Celebrating Entrepreneurship

I’m just back from over the Pennines after an inspirational couple of days in Sheffield. Headlined as the “Glastonbury for Business” the MADE festival boasted a star-studded line up of entrepreneurs. For me it was an entrepreneurial delight, packed with inspiration, motivation and a healthy balance of real life. So many highlights; one major outcome – inspiration.

The event organisers clearly understood what it is like to start and run your own business, creating an event that was full of useful tips and advice from people who had made it. (pun intended .. sorry).

The festival was opened by Paul McKenna who entertained us with a hypnotic delivery of the power of the mind as he shared his Strategies for Super Achievement. We were treated to healthy portions of laughter, and the release of feel good hormones endorphins (always a winner in my book). Paul had a some great questioning, and even a phobia curing live on stage. Not bad for a Wednesday. He shared the power of positive thinking, of visualisation, of turning up the intensity of positive emotions. We left with minds sparking, high energy and time to mull over our learnings overnight ahead of a bumper day’s activity in the beautiful City Hall.

Day two started off with tons of energy from motivational speaker, and our host for the day, Nigel Risner. Nigel is a much respected speaker on the Academy for Chief Executives speaking network. I’d not heard him speak before but had read one of his books: The IMPACT code (which I highly recommend), so I was looking forward to seeing him in action. I knew Nigel had his own ebullient style, what I wasn’t expecting was the intensity of humour. His delivery was nothing short of brilliant. His review of the different types of people we have in our organisations had the audience in absolute fits of laughter. I laughed so much that my make up ran! I spent the rest of the day with runny black eyes, and combined with high energy levels, the people of Sheffield must have wondered what was going on in their City Hall.

Events like MADE are great reminders of good common business sense; it’s always valuable to take a step back and remind yourself of good practice. Plus I find it’s good to know that you are not alone in the challenges you face as the head of a business.

At an event with so many highlights it was difficult to limit it to just a few to share with you; here’s my choices:

“Take your courage when it serves or lose your ventures”

Levi Roots, founder of the delicious Reggae Reggae Sauce (and lots of new and exciting things in the pipeline) used the words of Shakespeare to encourage us to live in the moment. When you see an opportunity, and it feels right, go for it. There is no time for deliberation. It’s about focus and most of all action. For if you do not take advantage of what is served up, you lose what might have been. I liked the poetic nature of these words. Levi was mesmeric on stage, with and without his guitar.

Less is More

Shaa Wasmund, author and founder of Smarta gave a powerfully accurate account of what it is like to run a business. A lot of what she said resonated with me. Even in our 10th year there are opportunities to learn. She offered some great questions to ask yourself and to live by the premise that less is more. The most powerful question for me was “What one thing will you do today that will bring you the most impact?” A great question to help keep focus across the whole of the business.

Take action

Nigel Risner’s gem. It’s a simple one, however, so many great ideas remain just that, ideas. It’s the action that brings it to life, and in all honesty makes a difference. Throughout the day Nigel offered tips relevant to each speaker. Tips and ideas that can be applied to any business in any industry. I am taking action!

Never Ever Give Up

Michelle Mone gave us a very honest account of her life. I was fascinated by her story and found her to be both genuine and passionate. As a successful business woman, Michelle’s life is well documented. Let’s face it bad things do happen in business. Things don’t always go as you planned even for the large successful brands such as Ultimo. Michelle’s words: “No matter how dark, keep fighting”. I think there’s something very powerful in those 6 words.

Have Difficult Conversations.

Jeff Turner, the Head of Learning and Development at Facebook gave a fascinating account of the culture of this uber successful company. If you are anything like me, you’ll be keen to know what goes on in such a successful, and young, company. Jeff shared how the culture drives the brand and appealed to us not to be afraid of having difficult conversations. In such a positive, dynamic culture it was interesting to hear how they embraced difficult conversations for the greater good of the brand. Very interesting indeed.

All in all a highly motivational event; very well organised and full of calibre. Well done to all those involved in MADE. Thanks also go to headline sponsors Sage, who I believe subsidised the entrance fee to help make the event affordable. That was a gesture that was certainly appreciated.

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