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Have you ever had a situation when you found it difficult to explain

to others what AIESEC truly is? If not, please be my boss ;)


These moments have made me thinking why so? Moreover, after
leaving AIESEC Ive been observing people who have left the
organisation two, five, ten years ago. And surprisingly they are
more likely to remember (or even recommend) AIESEC rather than
their recent corporate (professional) engagements.
Is AIESEC really special and unique? If yes, why is that? What
makes it stand out from other organisations?
Beside traditional opinions like enthusiasm and energy of its
members or passion in everything we do, which are definitely
included to the recipe, but not limited to, here is my attempt to
unfold why AIESEC is so hard to explain, and so hard to forget
once you dive in.

Experiential Learning.
All kinds of research clearly show the effectiveness of different
types of presenting/absorbing information: we learn only 10% by
listening and reading, up to 30% by using visual effects, and
approximately 50% by observing actions or a demonstration. And
around 90% (!) by doing. But surprisingly what science knows,
education system doesnt.
Young people naturally feel the modern system of typical education
doesnt correspond to the needs of the World anymore. The
business and society have evolved dramatically, however the
education system hasnt changed much. Obviously, there is a
difference between local unknown business school in Kazakhstan
(I guess I can speak on their behalf) and worlds top ones case
studies, global network, diversity - you name it. However there are
minor distinctions if you look at their approach at large they all
teach you from the perspective of expertise, they anchored in the
world of knowing instead of developing an ability to let go and
invite the new. What if our traditional education was more about

learning and less about teaching? What if it was more about


supporting a learner on his journey instead of delivering
predetermined content? So in that way AIESEC seems to me as a
business school (or a school of any kind) with no professors; no
teaching, but learning; no students, but AIESECers.

I personally dont see how anybody could learn how to do anything


sitting in the classroom and listening somebodys talk! We just feel
we could learn way more being in AIESEC by doing stuff
(sometimes by escaping classes at the Uni). In AIESEC kids learn
business by creating a business. You learn project management by
actually doing projects. No doubts, experience teaches slowly and
at the cost of mistakes. And sometimes you pay terrific bills for
those mistakes, nevertheless this is the only way to learn and get
something out of it. So in that sense, AIESEC is an ideal
playground. You can test your ideas, find like-minded people,
experiment and have a relatively small loss. As I recently heard the
phrase I'm very much connected to: "We are actually Students of
AIESEC and just members of our Universities".
My guess is that in AIESEC we unconsciously care more about
doing right things and then trying to figure out how to do those right
things in a right way.
This entire experiential learning journey brings you to a condition
when you have evolved to a person with varied sort of skills or
capacities:
ability to sense, to be flexible,
feeling what is really needed in the World,
alignment between intention and higher purpose,
whole system awareness
compassion
suspension and letting go
dealing with uncertainty
whole self-awareness
I firmly believe these are fundamental capacities that are greater

and more needed nowadays than traditional skills like time


management for instance.
In AIESEC you explore and develop yourself by creating
opportunities for others.

When an employee is a customer.


Experiential learning would have not been possible without a
unique business model where an employee and a customer is the
same person (ideally). Moreover, it is not the model where you
create an experience for yourself only and end up being
disconnected we all create experiences for each other and
undergo them altogether. In this way AIESEC reminds a smaller
copy of the World that is profoundly interconnected it is a selfsustaining system (thats why sometimes we say we live in
AIESEC bubble).
Picture a traditional company that has employees on one side and
its customers on another. Once employees delivered a product or a
service they are quite disconnected from it. On the other hand,
when customers buy this experience they dont have emotional
connection towards its development, only towards consumption
and usage. They also have different (and sometimes even
opposite) bottom-lines and interest.
Whilst in AIESEC you create experiences for other AIESECers. For
instance, if you are in the team of organizing an international
conference, you create many experiences for people from over 100
countries, where one of them might be so inspired that going back
home he/she might raise an internship you could go for. It is
relatively closed network with no clear distinction between two
major stakeholders: customers and employees. You deliver and
receive the same product. The product is AIESEC Experience. No
matter which function or project you are in, all your efforts are
focused to enhance AIESEC experience as a whole. And what do
you get as a return? Simple AIESEC experience.

Purpose beyond profit.


