Firstly though let me tell you about the quote from the photo montage I’ve shared with this article. ‘Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.’ I love this quote because if I hadn’t been in the room (if you can describe any of the halls in the NEC as just a room, the NEC is massive!) then I wouldn’t have met my favourite new contact Ian Calvert who in turn wouldn’t have introduced me to Warren Cass, who’s book I started reading and subsequently found this quote in.
Ian took me under his wing because I stuck my neck out and was willing to take a risk on the mic at a ‘Meet the journalists’ session. I’m sharing this because I want you to stand up and speak the next time the opportunity arises, it’s all too easy to sit on our hands and let these chances to shine float by – I didn’t shine by the way, I sucked, BUT the following day I went back and did it all again and guess what, I was much better second time round. You can’t improve on nothing.
There were four main stages at the festival that never went silent as well as other smaller sessions you could attend, it was really hard to choose where to be but it wasn’t hard to choose my first speaker which was Lord Bilimoria the founder of Cobra Beer who started his speech with the epic quote, 'Fortune favours the brave.' Stirs the soul right?
Here are some key takeaways from his speech
1. Don't only be the best in the world, be the best FOR the world.
2. Profit is not a dirty word.
3. The word which sets entrepreneurs apart is GUTS! You've got to have guts to do it and you especially need guts to stick with it.
4. You don't have to be good at art to be a creative. Creativity and Innovation is essential to entrepreneurship.
5. Don't be scared of the future, it is unknown. When crisis hits it's not what happens but how we deal with it.
6. Always play with a straight bat – have impeccable integrity.
7. My favourite, is this lovely word he used a couple of times - be 'Humbitious.' Humble and ambitious.
Next up is Louis Barnett, he became the youngest ever supplier of chocolate to both Sainsburys and Waitrose at the age of 14.
Here are his top marketing tips:
7. People don't buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it (Simon Sinek)
8. You and your people are your BIGGEST asset, look after yourself and them.
9. If you think of your brand as a person then your brand is the personality and the clothing is the marketing.
10. You need more than one memorable feature, think of the whole customer experience with regard to all five senses. Use sound, sight, taste, smells, and textures in unique ways, do you have a jingle, what colour do you use in marketing, can you use a scent in your packaging, how do your business cards feel when you hand them over?
There was so much more in this presentation than I am able to repeat here, definitely check Louis out, he is a really incredible guy with a wealth of knowledge and experience behind him.
Andy Schabelman, the man with a whole lot of HEART. Andy was one of the first 30 employees of AirB&B and is now heading up international expansion for Fiverr.
A powerful question Andy uses when interviewing to create teams and which he delivered from the stage was 'Tell me a story of when you were just you and you were proud of being you,' Such a great way of getting to the core of peoples natural talents.
Here are my key takeaways from Andy.
11. True 'success' comes from following your heart and communicating with heart.' Heart = the core of creating a movement.
12. How are you truly identifying and alleviating fear for your customers? Alleviating fear matters because it is the precursor to freedom.
13. Give yourself permission to delegate.
His work at Fiverr is based around the ethos that everyone should have freedom and control over their own life with access to a global economy.
Next up, Ninder Johal's talk, if you think you don't know who he is then maybe you're more familiar with the smash hit (which always gets me dancing) Mundian To Bach Ke by Punjabi MC which Ninders record company Nachural Records took into the charts.
My key takeaways from this dynamic man.
14. Make sure you understand the journey of your customer and the threats to your business - Ninder gave his first-hand experience of the way the music industry changed from CD's to downloads and how this took its toll on his business.
15. Be someone who does more than just generates wealth.
16. Join boards, learn from good people around you and surround yourself with better people.
17. Don't just network with people who look like you, dress like you, like the same things as you, be as diverse as possible when choosing the people you learn from.
18. Know your numbers, when you have them, slash your profit projection by 50% and increase your expenses projections by 50%
19. Don't cry about your problem, busy yourself looking for a solution to your problem.
20. When things go wrong don't blame anyone else.
21. Be courteous to people, email them back.
22. Get up every morning and SMILE
23. There is no limit to what you can achieve.
24. Even when you reach a success position, you still need to network to meet the people who have the ideas that could end up putting you out of business.
25. And most importantly, when you come across people who say you can't, you haven't got the right skillset or you don't deserve the privilege of a dream - IGNORE THEM!!
It was really great to see Teresa Boughey and Beverley Nielson from the Black Country Chamber of Commerce talking about the Women in Leadership programme - 'supporting, celebrating and inspiring women in business.' There were some really interesting case studies shared, I only wish there had been more time!
26. Make your family your ambassadors and allies.
27. Inspire and involve others.
28. Integrity - always do your best for YOU and others.
29. Help those around you, be a cheerleader for others.
30. Greatness is just outside your comfort zone, be proactive.
31. Find your voice - speak out and share your opinions.
32. Never stop learning - be open to new ideas. You can't always be right but you can always be learning.
33. Know your market, focus on it clearly and love your customers.
34. Join forces with your local universities.
35. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
Last but not least the amazing Joseph Valente.
‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve.'
Imagine this sentence belted out three times in a row to emphasise the point, which is exactly what Joseph Valente did to open his speech because he is so passionate about hammering this point home being the living example of how it is so very true.
Key takeaways from Joe:-
36. Be clear on what you want, what YOUR definition of success is, be it money, health, happiness, love etc?
37. You must have a strategy to get it.
38. Use the law of attraction as broken down below.
VISUALISE IT - see every tiny element of what success means for you and start with the end in mind (Stephen Covey.)
FEEL IT - be passionate about it, totally immerse yourself in how it would feel to have what you want, the sounds, the nerves, imagine feeling every element of what life would be like once you have what you want.
BELIEVE IT - You have to believe in yourself and your power, don't limit your thinking to where you happen to be right now, if you don't believe in yourself then no-one else will either.
Joe told of how he used to have the Forbes logo as his phone screensaver, when asked why he said 'Because I'm HAVING it,' and shortly after he became named one of Forbes top 30 under 30.
He is now a best selling author, winner of the apprentice just aged 25, he has already bought his shares back from Lord Sugar because he felt he was holding him back, he warned to think of an investor relationship like a marriage and not jump in too soon. His business continues to go from strength to strength, in fact ImpraGas was named national boiler installer of the year 2019 beating British Gas.
Joe has been so successful he has even managed to retire his mum but insists that he won’t stop as constant striving and increasing his goals is what keeps him going.
So there you have it. If you managed to read this far I’d love to know which was your favourite and what you would add to this list?