Chairman and CEO of Libra Group George Logothetis gave an inspiring speech addressing young Greek entrepreneurs during the ceremony of the Envolve Award in Athens earlier in June.
Logothetis, who conceived the idea of the organization, spoke in front of a packed audience of Greece’s future business leaders and said that the Award strengthened Greek entrepreneurship by bringing hope where it once did not exist.
In its tenth year, created in 2012 by the Libra Group on behalf of The Hellenic Initiative the program had the goal to create an ecosystem to advance technology and innovation and support future business leaders in Greece.
“We tried to be purveyors of hope rather than just providers of money. This award was born from anger. Anger at the way Greeks were viewed globally. Anger at the stubborn yet invisible divide between dreams and reality, especially for young people and females here in Greece,” Logothetis said.
“We were angry and decided to try and be part of the solution rather than merely lament the problem. So we weaponized our anger and created several programs here in Greece for the betterment and benefit of others.,” he added.
Since first established, Envolve has supported 34 award winners in Greece, representing 19 sectors.
These winners have contributed to the Greek economy with the creation of more than 2,000 new jobs and have a combined valuation exceeding €850 million.
Speaking about the program, Logothetis said that it is “philanthropy in its truest and most ancient form — giving without expecting to get. We try to do what we felt was our duty. We tried to lead from the front.”
Logothetis: From great hardship can emerge a great genius
The British-born Greek businessman and philanthropist noted that Envolve Greece has helped Greece enter a new era.
“A new era of hope, and opportunity after so many years of difficulty and pain.”
He referred to the recent Greek economic and social crisis and said that it “may have armed you the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow in ways one cannot measure.”
He stressed that once a person, a family, or a nation endures and emerges from a crisis, the scars of suffering can be an asset.
“From great hardship can emerge great genius. Innovation is born from adversity. Look at history…
“A crisis can refill the tanks of resolve, too. Look at history and biology. Muscles in the body actually are the result of how the body grows back after being torn down. It’s called regeneration. We can grow back stronger after setbacks or calamities.”
Logothetis advised Greece’s future leaders that they need resilience, resolve, tenacity, and motive. “We need to both be believed in and not to be believed in order to succeed. One produces confidence, the other produces motive.
“The legitimate human reaction says, you don’t believe in me. Well, I’m going to show you and I’m going to prove you wrong. Sometimes it is more important not to be believed in than to be believed in. But you have to be aware, to harness the nonbelief in you into motive for you. Not bitterness. You must be a hammer for your nails not a hammer to your windows.”
Logothetis who had led the Libra Group’s transformation from a shipping company to a diverse multinational and multicultural international business group shared with his young audience in Athens what his successful career has taught him.
“Dreams count. It all starts with a dream. Don’t let the nonbelievers or naysayers tell you so,” he said.
“Fear is easier to feel than hope. Hope is more enduring than fear. Find your heroes. Study them, understand them.”
In addition, he urged the young Greek entrepreneurs to preserve the capacity for original thought. “Read. Explore. All the lessons of tomorrow are locked in the books of yesterday. Go to a bookstore to buy a book rather than rely on the algorithm to suggest one for you.”
“The agenda is Philotimo”
Logothetis said that words count, leadership counts, and faith counts and he illustrated the point by recounting a story that warmed the Greek hearts of the audience:
“In September 2021, I was privileged to host a small lunch for the president of Panama. A decent, very smart, and good leader of his people, as we all sat down in a private room in midtown Manhattan, 10 of us.
I introduced everyone, spoke about my own love for Panama. My wife is half Panamanian. And I ended by saying, we have a long agenda.
The president immediately cut me off, stared into my eyes and said, “George, no, the agenda is one word.” I was taken aback. He then proceeded to take out many scraps of paper from his pocket with handwritten notes of his, put it on the table, looked at me straight in the eye and said, “The agenda is Philotimo.”
Silence in the room. I was speechless. And he then said to me, ‘George, I have seen more than 30 times, your speech on Philotimo. That speech helped me overcome the crisis of Covid in my country. Thank you. I made the speech mandatory for my cabinet.’
“As the president was saying this all the ministers were saying, “si, si.” So there you have it. Words count. Leadership counts. Faith counts.”
Watch the full speech below: