The event was outstanding - insightful, inspiring and for me, a real opportunity to catch up with the people I love, respect and look up to.
Despite a number of truly extraordinary guests and speakers, the glue that held the event together and made it truly remarkable was the MADE chairman and co-founder of Seven Hills, Michael Hayman. I sat in awe as Michael united the audience, introduced the guests and gave the event a true sense of purpose and impact. He was able to effortlessly link themes, summarise events and inspire each and every member of the audience with his powerful presence, confidence and charisma.
As a member of the audience, it seemed that every single moment of MADE had been planned, each word considered and every single moment rehearsed. I sat and wondered, if I would day could achieve such an incredible feat, on occasion moved to tears by the possible thought of it. That, and the fact I am lucky enough to know Michael and blessed with his company on a regular basis. I felt lucky to be me and inspired to make him proud.
I wondered how I could become a person of influence and considered what that really meant. I suppose, in ways, I already have some level of 'influence' in the start up community. I am a published author. I write. I speak. And I run workshops for the likes of Doug Richards and Peter Jones. I am lucky enough to call some of the figures in this space friends and I guess, am well networked and fairly well established in the industry.
I think, like sport or music or maths is a natural talent for some, building solid relationships, saying by bit and having people listen, is my version of common sense. Even at school, I was head of my year, won the public speaking contest and selected to have tea with the governors. I have always been comfortable with an audience, articulate in both verbal and written communication and as my earliest entrepreneurial ventures have shown, a natural born sales person.
But what about those of you who read this and now that this simply isn't you? What if you realising being influential is key to your business ambition but as removed from you as a foreign language? I reflected on this as I headed back from the MADE festival. In honesty, I was able to see traits in myself that I could emphasise and enhance to stand some chance of being Michael Hayman when I grow up. I could see similarities, characteristics that I could relate to and key learnings that I could extract from the experience. I realised that for those near me on the train who were unable to do this, the notion of ever reaching their goal seemed daunting, overwhelming and frankly, impossible.
As I drifted in and out of sleep after an exhilarating 48 hours, I remembered a man I had recently met at a network event - Daniel Preistley. It took me moment to recognise that Daniel really knew his stuff. I'd known of Daniel for a number of years but this was the first time I had been in his company. He oozed confidence, was articulate and he remained in control of the conversation and situation at all times. He sold himself effortlessly and had he not been so charming he could have been written off as arrogant. Yet I found myself wanting to help him, work with him and my usual cynicism of others subsided. Another person of key influence, I realised,
Unlike Michael who unites influencers to celebrate entrepreneurship and inspire a generation, Daniel unites influencers to teach others how to do the same. And as I was heading home from two days created by those who had the ability to influence others, I realised just how invaluable this skill is. It lies at the heart of many entrepreneurs and can be the difference between securing investment and going bust, an engaging marketing campaign and a totally ineffective one, it can get you speaking gigs, develop your brand and ultimately is what makes you a people magnet rather than the guy at the edge of the crowd fighting to get his voice heard.
As I realised just how important this skill is I thought that even I, who am deemed to be part of the 'influential gang' could scrub up my skills and polish my offering. Thankfully it isn't too long until Daniels next event and I have already secured my place. I will share my key learnings from the event but for those who would like to attend themselves, you are able to book a ticket at: www.triumphantevents.co.uk/events?access=kpi-event-oct12
Who knew that being influential was such a key part of the entrepreneur mix? Michael and Daniel have got it sorted, that's for sure.