Innovation with a capital I

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word ‘innovate’ means to “Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” But is innovation really necessary? Isn’t it enough if something already works well?

The answer is no. But don’t take it from me!

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” – Woody Allen

“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.” – Francis Bacon

Whatever it is that you’re working on, innovation should always be a part of it. In fact, without innovation, you might as well give up now. The truth is, if you have a continuous project, innovation is vital for your success. Things change, circumstances change, people change. You cannot anticipate all of these things, you cannot prepare the perfect project in advance but what will make it outstanding, is adaptation. Adapting to changing events, to changing circumstances. That is what will make you a great entrepreneur.

But is not just in your work life that you have to be innovative. Think of this: Imagine you are having the best week, you are working, studying, spending time with your friends and having an amazing time. Now imagine living the same exact week for a year. Do you think that after one year you will still have the same amount of fun? Probably not. Because in life you also have to innovate, especially when it comes to relationships with other people.

So take this notion and try to give it some thought. Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? Do you want to succeed in your chosen field? Do you want to have an exciting life full of adventures? Well, then your middle name better be innovation.

 

Don’t Give Up

Living in this fast paced, competitive world of ours, there is a lot of pressure on us from a very young age. Get good grades, have extracurricular activities, get into a good university etc. It’s hard to manage all of those things.

When I was growing up I was learning several languages, doing sports learning an instrument and all of this next to school. When I started university, this didn’t change. I am a person who likes to keep busy because I believe that it makes you grow as a person.

But this also has its downsides. There are days when all of us think “why am I doing this right now?” or “I don’t want to do it anymore”. Staying motivated is a difficult task but there are ways to ensure that. When I feel overwhelmed with work, I like to take some time off and just do things that I really enjoy where I don’t have to think about my work load. I spend time with my friends where I can just relax.

Sometimes what really helps me as well is just being by myself. Most of the time I am surrounded by a lot of people and it can get very overwhelming so sometimes being at home, reading a book or watching a movie can do wonders for my motivation.

However, what I noticed is that when your work is what you love you can achieve incredible things. Find something that you enjoy, go after it and you will have all the motivation you need. Don’t give up when something doesn’t work out, just keep going. Success is not measured by your achievements but by how many times you are able to stand up again after you fall.

You have to go out there, make new experiences, step outside of your comfort zone and you will discover what it is that you want to do.

 

What I lost through AIESEC

 

That’s right. Being in the organization for years I lost many things. But it’s not what you think. It’s a good thing. My entire experience I have lost so many fears. From a fear of public speaking to a fear of failure and many more. But how can this be? How can working in an organization be so liberating? Well, by being in AIESEC you are being put in new environments and faced with new challenges every single day. You are encouraged to do things that you never thought you would, like speak in front of a class of 500 students. But after you do it, you feel incredible. You feel pride, a sense of accomplishment and the next time you have to do it, it gets easier and easier.

You are constantly surrounded with many different people from different nationalities, with different skill sets and different stories and you develop with them. Learning from each other is what makes this organization so special. The connections you make with people are not just work related but are genuine friendships. And the biggest benefit of all is the leadership development. If you already know something about AIESEC you will know that we are an organization that aims to develop leadership skill in young people, because we believe it is the fundamental solution to the world’s problems. But what does leadership even mean?

The dictionary says that leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this. 

But it is so much more.

There is quote by Seth Godin, an american author and marketer, that defines it perfectly to me: Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”  By developing leadership you are enabling yourself to grow and at the same time helping others to do the same and to make their ideas a reality and if every single person is aware enough we can achieve things of unthinkable proportions.

If you want to be part of an organization that not only develops you but also encourages you to help develop others, then you can sign up here and trust me, you will not regret it!

 

New Year, New Me

Two weeks have already passed in 2017. According to a survey, only around 68% of people are still carrying on with their New Year’s Eve resolutions. That’s over 30% of people who have already given up on them. After just two weeks.

There are various opinions about New Year’s resolutions. Some people say, ‘I don’t need a new year to better myself and to try to achieve goals’. Others say, ‘I need this moment when the new year starts, to really be able to commit to my changes’.

Regardless of your stance on this matter, most of us have made some kind of resolutions at the beginning of a year. And when you commit to something, you should make sure that you achieve it.

But how can you make sure that you set new year’s resolutions that you can actually achieve?

The key is self-awareness. You have to know yourself, so that you know what you are capable of and what you can actually achieve. Once you reach that point, you won’t say that you will become a millionaire in 2017 (which doesn’t mean that you can’t) or that you will become the president of the United States of America (which is less likely, but who knows). Start small – every huge, ambitious goal can be broken down into smaller, achievable goals. Achieving these small goals will make you feel a sense of accomplishment and you will feel more motivated to actually go further and strive for the bigger ones.

