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Posts Tagged ‘education

Looking for talents, create it yourself.

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Educate TrainI was reading recently an excellent article about youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is one of the biggest present challenges of our society. The author of the article mentions that companies are often more entitled to hire people having experience. For students just finishing their studies, it is difficult to have a first job. Companies, most of the time, want to hire people fully operational starting the first day. Is it the only and the best way solution? How many times will it take to find the rare talent?

This article makes me think about a story Luc de Brabandere, a Belgian consultant in creativity, is often telling in his speeches. An insurance company was looking to hire people having experience in the insurance industry for the sales department. As they could not find the number of qualified people needed, they hired also people having no experience in that field. After few time, the company made the statement that people who have no experience in insurance industry provided better results than the others.  How could explain we such paradox? One explanation is probably that the unqualified people were more motivated to learn, more creative as they have to proof or to reveal a talent, to take up the challenge.

Such statement has to make think business owners and managers about the following. Today, in organizations, people are an asset and the collective intelligence is a reality. With the complexity of the processes, each people are a key within the process chain. By developing competences and talents, and being aware that it is a necessity, people wants to be implicated in the processes of the organization activity. The wish to learn and to be implicate in the business, are the key of motivation. Companies that spend time to train employee have to see this time as an investment and will get more return on investment with motivated and dedicated people. By creating a process of collective intelligence, these companies can create a more sustainable and long term collaboration with the employees.

Faster changes are a trend, and people have to move with these changes, by acquiring competences, by following permanent training. Change is a constant and companies have to integrate such constant in their activities plans. We know today that diploma is not a sufficient element to have a job. Changes mean also the obsolescence of knowledge. Companies have to invest in this competences evolution and renewal. To create and sustain such dynamic, people need to have clear objectives, and should be encourage to make solutions proposals, to be creative, and to be considered as a real stakeholder, a player taking responsibilities within the organization.

Education is important, but self-made man can also develop talents and skills, they can also have brilliant professional careers. The quality of the diploma is not always a guarantee to have the best people for a job. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Changes implies different steps with new goals, new challenges. People who embrace changes have the desire to face new challenge, and to learn is an ongoing challenge.

If talents are lacking, try to develop them yourself by giving opportunities to motivated people. Today, the future resides in knowledge sharing, and if you can transmit also passion, the return on investment will certainly be higher.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 8, 2014 at 21:53

How to face uncertainty?

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rock-climberIn my previous post, related to the choice of studies, I was talking about the fact that to predict the future is something becoming more and more difficult. Since now 25 years I am working, and looking around me, what is for sure is that uncertainty is growing. Who can predict now how will be the world in the next 6 months, or in the next 10 years? We try to make predictions in many areas and sometimes, we have to note that these predictions are not verified. How many times have we heard some economists explaining us the origins of financial crisis they were unable to predict.

The big question is how to face uncertainty as we don’t know in advance what the evolution will be in many domains? There are in my mind two types of uncertainty to take into account; the uncertainty linked to our environment and the evolution of it, and our own uncertainty, or I would say our own uncertainties. Facing uncertainties induce questions and make people worried. What will be my future? Will I have a job? Or simply will I be able to do this task, to face this challenge?

Our own uncertainties and the uncertainties linked to our environment interact. Most of you probably know the famous Peter Drucker’s quote saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself”. But to be able to create something, we need to have a good perception of the future and be able to perceive the trends and the changes of our environment.  But facing the environment uncertainties means to face also our own uncertainties, with a range of questions we are putting to ourselves. What will be the future and will I be able to face it? Have I the capabilities to face challenges and what challenges will be? To face our uncertainties means to try to know a bit more about ourselves.

To consider our own uncertainties is to be aware of our lack of knowledge and experience. By mentioning this, we underline the key role of education but also of curiosity. Education and school are the fundamental tools to develop our knowledge and capabilities. Education and knowledge will give us the opportunity to become first human being and to develop our autonomy, giving us more possibilities to make choices. This is why the role of education and the way to educate people are fundamental. It is important to develop curiosity, to encourage people to learn new things by their own, to discover new interests. To develop our knowledge is probably the best answer to the question related to my previous article: what studies have I to choose? Most of the time, it is difficult to know in advance if we will enjoy things we don’t know now.

