Cracking On after the Brighton Summit 2019

I love that every year, I’ve left the Brighton Summit with something new; a lot of new insights and inspiraton and often a recurring theme from the day, that helps me to either ‘Embrace the Unknown’, ‘Look Up’ or, in this year’s case ‘Crack On’.

The recurring theme for me this year was about authenticity and people centric businesses.

Here are my highlights of the day.

Hannah Dawson

You never know when the most amazing idea will come

The first talk in the morning from Hannah Dawson was a brilliant start to the day.

A touching tale of highs and lows; a new pub, children, a nightmare ex-husband and a horrendous VAT bill that led Hannah to eventually launch Futrli – The first AI platform built for small businesses, on a mission to help us succeed and break the 50% failure rate trend.

I love that this is a business that was clearly borne out of a desire to help others win in business and not fail because of unforeseen problems. I’ll certainly be taking a look at it! I do love a spreadsheet though…

I really loved Hannah’s story of success over adversity. Social Brighton only became a serious business that started to grow when I left a miserable, stressful job and decided to do something that I thought would genuinely help people.

I know it won’t always be plain sailing – but if we just crack on and get through it, maybe something fabulous will occur next.

My takeaway: Sometimes brilliant things really do happen when you least expect it.

kamal ahmed

You can’t nickel and dime authenticity

I grew up believing the BBC was unbiased and presented the truth without agenda.

It was while studying Media Studies A Level at college, I realised how hard that is. For a publisher/broadcaster to be completely impartial and present the ‘facts’ in an age of digital misinformation is certainly tricky.

Kamal Ahmed, Editorial Director of BBC News touched on how heavily many people rely on social networks as communications channels. This raises fresh challenges for the BBC around engaging younger generations while maintaining its impartiality as a trusted news source.

At the end of the day it’s about being relatable and building trust… but I wonder how many people who are growing up in the social age will perceive the BBC in the same way that I do.

A few things really resonated during Kamal’s talk and the interview with James Dempster that followed:

“Listen, don’t broadcast”

“Culture always trumps strategy”

“You can’t nickel and dime authenticity”

I’m a massive believer in authenticity (although it’s a word that gets bandied around a lot in marketing) as well as a culture of transparency – which I believe is essential in any good social media output.

It’s interesting to hear that the BBC is dealing with the same challenges that many businesses are: building trust and relatability through their communications, as well as expressing their values authentically.

I also love the concept of ‘small giants’: “You don’t need to be a big business to be influential”. We really all can do our bit, with our audiences, in our niche. Hurrah for small giants!

My takeaway: Keep on bringing the conversation back to authenticity with our clients.

Justin-Francis-headshot-2Invest in your staff and stick to your values

In the afternoon I attended a brilliant talk from Justin Francis, co-founder of Responsible Travel, the world’s first business dedicated entirely to sustainable/responsible tourism in 2001.

Responsible Travel is different to other travel businesses because it not only benefits shareholders, but is focused on five key stakeholders:

Profits – Staff – Environment – Local Residents – Government

Justin delivered an inspiring talk about how to run a ‘decent’ company, and how investing in people and aligning your business with your values is the way to go. Because we all need to take responsibility for our local communities, vulnerable people and the planet.

The success of Responsible Travel, both financially and in terms of the impact they make to communities all over the world, goes to show that this model really works. Go and have a read about how they operate – it’s truly amazing.

Another great part of this session was Justin explaining how Dame Anita Roddick asked him many years ago to list ‘the rules’ of the travel sector on one half of a piece of paper, and then on the other half, work out how to break each of them.

What a great idea to help us all push our businesses forward and be more disruptive, doing things differently and better than the rest.

My takeaway: Be more Justin

Gina Miller

You can’t do everything

Gina Miller’s talk was something else. I think everyone who was there would agree.

Thank God there are people like Gina in the world. She is not leaving our country’s fate up to the politicians and is combatting the direction of travel. I was so spellbound by Gina’s talk I must admit I didn’t take many notes and have the memory of a goldfish. I’ll definitely be buying her book though!

Her fascinating story: arriving in Sussex as a 10 year old girl, suffering an awful attack at college, having children, an abusive partner, studying law, through to successfully challenging the government’s authority to trigger Article 50 in 2016, left many of us in complete awe about how you can possibly overcome and achieve so much.

But when she advised us…

“Decide who you want to be and what you will stand for… you can’t do everything.”

…it made the challenge feel a little more manageable.

I also loved Gina’s Bruce Lee reference – “take in the negativity and redirect it to do good.”

Gina also talked about transparency and honesty in business – putting people and communities first, focusing on the triple bottom line – People, Planet and Profit.

But also, in terms of our personal lives – being honest about who we are with our children so they really know us – and not a version of us we want them to know.

My takeaway: Be authentic as a parent and not just a business*

The Brighton Summit is about so much more than the speakers.

As well as thinking about championing authenticity, being transparent in life and business, and focusing on people, profit and planet, I loved the food, the company and the networking!

Thanks so much Sarah & team! Already looking forward to next year 😊


*I actually invited my 10 year old daughter to GROW19, my first marketing conference, on Wednesday night and she heard my opening talk about how I’m worried about how social media will affect her when she’s a teenager: will she be influenced by influencers who are presenting a fake version of themselves? Will she be in a world where young people see through the facade or are seeking validation through engagement? Or will she gain value from it? I’ve never shared my concerns with her before but Gina’s talk inspired me to be transparent with her and I think that’s a good thing. And hopefully she felt proud of her mum too!