Happy Holidays

Give the gift of gratitude

Did you know? Giving gratitude and happiness is linked. Give thanks and warm wishes to those who have helped empower you to become the person you are today. It is in these special moments of peace and warmth where we can find joy and rekindled bonds that fuel us for the coming new year.

To start it off, we give our sincerest thanks to all of our tens of thousands of volunteers, employees, alumni and partners who enable us to create our impact on the lives of so many young people around the world. AIESEC is driven by passionate people who believe in making the world a more peaceful place and we couldn’t do any of this without you.

Send your appreciation to loved ones and make their day even brighter. We’ve left you a video on the science of happiness that brings a heart-touching message, prepare to tear up!

Happy holidays from AIESEC.

TEDx talks that inspire a different perspective on World Peace

We live in a world where seemingly small things like intolerance and misunderstanding of people’s differences have caused large-scale conflict, destruction and even wars. World peace can seem like an impossible thing, but we at AIESEC interpret it a little differently. ‘Peace’ should not be interpreted necessarily as absence of a major war. ‘Peace’ symbolizes a world that does not have conflicts that arise from cultural, religious, or other aspects of differences in humanity.

In short, we need to learn how to respect and understand these differences as human beings.

We’ve pulled together a series of TED talks for you listen and watch to inspire new ways of thinking on the roadmap to peace.

In the Road to Peace playlist on TED, “these speakers offer inspired ideas, practical advice and real-world examples from around the globe of how it just might be attainable.”

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1997 for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines advocates for society to have a more realistic vision of world peace. The talk focuses on rethinking world peace to human security, and enabling people to live dignified lives. Watch it here

Scilia Elworthy a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Oxford Research Group that seeks to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics, talks about how to deal with extreme violence without using force in return. Exploring the themes of how to overcome bullies ranging from countries to individuals without any violence in return. Watch it here

Julia Bacha a filmmaker who produced Budhrus discusses the power of attention, and how we often media and audiences pay attention to the violence, but not the non-violent leaders and peacemakers of the Middle East region that may very well bring peace to the region. Bacha advocates for us to pay attention to nonviolence. Watch it here

Progress will come, when all of humanity is awakened, moved to take action and not idly sit by to wait for change. We must be brave, but also patient in seeking cross-cultural understanding amongst people and nations.

What actions will you take to make yourself a better person and be the leader who can help make the world a better place?

One of the best ways to gain a new understanding of the world is to live, volunteer or work abroad. Another way is also joining us and becoming a member in the nearest Local Committee, an opportunity that offers you global experiences to create positive change in communities and on yourself.

The Skills of 2020 and Changing Leadership

The societies we live in today are vastly different from what they were twenty, or even ten, years ago. The pace of the world is increasing exponentially, due to technology and its effects on the daily life of human beings. The most prevalent of these effects is no doubt the capacity for global connection.

TIME Magazine recently published an article with an infographic detailing the projected ten most important work skills required for the workplace in the year 2020 — which alarmingly, is only a little over five years away. Five years might feel a long way away for now, but in today’s fast-paced society, time flies.

2020 skills

Success lies in preparation, and so we must ask ourselves, what does this mean for today’s skills training and how we can keep up for 2020?

What may set the individual or leader apart is the ability to adapt and innovate, a keenness for learning, and zero tolerance for complacency.

There are a number of things expected to change by 2020, including increased longevity (longer life spans), the heightened role that technology and computation will play in our personal and professional lives, and intensified globalization. Simply put, the world is finding ways to do things better and to get more out of it. If we are optimistic, we can expect to live in an “improved” society by 2020.

For leaders, however, it is important to realize that this improvement begins right now at this moment, not five years later. When the skills of 2020 demands people to own a wider sense of social intelligence, computational thinking, cross cultural competency. In addition, it requires leaders to be capable of new media literacy, virtual collaboration, and transdisciplinary work — the learning curve begins now.

