One of the first things I learnt whilst launching Mascot was to make sure I am never the smartest person in the room. Well, there wasn't a cat in hell’s chance of that happening at Friday’s Elevator Conference at AECC… or probably ever.
Unsurprisingly, the event was packed with more than 900 business folk and students all with the collective goal of soaking up the inspiration like metaphorical sponges.
For those of you not familiar with the annual conference, it is a free event in which nine speakers discuss the pits and peaks during their road to success. Chuck in a free lunch and networking opportunity and it ain’t a half bad way to spend a Friday in my books.
So, here are the five things I learnt at the conference:
1. TAKE ACTION
Kicking things off was record breaking, ultra-adventurous Polly Murray. Polly has not only scaled but skied down Mount Everest (as if climbing a 30,000 ft mountain wasn’t challenge enough), travelled to the Arctic and trekked through the Amazon rainforest. If ever there was a woman more qualified to talk about grabbing opportunities with both hands, it’s Polly.
I found myself sitting like a dreamy eyed child, head in hands listening to Polly speak. Her sense of adventure and spontaneity is contagious and she gave a passionate - and honest - account of her adventures trekking across Greenland armed with little more than a handful of Kellogg's' bar and a camera.
It’s hard to believe but Polly’s long list of successes started with one decision to seek out her very first adventure. So, plan, research and take action. Because the price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.
2. BE A RISK TAKER
What an exciting time it is to be an entrepreneur.
Never in history has there been a better opportunity to launch and grow a business that brings excitement to the workplace and can inspire others. The start-up economy is rich with innovation and potential, and I don't know about you but I want a piece of that pie.
Another inspiring speaker was the one and only Andrew Dobbie. Andrew is the kind of guy you want to go for a pint with and just listen. He launched his business with a two month old son and £1,000 in his back pocket and hasn’t looked back. Three short years later he has taken his company from idea to digital juggernaut. So, what is the secret to this phenomenal growth? It’s in all the name.
Made Brave is a Glasgow based digital agency that puts passion for people right at the heart of the company ethos. Andrew - like Polly - was keen to stress that his success was the result of him actively going out there and taking it. He took a leap of faith and jumped head first into the deep end of the startup pool. So, take off those arm bands and be part of something exciting.
3. DON’T BE MOTIVATED BY MONEY
Despite only opening a year ago, Bagels and Stuff has already scooped a prize for the Most Promising New Business at Elevator UK Awards. This kind of staggering success at such an early stage is no real surprise given the fact Laura Poppe is at the helm.
Laura gave an honest and passionate speech about how her business idea stemmed from a hangover and need for carbs. If only I could be so productive after a night on the tiles.
At the heart of her talk was the reminder to focus on your passion, not your bank balance. Yes, love don’t pay the bills but we seem to be living in an era where many would argue that money = happiness. Of course, it has to factor into things but we should never forget that time is our most valuable asset. So, spend it wisely.
4. STICK TO YOUR CORE VALUES
It’s official, the future of napping has arrived and we all have the founder of Trtle Nap Scarf - David Kellock - to thank for it. At last, it is possible to snooze on the go and look suave at the same time as it is disguised as an actual scarf. Genius.
David stressed that sticking to his core values has been integral to the success of his business. He even knocked back a sizeable offer from the Dragon’s Den panel and although it was a pain in the neck (sorry, I just had to!), he knows it was the right decision because he didn’t feel their core values aligned with his. Don’t compromise and stick to your instincts, David reminded. Nine times of out ten you are right.
5. KEEP MOVING FORWARD
The principal speaker was Aisha Kasim from ‘The Apprentice’ fame, who spoke about her experience as a businesswoman. It’s easy to sit back and cynically assume her path was simple. Aisha is the first to admit it was not. She had knock backs. She had negativity. But, most importantly, she had tenacity and a hell of a lot of it. Yes, Aisha admitted, there will be days when life gets you down, but paint on a smile and get yourself out there. No one else is going to do it for you.
Of course, the list is endless. The founder of Flavourly - Ryan O’Rorke - spoke passionately about launching his brand from his grandmother’s garage. Christian Macleod’s motivation to prove an ex-girlfriend wrong resulted in his luxury belts being showcased in GQ magazine; a great example of the assertion that the best form of revenge is success. And Rebecca Pick gave us a great insight into her product - the Pick Protection Alarm - a revolutionary personal alarm device that not only has the potential to stop an attack but to gather evidence to assist in gaining a conviction. All the speakers came from such different walks of life and yet all had one overriding thing in common: a passion for success.
Were you lucky enough to attend last week’s Elevator UK conference? If so, what were your highlights?