community building

We regret to inform you…. a message and modest proposal to TEDx Licencees and their teams

or “rejects are valuable”

rejected images

Richard Lucas September 2014


I’ve been rejected many times in my life and I still feel I am a valuable person.  I know many other people  who have been said “no” to by serious and important institutions and companies at different stages in their life. Many of them have done great things and are wonderful people.

This post aims to focus on the issue of why TEDx rejects (people who have applied to attend a TEDx and didn’t get in) are important, and makes suggestions about what can be done to  improve the current situation.


I remember how bad I felt about all the people we had to turn down when I was on the committee taking decisions about who got in to TEDxKrakow 2010.  This issue has not gone away, in fact it is possibly getting worse, as the popularity of TED and TEDx-s grows and grows, and the limits on numbers allowed to attend TEDx-es does not.  Just last week (September 2014) at a great TEDxWarsawSalon

Łukasz Krasoń at TEDxWarsaw Salon

300 out of every 400 applications was rejected – the TEDx licence was for 100 maximum.  TEDxWarsawSalon sent a polite message of regret to those who didn’t get in.   I don’t know if four applications for every place is normal, but even if one person is rejected, TED has an issue.   I discussed with the organisers my idea that more could be done, and here are my reflections.

The question is, whether it matters and whose job it is.  Within TEDx-es there is an issue of  priorities.   It is quite understandable that someone who has taken on the challenge of organising an event decides to put all their efforts into making the event good for the people who are going to be there.

I am arguing that the  issue  of “TEDx rejects” matters.   I was one of the lucky 100 who got in to  TEDxWarsaw Salon, but there were another 300 who tried and were rejected.  When I went to another excellent  TEDxWarsawSalon  in 2013 I remember meeting someone who told me  – “I’ve tried to get in twice before – at last I’ve been accepted. ” I’ve met people who have a negative feeling about  TED and TEDx as being elitist and exclusive because their only interaction with TEDx is failing to get a ticket to an event. Because I’ve been to so many events (four TEDxKrakow, +/-ten  TEDx Cinemas (about), Three TEDxWarsaws, Two TEDxWarsaw Salons, one TEDxWrocław Salon, Two TEDGlobals, Two TEDxKrakowLives. one TEDxKrakowCity.2.0) I know that TEDx-ers are not exclusive or elitist., but if you don’t get in you don’t know.

When Unilever, McKinsey and many other employers said no to me when I was job hunting back in the 1980s they always sent a nice letter saying “you  made a great impression, while we were impressed you didn’t quite meet our requriements good luck with your  job search”. If a company doesn’t want to employ someone, or an event is full, such rejection is inevitable.  In the case of TEDx-es –  there is something going wrong if anyone feels completely rejected. The main idea of TED and TEDx – is that there are “ideas worth spreading” for free –  Ideas cannot and should not reject people and therefore TED and TEDx-ers should not let people feel rejected either.

So how can  TED and TEDxs  address this?  TEDx s and TED conferences are limited either by space or licence – (TEDx- licences have limits on the numbers who can attend).  On line sharing of ideas  – which is how the majority of people interact and hear about TED is obviously not limited by space.  Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are never “full”. As TEDster Clay Shirky argues in his book “Here Comes Everybody”  thanks to the internet people can create, engage and be part of  communities without being part of a  local structure  – meaning that it is not just possible but in the case of TED quite likely that people who have a close emotional connection with TED feel positively hurt and upset when they are not welcomed with open arms even if the reasons are good.

It is understandable that the organisers of TEDx-s don’t feel this problem in the same way the rejects do. As Nobel Prize winner  Daniel Kahneman wrote in ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’    our rationality is limited by ‘availability”. If you don’t have the rejected person in front of you, you won’t think about him or her very much. Having been rejected in various contexts I am acutely aware of how it feels. TEDx-ers with licences, know how it feels to have a licence, and meet and interact  with people who they have accepted. Thinking about the rejects is possibly unpleasant.

At one level it is possible that it feels  “high status”and cool to curate an event that is so popular that people cannot get in. However, the reasons that events are so over-subscribed is partially because of the power of the TED brand. Handling the over-subscription/reject issue well should be regarded as a challenge and responsibility.

There must be millions of people who would love to come to TEDxes but who cannot due to their location,   job , financial situation,  relationships,  domestic responsibilities or even disability. It’s  natural to focus on the people who come. but the online invisible community is also out there.  For every Daria Musk who escaped from her remote location, and became a star  thanks to Google Hangouts, there are for sure many other valuable people who may never be able to engage with TED or TEDx face to face at an event .

So what can be done ?
My proposal is for TED to insist on having a high quality rejection process.  It doesn’t cost time –  just an improved rejection letter, and I’ve drafted it already to make it even easier.   Below is my draft to deal with people who are not accepted for a TEDx.  The process of being rejected for a TEDx Licence,  a TED Summit,  as a potential volunteer or Team member  would be a bit different. The numbers are much lower, and the  reasons may be good. I am sure the letter can be improved, and modified to local circumstances.  – for example the links could be to local webpages. The one below is by way of an example.