Those we deem worthy of leadership are those who are “one step ahead”, and who are “leading the way”. They are the ones who are willing to take risks and able to adapt to change, and in doing so, become role models for those who wish to follow.

Leaders in today’s world must have a solid knowledge of both the past and a future, and secure understanding of where they themselves fit in between or bridge the gap. The world is expanding, and people need to grow along with it — as the world becomes better, so must we.

Here at AIESEC, we also wanted to identify some of the top skills young people were wanting to develop today, and our YouthSpeak survey with 25,000 millennial respondents showed that leadership / team management, new languages, critical thinking and problem solving skills were still the most in-demand to help them get ahead over the next few years.

The skills you need today versus in the future are rapidly changing. Are you prepared for the skills of 2020?

Tweet us @AIESEC or comment below

Top 5 Things Keeping Youth Complacent

Hi, I’m Jessie, and I’m part of the North American millennial generation. And as someone who identifies as part of this generation, I have no problem telling you that I believe complacency runs rampant among North American youth. This is not a particularly new idea; we’ve heard before that millennials are notorious for being narcissistic and lazy, and while studies on millennials in society report mixed results, there is no doubt that we, as a generation, are struggling to find our place in the world.

What is often overlooked here though, is how destructive complacency can be to the individual. To become complacent is to stop growing, and when there is stagnation, there is no progress, and thereby no success. Here are the top 5 things stopping millennials from engaging, and essentially keeping us from reaching our full potential.

Entitlement

Often, entitlement shapes our thinking in way that we don’t even realize. We have grown up as the most privileged youth in the world, and it’s very easy to get stuck thinking we have everything, this is all there is, and that we “deserve” this and that. (Indeed, one of the nicknames for the millennial generation is the “Most Coddled Generation”.)

As North Americans youth who have all been recipients to education, and so on, we all fall prey sometimes to the Western point of view—a worldview that has historically disregards all other cultural thought. This thinking dictates—and dare I say, can cripple—our reactions to other cultures, and limits us from cultural understanding.

Disillusionment

Sometimes, youth can’t be bothered about active participation because they do not believe that they can make a difference. They don’t see the value of their individual active engagement. “I’m just one of many”, “Who really cares?” — these thoughts perpetuate a cycle of indifference and inaction.

What’s more, in today’s society, it’s almost cool not to care—or rather, it’s only ‘cool’ to care about certain things. Regardless, this feeling of disillusionment is reflected in the number of youth voters in elections in recent years, which are disappointingly low. Youth need to understand that their age cannot keep them down. They need to be shown, and not just told, their value to society, and be motivated to become worthy of it.

Ignorance

The lack of understanding — true understanding, which requires time and effort on the part of the individual — is perhaps the reason for many problems today. In an era of information, it is just as likely to receive false information as it is true. What’s more, with everyone’s biases, it’s very easy to let someone else make the judgement for you. In doing this, we relinquish the responsibility and thereby the consequences of potentially being wrong.

This ignorance extends itself to all the many ways we interact with society itself. It affects the way we view the world, our willingness to experience it, and also the way we view ourselves. We become less effective as contributors to society when we are unaware of society and our own role within.

Individualism

The millennial generation grew up hearing about how each of are special and unique, and will go on one day to change the world and whatnot because no one is exactly like us. It’s not a far stretch to see this is not true—at least, not innately. We make ourselves special, and whatever impact we make on the world is a result of us actually consciously demonstrating effort and passion, and working hard at it.

Having been constantly told how unique we are has led us to become more self-centred. We play more value on our own careers than on society, failing to make the realization that both are interconnected. While individuality is by no means inconsequential, millennials need to realize that our individuality both enhances and is enhanced by the society and context we are placed. in.

Technology 

Millennials have grown up with a society that has become increasingly saturated with technology in all its various forms. What we have not been prepared for, however, is the adverse effect that technology has had on the interactions between people in real life. When online communication takes precedent, it is at the expense of affecting people’s ability to truly connect with someone in person, offline. We lack intention by letting technology do all the talking for us.

Stop and think, who are we, outside of our social media profiles and what we share online? How would people view us, had we not Facebook, or Twitter, or the numerous other social platforms? It is the lack of questioning that leads to things like slacktivism, where we share things not only because we care, but because we want others to know it.

The world has a lot of say about the millennial generation. Our expectations in life are different are those of our parents. We are lazy, passionate, impatient, ambitious, open-minded, and disengaged all at once. Having been told to “follow your dream” has led us to become more lost than ever. Youth engagement in society has been steadily decreasing; North American youth are complacent.

What, then, is the solution?

There is a quote that states: “We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.” Never has that statement been more true than today. In exploring the world, one gains more knowledge of different cultures, and understanding of where they fit in the world. A wider perspective will also let one see the importance and value of things.

What’s more, this “world” doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on a plane and flying all around the globe. It can be a simple as stepping outside of your comfort zone to shake up your own worldview a little bit. It’s important to ask questions, but equally important to go and find out the answers yourself. Being aware is only the first step.

Youth on the Move

Do you know anyone who has gone abroad for any internship, youth program or university scholarship? Have you ever seen any foreigners in your own country? Have you at least once searched online about work, study or travel abroad opportunities?

Well, let’s face it, we have all answered yes at least once, if not three times. Countless organizations and agencies are fighting for the attention of middle or upper class students and graduates with their wide “go abroad” portfolio. Universities themselves are also not falling behind. Students are often exposed to exchange students and programs and encouraged to study abroad as well. Every young person entering a job market knows now that an international experience is not an extra asset anymore, it’s a must.

Scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, many travel opportunities pop out everyday. Conferences, projects, exchange programs, and cheap airlines offering flights to other continents for 200 euros. Than switching to Instagram. Pictures from Erasmus, long weekend vacations, or hitchhiking trips by my peers. We are determined to travel and experience the world; it’s trendy, it’s necessary, and it makes life more exciting. Almost 23% of YouthSpeak respondents are listing global opportunities as the most important thing they will be looking for after graduation and more than 45% of those surveyed list travelling the world as their current priority in life.

Youth are on the move! What does this mean for them and society beyond selfies?

Conclusions? Well, the capacity of young people to move between different countries, regions and cultures has never been easier and more desirable than it is now. But what’s in it besides selfies with pyramids and macaroons in Paris? Changes in society and economy, and a hell of a lot of them.

Global Talent Management

How can businesses attract and retain talents in the era of youth who want to explore as much of the world as possible in their 20s? Campus recruitment and career fairs may not be enough soon unless you are proposing a truly global experience which will be challenging enough for a millennial to stay in the company for a while. Youth simply needs to be enabled to move. So talent managers around the world — brace yourself for innovating on new sourcing solutions!

Recovery from Current Economic Situation

Take an example from Spain, where more than 55% of youth are unemployed. As a result, educated youth need to leave in search of better job opportunities. But this way, the country will not recover since it cannot keep the best and most educated talent. On the other hand, they are also not ready to receive this amount of talent. Another consequence is that this youth will not contribute with taxes which could help in rebuilding economy. Youth mobility can influence your country more than you think.

Social integration

By bringing youth together through different exchange programs and projects, we can enhance social integration. There is no better way for one to understand a foreign culture than to experience it on your own. It supports intercultural dialog and eases the adaptation of youth to new environments. As a result, we can predict a more tolerant, understanding, and peaceful world.

Youth mobility is unstoppable.

Youth mobility is a complex matter and like everything, has its pros and cons. But there is one thing I know for sure, youth is on the move. And they are unstoppable.

5 things Millennials Care About the Most

We call them lazy and demanding. We judge them and find them narcissistic. However looking at raw data they are not so bad after all. Here are 5 things that millennials care about the most nowadays, according to the YouthSpeak survey powered by AIESEC.