Once you have reached that level of self-awareness, all that is stopping you is a lack of discipline. The way to the top is a hard one. Nothing that really matters comes easy in life, but working hard means achieving great things, so isn’t it all worth it?

However, when making new year’s resolutions, you should not just think about yourself. It’s easy to say ‘I will lose weight this year’ or ‘I will pass all of my exams’ but you should also think about others, who are less fortunate than you are. There are people (many people) in this world who do not have the luxury to think of new year’s resolutions at the end of a year, because they are just trying to survive different kinds of hardships. Think of those people, when contemplating what you will do this year.

AIESEC provides you with the opportunity to go abroad in summer and actually help those people. Our social projects are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, meaning that you will be on the right track to actually contributing to a better future. Volunteer this summer and make this year meaningful. You can find more information here!

If you’re thinking “I would like to contribute, but I can’t afford to leave my hometown” — fear not, we have an option for you, too! Join AIESEC at your local university and make all these social projects possible, while developing yourself personally and professionally and joining a huge international network.

2017 can be a big year – if you make it big. Be self-aware, show discipline and care for others and it will be the best year of your life!

Youth activism is important

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

AIESEC is the world’s largest youth run organization, officially founded in 1948 after the second world war by a group of young students from different countries with the goal to avoid cross-cultural conflict.

Now, more than 60 years later, we are active with more than 70.000 active members worldwide and present in over 120 countries and territories. But what do we do?

The main goal of AIESEC is peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential, which we believe can be achieved by engaging and developing every young person in the world for a better future. Young people have power and we can make a change. We should not be underestimated. In AIESEC we help students from all around the world to develop their leadership skills by putting them into challenging environments and through that letting them grow.

With our three exchange programs we send people abroad to do social internships, work in startups and intern at companies all around the world. As an example, in the last 5 years over 102.000 young people volunteered abroad to tackle social issues in another country. Due to our cooperation with the United Nations, all of our social projects are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and are actively contributing to solving these issues.

You can be part of this movement. Join AIESEC and become part of a huge international network, develop your skills and contribute to making our present and future a better place.

You can find more information here, and here is the registration form, if you decide to sign up!

Can you guess the country?

Did you guess India? Then you were correct! India has many very advanced sectors but unfortunately education is one thing that is still not available equally everywhere. You can do something about it! Go to New Delhi and work in the ‘FOOTPRINTS’ project. Prepare and deliver classes on different subjects to children. Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal #4 – Quality Education and make an impact while getting to know the incredible culture of India.

Take Action and apply for the project here:


To find out more about Global Volunteer, visit this website.

Quality Education

SDG #4. Quality Education.

‘Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think’ – Albert Einstein

We have to teach our people about other cultures and to understand and accept others – We are all human and our differences make us unique. They shouldn’t tear us apart but unite us.

Everyone on this planet deserves the same level of education so that they can use their resources to their best abilities.

If you want to take action, check out this opportunity in Finland

 

And fill out the YouthSpeak Survey, to let your voice be heard:

Teamwork

Teamwork. A word that people like to throw around, but what does teamwork really mean?

There is a variety of definitions, but why is it so hard to establish one? I think it’s difficult because teamwork comes with many facets. Being in AIESEC, I defined the most important parts about teamwork — relationships, cooperation and leadership.

Growing up I had the deep belief that teamwork is something that distinguishes me, that I am a good team player. I kept that belief but my perception of teamwork changed as I got older. Being a shy kid I always tried my best to not be the centre of attention, especially when thrown into a group of people I didn’t knew before. So in a team environment I would take the passive role as someone who is always agreeing to others and trying hard to not be destructive in any way.

So how did my understanding of teamwork develop by joining AIESEC?

Being a member of AIESEC put me in a whole variety of team experiences. Starting with being team member I realised that being good friends with everyone doesn’t necessarily lead to good results. You need to make sure that every member still knows their responsibilities and nobody neglects their duties so that the consequences won’t be that bad.

Moving on to a team leader position I got to know the importance of gaining an understanding of every different team member and finding a way to include everyone in the team. You need to respect different personalities and find a common vision and goal that everyone can strive for. We try to cooperate, using our individual skills and providing constructive feedback, despite any personal conflict between the individuals. I was leading a group of different personalities but I would try my best to find common grounds by communicating and working together.

