In evidenza

Entrepreneurship is enlightenment

enlightenment

On Christmas Eve light blossoms everywhere, even in the most unexpected places.  The same should be not just all around us, but in our spirits.

Entrepreneurship too has definitely something to do with light.

Entrepreneurship can a way of taking steps to find enlightenment: reconsidering the past without judgement for instance is a step in this direction, through moulding it into a repeatable experience that you can share with everyone.

But a step to enlightenment includes for sure looking for a positive environment: every good entrepreneur craves being in the kind of positive environment that creates firstly the incubator for their own growth and then for their firm.

And last but not least, looking at entrepreneurship as a road to enlightenment means being able to do other two important things.

The first is the ability to appreciate and enjoy details; while performing such an hard task as being an entrepreneur, every little light on your path is something worthy of your consideration: always accept it as a sign of confirmation that will help to keep you on your path.

The second is to cope with difficulties: where everybody sees failure, enlightenment pushes you to see endless possibilities, where everyone sees defeat, try to see understanding.  Light will lead you to come across as seeing the “silver lining” in anything. Pollyanna’s “glad game”, in the end wasn’t silly or mindless at all: teaches all of us to become aware. Aware of the potential of our optimism. If you stay tuned with light, (sometimes) magic happens.

Best wishes to all of you!

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In evidenza

Doing business through listening

orecchio

We only see what we know” said once Goethe.

In entrepreneurial terms we do often the same. But, even more important we do often “listen only to what we like”. And, if we do, the chance of remaining what we are or, even worse, to fail, is very high.

Listening is entrepreneur’s very first friend, because is a powerful way of processing ideas, intuitions, emotions. Seeing sometimes can be immediate but also misleading, whereas listening can’t. It involves time and patience.

In conducting business, you’ll be busy with almost constant change management and with lots of people pretending their expectations to be taken into consideration by your business model. Both of these processes don’t involve at first speaking/pitching, but (apparently) the contrary: developing a deep listening attitude.

There are so many obstacles between a normal and an outstanding listening skill.

Many entrepreneurs and managers see their potential stakeholder like a mere on-demand moral support and reconfirmation service: as not so careful listeners they “download” from their words and messages only what they like and assume that counts as a reconfirmations of the ideas they already have.

More difficult, challenging and useful is being ready to analyse and listen even to those facts and consideration that at a first sight clearly contradict their own theories, being also prepared to change perspective for a while in observing reality.

So if as a human being and an entrepreneur you may learn to switch perspective and use for a while somebody else’s eye, your  listening skills and techiniques  instead are probably what more deeply personal and unique there is in your own identity. Nobody can listen the way you do nor you can ever do it in somebody else’s way. Therefore is so important and can make the difference for your startup project

Skilled listening, is a way of generating and testing new business ideas: it means in facts being able to pay attention to phenomena, eliminating background noise, and get the essential feedbacks from stakeholders, summarizing the content of their word. Mirroring, but in a creative way. (Then probably the better firms are the ones that are able not to mirror but to match, compensate and sometimes even counteract stakeholder messages, but that request time and starts anyway from a good listening phase)

In the end, that’s what a business plan represents: an entrepreneur is someone that find an original way of listening and then of creatively paraphrasing customers’ messages and statements in a way that both sound inspiring and reassuring.

What is essential is invisible to the eye”…but most of the times it can be well perceived by the ears!

 

In evidenza

Is it beautiful?

 

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Is there enough beauty in your firm?

What’s the real motivation behind starting a business up nowadays?

We all know is difficult, hardly successful, time consuming and sometimes lead us to ruthlessy confront with our weaknesses.

Is probably because a real entrepreneur is somehow like an archaeologist, relentlessy looking for some hidden beauty.

Beauty tends to feel like something that must be found in special places—like museums and galleries.

There is neither a ISO standard about beauty, nor a spreadsheet. But the very first question every entrepreneur should ask himself before starting a new business is exactly this one “Is it beautiful?”

Look at the market nowadays: every firms wants to be customer-centric, adapt as much as it can to customer taste, make customer happy: only beautiful things have this ability, because beauty is talking an universal language, neither classic nor modern, able to communicate with everyone. And it may represent a promise of happiness.

Therefore beauty may represent a success- detonator for your business, being able to open the way to happiness, because happiness in the end is strictly related with interaction with beauty: observing something beautiful, experiencing something beautiful, creating something beautiful.

