BizCamp Newry 2012

BizCamp Newry was a double whammy for me. My first time at BizCamp, my first time speaking at BizCamp. The atmosphere was of the ‘chilled-yes-but-also-structured’ variety thanks to terrific work by organisers Eve Early and Andrea Burns. Carnbane Business Park offered an open foyer with two remarkable products: tray bakes for breakfast and a non-pretentious indoor water display. Day under way.

I could note with approval the differently sized training rooms and other minutia but since you’re not a training nerd you’d much rather hear about the speakers. There were twenty-four of us, divided up into six topics with three streams. And we were magnificent. My only regret was that I couldn’t attend them all, particularly the two who were speaking the same time me – Geraldine Fusciardi and Breege McManus – although I did have the chance to chat with them later on.

The top three talks that I heard?

Ardawan Lalui gave a profound talk on ‘Energising SMEs’. Its not often I hear the world “worldview” in a business talk or read a quote from Tolstoy off a screen! Out of his extensive international experience, Ardawan explained the importance of integrating character and competence, individual and c0mpany transformation, thinking alone with thinking together.

The business sense was flowing from Diane Roberts in her talk on ‘Startup Success’. Making big stuff simple is a gift Diane has. She talked about the quartet of startup – product, market, team and finance – and the need to keep cash last. The ‘lean’ concepts of minimal viable product and early adapters were her strategies. The latter, willing to risk and forgive, will teach a startup how to sell to them if engaged properly.

Andrew Keogh shared his simple method to selling in any business situation. Its all about ARE-DO-GET. First a situation appraisal via conversational questioning, then the specific action you will take to help them, and finally an open description of their takeaways. The tactic? Link them all smoothly but explicitly. Then it’s all about the bait, baby!

Another highlight for me was meeting people with whom I shared common ground. Over ‘Lunch and Learn’ I listened to fellow Derryman Paul Martin reflect on his life in business so far. I met James Downing, a teacher and author, passionate about Living the Dream. And the final speaker of the day was my ol’ Enterprise Ulster mentor Gerry Faloona, with a rousing Coveyesque call-to-arms.

If you wern’t there, I hate to preach, but you really should have been, you know. Groups charge thousands of pounds for such a range and quality of speakers. On 29 September 2012 at Newry BizCamp it was free. But by ‘free’ I do not mean ‘cheap’. You had to get out of your bed on a Saturday, drive all those millions of miles of Newry, motivate yourself with a desire to learn and make money, and chat with interesting business contacts from different countries. What entrepreneur in their right mind would endure such beastly hardships?

But I can’t lay on the sarcasm too thickly. It was my first BizCamp after all, as attendee or speaker.

As to my own talk, I’ll tell you next time. Then we can chat about it when I see you at BizCamp.