Beri Meric describes IVY, the business networking organization he founded, as “a community that is designed to enable all of its participants to truly bring the best out of others.” After ten years, the company’s global reach continues to grow rapidly, bridging together an ever-widening spectrum of professionals.
For Meric, creating IVY was the natural culmination of overcoming various life challenges.
Born in Turkey to a family of entrepreneurs, Meric and his family later moved to Scotland and opened a corporate branch there. “I went from being a very well-adjusted kid in Turkey to being in a country where I didn’t speak the language. I was the only foreigner in my school,” he said. “It made me very uncomfortable, on the one hand. On the other hand, it was the crucible experience that made me what I am.”
It spurred his obsession to learn “what it takes to adapt to any situation, and how people can connect with each other, no matter how different they might be,” he said. “Learning and connection became a core thing for me.”
“I was fully transformed into a person for whom nothing is weird anymore.”
He moved to the U.S. to attend Brown University in Rhode Island, and later worked at financial services company Morgan Stanley in London, U.K. It was there he acquired a maxim for success: “If you go above and beyond and pay attention to detail, you will succeed.” Afterward, he returned to the U.S. to study at Harvard Business School.
“That American educational environment gave me the idea for IVY. I loved my experience. The way I saw it, it is an experience where every day, you are learning from leading minds. You are constantly dreaming about the future and how you want to chart the course of your life. All day long, you are surrounded by peers, and it is unbelievably fun and inspiring,” he said.
The concern was that learning ends when the course work ends. “I never understood why that is. Stakes get a lot higher as you get older. You are leading organizations, leading families. You have much bigger roles, and you no longer have this cohesive environment where you are constantly learning and growing with other people.”
Thus, the idea for IVY developed as “a lifelong university,” where participants “learn from the leading minds, alongside people who want to be the best version of themselves. [They] bring the best out of others and deeply connect with each other to take transformative action together.”
COVID moved the model online for two years, while IVY was already serving more than 10,000 business leaders across 100 different countries, from small start-ups to large companies. Among the hundreds of guest speakers, they’ve included actors Matt Damon, Steve Martin, and Matthew McConaughey.
Most speakers — and many attendees — have come from the highest echelons of their field, and Meric’s noted a consistent theme on what are top achievers’ leadership qualities. “Leadership is something not reserved for people with the official title. It’s probably one of the most sacred roles, but the misconception is that a leader is like the prime minister or CEO or the VP,” he explained.
“It’s when you leave things better than you found it, intentionally bringing the best out of others. When you uplift everyone, even in your absence, because of the structure you created, people flourish. That, I think, is the essence of leadership.”
Whether lay leader, professional, or corporate leader, or simply someone who strives for the top, Meric has taken note of some of the most successful keys to networking over the past decade.
“There’s always something you can relate to, something that you can learn from any person in any industry.” Also, find out how to help the person you’re meeting.
“It’s not some charitable, philanthropic, do-good thing. It’s actually, I think, a law of the universe. If you can deliver for other people, you’ll deliver for yourself. It feels great, and it’s good. Instead of trying to figure out how to win and get more, it’s about figuring out how to get that person to win, and then good things will happen,” he said.
“What I really believe is that at the smallest level, like the butterfly effect, the smallest smile you give someone that lifts their spirits and creates a chain reaction can change the world.”
Dave Gordon | Associate Editor