Keep you customer in contact with beauty, and he will be certainly happy: the big seven factors commonly addressed as happiness markers, such as wealth, family relationships, career, friends, health, freedom, and personal values will come right after.

Moreover, most of startuppers look for an efficient organization, able to offer not just effective/efficient performances, but also able to easily adapt to circumstances (and, theoretically, to almost every customer’s request) and to be memorable: there again, beauty plays a role, because what they are really looking for is a way of designing beautiful processes.

Every process in the end is a flow chart, like every painting is made of colours, but there is a slight difference between the Mona Lisa and a forgery.  So, be creative in designing your business, even with the elements that seem “cold”: beauty is contagious so even a flyer, a visiting card, am office, a presentation, a logo, a packaging may represent an important fact.

bruco farfalla

Nowadays, there are firms that created in their organizational chart the role of Chief Happiness Officer, in its essence, an HR Manager with the task of engaging employees, motivating them and raising performance levels through the enhancement of their happiness level. We believe instead that putting managers in charge of searching/pretending from their resources non just a high performance but a beautiful performance, and training people to always look for some inspiring beauty all around them, even in the small details,  is even more important.

In evidenza

Making your pitching seem larger than life

 

piching larger than life

There are endless recipes in order to make the best out of your pitching experience.

Collecting the experience of some recent pitching events with startups, let’s go back to basics.

We won’t mention strategy for today, we want just to lay low. The devil is in the detail, especially in pitching, and you shouldn’t throw away the chance of making a good deal, or just putting the right foundation of your journey to success as an entrepreneur.

There are a few simple things that really can make the difference. Details, you’ll say. But they can make the difference: you know, exactly the difference between a room where it’s all quiet and everybody is listening and instead one where public complains or simply can’t care less (even worst!).

  1. Slide show: please be clear. Drop on the slide a few concepts to talk all around, but be merciless in eliminating the not useful concepts. A few words and crystal clear (sometimes with a skilful use of facts & figures) this is all you need as to why they should remember, in order to make it stick. In facts, what public read shouldn’t be what they listen to. Slides are most of the times too crowded, simply unreadable.

  2. Infrastructure: where are you planning to pitch? It will be organized for a large public, in a small room, or just a few persons? Try to have under control beforehand parameters like: a) distance to public, b) facilities available in the room (fi. Kind of videowall) c) pitching indoor/outdoor d) presentations file format (ppt, prezi, etc). Pitching environment is important, sometimes decisive.

  3. Always respect time: is always one extra point gained for your pitching. Time keeping means respect for the audience, respect the following pitchers and…for yourself. In facts a god pitcher is a superb listener. So having time left means having time to answer questions and interact with public. People identifies (and recalls later on) much more with contents and concepts connected with Q&A moments. Because Q&A is like a game, where your ability to communicate and winging it can also be tested.

  4. The power of a word, the power of your silence: as well as for point 1, don’t fill in your speech with too many words. The time you should give to the audience to adapt to your way of thinking (especially if you are discussing some difficult/highly specialistic subject and/or about some radical innovation) is directly proportional to the magnitude of your innovation. So don’t forget to use short and clear sentences (especially if you are pitching in a noisy or crowded environment) and use frequent effect pausing (that can be used also to test the effect of your words on the audience).

  5. Talk, looking everybody in their eyes, don’t read.

  6. The next 48 hrs: if you were able to break the ice and establish promising contacts with someone, don’t forget to write an e-mail within 48 hrs, providing further information about you and/or about some of the issues you have been asked about

In evidenza

Disruption, fintech and CSR the 3 mantras for islamic finance

wibc second day

 

Convened by Middle East Global Advisors – a leading financial intelligence platform facilitating the development of knowledge-based economies in the MENASEA markets and in strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain, the forum is spurring a series of discussions focusing on “Islamic Finance & Sustainable Economic Growth in the Age of Disruption”, a theme that resonates with the conference’s steady vision to serve as a definitive check point for the global Islamic finance and banking industry.

Islamic finance may play an outstanding role in global economy especially if able to leave its comfort zone, with the help of new technologies in front end (improving customer experience) and most of all in backoffice processes.

