Brightest Young Minds

On Saturday, 30th September, I was invited to attend the Brightest Young Minds conference held at Spier wine estate. The primary purpose of the event was for BYM to unveil their new vision and strategy going forward.

I'm just going to jot down a few key points/outcomes that interested me.

The opening was by Vincent Mapai, Chairperson of BHP Billiton South Africa. The primary take-home message from his talk for me was that the BYM youth need to stand up and be counted, it is not sufficient to sit back and let other "youth" leaders speak on their behalf because this will allow underachievers to dictate the impact of the youth.

We then spent 2 hours with Ben and Roz Zander, authors of The Art of Possibility, a book highly recommended by my colleagues. I enjoyed the session but somehow failed to feel really engaged in a conversation.

The new BYM strategy and vision was presented by Dirk Visser. The new strategy involves linking BYM to existing projects where a need for resources (hearts and minds) exists and mentoring for the BYM representatives can take place. The BYM'ers then spend a year working on the project part-time. I think that many of the ideas we have for businesses / value-added services related to Siyavula could do with some more real though and even planning. Candidates that have some technical and/or business background would be ideal for evaluating these scenarios.

After lunch we had three presentations, Dave Duarte, Mark Drewell and Hugh Evans (wikipedia page for those of you who trust no other source).

Summarising their messages only loses the sense of urgency, passion and inspiration that charged the session. The world is completely interconnected and we all need to be responsible for the system as a whole, a system which is in dire straits and requires immediate attention. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to help our world.

The final session of the day involved group discussions around various aspects of the new BYM strategy:

  • what inspires people about it
  • what strategic interventions exist
  • what concrete steps can those present take to get things rolling

As a direct follow up to the discussion on the last point we are trying to organise a BYM event at Bird's Cafe on the 12th September which will, at the minimum, include a guest speaker, a project case study and then open discussions on a number of topics.

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