In the March issue of Octane, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s (EO) award-winning member magazine, we interviewed Gaurav Agarwal, an EO Kolkata member and chair of the 2014 EO Regional Integration Event (RIE), about the value of hosting a regional event, the importance of getting the most out of EO membership and the impact of global learning. The 2014 EO RIE was held 9-12 January in Kolkata, India. Here’s a snapshot of the event’s impact and a sneak peek at our special interview:
Taking ACTION: Owning Your EO Experience
Your event’s theme–“Action Changes Things”–captures how members can get the most out of their EO experience. Why did you choose this theme as a driver of your event?
Gaurav Agarwala: “If you’ve seen contemporary media about India, especially in the past three years, the word ‘paralysis’ pops up on a constant basis. For a country that was once a favored destination for business and capital, our growth had suddenly fallen off a cliff. Economists, rightly so, had attributed this phenomenon to paralysis or inaction. Therefore, a call to take action was a natural choice as a theme for us. It serves well on an EO level, too, tying into the entrepreneurial spirit.”
One benefit of hosting a regional event is that you get to showcase your region to a larger EO audience. Was it important for you to share your culture with your global peers?
GA: “Absolutely! India has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. Kolkata, specifically, has its roots steeped in history. In fact, we served as the first capital of India when the British arrived. The independence movement also has its origins in Kolkata. Through the RIE, we wanted to showcase our culture, our transformation and our journey through thought leadership, learning, music and the arts. By showcasing the tightly integrated fabric of our chapter, we wanted our EO peers from around the world to have greater insight into what we stood for, which would help increase engagement and bonding throughout the event. Regional events are the perfect opportunity to showcase local pride and help members see another side of EO.”
What would you say to a member who’s never been to a regional event, but who’s eager to get the most out of their membership?
GA: “Regional events encourage the understanding that EO offers a wide variety of personal and professional experiences. There’s so much out there beyond your own chapter— you just have to take action and explore all of the opportunities EO makes available to you. I think that’s why the RIE was such a success. We built the event around taking action and inspired members to go out of their comfort zones to personalize their EO experience. I remember on the last day of the event, an EO South Asia member asked me what the next step in his EO journey should be. I had a one-word answer: ‘University!’” To get the most out of your membership, you have to keep learning.
EO RIE Reactions
“Thank you for showing what Kolkata and its people are all about. As far as I’m concerned, I have not experienced a better event than this one!!!” – Luis Chasi, EO Costa Rica
“I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me to the 2014 EO RIE. It was one (if not THE) most amazing experiences of my life– seriously! The friends I made, things I learned, experiences that overwhelmed me … I am so grateful and thankful to have been part of EO Kolkata’s most amazing event, and to have experienced your incredible hospitality. I love Kolkata!” – Susan Duncan EO New Zealand
“Out of my 10 international EO events in three continents these past two and a half years, the 2014 EO RIE is top three in ALL categories. Thanks for the great hospitality, and for raising the bar!” – Walter Lee, EO Thailand