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Turn to the Leader in the Mirror

“This moment in history demands that we stop waiting on others to solve the problems and right the wrongs of our times.”

At 66th AIESEC International Congress 2014 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Arianna Huffington addressed more than 700 young leaders from 124 countries and territories.

In her message to young people, she addressed the concept of “leading the change,” focused on empowering young people to create the change they wish to see in the world. Connected with the leadership development that AIESEC provides to young people, Arianna Huffington advises youth to tap into their creativity, leadership and wisdom – “Because wherever we look around the world, we see smart leaders in politics, in business, in media, making terrible decisions. What they are lacking is not IQ, but wisdom.”

Some of the most important issues today including diversity, climate change, education and the impact of technology require not just talk, but action. Arianna says:

“…don’t wait for leaders on a white horse to save us. Instead, turn to the leader in the mirror. Tap into your own leadership potential, because the world desperately needs you. And that means daring to take risks and to fail, as many times as it takes along the way to success and more important, to remaking the world and leading the change.”

How can we ensure that we are leading the change?

The Race to Improving the World Beyond 2015

Did you know there are only 500 days left until the end of the Millennium Development Goals?

As 2015 is slowly approaching, the world is closely watching to witness the accomplishments of the 8 MDGs, set by the United Nations back in the year 2000.

So where are we now? How much did we achieve?

“The world has reduced extreme poverty by half, efforts in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis have shown results, access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people”, etc. says The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at the goals and progress reports from this video:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, but 1 in 5 still live on less than 1.25 dollars per day in developing countries. And although the world has reduced extreme poverty in half, 842 million people around the world still suffer from chronic hunger.

2. Achieve universal primary education – The number of children with no access to primary school education decreased from 102 million in 2000 to 58 million in 2012. While the amount has significantly decreased, the number of out-of-school children is still alarming.

3. Reduce child mortalityUnder-5 mortality rate was reduced almost by 50%, but a lot more needs to be achieved if we want to achieve 2/3 reduction.

4. Improve maternal health – Maternal mortality ratio is down 45% since 1990. However, every day about 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

5. Ensure environmental sustainability – Since 2012, 2.3 billion more have access to improved drinking water, but 748 million still use water from an unimproved source.

For more statistics, take a look at:

 

While we ought to celebrate our achievements and recognize the progress we’ve made, we shouldn’t forget how far the world is from where we want it to be. Working on these issues is not priority only now or only until 2015, but every day.

How can we contribute to this?

On August 19th 2014, 700 young people from 124 countries and territories gathered at the Global Youth to Business Forum, an event bringing together top young leaders and experts, business and thought leaders, with the aim of generating new, actionable ideas that will impact the world and its future.

Y2B

They spent the whole day discussing the topics ranging from Diversity and Inclusion, Technology and Innovation to Climate Change, Sustainability and Changing Education. Together, they have come up with action steps that could help improve each of those areas and move the world forward. Stay tuned for our report to find out about the solutions youth and business co-created together!

Don’t forget that we have only 500 days left until MDGs. At the same time, let’s not forget that impact is a daily responsibility. This is why AIESEC offers volunteer internships that help tackle social topics such as cultural understanding, education and literacy, social entrepreneurship, environment, health and lifestyle and many others. For more information, please visit: http://globalcitizen.aiesec.org

This is how we contribute to making an impact every day and helping move this world forward. Share with us:

How will you contribute to bringing the world closer to the vision of 2015? 

 

Entrepreneurship 101 with Intel

We live in times of a changing, knowledge-based economy. Leaving the industrial age behind, we entered the age of information. Nowadays, job markets require different set of skills; the so-called 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, team work and many more. The concepts of “intrapreneurship” and “entrepreneurship” have become highly appreciated. But even though the world has changed, education has not followed. There is a huge gap between the knowledge and skills formal education provides and the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s business world.

Intel wants to follow up on the change.

Michał Dżoga, Head of Corporate Affairs (CEE Region) says, “At Intel, we believe that everything we do should matter to society.” That is why at the Europe Youth to Business Forum, Intel ran a workshop with 100 young leaders about the importance of entrepreneurship, start-ups and innovation.

Hard data proves that the entrepreneurship culture in Europe is weaker than anywhere else. This could be associated with the difference in perception the USA and Europe have regarding the outlook on failure when starting your own company. In the USA, failure is accepted as part of the natural process of learning and growing. Most of what you learn as an entrepreneur is by trial and error. In Europe however, people tend to be too cautious in their desire not to fail, which prevents them from taking healthy risks necessary for the success of their company.

Michał Dżoga asked the delegates at the workshop a powerful question – How often do students start a company straight after college and succeed without previous experience?

It happens all the time!

When starting up, it is important to remember that you don’t have to have absolutely everything in the beginning, because that’s very hard to achieve. The idea is to start and constantly add to what you have. As Michał said “There are more interesting ideas than good companies on the market.“

Another tip to keep in mind about entrepreneurship is that idea is small part of the investment; implementation is everything. In a science project, an idea is worth a lot. But since globalisation influences start-ups, someone else may be doing your project already. That’s why it is important to start as early as possible, with good mentoring and guidance.

At Europe Y2B Forum, Michał Dżoga also revealed the secret of Intel’s success “We really believe in what we are doing. People who were there in the beginning are still with the company. What Intel is most proud of is Moore’s law, named after its co-founder Gordon Moore, which states that the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years. The company uses this as a guiding principle for growth and advancement. Intel has the legacy to foster innovation and leadership, which are embedded in the DNA of the company.“

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As part of this legacy, Intel is organising the Intel Business Challenge, an event which brings together the best engineers and scientists from around the world to present how they plan to make the world a better place through innovations and entrepreneurial skills! But the Intel Business Challenge is not only about the competition, but more about the platform that will help you fine tune your idea and gain mentorship and guidance from entrepreneurs all over the world.

