I attended NESTA’s Innovation Edge conference this week. Despite the title apparently the only thing jaw-dropping about it was Gordon Brown (who was doing that thing with his chin so quickly even Rory Bremner would have been impressed).
As with all such events it’s a bit hit & miss and one has to make a cost-benefit call. Can an entrepreneur trying to launch his site afford to spend the day nodding sagely in agreement with keynote speakers, nancying around making small talk and drinking lukewarm coffee? Well, the answer is ‘sort of’. At my decisive best I elected to attend the more targeted afternoon sessions and so unfortunately missed Gordon Brown, Bob Geldof & Tim Berners-Lee. But I have it on good authority from the effervescent Meriem Aissaoui from Smarta that they were in fine form.
By the way, Smarta is a fantastic business resource and social networking site for entrepreneurs and small businesses that launches officially in November.
The first seminar I attended was called ‘Are online social networks the new cities?’ Unfortunately the topic was too high level to get the crux of matters the same way blog conversations do but at least it was fairly entertaining. Here’s an extract of the dialogue between the facilitator and Michael Birch (founder of Bebo):
Facilitator: So Michael – why did you move to San Francisco? Was it Silicon Valley?
Michael Birch: Because of my wife – she’s from San Francisco. There just happened to be a small thriving internet community there too.
Facilitator: Lucky she wasn’t in Utah. That would have been interesting.
Michael Birch: Probably not that interesting.
The second seminar, ‘Entrepreneurs v Investors: Can the relationship ever really work?’, was better. Saul Klein (The Accelerator Group) highlighted honesty, self-awareness and the ability to face issues sooner rather than later as critical ingredients for an effective relationship and Jon Moulton (Alchemy) provided a list of habits that help you spot Bad Managers & Entrepreneurs that I have paraphrased below:
- They don’t know the numbers, don’t care about them
- They don’t have any customer interaction
- They are often arrogant and dismiss questions from their staff
- They are little too focused on the material things (talk about pay & bonus schemes in the first meeting)
- They don’t have a TO DO list – no signs of structured organisational skills
- They don’t visit their businesses
- They make stupid acquisitions (double or quits)
- They isolate themselves
- They work 9 to 5 – lacking passion for their business
Investors – if you’re reading this – it’s midnight and I’m still in the office testing the site. This post only took a few minutes. PS: did you get my email about a payrise?
Another interesting point from Jon was that good presenters aren’t necessarily good managers, but people always make this assumption. But on the contrary: good managers are very often good presenters.
The lesson I draw from this is: if you know you’re a crap manager take a course in presentation skills.
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