This is why people have to be encouraged to make experiences, to be curious and to try new things. It implies the necessity to take risks. By multiplying such experience in a process of serial trials, you expand your possibilities fields and you dispel your own uncertainties. You will probably enjoy something new that you never suspected before that you could enjoy. We never know in advance what things could be if we could enjoy it or not, as we don’t know them.  Such experimentation process make that your own uncertainty dispels: you know that you enjoy something, that you are able to do it or not. By expanding your interest and experience fields, you discover new possibilities, you build new competences, but you also empower your self-confidence.

Self-confidence and competences are probably the two most important key components to dispel your own uncertainties. The development of these two components will allow you to maximize your chance to attract challenges and opportunities. With all your experiences, you will build your background, a knowledge base including information that helps you to analyze situations and to develop appropriate strategies. Nevertheless, despite the fact that success cannot be guaranteed anytime, it is also important to develop and keep critical mind. When facing a similar situation we faced by the passed, we should avoid making a copy-paste of previous solutions we applied. Things are less linear than before, and we have to take all the elements of the situation into consideration to implement solutions and action plans. It is part of an efficient learning process.

It is obvious we cannot live in an environment without uncertainty. But by developing a learning attitude, we can create a virtuous circle, where experiences and risk taking contribute to empower our self-confidence. A zero risk environment doesn’t exist, but this virtuous circle will allow us to be creative and to be stronger to face it and to quit more easily our comfort zone.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 8, 2014 at 06:07

The way to success…failure?

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Failure-foundation-of-success-1024x723Success is something most of us we are looking for. If to be successful is something different for each of us, the definition of the success is to reach the goals we have defined.  Success is seen positively, and appeared as something that intelligent people reach without any constraints. Does it mean that other people cannot be successful?  The question is what we name success.

To succeed is first a question of power and courage. The courage to make that our dreams become true. But often, some people never realize their dreams because they are scared to fail, and that failure is considered as a tabou. Commonly, failure is considered like something you are guilty for. This feeling of guilt comes probably from our education system based on rewarding and sanction. When a student answers wrongly to a question, he will be penalized. The education system is based on a competition system where students are scared to do not reach the arrival line. It is obvious that the integration of knowledge needs to be evaluated to be sure that students have the necessary tools to face life, but the learning process is an ongoing and iterative process. Each of us, we need more or less time to learn something, to understand the complexity linked to something, and finally to succeed. We probably remember something we struggled with at school, and that we find now very easy, wondering how it was possible to struggle with such thing. For instance, with mathematics, by doing exercises and repeating a logical process linked to a theorem, we understand it and finally integrate it. Before to succeed in a process, we probably failed a lot of times, but failure is an opportunity to know what goes wrong, to analyze the reason of the failure, and to take an appropriate action to move to the success. Henry Ford was saying that “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Such statement should be integrated in the education programs. In companies like Google, people are encouraged to fail. If you remember, some great inventions are the result of another project that failed. For example, the Post-It was invented accidentally. The company 3M was developing a new king of strong glue. The obtained result was the opposite of the one wanted, but this accident was used as an opportunity.

Failure or more precisely the reason of failure is important to develop and to keep our critical mind. When we are succeeding, we are just enjoying our success, and attributing this success to a range of factors. There are no absolute certitudes about these success factors, but there is nothing that put the opposite in evidence. For instance, scientists describe processes based on experimentations and observations, write a theory that is valid until there is an event that makes that this theory is not valid, or need to be updated and include some exception cases.  Success is not definitive. But what appears as a failure is something that brings you matter to learn, or to discover new things, bringing information, a useful raw material to move forward in the knowledge.

Successes or failures are not final destination, but different steps of a process, of our life.  By paying attention to this, by using failure as a raw material to build our knowledge, we are empowering our self confidence and are able to face new challenges.  By considering failure in a positive way, as an opportunity to learn, we take our belief off that creates psychological obstacles, preventing us to reach our goals. Remember that the real failure is to do not try. Some people never failed because they never try something.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 15, 2013 at 18:17

When passion comes to you

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Steve Jobs - 2

Steve Jobs, an entrepreneur moved by passion

Time to time, I am used to attend small entrepreneur sessions organized by a partner in her nice small business center, in a nice village in the south of my country. During the last months of the year, some students of a communication school are participating to a training organized by one of their professor. These students are part of small groups spending a whole week to follow the news during 24 hours a day, and building also a personal project. These students are living a unique experience, and few days ago, I saw a comment from one of them on Twitter. She was saying that the useful thing during this week was to discover a real passion. I found these words wonderful, because we don’t read or hear this very often, few people are talking like that.

