“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:5

As a senior practitioner in the business consulting field, one of my most gratifying experiences is the shepherding of young entrepreneurs. Many of them are full of ideas and innovations, willing to work hard to generate business growth through profits, tuned into social media, eager to improve their business management skills and they are up-to-date with technology and willing to work smarter rather than harder on the journey to sustainable business success.

My 10 year-old twin grandchildren advise me as to the relative benefits of the latest versions of their mobile, touch-screen, communication and entertainment devices when we communicate by Skype on a weekly basis. Somehow, I get by with my ancient Blackberry, my Samsung tablet and my laptop with 2007 software.

I must admit though that the pressure is getting to me to upgrade. In this context, failure to “keep up with the Joneses” is no longer perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority but it is a necessity for survival in today’s world once the brain cells are still being nourished with energy from within.

The following Lyman Bryson quote is appropriate here: “The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe experience is a substitute for intelligence”. What is more, the combination of this youthful energy and seasoned experience produces synergies which may transform the world. Neither youth nor maturity can go it alone.

Last week, I received an invitation from the Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy project, one of the strategic objectives of which is to enhance research to improve innovation, entrepreneurship, and development capacity in Barbados to support its efforts towards growth and enhanced international competitiveness. To this end, the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development will be hosting “The National Conference on Entrepreneurship and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): Exploring Areas on Complementarity” on Tuesday, February 2 to Wednesday, February, 3 2016 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

The conference would also explore the linkages between STEM and entrepreneurship.

On reflection, I had been exposed to STEM through an article in Business Barbados “STEM Education Reform Considerations for the Caribbean” by Professor Cardinal Warde and Dr. Dinah Sah on February 24, 2014 but had not followed it up.

My education continued last week, in a shepherding session with a young entrepreneur. We were reviewing a PowerPoint presentation which will be used in a pitch to an investor. I saw the phrase “Sustainable Innovation” standing alongside a DNA like graphic on the first slide. Even though I had seen the slide before and experienced no real discomfort with it, I was now in critical mode and I asked the questions “What is the investor supposed to understand by this phrase? How is this phrase supposed to sharpen the investor’s appreciation for what is to follow?”

My client then introduced me to the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) website where it is argued that STEAM is EASY and FUN to be a part of …no matter how many big words are used to describe how it could help make good education better.
The STEAM slogan is FUNctional Literacy for All! The STEAM Motto is “Education provides the framework used for connecting the growing network of educational disciplines, businesses and communities to create adaptable citizen-involved, globally-responsible, reality-based programs for developing for life-long FUNctional literacy for all. Hopefully in the fullness of time when businesses become sustainable, this framework will morph into the ELF principle (Easy, Lucrative and Fun).

Then I researched the STEM to STEAM website and learnt that, in this global climate of economic uncertainty, it behooves each country to turn to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future. Whereas innovation remains tightly coupled with the STEM subjects, the Arts (Art + Design) are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century. Hence, STEAM.

I then appreciated that my client’s PowerPoint pitch was guided by the STEAM approach.

I had lunch to celebrate the advent of 2016 with two of my younger (though not by much) Trinidadian cousins at Queen’s Park Oval, the day before Barbados was thoroughly trounced by Trinidad in the Super 50 final. It was supposed to be a casual chat but turned out to be a meeting that could have a profound impact on the future of the theme “Youth and Experience”. All three of us have reached retirement age with quite a plethora of diverse business experience which could be shared with young entrepreneurs. We preliminarily conceptualized a win-win business model where our experience could be harnessed and disseminated in a manner consistent with the CBET Shepherding Model™, which addresses the selection of “DNA of an elephant” businesses, the delivery of shepherding services and the innovative quick response seed/equity fund. We are to meet again in February to develop the concept.

Let us all, young or old, recognize our various talents and experiences and then combine these optimally for the benefit of mankind. In the same way that a plant naturally turns its leaves in the direction of the sunlight, we must turn to the direction of the light which emanates from the internal energy of love.

The sooner everybody gets to grips with the Reinhold Niebuhr quote: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”, the better.

This is beautifully exemplified in this video produced by Michael Josephson.

Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)