Last week I, Michelle Radatovich (Office Manager at DHD Films), welcomed a special group of guests who walked through our studio doors all the way from Latin America. Delegates from Colombia came to meet with our Chief Success Officer, Hussain Manjee, and other local leading entrepreneurs. This cohort was comprised of those from all walks of life, including University professors to those working with victims of armed conflict in Colombia. They have come to the United States to learn more about entrepreneurship through the “Improving the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” program presented by the Institute of International Education and The World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
I knew this visit would be different from previous events that we have hosted when I met their Spanish interpreters, Ashley Nunez and Gladys Segal. These women provided immediate interpretation as we embarked on our studio tour. Taking it one step further, our discussion was facilitated by a multichannel translation audio system that made communication a breeze as the group discussion ranged across all facets of entrepreneurship. It was truly a wonderful thing to experience.
After getting to know the participants and their stories, there was one common theme relayed to me; they were impressed with the unique synergies between all the different institutions that help to foster entrepreneurship in the United States. The idea that so many entrepreneurs can be successful in the US despite a multitude of competitors was ground-breaking for these delegates. Further, the realization that even the smallest of ideas can take off planted a seed in their minds that they would take back to Colombia to sow for their communities.
My biggest takeaway was the message that our CSO left with them which can be summarized in three points:
Provide a Safe Learning Environment for your People.
Education is an important part of the journey. You must lay the foundation of education from an early childhood level (starting from birth to age 3). Next, provide a safe learning environment where your people can learn, brainstorm, and collaborate together – we talked about incubators and accelerators. We’ve all heard the story that you do not give a man a fish, but rather teach him how to fish. The next step should be to show the man how to sell the extra fish that he has caught. We talked about how entrepreneurship and microfinance lending helps countries break the cycle of poverty. We talked about organizations like the Aga Khan Foundation (AKFUSA.org) that have been doing this for 50+ years.
Another example that our CSO shared was how Babson college approaches undergraduate studies. When students (who are typically 17 or 18 arrive on campus), there are immersed in a program where they actually receive money to start a business so they can learn by actively doing. The students learn from experiencing successes and failures in a controlled environment. This mindset and approach to learning is critical for the advancement of young entrepreneurs coming out of Babson.
Teach Your Employees to be Intra-Preneurs.
Teach employees the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and the benefits will be reaped by all involved. Employees will practice the principles of entrepreneurship with a safety net of your mentorship, resources, and experiences. In many environments including at DHD Films, we have an in-house incubator to develop new business processes, products, and services – thus creating the intrapreneurship cycle of growth. Secondly the ideas and applications they develop whilst under your company’s roof will also benefit the company itself. As a leader, it is important to understand your employees’ goals and help them reach those goals. By investing in your employees, you not only retain them, you also fulfill them.
Apply Your Knowledge
To create change using new knowledge, focus on three ideas—or golden nuggets—that resonate most with you and apply them. In our business, we take ideas from all over– books, podcasts, websites –and figure out how to apply them in our environment.
Even though this program and discussion with our CSO was designed to help educate the Colombian Delegation, I feel fortunate that I was a fly on the wall that got to learn from this experience.
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