Draft Proposed TEDx  Rejection Letter


We regret to inform you that we are not giving you a ticket to our TEDx event.  We are really sorry. We hate the thought of saying “no” to someone who could contribute to and benefit from our event. We hope you understand and do not take it personally or as a rejection.  The reason is that our licence is only for x number of places, and we have received y number of applications (best not use this argument if there are 101 applications for 100 places) or ” Our venue only has space for X places and we received Y applications

There are a number of ways you can engage with the TED and TEDx community even if you cannot come to TEDx events. We encourage you to consider them all.  If you are active in the ways we suggest below for sure it may help with your applications to attend future TEDx events.  Here are some suggestions:

Here in our local area, apart from the  TEDx event you applied to, we are organising a … (TEDxOurplaceCinema, TEDxOurplaceSalon, TEDxOurplaceLive, Hackathon, Translatathon, OTP group,  Community meet ups, TEDxAdventure)

You can sign up on  web site and take part in on line discussions  in the comment thread below each talk.

Go here  and search in your local area to see if there are TED fans in your town or village you know or can make contact with.

You can visit the TEDx subpage on  to find other TEDx s in your area. Maybe you can volunteer to get involved in their existing activities.  Search on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Couchsurfing, Google groups, and your local national social media portals to see if there are TEDx groups there. Maybe you can get involved in local events, on and off line discussions and/or meet ups. In Poland there is a TED and TEDx Fans in Poland group   Maybe you can set one up, or offer to run such a group for your local TEDx.

You can appoint yourself a TED Social Media Ninja and post links TED talks you love that are relevant in on line forums you belong to.

You can get involved in the TED Open Translation Project  If you don’t know about it, watch Why I translate TED talks  Even if you cannot translate, you can do “same language subtitling” which is the first step to getting talks into the repository of talks that can be translated

Could you apply to be a TED Fellow? Check this out    Anyone can apply.

If you are a teacher or trainer, you can sign up for TED-ED  and learn how to turn videos into educational content.

You can organise unlicensed discussion meetups with TED talks  –  it’s worth checking with TED first – . Provided they are  free, in line with TED values and you make clear that you event is not a TED or TEDx, it’s allowed. Here are some  examples of such events

TED talk, Pizza and discussion at Penn State University
TED talk, Pizza and discussion at Penn State University

In Kraków Poland TED talks were part of this event.  In Warsaw I organised an “Pre TEDx Warsaw meetup” as part of TEDsurfing  – the  TED and TEDx Travel and meetup club   At Penn State there were TED talk and a pizza discussion meetings.   The people who come might be potential team members to do your own TEDx.

Before TED Global in Edinburgh in 2012 I organised a small gathering of TEDx Fans and Couchsurfers here  (this may not be visible unless you are logged in to Couchsurfing)

You can organise an information meeting about TED and TEDx in your place of work or study showing talks about TED like  June Cohen’s here     The statistics are a bit out of date but the TED is even more popular now than it was back then. Showing such talks is a great idea if you are considering applying for a licence. If you show this talk that must be played at every TEDx then you just might end up forming a group to apply to do your own TEDx!!

We appreciate that watching a video telling you how great it is being at a TEDx is  may be a bit frustrating, given you haven’t got a place to ours.

We hope this message makes clear we are genuinely sorry we don’t have room for you this time,  we want you as part of the our TEDx community and encourage you to engage in as many ways as you can

In the startup community there is a commonplace idea that failure is good, or at least useful. “fail fast ‘ ‘failure is a valuable learning experience’  ‘The problem with Europe is that we don’t accept failure’. JK Rowling in her brilliant and moving Harvard commencement address even goes so far as to say ” It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all”.  Even if you are very disappointed we hope you won’t give up.

We are not happy that we don’t have a place for you. Please don’t think of yourself as rejected. We hope to meet you another time and to find a way in which we can work together for the ideals of TED and TEDx. a global voluntary conversation about ideas worth spreading.

on behalf of your local TEDx team

curator or a named team member.

first name. second name

As an experiment I’ve set up a Facebook Group called the TED and TEDx fans, TEDx attendees and TEDx would be attendees group Please feel free to join.

Richard Lucas

community building

an interview with LEMARQUE CAMPBELL – Lawyer & Analyst Transparency International Georgia and TEDxGrandBahama Speaker

I came across LEMARQUE CAMPBELL when I saw his TEDxtalk at TEDxGrandBahama. As someone who is interested both in the TED Prize Global Witness campaign and transparency in different contexts, I thought it would be interesting to find out more about him, and requested an interview.

You can see his TEDx talk here  and his biographical details are available here on the TEDxGrandbahama web site  and are as follows: Lemarque Campbell is a Bahamian international human rights lawyer. He is currently based in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, where he works for Transparency International (TI). Lemarque joined TI Georgia in January 2013, where he provides legal opinions on public policy issues and specializes in international and comparative law, human rights law and property rights violations. Originally from Freeport, Grand Bahama, Lemarque holds a BA in Sociology, a Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomacy, as well as an MA in Law. Lemarque was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales, Lincoln’s Inn. Additionally, he has lived, studied and worked in the US, Canada, Saint Lucia, Thailand, Malta, and England.

1 Please introduce yourself. You have lived and worked in so many places. Why? What led you to move around, and what bought you back to the Bahamas for a TEDx? How did they get to invite you and why did you agree to speak.