Showcasing his support for Islamic finance entities to thrive and grow globally and stressing on the way forward for the industry, the Governor of Central Bank of Bahrain, in his address mentioned, “Islamic finance has followed a fragmented growth pattern since the start with various countries in the Middle East and South East Asia taking the lead. These country specific models have achieved reasonable success as measured by the share of Islamic finance in the respective markets. I would like to argue, however, that the reduced pace of growth suggests that we cannot hope for a new growth paradigm while maintaining the status quo. If the developments in the conventional finance industry are any indicator, it is reasonable to expect that regional and global cooperation can open new doors for the Islamic finance sector. The magic of such global cooperation works when some pre-requisites are in place, namely, leadership, standardization, good governance and risk management & compliance.”

“Shari’ah standards, accounting standards, prudential standards and best market practices, all need to be developed for the Islamic finance industry with the global audience in mind. AAOIFI has been doing excellent work on Shari’ah and accounting standards while Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has developed risk management and capital adequacy standards which conform to global best practices. International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) has made valuable contribution towards standardizing money and capital market contracts as well as financing contracts. The recent endorsement by the IMF of the IFSB’s proposed core principles for Islamic finance regulation and their assessment methodology for financial sector assessments is a great news for the global acceptance of Islamic finance. What we need now is to convince regulators and market players to adopt AAOIFI, IFSB and IIFM standards in their respective markets”, added Mr. Maraj stressing on the need for standardization to enable global growth.

Commenting on the changing face of financial services due to the advent of digitization, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Head of Financial Product Development Centre, Islamic Research & Training Institute, Islamic Development Bank in his keynote address stated, “The size of e-commerce is about three times the size of the Islamic financial industry. This means that there is an ample room for the industry to invest and to participate in the digital revolution. Moreover, e-commerce will be a very good channel to manage the liquidity of Islamic banks. This is a challenge that has long been waiting for a solution. E-commerce seems to be a promising sphere. With the fintech revolution, online sales can seamlessly meet the requirement of Islamic finance. If Islamic banks invest in this area, they will be able potentially to reap lucrative returns from a growing large sector, manage their liquidly efficiently, and participate in real economic growth and development.”

The conference also played host to an exclusive interview of H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board, which focused on emerging projects and financing, the value added tax which will be implemented in the Kingdom in addition to the benefits and risks of digitization.

H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi discussed the Government’s integral role in supporting the continuous development of the local economy; encouraging constant collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as creating an ecosystem that is conductive to the success of startups and entrepreneurs, in order to ensure the Kingdom maintains its lead at the forefront of its competitors in digital transformation across industries. Mr. Al Rumaihi also mentioned the key milestones achieved by the GCC countries during the past three decades, and how they have employed the bilateral cooperation as a factor to promote brotherly countries and unite efforts to succeed in the initiatives and plans set in this regard.

Ahead of the panel session on economic growth & sustainable finance, Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President & Chief Executive, Al Baraka Banking Group, said, “The World Islamic Banking Conference, has, over the last 25 years, established itself as a key global forum for in-depth discussions on the facets of the continued global growth in Islamic finance. The Islamic Financial Services industry has shown tremendous progress as one of the fastest growing asset classes in the world. The industry continues to expand in many emerging and advanced markets and introduce new standards that should further help develop products and attract investors. The industry’s global appeal continues to grow and attract remarkable attention, including from the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. In order to for Islamic banks to expand their geographical footprints further over the coming years, they must be able to compete more effectively and tackle a number of key challenges facing the industry, including delivering cost efficiencies, building greater talent pools, enhancing corporate governance; leveraging digitization, delivering innovative products that meet genuine market needs; and ensuring risk management systems are up to par. For the Islamic finance industry to build a solid foundation for the next phase of international growth, the industry must undergo transformation in a number of key areas. The 25th Anniversary World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2018) is a key platform for industry leaders to put a spotlight on the challenges, innovations, latest developments and technological solutions essential for further growth of the global Islamic banking and finance sector.”

The conference also saw a Keynote Address by Aziz Elkhyari, Head of Business Development, Casablanca Finance City Authority who spoke about Fostering the development of Islamic finance in Africa and the role of financial centers. This was followed by the joint launch of Casablanca Finance City (CFC)-Thomson Reuters Report – Islamic Finance in Africa: The upcoming frontier that provides an industry landscape of Islamic finance in African countries with an overview of the industry development in 5 African countries including Morocco.

The conference proved to be the ideal launchpad for a number of key financial intelligence reports and also saw the launch of The Global Report on Islamic Finance – 2018: The role of Islamic finance in financing long-term investments by Islamic Development Bank that highlights how Islamic finance could help mobilize long-term funding for development programs.