Working with a lot of different people and ideas I also realised that sometimes you need to take leadership of your team. Leaving behind ideas just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings can lead to a disadvantage for the whole team. If you are confident in your ideas and beliefs then take the ownership for the wellbeing of your team and the results you want to achieve

By putting me in various team experiences and giving me the chance to take the leadership role, AIESEC helped me to get a far better understanding of teamwork.

Written by Sebastian Berg

University life: 
Getting what you need in 4 steps

What do you do when your university schedule does not quite fulfil you?

Panic, drop out, change subject or even university?

Absolutely not, you simply figure out what you are missing and get it from somewhere else.

First of all there is nothing wrong with changing your field of study. Just make sure that you are 100% clear on your decision. Not all of us know what we want to do in our lives, which goals we want to achieve, what we want to spend our time on and with whom we want to spend our time.

If you need some proof you can simply contact some of my older friends and they will tell you how often I changed my life plans. Even in this moment I don’t have a plan that is set in stone and it is very likely that it will not be the way I expect it to be right now.

However, that does not stop me from being super interested in various different subjects and wanting to learn something new every day.

So if you are not satisfied with your university courses; fear not, I have a solution that allows you to tailor your university experience to your needs. As long as you don’t totally hate the subject you are studying I am sure there will be at least one or two points that will help you shape your future.

This topic has been on my mind a lot recently. This is coming from me spending two years at university, finally feeling like I found the right way to get everything I expected to get from university, from my day to day experiences. For me this wasn’t easy, but I will give my best to make your life a bit easier.

Here we go!

Step 1: Talk with (the right) people

Growing up a lot of us make the mistake of asking the wrong people for advice. Talking to people in general can be very insightful, but be careful which advice you follow.

To explain this with an example:

Let’s assume for a second you want to create an amazing start-up. Whom would you ask for advice? Your professor? Your parents? Your friends? Or perhaps someone who actually has an amazing start-up?

The answer to this might seem very obvious, but you meet people every day that struggle to implement this thought in their search for guidance.

So far so good. There is another point you should watch out for when looking for advice.

When you are working closely with someone, to learn from what they are able to do. You are not only learning from their behavior, but also from their attitude. Respect yourself enough to walk away from someone who might have the knowledge you need, but does not apply it according to your beliefs and your values.

Of course finding a person who has the exact skills and attitudes you are looking for is not always easy, but I assure you it is worth finding the right people to talk to.

To summarize: Talk to the people that are where you want to be.

Step 2: Learn with others

“I am so much faster when I study this by myself.”

Who of you had this thought before? – I sure did.

From experience I can tell you that when it comes to studying it is not always about understanding the subject or passing an exam. To learn the most about a topic it often helps to see it from a different perspective.

On the one hand, this gives you the possibility to refine your understanding and your ideas. On the other hand, seeing what motivates other people to learn and develop themselves in a certain area can also restore your curiosity and interest in your subject area.

Step 3: Create impact in the “real world”

Throughout my university experience I asked one question a lot: “How can I apply this?”

I rarely got a good answer. For me personally this was one of the main reasons why I started looking for something that I could do additionally to my studies.

What I found was AIESEC. There I started to use the skills I got from university, different jobs, and internships all in one place. By working with many different stakeholders and developing leadership in the people that surround me I started changing the society I live in.

This was eye opening for me because I found something that I deeply care about. Knowing that not everyone has the same goals, I can only tell you: Find what you stand for. Find something that you want to create. Few things are as fulfilling as creating impact through your own actions.

No matter where you find this space to apply your knowledge practically, I am sure looking for it will be worth your time.

Step 4: Strive for goals

Nothing in life is as easy as giving up.

In the times of delivery services, Netflix & Co it is very easy to waste a whole day by indulging in small, short term happiness boosts. As dedicated as we seemed when we put our goals and dreams on paper, for every journey there comes the time when we forget why we even started it.

As nice as creating an impact in the “real world” sounds in the beginning, there comes the point when reality actually hits you. As long as the budget only exists on paper it does not really limit you. Even working in a team is a lot easier if it is not you who has to worry about the team’s structure.

Do not let reality push you down. I strongly believe that the beauty of achieving goals gets lost when achieving them is too easy.

To achieve your goals, sooner or later you will work with real resources. Working in AIESEC lead me through a lot of ups and downs when it comes to that. Getting used to the threats that reality has prepared for us made my life a lot easier and helped me to stick to my goals more persistently.

Last but not least: Know what your goals mean to you. Be clear on what you want to achieve during your time as a student and follow up on it.

Do not back down – it is worth it.

Final recap of the above mentioned tips:

  • Talk to (the right) people
  • Learn with others
  • Create impact in the “real world”
  • Strive for goals

I’ll leave you with this. In the end: is it up to your university, your parents or your government to create your future? Or do you perhaps have a bigger duty in that than everyone else?

