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Breaking through leadership: A practical perspective

Global Youth Leadership Program, an exclusive 2-day professional program that was held in Beijing on 9th and 10th November 2019. There were 65 youth participants, representing over 25 countries, gathered together to talk about various topics on character and leadership development, personal influence, speaking and communication skills, and social competence building. 

The guest speakers were international thought leaders and youth mentors coming from various backgrounds. They are Elaine Zhou, founder and CEO of CNEW International that holds leadership development program from Harvard Kennedy School, an inspirational speaker, leadership trainer, and coach with John Maxwell team; Saman Pouyanmehr, founder of Global Foundation of Young Entrepreneurs (GFYE); Jonas Wolf, APAC Director of AngelHack, mentor of Startup Grind in Beijing; FM Safiul Azam, Partnership Officer of YPARD Asia and Pacific and also worked with British Council Bangladesh as International Climate Champion; and Dr. Bi JieYing, the Regional Coordinator of YPARD Asia and Pacific.

The first day morning session was started off with the youth and entrepreneurial spirit in mind through the speech of Ms. Bi as she mentions how Young Professional for Agricultural Development’s (YPARD) vision is to enable and empower young people to innovate agricultural development and improve community livelihood sustainably. Showing the impact of their continued effort in annual leadership and communication skill enhancement activities, as well as, a long-term mentoring program specifically for agricultural development towards the youth is very inspiring. This is because, through all the hardships and perseverance of the YPARD members, they were able to achieve success than they had initially imagined and helped more communities than expected. 

During the 2-day event, one of the most interesting sessions was Conflict Management and Decision Making from Mr. Azam where we grouped ourselves into a team of 7 people and everyone had 10 minutes to share one project idea. Although the catch of this activity is that every member of the team had to shell out 20yuan, so the winner who has the best idea will receive 140yuan then use the fund to start the project.  Although the amount is not a big value, the activity helped us analyze our standing, learned basic negotiation and make a strategic decision. 

While I was listening to the ideas of my group and the ideas of the winners from other teams, I was motivated because we were not discussing small-scale and short-term projects, yet we were sharing about how our past experiences make us want to solve the pressing current issues in our respective countries. We had a healthy conversation wherein we shared thoughts on possible action steps to diminish poverty level, increase access to education, help children with special needs, and more. You may be wondering how would we solve all these big issues with this little amount of money? We can practically do nothing impactful, however, so long as we are sparked our interest to take the first action step. One small step is still considered a step closer to our goal.

For other sessions, Jonas and Saman were invited to talk about their personal experiences and what factors contributed to their current success, which they shared about personal branding, community building, and social competence development. They showed me how important it is to be mindful of how we speak, how we act, how we dress, and what we do on a daily basis. In the end, all that what matters is making other people acknowledge our credibility and providing value to them.  

Lastly, Miss Elaine shared various practical advice and tips for the participants on how to be a successful leader and helped us assess our current state then visualize our next step to achieve our goals. One of my key takeaways from her is “how we handle breakthroughs is what truly shapes our character, either we break down or we break up.” In a leadership role, we will encounter many unforeseen events such as disagreements in ideas, or internal and external conflicts but that does not mean we have to be hard strong on our ideas and show our team who is the leader in the room.

A leader can only truly be labelled as one if everyone else in his team acknowledges him as so. Being a successful leader, we have to add value to people, be optimistic, have honour, have resilience, and so much more characteristics. There will always be different kinds of roadblocks in leadership journey however as long as we keep on breaking through the breakthrough, then we can always bring ourselves, together with the team, to the next level.
 
I would also like to individually mention the names of the core organizers and thank them for making this event happen, Judy, Khola, Kenya, Ding, and the other volunteers. Their great initiative and immense cooperation made the event very engaging and successful. This event was co-organized by YPARD, CNEW and GFYE, the partners were AngelHack, Life Skills 4 Me, SCOLAR, TSCHub, Rotaract, BeHive, Beijing Foodies, BB and ISU-IUBE

Attending this event and connecting to the participants, I found one common point among all of us. We all had made a hard life decision by leaving our home country, our comfort zone, and came to Beijing with a goal in mind. That is to maximize our potential because we want to create an impact in what we do. This may mean starting a social project, becoming an entrepreneur, or simply becoming a successful team leader in our current field. I hope this short blog made you inspired to take action and pursue your goals and dreams in life. No matter how hard or how rough the road will be, I encourage you to please keep going and do not give up on your dreams

Together, let us be the game changers of tomorrow! 

 

Photo credit: Kimberly Chen