1 . Gaining new skills

New gadgets, iPhones and tablets are not the only thing millennials care about. They are also eager to learn and experience more. Fifty percent of surveyed youth listed gaining new skills and abilities as their top priority. This indicates their awareness of the importance of soft and hard skills. They know that studying from books is not the only way of learning and more than 70% of the surveyed youth prefer to learn by doing and trying.

More than 50% of surveyed so far have chosen Team Management and Leadership as the skills they need to develop.

More than 50% of surveyed so far have chosen Team Management and Leadership as the skills they need to develop.

2. Finishing University

Nearly half of the surveyed young people are willing to finish their studies. There was some concern because last year’s education has been failing to help students in developing useful skills and preparing graduates for entering the job market, but on the other hand, millennials still have belief in education and are not giving up quickly.

Still more than half of surveyed youth perceives univerity degree as a way to reaching their full potential.

Still more than half of surveyed youth perceives a university degree as a way to reaching their full potential.

3. Travelling the world

Volunteering abroad, internships, scholarships, work and travel. These are only a few ways to experience and taste the world. Globalization means the world is shrinking and international experience is becoming a must-have in a resume of each millennial.

Above 45% of surveyed youth listed travelling the world as their top priority right now.

Above 45% of surveyed youth listed travelling the world as their top priority right now.

4. Making the world a better place

Millennial youth believe that the world can be changed and they know they can be the ones changing it. What has always been fascinating about this generation is that they are beyond ambitious and that they believe more in their capabilities than other generations.

Around 55% of surveyed youth believe that to change something, young people need to have broader understanding of the issues that the world is facing.

Around 55% of surveyed youth believe that to change something, young people need to have a broader understanding of the issues that the world is facing.

5. Starting their own business

Here’s to the entrepreneurial outlook. More than 20% of surveyed youth so far lists starting or growing own business as their top priority in life right now. Trends show that over the next 5 and 10 years more than 60% of youth want to become entrepreneurs. The increased demand for entrepreneurship may push employers to make their workplaces less structured, hierarchical and rigid to enable entrepreneurial talent to thrive.

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Fill in the YouthSpeak survey by November 30th to help us create data that speaks for young people with aims to align and find solutions to improve both education and employment. Over 17,000 youth voices have been heard, it’s your turn.

Complete the survey: Do it here
More Information: YouthSpeak Survey

Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize: Seventeen Years of an Admirable Story

More or less seventeen years ago, in Mingora, the largest city in the Pakistani district of Swat, a baby girl was born. The date was precisely July 12th and she was welcomed by her family with great love and joy. It is interesting to imagine, so many years afterwards, that the whole world would hold the same sentiments towards this girl, perhaps also with an additional touch of hope and pride.

Malala Yousafzai has earned the admiration of many people around the globe as a result of her actions and the way she has conducted her life towards one objective, and one objective only, since she was born: “my mission is to help people”, she said once during an interview with BBC. This goal–her life goal–has remained steadfast and the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize she received on October 10th proves this better than anything else.

Get to know Malala

Hero_Malala_QUOTE

 

Malala may be a schoolgirl, but she was never little. Or at least, not in the childish sense of the word. Growing up in a family where education has always been praised, Malala values the importance of learning, and this has not changed even with the political instability in her country. In particular, the Taliban is known for its violent activity in the Middle East and also for their extreme interpretation of Islam, which they use to validate their own operations. As a matter of fact, a number of the group’s arbitrarily cruel actions are related to the oppression of women.

When Malala first heard that she was not allowed to attend school because she was a girl, she could have just looked down and obeyed, as so many other girls did. At first glance, her calm face and peaceful eyes may demonstrate that she is more likely to remain quiet than express her own ideas out loud. However, for Malala (and, to be honest, to me and a good deal of other people I know as well), the idea of keeping women in the shadows simply did not make sense.  How could girls not be allowed to go to school? Unfortunately  for the Taliban, school was exactly where Malala wanted to be, and she decided to spread her will to the world.

