“WHAT is now proved, was only once imagined” - William Blake
FIVE days on Necker Island staying at the home of the ultimate entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson with a group of other entrepreneurs and leaders for a Leadership Gathering taught me a thing or two about business. However my biggest realisation was how much I love being around self-starters and creative, big thinkers.
Why? Because no matter what’s going on in the world, whether the economy is up, down or going sideways, regardless of the price of oil or gold that day, I can speak to an entrepreneur and they can uplift my energy with their positive, possibility thinking.
“I have this new idea, it’s consuming my every waking moment and it’s going to be so awesome when I get it off the ground.”
“I have a dream, I can’t not do this.”
“This is going to be big, it’s gonna fix so many people’s pain,” is how many of the conversations flow.
I often find myself discovering new piggyback ideas from these discussions, where I think to myself. “Yes that’s so simple and powerful, that’s going to change the world.” Or “that could be adapted for the XYZ industry.”
Before I attended this Virgin Unite and Business Chicks Leadership Gathering I already knew that travel was one of the best ways to lift my energy, expand my thinking and generate new possibilities. I had participated in several international business masterminds in the past and always found that everywhere I turned when travelling I would see new ideas, for products, services, apps, and experiences. The world we live in is such a hot house for ideas generation and I savour it immensely.
This gathering certainly did not disappoint. Combined with a trip to San Francisco, New York to be part of the Business Chicks launch and expansion into the US and then mixing with a group of seriously big thinkers on Necker got my creative juices gushing. From hearing about Alexa Von Tobel’s financial planning service LearnVest for mid to low socio economic people who don’t typically get financial planning advice, to hearing about how WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg aimed to democratise the publishing world and Jane Wurwand’s passion to make skin care about health and human connection, not beauty, through her business Dermologica, I came away with a plethora of adaptations, ideas and concepts to incubate on my return home to Australia. Armed with over 40 pages of notes on ideas for disrupting the property and finance industries, hotel and hospitality, mining and manufacturing, corporate cultures and workplace environments I am excited about the next chapter of my business and life.
The best ideas came to me in the hours of discussion over dinner, in the pool and at the bar with my fellow attendees and the speakers. Amazingly everyone clicked and connected almost instantly, there were no egos in the room, just genuinely curious people looking to step up and serve in a bigger way. It may have had something to do with the free flowing cocktails, but really it was more about the environment, from Branson’s staff who all treated us like one big happy family, to the natural beauty and also the pace – nothing was rushed or forced, here were no crazy deadlines or crushing commutes, just thongs, swimmers, a sarong and a willingness to collaborate were all that was required.
In the words of Virgin Unite CEO, Jean Oelwang – “If we want to ‘lead in’ we have to disrupt ourselves, our lives, our thinking.”
Attending the event was an investment, one that disrupted my whole concept of the world of work and one that I know will pay off for many years to come. The words game changing and disruption get bandied around a lot and are somewhat overused, however I can’t find any other vocabulary that better describes what this experience did for me. If you never go, you never know.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What uplifts your energy and stimulates your new ideas?
How will you stretch, challenge and disrupt your thinking so that you can live out loud and grow into your potential?
The choice is yours if you want to change the world you have to #startwithU
Heidi Pollard is an expert in company culture development, is the chief executive at UQ Power and a lecturer in business at The University of Newcastle