Other key highlights from the day include the panel discussions focusing on economic growth and sustainable finance, the Fintech Panel on the Digitization Journey of a Global Bank and the Region Round Table focusing on Africa. Leading industry experts analyzed the challenges at hand and focused on coming up with effective suggestions with the ultimate aim of developing a convergence roadmap for the Islamic Finance industry at large.

In evidenza

25th WIBC officially kick-started: key insights at the IIFM Awareness Seminar

WIBC 5

 

The 25th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) officially kick-started with a stimulating IIFM Awareness Seminar that covered a broad spectrum of issues, focused on entrenching transparency in advancing sustainable growth in the Islamic Financial Market, on the 26th of November at the ART Rotana Hotel, Amwaj Islands, Bahrain.

With a packed audience of 300 delegates, the 9th annual IIFM pre-conference seminar saw an insightful opening address by Khalid Hamad Abdulrahman Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain and Chairman of IIFM, who discussed IIFM’s 3 Year Strategic Plan (2017 – 2020) and its new initiatives being undertaken in collaboration with other international bodies such as the two Participation Agreements for Islamic Trade Finance that will be launched soon jointly with Washington based Bankers Association of Finance & Trade (BAFT) as well as the master agreements for gold trading being considered with UK based World Gold Council and London Bullion Market Association.

Stressing on the growing need for widespread adoption of standards, Mr. Hamad said, “IIFM has gained much credibility and reached a stage of maturity with sound achievements to date, however, there is still a burning need to get its standards to be used more actively by wider market players which can only happen if there is strong endorsement from regulators, particularly those in Islamic banking markets across GCC and Asia.”

The opening address was followed by an overview of IIFM’s Shari’ah-Compliant Financial Documentation and Product Confirmation Standards. The rest of the day ensued with thought-provoking sessions covering the most pressing issues affecting Islamic financial markets like Trade Finance and the IIFM-BAFT Master Participation Agreements; Developments in the Global Sukuk Market and Gold related Shari’ah-Complaint Documentation & Products Standardization Possibilities.

The seminar concluded with a critical discussion on the latest developments in global financial markets that saw an assessment of Benchmark Rate Reform and the preparedness levels of Islamic financial institutions. The session also discussed the need for digitization of Islamic financial contracts and products and the challenges which Islamic banks have to overcome particularly in adopting smart contracts.

The seminar saw a host of critical insights unfold from Industry Leaders comprising Ijlal Ahmed Alvi, Chief Executive Officer, IIFM; Hammad Hassan, Managing Director, Bank ABC Islamic and Group Head of Islamic Banking, Bank ABCAndrew Naylor, Director-Central Banks and Public Policy, World Gold CouncilLilian Le Falher, Executive Manager, Head of Treasury, FI & Capital Markets, Kuwait Finance House (Bahrain)Omar Mustafa Ansari, Acting Secretary General, AAOIFIMian Nazir, Chief Executive Officer, Dar Al Sharia; Habib Motani, Partner, Clifford Chance LLP; Dr. Hatim El-Tahir, Director, Audit & Assurance, Deloitte & Touche – Middle East among others.

 

In evidenza

The next little thing

 

mattoni

Probably everybody knows that story about a guy who meets three builders on their lunch break. “What are you doing today?” he asks the first. “I’m putting brick after sodding brick on top of another,” complains the first. “What are you doing today?” he asks the second. “I’m building a wall,” replies the second. But the third builder instead replies: “I’m building a cathedral!”

Clearly, the encouragement between the lines is that you really need to get out of the so-called “Doorway Effect” and that a process as well as an action needs to be thought of at multiple levels if it has to be successful.

So that means that the first two builders were wrong?  We can answer by saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”: if you don’t start putting (efficiently) a brick on top of another there will be no cathedral at all.

As strange as it may sound, in the real world the same person can’t exist in two times and places, but firm can

                     .the next little thing

If you look at the big picture, suddenly the cathedral will appear in your eyes. Then probably you’ll be inclined to concentrate with the following things:

benchmarking: how the other cathedrals were built?  How do they look like?  Which is the most beautiful?

innovation: what’s next? Real innovation means projecting a new cathedral or instead thinking about a breakthrough building something completely different of even more ambitious?

