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L to R – Michael Fertik, Jeff Taylor, Russell Simmons, Karen Beattie, Martha Stewart, Muhammad Yunnis, George Clooney

On Monday I had the fortune of participating in the Growth Faculties Leadership Summit. Six leaders, with different styles and methods took to the stage to share what they had learned about leadership.

Martha Stewart at 70, gave an energetic and passionate insight into her life and the creation of her personal brand. She did speak of how her role now is about rebuilding the business after the decline following her incarceration. Though she believes that her brand remains what it was. (I understand that in the US not all would agree with her).

Her story is engaging and fascinating and there was much to learn.

Martha said:
“Without an open mind you can’t be a great success”
“I’m fundamentally curious”
“If you write a book you become an ‘expert’”
“Never ever talk down to the customer & we need to be where our customers need and want us to be”
“Everyone needs to believe in what they are doing.”

She started her career as a model, then moved into stock broking, before starting her catering business. There is no doubt that this is a woman who has been completely driven since her childhood and at 70 she is equally driven. The question I was left with is “Does she define her success in dollars – or in the contribution to others, I was unclear on this.”

Muhammad Yunnis

How different the next speaker was… Muhammad Yunis, Nobel peace prize winner (who I had seen in September). He shared with the group the notion of Social Business – a new business model. Businesses that are created solely to solve a problem. Not to provide dividends – but also not a charity or not for profit.

Muhammad said:
“I asked myself the question can I make myself useful for other human beings?”
“I try to solve problems by creating a social business”
“It is easy to undermine the value of others if you are disconnected.”
“Crisis is in the conceptual construct in the theory of economics.”
“Most business is based on selfishness – and this is not sustainable as we are now seeing with the economic crisis’s.”
“Charity dollars only have one life as it goes out, it does not come back – social business dollars go around to be self funding.”
“Human creativity is endless but often we cannot see.”
“You can change the world if you can solve the tiny problems that then get replicated.”

Then we had the father of hip hop speak, Russell Simmons, who discovered the music and poetry of the streets back in 1972 – and it took him years to bring that culture to light, in music, film, clothes and TV. He too has influenced culture – it has been altered forever. Here is a man that is consumed by his passion for art, expression and poetry. He believes that you cannot create greatness with a commercial outcome in mind. Commercial outcome will come when greatness is created.

Russell said:
“Some people say keep your eye on the prize – but I don’t agree. If you keep looking at the prize you are likely to bump into things along the way.”
“Most industries are blind to new things coming.”
“I aspire to a post racial America – we are a long way from that – and Hollywood is really blind, it is not inclusive.”
“I believe that people will see what is cool in each other – this is aspirational.”
“My passion gave me a different life, I found a way to express myself – most of those I grew up with are either dead or in jail – every person needs to find their purpose.”
“If you want a long career then you need to make sure that your life’s work is the expression of what you really are – not what you think people think they want you to be.”
“No matter how rich you are you can only sit at one seat at a time.”
“Wealth comes from making your work meaningful – it is a state of consciousness.”
“Business often starts from a pure vision of creative expression this often gets lost. Come back to it.”
“I believe in economic justice in the US – a bigger conversation must take place about equality.”

Then we had actor George Clooney speak about his work in Sudan.

[It is interesting to note that for this session the organizers had sold seats just for this speaker – so the numbers in the audience swelled to double – so we have a nobel peace prize winner with a lifetime of changing the world – but who people want to see and hear from is the celebrity. This paradox was not lost on George Clooney.]

George said:
“I now have the ability to use my celebrity to shine the light on areas that only have darkness – I can bring these issues to the world.”
“When people try to discredit your intentions – simply know more than they do about the issue.”
“You have to be involved – see it, feel it, be there, understand, know the facts, the people.”
“It is easier to be in advocacy than politics – you don’t have to compromise and you can stay truly focused on the issue.”
“Success I understand to be just for a mere moment in time. – That moment I need to use to turn it into something worthwhile.”
“I don’t take myself seriously – but I do take my work seriously.”
“The role of the leader is to say ‘Put down your pencils and hand in your work.’ – to know when to bring the plan together.”
“Leaders need a clear voice that says ‘This is what we are going to do.’ As well as robust diplomacy, individual belief and an understanding of the power of shared voice.’”=

Jeff Taylor founder of took to the stage to admit that Australia was the only place where he had failed in creating his job board business. However he did succeed in 50 countries with 6000 employees. Jeff gave his view on why each person needs to be his or her own CEO. That is ‘you are the CEO of your own life’ and he shared his ‘FAME’ concept.

Jeff said:
“F:  Create a workplace where people can be a Free agent”
“A: Train like an Athlete, ready to play the game of your life.”
“M: Prepare like a Marketer, know your key message.
“E: Engage like an entrepreneur.”

The final speaker for the day was Michael Fertik speaking on reputation. As a marketer of course I have understood always that as individuals and as a business the only thing we really have is our reputation. Michael shared with us how volatile social media has made reputation – and that we have no control.

72% of employers apparently look at social media as part of their recruitment strategy – and 49% have changed their intentions of employing an individual based on what they learned.

Face recognition software will mean that we have no privacy and that anywhere anytime our image can be ‘tainted’. This is true for companies and individuals – and bad stories whether true or not hang around online forever.

What a special day… A day of learning, being in the presence of greatness, inspiration and debate. I was most fortunate to attend a dinner with 60 others at the Shangri La with the speakers. This is where I had the chance to ask the questions that I had wanted to during the day.

Well-done Growth Faculty for putting together such an event…

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