Find out more at intelchallenge.eu. Apply, become an entrepreneur and make the world a better place!

4 Reasons why AIESEC provides the perfect education for an Entrepreneur: Part 1

This is two part Guest Blog post from Tom Weaver, previous Member Committee President of AIESEC United Kingdom 2002-2003, Founder of Flypay.

“A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth.” 

– Paul Graham, investor & founder of startup incubator Y Combinator

My story: University, AIESEC and becoming an Entrepreneur

The AIESEC experience is like being thrown in the deep end of the swimming pool when you’ve just taken off your life jacket. Fortunately, this is exactly the induction that is needed for the aspiring entrepreneur. With AIESEC’s safe environment to try new things and fail, members are able to learn and acquire practical skills that are very much needed in the world of startups.

I felt I was in the deep end at every step of my AIESEC career, from a new member, to Local Committee President in AIESEC at the University of Southampton, to a trainer, and finally to National President of AIESEC United Kingdom in 2002.  The kinds of issues and challenges we faced day to day were well beyond what I needed to deal with for many years after, until I founded my startup company, Flypay.

At that point, I felt like I’d jumped into an even deeper swimming pool.  Fortunately for me, I knew a little bit about swimming by now.

Flypay’s Journey: From an idea to a startup

Flypay is an app that allows restaurant customers to check, split and pay their bill from their smartphone. The typical restaurant customer waits over ten minutes from the moment they are ready to leave, until the moment they are paid up and can leave. There are all sorts of difficulties with splitting the bill with others at your table. I felt that my business partner and I could solve this problem.

We launched in Wahaca, a major London Mexican restaurant brand, last month. We’re now slowly rolling out across their estate, as well as having some very positive discussions with some very large and well-loved UK restaurant brands.

Now we’re focusing on growth; growth in the number of restaurants using our solution; growth in the number of consumers using the app. And we need that growth fast! We need to get there before the PayPals of this world decide they can do what we do.

We’ve gone through one investment round, and will shortly begin our second, much more significant round.  We’ve had our first transactions, first users, first press, first positive tweets, and have just been nominated for Mobile Business of the Year (we need votes for this, so if you think we’re onto something please help by voting here)!

Through all of this, the skills I had gained in AIESEC were critical to our success, and I realized why AIESEC is such a perfect primer for startup founders.  Here are my four reasons.  It was three, but who needs to follow convention anyway?

Reason 1: Entrepreneurs need to be a generalist as well as a specialist

Aside from designing and creating the actual product, here are some of the things I’ve had to do in order to get Flypay off the ground. They may sound familiar to the well-seasoned AIESECer (a term we use for “members of AIESEC” for those of you who are not in the organisation):

  • Cold email the Managing Director of our first customer to persuade him to meet us
  • Persuade our first customer to take a chance on us in our first meeting
  • Persuade critical partners to work with us by selling them the vision of what we were going to achieve, and how they could be a part of it
  • Develop a business plan outlining what we were going to achieve (used as the basis for fundraising)
  • Pitch for funding (somewhat like going for sponsorship, only a bit of a larger number)
  • Build the best possible Board of Directors
  • Create a new business development and marketing strategy
  • Develop the product and execute the vision you’ve sold everyone
  • Sort the finances, and develop a very focused budget

Some people have very defined careers. They build up specialisms that determine their day-to-day job descriptions and projects.

Running a startup is not like that.  It is just like working in AIESEC- every day holds something very different.  One day I’m meeting a new client.  Another I’m networking with senior executives at a conference.  Today I’m running a board meeting and had a lot of materials to prepare.  We’ve got employees to manage, and product deadlines to hit.  I’m interviewing PR companies this week. I need to prepare a contractual agreement for a potential new client.

Being able to deal with a wide range of things from the very big picture to the very small details and shift from concept to execution very quickly is essential to the success of a startup.  This is what AIESECers do all the time.

Reason 2: Entrepreneurs need to be very good at persuasion and presenting

When you initiate a startup, you have a vision for something you want to change.  Often, you need to persuade a myriad of people to work with you.  We’ve needed to convince a lot of people that Flypay was worth their time- including our first clients, the restaurant systems that client used, a very large payment gateway provider, several merchant banks, investors and initial consumers.  They had to take a chance on something that (at early points) didn’t even have much of a product to put in front of people.

AIESECers learn to be persuasive because what they are selling is very conceptual (you don’t have a physical trainee there) and relatively complex (there is a whole process to go through).  That is a very useful thing to learn.

Once I left AIESEC I was blown away by how poor “normal professionals” are at presenting.  I saw, and still see, many highly paid and important, but insanely poor presenters. Yet, in AIESEC, we are used to getting up in front of large groups all the time.  It gives you a huge advantage.  When you go to pitch for investments you need every inch of those skills.  We had one presentation of five minutes in front of 25 “dragons” followed by five minutes of questions, but were told we were unusually good at presenting and made an excellent impression (and gained two investors and an offer of more from the experience).

Interested to hear more? Come back on Wednesday for the continuation of Tom Weaver’s guest post, as well as his final thoughts on AIESEC and entrepreneurship.

Are you ready to start improving the skills you need to become an entrepreneur? Sign up to become a member of AIESEC now!