Do you want to help someone? Shut up and listen says Ernesto Sirolli (TED) *ABI 1310

From TED Speaker:  Ernesto Sirolli

Our comment:

In talking about the West’s failed foreign aid programs, Ernesto identifies the key issue in any business situation: you first need to listen to the customer and find out what they need, not what you think they want.

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We have a great range of listening tools for you in your business.  Tools to listen to your customers, your employees, your suppliers – so you provide solutions which work and which provide value for your customers and all your stakeholders.  To find out more, call 1300 783 3091300 783 309 or email us on


Now back to Ernesto….

lessons from failed foreign aid programs

As humourous as Ernesto is, he also made me cringe as I realised the wasted resources we have poured into ‘solutions’ which were never solutions for the countries and people we were trying to help (think also of our own Aborigines in this context too).
As Ernesto points out, it is not a matter of not helping others but of helping others ‘the right way’.
How do you help others? Listen before taking action. Applying this to your business:  listen to your customers; listen to your staff; listen to those who are not your customers and listen to those who are not your staff. Find out what you don’t know and incorporate some new or fresh ideas into the mix.
Some observations and comments from my take on this fascinating insight (also note the example towards the end of the video of work he did in WA and the State Government’s incredulity as to the success achieved):
  • Foreign aid has been wasted because we have tried to implement what we think is right; not what the people want.
  • Entrepreneurs in communities do not attend or engage in community meetings which are a common forum used to find out what locals think.
  • You need a model which is more freewheeling and hands on with listening as the key.
  • Assist entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs in our society are the ones who will make things happen.
  • You need to get the local people to want to talk to you: offer confidentiality, privacy then be able to deliver what they need.
  • Entrepreneurs in these communities need knowledge to transform their ideas into practice. They need support to make their ideas convert into reality.
  • No one starts a successful company alone: supported by research (the first 2 pages of Richard Branson’s autobiography uses the word “we” 32 times and “I” nil – memo: I have not read this to check this out!!!).
  • Like many of us, Ernesto is a fan of Peter Drucker’s wit and wisdom 
  • Every successful business needs someone who can: 
    • Make the product
    • Market the product
    • Look after the finances
And, no one person is going to be good at all three (hence ‘we’ not ‘I’).

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