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The Power Of Leaders For Change Like You

As teenager, I spent many hours listening to this German rock band called "Die Ärzte” and in one of their songs, the main theme goes something like this:  “It is not your fault that the world is as it is, yet, it would be your fault if it stays that way”. It is enough to watch the news any given day, or simply to pay attention to the less fortunate around you to realise that there is a lot of suffering, hatred and injustice in the world. Change is desperately needed. When Obama ran his 2008 campaign on “Change”, he made a very clear case that, obviously, he wasn’t talking about “negative change”. When initiatives, such as Change.org chose their name, it was clear to them that nobody would misunderstand their intentions and think: “They may want to change the world for the worse”. When we say change, we mean positive change.  “Time is neutral" There is one speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., called “The American Dream”. It is a little less known than his famous “I have a dream” speech but to me it is even more powerful and I admire it. In his plea against racial injustice, he makes the point that time won’t bring about justice by itself. Time is neutral. What is needed to bring about the desired change is that people stand for what they believe in and actively make it happen. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."Margaret Mead If change doesn’t occur naturally over time, then individuals have to make it happen. Somebody has to decide: This has to change! Things can’t go on like that. Somebody has to assemble the courage to stand up and say: I will do things differently. I think something else is possible and I’m willing to commit myself. I am willing to take responsibility. This, to me, is the definition of leadership. You don’t need to be a world leader or a celebrity to show leadership. Incredibly important changes happen in the small details of every day life. How much kindness do we show to the people around us? Are we making the groups we come in contact with a little better? Leaders for Change No change ever happens without this kind of leadership. Change is an abstract concept and if we want to make it actionable and be serious about it, we have to pay attention to people, because they are the agents of change. Every one of us can and should strive to be a “Leader for Change”. Why WikiStage as a network for change? As video platform and network of conference organisers, what we can do is to celebrate Leaders for Change and give their ideas and initiatives a stage. Our hope is that by directing the spotlight on those who decide to publicly speak out about their ideas and convictions, others will get inspired and feel empowered to bring about change themselves.  We connect leaders and ideas in the real world at WikiStage events and online on the WikiStage.org video platform. Visitors of the website can see the best talks of a speaker on his or her profile as well as the other videos that have been recorded at our conferences. We attribute each video to a larger debate with a hashtag, for example #ClimateChange or #HumanRights and allow users to upvote their favourite videos for every cause. The “Wiki” in WikiStage When visitors upvote videos for a debate, they collectively decide about the best ideas and contributions on any given topic. Thanks to your vote, the best videos rise to the top of the wall of that debate. It is the community who ultimately decides what inspires them and whose ideas deserve to get the most attention. Thanks to other user’s votes, we all now have a way to quickly learn about the most important contributions on the issues. Simply by watching the top rated videos, we can learn about different perspectives from the brightest minds who  spoke in public about the issue. We can do more than just “vote" Similar to our democratic process, some will simply vote and some will want to shape the debate more actively. There are many forums and social media websites on the internet where anybody can share anything. At WikiStage, we have chosen our format: we connect people at real life events and share the ideas on our platform with videos. If you want to become an active part in one of our debates, we invite you to become an independent WikiStage Conference organiser and to give a stage to those people who you believe deserve to be heard. After you obtain our license through our website, our non-profit organisation will guide and advise you to help you create a meaningful event with valuable contributions - and the best thing: the license is completely free.  

WikiStage: What's next?

