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Home The Interview A tête-à-tête with Gary Whitehill

A tête-à-tête with Gary Whitehill

Ahtasham Imam
A tête-à-tête with Gary Whitehill

A time when the world will be steered by creativity and innovation, such a futuristic utopia doesn’t feel too far off anymore. It’s a claim we can now make because of how technological advancements and easier access to data and information have come to play an important part in our day-to-day activities and functions. As fast-paced innovation surges to amazing new heights and the olden ways of procedural thinking is diminished, the demand for creative thinking has been growing exponentially. In a world that’s changing with the times, what we come to find is the need for more creative minded, out-of-the-box, thinkers. And to emphasise on the need for such progressive changes, we sat down for an exclusive one-on-one with the eminent entrepreneurship coach, Gary Whitehill.

In 2009, Whitehill’s Relentless Foundation launched an event named the New York Entrepreneur Week, an unprecedented gathering of entrepreneurs from different innovative start-ups. Since then, the Entrepreneur Week campaign has come to create a platform for learning, connecting and networking for entrepreneurs to help drive the economic change. The movement has now expanded with events taking place not just in the US, but in major cities all around the world as well.

Aside from coaching business fundamentals, Gary Whitehill is also a world renowned motivational speaker. Gary’s work has taken him across the globe in his endeavour to motivate and drive entrepreneurs to achieve more through the use of creativity, innovation and technology. A couple of months back this young inspiring entrepreneur and mentor visited Bangladesh. Upon sharing his insight on the business foundations of the country, he emphasized on the need for proper utilisation of one of Bangladesh’s biggest assets, `manpower’, and the need for further development of this untapped goldmine through innovative methods. Read on to find out what else the entrepreneurship maestro had to say in this exclusive interview with Intellect.

What are the basic foundations that may lead to success in entrepreneurship?
We live in a world that is home to over 7.5 billion human beings. A world where, since the dawn of time, the very essence of mankind has reflected with two simple words: “create” and “invent”. At times, amidst our progress of creating and inventing, we’ve seemed to have lost another root essence of our existence- humanity.

Over the course of history, we’ve seemed to have lost our ways and our values in life. We live in a concrete jungle, surrounded by “things” and “materials”, whereas we’ve forgotten about the bigger picture; one that involves communities, opportunities, and connecting with people. So I spend my time travelling from country to country, providing relevant advice through comparative innovation and entrepreneurship in order to offer professional insights and perspectives, and share my knowledge and experience with growing startup communities to help them deliver their products and services not just for profits, but for betterment of humanity and the world. This is usually a productive service.  

What’s necessary for entrepreneurs to thrive in the current market?
There is a lot of wisdom going on out there on how you create a business and provide job opportunities to people, and a lot more relevant things, but these are mostly based around the economies of most first world countries. However, when you come to a developing nation such as Bangladesh, a country with a population of over 180 million people, there are two ways to go about it. You can look at it as fraction creating in the lower level motivations, fear, anger, greed and all the negative things that folks like to focus on a lot of times. But in fact instability creates most incredible opportunity. When you put hundred 80 million people in a condemned space, it’s not a matter whether they are going to be interact or create. It’s not a matter of whether they are going to be forced to interact or to create, but it’s a matter of what kind of platform you are providing or following to make space for others. Are you allowing them to have open and vulnerable conversation, are you allowing them to understand that the world is never only black and white, but has shades of grey in it as well. So steps should be taken from the government to establish individual growth in order to make things happen for the sake of the nation.

What matters the most when getting into such a field?
Exploring oneself. The number one thing that we forget as human being is that we all are different, because we grow up differently with different experiences. And based on those experiences, we have a very unique perspective on the world regarding various problems and challenges. There are never truly any readymade answers for these situations. There are only experiences. And those experiences help people channel their inner creativity in tackling whatever comes their way.

How can creativity help the economy thrive?
It is often noticed that being an employee of any organisation or company, we try our best for the sake of the job. But often we forget about the test of devoting ourselves for our own passions. And that kills the chances of a person in becoming more creative. I strongly believe that `The world doesn’t need any more employees. The world needs more creators’. And the only way that can work is when humans can stand together for each other. It’s not like as me as an American and you as a Bangladeshi from individual level; it has to be together. Pull everybody along with us and that helps elevate others. It can be done through collaborative work and cooperation.

What is necessary to help keep this global market alive for the creative thinkers?
It can only be done through innovation, creation and empowerment. Often entrepreneurs think that their journey is of an individual but it isn’t. They should keep in mind that it isn’t only about them, but for innovation and the community they live in as well. Until an entrepreneur realises that that the work they are doing couldn’t be done without the support of their employees, they will not realise the power that comes from creative collaboration in making their work much better for themselves, even for the world.

What are your thoughts on Bangladesh’s economy and its future?
Hundred eighty million people and its size of concept is remarkable. Others country’s beg for the size of such an addressable market. In Europe, you will be rounding up 10 countries for this number of people. So, the opportunity is really big and bright. What we have to do is to reach out to our partners. In the administration of this country and also in other countries, entrepreneurs have to approach them. I believe the government is willing to listen. But you can’t expect the government to do things for the businessmen. If we start to create, if we start to innovate and if showed the job growth, the government will change the policy itself.  60 percent of the population of this country is under 35 and when you look at that fact you will realise that they are amazing prospects for Bangladesh. It’s only going to be one of two ways when you have 160 million people in a space specified by boundaries. Either it’s going to skyrocket or go downhill. I believe Bangladeshi youths will make this economy skyrocket, beyond the reaches of the star someday.

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