I am Malala

At the age of eleven, Malala wrote a blog for the BBC about her day-to-day life under the Taliban occupation and her subsequent desire for things to change. As she spoke for herself, Malala was also speaking up for a generation of young girls and women who are prevented every day from entering into an education institution due to the simple fact that they are female. “All I want is education”, she cried, and thousands around the world stepped forward to support this statement.

Sadly, in October 9th of 2012, Malala’s voice was almost shut down. After hearing someone call her name, she became the victim of a murder attempt. One of three bullets hit Malala and for some time the world wondered, concerned, if this little girl of big actions would become just another addition to the sad statistics.  Meanwhile, while Malala was fighting for her life, different people and organizations everywhere used the tragedy as a turning point to further the fight for women’s rights and increase opportunities for equal education.

One of the most significant instances of this was the UN petition signed by Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, which urged that every child in the world should be in school by the end of 2015. The petition used the slogan “I am Malala”, which reached all corners of the globe, and had a huge influence in the ratification of the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan.

Malala’s legacy

Perhaps all of these positive reactions had something to do with Malala’s recovery. In 2013, she celebrated her birthday, perfectly well, by giving a speech at the UN Headquarters. Her words requested universal access to education and demonstrated that bullets will never be able to stop the struggle for a better world.

“I am very thankful that people in Pakistan and people around the world on the next day [of the shooting] raised up their voices; they spoke for their rights. Malala was only hurt in Pakistan, but now she was hurt in every corner of the world”, she said in an interview for BBC, only one year after the attempt on her life.

Some time later, the Nobel Prize committee announced that the recipient of the Peace Award of this year had a familiar name. Together with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian activist who works for children’s rights, Malala is sharing the $1.1 million prize and the honour and prestige of the world’s most famous distinction. The nomination states that both deserve the recognition “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.

These fancy words do justice to the beautiful actions of this seventeen year old, who is the youngest Nobel prize winner in history. In the battle for equal education opportunity, Malala is clearly unafraid of being in the vanguard. Today, AIESEC congratulates Malala and wonders about the future: what else she will do, and for the first time? Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

USAID

25 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall – stories of AIESEC’s youth of 1989

The first thing you get to know when you hear about AIESEC is that it was established in 1948 with the aim of creating a new leaders’ generation: the generation which would avoid the Second World War’s horrors.

Years have passed, but our motto is still the same: “Peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential

But in the 1989, the risk of a third world war loomed like never before, and the epicentre, was once again, in Berlin.

Luckily things went differently: the wall fell down and the iron curtain itself was down for good. After one of the most dreadful times in our history there has come a new chapter in the life of many people, and AIESEC was there.

10268530_10204942813432615_5368278937817466925_nStefano Boccaletti, Leonardo Cullurà and Claudia Siracusa, three generations of leaders were in Berlin of the night of November 19, 989.

A month ago I had the pleasure to meet them and to hear their stories.

Claudia started up:

“I just became an AIESEC member and I had to find an excuse to justify my getaway in the middle of semester. I told my father that I had been awarded with a journey for my scholar merits, but the lie was definitely worth it!!!”

For Stefano that would have been one of his last international meetings since he was close to the end of his term and he wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

“The night of the 9th of November, was set in my AIESECers’ agenda as an outdoor global pyjama’s party. Suddenly, someone started shouting in German, that “the wall is being demolished”. None of the Italian delegates could speak German but it didn’t take long for us to understand what was happening.”

Leonardo told us that they have managed to steal a street sign to use it as a hammer. Suddenly they saw Claudia jumping on the wall and singing it with a few Danish.

The emotion and the trembling voice while telling us the story is beyond imagination.

The year after that, Claudia has become the AIESEC Brescia’s Local Chapter President, while Leonardo was voted the President  of AIESEC in Italy. In their motivational speeches they both reminded that it is us, young people, who can change the future.

Ana Julea, AIESEC in Italy

 

See the inspiring story of AIESEC’s first Secretary General, Victor Loewenstein:

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Victor Loewenstein’s Berlin Wall Story 

What does leadership mean to different leaders?

