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AIESEC vs Forbes – does it work in real life?

Last March, I became a part of a team of 5 people, managing the operation of the conference ALTIUS (from food and drinks to party, toilets and venue – but not the programme itself). I dare say that we have encountered almost all the stages that Forbes mentioned in the article (here), moreover, in one particular situation regarding our merchandise products. Long story short, we were very close not to deliver our merchandise products (silicone wristbands) for various reasons, that I am going to unveil in the following paragraphs.

1. Find a way to become calm

All of us newbies to the conference team and all of us ambitious. We tried to come up with something, that hadn’t been here before. We went through a few ideas and I, as a responsible person for that, got always excited about a new idea and was all in for that – until I found the breakeven point of the amount to be sold. As we went through a few breakeven point calculations, delivery and manufacturing issues, my high hopes lowered just to ‘to be delivered’. That was the point I should start at – focus on realisable solution was needed.

2. Use multiple-choice methodology

That’s actually bounded to the paragraph above because when planning, one mostly needs a Plan B. Needless to say that those silicone wristbands were plan E or F, just in case something doesn’t go to the plan.

3. Get crystal clear on your evaluation criteria

We had a pretty simple metrics for that and they were demand and breakeven point – the number of wristbands we had to sell in order to cover the expenses on them.

4. Find the opposite energy

Of course, we had to first get a feedback from our conference manager regarding the amount but we also feedbacked ourselves.

5. Build your action muscle

That wasn’t that easy as it might seem to be. From all the possibilities we arrive at one solution that was really tight on time. We undertook the risk of stepping to the unknown and provided the supplier with our unprecedented trust, that it will be all delivered on time.

6. Set a timeline and deadline

We were pretty much set on our deadline – Friday 14.00 – the start of the conference.

7. Implement somatic decision-making

This is something I learnt from the Forbes article. It is said, that by asking yourself basic questions (e.g. Is my name Jakub?) your body would actually lean in some direction. You can then build upon your body’s response. And that’s exactly what we haven’t even tried.

8. Stay on mission

This is exactly the problem when one gets excited about a little thing (really nice and thorough detail of a bracelet that doesn’t solve the problem that bracelets might not make it until the conference) but so he is not able to keep the focus. You can get then easily derailed from your original course, which is counter-productive.

9. Clarify the consequences

This is one of the biggest fears of all decision-making. As soon as you understand what happens if this goes bad, you might actually get a bit calmer since you won’t be that surprised when the troubles appear. The worst possible consequence was to be delivered bracelets after the conference but we believed, as the following paragraph suggests, in solution rather than in an excuse.

10. Trust your intuition

Our intuition came to a play when we were about to decide whether we order the bracelets or not – based on the great communication with the company. It felt good so we took the risk of the really strict deadline.

11. Make it on paper

Once you get a blueprint or a plan on paper, everything seems more ‘real’. That was in our case when he got the preliminary design to our hands. And, of course, when we received the invoice for the wristbands.

12. Try vision-based decision-making

To get aligned with the overall idea of conference merchandise – giving delegates something tangible as a remembrance of those few days. I believe we didn’t fail on that part and the interns wore them on their arms – and some of them still do!

13. Know your values

The most important part comes here. No matter the idea, price or realization, we strived to find a solution and keep the tradition of conference merchandise alive. And I am glad we managed!

While writing this article, I came to a conclusion: we didn’t get that far from the decision-making process suggested in Forbes. At least, in our case. But that doesn’t mean that we have nothing to learn from. It was our first conference and I would not take back that experience! And I highly encourage you to join AIESEC and experience this as well!

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Written by
Jakub Cumpelik
My name is Jakub Čumpelík, I am from the Czech Republic, studying Master's in Culture, Communication and Globalization in Aalborg, Denmark. I joined AIESEC in September 2017 as a member of the B2B team and I co-organized a national conference in March 2018.