In May, Like Minds brought together a mix of great thinkers and implementers to share their experiences of making big changes – in their lives, in businesses and in the world. They wanted to prove that what we do matters – and inspire us to make a difference.
Here are the main points from the two-day festival of ideas in Exeter:
Russ Lidstone: Why what you do matters
Russ kicked off the conference by stressing that what every individual and company does can make a huge difference to the world. But effort can easily be wasted.
- Our mental capacity hasn’t increased as the number of things that demand our attention have – so something’s got to give. Attention will be lost somewhere.
- You need to think in a different, dangerous way – and pay attention to the details
- Let go of the idea of expertise – in times of change the ability to adapt and learn matters more
Shannon Springer: We’re all interconnected
Shannon inspired us to think about the consequences – both positive and negative – of an ever more interconnected world.
- We’re in a triple crisis: economic, social and environmental
- It’s difficult to plan long-term when political or social systems can change so quickly
- We need change agents who will help reinvent business for a less structured age
John Richardson: 1000 hours to transform your life
John gave an inspiring talk about how he’s transformed his life multiple times by devoting 1000 hours to a new activity:
- Failure can inspire you to take up new challenges – and to focus on them in a way you wouldn’t before
- Make sure you have goals you’re moving towards – and know what you’re moving away from
- Choose the people yo associate with carefully – they make a huge difference to your life
Robert Bean – the golden rules of branding
Robert encouraged us to look beyond – way beyond – brand as a simple marketing message, but to instead see it as the defining principle of the company.
- Brands are vital – they can define company structure, and dictate your terms for winning
- Make sure you know your real brand proposition – and find humans who can genuinely champion it
- Create a company where ideas dominate – and which can live up to those ideas
Panel: Why what you do matters
A panel discussion between Gabrielle Laine-Peters, Glenn Le Santo, James Moffat and Molly Flatt that sought to understand how individual action contributes to societal change:
- The most significant thing in your work is the connection you make and the people you affect through those connections
- Don’t just talk – connect thoughts and actions, and prepare for unexpected consequences
- Remember that having an audience – of whatever size – is a privilege
Meg Grogan: challenging your business from within
Meg talked about how 1000 Heads was encouraging its staff to challenge the very way it works:
- Use people’s passions in their work
- Create multi-disciplinary teams to give clients everything the need from one group
- Social business means letting your staff have a discussion about the future of the business – and listening to them
Iris Lapsinki: New ways of teaching
Iris challenged us to think again about how we train our children – and how to make them better problem solvers in a changing age:
- We teach children knowledge, not how to solve problems
- They need to be taught how to define a problem – and then solve it
- The “swiss army knife” approach to education is no longer viable
Chris Moss: solving the audience’s business challenges
Chris took questions from the floor, and gave inspirational advice to a range of businesses:
- Stop finding reasons not to get going on things – get started, even if it’s at a lower level than you anticipated
- You need to daydream in business – people’s potential is more important then their general knowledge now, if you can help them realise it.
- Without a passion and a dream underlying it, a business is going nowhere.
John Rosling: the chief executive should be the chief entrepreneur
John issued a stirring call for an end to boring, safe leadership and a rallying call for business leaders who could genuinely inspire an organisation:
- The person who knows how to do something will always have a job, but the one who knows why to do it will always be boss
- Coach your team, don’t play the game. Your job is managing energy, not doing business
- You need the right culture to attract the right talent.
Rajeeb Dey: becoming a young entrepreneur
Rajeeb talked about the mindset needed to walk away from great job offers and startup on your own:
- Dodge analysis paralysis – risk aversion will mean you never do anything
- Don’t see entrepreneurship as a lesser alternative to a “real” job – but as a route to freedom and meaningful work
- Entrepreneurship is jumping off a cliff and building a parachute on the way down…
JP Hamilton: Good Business is Personal
- Live to the brand values of your company, but ensure that it has a commercial edge to make it sustainable
- Only a couple of people are needed to make a difference. Social media can magnify their efforts
- Secure board support to get the space to grow.
Alan Moore: navigating a better future
Alan guided us into the post-industrial organisation, one that can cope with ambiguity and complexity, and adapt itself to changing conditions:
- The structures of the industrial age can’t survive the complexities of the post-digital era
- We need a human operating system for new business, which emphasise adaptiveness, openness and participation
- You can design for flexibility – and you need to
Peter Shankman: Forget likes, be liked
Live, via Skype, Peter challenged us to let go of the idea of social as a channel and to start being social:
- People expect to be treated badly – confound that expectation and you’re already ahead
- Learn to write well. Stupid grammar mistakes make you look stupid
- reach out to your haters and critics – if you can turn them around you’ve got an advocate for life
Anton Chernikov: Building a platform for social good
Anton is building a platform for social businesses – and that means building a company that lives those values. This is what he’s learnt:
- Social business is about making every element of your business more human
- Figure out the unwritten rules of your company – and start breaking the ones that stop you being a better company
- Technology is about human need, not specifications and numbers
Neville Hobson: Take courage
Neville sent us into the West Country night with a rallying call to be brave – because without bravery, we’ll never change anything.
- Do. Or do not. There is no try. “Try” is an excuse for failing. Be honest – succeed or fail.
- If you have an idea of how to do things better – you have a responsibility to implement it
- People see change as a threat to their authority – take the lead by eliminating FUD