Certainly there is one more aspect when it comes to AIESEC
experience business model. It is a Non-for-profit. It doesnt mean
we do not raise funding as any kind of organisation AIESEC has
fixed costs and other expenditures. It simply means profit is not our
primary focus.
In other words, what really makes AIESEC different is that we
massively focus on product by making money for that, instead of
making money by creating a product alongside. We eat to live, and
not live to eat. We put our human soul first. And we make
decisions by our hearts, not by our stomachs (even though
sometimes we are "hungry", if you know what I mean ;) ).
AIESEC operates in the notion of social enterprise and that
invisibly leaves the entire organisation with the space for making
more conscious decisions in terms of organisational strategy and
supporting processes. There is no secret, it also creates financial
shortage and some of the decisions might be influenced by this
bondage. However, conceptually it doesnt create bottom-lines
conflict when the one is driven by maximizing profit only.
We also have to presently decide whether we are a student
organisation run like business, or we are a business run like a
student organisation.
On the other hand, according to my personal experience when,
firstly, you are short in money and secondly, you are deeply
passionate and firmly believe in what you do so you have to finish
whether a project or a conference, your brain simply starts working
in a totally different level. I call it finish or die. All of a sudden, new
perspectives start to rise, you see more ways where to get money
or who else to approach, what else to offer. To put it simply,
enthusiasm, creativity, imagination and courage start to co-create
something new that was not able to emerge before. Usually (and

unfortunately), it doesnt really work that way in the corporations


when the budget is actually available. Roughly, financial rewards
help to increase efficiency, not effectiveness.

Values-based and driven processes.


When you dont have financial resources and, hence, a
compensation system for your employees, it might seem hard
(read: impossible) to retain people and keep certain level of
motivation. This is a very corporate linear way of thinking. This is
not how AIESEC works (thankfully). More on that, all studies show
once the task requires systems thinking, an ability to deal with
complex models and seek for conceptualized solutions, the higher
I pay the more you should work model simply doesnt work, and
shockingly, most of the time it is opposite. Yes, people stuck in
their minds and unmotivated to pursue any further. It works only
when the task is very narrowed and linear (operational).
But my major point here is when you dont have money or lets say
money is not a principal driver, there should be something else you
could connect members with. Organisational culture, behaviors,
shared vision and values you got the picture. There is one more
thing that lies at the bottom and drives fundamentally is the
genuine belief in the opportunity to make a difference and positive
impact.
From my observations, in AIESEC it works organically current
members recruit new people based on values and right worldview,
even though they might not have established competency-based
recruitment processes. It just feels right. So after all, the Culture
and Values are sustained over longer period than one spends in
the organisation. (although it might change if more and more
people would have wrong perception of what AIESEC is about
and will continue to attract others into it).
Having said that, I dont think AIESEC is for everyone, at least not

at the moment, not in our generation. Everyone should have an


opportunity to experience it though.
Designing an organisation that has purpose beyond profit, where
its members live day-to-day life by values and shared vision, where
everyone is learning by doing and playing in order to have a
positive impact on society and, ultimately, people around them,
creates a unique atmosphere and energy where strong sense of
belonging starts to appear, you feel anything is possible and you
are not alone on that journey.You essentially work for something
that bigger than yourself. Your better 'me' eventually makes a
better 'us'. You simply find it meaningful and worth doing
Sometimes you catch yourself in disability to explain why exactly
you are in AIESEC. From the perspective of short term benefit
you dont earn money, you sacrifice your classes and not so many
companies would even recognize it in your CV afterwards - it
simply doesnt make any sense! But your inner voice speaks in a
whisper it is right.
Imagine yourself as a grandparent and your grandkids running
over to you and ask a question:
-Mom told me you were in AIESEC when you were in your
twenties! How was it?!
Suddenly, your eyes become softer, lots of memories start to pop
up in your mind conferences, faces of friends from all over the
World and after some silence you go with the smile on your face:
Well, AIESEC is something you have to experience
sa nu aiba un mindset fixist, sa fie open minded,
sa aiba un mindset de crestere;
maturitatea cu care intelegem organizatia
in candidature ne prezentam pe noi cum putem
cum crestem eficienta cum replica ceea ce am facut bine pana acu, unde

vedem inovatia,
ca este
cum vedem cultura in local, ce cutltura am propune, ce am putea noi adduce
din ce sa facut in trecu, si ce se mai poate implementa acum;
grecia, Serbia, poloniaetccum sa luccrezi mai efficient in sinergiile dintre
echipe