I’m originally from an island in the Bahamas called Grand Bahama, with a population of less than 75,000 individuals. I left the Bahamas at the age of 15, in order to complete my secondary education in the United States, an idea that I had suggested to my parents. I wasn’t obliged to leave, but from that age I had developed the passion to experience and explore the world – maybe this came about from growing up on such a small island, where I felt that options were limited. I always feel most alive being immersed in diverse societies. Even though I’ve been living abroad for 14 years now, I still stay connected with current events at home. In April of this year, I wrote an op-ed titled, The lack of transparency in the Bahamas: An affront to democracy. I found it very fitting to write on such a topic because of the number of high political corruption allegations that were and continue to flood the front pages of Bahamian newspapers; also, I currently work for Transparency International Georgia, which has provided me with an invaluable experience in anti corruption reforms.  This op-ed was subsequently published by one of the leading Bahamian online news sources and caught the eye of many Bahamians, including local civil activists. I was then invited by the curators for TEDxGrandBahama to give a talk on the topic of anti corruption. I was very excited to return to the island I had left so many years ago and give a talk about something I’m very passionate about.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 08.53.55

2 How was your speech received? What feedback did you get about its impact? 

The speech was well received. Later, many individuals in the local community approached me with questions about the various anticorruption reforms, and questions on how we could effectively pressure our government to make the necessary changes. This experience has solidified an idea that I had contemplated for quite some time – there’s a great need for a Transparency International chapter to be established in the Bahamas.

3 What is your connection with and view of and TEDx? Do you remember the first TED talk you saw. What ones are your favourite?

I must say, that prior to giving my TEDx talk, I didn’t watch many TEDx talks. But now, after being a part of the event, I watch TED talks on a weekly basis.  I find it to be such a great forum to get ideas across, especially ideas that have the potential of challenging individuals to think outside of the box. My favourite talk has to be the short and practical talk by Joe Smith on How to use a paper towel:

4 How did you get involved in TI? What are your responsibilities? Why Georgia?

About two years ago I had completed my qualifications as a Barrister in England. I wanted to gain international work experience in the area of Public Law, but hadn’t yet developed a focus on corruption. After sending out applications to all corners of the world, I finally narrowed it downed to the TI position in Georgia. I was quite fascinated with the thought of living in a region of the world that most people don’t know much about. Moreover, Georgia is a country that has gone through so many political changes in the past 11 years. Through the political will and an active civil society, Georgia has become one of the world’s leading countries in implementing anticorruption reforms. In 2003, Georgia was ranked 124 out of 133 countries and territories on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). As a result of an active civil society, along with the political changes in the country after the 2003 Rose Revolution, the country currently holds spot 55 out of 177 in the most recent CPI. It is even perceived as less corrupt than some major developed western countries. Currently, I provide legal opinions on public policy issues – more specifically, on recommendations for various anticorruption reforms that TI makes to the Georgian government. I base my opinions on international law and best practices.

5 Who are your heroes, role models people who inspire you?

Gandhi would definitely top the list, for his principles and practices in nonviolent civil disobedience.

6 What particular issues topics do you want to draw attention to in your work for TI?

Currently, I’m involved in the court monitoring project, where we monitor and provide an analysis on administrative court cases across Georgia. TI Georgia has been producing analytical reports on administrative courts since 2012, and has observed an improved trend in the administration of justice and judicial independence in Georgia. Our first monitoring period came at a time when no organization monitored and reported on the administrative courts’ activities. There was a complete lack of judicial independence, which resulted in governmental parties being entirely successful in over 85% of administrative cases monitored by our team across the country. Today, this percentage has significantly decreased, with the governmental parties being entirely successful in only 53% of cases. Through our efforts in monitoring the courts, we’ve also witnessed improvements in other areas, such as the ways in which the judges handle cases and use their powers.

7 TI is perceived as focusing on governments. Sometimes international and aid organisations, NGOs, foundations and companies are less than transparent in providing information about their funding and expenditure. What can TI do to help improve standards of transparency in these areas?

As TI Georgia uses in-depth analysis and targeted advocacy to promote accountability and transparency in Georgia, it’s only fitting that the organization leads by setting an example through ensuring financial transparency in order to maintain its high credibility.   Through internal regulations, such as a procurement policy and annual independent financial audits, we ensure that integrity is at the heart of all financial decisions. Additionally, we disclose all the information about our financing through the ‘Our Funding’ section of our website which provides the full list of our donors and the exact amounts that we have received from them, as well as all private donations above EUR 1,000. We have also made it our policy not to accept donations above EUR 50 if they come from anonymous sources.

8 Some argue that there is some tension between ideas of privacy and ending government surveillance and transparency?  Do you agree? Should people companies and governments have the right to privacy and if so under what circumstances?

Definitely, people should have their right to privacy upheld. This is an area in which I am currently working on, which is a pressing issue in Georgia at the moment, where the government has complete control over black boxes installed at telecommunication companies.TI Georgia, along with other local NGOs have a campaign, that seeks to push for regulation in government surveillance activities, entitled, “This affects you too”. Senior members from our staff are on a committee, comprised of politicians and other civil society organizations, which provides the Georgian government with recommendations for reforms in this area.There needs to be a transparent process in which governments are only allowed to monitor communications between citizens on a legal basis of proportionality and necessity. This should not be carried out arbitrarily.

9 Who are your and TI’s most powerful allies in the campaign to improve accountability and transparency.   

TI Georgia not only collaborates with other civil society and international organizations, but also various governmental agencies. It’s not always about criticizing the government, but also working along with the various government agencies in supporting their efforts for accountability and transparency.

10 Where is your career taking you? What would you like to be doing in 5 or 10 years from now?

With the experiences I have obtained from living abroad for the past 14 years, I would like to return to the Bahamas soon and aid in the country’s development. Initially, I would like to establish a TI Bahamas chapter, pushing for the necessary anticorruption reforms. Most people think of the Bahamas as a paradise; however, being such a small country, where everyone is connected, generates a high level of corruption, which is currently stagnating our national development.

