We ate jambalaya, we ventured onto Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street. Oh yeah, and we learned a whole ton too!
I was fortunate to be a speaker at the 2018 Scale Up Summit in New Orleans this week. The summit was hosted by Verne Harnish and Gazelles, in collaboration with Bloomberg Live. It drew 900 leaders from the fastest growing mid-market firms ($5 million to $500 million).
The premise of the summit was “leaders are readers”. In the span of two days, we learned from 10 of the world’s greatest, award-winning authors through interactive talks, workshops and Q&A. Interspersed throughout the days were Ted-style talks from a handful of CEOs, who told our stories from the front lines, of how we’ve implemented tactics and strategies from the books we’ve read over the years.
The learnings were so powerful that they deserve to be shared with everyone.
So, here goes. Here are, in my opinion, the most impactful takeaways from the 2018 Scale Up Summit:
Author of The Excellence Dividend, and Founder, Chairman of tompeters!
Tom had us all roaring with laughter at his one-liners. Tom has authored 17 books in his career and is a mentor to us all. My favorite Tom Peters gems:
- The #1 core value of every company ought to be effective listening. If you’ve had a 30-minute conversation with another person, and afterward you aren’t completely exhausted and feel like either barfing or passing out, you weren’t listening hard enough.
- 50% of a leader’s time should be unscheduled.
- The #1 investment every company must make is in training. If you have a training budget for your leadership team, cut it in half and use that money for training for your front-line supervisors.
Founder, CEO of Stride Consulting and Author of Hire Women
That’s me! Based on the feedback I received, I believe the biggest takeaways folks got were:
- Good meetings are the true pulse of scale. A really strong weekly leadership team meeting can replace tons of crappy meetings and save you tons of time (did you know that on average, we each waste 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings?)
- Core values are only real if you are willing to suffer through something to aggressively protect them.
Co-author, Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence, and Ellison Professor of Marketing at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
Avi gave us a peek into the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI):
- AI is prediction. As AI continues to improve, the cost of prediction gets cheaper.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking prediction = decision-making. It doesn’t. Judgement is knowing what decisions to make with the prediction data.
CEO of Hagerty Insurance
McKeel engages his team through a series of unexpected and powerful activities:
- Every Hagerty employee can learn how to drive a stick if they’d like. Even kids of Hagerty employees of driving age can take a spin. Why? He believes everyone can love and appreciate driving, no matter what job you have at Hagerty.
- In response to self-driving cars, McKeel doubled-down on his mission to “Save Driving.” Love it.
David Meerman Scott
Author, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, and Sales and Marketing Strategist
David shared cutting edge marketing strategies and had us all on our feet!
- Sound triggers powerful emotions. As such, companies are starting to think about adding sonic logos. A sonic logo is like a jingle, a few notes that are the mark of a company, just like the Nike swoosh but auditory.
- Engage buyers real time. This can be done in various ways, including short video clips, in-person events and one on one conversations.
- Newsjacking is a powerful tactic. Did you know that David was the one who actually invented the word “newsjacking”? Amazing. Newsjacking is noticing a trending news topic and generating content aligned with that topic.
CEO at MultiFunding LLC, Author of The Growth Dilemma
Ami opened my eyes to the value of the US Small Business Association (SBA) and cleared up common misconceptions about the SBA. Did you know:
- The SBA itself doesn’t lend money. It provides incentives to banks to make loans.
- The SBA can help small business get loans of up to $5 Million.
- A small business is defined as any company 500 employees or less.
Administrator of the US Small Business Administration
Linda shared timeless words of wisdom:
- Treat every day like it’s your first day on the job. Don’t walk in and say ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’. Look at things with fresh eyes.
- Be a consumer of your own products and see how it is resonating. Read the reviews about your company.
CEO, Nexient, ex-President and COO of Bill.com and inventor who holds more than 25 US patents
Mark spoke about the value of bringing a Product Mindset to software development, which was music to my ears.
- Live your product by getting close to your customers.
- Love your product by mapping user journeys
- Get working software into the hands of real users as quickly as possible (he didn’t use the word MVP but those of us in tech in the crowd got the message).
Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker
Author of TEEMING: How Superorganisms Work to Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World and Evolutionary Biologist and Biomimicry Consultant.
Biomimicry is the art and science of innovation inspired by nature. Did you know:
- Inspired employees are 125% more productive than your average employee.
- Yet, most organizational structures are soul sucking and demotivating. We out to take a lesson from mother nature: bees and ants understand how to thrive in scaling communities. Because, it’s not the strongest species that survive, it’s the ones most responsive to change.
CEO at Lamberg Insurance Services
Josh played minor league baseball before starting his insurance company, and he shared the parallels between baseball and business:
- Focus on process, on the fundamentals.
- If a short-term result doesn’t go your way and your fundamentals are strong, play the long game. If you practice your stance, and take a swing and get a hit, and an outfielder nabs the ball and robs you of a home run, it doesn’t mean your swing is bad. Stick with the process.
Brett told a story of turning a social media mistake into a PR gem.
- Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes.
- Taking the time to listen, to really listen, to your customers, is the most important thing.
Judith E. Glasser
Author of Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results; and Founder/CEO at Benchmark Communications
Judith spoke from the heart.
- 9 out of 10 conversations miss the mark.
- Look people in the eyes when speaking with them. You’ll release oxytocin in your brain and in theirs, which is proven to improve health.
- Listen to connect, not to judge or reject. Everything starts with conversation.
Author of The Sumo Advantage: Leveraging Business Development to Team with Heavyweights and Grow in Any Economy; and CEO of Rollick Outdoor
Bernie defined sales and business development in a way I hadn’t heard before:
- Sales is different than business development. Sales is about getting a “Yes”. Business development is about building long term relationships and avoiding a “No”.
- A Sumo is a heavy-weight potential partner, and focusing on forming mutual win-win partnerships can propel your business to new heights.
Author of Your Perfect Presentation: Speak in Front of Any Audience Anytime Anywhere and Never Be Nervous Again; and Founder/CEO of Own The Room
Make every presentation great by doing these things:
- Say “This is exciting” out loud to yourself before every speech. It’s proven that if you doubt yourself, you will, in fact, do 5-10% worse.
- Use expressive body language like hand movements and physically walk around and use the space you’ve got.
- Start the talk with an interesting fact or question.
Co-Author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back; and Entrepreneur (Priceline.com, uBid.com)
Jeff talked about living your dream. He was the closing speech at the conference, totally worth the wait!
- Aim to achieve your personal “resonant frequency”, which is defined as your life, firing on all cylinders, to the point where you love your life exactly as it is now, and wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s life.
- Go out and make a dent in history. Leave your own legacy.
Thanks to all of the speakers, you were outstanding!