The promise of '5 days of business as un-usual' on a tropical island in the South Pacific with 200 other like-minded business owners is pretty motivating. But add to that the line-up of inspirational NZ and global speakers that include Sir Graham Henry, Sir John Kirwan, Daniel & Justine Flynn (Thank you), Kathryn Wilson (yes - that Kathryn Wilson), Frances Valintine (Tech Futures/Mindlab), Dan Alpe (Jucy), Chris Quin (CEO of Foodstuffs North Island), Bernard Powell (Winner of NZ Best Workplace) and Linda Jenkinson (Uber entrepreneur) that's when you realise you are going to something pretty special.
Whilst it's hard to capture everything I learnt and took away from Nurture Change, I wanted to share my Top 8 (I had to stop somewhere).
1. We are not alone
As business owners, it's really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, managing cashflow, worrying about clients/projects, wondering how far you can extend the credit card/overdraft and thinking I promise this weekend I won't think about the business - yeah right!
Nurture Change and the people I met, made me realise I am not alone in this. Intrinsically you know that there are others like you, but you don't often get the chance to spend time with each other, share those experiences and learn from others ups and downs. No matter what size of the business or category we are in, there is someone else that can share your pain or offer you advice or simply relate to what you are going through.
2. Spend time ON the business
I read a lot of books, listen to business podcasts, go to networking meetings but until you commit to something longer term, it often doesn't really sink in. You get back to the office or home and reality hits quickly. 5 days away from the business and home/family is a helluva commitment, but I now know how necessary it is and that it is an investment in the business and me as it's leader.
Being surrounded by other business people, hearing their stories, learning about different aspects of running a business like workplace culture (thanks Bernard), working out how much your business is worth (cheers Warrick Jackson from PWC) to realising that optimal gut health can supercharge your focus and energy to work smarter (love your work Chantel Hutnan).
3. Focus on your BIG ROCKS
Sir Graham (Ted) Henry discussed the importance of not getting sidetracked by the small issues and distractions (him and the ABs had plenty). Set yourself 3-4 'Big Rocks' and work backwards to ensure that all your energy goes to completing those and not 'sweating the small stuff'. Also, deal with the elephant in the corner - don't let it grow bigger!
4. Keep your jellybean jar full
Linda Jenkinson was one of the most inspirational women/business leaders I have ever had the privilege to meet. My pen did not stop. She gave us advice on how to build a billion dollar business - love it - think big! Use the power of authentic relationships and a cycle of gratitude. Don't ask something from someone without knowing you can give something in return. Always pay it forward and always say thank you!
5. Do what you love and No apologiES
Kathryn Wilson backed herself and her passion for shoes. She had to ask for help, see past those that didn't think she could do it and own her space. Get an amazing advisory board that can fill in the gaps and help guide you through the craziness of business.
6. Know your numbers
I remember reading a similar piece of advice from Diane Foreman. Chris Quin recommended developing 5-6 metrics that you live by. Create a dashboard and study it everyday. How can you tell if you have made progress if you don't know where you started?
7. Create an inspiring workplace
The pocket rocket, energiser bunny Bernard Powell gave some stellar thoughts on getting the best out of your workforce and workplace. From simple things like personalising workspaces to creating a 2-second lean. Every week ask what can we improve by 2-seconds/2mm/2%? Ensure everyone has a living job description and get them to right it themselves. Celebrate your wins - big and small! Hire slow. Mandatory weekly meetings that everyone attends to not only go through the week but brainstorm improvements, values, new ideas.
8. the power of Connection
Finally and probably most importantly, I walked away with some incredible connections, friendships and memories. The challenge of going to something like this on your own is that you have to step outside your comfort zone, get uncomfortable, be vulnerable and let your guard down. But by doing so, it's amazing the people you get to meet, experiences you get to share and stories you get to tell. In the words of Daniel and Justine - what if?
Thank you to Zac, Steve, Hayley and Hazel. What and incredible team you make and what an amazing experience you have created with Nurture Change. I am already looking forward to the next one!