ruth Richardson, using their significant pull to grow forces for change through the likes of Pure Advantage, Global Women and KiwiNet respectively.
Collaboration is a big theme in the 2012 list. As a small economy on the edge of the world, we finally seem to be getting the idea our global fortunes will only significantly rise by better working together. The New Zealand Merino Company CEO John Brakenridge is a great example.
Having pulled the merino wool sector together to drive value through that chain, he now wants to help other primary industry CEOs trigger some disruptive thinking in their sectors by taking them to a US business bootcamp.
Then there are those dizzying examples of what entrepreneurs are capable of. Victoria Ransom of Wildfire Interactive, Sean Simpson of Lanzatech and Ian McCrae of Orion Health are just a few of the Kiwis building global businesses going gangbusters.
Like the rest of us, they surely they have off days. But there's also something indefatigable about those with real influence; a relentless drive.
Influencer Andy Hamilton, CEO of the Icehouse, embodies the spirit. When the Icehouse celebrated its 10th birthday last year, Hamilton saw it as an opportunity to "put some rocket boosters" under the business development centre's future plans.
"I've always felt that we were climbing a mountain at the Icehouse and we were never able to reach the top. The more we work with our owner managers and entrepreneurs the more we see the challenges they face," he says.
"I personally get a huge kick out of working with people who are trying to grow their businesses - both successes and failures. That's my oxygen. That keeps me going."
* Greg Cross
Executive chairman of wireless power company PowerbyProxi, chairman of SLI Systems and chairman of the Icehouse, founder of New Zealand's first professional cycling team Pure Black Racing.
* Candace Kinser
CEO of Kiwi technology sector group NZICT and former CEO of biotech software company Biomatters.
* Sandra Lukey
Director of the Shine Group, a Christchurch marketing and communications company specialising in the hi-tech and biotech sectors.
* Peter Townsend
Chief executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce and a fellow of the Institute of Directors and the Institute of Management.
* The Unlimited team
Managing editor, Business Day (and former Unlimited editor) Fiona Rotherham, editor Caitlin Sykes, deputy editor Amanda Sachtleben and contributor Simon Eskow.