Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Larry Miller blogs

"Every organization is unique and presents its own challenges. Needless to say, AIESEC was challenging, unique, and a lot of fun to work with. I won'€™t bore you with all of my other adventures, but they include serving on the board of small university in Switzerland, born of great ideas and dedication, but lacking any viable business model. I was drawn into a half time job (no pay!) in Switzerland, working to rescue this poor child. But, I am afraid the finances were beyond repair." (Larry Miller)

24 comments:

Nuno said...

Fuck this guy! Could not stand him when he was running his mouth in Switzerland can't stand him now... this tone of posting saying "you poor students, don't have a business model bla bla bla..." Most people I know in AIESEC have achieved and lived things he will never imagine! That's what he never got, it's not the business model it's the experience.
Larry Killer makes me sound like a fluffy lamb, really can't stand this jack ass, if AIESEC ever endorses this guy for his "job" it will be a shame...

M said...
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Jesse said...

who is this guy? what is his sex life like?

Diego said...

Larry Miller is a controversial person in AIESEC not because he is arrogant, but because his ways are not necesarily subtle for everyone.
Larry Miller, like some people in top roles in AIESEC in the past (and the present?), belongs, as far as I know, to the Bahai religion.
I still remember IPM in Malta when AIESEC was pretty close to sign a partnership with a Bahai university in Switzerland just because a person in AI was quite close to them. I guess it is the University with the "finances beyond repair" that Mr Miller talks about.
A lot of Aiesecers belong to religious groups, which is fine; but I think that the relation becomes dodgy when the person try to impose certain behaviours and values inside AIESEC.
Bahai group, in my humble and ignorant opinion, has influenced quite a lot our organisation, starting from Aiesec in Finland. I think influence is a normal process and as long people know where the ideas are coming from and what are the reasons behind, then every individual is in a position to be critical and make a fair decision.
Unfortunately, I dont remember when the General Assembly asked or ordered AI to take Larry Miller (or anyone else if that is the case) as our Strategic Advisor.

Arthur Josephson said...

Nomads, I offer pandas to you all as a sign of reconciliation!

I would like to give another perspective here, completely personal and nothing to do with having the best job in the world here in Rotterdam.

I think Nuno misread Larry?s quote- as the organisation without ?any viable business model? that he was volunteering for was a university in Switzerland, not AIESEC. I hope youread the rest of Larry's posting on AIESEC , which is not at all patronizing but is actually pretty awesome. I wish there were a lot more experienced and influential business people around the world making efforts to communicate this.

MikeT suggested Larry lacks understanding of AIESEC- I beg to differ. I think it was very obvious to Larry, having worked with AI for years, that we are not all literally students but still are in essence ?student run? much more than comparable organisations. I?ve found Larry to be one of the few externals who have seen the light and the darkness in our organisation; our potential and our core limitation. Larry used this insight to challenge us, to suggest a few ?What ifs? that many people didn?t find comfortable, but were both necessary and valuable. I think this was one of the most useful things anyone could have added- helping us see our organisation and our potential a bit differently, increasing the objectivity of our org-analysis and strategy, and helping us recognise assumptions that may have blinded us.

I?ve met Larry quite a number of times since 2001 in Switzerland, when he took some time to talk to a random non-MC member at International Conference in Switzerland. Over the years the discussions I?ve had with him have helped me shape my understanding and strategy for AIESEC. My major contribution on AI, and now a core part of the global agenda, is the Learning Networks strategy. I know that several elements of this strategy have been directly shaped by Larry?s contribution and I am very thankful of that.

I won?t comment on Diego?s points on Bahai and AIESEC. Here?s a pretty respectable site on Bahai, and here?s the address of the MCP of Finland (janne-dot-asmala-at-iki-dot-fi) if anyone wants to dabble in facts for a while.

I really hope that we as individuals, and a nomad collective, are pretty careful with slandering individuals and religions. I?m especially sensitive to public derision of people who have given a large amount of their personal time to helping AIESEC fulfill its unique and powerful mandate.

Peace to All

Tom Gara said...

Wow, thats some serious back to back trolling there....

Nuno, I'll disregard what you said because it isnt worth replying to. That was a great comment to signal to the world that you are an idiot.

