I recently had the privilege to judge at an exhibition for Young Enterprise. I absolutely loved having the opportunity to have conversations with young minds about their concepts and ideas. To take the time to access what they were doing, whilst simultaneously doing some subtle coaching.
To me, the mere fact that they had got involved in the programme was an achievement. There were some that you could see excelling with great, innovative ideas that could very, readily explain their products or services. There were some that were currently struggling – past experience has, however, taught me that none of this determines who would make it to the finals or even have a company that would exist for the long term.
The ultimate result may be influenced a lot by the product and service, as well as the support that the young entrepreneurs receive from their advisor and other sources. Equally, if not more important is the attitude of the company members. I saw this in the extent to which the contestants were open and willing to accept the feedback that I was offering.
It, however, became most apparent to me when the award winners for the day were announced. Everyone stood around as the awards were announced. A young lady, standing close to me protested constantly as the winners were announced, frustrated that her company had not won. “We should have one that, we were way better than them,” she declared. She then went on to point out how limited the winners’ products were compared to her company’s products. I looked for her afterwards, as I wanted to suggest that she go to the winners’ stalls to find out more about what they had done that led them to stand out and win. Unfortunately, she had disappeared.
As I was standing talking to a couple of the judges, a young man from one of the companies came up. He asked the judges that had been to his company’s stall earlier to kindly come and talk to his team and let them know what the winning company had done differently from them that gave them the edge that led to their win. He wanted to make sure he had a fighting chance to win the next time. I believe he may do so, because without question, he has the right attitude to do so if he has the support of his team.