from BridgeSpan.org 10/14 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Endeavor Global, a non-profit, founded 1997 by Linda Rottenberg/CEO, that seeks to transform emerging countries by supporting “high-impact” entrepreneurs. Endeavor [HQ, NYC] has 15 affiliates throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, & Southeast Asia. The 600 Endeavor Entrepreneurs selected to date, screened from more than 28,000 candidates, have created 150,000 high-wage jobs and generate annual revenues of $4.5 billion. Here are the comments by Linda.
Mission: Endeavor has always been of, by, and for entrepreneurs. Originally, we thought of “entrepreneurs” as those who create jobs & wealth (and give back to Endeavor’s work with other entrepreneurs), creating a positive cycle. However, the term “entrepreneur” has become ubiquitous, and I think it has been devalued over time. At Endeavor, we now talk purposefully about ’high-impact entrepreneurs,’ those who “drive” innovation & growth. Growth potential is now a more rigorous lens than it was. We now think of our entrepreneurs’ success as a multiplier effect and are now far more definitive about “growth” being the role model.
Phases of Growth
Phase 1. Getting Support. Roughly 1998 to 2003, was about getting top, local business leaders to pick us up. We found the movers & shakers and we told them, “We have a model, but you have to decide whether you want it, and you have to pay us for it.’ We put the onus on them, and we built local boards & partnerships to find & nurture the best entrepreneurs.
Phase 2. Leadership [01/04], when got the chairman of Warner Music Group to became our board chair. We went from being a “founding” board to developing into a board that had a focus on resources & strategy at its core values. He wanted to help make Endeavor important and pushed us to take on a goal of 25 countries by 2015. Our growth and expansion led us into South Africa, Turkey, & the Middle East.
Phase 3. Funding , is when Omidyar Network took a bet on us and gave us a Challenge Grant to build our leadership team and management and to build in retention, because we were finding that – because we are private-sector driven – we were losing smart, young people to business school, as well as to hedge funds & private equity firms.
Phase 4. Growth.  We wrote an operating plan to double in the next five years what it took us 14 years (from 1997) to do. Part of this phase is about unlocking our long-term “sustainability”.
Retention. Retaining highly talented individuals is even more important than recruiting them. We try to accomplish this goal in three ways.
1. Generous Pay, of higher-than-average non-profit wages. To compete effectively with the private sector, we make a point to offer performance-based & retention bonuses.
2. Psychic Equity, giving employees a real sense of ownership over the Mission & Vision. The result is an environment where everyone feels “empowered” to execute his or her creative ideas.
3. Training +, giving staff the ability to receive relevant training & coaching, + participate in special programs including Global events, such as Summits and International Selection Panels. As a recent example, we’ve just introduced an employee exchange program, which allows employees to spend time working and learning at an Endeavor office in another country.
Leadership strengths & skills
Phase 1. Follow your Passion. I’d stalk people and they’d agree to join me to get a break from the Profit world. It was about people buying into my Vision.
Phase 2. Management. Learning how to juggle all the people joining – including ensuring the Board would by into my Vision. I also had to learn to be flexible and to let people take things in their own direction. We attracted the best people, but we risked being diluted – having too many people doing too much of their own thing.
Phase 3. Retention was weak because our local managing directors left after 4-5 years to be VCs or to go to business school. We had to rethink the incentives, and I had to really figure out what people expected of me internally & externally. People wanted to be inspired by my Vision, but didn’t want me to dictate what to do. I feel now that we’ve come full circle. We’re creating the platform by using the Vision & Passion to re-unify around the mission, and I’m released to be that external voice of the organization.
[ My personal Strengths & Skills, Picking Winners, Role of President, My Role as CEO, in Premium Content ]