Another cracking day at the Sage Summit in New Orleans kicked off with a run through the French quarter and a rooftop swim at the Omni hotel there overlooking the mighty Mississippi, which looked glorious at sunrise.
After breakfast was a keynote discussion between Sage US President, Jodi Uecker, and founder of YouTube, Chad Hurley. With most people trying to search for the next ‘big idea’ it was most interesting to hear that Chad believes it is providing solutions to small problems that is what really leads to success. You have to stay focussed on the solution you are creating for the problem you want to fix and not give up. He also pointed out that there are many failures on the road to success, which resonated with my own recent blog post on ways of dealing with failure.
Next came and interview, by Tom Davis, with three amazing business women, Jane Seymour, Karren Brady and Brandi Temple. Most of my favourite takeaway comments from Karren Brady.
Some of my favourites were:
- Have short term goals and long term vision for your business along with a culture that sustains this.
- Without ambition nobody started anything, Drive and passion for what you do are key.
- Have a plan that says what you stand for, where you are going and how long it will take to get there.
- When the going gets tough, find your backbone, grit your teeth and keep going.
We also got to hear about The Sage Foundation which is doing wonderful work around the world and is chaired by South African, Ivan Epstein who I met later in the day with Jodi. The Foundation gave a large cheque to a local charity that helps rebuild homes for people who are struggling across the U.S.
My plan after the keynote was to attend a couple of seminars on business strategy. Instead I found myself in an invigorating discussion about business and social media with British expert consultant Thomas Power that went on through lunch. I left inspired to get to work on my idea for a business book about a tool I use to improve my life called Looking Back from Perfect. He also helped me to get my head around the key mental shift one has to make when dealing with social as well as ways to improve my business.
After lunch, Thomas and I headed over to catch my new friend and Sage Business Expert, Gemma Pryce, from Superfood Market speak with Sage marketing expert Nick Goode about social media and how she has leveraged it to grow her business to an incredible £8 million turnover in under two years. I first met Gemma at 10 Downing Street a few weeks ago for an Startup Britain bus tour which Sage we’re sponsoring and am looking forward to running the Great North Run (a half marathon) with her, Stephen Kelly and the Sage Team in a few weeks time. It’s worth following her on social media and learning from how she operates. She’s a down to earth powerhouse who has great things in store for her and her business partner, Mark.
After that I managed to catch Stephen Kelly’s fireside chat with British adventurer, Justin Packshaw. Justin has completed many incredible endurance feats included climbing Everest and journeying to both poles of the Earth. He also manages to find time to raise a family and run a luxury brand called De Roemer in London. These journeys he has taken are incredibly challenging and very dangerous. It’s hard to imagine the extreme conditions that he has put his body through. Small business owners can learn a lot from the thorough planning, team work, compassion and leadership it takes to get 10 people safely up Everest and back down in a journey that takes several weeks and where one in ten people who try don’t survive. I was lucky enough to meet him last night and managed to catch up with after his talk at his book signing.
As a bit of fun later on I waited in line to meet American Footballing legend, Phil Villapiano who was signing American footballs on the Win logistics software booth. Phil was a defensive linebacker in the seventies and who played 13 seasons at the highest level in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills. He’s a lovely guy and I am grateful for his gift which I am sure my 8 year old son is going to love playing with when I get home.
I managed to get back to my hotel after the conference before the heavens opened and we experienced a New Orleans downpour with huge gusts of wind and buckets of rain drenching the city. We avoided the worst of the weather and even got to take a brief walk down Bourbon Street. After getting hustled by a ‘Bourbon street entertainer’ for $20 it was time to head home and rest for the final day tomorrow.