Friday 18 November 2011
COINS Chairman Larry Sullivan speaks at Harvard on "Entrepreneurship as a Force for Good"
Larry visited the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on September 15th, 2011 to spend a day with budding entrepreneurs, students, faculty and researchers at Harvard University. As part of the visit, Larry spoke to a gathering of undergraduate and graduate students and members of the Entrepreneurship and Technology Center at Harvard University.
Dr. Joy Sircar, SEAS Associate Dean for Research and Planning and Chief Technologist, commented on the value to students of learning about Larry's experiences: "Our students don't come to Harvard to guarantee the prospect of a good job. They want to start a business and change the world."
During the chat Larry discussed the importance of various principles, processes and techniques that he used as part of starting and establishing businesses around the world.
Regarding basic business principles of morality and trust, Larry commented: "It's those principles that allow you to build long-term stable relationships with your colleagues and clients; it is the foundation of any successful business."
Larry discussed the importance of building a team comprised of balanced personalities: "You need to ensure your businesses are dotted with creative, analytical, and organizational personalities. It is only by achieving such a balance that you can achieve stability and growth."
Students were eager to receive guidance on how to institutionalize and implement this in a business and Larry discussed the Belbin team roles methodology (www.belbin.com) that he applies within his organizations.
This proved to be passionate topic, as both the speaker and the crowd deeply cared about ensuring these values form an integral part of a corporate culture. Larry discussed how these principles should be interwoven in the fabric of a company. He used the examples of the COINS Foundation, the COINS Challenge events, and social enterprises such as the Stepping Stones Schools and the Stepping Stones Schools Cookie Bar.
Whilst explaining the Cookie Bar - a venture managed and operated by children of the Stepping Stones School that has its profits re-invested in the school and the COINS Foundation - Larry highlighted its core purpose: "The aim of a social enterprise such as the Cookie Bar is to enable the children to become social and economic contributors."
It is also worth noting that the Cookie Bar has a strong Social Media sales strategy, and it was fitting to discuss it at Harvard since it is Facebook's birth place. Whilst discussing this with the students, Larry commented: "The web does not recognize physical disability. It only recognizes intellectual capability."
The Q & A session following Larry's remarks was lively, and it was clear the students were really interested in the topics discussed. They were very inquisitive about the difficult balancing act of exercising Social Responsibility in its true form (not as PR) and in the intricacies of developing a start-up business.
The students were really interested in the topics discussed. They were very inquisitive about the difficult balancing act of exercising Social Responsibility in its true form (not as PR) and in the intricacies of developing a start-up business.
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