Note: Original article written on the 16th November following the MADE festival on the 8th November.
This time last week the MADE Business and Entrepreneur festival was coming to an end. Having attended three MADE events now, I must say that I was pleased to see the continuing shift towards speakers with social enterprises and heartfelt stories rather than big business. It is encouraging to know that we are placing more and more value on those people who not only run a successful venture but use it do good in the world.
Amidst the buzz of inspirational stories and networking connections were some fantastic take home points that we can all apply to our working lives – entrepreneurs or not. I would like to summarise what I took from the day.
Our rally car driving host for the day kicked us straight into touch with her story of struggle. Facing alcohol abuse, homelessness and run ins with the police as a youth had taken her to rock to bottom. But sometimes being so low brings a clarity about where to go next. At that point she made a choice to follow her childhood dream of rally car racing and focussed all of her attention and energy on it. It takes great strength to put aside your vices and your history, but it is not impossible. We can choose to be a victim of circumstance or to get what we want.
Don’t let your environment define you.
Recognising that the banking industry is dominated by such a small number of companies he teamed up with others to set up his own bank. Atom bank puts customers first by ensuring their number one rule is; Don’t lose the customer’s money. Seems obvious, right?
Mark told us how most entrepreneurs are motivated by the desire to create something new but also the fear or failure. Once you strap yourself into the entrepreneurial roller coaster you cannot get off part way – not without losing everything you’ve put in. Entrepreneurs have to ride it out through all of the thrills and terror alike.
When things seem tough, seek comfort in the question ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’
From a young age Steve was intelligent and entrepreneurial; setting up playground businesses to solve problems and make money. He dropped out of school, preferring real life skills and found that his journey took him to a place where he was scrounging for food to survive. “I’d rather get out of this situation than survive like this.”
Steve has an excellent process for analysing the situation and working out what to do next. It is this process that allowed him to break convention with his connected enterprises and set up Social Chain.
If you are faced with a problem, start by defining what you know to be true and work up from there.
Jimmy had a colourful background of jobs in labouring and introducing festival acts dressed as a mermaid. One fateful day he was on a gardening job when he saw the employer bend over and reveal his bum crack, sparking Jimmy to really have a think about where his life was going. A trip to Australia led him to the realisation that the UK iced coffee market was missing something and Jimmy’s iced coffee was born.
Jimmy now lives by the sea to remind him how insignificant he is in this world and stay grounded. He is always itching to find the next ambition or project to get him out of bed in the morning. But most of all he stresses this belief;
Let money be the by-product of a dream.
Ian made his name in the gaming industry with dungeons and dragons, games workshop and fantasy game books. He pointed out that games have always had a bad name when they first came out – even chess was seen as an ‘amusement for the inferior character.’
He is now passionate about ensuring that young people are not only involved in the playing of games but the development of them. Computer literacy is one of the key skills of the evolving job market and gaming is all about meta skills; problem solving, decision making, managing deadlines, allocating resources. Ian says:
We need to shift to a STEAM attitude – where Art and creativity are combined with traditional sciences to create wonder.
James presented us with an imaginative glimpse into the future of virtual reality, collaborative working and Microsoft’s latest projects. He said the beauty of start ups is that they don’t have to reimagine their business – they just imagine it. It is this fresh view that helps them remain cutting edge and it this attitude that long standing businesses need to take.
Work teams are set to look different in the future with remote collaboration becoming increasingly possible. James says that;
When you change the way you see the world, you can change the way that others change the world.
Hannah is an inspirational woman who went from sitting out of PE lessons at school to becoming a five time gold winning paralympian. Her driving force in life was to prove people wrong. Every time she was told that her disability would stop her doing something, that only made her more determined to do it.
Hannah says she is a firm believer in taking every opportunity that comes along. Even if it is not right for you, you will learn something from it. She works backwards from her end goals asking herself what the steps are and formulating a concrete plan. In all of her successes she has built a strong team around her who can provide her with expertise. Her most important message for everyone...
Winners are definitely not born, they are made.
After getting fed up of jumping through other people’s hoops, Josh decided that entrepreneurship was for him. He set up a sandwich shop in Scotland which supports the homeless in the community by giving them jobs and allowing customers to pay it forward – buying sandwiches and drinks for the local homeless to collect for free later. Josh says that a successful business needs to have a social impact and a value to society. By helping the most marginalised members of their community, Social Bite directly improves lives.
When faced with the challenge of an employee who was stealing Josh was able to support them to change with compassion. He said;
You have to understand a person’s behaviour in the context of the life they live. We need to show awe for the burden they carry rather than judgement for the way they carry it.
All in all there were some fantastic things to think about in the world of business and work but also in the way we follow our personal values, the way we connect with our fellow humans and the way we motivate ourselves towards goals. I hope that all those who attended are as inspired as I am and I very much look forward to another injection of thought provocation next year. Thanks MADE team!
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