The definition of leadership can vary, and it can be interpreted in different ways based on a person’s experience. We previously defined the difference between transformational vs transactional leadership and developed a Facebook application with IE Business School to identify your leadership style.

Here’s what leadership means to different leaders

AIESEC International 

  • Leadership is about positively impacting others through living by example and enabling a continuous rippling effect – Ana Sofia Espejo
  • To me leadership reflects in everyday actions and behaviours. Being a leader is not a one-time thing, it’s a life-long commitment – Karolina Piotrowska
  • Leadership is service, empathy and clarity of vision – Giancarlo Ostuni
  • Leadership is the ability to not just have a vision, but to act on it and engage others around you to act on it. Successfully.  – Kevin Cornwell
  • Leadership means to me consciously changing and challenging yourself for a purpose you believe – Vishant Kothari
  • To me leadership means to inspire action, inspire by example, inspire by your stories – Lucia Taboda
  • Leadership is empowering others to become something greater than themselves  – Gordon Ching
Historical figures
  • To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. —Peter Drucker
  • He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. —Aristotle
  • To lead people, walk behind them – Lao Tzu
  • Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy

Modern leaders

  • As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. —Bill Gates
  • A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men. —Stephen King
  • Earn your leadership every day –Michael Jordan
  • Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
  • My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better  —Steve Jobs

What is your definition of leadership? Tell us on Twitter @AIESEC.

Discover your leadership style with the transactional vs transformational leadership quiz.

Transformational Leadership vs Transactional Leadership

Transformational or transactional leadership? Is one better than the other?

The concept of transformational leadership was initially introduced by leadership expert and presidential biographer James MacGregor Burns. According to Burns, transformational leadership can be seen when “leaders and followers make each other to advance to a higher level of moral and motivation.”

Transactional and transformational are the two modes of leadership that tend to be compared the most.

James MacGregor Burns distinguished between transactional leaders and transformational by explaining that:

  • Transactional leader are leaders who exchange tangible rewards for the work and loyalty of followers.
  • Transformational leaders are leaders who engage with followers, focus on higher order intrinsic needs, and raise consciousness about the significance of specific outcomes and new ways in which those outcomes might be achieved.

Here’s a great breakdown chart of transactional vs transformational leadership.

Transactional VS. Transformational
Leadership is responsive Leadership is proactive
Works within the organizational culture Works to change the organizational culture by implementing new ideas
Employees achieve objectives through rewards and punishments set by leader Employees achieve objectives through higher ideals and moral values
Motivates followers by appealing to their own self-interest 
Motivates followers by encouraging them to put group interests first
Management-by-exception: maintain the status quo; stress correct actions to improve performance.
Individualized consideration: Each behaviour is directed to each individual to express consideration and support.
Intellectual stimulation: Promote creative and innovative ideas to solve problems.

However, there has been recent arguments that transformationa lleadership may be more effective in a long-term setting.

“Research evidence clearly shows that groups led by transformational leaders have higher levels of performance and satisfaction than groups led by other types of leaders,” explained psychologist and leadership expert Ronald E. Riggio. The reason, he suggests, is that transformational leaders believe that their followers can do their best, leading members of the group to feel inspired and empowered.

Where transactional leadership works

Rules, procedures and standards are essential in transactional leadership. Followers are not encouraged to be creative or to find new solutions to problems. Research has found that transactional leadership tends to be most effective in situations where problems are simple and clearly-defined.

While transactional leadership can be effective in some situations, it is generally considered an insufficient and may prevent both leaders and followers from achieving their full potential.

How transformational leadership works:

In their classic text, Transformational Leadership , authors Bass and Riggio explained:

“Transformational leaders…are those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity. Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization.”

We’ve worked together with Juan-Carlos Pastor, PhD, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at IE Business School, to develop an app on Facebook that helps you determine whether you have a more transactional or transformational leadership style.

Curious which leadership style you are? Click here and find out!