Appreciate Volunteers

Emax Nordic 2011 Staff

Have you ever considered the value of voluntary work?

A lot of events and arrangements depend on voluntary work, especially in Scandinavian countries where the cost of labour is extremely expensive. These events can simply not be a reality without the work power of volunteers that put in hard work to keep the wheels running.

What defines the concept of voluntary work is that there is an employer that often caries the title of “Project Manager”. The Project Manager is not really an employer since the employees (volunteers) is not really employees and do not have any legal obligation in connected to the job being carried out.

I have been involved in voluntary work up to several times and have experienced successful and less successful projects. I have tried to evaluate on what made the difference between a successful and less successful event and I will try to highlight some of the factors that any project manager working with volunteers should have in mind.

Let’s make it clear that people do not do voluntary work just because they do not have anything better to do. People do voluntary work with the expectation of being enriched in some way. This expectation of enrichment is the project managers’ greatest job to discover and then fulfil.

Some of the success factors that have made a good experience as a volunteer have been the feeling of team spirit. When I was volunteering for Scandinavia’s larges event for young entrepreneurs Emax Nordic , all the volunteers had a whole extra day before the event for team building games and socialising. It was very obvious that the management team had clear goals of making us as volunteers perform as a team and by that perform our absolute optimum. We all know that being a part of a group and the feeling of belonging, makes us confortable and that was what the Emax team successfully succeeded in making the volunteers feel.

Another important factor that makes voluntary work interesting is the potential of gaining relevant work experience. Some project managers believe that voluntary work should exist of easy or maybe even brain dead tasks. However this might not be the optimum way to attract voluntary staff. Volunteers are for the most people involved in many different challenges on many different levels. This also means that these people are likely to be well educated and have so much energy that they are willing to share it with others. Therefore do not underestimate the quality of your voluntary staff and challenge them with difficult tasks that take effort to complete.

One last factor that I would like to highlight is the power of appreciation. I have for the past two years been living at a sports academy for one of Denmark’s greatest sports teams and have daily been surrounded by professional athletes that are the best in their league. A part of the package is food served every evening. To keep the academy at float, a team of volunteers is working every week to serve food for the athletes. They are doing a great job and the whole concept of the sports academy would not be possible without them, therefore is it also important that they feel appreciated. Often it does not take much to make people feel appreciated and a little comment and praise is often all it takes.

To sum up: It takes team spirit, challenge, and appreciation to make voluntary work successful. Try to have in mind how you can contribute to make volunteers have a good experience and consider what difference you could make joining as a volunteer for any kind of event. One thing is sure; we all need to be better at showing our appreciation for volunteers that work hard for giving us all a great experience.

Remember without volunteers a lot of things we take for granted would simply not be possible.

Emax Nordic 2010

Emax Nordic 2010 Staff - Photo by Stik i Rend Film

I volunteered for Emax Nordic 2010 as Staff and got accepted among many applicants. The event was for the first time hosted outside Sweden and our mission was to create the greates Emax Nordic event ever.

As staff my fellow staff members and I was challenged with unexpected problems that need to be solved, to give the participants a professional experience of the event. The staff was responsible for different activities and general entertainment that should help create network between different nationalities.

Emax Nodic challenged me with hard work hours from 7 mornings to midnight for a week. The experience told me about spontaneous and innovative solution-making as well as professionalism and punctualism. As staff of an event like Emax Nordic there is no problem too big or too small that cannot be solved. And even though you communicate and welcome professional speakers you do also have to clean up and always keep the participants happy and energized.

As staff of Emax Nordic 2010 I learned about team work, communication, hard work, networking and appreciation.

Read a detailed article about Emax Nordic 2010 and its importance for the entrepreneurial community in Scandinavia.

Read documentation for the Event at the official website.

See the videos from the event:

Emaximize your surroundings and let the funthusiasm guide you…

Emax Auditorium - Photo by Stik i Rend Film

Read the full story of the greatest entrepreneurial event of 2010, Emax Nordic 2010.

It is Saturday noon and an excited group of people of different Scandinavian nationalities are arriving in Svendborg. Some have been in the staff team before where others are there for the first time, but common for all is that they are excited for what this event will bring. Everyone is politely saying hallo to everyone and already at this stage do people seem to get along quite well.

As everybody has arrived the training session for what is going to be the greatest entrepreneurial event in 2010 has begun. The main goal of the training session is besides getting informed about all the necessary details of the event, to develop 3 core values that form the purpose of our presence at Emax Nordic 2010. Klass Brynte was in charge of the training session, and through different games and challenges the core values was created and the team that was going to give the participants an experience for life was formed and united.

To make Emax Nordic 2010 a successful event we need: Communication, Professionalism and Funthusiasm.

