Takeaways from a Business Student at a Global Affairs Conference

This last Wednesday, I was given the opportunity to fly to D.C. and attend the WACA national conference as the DFW student Ambassador. In case you aren’t familiar with the WAC, it is a national organization with branches in cities from San Antonio, TX to Anchorage, AL. Each of these individual councils are essentially branches of the main one located in DC: WACA. Anyways, for the two months prior to the conference I had spent my first semester at Babson College, where entrepreneurship is the only subject of conversation ever… So as a business student at a global affairs conference, it was killing me that each speaker at the conference was so well connected and so knowledgeable spoke of bringing about change across the world not through action and grassroots entrepreneurial movements but through what Thomas W. Lippman from the Middle East institute called “Influence.”

Then it dawned on me, the public sector knows that change needs to be made, but doesn’t think in terms of how they can go make the change themselves. They are stuck in what Babson calls the “Inspiration Phase,” and don’t have the time nor capacity to enter the next two — Ideation, and Implementation. So with that, I realized that today more than ever there is major demand for entrepreneurship in the public sector and decided to write down a few takeaways from the conference to share with some of the other developing Capitol Hill entrepreneurs out there.

1. The relationship between the private sector and the government isn’t as mutually exclusive as I had once thought. In fact the relationship, if done correctly can be pretty symbiotic.
2. During the third talk, we were introduced to the idea that the “third industrial revolution” is taking place, but over half of the world will be unable to participate in it because of lack of technologic infrastructure to support any of the products of this third revolution. i.e. there is no electricity. (Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid…? Hmmm)
3. Government organizations such as the DOD actually have been known to fund alternative energy ventures such as Konarka… which ended up failing.
4. The government has invested millions of dollars into EMP proofing the electrical grids across the United States as result of fear from nuclear warfare taking down the national electric grid… In fact, the ex-director of the CIA said that this could be one of America’s largest national security threats.
5. I had the amazing opportunity to meet with the ambassador of the Czech Republic, and got to connect with him on a very human level. He spent a few minutes talking with me about first year of college advice, and tips on what to do when I come study abroad in his country. This had me realize that all of the people that we see on TV, were completely dehumanized in my mind.

This conference really was an eye-opening experience for me, and has given me a few topics that I will be writing about in the coming weeks. Most of which have to do with entrepreneurship in government, and alternative benefits of alternative energy.