It’s Monday morning and I’m up early at 05:30. I’m on my way to Heathrow airport to fly from London to Chicago. I’m excited because it’s the week of Sage Summit and this year I’m speaking at the event. You can watch the live stream of my Looking Back from Perfect talk on Wednesday at 11:00 Chicago time, and my export focused Business Without Borders panel at 16:45 on Wednesday.
I’m looking forward to catching up with friends I made last year and have kept in touch with via social media. I can’t wait to see who I’ll meet this year. I’m flying with Virgin Atlantic, which I hope is a sign of what’s to come as the first keynote address is by Richard Branson and I’d really love to meet him. Fingers crossed.
I leave my car with some friends who rent their driveway near Heathrow on JustPark.com and in nine hours or so I’m in Chicago. I love how you can leave London at 9 and be in Chicago by midday. I check my wallet and realise that with all the hustle and bustle of last week’s trade show with my business Blue Eyed Sun I’ve only bought $45 cash with me. Can I make it through the week with so little? I have a credit card, but decide it will be a fun entrepreneurial challenge to see if I can do it and where it will take me.
My thrifty experiment doesn’t get off to a good start as I realise I got lucky jumping on a free shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel last year. This year there’s only VIP transport for press and I quickly find I’m not on the list. I manage to catch a train to my hotel for $5. As a guest of Sage I feel spoiled when I arrive at the Palmer House Hilton. It’s a beautiful old Chicago building which has 1,600 rooms. I love American’s as they do customer service so well. The hotel is no exception and in no time I’m checked in. I manage a quick swim in the 7th floor pool to clear the cobwebs before heading down to beautiful lobby bar to catch up with my friend @SandyAbrams from YourIdeaInc.
Sandy is an entrepreneur and writer for Huffington Post who is speaking and mentoring at Sage Summit. You can follow what she’s up to on the live stream. I met Sandy last year in New Orleans and we’ve kept in touch on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp. These tools are so fantastic for getting to know people and growing awareness of your business. Follow my tweets @JeremyCorner and drop into the hashtag #SageSummit for the live story.
A short while later our friend, social media expert and Canadian foodie @RebeccaColeman joins us and we swap tips on social media, public speaking and business. Rebecca is a whirlwind of fun and positive energy and you can follow her here. She’s really doing well on Snapchat and using Facebook Live at the moment so I’m hoping to pick up some tips from her as these are new to me.
Sandy has plans, so Rebecca and I head to the convention centre to pick up our badges and meet up with Sage friends. I’m wondering how I’m going to eat with just $40 left for the week. There’s a free shuttle bus so I save on transport and having to walk 2 miles in the 30 degree heat.
McCormick Place is an incredible building. It’s enormous and is going to be an awesome venue for Sage Summit. There’s a party on for Sage Partners which we have our eye on gate crashing. First we need badges so we head to the check in desk and bump into Sage CEO and friend Stephen Kelly. Last year I took up his challenge to Beat the CEO in the Great North Run with Sage to raise over £70,000 for Cancer Research (I beat him by 5 minutes in case you’re wondering). He’s as gracious and welcoming as ever. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how Sage is transforming under his leadership.
The check in desk is closed but we manage to grab some misprinted badges left on the desk. This is fun. My name is Maji tonight. I hope nobody asks any awkward questions. We also catch up with Melissa Romo who is the head of content at Sage. I met her in London a month or so ago when I did two fun video interviews with Graham and Mark from the Start Up Van. You can watch them here. I’m looking forward to catching up with the guys this week as they are also attending. Follow their tweets @StartUpVan.
Time to crash the party and grab a drink. We head down to the bar and bump into one of my favourite Sage executives, @SantiagoSolanas. He’s a generous, supportive guy who is a fountain of knowledge on marketing, which if you follow my blog you will know I love. We give each other a big hug, a reminder of how amazing social media is for really getting to know people as we have only met in person a few times but have actively followed and engaged with each other online for over a year.
The band at the party is rocking and the Sage Partners are having a great time. I check in with my contact at Sage for the trip, Almudena Cruz, as she has plans to invite me to a couple of special events at the Summit.
Melissa, Rebecca and I head over through the tall buildings of Chicago to a gallery space called 19 East to drop into another party where a young South African lady runs up to me all excited. I realise it’s Celeste Mulder who was part of a WhatsApp group I was involved in last year to help boost our klout scores on social media. We’ve never met and yet know each other well. It’s lovely to meet in person and we grab a quick selfie with her and her South African Sage colleagues. It’s going to be a big week for selfies. I can tell already.
I also meet up with Becky Potgieter from Sage who has arranged for me to be interviewed live on Bloomberg radio on Tuesday morning at 10:15am Chicago time. You can listen to the transmission online. It’s during Richard Branson’s keynote, which is not ideal for me. I decide that it’s too good an opportunity to miss though and saying yes to things has always led me down interesting paths. Who knows Bloomberg radio might lead to Bloomberg TV.
As we arrived late to this party we still haven’t eaten. Melissa lets us share her uber back to the hotel and we grab a bite to eat across the road at Vapiano’s. The food is delicious and I get carried away and offer to buy Rebecca dinner. Its $28 dollars and I leave a $4 tip. I’m down to $8 and I’m going to need $5 to get back to the airport. Disappointingly breakfast is not included with my room. Lunches at the Summit are free and Melissa emails us offering to take us out to dinner tomorrow night. At least I’ll get some food tomorrow. I can do this.