Emax Nordic Arrival at Svendborg College - Photo by Mads Laumann
Emax Nordic Arrival at Svendborg College – Photo by Mads Laumann

The Emax Staff team was ready for the arrival of 180 wonderful participants and Sunday afternoon the first bus finally arrived. The atmosphere was a little strained to a start, but as people got to sit together the air was soon filled with noise from the networking participants. From there it did not take long for people to find different games and activities to keep them entertained and everyone seemed to enjoy the sunny afternoon. It seemed pretty clear when talking to a random samples of the participants that they were here to win the business simulation, but they were soon to discover that the Emax team had others plans for their stay.

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Emax Nordic 2010 was officially opened by Board member of Foundation for Entrepreneurship, CEO of Nordea Bank, Mr. Torben Laustsen, who welcomed the participants to a week of inspiration, motivation and great fun. The auditorium was heating up and it would be fair to credit the Emax Staff who were dancing, clapping and going nuts in the favour of the participants.

During the day the participants were introduced to the business simulation game, but before that, teams were created and team building games and exercises took on. An important lesson from the team exercises is: if you make people touch each other, you will bring them closer together. “Suddenly a simple conversation with strangers does not seem that frightening anymore.” However the highlight of the day was the lecture with Caroline Ahlefeldt, who impressively succeed in bringing life to the word funthusiasm. She rocked the stage for half an hour and gave all the participants, motivation and inspiration to get the most out of Emax. She sure inspired every single one in the auditorium and brought with her what I would like to refer to as the true Emax Spirit.

Emax Spirit - Photo by Mads Laumann
Emax Spirit – Photo by Mads Laumann

Next day the entire team as well as participants were still high on the energy from the meeting with Caroline Ahlefeldt and after a delicious breakfast, the first day of business simulation could begin. Tuesday was also the day of several great workshops hosted by six great lecturers: Lykke Rix, Klass Brynte, Josefine Arenius, Carsten Borch, Thomas Groennemark, and Henrietta Clayton Smith. The workshops touched different entrepreneurial topics such as leadership, idea training and coaching, but all with the same purpose of educating the participants to become greater entrepreneurs.

In the evening time there were arranged a ferry trip from the harbour of Svendborg. The ferry trip was a great opportunity for the staff as well as the participants to relax after a day of a lot of information and shared knowledge. Many spend the time as a getaway from the speculations of the business simulation, and from all the discussions of tactics.

A night of Wildness

“I have personally never in my life seen over a hundred people go nuts like that.” After the ferry trip and a great barbecue at the harbour all the participants went to party at the Hostle. Over a hundred great entrepreneurial spirits were dancing their butts off on the grass simply driven by the great developed Emax spirit. The participants were dancing all night long, but were ready and awake, the next morning for a day of even harder challenges.

Day of the great finally

The day started 7:30 with the news that the Police had paid a little visit around midnight because of complaints from the nearby neighbours. Apparently the Emax spirit is not shared by everyone!

However Wednesday was the last day of a truly adventure and the participants had to play the last two parts of the simulation game. As people had talked strategy throughout the entire week the subjects had slightly started to change. People were still taking the game serious but the funthusiasm had spread and everyone seemed to be emaximized.

During the day there were two lectures. One regarding Immerterial Values and one under the name of The winning Helix by first Magnus Hakvåg and second Christina Anderson. It was clear that even though we had to do with the foremost entrepreneurial spirits of Scandinavia, the participants were tired and the lectures were tough. But everyone managed and when the long day of educational lectures and business simulations were over the ladies and the gentlemen finally had the opportunity to prepare and get dressed up for great gala-evening.

Alexander Hold with the Emax host Josefine Arenius
Alexander Hold with the Emax host Josefine Arenius

The gala were hosted at Svendborg hotel in a nice environment with room for dining and partying. The evening offered three courses dinner, great entertainment, disco dancing, live music and of course the announcement of the 2010 Emax Nordic winners. Great congrats to the winners of this year’s Emax Nordic 2010.

The participants as well as staff were dancing all night, but just like another Cinderella story the ball ended at midnight.

The final conclusion

When the participants arrived they came with the believe that they were here to win the simulation game, and they were. But as the event evolved they realized that the event was about so much more. What started to be the main focus turned out to be a minor part of a greater purpose, and other factors such as having fun and making friends became vital. I strongly believe that Emax has changed the life of many of the participants. It surly has changed mine and I have realised how important it is to create and maintain your network.

Remember Network is Power and Emax is where entrepreneurs create network.

Help me share this article with your friends and network and encourage you surroundings to sign up for Emax Nordic 2011 taking place in Norway.

Thank you.

Feel welcome to place a comment to this article and do not forget to see the Emax Video for the event of 2010.