When I first heard about RVA points — the mandatory requirement of all Startup Chile companies, to work closely with local Chilean entrepreneurs to help and advise them, I viewed it as a necessary evil: “I’m not too excited about this… but it makes perfect sense that this is a requirement, a way to give back to Chilean society to thank them for the help. Therefore, even if I’m not that enthusiastic about doing these social events, I will do them anyway.”
But as I started engaging in lots of RVA social activities, my attitude has come around to change, a 180-degree change. This transformation has revolved around three different realizations I’ve had, while performing lots of social activities:
First, it turns out, giving talks and teaching is fun! I’ve found the Chilean participants to be interested, listen closely, and ask lots of smart questions. Teaching people who are yawning and don’t want to be there is a nightmare; but teaching interested students is a pleasure!
Second, I’ve met a bunch of interesting people — both the organizers and some of the people who have come up to me at the end to talk. At one event, there was a long line to talk to me afterward, and a lot of the people had great business ideas, and I was happy to help out all the budding entrepreneurs! A few of them even turned into Facebook friends and want to meet up for a coffee — and then, perhaps we will become friends! It is wonderful to have new friendships born in the most surprising ways! With the new people we meet–who knows what will happen? Maybe someone will become my new Best Friend Forever!
Third: While the first to reasons are selfish; the third is more selfless — and it’s the most important of them all, overwhelmingly. There is a powerful common cause, the mission — building up a modern, entrepreneurial economy — and it is really exciting. It’s fantastic to help out on the ground level. It’s easy to sit back in an armchair and pontificate over what works or what doesn’t. But it’s harder to get your hands dirty and work hand-in-hand with the new entrepreneurs! And doing this, person by person — is exactly the way in which a developing economy moves from the third world into the first. Helping be a part of this is wonderful.
This topic, the power of the social RVA points, is something that came clear to while reading last night. Every night, before I go to sleep, I read a book. (I always think: if Winston Churchill could write his masterpiece, History of the English Speaking Peoples while leading the UK to victory over the Nazis… I can at least find time to read a book while building up my company!).
Now I’m reading the wonderful, From Third World to First by Lee Kuan Yew, the long-time Prime Minister of Singapore, a man who led Singapore’s transformation from being a poor, forgotten backwards society to the most modern first world country in Asia. The story of Singapore’s transformation — and the challenges, political, cultural, and otherwise, that they faced and painfully overcome — is compelling, particularly all the challenges they faced and the difficult solutions they chose: solutions which, in the long-term, have paid off handsomely for them.
Reading the book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Chile and Chile’s transformation. Not only by building my company in Chile (and thus employing Chileans and paying taxes!) am I helping out–but through the social points, I help out other up-and-coming Chilean entrepreneurs as well. I am proud to have a truly minor part in this story and to help the Chilean Miracle.
~ This commentary is by Morgan Friedman (Gift Pinpoint, SUP 7.2) ~