11 When you get old looking back, what would you regard as a successful outcome from your life’s work?

A successful outcome for me would be to have a positive impact on the overall development of the Bahamas. Where I can say that I’ve actually made a difference in my own community.

Richard Lucas  comments

It’s interesting how well Georgia has done in its fight against corruption. It shows what  can be done. Hong Kong had a similar campaign 30-40 years ago.  It’s exemplary that TI is so open about its funding – a lesson for NGOs, Foundations,  Think Tanks, non-profits and research bodies the world over.

community building

An interview with Esmeralda Gonzalez – EVS volunteer

by Richard Lucas

September 2014



Esmeralda Gonzalez wrote an article in the Krakow Post about how volunteering in Krakow changed her life for the better. Many years ago I went on a SCI/IVS workcamp in communist Czechoslovakia. I have always thought that being active, contributing, working, doing something useful is often more fun and rewarding than relaxing, chilling out and doing nothing which is so often promoted as a route to happiness. So her headline really appealed to me.   I approached her asking for an interview because I wanted to draw attention to the benefits of volunteering in general also find out more about her story and situation here in Krakow.


Please introduce yourself.  What stage in your life are you at,  what are you doing here in Krakow?

I am a journalist and  I currently work as an intern in Krakow Post. I started on June and my Leonardo internship will finish in December. I also work for a company in Krakow, I am an agent of Customer Service in Spanish for an airline since December 2013.

When did you first think of working abroad as a volunteer ?

In September 2011, when a friend from college told me that she was going to do an EVS in Amsterdam. She explained me the project and it sounds so amazing that I started to research information and thinking about doing it. In January 2012 I started to search projects seriously and I was sure I wanted to go.


How was your idea of coming here  received by your family, and friends?

My family and friends always supported me. I was very happy and excited with the experience, so they were glad for me too.

you say EVS is not so well known. I agree, I heard about it for the first time from your article. For the benefit of those who didn’t read the original article please describe what EVS is and how to get involved . and give links so that readers can check out whole programme and also find the partners through whom they must  apply.

European Voluntary Service is a programme supported by the European Union Commission, framed in Erasmus+, for people aged between 17 and 30 who want to be a volunteer in a foreign country in the UE.  There is short and long term projects, mine was 9 months.

It covers all your costs (food, accomodation, insurance, 90% travel costs, pocket money)

To volunteer, you need to find a sending organisation in the country where you live (in my case, Spain) and a hosting organisation where the project will take place.  Volunteers work for a maximum of six hours per day, five days per week. It was my hosting organization, but it is also a sending organization for Polish people who want to go abroad as EVS. In the European Youth Portal you can find more info about the program and the organizations

You wrote about the challenge of finding a partner who wanted you as a volunteer. What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their chances of being accepted as a volunteer.

Write a nice motivation letter where you explain your reasons to be a volunteer and what makes you special for the project. You should describe yourself and your experience (not only about work or studies) and how you will help or support the project. Organizations likes people with initiative and a lot of new ideas to share.

What local support is available to the EVS volunteers in Krakow, do you have a local or national co-ordinator who helps you deal with the challenges of life in a new country. How do you get to know about other EVS volunteers in Krakow. How do you find out what is going in Krakow  – are you networked with local volunteer support organisations like those here

There is a National Polish Agency which organize training courses (one in the beginning and another in the middle of the project) where you can meet volunteers in Poland and you can express your opinion and ask for help.

My hosting organization, STRIM, is in contact with other associations which has EVS volunteers, such as Internationaler Bund. We organized International Volunteers Day Party together and I met other EVS-er in Krakow.

What have been the biggest challenges for you and the others here in Krakow?

Obviously, the Polish language and the weather. The language is very different than Spanish and it was a challenge to understand people in shops, etc. The weather is also different and I needed a lot of time to get used to the cold and the snow.

What particular issues topics  do you want to draw attention to in your work for EVS and Strim ?

In the office, I had several tasks although the most important is organizing events and meetings for the other volunteers and helping them when they need something from the office. I organized some cultural meetings to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine and different museums in Krakow, a film session to watch Schindler’s List movie, and one of the most great parties: International Volunteer Day. For this day, we made a performance show with juggling, a theatre play about cultural shock , we sang a volunteerism song created by one of the volunteers, we danced a Polish song and we prepared international food.

Furthermore, I helped to organize a theatre club for 10 EVS volunteers called Legendary Krakow. In April was the premiere of the play theatre for children (in English and Polish) about Krakow legends. Also, in December I organized with some Italian people Migrant’s Day, a meeting to talk about migration in Poland, with international music and with a big talk where migrants from Italy, Georgia, France, Spain and Bulgaria told us their experience working in Krakow. I was the mediator of the talk (I asked them in a stage) and, then, I made a video about the event. In fact, I made many videos since I am working in the office (You can watch them in the section Photo/ Video)!



On the other hand, I organized my own project, a contest to promote Spanish language and multiculturalism! In my contest, there were two categories: a photography contest and a short story contest in Spanish for native speakers and for students. Both had the same topic, International cultural experiences. We celebrated the Awards Ceremony in Rajska Library and it was amazing!

Are there any things about the programme you would like to change? what are they?

We had to collect food receipts (fakturas and paragons) every month to show how much money we spent in food and drinks. It was very tiring work because if you spend more than 10 zl, you had to ask for an invoice (faktura) and it was very hard when I did not speak the language!!

What have you not yet done in Krakow. (or Poland) that you want to do before you leave

I have never been in Mazurek and I would like to visit all regions in Poland.

