Each year, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) holds an eleven-day international undergraduate conference dedicated to fostering personal growth, learning from foreign lecturers, and building relationships with people from all over the world – the RANEPA Summer Campus. The theme of 2018’s campus was Entrepreneurship in Entertainment and Culture. It was held just outside of Kazan, Russia, in Innopolis. Last summer, I represented my university at the campus. The campus consisted of eleven amazing days of no sleep, back to back lectures, and more group projects than I had ever done in my entire life. I heard from global business leaders, political figures, professors, actors, fashion designers, and world class dancers. My favorite lecturers were Dr. Pat Dickson from Wake Forest University, Dr. Sam Potolicchio from Georgetown University, and Clyde Tuggle – the former Senior Vice President of Coca-Cola.
Dr. Pat Dickson presented on the importance of cultural diversity in organizations and how to improve one’s cultural intelligence. According to Dr. Dickson, a successful leader resists being ethnocentric, plans ahead for cultural differences, fosters connections and relationships while building trust, and has a high cultural intelligence. He said that the biggest mistake made by organizational leaders is assuming that knowing about cultural differences is enough. Dickson said that a successful leader will understand how to adapt and adjust behavior across cultures in guiding the organization. The entirety of his presentation was relevant to me and what I hope to create one day with an international social enterprise.
Dr. Sam Potolicchio gave one of the best presentations I had ever seen. He presented on the importance of public speaking, how to better one’s public speaking skills, and how to promote personal growth. To promote personal growth, he gave us a list of books to read and challenged us to read at least three books a week for the rest of our lives. His formula for which three books to choose consisted of one biography, one book of fiction or poetry, and one book on a subject we did not already know. He told us to get an accountability partner, preferably someone older and wiser, and a moleskine journal. He advised us to write in this journal every idea that strikes us from our reading. Then, every few months, he told us to swap journals with our partners.
Clyde Tuggle presented “Ten Ways to Fail as an Entrepreneur”:
Quit Taking Risks
Isolate Yourself/Be Out of Touch
Play the Game Close to the Line
Don’t Take Time to Think
Put All of Your Faith in Experts and Outside Consultants
Love Your Bureaucracy
Send Mixed Messages
Be Afraid of the Future
In addition to what not to do, Tuggle gave us several pieces of advice for what to do: be a rational optimistic, never lose your passion for your work and for your life, be curious, and ask questions. I will keep all of his words of warning and wisdom with me as I begin my entrepreneurial journey.
Although I learned a great deal from the lecturers, I learned even more from the people I met and the friends I made.
From all of the group projects and presentations we had to execute throughout the campus, I learned how to manage a team of seventeen individuals from ten countries with varying degrees of fluency in English. It was challenging in the beginning. Before this campus, I had had many friends from outside of the United States and group projects, but I had never had a group project with people from outside of the United States. It was very interesting to see how people from different nations work together in groups. I learned that the three most important roles any leader can play are a facilitator of conversation, a listener, and a clarity provider when language barriers or departmentalizing tasks impedes communication.
By the end of the campus, I made lifelong friends from: China, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, Armenia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Ecuador, Bolivia, Germany, Montenegro, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Romania, Colombia, and Morocco. The RANEPA Summer Campus was the experience of a lifetime. The campus exemplified that there are more factors that unite people around the world than divide them.