For those of you who are fairly new to the concept of WikiStage, allow me to spend a few paragraphs explaining our mission and achievements so far. Back in 2013 when we started this project with an event at ESCP Europe, we wanted to establish a network of events around the world that would tackle different issues, from start-up entrepreneurship to Immanuel Kant’s philosophy.               We set ourselves a mission to use modern technology to revolutionize the way events are organized worldwide. Only 20 years ago, the reach of most conferences was restricted to their immediate audiences. Some of these events were probably very inspiring (some of them probably only had an exciting buffet), but there is no way for us to check that unless we know someone who went. Today, the situation has unfortunately not changed that much. Still, there are hundreds of events worldwide that are either not recorded or are recorded in such a way that makes it impossible to follow, or share on social media. For example: the videos are too long (4 hour long videos with all event talks and discussions), the videos look boring (shot from one position), the individual talks are way too long (2-hour dictator-addresses-the-United-Nations style talk with the help of a PowerPoint presentation). Luckily, things do not have to be like that anymore. Digitalize the events! It is the sharing revolution. It is the death of PowerPoint. Our events have not always been TED-like events with audience of thousands; we wanted to include smaller events - WikiStage Corners, where speakers give talks to a smaller audience. The common denominator of all these conferences is not just the WikiStage branding but also the fact that all event talks (short, focused - WikiTalks) were recorded and published on WikiStage.org. The idea was to give an opportunity to mainly young and enthusiastic people to organize events and give their speakers a global audience, regardless where in the World they are, or the lack of finance or logistics they might be facing if they wanted to organize a full-fledged high profile conference. The idea was not just to digitalize events, but also to democratize them.                  Three years later, we take a look back and we can say we have succeeded in making WikiStage a global brand. With a network of over 500 volunteers we have organized more than 70 events on 4 different continents. We have had over 350 speakers, total number of Facebook followers of all WikiStage pages has exceeded 55.000 and people have spent 2 years equivalent of time watching our WikiTalks. Beyond our initial partner ESCP Europe, we partnered up for individual confrences and recordings with the World Bank Group, SUEZ Environment, YESS, MEDEF, OuiShare, the French Embassy in Berlin, Maison de l'Europe de Paris, and many other. What’s next? We are still far from done in our mission to revolutionize the way ideas travel from events to audiences. Our next mission is to become THE platform for event talks. We seek to establish partnerships with event organizers around the world in order to add their event talks to our platform. We add the talks to different #debates in order to have videos on similar issues from a variety of events at one place, where the users can have a comprehensive overview of the issue, compare different positions, and vote for the best talks.  There are several types of partnerships we offer to conference organizers. The most lightweight is the one when events are already perfectly recorded, speeches are already short and focused, everything is online and ready to be shared. In this case, we only integrate the videos on our platform. In this way, we give not only a bigger audience to these event talks, but also an opportunity to compare them to the ones from other, related events. Further on, in case an event is filmed but the video is too long and/or shot from one position, we offer two types of partnerships. First, our video editing crew edits your event video and publishes all event talks on our platform. Second option, which can work together with the first: our film production crew records your next event, edits the talks, makes them look awesome and we, again, publish them on WikiStage.org. And, as they say in those cheesy TV commercials - that is not all!   A closer WikiStage partnership includes our team of professional presentation coaches who help the speakers of a partner-event prepare their talks and rock the stage. Short and focused talks that have a long-lasting impact on the audience and a potential to go viral – this is the format they teach the speakers through really amazing workshops and individual coaching sessions. Organizers can also, in case they are not already using a similar format, opt for organizing WikiTalks as a distinct part of their conference. A great example for this would be an academic conference. Imagine having, for example, a group of leading physicists dealing with the theory of relativity doing WikiTalks next to their main, scientific event, in order to transmit their knowledge to the general audience. Amazing, right?         Will we become THE platform for event talks three years from now? We will do it even before, because we are not just a platform, but we offer a full service to event organizers, in-house, in one organization - WikiStage - led by young people (all employees are less than 30 years old), true to its original mission and enthusiastic about making the World a better place. Are you an event organizer and you are interested in becoming a partner of WikiStage in any of the ways described? Contact us at partners(at)wikistage.org. Do you want to organize a WikiStage event? Check out the organizer guide and get in touch with us!

