Saturday, 25 May 2013

A rising tide floats all boats

Yesterday I had the very good fortune to attend #BrandX in London with the great and the good.

The brain child of Paddy Cosgrave and the next iteration of his f.ounders concept, there's currently nothing else like it in the world of digital, social or tech.

Described as the geek's equivalent of Davos the attendees are a heady mix of the founders of leading tech companies like Joe Fernández from Klout, Jan Rezab of Social Bakers and Jessica Butcher from Blipper, alongside some carefully selected brands like Adidas, Virgin, Unilever and Topshop.

And then there was little old me from Asda.

I say that, as by comparison to most of the 150 people on the list I didn't quite fit the bill. Or at least that's what I thought looking down the role call before I arrived.

I'm not an entrepreneur and never will be. I'm full of ideas but never had the drive to run with them myself. Instead I simply put them out there in a work environment and see which ones stick.

I'm also not a natural networker. From a cold, standing start of knowing no-one I actually find it incredibly daunting. Ironic really when you consider my job is head of social. I can now at least find solace by staring into my smartphone. 

Thankfully my ineptitude in that department was not a hindrance for too long on the opening night at Paramount as a chap called Azeem took pity on me and did the hard part by introducing himself. Turns out he's the CEO of Peer Index.

From that point on any thoughts of being a fraud quickly disappeared. Not only could I hold my own but I genuinely had something to offer. Conversations flowed. Connections were made. And in one or two cases new friendships have begun.

It was a privilege to attend my first ever 'invite only' affair. Normally I'd not even know it was taking place let alone get to go. And far from being cliquey or stuffy or pretentious it was honest and refreshing.

But the thing that impressed me most was the atmosphere of collaboration. The openness of discussion. And the willingness from the great people in the room to do good not just make money.

It feels like an important and seismic shift has taken place in the last few years. As the barriers to enter business have crumbled (bedroom geeks now have $41m to play with in Klout's case) so too has the new world approach to making money.

Or as +CindyGallop put it: 'We make money because we do good.'

Cindy quite compellingly purports the idea of competitive collaboration by stressing that a rising tide floats all boats.

Well #BrandX yesterday certainly floated mine.

N.B. special thanks to Daire Hickey for allowing me to come on board. Cheers captain.

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