The Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit, Philadelphia 2009
Talk about a title that makes you run out of breath; however, it certainly wasn’t a bunch of hot air. The GCEC Summit was hosted by innovation Philadelphia. It consisted of 5 tracks: Creative Economy, Creative Entrepreneurship, Creative 21st Century Workforce, Creative Sustainability, and Creative Technologies. If you haven’t noticed, the theme was all about the world of creatives.
There was an array of speakers ranging from Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter to Melissa Thiessen, Co-Organizer of Twestival. Attendees could stick to one track or skip around for a more rounded experience. It was hard to decide since all of the sessions looked interesting and informative. I mostly stuck to the Creative Entrepreneurship track since, well… I’m an entrepreneur, but I tried to round it out a bit as well. So here’s what I went to and what I got out of it:
Which: Creative Entrepreneurship
What: Propelling Economic Growth and Social Change With Psychology
Who: Alexander Stein, Ph.D., Principal Boswell Group LLC
Why: This was a workshop discussing “key psychoanalytic approaches to economic innovation, business enhancement and development, and social entrepreneurship” (GCEC Summit Program). “It is the intersection of helping business leaders and creating social change.”-Stein. I have an Associates in Psychology so this intrigued me.
What I learned: Stein was obviously a man of high intelligence; however, his presentation style didn’t really mesh with me. The ideas that he put forth were indeed intriguing but the presentation was a bit bland. There were no visuals and his speaking style resembled college lecture style.
He did try to engage but unfortunately fell a little flat on that front. I think the most important gem that I took away was the power of understanding why—Basically, that all of our stresses/anxieties that revolve around business decisions are deeply rooted in our past experiences. If we can tap into the often buried source of that stress/anxiety, then it will make us better business people who make more calculated decisions based on logic rather than emotion. I think that we know how to do this in our personal lives but don’t often apply it to our business selves. It is definitely something to keep in mind when making business decisions especially the ones that can make or break us.
Which: Creative Entrepreneurship
What: How to Start a Start-Up Community
Who: Steve Barsh, Moderator, Partner, DreamIt Ventures; Chris Cera, Founder, Vuzit; Geoff DiMasi, Principal, P’unk Avenue; Blake Jennelle, Director of Marketing, TicketLeap; Tracey Welson-Rossman, Director of Sales and Marketing, Chariot Solutions
Why: All of the peeps on this panel were instrumental in the formation of The Philly Startup Leaders (PSL), a community for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. I was interested in the logistics of creating a community and what worked and didn’t work for them along the way.
What I learned: Everyone on this panel including the moderator were very personable and extremely open to disclosing secrets of success. It was a very open discussion that was completely interactive. They discussed the beginnings of PSL as well as new projects of the present and on the horizon.
There were key fundamentals that surfaced several times during the discussion. Things such as discover what’s unique about your community whether it be entrepreneurs looking to get advice from other entrepreneurs or designers looking to make connections with tech people. Whatever that unique thing is, find it, and then network, network, network.
This doesn’t mean that you have to go put on your best suit and attend events. It means tell everyone you know and everyone you meet about your big idea. Eventually, you’ll find like-minded people who are willing to jump on board. The panel agreed that the magic number seems to be 10. If you can get 10 people on board, then your in business. You want to make sure that your message is easy for people to understand and swallow. The most important fundamental is to stay true to yourself and your message. Once your idea takes off, be sure to make it sustainable. Do this by putting systems in place that aren’t leader dependent because the bottom line is that it’s not about you, it’s about the message so make sure that message can continue without you.
Which: Creative Sustainability
What: Models of Urban Sustainability
Who: Katherine Gajewsk, Moderator, Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia; David Barrie, CEO, David Barrie & Associates; Gerald Furgione, Director of Business Development, Philly Car Share; Russell Meddin, Founder, Bike Share Philadelphia
Why: This panel was a sampling of case studies of urban sustainability projects. I’m very interested in urban sustainability efforts especially urban farming.
What I learned: First off, I’m completely excited about the Office of Sustainability that Mayor Nutter formed within Philly’s government infrastructure. I think that they are striving to do great things for Philly such as the streamlined recycling and the solar trash/recycling compactors. I’m looking forward to future implementations.
So gushings over Mayor Nutter aside, this panel was pretty cool. Barrie discussed an urban farming program that he implemented on the entire city of Middlesbrough, England. Yes, you read that right, the entire city. It was a huge success and very inspiring. I’m already planning out next years vegetable garden for my mother-in-laws backyard. Philly Car Share gave a run down of its beginnings up to today. I was unaware that it is a non-profit organization and is in jeopardy due to Zip Car which is a for-profit company.
Bike Share Philadelphia got me the most excited. Meddin reviewed several bike share programs that have been successful around the world and revealed his plans to have Philly become a bike share city as well. Exciting stuff!
Which: Creative Economy
What: Crowdsourcing Culture
Who: Matthew Fisher, Moderator, President and Co-Founder, Night Kitchen Interactive; Tony Romeo, Senior Vice President and Brand Liason, XLNTAds/Poptent; Andrew Schwalm, Writer, documentary filmmaker and web community organizer; Neil Takemoto, Founder, Cooltown Studios; Melissa Thiessen, Co-Organizer, Twestival
Why: This panel explored how crowdsourcing is impacting business, culture, and design. I’ve been wanting to learn more about crowdsourcing and its impact.