Mike, your question "what has he helped AIESEC to do in the past 5 years?" kind of exposes how little you know about developments in the international organisation. And AIESEC is still massively, overwhelmingly student run - there is almost no "professional class" of AIESEC'ers anywhere, even AI would be made up on average of people less than 3 years out of university (many of them still planning on returning to finish)

Diego its not cool bringing up the guys religion, unless you can demonstrate how it has tangibly affected his work with us.

Nuno said...

Tom thanks for calling me an idiot I really miss the straight forward insult, no offense taken :)

Just gonna write why I tend to be so passionate about this issue, I was MCP when this guy was involved in consulting for AIESEC and I really think he always had a patronizing view of the organization and clearly never understood what AIESEC stands for.

I know many people like his job but many people also took offense in the fact that someone with no understanding of AIESEC and it's decentralized structure had so much influence in the organization.

The remark for me that actually summarizes the way he always saw AIESEC in not the business model remark but the "poor child" quote, he saw AIESEC as charity, call me an idiot (sorry Tom had to take the stab again:) ) but I was never involved in AIESEC out of charity and would never expect other people to do so...

Tom Gara said...

I'll call you an idiot twice Nuno, the "poor child" he was referring to was not AIESEC, but the Swiss University that he was working with, something which is obvious if you actually read the paragraph Dody posted.

You've slandered the guy twice now based on reading something completely wrong that the average 8 year old would be able to read and understand properly.

Its not personal, and I dont know you, and I'm sure you are cool - but things you write on the internet stay around forever, and will be permanantly searchable for people writing the guys name into google. So maybe think a bit more before you beat the shit out of somebody who volunteered their time to help a not-for-profit organisation that we both love.

Aneesh said...

Dont you just love these debates! Cant be the observer no more... time to become the observed.

I have just one thing to say on this slandering people online issue thats been so innocently but directly pointed out above....that too by cleverly slandering the intended receipent of that comment. Personally, i have no connection to Larry Miller, but will respect the work he's done for what its worth. But i sure do know that people like Nuno or the rest of us, have " volunteered our time to help a not-for-profit organisation that we all love"... and perhaps even much more than Larry himself. So, dont blatantly sideline and slander individuals online by being so short sighted, but perhaps read into your own comments a lil' deeper before commenting and taking sides.

Diego said...

Arthur, I think that the worst thing that could ever happen to AIESEC is that our strategies are considered developed or shaped by a certain person.

The second worst thing would be aiesecers copyrighting ideas that, even commiting the mistake of being naive, I would like to believe are born by the interaction of aiesecers.

Tom, you are right. Larry Miller belongs to the Bahai religion, he told me that personally in IPM in Malta. And apparently he has had an enormous influence in AIESEC. That does not prove that the Bahai group has influenced AIESEC. The same with some members in AI and AIESEC in Finland, and advisors of AIESEC in Finland. I am not trying to create a conspiracy theory.

But even if it were possible to prove, I do not think it is good or bad; but it means that we need to be more consious on how (and why) ideas develop in Aiesec without buying them automatically.

Ironically if you google: larry miller aiesec; the first thing that pops up is European Bahai Business Forum.

Abs said...
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Abs said...

I think the point Dody was trying to make was that Larry actually blogs :-) But i guess in calling people idiots and that too twice over we've sort of lost the plot

Dody thanks for the link

As for the debate...i think Diego and Nuno both had their points of you (many will argue they were valid) about a person who has had a large influence on AIESEC.
One lesson I learnt early on in AIESEC is never to write off someone's opinion, especially if those people have been leaders in AIESEC before your time.
Instead of saying that someone's comments are "not cool" lets seek an explanation instead.

Nuno said...

Tom, not being a native speaker has its downsides:) Dude I didn't really care about the idiot remark and I really don't care about Larry's blogs, and for sure don't care about being googled, I usually say things to peoples faces so not a big change...

I just care that people know that many of us that had contact with him believe that he was not a positive influence in AIESEC.

My opinion of him as nothing to do what he writes now but with what I saw him do while I was involved in AIESEC, this is not about quotes of his blog is about the impact this person had in AIESEC.

Oriana Torres said...

"Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river."
~ Cordell Hull

Aloke said...

I've been away from AIESEC for almost 2 years now.

If someone ever asked me what being in AIESEC was like, I'd refer them to this page of comments.

A Portuguese-Norwegian for straight talk, a couple of Australians from Egypt and Netherlands for process, some Americans for fireworks, an Argentinian-Irish-Danish for a different theory, an Indian-Dutch-Chinese for neutrality, an Indo-Norwegian for fun, a Colombian-Brazillian dramatic quotes - ALL hammering ideas, sometimes with an outcome, more often without one, yet maintaining their opinions firmly.

Irrespective of what Larry did or didn't, this organization will always thrive on the richness of diversity in opinions; and I only see the organization benefitting out it.

So, it true Indian spirit, let's call it truce and for God's sake, stop calling Nuno an idiot - he's ransacking my office!!!! :D

Aloke said...
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Dody G. said...

The original post about Larry Miller was made on http://abgb.nomadlife.org/ without linking it (and she quoted the larger paragraph, I chose the full shorter paragraph of Larry's posting)

I wouldn't accuse nuno of slander; he does not like what the guy did (and nuno was there) and expressed it robustly :)

Larry is a US citizen and he would understand the grand and liberal US tradition of free speech (thanks to First Amendment).

And I don't have particular opinion of Larry because only MCPs deal with him and I had always been busy chasing skirts at IC.

Dody G. said...

nuno, the poor child reference refers to the university, not Aiesec;

I had to read it twice the first I encountered it.

Aloke said...

I am tempted to copy-paste this whole damn comments page and post it as a comment on Larry's blog!
It might just be interesting to see how Larry reacts to it! ;)

(I can hear some Indians shout out "keeda alumni"!) haha :D

For the record:
http://lawrencemmiller.com/blog/2005/03/01/getting-up-to-datea-brief-recent-history-of-me/

Dody G. said...

I posted this link on his blog and he replied to me on my email account.

M said...

I removed my post. Some things I probably shouldn't have said. I was involved on an international level when Larry first become involved with the organization and I was not happy with how it originally came about and was told of things that I felt were inappropriate and undesirable in a consultant throughout the past 5 years (I know more about what goes internationally than you would think).

With that being said, I'm glad that some people believe that AIESEC has benefited (otherwise it would be pretty silly if we were still working with him) from Larry's work. I am sure he is inherently a good person who means to do well.

I stand by my comments overall though.

And, there's a difference between being "entirely" student run and having an overwhelming percentage of the people involved are students. Most non-profits have a large volunteer (i.e. membership) base with very small full-time staff. You don't hear people call Junior Achievement entirely volunteer run.

Larry Miller said...

Well, I have been debating whether or not to comment on this thread. I probably should just let it all pass, but there are a few things I would like to clarify.

I won't comment on Nuno's remarks. He doesn't like me...end of story.

Diego said that my ways are not necessarily subtle. True. I have been involved in changing organizations from prisons to corporations for a long time, like thirty five years. One thing I have learned to do, right or wrong, is to be very forthright, provocative (some times I call it "grenade throwing") in order to shake folks up and get them to think about things in a different way. A lot of people appreciated my shaking things up, others obviously didn't.

One thing to remember is that I Knew that I was never going to be making decisions...only prompting others to think. Many of my ideas were rejected and a few were adopted.

About the Baha'i thing: I wonder if I were a Christian, Jew or Muslim would this even come up? Of course you are right Diego, I am a Baha'i (see www.bahai.org) but I was always very cautious not to bring this up for fear someone might think I was pushing this on them. Many times AIESECers asked me about this and wanted to understand it. So I carefully discussed it with them.

Diego you said that "like some people in top roles in AIESEC in the past belongs to the Baha'i religion." If that is true it is news to me. I don't know of anyone who has been at AI or any other senior position who has been a Baha'i. I also don't think Baha'is have had much influence (hey, like we don't drink and believe in chastity, how successful have we been?)

