Tackling the Big Hairy Questions

Yesterday I spent the day connecting around the topic of entrepreneurship with other delegates and corporate partners of AIESEC in a space we created called “Youth to Business Forum”. We spent the day in open space discussions, panels and workshops to evolve our understanding of entrepreneurship and develop the actions that we need to take to develop entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship in our organization and societies.

Together we asked questions such as how we could support the creation of more entrepreneurs, how we could create businesses with social impact, what our role could be in transforming education, technology and the world through new business ideas, and many more like that.

After all these discussions – our chair of the conference raised an important challenge. He pointed out that we often looked at these discussions in the strict context of AIESEC and AIESEC’s relevance. This is important, and it’s crucial that we see it from our organization’s perspective, however it’s not nearly enough. We need, especially as young people, to be able to tackle the big hairy questions – the questions about how we will create a radically better world, the questions about the revolutions we need and can create.

Although we need to start from individual, organizational and national perspectives we cannot find appropriate solutions unless we really dare to look at these issues from a global scale. This goes for both AIESEC and everyone else. We need to open the spaces in our family dinners, at our company lunches, throughout our conferences, meetings and seminars to discuss these issues. By not shying away from these issues we are taking the first steps to creating the actions needed to change our societies.

Being a proactive AIESECer (wink ;)) – I sat down att the end of the day and reflected on what this day actually meant to me and how I could bring these thoughts into practice. The commitment that came out of this was to use my role, as president of my AIESEC country (Sweden), to open these spaces both within our organization but also with partners – we will strive to arrange a similar forum in Sweden and to bring these discussions to businesses and youth in Sweden. Furthermore I will work with my team to increase the impact of the experience for our members who are leaving our organization (we call it “heading for the future”) so that they more clearly can see the connection between what they’ve been doing in AIESEC and the actions that they can take in the future to have a positive impact.

That being my commitment – I also want to you with the challenge of deciding how you could act in your company, organization or community to raise these discussions & create actions from these.

To follow AIESEC’s international congress and the questions we raise – check out our virtual presence at http://www.aiesec.org/AI/iclive.

The value of believing

Throughout the next weeks I’m attending an international conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This conference brings together the leadership of AIESEC in the whole world – over 500 delegates in 107 countries. During the first few days of this experience we’ve covered topics such as what leadership is, how our organization creates leadership and where we want to go in the future. One of my reflections that I had throughout the sessions was the importance of believing.

Many of us here are leaders who have been in the organization for a number of years – we’ve seen the ups and downs, and – particularly – we’ve see the things that recurringly don’t work. When faced with these it’s easy to become cynical and close your mind. However, the only real way to create change is to find a solution together and then taking the leap of faith to trust in that solution. Only when we do that (and we might not be successful immediately – meaning we need to rinse & repeat…) will we be able to find the truly transformative solutions we need. I see this happening not only in AIESEC – but in many other organizations & even societies as a whole. It’s really valuablet to gain the ability to handle and counter these feelings – both within ourselves, but also within any organization we join. It is something I intend to practice all throughout this conference and my next year in AIESEC.

Is it conversations that matter?

During the past week I have been a part of the team that have hosted a conference called Scandinavian Leadership Seminar (ScaLDS). This is an annual conference that has for the last few years been set up by AIESEC in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Together with them we ran this conference bringing together about 100 leaders from all over the Scandinavian countries and abroad.

At these occasions one of the main parts of the content and reason why people are there is the connections, dialogues and reflections that all participants have with each other, and after the conference these are often the things that had the most impact / are remembered the most.  


This, however, has always previously left me slightly frustrated. I am a very action-oriented person and because of this my view of conferences has often been: yes they’re critical for our performance – but at the end of the day they’re also a distraction from the things we “should be doing”.

Lately, my perspective has been changing. I read somewhere that at the end of the day, our core deliverable as knowledge workers is new knowledge. A major way to generate new knowledge is through dialogue. So, spending time in dialogue isn’t in fact a distraction, it’s rather one a big part of “work”. Furthermore, conversations, as I have seen throughout this week, can be used not only to connect people, but also to move them into doing completely new or different things. They can be used not only to generate ideas and understanding – but also to focus direction and activity.

With that perspective in mind I have found it much easier to approach these conferences. I no longer feel the anxiousness of getting back to “real work” and can instead 100% focus on interacting with the dialogues and conversations that happen in them.