What I learned: The angle of the discussion was more towards how to create a crowdsourced venture by building an audience or community, motivating participation through recognition, awards, and/or prizes, and leveraging the value of their work. The use of crowdsourcing ranged from high yield for-profit business, XLNTAds, to charitable causes, Twestival. The differences between collaborative vs. competitive crowdsourcing was discussed. Whether for “good” or “evil”, crowdsourcing if wielded correctly is a proven method for success.
Which: Creative 21st Century Workforce
What: Making an Impact with Your Personal Brand
Who: Peter Madden, Moderator, Founder and President, AgileCat; Malik Boyd, Managing Partner, PBMarketing, LLC; Neen James, CEO, Neen James; Kesi Stribling, Chief Strategist, KSG Strategic Consulting; Alina Wheeler, Founder, Alina Wheeler
Why: The GCECS program summed it up with, “Who better to sell your product or service than you?” I, of course, wanted to make sure that I am doing all that I can do to get my name out there into the big, wide world.
What I learned: These panelists were informative, outgoing, and great public speakers. They each had a wealth of knowledge and advice to share.
From Boyd, I learned the four P’s to success: Passion, Purpose, Preparation, and Precision. Passion, do what you love so you can love what you do. Purpose, leading straight out of Passion, do what you love so you have a purpose for doing it. Preparation, be prepared as you can be from your elevator pitch to absorbing unforeseen costs like a print job gone awry. Lastly but definitely not least, Precision, do your work well and your reputation will precede you.
From James, I learned that “You’re always on, but you’re on before you’re on.” It seems confusing at first, but let me try to explain it as well as she did. From the time that you wake-up until the time that you go to sleep, you’re on. Everywhere you go and everything that you do, you’re on. This means when you run out to the grocery store on a Sunday morning to grab some milk, you’re on. Anyone and everyone could be your next client or know your next client. Always present your best foot forward. Now does this mean that you have to be wearing a three-piece suit at all times? No. But it does mean that you should always think about how you act and present yourself in your personal life as well as your business life. Let’s face it, if your in business for yourself then the lines of personal and business don’t really exist anymore. This extends to things like your personal Facebook page. Just because it’s personal doesn’t mean that your clients aren’t looking at it. So, maybe you should think twice about posting those shady, incriminating pics from your best friend’s bachelor party.
From Stribling, I learned that it’s all about the power and passion of you. It’s about preparation and networking. It’s especially about having that elevator pitch down pat so that you can spout it out in any situation like it’s second nature and not sound like a robot when doing so. Know your business and know how to sell it in 7 seconds or less. In fact, have a few elevator pitches to accommodate various situations focusing on different key aspects of your business so you are armed and ready to strike with grace and ease when the situation arises.
From Wheeler, I learned that even though the tools of the trade for self promotion have changed, the fundamental questions remain intact: Who am I? Who needs to know? How will they find out? Why should they care? Give some honest brain power to answering these questions and you’re more than halfway there.
Which: Creative Entrepreneurship
What: Monetizing Your Creative Passion
Who: Connie Pearson-Bernard, Moderator, President, Seamless Events, Inc.; Gloria Bell, Owner, Red Stapler Consulting; Melinda Emerson, CEO, MFE Consulting; Hajj Flemings, Founder, Brand Camp University
Why: This panel was all about the trials and tribulations in becoming an entrepreneur. “Lessons learned and roadblocks encountered during their journey to monetize their creative passions” (GCECS program). I’ve certainly encountered roadblocks along my entrepreneurial path so I was definitely interested in hearing what these panelists had to say to maybe avoid some future hick-ups.
What I learned: These panelists were amazingly inspirational and had a ton of advice to share. Emerson’s book Be Your Own Boss! How to Quit Your Job and Start Your Own Business in 18 Months or Less! might be a vital resource. Flemings gave great praise to the book Ignore Everybody.
They preached to build relationships, don’t look for clients. It’s the relationship that is important and the work will follow. They advised to have the fortitude to face your fear, be a planner, be a risk taker, be willing to hustle intelligently, be a visionary and a dreamer, and be passionate.
If you noticed, I said preached which they did. I felt as if I were in the church of Entrepreneurship and they were preaching the secrets of dreams. I heard phrases such as “grow yourself to grow your business” and “do what you say, say what you do”. Along with these uplifting nuggets of wisdom came solid, earthly advice like make sure to ask the client what the budget is before giving your quote so you don’t low-ball yourself, know the elements of your business, pick a niche, use professional contracts, understand basic project management, learn to write creative briefs, and absolutely positively make sure that you’re set-up to accept any form of payment.
I think the most vital piece of advice that I took away from this gospel was that “mentor-ship is accelerated wisdom”. Whether this is a mentor in-person or a virtual one, find someone or better yet someones who you can rely upon to help you navigate the entrepreneurial jungle. There are a plethora of people who have been there, done that so why go at it blind. Learn from their hard work so you can glide right over those roadblocks towards your golden dream on the horizon.