Passion is something essential in our life. It is an intense feeling we have when we do something, or when we see something. By mentioning that, we notice we don’t hear often people expressing passion. We could wonder what makes that you are passionate by something. Is passion something you have or is it something you have to discover? I remember Steve jobs saying that it was senseless to ask people what they want, when you want to concept a new product, because they have no idea about what they want. I would say that it is a bit the same with passion. You don’t know what you are passionate by, if you don’t look for passion.

How can you find passion? Education plays an important role in the look for passion. Education contributes to open minds, to acquire capacities and knowledge you will use during your life. The more you can learn, the more you will have chance to get opportunities, you will conquer your freedom. But education doesn’t consist only to acquire knowledge and capacities, but also to develop a critical mind, making that you will be able to develop your own system of values, to make your own choices, to take your own decisions. Such process implies that you will be questioning yourself about what you are facing everyday, what you want to do. By looking closely, your life is a range of decision and actions, and by questioning yourself about what you want to do in your life, you will make the choice to take decisions.

The decision process is moved by the whish to do something, but also because an opportunity comes to you, making the right time to try a new experience, to discover something new. This decision is moved by curiosity, and curiosity is essential to expand the fields of your possibilities, of your interests. This is important to see opportunities, to wonder each time what you can to with this. When the decision to act is taken, you start a new experience, bringing you satisfaction or disappointment, but also opportunities to learn, to discover new things you ignore until now. This experience put also a new light about ideas you had about things, and can break your wrong believes. For instance, you participate to a computer training program, and you notice that you have good capacities and intuitions to use the computer and perform tasks with it. The discovery of your capacities brings you a motivation to move your limits forward. Each further step you are doing brings you more and more satisfactions. Satisfaction increases your motivation, and your motivation becomes a real passion.

Passion is not something coming to you but the opportunities leading to a potential passion that can come to you. The facto to will see these opportunities and to take them is just a question of mind. See the fact to try something new, not as a risk but as a chance, the chance to go to new opportunities, and to meet passion. Passion creates a virtuous circle, when passion convinces yourself and convinces the others. You convince the others because you succeed to communicate your passion, you showed the best of yourself, and they see you as an opportunity. Opportunities call opportunities, and can lead you to discover new passions. So, try to discover passion, passion will come to you.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2012 at 21:57

Think big, think wide, think wisely

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Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and humanist mind.

Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and humanist mind.

In a previous post, I was talking about the importance of education in the process of an enterprising mind development. Recently, I was reading an article in the Datanews magazine, about Sebastien de Halleux, a successful Belgian entrepreneur. In this article, few mentioned points are the evidence that education and entrepreneurial attitude are the key of a successful life. By success, we should not think only about financial success, but about personal success, when you give to yourself the possibility to move forward.

Sebastien de Halleux, is a 35 years old serial entrepreneur, who founded “Playfish”, an online game software company. In the interview, he mentioned that one regret he had is to have not move earlier to the United States to develop his business, and said that if you want to develop a business, you have to locate it in the country where it make more sense, and United States remain the best place for the online games or social media business. Despite the location, Sebastien mentions something I pay attention to. As Belgian like me, he mentions that you can’t find the international top people in Brussels, capital of Belgium, capital of Europe. We have to mention that Belgium is facing economical crisis like many other European countries, but some statistics show that the entrepreneurship rate is lower of 30% than the average level in Europe. Such statement does not appear positive about the mid-term economical development. Could Belgium not have a stronger economy, should not it be possible to become a country with successful companies like in the Silicon Valley? Is it because Belgium is a small country?