If people volunteer more for the experience, making friends and  fun, than worrying about how useful and valuable their job is: is that a problem?

Volunteering is good a thing, no matter the reason that you have had to do it. For me it is not a problem if someone decides to do it for the experience or meeting new people.

What sort of training, preparation and orientation did you get to make the most of your time here  ?

I had some preparation training in my sending organization, AIPC Pandora, in Madrid. In total, there were 4 meetings about multicultural environment, Europe history, the private insurance that we had in EVS and other issues. I also had 2 trainings in Poland, one in Warsaw and second one in Torun.

What are you most proud and happy about so far from your experience in Krakow ?

I am proud of all what I did in STRIM office. I organized a lot of events and I was very happy with the people that I met.

What do you see as your future choices after you finish your EVS experience. Might you stay go home or do EVS somewhere else? What impact has EVS had on your ideas of what you can do with your life? What would you like to be doing in 5 or 10 years from now if things went exactly as you wanted.

I did my EVS one year ago (from October 2012 until June 2013) so I don’t know how to answer these questions. When I finished my EVS I decided that I wanted to come back to Krakow after the summer to work and I did it. 🙂 EVS is a program that you can do only once. It is not possible to do more than 1 project (you can stay at maximum of 1 year) EVS changed my life and my way of thinking in so many ways. I am more open-minded and I growed up a lot. It is impossible to describe how much I gained thanks to this experience. In 5-10 years I would like to live in Spain, Madrid, with my family and friends. I would love to work as a journalist in my home country and I think that this time abroad can help me to get it, because I am learning a lot, improving my language skills and I am sure it will be very positive.

What can you tell us about your experiences here that are interesting/fun and has nothing to do with your EVS

It was very fun thanks to the people that I met, from different countries and cultures. It is very nice to live in such a different place. In the beginning, everything surprises you. I think everybody should live abroad for a while to understand how it feels. I


So you know all the EVS volunteers in Krakow ?

i know that Strim organization will host 20 new volunteers in October, but they are not here now. I don’t know about other associations

I’m going to  organise some kind of event – like a thank you and also PR – event where we get all the EVS-er together get them to say what they are doing in one minute, and introduce them to other organisations in Krakow. Of course we will invite you 🙂

Later added

These events really  happened –

The Krakow Volunteer Appreciation Event and Afterparty

with great support from Regionalne Centrum Wolontariatu w Krakowie and the Jewish Community Centre

International Volunteer Event  )
core volunteer appreciation team :-)
core volunteer appreciation team 🙂

and more are planned. follow the Krakow Volunteers Facebook group here

Thank you for your time, and contribution to  making Krakow a better city to live in


If you want to know who is sending and receiving volunteers in Krakow go here

on the left side of the page, you can search the organizations by country and city. For example, if you put Poland and Krakow the below 23 results appear

EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-83
  •  Receiving
 Children; Education through sport and outdoor activities
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-7
  •  Sending
  •  Coordinating
 Anti-discrimination; Education through sport and outdoor activities
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-168
  •  Sending
  •  Receiving
  •  Coordinating
 European awareness; Media and communication/Youth information
EVS accredited
No: 2011-PL-249
  •  Sending
  •  Coordinating
 European awareness; Youth policies
EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-98
  •  Receiving
 European awareness; Children
EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-31
  •  Receiving
 Environment; Children
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-86
  •  Receiving
 Art and culture; Education through sport and outdoor activities
EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-50
  •  Receiving
 Disability; Education through sport and outdoor activities
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-223
  •  Sending
 Education through sport and outdoor activities; Environment
EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-30
  •  Sending
  •  Coordinating
 Development cooperation; Media and communication/Youth information
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-61
  •  Receiving
 Disability; Children
EVS accredited
No: 2011-PL-320
  •  Sending
  •  Receiving
  •  Coordinating
 Disability; Health
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-80
  •  Receiving
 Art and culture; Disability
EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-69
  •  Receiving
 European awareness; Children
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-81
  •  Receiving
 Art and culture; Environment
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-15
  •  Receiving
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-54
  •  Receiving
 Disability; Children
EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-182
  •  Sending
  •  Coordinating
 European awareness; Art and culture
EVS accredited
No: 2011-PL-254
  •  Receiving
 Disability; Youth policies
EVS accredited
No: 2011-PL-250
  •  Receiving
 Youth leisure; Children

 Szkola Podstawowa nr 24 w Krakowie

EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-124
  •  Receiving
  •  Coordinating
 Art and culture; Children
EVS accredited
No: 2013-PL-83
  •  Receiving
 European awareness; Art and culture
EVS accredited
No: 2012-PL-32
  •  Receiving
 Children; Disability

community building

School visits to companies in Poland – a practical guide and case study for schools pupils, directors and teachers

I wrote this in 2008. Now I am preparing for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014 I  decided to republish it. Not much has changed other than that I am older.

Richard Lucas, September 2014


A contribution to Global Entrepreneurship Week  for YPO members, and other company considering hosting a visit of school children and wondering how to make the most out of it 

Richard Lucas  July 2008


School visits to companies can be highly educational, or boring and a waste of time. When pupils (and maybe a teacher, and teaching assistants) visit a company, they are typically in an unfamiliar environment.  When pupils visit museums, castles, zoos etc, they are going to places that are designed to deal with visitors, including children. Companies are seldom “set up” to deal with school visits.  Visitors to companies are usually business partners: suppliers, clients or candidates for work. Both sides are out of their comfort zone. It’s likely to be unpredictable. School visits to companies are usually a rare occurrence. There are few set patterns and plenty of scope to take the initiative. This is as much of an opportunity as a danger, and this article is aimed at helping raise the chances of a successful outcome, based on 20 years of experience of school business links.


