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Business advice from the Global Leadership Forum

Last week I was incredibly fortunate to attend The Growth Faculty’s Global Leadership Forum after winning a ticket through a Dynamic Business competition (thanks so much guys!). Six amazing speakers; seven hours of inspiring thoughts and advice!

Martha Stewart

The morning started with Martha Stewart, her life story and how she used her personal strengths to build the ‘Martha Stewart’ brand.

My biggest takeaway from our hour with Stewart was the power of curiosity. Much was made of Stewart being an early adopter of technology and indeed she has been, from buying her first IBM computer in 1982 to launching the first synergistic media strategy in the 1990s complementing her TV shows and magazines with an online presence; and now developing a number of popular and profitable apps.

But the underlying theme was that curiosity drives her to be innovative. She continually desires to learn and see new things, and at the age of 70 she obviously isn’t done yet!

Muhammad Yunus

Stewart was followed by a very different kind of speaker, Noble Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered microcredit through the establishment of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983. Since 1983, he has created many businesses, each with the aim of solving problems. He describes these as ‘social businesses’ and explained that a charity dollar only has one life because it goes out and does not come back. However, through a social business this dollar can be used multiple times.

Not only has he created numerous social businesses but he has convinced/inspired large corporates, such as Adidas with its one euro shoes, to apply its expertise and technology to solving the world’s problems with social business solutions.

The message Yunus shares is a simple one: you can change the world if you can solve the tiny problems, this can then be replicated.

Russell Simmons

Our hour with Russell Simmons was punctured with some awesome songs from the 1980s and 90s, such as Run DMC’s Walk this Way, which I hadn’t realised I had him to thank for!

I didn’t know much about the ‘CEO of hip-hop’ before last week, but after hearing such gems as…

  • “Needing nothing is how you attract everything”
  • “If you want a long career then you need to make sure that your life’s work is the expression of what you really are—not what you think people think they want you to be.”
  • “No matter how rich you are you can only sit at one seat at a time.”

… I will certainly be reading his book Super Rich this summer. His messages of seeking meaningful work and slowing our world down really resonated with me.

George Clooney

George Clooney’s attendance certainly swelled the numbers in the room and he didn’t disappoint! Yes he was attractive, yes he was charming, but better yet he knew his stuff about Southern Sudan!

When Clooney saw firsthand the devastation of civil war in Sudan, he asked the question: ‘Why can’t authorities track the warlords in Sudan the same way anyone else can check out my home on Google Maps?’ Of course, as Clooney pointed out, if another country did attempt to do that it would be called spying, which is why the Not on our Watch campaign is so important.

After speaking with Google and satellite owners, Clooney and John Prendergast co-founded the campaign, which supports a satellite tracking system monitoring civil unrest in the Sudan in real time.

When asked what this campaign can achieve long term, Clooney’s answer was honest and thought provoking: he doesn’t know. The aim is to slow the genocide down and raise awareness of what is occurring in this part of the world. But he recognises that just because the world knows something is happening doesn’t necessarily mean that the world will actually do anything to stop it.

Some of my favourite one-liners from Clooney were:

  • “When people try to discredit your intentions—simply know more than they do about the issue.”
  • “Success I understand to be just for a mere moment in time. That moment I need to use to turn it into something worthwhile.”

Jeff Taylor

The second last speaker of the day, Jeff Taylor, started his talk by freely admitting that Australia was one place where the job board business he founded, Monster.com, failed to take off. He then proceeded to challenge the room to be the ‘CEO of your own life’ and he shared his FAME concept:

  • F: Create a workplace where people can be a Free agent
  • A: Train like an Athlete, ready to play the game of your life.
  • M: Prepare like a Marketer, know your key message.
  • E: Engage like an Entrepreneur.

The quote I have repeated the most since the forum was this gem from Taylor: “If you are nervous, you are in danger of learning something.”

Michael Fertik

I was really interested in hearing the final speaker of the day, Michael Fertik, founder of Reputation.com. I have recently been reading a fair bit about the issue of trust in relation to collaborative consumption and was familiar with the idea that our online reputation will become a form of currency.

Fertik’s excellent presentation made clear that the emerging world of online reputation will be both a big opportunity and a big threat for personal and business brands.

To create a positive online reputation we need to ensure that we are comprehensive, truthful, up-to-date, relevant and authoritative. Fertik also encourages businesses to trust employees and consumers with information about their brand. By empowering them they will become your champions.

So there you have it: six amazing speakers, each with different leadership styles and techniques—thanks Dynamic Business, for the opportunity to be in the same room as them!

—Lisa Fox is the director and co-founder of Open Shed

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