WikiStage ESCP Europe – a truly European conference series

By Sanidhya Painuli   “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.” ― Gautama Buddha Can an inclination of a person towards knowledge change the world? If you think “No”, then meet Johannes Bittel, Founder of WikiStage, a free platform for learning and democratic debate. I met Johannes in a cafe in Berlin where he confessed his passion as a student to search on Youtube for information ranging from Electric Cars to benefits of Vegetarianism. However, he felt a bit lost because he could not easily find quality videos on many topics. As a result, he started to get involved in organizing conferences such as LSE London Development Forum at LSE and he organized the first TEDx event at a French Grande Ecole: TEDxESCP in Paris. Yet, he felt that something was wrong, that made these conferences elitist and hindered the free flow of democratic knowledge and that obtaining a license for, for example, a TEDx event is very expensive. As he elaborates that to apply to organize a larger TEDx Event one must attend a TED Conference that costs $8,500-13.500. This became the founding idea of WikiStage, where people around the globe who share the same quest and motivation can fill a simple form on www.wikistage.org and organize free WikiStage events, inviting experts in community to discuss issues ranging from education to refugees or from corruption to free speech. The first conference was organized in Paris in 2013, and since then there is no turning back. The network has seen exponential growth to 45 conferences in 2015 and in 2016, he expects a 100 unique conferences such as the recent conference at École Militaire: Necessity to think differently, where people who decide over life and death discuss what it takes to have such responsibility. He believes that this flexibility towards organizers combined with democratic and creative thinking of organizers is taking this concept to new heights such as upcoming WikiStage Conference at ESCP in March 2016. The organizers at ESCP will organize 5 conferences simultaneously in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, London, and Turin, where eminent speakers will discuss the “Good of Finance”. Recent events such as the possibility of a Brexit, the refugee crisis and debt woes of Europe, together with anemic growth have threatened or posed serious questions to the European identity and global financial order. As the future becomes uncertain ESCP Europe wants to emphasize on unity and strength of European identity, leading to an idea of 5 conferences. Christian Wortmann, president of WikiStage ESCP Europe sees a great future for the format of a unique pan-European conference which allows speakers, the audience and those who join the debate online to look at European challenges from five different perspectives. Moreover, he and his team are already working on the third edition in 2017 while organising the conference series of 2016. One team member from Madrid recently said “It is a truly European initiative and it is enriching in terms of personal network, shared knowledge and understanding of other cultures”.

Interview with Barkha Sengar

Barkha Sengar has recently organised WikiStage ESCP Europe on 5 different campuses across the continent. She invited speakers to deliver their WikiTalks at events spreading from Paris to Madrid to Torino, London and Berlin. Barkha is a student at ESCP Europe Paris, where she is a Master’s candidate in Management and Finance. She wanted to host the event because she saw it as a great opportunity to gain experience in leadership and event management. She says herself, “I wanted to be a leader, but when I first became an organiser I wasn’t so sure in myself […] however, after the event, I feel like a better leader and I would organise a WikiStage event again.”   The theme of the events was “Direction Europe,” which was intentionally created to give the co-organisers at the other campuses the possibility to invite the speakers whom they preferred. In total Barkha managed 36 people all over Europe, and she says that it wasn’t always easy. At one point, Barkha’s team had difficulties finding an organiser in Berlin and when they finally found one, she had to organised the event herself. However, with a new plan and a lot of encouragement they hosted a great event in Berlin. All of the WikiStage events around Europe were hosted with success thanks to Barkha and the team the she had recruited. Which brings us to another extremely important task -  recruitment. She needed people with knowledge in different fields such as marketing, raising sponsorships, finance, et cetera. Ultimately, this experience gave her an opportunity to manage and lead a team, as well as to learn a lot about team work and management. As she says “when I work in teams today I know how it is to be the leader and what responsibility that carries along.”   At the onset of the event, Barkha didn’t have much previous experience in event managing. Yet, she organised the WikiStage event with a considerable success. In fact, she did it with so much success that at the very end of it, many were interested in organizing and participating in a WikiStage event themselves.   The WikiStage team is very thankful to Barkha and other organizers who constantly invest their best efforts to maintain and further build our community. They are the most valuable part of our network and we are always looking forward to working with exciting and motivated people all over the world.