After having studied different subjects, worked in different companies and student organizations, for me the answer to this is obvious:

What do you like most about your time as university student? Is there something you disagree with? Questions? Comments? Like my ideas? Tell me in the comments below!

By Lukas Bensch

How I joined AIESEC and why I stayed (a.k.a my last 2.5 years in AIESEC)

Hello, my Name is Johannes Schneeberger and I’m currently studying one of the most hipster studies, Environmental Management a.k.a Umwelt- und Bioressourcenmanagement, a.k.a UBRM, at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences a.k.a BOKU. Okay, that was probably a lot of a.k.a’s for now.

If the first part is too boring for you, just skip it because it’s about the military. To answer the first questions – how I joined AIESEC – I want to congratulate and thank the Austrian Military. For those of you, who aren’t familiar with Austrian law, I’ll give you a little introduction why in the world the most central country in Europe, needs to rob six to nine months of every young man’s time, in which he could to something purposeful. All young men in Austria by law are obligated to either do six months of military service or nine months of social service. Well, I chose to be in the military, for the sake of starting one semester earlier with my studies.

So due to the fact that the official language in the Austrian military is not English, my level of English – which was already bad – got even worse during my time in the Bundesheer. Nevertheless, I have to be thankful, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been as appealed when in the first week, a random student started to pitch AIESEC in my lecture, since at that point AIESEC was the chance for me to finally get properly fluent in English. This, and the fact that I like an international atmosphere, made me join AIESEC and I wouldn’t regret this decision in a million years (though the initial reasons were pretty trivial and egoistic).

You would probably ask me now why I don’t regret my decision – or more precisely, why I stayed. Obviously, I didn’t stay because after two and a half years I still solely wanted to improve my English skills. There are thousands of reasons why I stayed, but let me point out the most relevant ones.

When I was back in school I hardly managed to find likeminded people who were eager enough to join my Interrail travels or to do extraordinary stuff. That fundamentally changed when I joined AIESEC. Throughout my journey I had the privilege to mostly work in the on-ground marketing area, doing info booths, promoting our cultural exchange programs on social media or pitching AIESEC in front of 200 students. Therefore, I had the chance to get out of my comfort zone, talking to random people and actually getting to know a lot of students on the campus.

Was it always easy? No, for sure it wasn’t, but I saw my development in public speaking, in doing sales or in simply figuring out a way to communicate effectively, so people would understand what I was trying to explain them. I would say I definitely got more self-aware about my strengths and weaknesses, and got constantly more solution oriented by seeing the thousands of opportunities, instead of focusing on the one obstacle.

So, I was in this Marketing area for one year and I enjoyed it a lot, but since AIESEC is about always challenging yourself and taking new opportunities, I did exactly that back in December 2014, when I applied to be the main responsible for the entire Local Committee at AIESEC at BOKU. It was a huge step for me, because I personally was not really sure if my previous achievements qualified me enough to be the leader of 20 young people. But then, the AIESEC spirit kicked in and I asked myself if I would regret it one year later if I hadn’t applied. Furthermore, those amazing people who worked with me, whom I can proudly call my second family, supported me immensely. So I went for it, and had the honour to lead AIESEC in BOKU for the past year with an amazing bunch of young, motivated and courageous people, who volunteered in order to make a better version of themselves and simultaneously making the world a better place.

Yeah, I know it sounds quite fluffy, but I think nowadays that’s exactly what is missing for many people. Having a vision for the world and acting up on it, no matter what. AIESEC is essentially a group of young people, who really believe that there could be peace in our world and therefore are fostering cultural exchange and developing young leaders, who lead with their heart and not with their greed, for profit or power.

While being the leader of AIESEC in BOKU I had the amazing opportunity to join conferences with more than 300 individuals, coming from more than 50 different countries all over the world. That;s cultural exchange, and it showed me once more the importance and necessity of AIESEC being a worldwide youth voice. All this made me realize how interconnected our world is and made me a world citizen, who doesn’t think in country borders but who finds the similarities between all those different cultures.

On top of all this, I had the chance to facilitate trainings and I needed to figure out how to make a lecture engaging, without having people fall asleep, since they had just slept three hours the night before. This was also a huge challenge for me, since I’d never done it before and in the beginning, I didn’t really believe that I could be a good trainer. A lot of effort and amazing people who supported me, proved me wrong and finally I can proudly say, that I’m able to empower and engage other people.

All these experiences are reason enough for me to invest the majority of my time into AIESEC, because at the end of the day I get so much more back!