In his comment, Sebastien de Halleux talks about “international”, says that you have to think big. Today, the world is a village thanks to new technologies and the globalization of the economy. In order to be a successful player in this world, education is essential to build a successful life. This is the reason why the government has to ensure the development of an efficient education system. It has to be an ongoing process of investment. It requires important financial resources, but the mid and long-term returns are priceless for the society but also for each individual who will have the possibility to build his own way, his own life, with positive impact on his personal wellness. Each people have to be encouraged to make studies he likes, not only for economical purpose, but also to open his mind. We see these last years students who have to choose to make other studies, because some quotas in the field they choose were reached. This is in my mind totally senseless. If you ask around you, you will meet a lot of people doing a job without direct links to the studies they did. But it doesn’t mean that the studies they did are useless. Studies are useful first to develop the process and the wish to learn. We are learning everyday. For those who remember the Steve Jobs speech at the Standford University, they remember him saying that you never know in advance what you will do and if what you learn will be useful. Some students will probably do a job that does not yet exist, but the most important is to connect the “dots”, to use what you learn to create something. In Apple company, a lot of Steve Jobs collaborators were not IT guys, but biologists, physicians, but they were really passionated by the Apple story. By mentioning this, I mean that “international” means “to think high, to think wide, big, to think wisely”.

I mentioned previously the lack of entrepreneurs in Belgium and the statement that some Belgian entrepreneurs move to other countries to build projects. Even If some initiatives are done to promote entrepreneurship, people are not so enthusiastic to start as entrepreneur. The difficult economical environment make that people are not entitled to build their own activity, but there is also a negative image given to successful entrepreneurs who are guilty to become rich, which is not well accepted when other people are losing their job and when they are facing difficulties to have a decent life. In my mind, such debate is totally senseless and to put entrepreneurs in guilty is not a solution. In our society, work has to be considered as a value, a value that has to be respected. It is senseless to criticize entrepreneurs who succeed and who earns money. The development of the economy contributes to create wealth and jobs, with consequences to increase the level of tax and social contributions. These taxes and social contributions are necessary to finance schools and universities, contributing to the education and to the fundamental research. To criticize entrepreneurship has a negative impact on the economy and the society and make us dependent of multinational groups that can relocate their activity in other countries. It is important to develop a network of local businesses, working with other international companies. But it means that each of us has a responsibility. Entrepreneurs need to have a long-term vision and to play a social role. By developing a business, you create jobs and by creating jobs, you develop a market. You can only develop a sustainable business if people have the possibility to buy your product and services. Such statement is not “rocket” science. To develop a business, you need competences, know-how, and here is the key role of education. Entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that the taxes they will pay will contribute to maintain and develop a high quality education system, contributing to educate people and to create know-how and intelligence, needed to run our society, in large domains like business, education, culture, etc. But it means also that the politic has also a high responsibility, the responsibility to use received taxes to develop an efficient education and social system.

Some entrepreneurs have and show social responsibilities and it is the case of Sebastien de Halleux who is investing money in NGO, acting in education for students of the emergent countries, and work based on computer for people living in countries where workless level is high. Social responsibility means a education to what is money. You can not block somebody who wants to create a business, and who is generating cash because he had a good idea. World is moving because people had ideas, developed them, and built business with these ideas. Entrepreneurs are not only motivated by money but by creating something new, by the wish to change the world. But they have not to forget that you can only wear a tie on a time, and that if they earn a lot of money, their can make work people in decent conditions, but also contribute to finance social projects, like Richard Branson did with his foundation, Virgine Unite. This is a positive way to change the world. Albert Einstein said “Don’t be a man of success, be a man of value”. So, think big, think high, think wisely.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 3, 2012 at 20:49

Education and entrepreneurship

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Education is the foundation of enterprising mind

Recently, I was chatting with people talking about the fact that entrepreneurship should be taught to youth. In our present fast moving environment, jobs security become an utopia, compared to the past, and where diploma is still useful but not necessarily a guarantee of employment. Change is a constant, and people have to change also, to move with the change. Nothing is definitively acquired.

Such circumstances make that some people are pushed to find alternatives by starting they own activity, or decide to look for new opportunities in order to move their skills and experiences forward. Such evolution, where people are driven to become more dynamic and not static, implies a dynamic mind, where you need to determine personal objectives and a related strategy. Life become a serial of projects, and the development of these projects is the result of an entrepreneurial process.

In such circumstances, it is obvious that youth has to be sensitize to the entrepreneurship, and the opportunities entrepreneurship can bring, but there are in my mind first important steps. Before to become an entrepreneur, we have to become free human being. The most important element to conquer our freedom is education. Education is the foundation of our life. The more our education will be broad, the more we will have opportunities to choose our own way, our own objectives. But education is not only the accumulation of knowledge and skills, it is also the capacity to make judgements, to develop curiosity, to develop the wish to learn, to develop an open mind. A lot of people remember the famous Steve Jobs speech at the Stanford university, where he was encouraging students to be curious, and to learn a lot of things, even we can’t know beforehand if it will be useful, but that afterwards, you can make a link between different things you learned, you can connect the “dots”. All these ingredients, combined with the wish to realize project, to reach objectives, are the basics of an enterprising mind. This is probably the most essential step before to encourage youth to entrepreneurship. The objective of an enterprising mind is not only the wish to build a business, but to build projects and to shape achievements. This achievements can be a Ph.D. Thesis, the writing of a book, or to follow theater courses and become an actor.

