LESSONS FROM WINNERS
RICHARD CONWAY SHARES SOME OF HIS TOP TAKEAWAYS FROM THE RECENT UNFILTERED LIVE 2018 EVENT: HOW TO WIN IN BUSINESS. FAST.
Richard Conway shares some of his top takeaways from the recent Unfiltered Live 2018 event: How to Win in Business. Fast.
Ihave been involved with Unfiltered for a few years, first as an interviewee and subsequently as a commercial partner. The third annual Unfiltered Live event was held on Tuesday May 22 at Shed 10 on Auckland’s waterfront. Hosted by former Saatchi & Saatchi CEO and Unfiltered chair Kevin Roberts, the event saw speakers and panellists who have reached high levels of achievement in the entrepreneurial space deliver engaging lessons to a captivated audience on attaining business success.
The title of this year’s event was “How to Win in Business. Fast” – and the theme of winning quickly couldn’t have been more present throughout the day, as the ten speakers all shared not just their own success stories, but each provided five ideas for entrepreneurial success within their allotted 20 minutes.
From fashion designer Karen Walker to Paralympic gold medallist Liam Malone, to Anna Mowbray from the siblingdriven toy manufacturer Zuru, we heard from a diverse range of personalities who all had insight into the entrepreneurial mindset – that rare combination of qualities that drives someone to start businesses and seek success.
KIWIS FLYING HIGH
A common thread at Unfiltered Live 2018 was the incredible achievements of the New Zealanders who spoke. Philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar said during one of the day’s panels that the benchmark now for Kiwi entrepreneurs is not just to be world class, but to be world-beating in whatever direction you apply yourself.
More amazing still was the fact that the vast majority of the Kiwi speakers we heard from throughout the day were female, showing the extent of the accomplishments that Kiwi women in business have achieved.
We heard from Linda Jenkinson, the first New Zealand woman to take a company public on the NASDAQ, as well as Crimson Education co-founder and member of Forbes Asia’s ‘30 Under 30’ list Shandre Kushor, and the aforementioned international fashion icon Karen Walker, among many others.
A SMALL-TOWN SUCCESS STORY
Without doubt one of the most engaging speakers on the day was Brendan Lindsay, the founder of New Zealand plastic
container business Sistema. Brendan spoke about his incredible journey which took him from making plastic coat-hangers in his garage at home in Cambridge, Waikato, to selling plastic storage containers across more than 90 countries, and eventually in 2016 selling Sistema to US conglomerate Newell for a cool $660 million.
We heard hilarious and captivating stories about the time Brendan spent sleeping in his car while growing his business around New Zealand, as well as the commitment he made to presenting himself professionally and how that helped him to break into supermarkets in Australia ahead of his young and cocky Aussie competition.
Woven into his anecdotes were lessons and ideas about the power of storytelling in business and the importance of not exposing yourself to unnecessary risk, and how loyalty is critical. In negotiating the sale of Sistema, Brendan was able to guarantee 20 more years of manufacturing in New Zealand and ensure that his most loyal employees were assured jobs for life.
Brendan ended his talk with probably the simplest and best-received advice of the day: “don’t be a ‘can’t’,” – a testament to the importance of a positive attitude when starting a business, and perhaps an even deeper message for some of us!
CHEAT CODES TO SUCCESS
Another highlight of the day was Unfiltered’s Jake Millar interviewing Brian Wong, the 27-year-old entrepreneur and founder of Kiip, who at the age of 19 was able to raise $300,000 in Silicon Valley funding.
Amazingly enthusiastic for someone who had only just flown in from the US, Brian gave inspirational and informative answers to questions about his success and philosophies, framing his ideas in terms of gaming cheat codes that can help young people get ahead in life.
Brian’s key ‘cheat code’ for aspiring entrepreneurs was to know your superpower – the thing that makes you stand out from everybody else in the room – and harness it to your advantage, as it gives you a competitive edge that can’t be recreated.
He also identified that the habit of putting yourself into uncomfortable situations is key to seizing opportunities, and urged us to not only ask persistently for whatever you need, but also to treat every interaction you have as an opportunity to expand and grow your business.
Finally, he stressed the importance of subservient leadership; encouraging leaders to give enough control and autonomy to their employees to the point where they can sit back and focus on supporting them and meeting their needs – rather than letting decision-making power accrue at the top level and stunting employees’ ability to take charge of their work.
Coming out of Unfiltered Live 2018, a first lesson present in many of the speakers’ stories was the importance of learning, and continuing to learn regardless of your age and level of success. This kind of learning can come not just from reading or events such as Unfiltered Live, but also from mentors (something that has been hugely influential for me personally).
Many of the younger speakers highlighted the value that they received from finding experienced business mentors and using them as a tool of knowledge to better their own business.
When it came to the workplace, speakers touched again and again on the importance of culture both within your team and between you and your customers, as well as the need for ‘leaders’ rather than ‘managers’.
We heard that the hands-off leadership style championed by Brian Wong is instrumental in successfully managing millennials, who now make up the majority of the workforce.
It would be impossible to list all the lessons that were passed along from speakers to the attendees over the course of the day, and that goes to show the value of events such as Unfiltered Live.
Every single person who attends picks up on different elements of the speakers’ lessons. However, they all leave with one thing in common: inspiration.
With this in mind, the value of the environment that was created again this year by Jake Millar and Unfiltered is crystal clear – hearing and learning from business experts will always inspire people to ‘find their superpower’, aim it at a purpose, and most importantly, as we heard from Liam Malone, “just start”.
“Know your superpower – the thing that makes you stand out from everybody else in the room – and harness it to your advantage.”