As with any project, it is worth asking simple questions about the objectives. The better they are defined the more likely it is that the visit will be a success. This article is not the place to define your objectives but here are some that we have focused on in projects I have been responsible for.

  • Role models/motivation. If the organization/company being visited is being staffed or run by ex pupils of the school, there is clear potential for the children to understand that this could be them in a few years. School children often take a former pupil’s advice more seriously than either teachers or their parents.
  • to show what a working environment looks like. For most of the children this was the first time in a completely new environment 
  • to show a business as a place where adults are friendly and open minded/ This can be necessary to challenge negative stereotypes of business people being greedy and unpleasant. This is not to say that all business people are admirable but clearly companies that are able and willing to host a school visit are likely to be more public spirited and interested in their local community than average. Giving school children direct experience of business people, is a good way of challenging stereotypes.
  • to have the children as active participants not just observers during the viist. This is an obvious education point, that pupils will remember more if they have something to do.
  • that the children to learn about commerce and then company. Depending on the age and education of the children
  • Gender roles. If some of the managers in the company are female or in non typical gender roles,  it is worth making sure that the pupils get to see this.
  • to  demonstrate that it is “never too early” to get children into the workplace, and to challenge Theory X  thinking , promoting Mcgregorian Theory Y, that work can be satisfying fun and rewarding, when properly organised.

So, if you are a schools pupil, director, teacher or parent how can you find a company to visit?

There are many ways, and no one “right” approach. Essentially let as many people know that you have this goal as possible, and watch the offers roll in. Ask the pupils if they have any ideas, An announcement in the school newsletter, on the school web page, a survey of the parents of the class you are responsible for, a note to the Parent Teachers’ Association, contacting local organizations that might be able to help such as: the local chamber of commerce, Junior Achievement, Young Enterprise or Global Entrepreneurship Week. The general rule of communication “face to face is better than phone, phone is better than e-mail”. Assuming that this yields more than one offer, then it is important to review logistics (how are you going to get there and back, time out of school, permission from school authorities and parents), and the suitability of the type of company for the children. Issues of cost have to considered both in terms of getting there and back and also what is being given up from normal classroom activities.

Having at least one teacher who is prepared to go beyond their normal responsibilities is important. Schools always have some experience of organizing trips and visits. The same issues apply, and there will be some teachers with experience.

Compulsory or voluntary?

This issue needs to be addressed. My experience is that it is much better to work with a smaller group of school pupils who want to visit rather than a group who have been told that they “have” to come. It is very difficult to do workshops and events requiring participation if the children are not motivated, and it is not motivating for the company have to deal with kids who do not care about what is going on.

In the case of Poland’s Global Entrepreneurship Week project, if a company has decided to host visits, I would recommend that for the time that they are opening their doors they should be ready to have volunteers from more than one school who have chosen to be there.

Pre visit preparation 

Once a company has been identified, there are simple steps that both school and company can take.

For the school 

The school teacher should invite a staff member of the company to talk to the class (and possibly other classes) about what the company does, and how it makes its product/services (and profits – if it is a commercial organisation), or pays for itself (if not funded by clients). The company should send the most impressive person it can find, and this is a powerful way of getting the children interested in company

The children should go onto the company web site. This is an example of using the internet to gather information, and learning by doing in a practical context. A teacher can help steer the children to looking for simple Who? What? and how? type questions that the pupils have to answer.

Discuss what to expect. Making clear that a company is a working organization and that the children need to be both respectful and co-operative. This is one of the reasons I favour voluntary visits.

Pre visit preparation by the company

There needs to be at least one member of staff to co-ordinate the visit, agree with management what is going to happe, plan things with the school, and inform to the rest of the company. That member of staff should be a volunteer, and request for other volunteers to help them. If this is the case, then it is important to communicate about how undisruptive this is for the company.  It is not that easy for people to take ‘time off normal work.  Schools and volunteers should not assume that overworked staff working to tight deadlines can do too much (even if they want to). Most professional companies face the same issues.

A visit by the teacher to the company before the visit with school children itself is desirable if possible, both to review the premises and agree the activities planned for the visit. A “walk round” is a good idea as teachers will note things that members of company staff might not see (dangerous stairs, access to toilets) and staff might be aware of issues that are note visible to teachers.

Accountability/responsibility – Both school and company should make clear who is responsible for what happens during the day.

Get the big picture and the details clear

It isn’t complicated but needs to be thought through.   Are meeting rooms, and a projector reserved?. What is going to happen,  when, in what order?

Welcoming arrangements. The receptionists area were prepared for a influx of school pupils.  We put up notices on the front door and the meeting room to make them feel welcome.

Company presentation  The way the company presents itself to normal partners may not be suitable. Basic information – what do we do, how do we make our money, what our our revenues, how wide are the salary ranges, how to get a job, will probably be of interest to some people.

Tour of the premises Make a tour as un-disruptive as possible. In each room the children visited one person was prepared to talk for 1-2 minutes about what happened in that room. We split the children into two groups so that it wasn’t too many in one room at one time.