By developing an enterprising mind, you become the actor of your own life, where you can make your own choices, defining your objectives. The most important is to get the possibility to make choices. And this step is essential if you want to become an entrepreneur. As you know, an entrepreneur can meet failure. Experienced entrepreneurs will advice you to get alternative plans in case of failure. Education is the tool that will bring you alternative plans. The more your education will be broad, the more you will have alternative plans, not only in your business, but in your life too.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 10, 2012 at 22:43

Does uncertainty boost talent and creativity?

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If something is growing since I started my professional career 23 years ago, it is uncertainty. As each of us can see around, the world is fast moving. By looking how the world moved, we just can note that it doesn’t move on a linear way. A fundamental question we have to think about, is how can we drive our own way, our own career, if predictions become impossible?

This question, we thought about it for the first time when we are at school. At a certain time, we have to choice the studies we want to make at the university or high school. By the past, such choice was driven a bit by passion, but also by the opportunities such studies can offer. Today, how can we answer to such question when your future job probably doesn’t exist yet. For instance, did you heard from webmaster or social media 20 years ago? What answer can we give to such question today?

Fundamentally, before to be workers, we are first human being, and a strong education is the basic to develop citizenship, but also to become…the person we are. By learning languages, mathematics, philosophy, we are acquiring matters feeding our brain, developing our intelligence, and maybe making appear some talent and passion. Knowledge and talents are the key component to catch opportunities, and to build a wealthy career. This is a first step. As some of us can think, there are people who have strong education, but who are facing professional difficulties, due to difficult economical circumstances, or because there are doing a too specific job for which the demand is low. Does it mean that people are definitively lost in such circumstance, that there are front of a dark horizon?

Today, education is not something we only acquired when we were at school, but it is something we have to feed and acquire on an ongoing way, for the simple reason that in a fast moving environment, we have to move fast also. Learning has to be a natural exercise. Our brain is a muscle we have to make work too. As I mention above, all what we can learn can drive us to new opportunities, but the combination of skills can make us creative and develop new ideas in order to provide answers to new demands, to create new opportunities too. I would mention Steve Jobs who doesn’t invent the graphical interface (it was first a Xerox invention), but he was the first who perceived the potential of such technical process. The combination of skills is what Steve Jobs mention in his famous speech at the Standford University ( * ): connecting the dots. You never know all what you can do with some skill forward. You can only note it backward.

Talent and skills are certainly the most appropriate answer to face uncertainty. But what is also even most important is experiences. Each of us, we developed skills and talents by studying at school or by reading books, but also by working on several projects during our career. Each project is probably an important source of knowledge, leading to make some statements, pushing us to find solutions, to innovate and to get constant feedback of the stakeholders of the project. With such feedback, we are feeding our own knowledge base, and building a strong reference system, allowing us to create and develop more efficient solutions, to face much bigger challenges. By acquiring and developing talents, by acquiring experience, we empower our self-confidence, and we are much more prepared to face uncertainty.

Uncertainty has not to be seen in a negative way, but as a potential of opportunities. I remember few years ago when I went on holiday in France to make a bicycle trip during 10 days. Each day we started, we had no idea what we will do or see during the day. On the evening, we had wonderful images of landscape, of interesting visits and conversations with local people. This is probably one of the most beautiful holidays I had. By thinking to much in advance to scenarios, you are often disappointed by the reality.

Uncertainty is not something we can’t face. It is something that can bring us energy and motivate us to develop talents. It implies we need to have objectives and passion to reach them, to be self-confident. It is something we can be prepared, if we work on our capacity of adaptation, if we are flexible, if we decide to expand our horizon. But as mention Lynda Gratton, in her book “The shift”, we need to be “active creators” and not passive consumers. It is not forbidden to think that uncertainty is something contributing to boost talent and creativity.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 1, 2012 at 16:48