This quarter, I attended a conference in the beautiful rust belt that is Cleveland, OH, entitled: FUEL Cleveland. Although this event was originally not on my radar, I was offered the opportunity to go and am so happy I took advantage. Fuel is an event geared towards professionals of all backgrounds, hoping to inspire and engage leadership principles. Though I didn't know the lineup of speakers before going, I was most definitely intrigued and impressed to hear each one speak on their discipline.
If you don't already know...
Fuel Cleveland was stationed at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. If you've never been, the next time you visit our city you need to go. The architecture alone is worth the price of admission. I was definitely in my zone with the vintage setting and the beauty that set the tone.
The event started with a generous breakfast spread. When the breakfast chit chat was over, we were directed towards one of the theaters where the action was to begin. Little did I know, the first speaker was a former employee of apple and is Chief Evangelist of Canva; right up my little design alley! Needless to say Guy Kawaski's talk was entertaining and inspiring as he quoted Steve Jobs, took a couple jabs at Microsoft, and shared his insight. I was engaged from the start and excited for a whole day of sitting in the same spot; oddly enough. It was a networking event after all, and I had the pleasure of meeting some very fine local folk. Needless to say, I was in my element and it's important to take a step back and see how perfectly things align sometimes.
But as the day continued and different speakers rotated on and off the stage, I began to think of how the messages that I was retaining could relate to my business. Having gone through a program that taught me strong principles and similar messaging that was relayed on this day, there weren't too many things that I found to be an epiphany. However, when the CEO of Vitamix (Jodi Berg) took the stage, it was quite interesting to hear her take on stepping into a leadership role while working within a company; something I couldn't really relate to, but understood all too well. Her acronym was fun and the message behind it was relevant as she explained what “D.A.N.C.E.” means...
D stood for Destined: apparently we are all destined for greatness, but it's your job to find what that is
A stood for Align: align your life. You can hashtag that because at the end of the day, nothing is going to feel right until you figure out how to align your life with your purpose.
N stood for Network: using a trapeze artist as an analogy to explain the importance of growing and trusting one's network; so get out there and shake some hands.
C stood for Self-Care: a bit of a stretch on “C” but important non the less. When you work for yourself you might not always have the funds to spend on yourself (funny how that works), but at the end of the day you need to establish your non-negotiable s: a portion of funds that will go towards this one thing that gives you love, relaxation, confidence, or otherwise. Hustle a little smarter to pay the electric.
E stood for Embrace: change, I assume. Which is true; learning how to adapt to change is very important in a leadership roll. It's not about blaming those that caused the change, but how you are going to react to it that will set you apart.
And that's it; her recipe, my commentary. The ingredients to success. And frankly, I wanted a Vitamix before hearing her talk, but now I want one because I feel like I'm buying from a company that not only cares about their product but their people too.
All of the speakers offered up something interesting, I must admit. But a few things rang true for me as I sat a reflected at the fact that I was attending a large local conference as the Chief Creative of Blue Loui Studio; my own entity; my own business; my hustle: 1. that I was so grateful to be there, in that moment, conversing with others about business and leadership. 2. that I had the opportunity to attend and continue to absorb the knowledge that these leaders were offering. 3. that I too, hope to be up on a stage like that some day, sharing my message and insight with an audience. It all circled back to the feeling I felt when leaving the theater: fulfilled and confident. This is a standing principle of my studio; something I strive to give my clients through our collaboration together; and something I strive for myself.
So as the day came to an end, my cup was full and I took my leave from the event a bit early. I hit the exit and headed for my car, walked 9 blocks in heals and the wind blew my hair into the beautiful mess that it was. Gotta love the city. I reflected: as the boss of your own company, you often leave these events hoping you've left an impression, left with a client or referral, learned something you can apply right away, or all of the above. Thought I didn't leave with any action items, I relished in the information taken in that day. Confession: Sometimes, I have a tendency to over analyze, but sometimes its relevant. In closing I suppose I can leave you with this: Check out Fuel events, they're worth the time. Check out Playhouse Square in Cleveland, it's worth the time. And schedule your self in (or your business if that feels better) to take advantage of these serendipitous opportunities that come your way; your worth the time.