I got a privilege to be part of 40th St.Gallen Symposium in Switzerland which took place on 6th-7th of May with the pre-programme on 4th-5th of May. This Symposium provides a platform for some young people from the best business schools across the world to meet with the prominent business leaders from across the globe. I got selected there to represent the BI Norwegian School of Management.
The topic of this year's Symposium (the topic is different every year) was "Entrepreneurs - Agents of Change" - relevant for both my studies, as well as for my academic and professional interests. The event was organized on a very professional level (around 300 students participated in organizing it, guided by the board of trustees). The line of speakers and workshops leaders was very impressive - the most high-profiled event I have attended so far. CEO of Nestle, Chairman of the Board of UBS, Chairman of the Board Deutsche Bank, the Managing Partner of McKinsey&Co, Chairman of the Board of BASF, Minister for the Economy of France, to name a few.
The most impressive for me were the stories from the European, American and Asian entrepreneurs - both of established successful businesses and those among young ambitious "leaders of tomorrow" (I was being labelled a "leader of tomorrow" as well). Very smart people, impressive conversations, good fun with some of the "leaders of tomorrow", new ideas and insights, yet another confirmation that I have a larger responsibility towards this world.
I took many notes during this symposium and decided to type in some of them here.
Global barometer (the survey among the "leaders of tomorrow")
99% of young leaders of tomorrow (400 respondents from across the globe) think that globalisation is good.
The Eastern Europeans are least proud of their countries across the globe. Only 35% are proud, while in total 85% of young leaders of tomorrow are proud of their countries.
Suhas Gopinath (India) started his first business venture when he was 14 in an Internet cafe in Bangalore (he didn't have his own PC) – a freelancer which was dealing with the design of the websites. When he was 15, he first employed people, although his family was against him being involved in the business venture (they wanted him to learn in school properly). Later started with the e-commerce systems, e-systems for education, dealing with the systems that distinguish between real/fake medicine according to the bar code. He now employs several hundreds of people, being 23.
“One advantage with being a young entrepreneur is that you are not afraid of failure”
“Capital without capitalism”: everyone can start up a firm on a kitchen table with a laptop for $300 and have a global audience from the day 1. (Peter Dey, BBC business reporter).
Dr. Bert W. M. Twaiihoven (Switzerland/Holland), an entrepreneur who has established several companies:
- “If you know what you don't know, you are a winner” - there must be people who can be better than you (managers, project leaders etc.)
- Business plan – you are always too optimistic. The success of the technology business venture almost always takes at least 5 years. The first year is always unprofitable.
- Reluctance to change among the people around you: “The only one on the world who likes change is the baby in the wet diapers”
- He was 82 when giving the talk, but was doing a lot of sports with his wife, because it holds one to be healthy.
- “Entrepreneur is the one who creates a long-term wealth, a long-term value”
- “Entrepreneurs surround themselves with the people who are smarter than they are”
- “Money is a measure, a by-product. It is a form of energy”
- “Fortune favours bold and determined”
- “Cash is the king, profit is an opinion”
- “Don't be afraid to fail. If you will, you will fail”
“Everybody can become an entrepreneur. But only some can become successful entrepreneurs.”
Christian von Koenigsegg (Sweden), entrepreneur:
- “I never wanted to build a business. I wanted to build the sports car. That's why I succeeded as an entrepreneur.”
- “If Einstein has figured out how does the universe work while sitting in a cafe, I could have figured out how to build a car without an engineering background”
- “You should only become an entrepreneur if you have a reason to do so. Ask yourself: Do I have something special to contribute? Am I ready to sacrifice?”
“Entrepreneur is a combination of a great explorer and a great bullshitter”
Morten Lund (DK), co-investor of Skype, failed as a newspaper investor, multiple entrepreneur:
- “Forget about the ideas. Ideas mean nothing. What matters is a team”
- “Money comes from sales”
- “There is no formula” - no unique recipe for success
- “Vision is everything. But be sure you don't mess it hallucination with it”
- “Network is the key” - learn to communicate
- “Technology is the key”
- "Try. Self-confidence every day."
- Being positive. The power of minds.
- Being crazy vs. the mainstream
- "Go with your interests and hobbies"
- “Look for good people. Good people will succeed with anything”
- “Don't over-strategize”. Forget about BSC, McKinsey and similar
- “Find people who you share values with”
- “Try to stay in love”
- “It's all your fault”. Don't blame the others
- "7 out of 8 businesses die. So, don't jump into anything."
- "Do branding."
Would we have had such a financial crisis if there would have been more female leaders around?
Christine Lagarde, Minister for the Economy, Industry and Employment of France (my absolute favourite governmental representative there):
- “There are too many dark suits around. And not enough legs [in financial world]”.
- “If Lehman Brothers had been “Lehman Sisters,” today’s economic crisis clearly would look quite different.”