What is the relevance of this? I think there is one relevant point. Many people, knowing that I was never paid and did my consulting pro bono asked, and were even skeptical about my motives. My Baha'i Faith does have something to do with my motives (which should be true for anyone and their Faith). The core Baha'i belief is that there is one God, all religions are chapters of the same book, we are all members of one race, the human race, and we are all citizens of one planet. I believe in world citizenship. I have raised my children to be world citizens, having them travel oversees every summer, do internships overseas, etc.

Why was I trying to help AIESEC? Because I believe it is one vehicle, one learning experience, that helps students develop a world view, an identify of world citizenship. That was my motive and it is no more complicated than that.

Nuno and others said I didn't understand the AIESEC experience. Well, not totally. I was never a member of AIESEC. I did, however, listen to hundreds of hours of discussion in steering and design team meetings as they defined and analysed that experience and attempted to design a new and improved experience. But, of course, I never understood it fully. I also think many AIESECers don't understand it fully either.

I am really surprised by the discussion of "student run." Jeez, guys, have you read your own Identity? It says clearly that you are student run. I didn't make that up. Now, I know that no one at AI, or in many of the country offices are not "active" students. And, I have listend to a hundred hours of debate about your identity and this statement. I understand exactly what the situation is with this. I will leave it. You tell the MCP's and AI to change it if you think it is wrong.

Some of you questioned, or just didn't like, the way I came into the organization or worked with you. Let me first say, that AIESEC is a very difficult organization to consult with. It is difficult because it is very unclear who the "client" is, how decisions get made, how you clarify expectations, etc. It is also difficult because things move very slowly. When I first came in to AIESEC it was because Christol Sholten asked me to come and present to the AI. I shared my whole-system design process, process mapping, etc. They said, "ok, lets go." A little more complicated than that, but that is basically right. At that time, there was a lot of tension between AI and MCP's. Some saw what I was doing as a top-down autocratic thing.

This is really ironic because my entire career I have been an advocate of bottom up processes, a leader in employee involvement, etc. My whole-system desig process, very unlike most consulting processes, is designed to maximize involvement of everyone in the organization. So, at that first IC in we re-grouped and had the MCPs decide what they wanted to do, they wrote the "design charter" and they agreed to proceed with a steering and design team that they appointed.

Diego, you said that "I think that the worst thing that could ever happen to AIESEC is that our strategies are considered developed or shaped by a certain person." I agree with this. This gets back to the studen run thing. I think AIESECers should be deciding your strategy, defining the experience, etc.

I disagree that I have had a huge influence, as several have said. What I have done is to introduce a model and process. It is like if someone teaches you to type and then you type a great novel. The teacher doesn't get credit for the novel. You do. I gave you the model of the AIESEC System, taught folks about the whole-system thinking and design, helped define that process, and provided some coaching on the process. But it is you folks who defined the outcomes, you (your design team) did the analysis of the AIESEC core work process and the experiences around that; it is you guys who redefined and expanded that. Not me. I did encourage thinking about a more epanded, life-long learning process, the learning network idea. But, your folks decided what to do with that, if anything.

I think AIESEC is great, I have promoted it when possible, and I hope it keeps going for another fifty years. I also hope it expands its influence. I also hope that I have made some small contribution to its progress. I have another book coming out and have several consulting clients (although I am crushed that I won't be able to use Nuno as a reference...damned!) and will be busy on the speaking circuit in the coming years. This weekend I have been writing an article for the New Yorker which I hope is really controversial ;-) I think my consulting with AIESEC is finished so I don't need to be controversial with you guys anymore. Good luck to all of you.

Jesse said...

i was a baha'i for about three years. i liked the persian food that they would bring to the meetings. there was this one dish that this guy named rudy would make that had rice and dill and he put thinly sliced potatoes on the bottom so that the bottom of the rice would not burn. but the part i liked best was the potatoes on the bottom. the religion is organized in a way that is quite similar to aiesec. there are local spiritual assemblies, national, international. there are constant conferences. it was my favorite religion at the time. what's the deal with it? why is it illegal in iran? like several of the young people in the group i was in, i quit so as to stop feeling guilty about getting high. larry miller seems like a swell guy. what did he change about aiesec?

Tom Gara said...

Thanks for your posting Larry. It was great to read about your experience with us, and to get your side of the story.

Good luck with everything, I hope I can meet you some day in the future, you sound like a great guy.