First trip out of South America. I don’t speak any German, but Cologne didn’t care about it 🙂
There I was in a weather that was probably near -2 degrees Celsius, after having stayed one day in Madrid, where it was definitely warmer. Cologne (or Köln for the Germans) said “Hi” to me on March 11th, and I just couldn’t wait to get to my hostel, unpack some stuff and get to know this city a little bit better.
The 16th World Business Dialogue is the largest student-run business convention that aims to connect 300 international students to 60 high-profile personalities and industry leaders. It met my expectations, yes Sir.
For four days, Cologne was just the perfect city to me. It snowed (first time I had ever seen it) and my feet maybe got frostbitten at some point (just kidding), but it was still awesome.
New business strategies
It was somewhat interesting to be in the strongest European economy, discussing how to come up with new ways to prevent the world from going on financial crisis again. Some people might say that’s even a little mean, given Cyprus’s situation and all the many issues still unsolved in the euro zone.
I can’t really say if the 300 students that were there will change the world, but they were all so outstanding and incredibly committed to their own organizations and professional fields that I felt there was still hope for whatever is left of our current economy and business models.
But the thing that surprised me the most was the way we all got along so well. Take Pakistan, for example. Where in earth, if it wasn’t in Cologne, was I going to meet people from that country? Because believe me, my chances of ever going to Pakistan are just as small as ever seeing snow in Lima (where that will never happen because it’s a coast-based territory).
Don’t take me wrong. I would love to travel that far, but it is so unlikely to ever find the time and money to do so. Then again, I met all these cool people –from around 20 different countries– that I have now reconsidered what “far” means and how worth it is to reach it. But I’ll go back to this in a few lines later.
Going back to the subtitle of this post, what are the new business strategies about? Here’s my conclusion:
Yes, things are not right. Do we change it all in one day? No. What’s the right pace, then? Understanding new realities and becoming aware of what is working and what is not in business will probably give us a hint of where to start changing our behavior, to strive for that “better world”.
The strategies for a more efficient, fulfilling and fair business model entail not only the minds of the experienced, but the guts of the young. Sometimes the experienced forget that fresh ideas –especially coming from a generation exposed to the greatest amount of knowledge history has ever seen– can lead us to take a small step that may scale to a larger effect.
Well, I know what you might be thinking: so, no secret recipe here? No, and there will never be.
World Business Dialogue showed me that it is impossible to come up with one “right way” to do things, but if we could find the common spots in our personalities, world perspectives and cultures, then we can transfer all that to our impossible “right way” and turn in into multiple good ways to do things.
One last thing. “Far away” has gotten so relative to me now. Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, Taiwan, China, Japan, South Africa, Belarus, United States, Canada, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Austria, Indonesia… I’ve met absolutely inspiring people from these countries that you just can’t help wanting to visit them. Of course, I have to mention I also met other unique Peruvians that have now become my friends.
I always thought that “culture shock” experience I had read in books was a little bit exaggerated (very close to a BS category). It is so not. It changes you. This time, at least I believe it changed all of us at Universität zu Köln in a good way.
P.S.: Upcoming post, Eurotrip II, will describe and compare Cologne, Madrid, Paris and Lima. Don’t miss it out! In the meantime, you check my pics of 16th WBD in Cologne on my Flickr account 🙂