More Culture Conscious Entrepreneurship
Ayman El Tarabishy, Professor, The George Washington University and ICSB Executive Director
The Paris Exposition Universelle brought technology into the next century. Over a large area, entrepreneurs and inventors displayed brand new innovations in communications, travel, and entertainment–some of the latest technological advances were introduced to the world. They ushered in revolutionary ideas, and anyone who saw them knew that the world would never be the same again—in a profoundly good way.
This scenario is not a vision of the future nor is it a memory of the very recent past. In fact, it’s more than 100 years old—the Paris Exposition Universelle in the year 1900. However, this piece of entrepreneurial and innovation history is far from irrelevant. The event propelled Paris and subsequently, the rest of the world into a modern age. The spirit behind that kind of sharing of ideas and innovation is no less important for entrepreneurs and innovators today.
Today’s image of entrepreneurs has been warped by those outside the realm of entrepreneurship, the reality of which leaves some disillusioned. There is no doubt that entrepreneurs are driven, focused, self-starters, yet we are regaled by many tales of larger than life individuals with otherworldly intelligence that have built startups in their garage and grew them into today’s most iconic brands. While sensational stories like these capture the attention of many, they are by no means typical and give a somewhat skewed representation of successful entrepreneurship. For the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs, the story is far different. This is one of the reasons why it’s imperative that we resolve to start off by expanding the world’s vision of entrepreneurship.
A step towards realizing this resolution is for all to recognize that the ‘One Man Show’ is an entrepreneurial myth. As superhuman as some of those stories have made outstanding entrepreneurs seem, the truth is that its people who do a business thrive, especially when it comes to growing that business. Even the most talented visionary has the limited human capability and, therefore, cannot successfully juggle multiple clients, let alone manage the entirety of a business. The weight of it is too much for any human. When we come to fully appreciate and understand this, and the fact that it does not reflect weakness to seek out or accept help with a business, we can truly appreciate the benefits of surrounding ourselves with a diversity of people who can provide additional viewpoints, fill in for the skills we lack and keep us accountable in our ventures.
Now, we must make it our collective mission to create more culture conscious entrepreneurship. This brings us back to the goal of the 1900 Paris “Exposition Universelle” mentioned at the outset of the article. How does that event relate to entrepreneurship today? The spirit of “Exposition Universelle” is something vitally needed in our world today—a gathering of like-minded individuals from across the globe to share important information about their lifestyles, businesses, innovations, and most importantly, share their ideas. With inspiration from the 1900’s “Exposition Universelle,” Paris will again host an important event in July 2021, the ICSB “Exposition Universelle d’Humane Entrepreneurship. This congress aims to expand our vision of entrepreneurship by uniting entrepreneurs together to network, co-create, and inspire one another, ultimately with the hope of changing the world in a profoundly good way.
See You in Paris!