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No everyone gets a trophy

Tonight I sat in on a startup pitch event at a local university that focused on for-profit social enterprises. Four groups presented. Two of the ideas focused on helping school-age youth travel more outside the country for various reasons. This is something I feel strongly about after my year in Malaysia. I believe being well-traveled in an immersive way, can help us better appreciate other cultures and understand our cultural norms are just one way things can play out.

Two other groups were focused on addressing food-insecurities in impoverished parts of the city. This issue is also something I’ve begun to get closer to via my volunteering with Urban Harvest. Its great to see students thinking in altruistic, yet business-minded ways.

When I reflect back on how tonight’s forum was conducted, by the students seeking candid feedback, I am impressed. In the past when I have been part of student-built company events, it has at times been suggested we go easy on them since it may be their first attempt. I understand where this thought process comes from and we must be careful to never shame someone for a flaw in their concept but I would at the same time say its crucial to not shield them from the harshness of the real world.

Whether you’re starting/joining a nonprofit, social enterprise, small business or corporation, the real world has a way of sorting out people that don’t do a good job at their work. Our job in supporting young entrepreneurs should be to beckon them forward but to not misdirect them by withholding info is a glaring error is apparent.

Effort is crucial but so is candor.

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