Responsible research and innovation: WikiStage SoScience

(This article is a contribution from Laurent Calmus, doctor in organic chemistry and ESPCI-ParisTech engineer, and is a preview for the WikiStage SoScience event May 16) Responsible research and innovation is an emerging concept in natural sciences. It originated in the US about 10 years ago, and it aims is to find solutions for today's social and environmental challenges. Through responsible and reflective scientific activity, methodologies and agenda, it hopes to establish sustainable and greener societies. The field is emerging, and there is much to be said about it. But since it is so new, there exist no place for participants in the field to express themselves. So we believe a WikiStage event is perfect to start a conversation. The goal of this first conference is to present responsible innovation and foster curiosity about it. After introducing the key topics, there will be different talks centered around the three following points: “The impossible becomes possible" / How to make it happen / The emergence of a new reality. It is crucial to present the different aspects of responsible research and innovation processes. For example, academic and industrial researches, funding, intellectual property and politics are essential parts in the definition and development of responsible research and innovation.  “Evidence can take so many forms” / Examples of different projects. Different exciting projects are ongoing in several research areas. To understand what is happening in responsible research and innovation at this moment, what could be better than to let researchers present their own projects and goals?  “Make it yours” / Access of the crowd. We think that responsible research and innovation can’t truly be effective without a serious relationship between researchers and society. To innovate in the right way, researchers have to be aware about society's main goals. On the other hand, society should be informed about recent researches in order to engage in discussion with the researchers. If you are curious to learn more about responsible research and innovation, feel free to attend the event on Saturday May 16 at 1 PM at ESCP Europe Paris Campus (79 Avenue de la République, 75011 Paris).  

Wikistage - Empow’Her: Share Her Voice

Our April 16 WikiStage conference brought it back to where it all began -- the Paris campus of ESCP Europe! #ShareHerVoice Conference was an inspiring and eye-opening experience aiming to bring awareness to creating future gender equality champions. Amongst the speakers we welcomed on stage, there were quite a few amazing women. Tatiana Moura from Promundo, a Brazilian based, non-governmental organization promoting caring, non-violent and equitable masculinities and gender relations, talked about the importance of engaging men in the process of establishing gender equality.  Shannon Galpin, the founder of Mountain2Mountain, a non-profit organization fighting for women’s rights in conflict zones, spoke about her experience in Afghanistan where she worked on many projects aiming to empower women by engaging them in various activities related to education, art and sports. Galpin, who also happens to be the first person to practice mountain biking in the area, is currently supporting Afghanistan's first Women’s National Cycling team. In her powerful speech, Shannon Galpin said she always wondered why people were indifferent towards sexual violence until she realized she was one of these people. "Having a voice means taking a stand”, she said. Chloé Chambraud and Luisa de Simone, two young and ambitious volunteers, talked about their projects in Thailand. They have created a social enterprise for women affected by violence aiming to help boost these women's creativity, regain confidence and simply empower them by having them create things from recyclable materials. Charlotte Werner, junior associate at McKinsey & Company and contributor the company's the Women Matter studies, spoke about how having more women at the top means better results for companies. Later, when asked about the situation in her working establishment, Werner replied she cannot complain, and it is going in the right direction. Yann Borgsted, founder of the Womanity Foundation and the only male representative on stage that night, shared with us the story of his success. He spoke about how he created the first commercial women’s radio in the Middle East, called “Radio NISSA FM”, and how Womanity is all about pushing the boundaries of women empowerment. All in all, the atmosphere that night was empowering. Even the cocktail hour immediately following helped maintain the positive atmosphere as audience members got the chance to meet the speakers and learn even more about these organizations. If you are curious about how to get involved, check out some of the links to these wonderful organizations and stay tuned for the recordings to be posted on the website. #ShareHerVoice!