On Tuesday, I took my unsuspecting fiancé to the National Achievers Congress 2015. To be completely honest, we had no idea who or what was involved except that Richard Branson would be there, and that was enough to sell us. As true entrepreneurial spirits, we’re big fans. And he didn’t disappoint. The last hour of the day saw him being interviewed by Ben Fordham and in the first two minutes Richard had cut off Ben’s tie. Many laughs all round. Richard is a cheeky bugger, yet so gentlemanly and humble. What he has done for the world is nothing short of inspirational. My favourite quote was when Ben asked if he’d be winding down any time soon, and Richard responded that to retire “would be such a waste”. Amen to that. #amy4neckerisland
The rest of the day was… interesting. Michelle Bridges was amazing, and Richard Branson was incredible, and everything in between was just way too much. Too intense, too much selling, and if someone screamed the question ‘YES or NO?’ into the microphone one more time I was ready to lose my shit. I have a pretty low tolerance for people telling me what to do (call it the Taurean bull in me) as it is, and this event just pushed my buttons on a whole other level.
I tried to be in the moment, to ignore the condescending, motivational speaker-y sales tactics and just scribble down the gems of wisdom, and I succeeded for the first half of the day. But post-lunch, I had had enough, and by the time I went home that night, I felt like I’d been repeatedly punched in the head all day. My boss, Tara from Dream & Do, said she felt physically anxious during some of the speeches. We exchanged some particularly hilarious texts during the day, none of which I’ll share here! Although two awesome speakers book-ended the event, I’m glad it was a Scoopon ticket and we didn’t pay full price. Because eff that.
I didn’t really know much about Michelle Bridges before this event, and now I think she’s pretty much one of the coolest people ever. I don’t believe in diets and exercise plans, but I honestly found myself wondering if I should check out that famous 12-Week Body Transformation shi-bang. Other speakers – take note! If you’re good enough, people will Google you afterwards and THEN buy your shit. Don’t throw it in my face. Almost every speaker finished their talk by selling tickets (sometimes up to the value of $17,000!!!) to their very exclusive, definitely not overpriced, secret information seminar that was conveniently coming up in Sydney in the next few months.
All that being said, we did take home some cool pieces of advice, inspiration and motivation. And here they are…
1. If you don’t know what you want, how the hell are you going to get there?
Oh, Michelle Bridges. I’m your newest biggest fan. She talked about the value of figuring out your purpose and planning to make it happen. The number one question we should all ask ourselves is WHAT DO I WANT? Then take action, don’t just sit passively and wait for it to magically fall into your lap. Plan, write goals, milestones, benchmarks, and take one single step in the direction you need to go in. Just one step. The plan doesn’t have to be locked in concrete, it’s always changing. But there needs to be action for things to happen. If you do nothing, nothing happens. “When action starts, things change.” Have some balls. So simple. So wisdomous.
2. Learning is more valuable than making money.
When asked about start-up businesses and the value of consistency, picking yourself up and trying again after failing, Richard Branson said: “You are not necessarily going to succeed but you will learn so much just by trying it.”
3. Resistance = persistence.
Once again, this is from my new friend Michelle Bridges (seriously, almost everything I remember from the day came from her). “Your past does not equal your future, as long as you make a change in the NOW.” Genius. If there’s something you’re resisting, you need to face it head on, or it’ll have a sneaky way of re-emerging in your future. You can’t just sweep things under the rug. Deal with it, or it’ll come back and bite you on the bum.
4. Get over yourself.
This one really tugged on the heartstrings. Gerry Roberts said that we all need to stop trying to be such perfectionists and thinking we have to do and be everything, 100%, all the time. Granted, the lesson he was trying to teach is that you shouldn’t care if your book isn’t awesome and amazing and perfect and free from spelling mistakes, we should just all write a book anyway. Let it be known, on record, that I, as a writer of words, DISAGREE WITH ALL OF THIS. In my world, it’s basically blasphemous to say such things. Please do not write a book that is full of spelling mistakes. Please. So let’s just take the ‘get over yourself, we’re not perfect’ advice and leave the rest.
5. The best leaders are the best listeners.
Richard Branson said this, and what a gem of wisdom it is. He also talked about creating fun rules for company culture; some of his businesses have just implemented pretty forward-thinking rules like unpaid 12-month paternity or maternity leave, and taking holidays whenever you want. He says, “Treat your employees as human as possible and you will get great results.” How true is this?! So obvious, yet sadly not a given at a lot of companies. If you’re a dick to your staff, why would they work hard for you?
6. Mediocrity is an epidemic in our world.
This one is by Adam Markel, and pretty on-point for Dream & Do. Don’t follow the crowd, shake things up, challenge the status quo, do something unexpected. He also said that we’re all still five-year-olds inside, and to challenge that childlike energy and imagination as often as possible, get back to our roots and own ourselves. Another gem: “Business is too fucking tough not to be having fun.”
7. Richard Branson says ‘Find time to smile, laugh and joke. Have fun.’
We should all heed his word.
Now excuse me while I go and read all of Richard Branson’s books and plan my outfits for Necker Island.