Great events – Speakers for business

Posted on: February 6, 2010

I receive lots of invitations from suppliers trying to secure my attendance at some event or other and most end up in the bin. But recently I was tempted by the combination of a great venue in an accessible location (The BFI Imax at Waterloo), at a sensible time of the day (4pm-6pm) with an interesting offer – hear a series of leading business speakers do short presentations to get a feel for what they have to say and how they deliver. An excellent choice which really appealed to my MBA memories.

80 minute MBA – in 8 minutes

First up was a double hander by Richard Reeves and John Knell with a citius est melius (quicker is better) introduction of their programme and a dismissal of the enormous range of books about leadership. The five key themes they explored (at lightning speed) were were: sustainability, leadership, culture, cash and conversation. And their three key messages – Go green. Read less. Listen more. Marvellous.

Philip Collins – Prime Minister’s Speech Writer

Whilst politics isn’t my thing it was interesting to hear anecdotes about No 10 and I liked his reminder of Aristotle’s keys for great speeches – Ethos, Pathos (emotion) and argument (a key point). He also warned “remember that you are not as good as you think you are” when it comes to speeches. Good advice indeed.

Professor Richard Scase – Leadership, innovation and change

An academic interlude which started slowly with a review of the global remix, the third revolution and chaotic behaviour but speeded up.

Patrick Hennessey – An officer and a gentleman

Hearing how soldiers deal with war zone, life-threatening situations on a regular basis makes many business leader ideas seem facile. The tenets of officer training should be shared in the business world – leadership, intellect and character.

Tim Waterstone – Retail books genius

I never realised that he was ousted from W H Smith, created Waterstones and then sold it to them before buying it back again – How gratifying that must have been! Interesting insights into funding for small businesses and the need to have zero fear of failure and “an insane ability to cope with financial stress”.

Jay Bregman – Purple Van Man

A story of how frustration with couriers led to the creation of the purple van “Happiness delivered” phenomenon which started in Shoreditch and became a £6m business in under four years.

Magnus Lindkvist – Mad Swedish Trendspotter

With weird tales of ukeles, and images of web sites promoting “Cats who look like Hitler” with Magnus’s huge personality that persuaded us all to routinize creativity in our organisations.

Richard Gerver – Headmaster

Turnaround and change management strategies and a message that “routines can be deadly” from a winner of the National Teaching Awards “School Head of the Year”.

Steve McDermott – Yorkshire smiles and empathy

Motivational and extremely funny, Steve interacted with the huge audience about the relationship between those people who are happy and those who believe that they are totally accountable for what happens in their life.

I am sure that as a result of this event, the speakers who presented – and others at SFB – will receive a significant amount of work. Nice event guys (and brilliantly followed up with an email of links to video highlights) – and next time it would be great to see some females up on the stage too.

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