Innovation for Continuation

Planning for the Future

I had the privilege of being the host, compere and MC for the ITG Innovation event at the luxurious Resorts World in Birmingham, England.

There was an energising buzz from early in the morning that lasted right through to the close at 4.30pm.

With well over 700 attendees in a beautiful auditorium that was boldly set up ‘in the round’ – with a circular stage in the middle, so that everyone could see and feel everything.

The day started with Professor Brian Cox, who challenged us that if we were not clear on where the Earth came from and how we had got to where we are today, then we could not begin to understand how we could deliver a progressive and compelling future.

He gave us a high octane one hour, that felt like we were travelling in complete safety at full throttle. He explained away complex theories and universal truths in a jargon free and easily accessible style.

There was something so easy going about Brian, but we all felt challenged and I do believe, most left with their view of the distant past and the near future completely refreshed and reenergised.

He is due to set off on a world tour of 80 2-hour gigs, ranging from performing on the South Island of New Zealand to the most northern airport on Earth. He is a real superstar that challenges everyone and somehow manages to take most with him.

This was high level physics and an optimistic view of the future that played to all of our sensitivities and left us hungry for even more knowledge from this rock star of a professor.

As he finished, it was my turn to ask the questions and as I tried to hold him to account on his very strong and positive views, he never once tried to wriggle but took all challenges with a smile and an opportunity to convert some more people to his brilliant thinking.

After lunch, on came the power packed Randi Zuckerberg. She was full of life and optimism. Randi shared a beautiful story of her life after graduating from Harvard and took the time to point out (with a wry smile) that her famous brother, Mark Zuckerberg, never made it through Harvard!

But he did go on to build Facebook and not long afterwards offered Randi a job in Marketing at Facebook.

She was to make her mark by launching Facebook Live. She shared many self-effacing stories and incidents ending in a phone call from the White House which would lead to President Obama making a weekly Facebook Live broadcast. Not bad at all!

She moved away from stories of her past to have a look at predicting where social media may well be in the near and long-term future.

Whilst many may say that she is a product of social media, that didn’t prevent her challenging the pitfalls and mishaps perpetrated by many of the tech giants.

She had shared with us that her overriding dream was to appear in a show in the Broadway, and she closed her up tempo and positive session with a song.

Randi was unforgettable, but probably my lasting memory was the never-ending queue of young women who waited politely just to have a couple of minutes with her and have that selfie moment. It was pure magic.

Our final superstar was none other than Mary Portas, who has been recently advising the government on how we might revive our failing retail high streets. Mary was rapid fire advice and she took no prisoners.

She always made sense and completely challenged old thinking on the retail high street. No one was spared, but it appeared that everyone could be saved.

At first, Mary appeared to be very single-minded and there was no one who could and who would stand in her way, but in actual fact she is a natural collaborator and had time for everyone and anyone.

Mary was at her absolute best when responding to tough and direct questions. She empathised, explained how problems got worse but always came up with a practical and pragmatic solution.

Everybody loved Mary.

The Innovation day was conceived, produced and delivered by ITG, it was beautifully done and said everything about who they are and what they stand for.

I was a special guest at the very special book launch of ‘Turbans and Tales’ at the swish and welcoming National Army Museum, in Chelsea, London.

My two mentees, Amit and Naroop, have spent four years producing an absolute work of art. This is a pictorial story of the history of the Turban, told with a collection of the most eye catching and fabulous photographs.

These two most talented men have told a story with the most positive imagery that deserves and demands everyone’s interest.

The beautiful book is now available on Amazon and is worth your time, as it is a story of our time that we should all share.

I was lucky enough to be the final speaker on a packed evening of great stories, great food and great insights into the compelling Sikh culture.

Amit and Naroop we salute you.