Globe-Trotting Entrepreneur Keynotes SEBA Executive Speaker Series

JamesonGlobal entrepreneur James Jameson keynoted SEBA’s Executive Speaker Series in April, discussing the economic and social impact entrepreneurs can have on the world.

Jameson has been an entrepreneur for nearly his entire life, and he attributes his varied business interests to his experience as at 12 year-old moving to Europe to finish his education.

“Taking advantage of the opportunity to move to Europe to go to school was what whet my appetite for the world,” Jameson said. “From there, I went to Australia to cut tickets for Qantas airlines. I was 16 and just beginning my dance on the world’s stage.”

After being exposed to the possibilities of a larger world, Jameson moved frequently between different endeavors, living in a number of countries and working in disparate industries. Over the course of his keynote, Jameson spoke about selling helicopters in Indonesia, installing irrigation technology in the Middle East, running an avant garde book store and publishing house in Poland, and creating a nursing schools in Uganda and Rwanda. All told, Jameson has worked in over twenty countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

JamesonThough the locales and tasks varied wildly, the underlying reason for each of Jameson’s enterprises was to take advantage of an opportunity when it was presented to him. To Jameson, this is a hallmark of an entrepreneur.  

“If you’re going to thrive as an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to take risks,” he explained. “I didn’t know anything about irrigation when I was bidding contracts in Saudi Arabia. But I did know that I knew the people who had the technology in Southern California, and I thought we could successfully implement it over there. I was willing to take the risk to go to work in places where no one else was looking. Back then it was Iran and Saudi Arabia, and now it’s Rwanda and Uganda.”

“My approach to risk is something I heard a retired Army officer say,” he continued. “The most effective strategy is to protect yourself from the consequences of defeat as best you can while simultaneously maximizing your chances of victory.”

For Jameson, victories in entrepreneurship don’t just benefit the individual risk taker. Successful entrepreneurship is a rising tide that lifts all boats.  

“I think that one of the challenges for the world is economic growth and job creation,” said Jameson. “And entrepreneurs are going to be the people who will help solve this problem.”

A particular point of pride for Jameson was the number of jobs his companies have created and the impact that they’re having on local economies. This is particularly true of his nursing school in Africa, which is providing locals with training and equipment they need to save lives in their communities.

“With social entrepreneurship, you aren’t always going to be maximizing your outcomes. You have to be able to give a little,” he said. “This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s actually better to seek outcomes where both parties win. Those are the partnerships that are going to see continued, sustainable success in the long run.”