“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever” – Psalm 16:11

As far as I recall, as part of our Christian upbringing, my mother used to instil in her two children that the way in which you bring JOY into your life is by putting Jesus first; Others second: and Yourself last.  The text above is a pillar which supports this laudable hypothesis. Put Jesus first.

Author Louise L. Hay, as she enters the next stage of her life, has tended to focus more on her “Elders of Excellence” development work, encouraging people approaching their later years to take their rightful place in society as teachers of wisdom.  Do not retire early, wither and die!  The younger generation, in turn, rather than rush ahead with unbridled and abundant energy, ambition, self-confidence and desire, must shadow the elders of excellence with the hope of intercepting and imbibing some of the pearls of wisdom so as to eventually gain an appropriate balance of skill and experience. There is significant value gained from learning from elders of excellence.

In promoting Louise’s book “Elders of Excellence”, Amazon.com describes it as follows: “Changing attitudes about being over 50 is the subject of this work, arguing that older people no longer have to sit on the sidelines and watch the younger people take over. It encourages them to take more control over their lives so that they are still mentally and physically alert”.  This mood may be captured in statements such as: “I am going to die young even though I may be chronologically over 90 years when I vacate the physical body”; “Retired! – that word is not even defined in my vocabulary; indeed I am not even tired yet.”

The consequence of this change in attitude by the Elders of Excellence is that the younger generation has an opportunity to share knowledge and experience with their elders for longer than may have previously been the case. Put others second and yourself last and may an abundance of joy attend your life.

Last Friday, the Barbados International Business Association, held its February luncheon. The featured speaker was the 60 year old Jamaican-Canadian Michael Lee Chin whose topic was “Prosperity through Challenging Conventional Paradigms” or thinking outside of the box.  This was Michael’s second visit as a guest of BIBA within 4 months.

He has a very impressive profile and it was gratifying to see the number of young people who attended the luncheon to benefit from an “Elder of Excellence”. Those who are not familiar with his exploits need to refer to Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopaedia – www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Lee-Chin – to peruse the full dossier of his exploits.

Certainly those who attended his presentation should have been duly inspired by his vision, energy and persistence in business as he built his empire from humble beginnings in Port Antonio, Jamaica to become Executive Chairman of the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica, now the largest Bank in Jamaica, and to be recognised by the “Canadian Business” journal as one of the richest persons in Canada.

The Lee-Chin Institute’s purpose is to help current and future business leaders integrate corporate citizenship into business strategy and practices. He shared with us the five pillars which are the foundation on which he built his success and which he unhesitatingly recommended as the formula to be adopted by the younger generation.

My interpretation of his advice is to: (1) focus on a few related businesses – resist the temptation to diversify the portfolio of businesses; (2) understand the business that you are in; (3) use other people’s money; (4) focus on growing the business; and (5) develop an attitude to hold on to the business in the long run.

Last week, the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation had its third monthly Entrepreneurship Forum since the first annual SUMMIT in November 2010. A dynamic presentation was made by the BEF CEO Damian McKinney of McKinney-Rogers to the approximately 125 persons in attendance. Damian was so comprehensive and convincing and participants sufficiently spell bound that there were no questions even though there was much “buzz” among the participants in the networking session which followed.

Damian reaffirmed our Vision to be the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020 and our Mission for 2011 towards the overall goal.  The criteria for success were endorsed later in the week by the BEF board as follows: (2020 Vision) Barbados ranked among the top 20 most competitive countries in the world; Entrepreneurs will contribute significantly to GDP growth; GDP doubled; productivity increased; and the number of global companies with Headquarters in Barbados grows significantly.  This last criterion could be significant in itself and all support services to the Barbados economy should be alerted as to this change in demand. This involves both Governemnt services and private sector services.

The 2011 Mission will be to successfully launch the BEF in order to be the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020. The measures which will determine a successful launch include: 100% access to free Wi-Fi by 11/11/11; enterprise development in Education/audit report; 50 key stakeholders endorse BEF’s vision; at least 20 start-up companies will be closely mentored  and monitored; angel investor network in place; school enterprise competition launched in May; and awards ceremony in November at 2011 SUMMIT.

The youth and the elders must join hands and enjoy the momentum engendered from this forward thrust.