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BW Businessworld

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization Journey

Brian Brault, Incoming Global Chairman, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) in conversation with Munnish Puri, CEO, BW Disrupt

Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami

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Brian Brault, Incoming Global Chairman, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) in conversation with Munnish Puri, CEO, BW Disrupt

As the incoming Chairman, what are your top three priorities at EO?
There are three priorities that I have. Let me first talk about some of the internal operational priorities that I have.

Right now the Entrepreneurs’ Organization is one of the world’s best-kept secrets when it comes to the entrepreneurial world. We really owe it to the world to change and become a more externally focused organisation.

We will always have in our heart, the key focus of adding value for our members and helping them to build better businesses. But in order to really be the world’s most influential community of entrepreneurs and share the value with more entrepreneurs we are strengthening our communications, both internal and external.

Internally, we want to make sure that all our members around the world understand all the benefits, products, and platforms that help them not only to build better businesses but to also become better husbands, wives, fathers, daughters, mothers, and sons, and to also really be better members of their communities.

Second, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization is committed to being a world-class organisation based on instant connectivity through technology. In order to create this, we are making significant investments in our technology platform that allows us to be a world-class organisation.

Third to me is very personal. It was in early June 2015, while I was running the Entrepreneurial Masters Program and listening to Jeff Hoffman, a renowned speaker who I had brought in. He is one of the founders of Priceline.com. Jeff spoke about the fact that in a recent trip around the world when he ended up in the Middle East the concept of ‘entrepreneurship in itself’ creating ‘hope’ became very clear to him. There are so many problems that the world is facing today.

In some of the cities and countries around the world, some people just don’t have hope, and their lives are difficult and challenging, and have almost come to a point where they don’t have anything to live for. So to resort to violence or war or criminal activity is acceptable in their minds.

What Jeff said was that if one brings the power of entrepreneurship to these parts of the world, people will be enabled to build better lives. The focus of the people will move from crime and violence to hope and humanity. When he said that, it crystallized a lot of thoughts and feelings stirring inside me that I had never been able to put to words.

Ever since then, I have really been committed to helping EO start to look at the methodology in becoming one of the world’s most influential community of entrepreneurs, and in also understanding that it is more than just building better businesses. It’s really about living a more significant life and being extraordinary and making a mark. I believe that leadership is not about creating followers, but about serving others to bring out the best in them. People want to help others and be impactful. As leaders, we need to help them make that happen.

In your opinion, what qualities in a person define an effective entrepreneur?
An effective entrepreneur is someone who takes control of their own lives and their own destiny, and also positively influences their surroundings. They are very innovative, they are creative, and they persevere through challenges, they don’t take no for an answer. When other people look at something as challenging, they look at it and say I am going to figure out a way to do it.

Now think about this. If you can take those effective entrepreneurial minds and apply them to the problems that the world faces, imagine how you can start to shift the way things get approached. As influential entrepreneurs we need to be building relationships with the World Health Organisation, the United Nations, the Gates Foundation, etc. Imagine if we can create sustainable relationships, how much we can change the world for good. Incidentally, a lot of the organisational relationships at EO firmly unite effective entrepreneurs.

We would like to take that concept further and bring entrepreneurship to places where it doesn’t exist today.

How did you learn about EO, when you joined the organisation in 2001?
A friend of mine, who started his business a year before mine, invited me for breakfast where we talked a little bit about EO. He said, ‘this is what you need to do.’ And here I am now. As long as they keep me, I will rejoin every year.

The reason that I joined then, was because I wanted to build a better business. Along the way, I did that. Within the first four years of being in EO, I built my business by a factor of eight. I met the expectations of what I joined for. But what I stayed for is really the ability to live a more significant life.

Could you share an example of what enables EO members to become that finer person?
There’s a product within EO, which is called Forum. It’s an opportunity for six to nine other members to come together, and mostly stay together over the years, on a monthly basis to share information about the challenges they are facing and to allow the other members to be non-judgemental about those challenges and to also offer effective solutions to these challenges. Such issues could even relate to the problems that members are facing in their marriage, or with their children or with other personal aspects of their lives.

You have the opportunity to live through other people’s experience. You can then realise how you can live a better life.

For me personally, my son and I were very close while growing up. But when he was 16 years of age, he started to pull away. I was really struggling with this new side of my son. So I spoke with the fellow Forum members and they shared with me the importance of asking me to step back to when I was 16 years old and to see how my son was seeing the world around him. Then all of a sudden, rather than focus on being a parent, I looked at life through the eyes of my son. This gave us a renewed relationship that has changed my life. That one Forum meeting resolved the most difficult challenge that I had been facing.