Leading entrepreneurs from across a range of different sectors inspired more than 200 North East business leaders at one of the most anticipated business events in the region when the Entrepreneurs’ Forum hosted its annual autumn conference.
The event, ‘Fortune Favours The Brave’, took place at Redworth Hall Hotel, near Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, featured a host of entrepreneurs from the business world, an Olympic champion, British basketball’s most successful player-coach, and a former England cricketer-turned psychologist.
Fabulous Flournoy, the inspirational coach of the Newcastle Eagles, is British basketball’s most successful ever player-coach. Fab shared lessons on leadership and teamwork. He outlined the difference between a goal and a purpose and how it can apply to business.
He said: “My purpose is not to win trophies, it’s to be the best coach the North East has ever seen. That is my purpose, not a goal. You could have a product, a service, an idea, but what is the purpose? You employ staff, make sure your staff, just like my team, share your purpose, just as it is their purpose. You have to have the same right-minded people. The power of your business is the power of your people, your team. You can’t be successful unless that team goes out there and performs.”
Entrepreneurial Insights saw Graham Robb, Chairman of the Institute of Directors in the North East and Senior Partner of event sponsor Recognition PR, interview four inspirational entrepreneurs about their experiences in business. The session heard the stories of the people behind Newcastle-based agency Unwritten Creative, multi-site North East heating merchant Flame Heating Spares and Surrey-based flooring company V4 Woodflooring.
Olympian Ben Hunt-Davis won gold as part of the British eights rowing team in 2000, and helped transform the approach taken by the team from also-rans to champions.
He said: “We realised that for the previous seven years we had been doing exactly the same thing. Hard work just isn’t a differentiator. Everybody we were competing against was working really hard. We changed hundreds and hundreds of tiny little things, by making small conscious decisions, all the way along. Every decision had to be based upon whether it would make the boat go faster.”
“Mentalist and master of influence” Gilan Gork, the man behind the book, Persuasion Games, flew in from South Africa to help delegates understand how they can enhance their professional, personal and social life, with his insights into body language and other non-verbal indicators.
Former England cricketer Jeremy Snape isnow a psychologist and founder of Sporting Edge, a world-leading sports consultancy. He told why he moved into the field of sports psychology and began to work with some of the leading figures in their fields.
He said: “Whether we are in business or sport, we all have a psychological breaking point; whether we are individuals in a pitch we don’t think we can win, a difficult conversation with someone senior to us, or a team facing a challenging situation. I became fascinated with the way people face these defining moments.
“The best sports teams in the world stress test themselves. Way before you go into the heat of battle, or start a new challenge, get people to play devil’s advocate.”
Tony Cleary, who founded Lanchester Wines in his living room and built it to a group of companies with the most modern wine plant in Europe, shared his business story and his successes and mistakes along the way.
He said: “The best advice I can give is to employ someone smart. Hire clever and motivated people. If you don’t, you will never grow. When you employ them, let them fly. Don’t try to micromanage them. They will make mistakes, of course they will, but in general terms they won’t make many.”