Unfortunately, no. But I did travel to Germany as an Army
Special Forces reserve officer when I was an undergrad. It was my first trip
abroad, and it was an eye-opener with regard to my lack of language skills!
My personal take-aways from the trip in May 2011: Every single
leader we met focused exclusively on passion – not money. The leaders we met
certainly appreciate a solid education, and support a lifelong approach to
learning. However, the leaders urged our students to use experience as the best
teacher at this point in their careers. You can’t do it alone. Every leader
needs a support network for different purposes – i.e., emotional, knowledge,
financial, etc. And those relationships need to be reciprocal in nature. Not a
single leader said that keeping work-life balance is easy. It takes a lot of
work, but work is never more important than family. If you lose out on key
events with your family, you can’t get them back. You must know when to
delegate, how to delegate, and how to follow-up without micro-managing. Almost
every leader said that in hindsight, they would have taken more risks, and
bigger risks earlier rather than later. The entrepreneurs cautioned against
giving away too much ownership too soon. Leaders must stay focused, and say No
to a lot of opportunities brought forth by subordinates. Part of focus is
growing organically versus through acquisitions and mergers. Most of the firms
we met had a core set of values that were remarkably similar – e.g., do your best,
do what’s right, and treat others right. The key is to provide unique examples
of behavior expectations for each value in a way that support the desired
culture. And these behaviors need to be creatively repeated often, and can
never be assumed to exist without reinforcement. Every leader was highly
competitive with themselves, and many of them were most motivated when someone
said, “You can’t.” Hiring the right sales people is absolutely essential, and
very, very difficult. The organization needs to know that everyone is in sales,
and that everyone is in sales support. In the beginning, middle and end, it is
all about people. Period. The points above are a summary of many pages of notes
based on over 35 people that addressed our class. In the end, I would have to
say the past two weeks served as a significant learning boost for me. In
addition, I was reminded that the successful leaders by any measure were those
that have a balance of determination and humility. I think every person we
heard speak said that a requirement of their organization was that egos get
checked at the door.
The Irish are some of the friendliest people anywhere on earth!
We learned a great deal about Irish culture, politics, business, and economics.
In the end, there are more similarities than differences between us, and we’re
similarly motivated to make a positive difference in the lives of others. My
hope is that the students learn as much about themselves as they will the
leaders we'll meet, and it will help in the future to lead, create, innovate,
and develop others that come after them. I know we're also creating a bridge
between Ireland and the great state of Colorado so that students and business
The Queen of England made a historic visit, President Obama
visited, the wind speed on day set an Irish record, and the volcano in Iceland
threatened to delay flights. Honestly, we couldn't have been in Ireland during
a more historic two-week period in decades!
When visiting the Dail (Irish Parliament), we were amazed at how
American culture, and particularly Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton were
The students would say Guinness, but I'd have to say the tea!
You should know that you don't travel to Ireland for the food or the weather.
You travel to Ireland for some of the best conversations you'll ever have!
Friendliest people on the planet, period!
Reasons why you’d do business in Ireland: Nice people! It’s all
about relationships here in Ireland. English spoken – no language barrier
(except the slang!). Economic growth opportunities. Ireland is on the rebound.
Ireland is a gateway to continental Europe. Scalability and “trialability.” As
a small country of 4,000,000 people, it’s a great test market for exports and
pilot projects. Stable climate – not known for natural disasters, and no
nuclear power facilities. Favorable tax climate. Favorable employer laws and
high employee satisfaction ratings. Educated and talented work force. Guinness.
This course provides the student with an overview of key
leadership principles for creating strategy and managing teams in a new
venture. It introduces leadership concepts critical to gaining true
organizational commitment, and focuses on case studies relevant to common
business issues. By exploring what entrepreneurial leaders actually do, and how
they do it, the student will examine the principles of strategic planning, and
how visionary leadership is required to develop an organization that is able to
execute the strategy through measurable goals and objectives. Understand
cultural differences; what they mean, where they come from, and understanding
one’s own cultural characteristics. Develop a real ability to become more
self-reflective, assess yourself, and create your own feedback loop.
Our favorite guest speaker was Bryan Keating in Belfast. Bryan
has an absolutely extraordinary story, as his life really didn’t start until he
was 30. He’s had a brilliant career, and currently sits on 5 boards, and is an
angel investor, and mentor-extraordinaire. You don’t become a holder of the
Queen’s lifetime award for enterprise promotion by not being productive and
proliferative! Bryan gave a talk on risk taking in life in general, and I know
he made us really think about our station in life. His bottom-line – “Life is
not a dress rehearsal.” His definition of leadership: Confident Motivated
Realistic Tenacious Courageous And have a bias towards action (with analysis)
while taking calculated risks.