While steadily approaching another Spark.me conference, we decided to refresh our memory with some great talks we enjoyed at Spark.me 2017! So let’s start with Sharad Sagar, an Indian social entrepreneur featured in the Forbes “30 Under 30” global list (in 2016), and in The Rockefeller Foundation Centennial List of “100 Next Century Innovators”.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him in Oslo, a few months before the conference. Even though I had no idea that I’m speaking with one of the most popular guys in India, I was amazed by his extraordinary personality. Sharad is a perfect mix of modesty, great sense of humor, infectious passion, and brilliant storytelling abilities.
His company, Dexterity Global, is an internationally awarded social enterprise which creates and leverages online and offline platforms for high school students to democratize access to information, opportunities, resources, and platforms.
Connect with opportunities
Under the Spark.me stage lights, Sharad talked about things which will allow us to move from the 20th to the 21st century. His journey started in India, in a small village without any good schools or libraries. Sharad’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge got him from homeschooling to the prestigious Tufts University.
At the beginning of his talk, Sharad looked back at his first days in school:
“I was a little disappointed; it was not at all that interesting as I thought it would be. Every time I got bored, I started talking to my friend, which would naturally lead to me being expelled from the class. So I can tell I was an outstanding student.”
Yes, the man can joke! 🙂 His story was inspiring in so many ways. I was overwhelmed with the amount of honest passion he emitted all over the place while talking about all the kids from small cities and villages who are disconnected from opportunities. And, as Sharad said, that’s exactly what brought him to do what he does today.
Dexterity Global is focused on three main things:
- Connecting kids with opportunities;
- Helping them build their skill set: critical thinking, research, communication, and leadership;
- Enabling young people transition from high schools to colleges and top colleges across the world.
While talking about leadership, Sharad addressed the audience:
“Most of you here are leaders in some way or the other – you either create content that makes sense, or you consume content and then make sense out of it.”
The drama curve
You know how every great storyteller spontaneously creates the drama curve, while all the listeners hold their breath and wait for the final culmination? That’s exactly what Sharad did. Once upon a time, he visited one small village in India to talk to some high school kids and students. Although everyone thought no one would come to listen to his speech, more than 2,000 people showed up. At the end of the talk, a little girl courageously stood up and shared her story. She said she wants to be a businesswoman, work in the corporate sector for some time, and then go ahead with starting her own company. But her parents didn’t share the enthusiasm: “You are from a small village and you are a girl. These things are not meant for you.”
Spark.Me 2017: Sharad Sagar on Connecting With Opportunities
Spark.me 2017: Robert Fitzpatrick on Talking to Customers Even If They Lie
Spark.Me 2017: Peter Kim on Things That Are Awesome
Sharad encouraged her to pursue the dream by giving examples of successful women all over the world. But, at the Spark.me stage, he confessed that he could have answered differently. Is she aware that she’ll have to work much more to get the paycheck she deserves? How can we fix that?
By making a change. Corporations need to start moving towards a more just and equal workplace because, whether we agree or not, corporations bring change.
“Change is profitable. Change can have a business model”, Sharad says. He explained that the nonprofit is a legal structure and not a business model. If we want to reach out to many people out there, we’ll need to sustain the change by creating an organization, a product, or service which sells itself. The big message engraved on our minds:
“Continue the fight for the equal workplace, so that young girl won’t have to work seventy more days to get a paycheck, or to look at the Fortune 500 list as her unrealized dream.”
Sharad made us think about achieving the impossible. All kids have dreams and it’s our duty to provide the tools to make them come true. That’s where corporations can help because, as Sharad said, corporations look like people all the time. They have to start moving in the direction of creating a better world.
If you want to explore Sharad’s words in more depth, watch him rocking at Spark.me 2017 stage. And while you’re on it, check out other speakers as well! 🙂
Spark.me is one of the most carefully curated business/internet conferences in Southeast Europe. It presents an awesoME place for people all around the world to brainstorm new ideas, share experiences, and enjoy listening to the world-class speakers. The conference is the crown part of .ME’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, and we are proud for making it happen since 2013. If you want to find out more about what lights our spark, check out: www.spark.me