Growth & Customers

Sage Summit Day 4: A great end to an inspirational week

It’s my final day in Chicago and I wake up after a couple of hours of sleep to join Sage CEO Stephen Kelly and philanthropist Justin Packshaw for a run through Millennium Park again.

I’m knackered, but it’s worth it. The run is invigorating and I love spending time with these inspirational gents. They have had just as much sleep as I have and still have great energy.

I get back to the hotel and meet social media expert and foodie blogger Rebecca Coleman for a swim in the hotel pool. Afterwards she buys me breakfast as a thank you for the dinner I bought for her on the first day. I’ve done really well with my challenge to keep my spend at the Summit to less than $45 so far. We head into the convention centre for the final keynote with actor and tech investor Ashton Kutcher and Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler.

Each morning we’ve attended the keynotes I’ve been seated with the social media team tweeting and sharing clips and images on social media. One of my personal goals this week has been to connect with as many people as possible and to stay highly visible at Sage Summit.

Social media and selfies are great for this as they are fun and a strong visual reminder of each other after meeting. I tag all of the images with people’s Twitter handles so that the images are indexed and show up on searches. Tagging also means that the person you met sees the image and often shares it. Not only do they get a reminder of you from the image but you also get exposure to their network of followers when they share the image. It’s powerful for personal brand awareness.

Social media has been an incredible tool for my business. It’s opened doors for me and ultimately led me on adventures like Sage Summit. I love the way we can engage with one another and help each other’s businesses on it. Check out my Twitter feed for a great set of images and videos I took at Sage Summit. Ashton Kutcher is a master on social media so I’m looking forward to hearing him speak.

Sage CMO Santiago Solanas takes to the stage to share his personal story of small business and his four accelerators to help grow your business. Santiago says that all entrepreneurs have to make the shift from visionary to pragmatist at some point. To do this they need to focus on capital, people, partners and technology to grow to the next level.

After his interesting business insights, Santiago invites Ashton and Yancey to the stage. Yancey has a wonderful outlook on the world and Kickstarter is a huge support for people looking to explore their passions. His site has created over 300,000 jobs, raised over $2 billion for projects and has helped so many people to achieve their dreams.

The one takeaway from Ashton that I think most businesses could learn from is that social media is a conversation with a feedback loop. It’s not a broadcast medium. I couldn’t agree more. The best way to make the most of Twitter and other tools is to engage in conversation with followers or people that you follow. I love that it’s not all about the money with him.

Getting a photo with Yancey and Ashton will mean that I’ve achieved a full house of meet and greets with the keynote speakers at Sage Summit 2016. I set this as my final challenge for the week and head for the backstage door as Santiago breaks into a Blue Brothers song on stage. He’s in character with shades and hat to end the final keynote. He looks great and the crowd love it. Places are limited backstage and as I’m not on the list I fear that my luck may have run out on this one. I keep talking to friends at Sage and execs I know and at the very last minute I’m able to tag onto the end of the queue and get in to see them. I can’t believe my luck. Persistence and focus have definitely paid off on this trip.

Afterwards I get chatting with Stephen Kelly’s daughters who like many of the attendees at Sage Summit are inspired and energised to set up or grow their small businesses. They share a great idea they have for an app and I offer them my thoughts and advice. I have lunch with Siobhan Kelly and the girls as we chat about business, life and the power of personal development.

Afterwards I spend an hour or so trying to get round to see as many of the Sage team I’ve met this week as possible to say thank you and goodbye. I also catch up with fellow Sage Business Expert and author Janice B Gordon. She introduces me to British business coach Amanda Cullen. They are both on the same Virgin Atlantic flight as me and kindly offer to take me to the airport in their Uber. We have a fun ride together swapping stories and business tips. Janice even shares some of her food with me when we get to the airport. My $45 challenge I started on day one has unearthed some wonderful acts of kindness from people and it’s been fun to achieve.

I’m writing this on the plane home as I reminisce about what been an incredible week it has been. I’m so grateful to everyone at Sage for involving me and for making it so special. The team worked long hours and often went with little sleep to create the perfect event. It was worth it. Sage Summit 2016 in Chicago has been superb.

It’s been so much fun to share my adventure and grow my friendships with some amazing people. I’m grateful to have shared each of these amazing days with you too. Thanks for reading my posts. I hope to be back next year.