Earlier this month, 400 creatives and business leaders assembled in New York for the annual 99% Conference, a unique event devoted to sharing insights on "making ideas happen." It's not about inspiration, and it's not about generating more ideas. It's about accomplished leaders—from companies like GE, Pixar, Google Ideas and FuseProject—sharing practical, real-world advice on how to achieve incredible things.
Here are our top 10 takeaways for small business from this year's 99% speakers:
1. "If you don't understand people, you don't understand business."
The tenets of trust and group dynamics are as important in business as they are in our personal lives. As Start With Why author Simon Sinek said, "One hundred percent of customers are people. One hundred percent of clients are people."
- Simon Sinek, Leadership Expert & Author
2. "Make heros out of the failures. Pay attention to the learnings."
Re-framing key failures as "discoveries" will help foster an environment of risk-taking.
- Beth Comstock, SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, GE
3. If you’re not being told you’re crazy, you’re not thinking big enough.
Crazy is a compliment. If you’re thinking big, it’s natural for the idea to sound extreme, since you’ll be changing the status quo.
- Linda Rottenberg, Co-Founder & CEO, Endeavor
4. "People in business don't often rely on their natural gifts. They try to innovate like someone else does."
Learn how you will be most effective, rather than replicating what's worked for someone else.
- Patrician McCarthy, Founder, The Mien Shiang Institute
5. Be a sprinter, not a marathon runner.
The key to productivity, Schwartz says, is to "recognize the power of renewal, and have a finish line." He claims that "we've lost our finish lines."
- Tony Schwartz, CEO & President, The Energy Project
6. Scare yourself. Fear is a great motivator.
Commit to projects that are far more ambitious than you think you can handle —the sheer fear of not living up to these promises is often enough to ensure you'll reach your goal.
- Starlee Kine, Radio Producer & Writer
7. Be the most excited about everything you do.
You can achieve incredible things through targeted attention and "owning" your passion, honing in on it no matter how unconventional it may be.
- Jared Cohen, Director, Google Ideas
8. Re-invent the business model.
We often create incredible products, and then fail to extend our innovative thinking to the business model that supports them. FuseProject partners with many of its clients to achieve this, and Béhar urges us to “Get creative with our business models.”
- Yves Béhar /// Founder & Chief Designer, Fuseproject
9. "When fear and doubt come into play, you have to lead with possibility."
Designer Laura Guido-Clark spoke of a trying period a few years ago, after which she re-emerged with a new outlook on her life and work (and a new business plan). Don’t retreat in fearful moments, seize them as an opportunity for self-examination.
- Laura Guido-Clark, Principal, LGC Design
10. "Instead of reflecting on the past, predict the future."
A pre-mortem is like a debriefing—where you meet to reflect on a recent project or experience—but in advance. With a pre-mortem, you look ahead to a project or experience and identify everything that could go wrong. It helps to raise the stakes by asking, “How will this end in disaster?"
- Chris Guillebeau, Author, The Art of Non-Conformity
For a full list of 99% Conference Takeaways, visit: The99percent.com.
This post by J.K. Glei is based on research by the Behance team. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the 99% productivity think tank, the Action Method project management application, and the Creative Jobs List.