Use of Video short breaks use funny, or thought provoking business related clips from Youtube, TED or Videojug   can be very helpful

Games and workshops

These can work if pupils are committed.  Breaking them into up into teams who have think of “reasons to come to our school” is a good marketing exercise, which encourages discussion about what features and benefits a school has and develops communication skills both within the team and in front of the rest of the group

Departure/End of visit We took various photos during the visit, and ended with photos in front of the company front door which is a natural and suitable end


Figure 1 What are the best features of our school ? 16 year old Polish school pupils in a workshop, as part of Polish Enterprise Day
Figure 1 What are the best features of our school ? 16 year old Polish school pupils in a workshop, as part of Polish Enterprise Day


Doing a survey (Annex 2) of what the parents of the children do, and whether a visit either by parents to school or school to parent company would be possible.



Figure 2 Farewell photo and back to school
Figure 2 Farewell photo and back to school

For staff team building a short meeting afterwards to thank those involved is a good idea for team building

Other Considerations

Post visit

Put photos of the children on a company web site so that they can go back to the web site and see themselves there

post visit  homework project where school children are discussing their visit and what they learned

Communication and appreciation. a thank you card or letter is important.  Pupils need to understand the fact that those who choose to host a visit are making an commitment that deserves to be appreciated

Annex 1  Post visit summary thank you letter from School Teacher to PMR

First of all, I would like to thank everybody involved in organising the Nursery visit at PMR. Trips like that, where the kids meet and interact with other people as well as learn about different places are not only a great experience for that age group, but also they meet a lot of the educational objectives for all learning areas in the British curriculum for 3 and 4 year olds (Knowledge and Understanding of the World, Communication, Language and Literacy, Mathematical Development, Creative Development, Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development).

Let me list just a couple of them:

– Finding out about past and present events in their own life and in those of others;

– Identifying the use of everyday technology;

– Sustaining attentive listening and responding to what they hear and see by relevant comments, questions and actions;

– Capturing experience using various materials, tools, imaginative- and role-play, movement, etc.;

– Forming good relationships with peers and adults;

– Developing confidence to try new activities, initiate ideas and speak in a group of people;

– Understanding that there are codes of behaviour for groups of people;

It worth mentioning that the educational benefits as the ones above, are meant to be ‘hidden’ and delivered to the kids in activities taking various, but as attractive as possible a form and I am sure we have achieved that!

Thank you again on behalf of the kids and myself.



Annex 2 Parent Survey used by children in this project

Dear Parents,

Next week the Nursery children will start learning about grown-ups, the places they work at, their jobs, occupations, etc. In relation to this, we would like to find out what their Parents do jobwise.

Together with Year 5 we have prepared a short questionnaire, which you will find below. Please fill it in or help your child to complete it and bring it back to school on Monday 5th May 2008.

Of course the survey is not obligatory we would, however, greatly appreciate your cooperation.

Also, if anyone would be interested in coming to school and talking about her/his job to the kids, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Should you have any questions, please ask.

Thank you!

Nursery and Year 5 Teachers


The child’s name:………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Mum’s occupation:……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


Would it be possible for the children to visit above company/organisation?   Yes/No

Dad’s occupation:………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


Would it be possible for the children to visit above company/organisation?   Yes/No

community building

Global Entrepreneurship Week – Why get involved, what can you do?

Richard Lucas September 2014


I talked to two schools in Krakow today about them getting involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week this year.   Both seem positive, and while preparing materials about the project and movement, I came across this article I wrote  in 2008 for the Winchester College Alumni Magazine (they never published it but that’s another story).  Winchester College is one of the oldest and most famous schools in the UK I attended many years ago,  and has a reputation for being elite and elitist (a topic I’m happy to discuss with anyone who is interested).  (Since then in 2014 with another old boy – Ed Neale – we are setting up an Winchester College Entrepreneurs Society – Wintrepreneurs.  .  (Here are photos of a possibly the youngest ever school visit to a company in Poland). Clearly the article is targeted at alumni  (OWs) and “Win Coll” refers of course to Winchester College, but I still stand by every word I wrote

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)  is  “an initiative to promote the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people everywhere.”  In 2008 5 million people took part in 13,000 events in 77 countries. 

It has grown from the British idea of an “Enterprise Week” to encourage young people to  acquire the confidence, skills and ambition to be more enterprising over the last four years.  In the words of Gordon Brown ““Together we can encourage young people to realize and unlock their talents…to bridge the gap between what we are, and what we have it in ourselves to become”

Poland (where I’ve lived since 1991) participated in GEW for the first time in 2008 where I was on the Honorary Committee.  I had had no experience of GEW, but have been involved in school business links since 1989 and welcomed the chance to get involved on a wider scale than simply hosting school visits to companies to which I am connected or visiting schools and universities to give talks and conduct workshops.  This article is to explain the goals and justification,  why it is important and most importantly is a call to action to encourage other OWs to get involved..

Why bother ?

It might seem to some that encouraging young people to take the initiative, be active, dynamic and enterprising is so obviously worthwhile that this question doesn’t need answering.  

I don’t agree for several reasons

1 Not everyone thinks that introducing school children to the world of business is a good idea. An Israeli American head of an NGO in Cracow commented “so guys like you who are busy raping the planet are now trying to brainwash the next generation” when I asked him if he could host a school visit as part of the GEW.  Although half in jest, underlying this reaction is a widespread “anti-business” culture that has deep roots. Clearly not all business is good for all stakeholders. From my perspective this creates a bigger need for positive examples of good business practice to promote themselves to young people.

