Here’s a TedX talk by Ernesto Sirolli, who is a like minded founder of a successful not for profit focused on local economic development.

Born in Italy, Ernesto spent 7 years as a young man in Africa working in economic development that changed his mindset to helping people. He first applied these learnings with the Esperance local community in Western Australia in 1985 and has since had many successes with the social enterprise that sprung from this.

While lots of people have worked in local economic development, lots have also failed. So what is it about Ernesto that has helped him succeed?

In the Ted talk you will get a far more entertaining presentation but my summation is:

  • respect for the knowledge of local people
  • humbleness to go, see, listen, observe and not patronise people with your ideas or solutions
  • acceptance of uncertainty coupled with the confidence that if passion, energy and imagination are harnessed results will flow
  • an appreciation that there is no monopoly on success, no success is truly the work of an individual

As the last point attests to none of these ideas are original and may have been made by others in the past. For example, Ernesto quotes Peter Drucker saying ‘ planing is actually incompatible with an entrepreneurial society and economy’.

We take away from this that success does not come from a degree, a framework or a report (these may help) but rather, a shared mindset of curiosity that is observed as the energy and passion to engage and re-imagine.