If instead you are one of the first two builders, welcome in a completely different world. Welcome in the world of incremental innovation. In such a case innovation is about:

benchmarking: mostly an internal matter. Who’s the most efficient builder? Who, between the subjects performing task similar/equal to mine, is adopting an approach that can be transformed into a best practice?

improving the process: how can I put a brick on top of another quicker (and better) than ever before?  Can I think of adopting some slightly different material?  Can I reduce errors/waste?

innovation:  mostly incremental.  The most widespread kind of innovation. It means an innovation that concerns an existing product, service, process, organization or method whose performance has been significantly enhanced or upgraded.

Here is the point. In your organization you need to frame both things: both the brick and the cathedral. Looking for disruption will be an healthy and wonderful bet on a different future, but in the end every great innovation will become routine and incremental innovation is the only thing that will allow your firm to stay ahead in business. And this  matters for every firm and business environment, not just for low-wage countries or ow- and medium-technology industries or mature firms.

Yes, because incremental innovation is important, being largely the dominant form of innovation.

In facts, blue ocean is some kind of unicorn. Rounded on the side of caution 90% of innovations is like that: a small continuous process where innovation is always in the next brick, or wall. In facts, buliding a new cathedral can be challenging, being disruptive can be fashionable and sound positively ambitious too, but at the other side its a very complex process, rather than a discrete event, and generally implies a sophisticated and risky process

And so what?

There are anyway some typical warnings to be taken into account:

Is your firm sensitive to incremental innovation? This is strictly related to giving the chance to your team to exchange their experience, concentrate on product/service specification, register/formalize those small improvements

Does your firm reward incremental innovation?  This not just about providing training and know how but also being ready to timely transform a series of positive experiences and practices into best practices, and into a continual advance in change management process,

-does your firm look for innovation hidden in (apparently) daily /routine processes and practices?

matrioska

How is R&D managed inside your company? What about  its objectives and priorities?

That will be a useful exercise: from time to time, asking your team about the way they see their job. Are they taking the brick/wall or cathedral side?

 

In evidenza

The 3 E issues: Islamic finance, startuppers and a common paradigm.

Lets’ look at facts & figures.

Reading the latest available reports and figures on development (and related issues) of islamic finance from the point of view of entrepreneurs and young startuppers across the world a few facts are clear.

First of all there are facts and requests coming from this specific entrepreneurial and financial environment that are surprisingly similar or even equal to the requests of new entrepreneurs not belonging to that area.

The most frequent issues that young Islamic entrepreneurs are facing seem related to the following subjects:

  1. Bridging the skills gap, through specific training both inside startups and within the stakeholders providing services to entrepreneurs (such as banks, consultants, incubators etc);
  2. Developing leadership programs, identifying potential leaders;
  3. Creating the conditions for benchmarking inside and outside its own cultural sphere;
  4. Rising the service-quality bar: 5 characteristics are the most appreciated/requested good, specialized, updated, integrated on demand services for startup and generally speaking, entrepreneurship;
  5. Create start-up hubs, mentorship schemes for entrepreneurs; allocate dedicated advisors within institutes to help develop ideas, finance scholarships for entrepreneurs and nurture entrepreneurship and social enterprise as a part of CSR;
  1. Make CSR not just a paper producing activity or simply a report, but a chance of creating value through enhancing the social impact of an entrepreneurial idea;
  2. Dialogating with stakeholders and finding the right tools and environments to communicate clearly and effectively with them, “certifying” at the same time their real interest in investing in a firm/startup;
  3. Combining finance and entrepreneurship, finding always the ideal financial product/service product/service for the present state of development of a firm;
  4. Dialogating with academic world and connecting with research programs.

The truth is that we can say almost the same thing for the rest of the world. The same problems affect startuppers  with every kind of background and are generally speaking related to the following categories that you can be summed up as the “3 E”:

ENVIRONMENT: finding a smart, virtual and physical environment, where a business can grow and the develop/generate values accordingly to its entrepreneurial culture

ENTRENEURSHIP: transforming an idea in an autonomous, balanced and self-organizing entity able to identify and interact with the external environment

EQUITY: acquiring the best financial culture able to make the most efficient use of resources in order to timely accelerate, boost and stabilise startup growth.

So, it really looks like that every startup is carrying some specific financing, cultural, and social issues because, in the end, every new entrepreneurs is introducing somehow newly formed DNA into the system. This DNA makes the startupper look for a specific and sometimes unique combination of the 3 E.

Exactly like it happens for many ethnic, migrant or community startups.

So, for those who are daily trying to provide startuppers with right services, will be very important to consider that probably every newly established company is to a certain degree a kind of “stranger” into the business environment, an unknown variable sometimes not easy to read.