Contributed by Marina Byezhanova, an EO Canada Bridge member in Montreal and the founder of Brand of a Leader, a personal branding agency that builds and scales the personal brands of entrepreneurs who inspire and make an impact. We asked Marina about her experiences at EO’s Global Leadership Conference. Here’s what she shared.
I was hugging a complete stranger on the bottom of an escalator in Frankfurt, Germany, thousands of miles away from my home in Montreal, Canada. We were at EO’s epic signature event of the year—the Global Leadership Conference (GLC), and the energy was incomparable.
Do you know that hard-to-describe feeling you get when you come together with fellow EOers? That feeling of instamacy, palpable energy, and the conviction that we can—and will!—make the world a better place? GLC 100X’s that feeling, bringing together thousands of EO members from all over the world.
The 2017 event in Frankfurt was my first GLC, and I was soaking up the EO experience. We enjoyed world-class speakers who shared more golden nuggets than my hand was able to capture on paper, socials that made it hard to wake up in the morning but left us with incredible memories, and the connections that were being formed there to last us all a lifetime.
It’s the connections made at GLC that are impossible to describe unless you’ve lived and experienced them yourself. To me, one of those connections happened as I was riding an escalator on my way from one learning session to the next. A fellow EOer standing next to me struck up casual small talk and asked me where I was from as he caught sight of my Eastern European last name on my badge.
I shared that I was living in Canada, but I was born in Ukraine. His eyes lit up. “Me too!” he exclaimed. “I live in Detroit, but I was born in Ukraine also. Which city?” I shared the name of my not-so-well-known hometown of Kharkiv, and his eyes widened. “I don’t believe you! I come from Kharkiv too!”
A hug at the end of the escalator ride later, we formed a connection that has remained for years ever since. I am thankful to Vlad Gendelman from EO Detroit for checking in with me during the pandemic, as my business was crashing and burning, and as I was pivoting at dizzying speeds, and for fostering other priceless introductions to fellow EOers.
Next-level learning opportunities
GLC was formerly open only to members in leadership roles, but the pandemic changed that. As we all suddenly became comfortable with online learning and virtual events, EO’s ever-so-innovative Global Learning Team has brought us mind-blowing online learning content over the last two years. Wouldn’t you agree? They also re-imagined GLC, making it a hybrid event, now accessible to all members through the virtual platform.
I must admit, I was skeptical when I logged onto the virtual platform for last year’s first-ever virtual GLC. After all, I’d come to cherish the in-person GLC experience, having attended the conference in Frankfurt, Germany; Toronto, Canada; and Macau, China—and even facilitating a session for 50+ EOers in Macau! How would the virtual experience ever compare to that?
Incomparable EO energy in a virtual/hybrid format
And yet, as always, in true EO fashion, the learning team blew me away. They somehow recreated the incomparable EO energy in the virtual format. All of a sudden, I found myself dancing to the beats played by DJ Jenny La Femme (a fellow EOer!), blasting from the virtual platform. All of a sudden, I was connecting with fellow members from across the globe in the chat, and we were all messaging each other at what felt like the speed of lightning. All of a sudden, my handwriting speed was once again lagging behind all of the learning I was consuming from world-class speakers.
GLC 2022 is a hybrid event. The learning team, with its usual ambition, decided to bring members together in Washington, DC, as well as in Barcelona, Spain, and to make the event accessible to all members through the virtual platform.
The GLC speakers list is slowly coming out, and I am blocking off my calendar to make sure nothing gets in the way of my learning from Daniel Pink or from my getting inspired by Platon or Jose Andres. And yet, as impressive as the speaker list is going to be (and it’s the EO event of the year—of course the speaker lineup will be off the charts!), do you know what I am most looking forward to?
You guessed it! I most look forward to making connections that only happen when you #MeetAtGLC—virtually or in person.
I hope to meet you there!