On Tuesday we (Savannah, Jessica & I) were privileged to be in attendance at Conversuasion 6 presented by Ad Lounge at The Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. The night featured three 20-minute fireside chats, a Q&A period, and a chance to mingle afterwards. As far as Tuesday nights go in the city, this wasn’t a bad way to spend one at all.
The three speakers for the evening were, in order of appearance:
Shawn King (President, Chief Creative Officer – Extreme Group)
Susan Kim-Kirland (CEO – JWT Canada)
Paul Regan (Director of Media Innovation & Strategy – Scotiabank)
All three speakers did an excellent job of engaging the audience from the comfort of an armchair – which was placed on stage appropriately situated next to a roaring (televised) fire. Each speaker was personal and genuine. It was easy to see that the information and stories being shared were educational and each of them felt that there was value in them being told. As I expect was the case with everyone in the room, some points rang louder to me than others. And I feel fortunate that each of the 3 speakers contributed points that I’ve been thinking about in time since the night ended.
Shawn King was an excellent speaker who connected with the audience in a very relaxed manner (perhaps due to his glass of scotch?) and set the tone of the evening. He spoke about not taking things so seriously that you forget where you’ve been or where you are in life. We get quite caught up in our daily lives that it’s easy to be completely consumed by the small details. Perhaps his most relevant point centred around the idea that you shouldn’t always be 100% sure of what you’re doing – if you think you have all the answers to everything – you’re heading down a dangerous path. The willingness to admit that you’re always in a position to learn something new and improve is an important part of everyone’s continuing development. I’m thankful to have heard someone in Shawn’s position share that sentiment.
Susan Kim-Kirkland’s chat did a great job of reinforcing the message that continued development and growth are not only imperative to our personal careers, they are our responsibility to those who are coming up through the ranks behind us. She spoke about the value of the mentors in her career and the importance she sees in being that mentor to others now. Susan’s point crosses all industries and hits a nail on the head: take care of your people, foster their growth and the rewards will be seen with exponential returns. I agree with her 100% and believe that her point translates through various life experiences. As an industry leader, Susan showed that leadership is about people, not just projects which was a great reminder for everyone in the room.
Paul Regan took the stage last, although that was in no way an indication of value. His fireside chat was titled, Innovation and the Art of Letting Go. He hit great points about not staying emotionally attached to pieces or projects that will inevitably change direction, be disrupted or come to an end. Paul touched on inspiration that he has drawn from renowned American Buddhist teacher and author, Pema Chödrön which helped reinforce a wonderful example of success – it is about more than the work you do on paper. And while Paul made many great points; the one that stuck with me the most was this: work hard to maintain a childlike “beginner’s mind” that hasn’t been hardened by being told no. Paul’s words reminded us to revisit a time when we weren’t hardened by being told ‘no’ or ‘impossible’ – the ‘beginner’s mind’ is constantly inquisitive and ambitious. This is a fantastic approach to new projects – instead of meeting a challenge with ‘no’, it would be great to explore other options or methods to make an idea happen.
In the end the entire audience was lucky to have had the chance to sit and listen to these three industry leaders share their stories and perspectives without hearing a sales pitch or wondering where the catch was. Ad Lounge put on a great event and we look forward to the next Conversuasion and the great line-up of fireside chats that we’ll be taking in. The stripped-down, raw approach to the evening made the talks much more relatable. It was very much, a conversation.