The Coca-Cola Company recently hosted young leader Terence Steinberg, a member of the Minneapolis Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, to engage with a group of leaders from its Bottling Investments Group. Coca-Cola is a founding partner of the Global Shapers Community and is committed to accelerating its work to improve the state of the world. The global network of young leaders (30 and under) are exceptional in their potential, achievements, and drive to positively impact their communities.

Terrence Steinberg

Terence is a serial entrepreneur whose initiatives span sectors, geographies and cultures. He began his career by focusing on improving healthcare and emergency readiness in the U.S. and parts of Latin America. To this end, he managed the Saint Paul EMS Academy, a healthcare diversification and jobs creation program in Minnesota, and founded the NGO, A Tu Lado (Spanish for “By Your Side”). Working with local partners in Bolivia and Venezuela from 2011 to 2013, A Tu Lado helped launch the first university-accredited emergency medical responder training programs in Bolivia and Venezuela. After witnessing the power of cross-sector collaboration through these experiences, Terence founded a-space design in late 2013, a consultancy now working with healthcare leaders such as UnitedHealth Group and Optum. Through DesignShops, ideation sessions, and customized experiments in recreating the workplace experience, Terence offers collaborative strategies that accelerate creativity and innovation. This fall, Terence will begin pursuing an MBA in the circular economy, biomimicry and sustainable business.

Drawing from his own dynamic story of leadership, Terence outlined his vision of what it means to be a bold leader of the Millennial Generation. Here are his insights:

What is your greatest takeaway from your discussion with leaders from the Coca-Cola System?

There is no single voice or perspective that unites the Millennial Generation. We are diverse in our ambitions and lifestyles, and we defy categorization as desiring any singular working arrangement. While the panelists Coke convened evoked noticeable patterns in their desired working arrangements, we each prioritized different values. Some of us seek more income, some of us seek more independence, some want more predictability in workflow (i.e. a secure job), and some of us are more entrepreneurial. And while our generation may be more entrepreneurial than generations past, those entrepreneurial types may not be reflected in Coke's workforce or the talent it recruits, and thus that trend may manifest differently in an ecosystem like Coke’s. 

Why should senior leaders engage with young people?

Millennials will account for the majority of the workforce within the next 10 years. So it's essential to not only learn how to acquire and manage Millennial talent, but how to empower Millennials to take the lead. Our generation will increasingly assume leadership positions in firms large and small, and we need to bust the myths to find how to work best together.   

How has being a member of the Global Shapers community impacted your life?

When I joined the Shapers, I didn't know where it would take me, but I trusted the people I’d meet and the opportunities we’d cocreate would be tremendously beneficial for my growth. Now nearly three years later, the results surround me. I work in sectors and with partners whom I encountered thanks to the Global Shapers and Forum communities. My firm, a-space design, collaborates directly with colleagues I’ve met through the Forum. Additionally, I’m heavily involved as a founding Board Member (along with my peers in the Minneapolis Global Shapers) of the Minnesota Social Impact Center (Impact Hub MSP), a collaborative coworking space and training center for social entrepreneurs. Further, at the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Annual Meeting in Davos, I met fellow innovators in fields like the Circular Economy, which has inspired me to pursue my MBA in sustainable business. In every sense, forming part of the Global Shapers has proven central to my development as a young leader. The experience and community have elevated my trajectory in ways I couldn't have even imagined before joining in 2012.  

What advice do you have for young leaders?

Our culture loves plans. If you don't have a “solid” plan, you're perceived as flakey, a procrastinator, or someone who doesn't take himself or herself seriously. Plans are indeed important, but they are not paramount. Plans provide stability and important landmarks to measure progress, but they are fundamentally limiting. When you live your life according to a pre-written plan, you cut yourself off from endless other opportunities.

For this reason, I prefer cultivating a purpose rather than a plan. By having a purpose, you remain open to opportunities that you encounter, which you could have never envisioned. With your purpose, you focus on your True North, curating your activities based on what you want to accomplish in terms of outcomes, legacy and impact, while remaining agile and flexible to respond to opportunities as they arise. My advice for young leaders is develop a sense of purpose that will guide you to through your career and difficult trade offs in pursuit of fulfillment and impact.

Follow Terence on Twitter at @Steinberg_T