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Peers in Passion

Someone said that great minds have purposes, others have wishes. This considering, what happens when 70 young brilliant minds, with the challenging common goal of becoming successful entrepreneurs, get together for one whole week? Now I know, because I was there, the outcome is just amazing.

By: EBR - Posted: Monday, September 3, 2012

by Alessandra Catena*

I am a young entrepreneur and, day after day, I am more and more convinced that this is my future and who I really want to be. I chose what a lot of people would call the “tough” path for a fresh graduate, but I just love it and I can’t help sharing my experience with other young people facing the same reality… But hey, hold on a second, where are they? Is there really such a big number of young entrepreneurs (or aspiring ones) to talk to?! Sadly enough there isn’t. I discovered that my lifestyle is not something all young people are familiar with. The words “passion” and “commitment” for your ideas don’t mean anything to most of them.

Maybe we should blame the crisis, maybe the huge cultural diversity between the European member states or just the mental laziness of some people. All I know is that thanks to Think Young and their annual project - Entrepreneurship Summer School – young people, casing common entrepreneurial dreams, came together during one inspiring week.

Right at the heart of EU, 69 youngsters, from the age of 16 (!!!) to 32, and I got the chance to interview great entrepreneurial minds and above all great personalities. Yes, I know, you are now probably wondering “Is it so hard to ask questions to some fully experienced people that are successful in what they’re doing?”.. well, believe it or not, it took us a whole week to learn how to make the right question at the right moment and how to be able to get the best out of it. Asking and listening are the two basic skills that an entrepreneur (and not only) must have in order to become a winner, both in private and professional life. The speakers, that I come up to consider as real mentors, were able to transfer us their values, their vision and their experience, firstly as human beings and then as entrepreneurs.

When I was asked to write this article I didn’t know where to start from: so many memories, stories and feelings to put in order! Yet, one thing was clear, I had to talk about the biggest lesson I learned (and I know that what I am going to say will put a smile on the face of all the participants): never underestimate the power of NETWORKING! The best luggage I brought back to Italy was the amazing people I met, each of them for their own attitude and background. Having to take part in an internal competition in order to create a guideline for young entrepreneurs, gave us the chance to learn how to behave in an international group and to understand its dynamics.

At the very beginning, I must admit none of us in the group would have bet on a possible success in writing a good guideline for young entrepreneurs: I recall epic scenes and the lost of time in picking the group element to do the interview rather than focusing on which questions should have been asked to the speaker. Sometimes we even experienced the adrenaline of improvisation! However, by the end of the week the change was impressive: perfect coordination and time management, not to mention the accuracy of our questions. We were perfectly able to highlight our individual skills: our individual difference was our strength. Thanks to what we learned, we improved so much that we eventually succeeded in the competition. It’s been the most rewarding and unexpected achievement for all of us. I really feel the need to thank all of Think Young’s staff and the team members for this amazing result.

The Entrepreneurship Summer School has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I would recommend it to all the young minds around Europe willing to challenge them and to experiment something that will help them make their entrepreneurship dreams come true. Most importantly, I honestly believe that such an experience suits all those that are willing to meet amazing people, freely share with them the same interests and passions, and build an invisible circle of trust that will guarantee they will always have somebody to could count on, wherever they are...

* Alessandra Catena (25 years-old, Italy) was a participants of ThinkYoung’s Entrepreneurship Summer School’12 and a member of the winning team of the guidebook competition.

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