My adventure to explore through a marathon of Youth Exchanges went on with the same small luggage, delayed flights, bus tickets and a lot of courage. From sleeping in a tent in a Swedish village, I arrived in a beautiful resort in Trakai, Lithuania. This ERASMUS+ project was called “Invent it, Bank it” and I can tell you it was by far the most well thought and organized project about financial education!
From a sleeping bag to a room with a Jacuzzi bathtub, in less than a day, is quite a transformation! Going from an experience concentrated on eco-villages, mythology and technology free lifestyle to an elegant location, sauna and pool included, talking about earning more money, made me realize many things. Your mindset and approach transform your world- we may live in the same city or sleep in the same bed, our worlds may still be different. For a better, happier world, it’s our duty to clean our lenses and enjoy the view!
Talking business in Lithuania was eye-opening! The topics we discussed were financial education, entrepreneurship, business and investment, selling, market supply and demand, risks and start-ups, the perfect pitch. We had an amazing location and smart games to integrate business concepts and models into our system. We ended up thinking how we can transform our skills into products or services and put them on the market.
The human-scale Monopoly game was a big surprise and we used all our strategies for more than 4 hours to win it. I loved how the game was personalized with Lithuanian properties for a more real educational tool. Divided in international teams, we bought and rented houses and hotels, trying to bring our opponents into bankruptcy and obtain monopoly on the market. Trying to win auctions and escape mortgages, we understood the aspects of concentrating land and businesses in private monopolies. Did you know there is a real Monopoly World Championship?
We had a lot of training sessions and teamwork activities, but the most real selling lesson was when we went to Trakai castle. We had a flower selling contest and a start-up budget of 50 Euros. We approached the people that were visiting the castle to sell them roses. Many strategies were used and the luckiest team managed to obtain a profit bigger than the initial investment. I have learned that you can sell anything, you just have to know your market, the profile of your client and never underestimate the power of the story behind your product. This was a great lesson about economy, rejection, risks and boldness. For taking this at a bigger scale, you have to focus on adding value on the market and improving your buyer’s life!
We even had to make a business plan and a pitch for our investors. This was a hard one and even if it was just a simulation, the emotions were real! Together with my friends Jonathan, Raluca, Ghizela, Cătălina and Karolina, we developed a business plan for a lifestyle changing centre called “Resort with Results”. We managed to attract the investors with our business and make them invest 1.5 million dollars for an equity of 7%. It’s hard to have a great idea, but when you do have it, a perfect pitch is a must!
We did so many things that I still have the feeling that these 10 days encapsulated a summer! I don’t want to be a spoiler and I will let you discover the rest when you will try your first Youth Exchange, maybe a new edition of this one! It would be worth it! Swimming in the lake, a guitar playing in the background, volleyball, bowling, pool party- thanks, Karolina and Jonathan, for the lessons- and sauna, great birthday parties and games, stimulating conversations and new friendships while Karolina was singing next to the fire-pitch! And all this with the smartest game in the background- an artificial entrepreneurial world with an economy based on Riterios, that made us connect by selling our unique skills to each other. We even ended the project with a Gala night with real prizes for the richest entrepreneurs!
Our late night talks about life and dreams empowered us to be proactive and develop our ideas when we get home. I still remember the talk I had with Augustė and Katrin about how writing on a blog and sharing content help us embrace our vulnerability and connect. This project and the people I’ve met gave me the courage to turn my idea into reality! Right now, you are reading about the experience that started this blog!
Big thanks to all my new friends and the amazing organizers of Innoved Lietuva. I really encourage anyone who is interested in this type of non-formal education to follow their Facebook page and join their projects! Thank you for your involvement, for the great photos and for teaching us that not everything has a price and targeting a big account should come with the appreciation of the things money can’t buy! Only with authenticity, integrity and by putting people first, you can be a great business man or woman!
P.S.: A hug from the mind reader it’s on the way, for all my friends- Paulius, Tomas, Piotr, Cătălina, Raluca, Ghizela, Balint, Oana, Jonathan, Katrin, Иван, Paulius, Augustė, Jevgenia, Oszkár, Mimi, Karolina, Alis, Anna, Vidas, Karolina, Roland, Milan, Máté, Daniel, Maciek, Viktoria, Slobodan, Zoran, Aleksandar, Linda and Marija!