Tuesday, 26 February 2013

You must be the change you want to see

^From left: Dimitrios Salampasis, Sundeep Bhardwaj, Madi Sharma, Madhumalti Sharma and Yann Gensollen

Couple of days ago I participated in an entrepreneurial seminar organized by the Indian Business Chamber of Luxembourg. The keynote speaker was Ms Madi Sharma. To be honest, I did not know Ms Sharma before but after the seminar and her passionate speech her name will definitely echo in my mind. 

Madi is an international public speaker in the fields of entrepreneurship, diversity, gender balance and corporate social responsibility. She is a successful businesswoman and heads the Madi Group, a group of private sector and non-profit companies with a philosophy to create innovative ideas tailored to local action which can achieve global impacts. She is also a member of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, an appointee of Prime Minister to represent Employer’s group. 

Madi is a woman who does not follow the rules. I woman who was born in the UK, who dropped high school, who got into the business world despite being considered as crazy by her parents, who got married despite the disagreement of her family, a woman who experienced severe domestic violence, who left her husband taking her two daughters with her with no money in her pockets, a woman who managed to survive, who became a successful business woman, a woman who lost everything, who started from scratch and who is now head of Madi Group. 

Her speech was an appareled combination of passion, truth, willingness to share, determination and dream to fulfill her dreams. It was a real lesson on entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, an opening up of her soul to share her ideas, dreams, values and fears with the audience. 

I jotted down some of her words which I consider as highlights from her speech and which have a  special meaning. 

Entrepreneurship must be taught the way real entrepreneurs do. And this can be done without business plans. There is not a single successful business person in the world who reached success by following a business plan. A business plan is useful only in terms of accessing finance and because the European Commission asks for it.  

Let’s meet in my office. 
Where is your office?  
We’ve got an office in the middle of Luxembourg?  
OK, great … why do you need an office?  
So as the people can reach us.  

I am running eight companies and I do not have an office. Where is my office? British Airways lounge. Free coffee, free food and I am able to work there as much as I want. I check in 4 hours before my flight because this is my office. My office is the train from Brussels to Luxembourg. I want to meet people; I can do that in a coffee shop or in hotel lounges.

Having the ability to share and give knowledge and also be open to work with real people. This will give the real picture and the ability to understand how the actual market is working. Because, the market in terms of international orientation is all about culture. It is about understanding and feeling the real needs. This to be achieved requires education, education in terms of awareness, in terms of having the ability to see first what the others will see finally.

CEOs are not entrepreneurs, CEOs are managers of shareholders’ value.

If you can bring together five people with different skills and competences, ask them to work together and match their profiles you then see a blend of value creation in terms of collaborative innovation and sharing. This is about creating an entrepreneurial balance.  

Money is not important. Money is simply a resource to keep the engine running. Money is not something to hold on to it, it is a simple means of tangible assets something that passes away.  

Entrepreneurship is what my driving force is. If I give you one idea and you will give one idea each one of us has two ideas. There are 500.000.000 people in the European Union. If each one of them has one idea and that idea was changed into an action how many of today’s problems would have been solved? There are 7 billion people on the planet. If each of them had one idea that would be turned into an action couldn’t we solve all our problems? This is why entrepreneurship to me is so important. You have to inspire people to turn ideas into action, but we also have to inspire the rest of us to convince people to turn these ideas into action.

The pathway from idea to action
  • Feasible: everything is feasible and nothing is impossible   
  • Foundation: have you got the knowledge to do it   
  • Fit for purpose:  having a cause   
  • Failure: it is the chance to be able to see things from a different perspective, to be able to realize where the problem is, to learn from the mistake and receive constructive feedback   
  • Focus: on what you want, on what you see. I am 50, I am going to die at 75. My focus is to be able to turn 7 billion ideas into action and I will not stop till I finish.
Life is a blank piece of paper. Whatever you write on that top piece of paper will come true. However, 95% cannot do it and this is because no one has ever told you before to believe in you and focus on turning your ideas into actions. You are the one who makes the changes. You do not need money, you do not need people to help you do it; you just have to have the willingness and the want to do it.   

You have to believe that things come to you for a reason and that you must be ready and willing to grab the chance and change the world.   

Defining success: I wouldn’t change my life with anybody else’s life on this planet. How many people can say that?

Madi closed her speech with this phrase: You must be the change you want to see: no excuses!

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