  1. Although it’s obvious to me, having spent most of my adult life in countries who suffered much from socialist ideology, not everyone understands the importance of individual initiative in human progress.  It’s important for those who are active members of society to take up a leadership role and be available to challenge stereotypes through direct contact with children. Stefan Theil of Newsweek has extensively researched anti-business attitudes in many countries’ school textbooks, and it is not uncommon for big corporations to be portrayed as automatically bad. Especially now, in the midst of a severe economic downturn,  those who believe in free markets, private property, personal responsibility and individual freedom,  need to get “out there” and be seen and heard.
  2. Apart from the long term benefits in terms of wealth and employment creation that greater levels of initiative leads to,  there are wider social benefits of active citizenship. If children see that they too can make a difference to their own lives and to the community in which they live through their own efforts, by meeting people who have done precisely that, then “making a difference” ceases to be an idealistic slogan, and instead becomes an achievable goal.  Beyond the “social good” it can be fun and is certainly challenging. Giving a talk (in Polish)  to 200 Polish school 8-12 year olds at 8 am about why self employment is a career choice they should consider is one of the more stressful things I did last autumn and I don’t regret it. It’s good to push yourself.
  3. In the context of supporting GEW in Poland, I’ve met and worked with business and political leaders operating at a much higher level than I do in my day to day life. It is a way to extend your range of contacts, if you care about this sort of thing.

Entrepreneurship is at the heart of human progress and is not a politically divisive issue. Jesse Norman, of Policy Exchange, has just published Compassionate Economics,  in which he argues that entrepreneurship is “imagination, the ability to spot or conceive opportunities, and a willingness to take risks”.  He correctly sees that an enterprising approach is something just as needed in the public or non profit sector as in private enterprise. Gordon Brown’s strong support for Global Enterprise Week shows that enterprise is not a monopoly of conservatives.  It’s possible to be sceptical,  even cynical about human motivations in many cases, and still see that this type of project as an exception and more than worth committing to.

Can and should you help Winchester?

Do Wykehamists need encouragement to be enterprising and to take the initiative in their own lives?  Some might think we are privileged enough, but others would say that with  privilege comes the responsibility to put talents to good use, and how better to do this than such a project. My experience of “enterprise education” at Win Coll certainly makes me willing to help others. In 1982/83 at an “industry day” I remember  an executive from Magnet  – a company making Portakabin type temporary buildings –  telling us “you are probably too young to know what you are going to do, but I suppose that you imagine that if you were in business you would be managers.” This made sense, the 50 or so 14-15 year olds in the room nodded to ourselves. “So here’s a management problem. You are in charge of an ice cream factory (a few frowns, “was he patronising us?”)  its 3 AM you are working flat out, the night shift is in full swing, business is going well, and 300 litres of ice cream a minute is being pumped through a steel tube over your head. There is a loud bang, the tube splits and frozen ice cream starts spraying in all directions. You are in charge, so what are you going to do ?” there was a silence as  we pondered the problem, then he said “don’t wait too long or you are going to drown in ice cream. “  At this moment I realised that there were some skills in business that we were not being taught, and that action orientated decision taking appealed to me as a feature of any job I wanted to do.  I would probably have gone into business anyway, but this talk made a difference and inspired me.

What can you do to help  ?

First a self assessment.  Are you in any way a role model for younger members of society? Can they learn something from your experience? Ask your friends, family and colleagues for confirmation or to challenge your first thoughts. If the answer is yes, then the only barrier is your willingness to get involved. Even if the answer is no, you can use your position in the organisations you are connected to so as to encourage others to get involved.

I attended an excellent one week course at Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School  (CfEL) in June 2008, and was very impressed by the both the calibre and commitment of senior business people from the local community to the programme as volunteers. I asked Dr Shailendra Vyakarnam  – the CfEL’s Director – for guidelines.  In his view it is vital that volunteers from the business community should share the basic values of the Centre, namely:

That entrepreneurship can be taught

That a positive attitude is vital, would be entrepreneurs should be supported and encouraged

That outside volunteers speakers should work to the curriculum (not about how clever and successful they are, but about a topic (team building, marketing, finance, technology, (whatever))

As he told me those who believe that entrepreneurs and leaders are “born not made” are not much use to an organisation devoted to teaching those skills

Contacting David Baldwin (address removed as he has retired) if you or the organisation you work for can help with Win Coll Careers, either hosting visits or returning to Win Coll to as part of the careers’ days initiative

Make sure that enterprise education support is part of the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda of the organisation you work for. Ask other members of staff via your internal company systems whether they are ready to volunteer to help schools in the communities your company has a presence and approach local schools directly. Staff are often willing to do more for schools either they attended or their children currently attend.

Get back in contact with Universities you attended to offer help in giving talks, hosting visits . being a judge on a panel for student enterprise competitions, I did this, and also was able to help in the Careers centre. maybe you can do something similar. Here I was interviewed by  Cambridge University Careers Service.

Look for other alumni associations connected to places you have studied and worked in Linkedin, Facebook, etc. The most active people are usually the founders, or contribute to forums, and discussions.

If you have children in school now but not at Win Coll, contact parents and alumni asking for volunteers for a careers day or for companies to host visits

Think about things that are you were not taught in schools and university that you think are important to get on and be successful in life that you could share with the next generation. It never takes more than 15 minutes on Google to get up to speed with what others have said and written about any topic under the sun. Finding the ideas, and materials to support a workshop or talking is never hard these days.

GEW is a great mobilizing  tool for those who want to make things happen in their local community. You don’t need to wait until November 2009 to do something, use GEW as an excuse to approach people to see if they are interested. Apart from visiting the global web site to find out what has been going on in the country you live in,  I am more than willing to share my experience as far as time allows with anyone who asks.