I’m about to move house and am taking some time to go through some old files and paperwork. Many things are going in the bin, but some I’m scanning and blogging about. It’s interesting when you look back and remember the things that made an impact on your current views. In 2007, I’d been living in The Netherlands for a while and was studying towards a Bachelor of Business through Open Universities Australia. Webster University, an American private university with a Leiden campus, held the “NPM Capital Entrepreneurship Week” on 17, 18 & 20th April. I found out about it via Suzy Oge and the Women’s Business Initiative International as she was one of the speakers. It was the event on Friday 20th April that I attended – Sharing Your Success, A Social Entrepreneurship Symposium. Now looking back 7 years later, there are 5 lessons I took from that day.
1. Exposing yourself to new ideas regularly is a great way to shape your future thinking
When I signed up for this event, I knew little about the topics being discussed but had an interest that was further sparked by listening to the presentations. At the time, I was pregnant with my first child (who arrived a few months later) and wasn’t working much so had some time to indulge in exploring in this way. When I look back, I’m really pleased I did that when I had the chance – and still do today when I can. I’d highly recommend going along to “random events” now and then to just see what you can learn, particularly those offered by educational institutions which tend to be high quality, regardless of the topic. Exposing yourself to new ideas regularly is a great way to shape your future thinking.
2 . Entrepreneurship is exciting and makes a difference
I was still quite new to the concept of entrepreneurship at the time, though it excited me. I come from quite an entrepreneurial family, where my father has run his own business since I was a baby, and my brothers followed him. Now, having run my own business for around 6 years, I can truly say that entrepreneurship is in my blood in more ways than one. It’s exciting and makes a difference in the world. For me, it gave me new options that I couldn’t find elsewhere to fit around my family commitments (which you can read more about over on Professional Parents). At this symposium, I learnt how those with an entrepreneurial spirit can empower themselves and others, particularly in places where there may not be other chances.
3. Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be all about the money
I was already about half way through my studies at the time towards a Bachelor of Business (Marketing & Tourism) and still had this idea that running a business was all about the profit and ROI to shareholders, which didn’t sit well with me. Looking back, I can see how attending this event on social entrepreneurship – a term I wasn’t yet familiar with at the time – helped change my mind. Business could also be for the “good” and not all about the money. I liked that. There were several presentations but the two I remember most were Menno from African Parks and Suzy from WBII. I’m pleased to still be in touch with Suzy, who recently left The Netherlands but has been an inspiration to many and continues to be – and I am now a member of the WBII!
4. Education can make a huge positive impact worldwide
Though unfortunately studying at Webster University was and still is beyond my budget , I love that they open up opportunities to the community to attend events like this. Education has such a huge positive impact worldwide. Through formal degrees, but also through one day events like this, educating people and sharing success (see next point) is something I have always been passionate about. I’m definitely a lifelong learner!
5. Success should be shared
The theme of the event was around sharing success and this is a great mission – bringing together various organisations under a common topic of social entrepreneurship and giving them a place and opportunity to tell their stories was of benefit to all. It’s good to see many of the organisations still going strong 7 years later, here’s some links I could find:
- Webster University
- African Parks
- Women’s Business Initiative International
- New Earth Films
- CrossLines Foundation
Back then in 2007, I didn’t have a blog, or I may have written a post about the event at the time! Instead, better late than never and also interesting to analyse it many years afterwards. As it turns out, I ended up working for a Social Enterprise project in Australia from 2009-2012, (the Women’s Health & Mother Baby Hub, operated by The Benevolent Society) and I’m sure that some of the things I learnt at this event has a positive influence.
A thank you to Webster University for hosting the event. Now I’m living back in The Netherlands (after almost 5 years back in Australia), I’ll have to keep an eye out for any future public events they may run!
This blog is a mixture of information, inspiration and observations on the topics of social media, marketing and business. You can read more about me here. Sign up to my enewsletter for a monthly summary. Zestee offers social media and marketing consulting as well as the online Zestee Social Media School. I always enjoy receiving comments on this blog, or you can contact me via Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest.