Institute of Directors Annual Conference

The IOD (Institute of Directors) Annual Conference is always a fancy affair. As a time poor entrepreneur it's hard to justify attending a fun event when there is so much real work to do. But I decided to go along and learn from some of the worlds most successful individuals. Here are the highlights of my favourite three speakers:

Joanna Shields - CEO, Tech City

Joanna spoke about website that are having a massive impact by developing digital tools with mass reach (e.g. Wix, Yelp etc) She believes entrepreneurs should focus on open platforms that enable anyone to access markets. Specifically she spoke about Asos the online clothing store. They opened their e-commerce platform to competitors e.g. G-Star. Now Asos has a huge selection of products and has solidifying their position as the best place to shop online for fashionable clothes, leading to happy users and huge increase in sales of their products.

Dan Cobley - MD, Google UK & Ireland Google are a pretty amazing company, tips from Dan where to galvanise your companies innovation around a mission, rather than improve things by 10 percent try to make them 10 times better and have a huge impact on the world!

One of Google's keys to success has been that they hire curious problem solvers. People that want to fix problems just because they are there! An example of how they did this is the their bill board campaign, which featured a mathematical puzzle. People who solved the puzzle where invited for an interview with Google - read more about it here.

To get an idea for googles ability to plan for the future, when they launched gmail they could not afford to give 1gb of free storage with an email account. If a large number of people had adopted it quickly they would have cripple the project due to the huge storage cost. However they made the project feasible by using Moors Law. Google knew it would take years for Gmail to become huge and after a few years 1gb of storage would be cheap. Thus they gave a huge ammount of free storage early on that crushed their competition.

He hinted that google were now designing tools that would run on the internet of tomorrow, building applications that would need 100 times faster internet connects and being ready for the market as the infrastructure is still being put in place, these are being tested in Google Fibre Land.

Jack Welch By far my favourite speaker was Jack, who answered questions via video link to New York!

He talked mostly about team work. How can leaders get staff to buy in to their jobs? Are you clear on where your company is going? Jack believes that motivational leaders are generous, they are excited about their people, it turns them on to see their people do well!

He made an interesting analogy to gardening. Leaders should have a can of water in one had, fertiliser in the other. Employees are theirs seeds, non performing "weeds" need pulled out and you should be excited about the flowers!

He believes great leaders should have a burning passion to see ideas through! When there are road blocks you must break through the wall to get there.

His parting words were "Make a real contribution to the world - go like hell for it!"


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