Taking a revolutionary chance: Impact Conference 2009

Why is the Impact National Conference so radical in its approach? Because it’s intended for emerging talent, run entirely by emerging talent and amasses a following from industry executives and rising entrepreneurs alike.  With a lineup of speakers all offering a unique vantage point, there’s something profound to be said for witnessing ideas come to life and mentorship in shift. With common themes and inquiries spanning from: “Who are your key influencers and hidden customers?” to “Re-learning the art of authenticity,” Impact’s directive lies on its principles of being a relevant forum of our time.

Below, some of the stand outs from the event:

Talent Egg’s Lauren Friese is a woman who knows what she wants. Armed with a Masters degree from The London School of Economics, it’s clear that Talent Egg is just one small component in an overall strategic roadmap to fulfill Friesen’s lofty plans.  As the first place winner of Impact’s pitch competition, Friese walked away with more than $10,000 dollars of consulting services from KPMG, yet this didn’t seem to phase her for a moment. The pitch competition, which joins emerging entrepreneurs and established industry voices in tandem, allows each entrepreneur a five minute pitch and five minute question/answer session. Friese delivered her pitch flawlessly to unanimous praise from the panel of judges, no easy feat in itself.

Friese is the appropriate mix of self-deprecating and confident. She is humble about her strengths and not afraid to speak about areas uncharted. Friese is of the belief that hiring people to compliment your skills is a necessity for success in this marketplace.   Passionate about advocating for the future of post-secondary students studying all academic disciplines Friesen believes in the idea that success does not come from focusing in a particular discipline. In part, this has become her motivator for developing such a network of impressive client and graduate following.

Standout quote from Friese: “Sometimes you have to manufacture the energy to continue moving along. But quitting? Never; I don’t like to fail”

Jordan Banks the former managing director of eBay Canada is a firm believer in asking questions. As someone whose curiosity is boundless, I appreciate this value. Banks is unapologetically confident in his assessment of traveling a path less than conventional. Ridding any traces of social baggage to outperform anyone who alluded otherwise, Banks believes that faults and failures from within are almost more important than the straight line to success. Banks attests to the fact that the beauty of the bumps in the room is learning from experience and not necessarily knowing much about the perceived outcomes. “Fact is not always fact,” according to Banks, as evidenced by our deeply layered and complex world.

Learning from his journey transitioning from one moment in space to another, Banks makes the observation that the common traits amongst all great leaders are not education, pedigree or resources but rather, curiosity, adventure and problem solving. For Banks, the idea that a thought out plan is where satisfaction should be derived is counter intuitive.  Banks believes in learning to embrace and expose oneself to change; this, he understands to be of never ending value.

Standout quote from Banks: “The one thing that we as humans have to scale? It’s reputation. And there’s only one chance to make it.”

It’s not often that you come across someone as well-rounded as Kunal Gupta of Polar Mobile success and walk away intrigued to hear more of the story. This was my experience conversing with the founder of the Impact Conference and CEO of one of the largest mobile application developers in North America. And all this, at the ripe age of twenty four. Gupta understands entrepreneurs better than most and further to that recognizes the environment that must to be fostered in order to position Canada at the leading forefront of innovation and thought leadership. Of the opinion that great things can emerge through an association of like-minded individuals, Gupta seizes the opportunity to challenge himself through continual self-improvement.  

Standout quote from Gupta: “Exposure is key. Don’t limit your reach through a familiarity of what you’ve been told. The only way to solve a complex problem is through first-hand experience.”

Sarah Prevette wants to be taken seriously. And, when she begins by offering an astute assessment of the online landscape unqualified and uncensored, it’s difficult not to. Prevette, founder of the online networking tool Sprouter, has the ability to answer questions and criticism in a manner that has you wondering how much help she’s had along the way.  Afterall, the self-branded “serial entrepreneur” seems to understand the caveats and nuances of brand strategy and communication from the most basic of conceptions to high-level business strategies, better than many established leaders. It’s her ability to connect with an audience on an even positioning that draws you in. You understand the depth beyond the exterior and want to understand Prevette’s world just a little bit more.

Prevette recognizes all too well that in the online world much like the offline space it’s valuable to think about how you’re being found as an online entity. Afterall, you’re managing perceptions, not reality.  It is this understanding of brand perception that will arm you with the foresight and observations to take action, notes Prevette. It’s evident that Prevette is always looking for the connector in a room where unity is scarce. She wants to help her audience, community and networks, and the moment it becomes inauthentic? Well, she’ll re-examine her focus, because it’s clear that for Prevette, value is derived in sustaining and creating relationships of meaning.

Standout quote from Prevette: “Create an emotional connection with your story. Storytelling is the most important tool for any innovator.”

If a transparency in the marketplace is what consumers are craving, then the discourse encouraged at Impact 2009 is not to be diminished. With different stories to tell and diverse experiences to share, one thing remains true: Young, fresh minds have been unleashed, and there is no going back.