The Power of In-Person Learning

Contributed by Dr. Carrie Santos, CEO of Entrepreneurs’ Organization

Sometimes you just need to be in the room—to feel the vibrations of energy and possibility all around you. When hundreds of EO entrepreneurs under the same roof connect with a speaker at precisely the same time, that energy is exhilarating. That is our Global Leadership Conference (GLC).

I’m still digesting the wisdom and inspiration shared by our speakers during EO’s 2022 GLC this past April, and yet, here we are, planning for the next flagship learning event in 2023:

EO is going to Cape Town, South Africa for GLC next April!

In a sense, Cape Town will be a return for us. As many of you remember, EO was meant to go to Cape Town back in April 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak put a hard stop on all our plans. We learned, as every business leader did during those first unsettling months, how to embrace the pause and lean into the unknown.

I was so proud to see EO members offering support to each other during lockdowns, while we learned to collaborate without regular in-person meetings. We created an “EO Together” fund to make sure no member lacked EO support when they needed it most—so many lost more than half of their revenue. Some members launched and signed a “No Layoff Pledge”, committing to no employee furloughs or layoffs during the initial several months of lockdown. Our inclusive, supportive network showed that we can ride out unprecedented global crises together—that’s who we are.

South Africa next year will bring together and amplify everything we have learned about ourselves over the last three years, and plot a course forward.

In-person events encourage learning and transformation, drawing on all our human traits and best instincts. They create an environment where you can form real, meaningful connections that last a lifetime, and participate in a community that’s larger than yourself. At GLC 2022, across both Washington, D.C. and Barcelona, Spain, this was palpable. Our joy at being able to resume face-to-face connection was in every hug, handshake and in-person introduction enjoyed by the more than 1,100 EO members who attended. Together We Grow.

While we went “back” to in-person, we kept moving forward and included nearly 6,000 people who joined GLC online. They could take in the keynote speakers with special online questions and answer sessions and engage in virtual chats with fellow entrepreneurs around the world. This online group included an amazing 4,600 new friends who expressed curiosity about becoming part of EO’s global community. (We hope to meet you!)

In the coming weeks and months, we will share more news about GLC 2023’s theme and guest speakers. Yet some of the lessons from GLC 2022 are too good to leave behind. Many of those messages can help us in our roles as business leaders, peers, parents and community members.

For example, so many people told me how impactful the session was from inventor-filmmaker Mick Ebeling, who challenged us to think about barriers this way:

“Think of something that’s possible today, that we thought was impossible yesterday. Everything that surrounds us today, was impossible first. So the inversion of that is also true: Everything that’s impossible today must be on the trajectory to go to the possible. Impossible is a fallacy. It is a temporary state of being. It is our job as entrepreneurs to figure out how to put our shoulders into it, to transition things from impossible to possible.”

Mick’s nothing-is-impossible spirit and entrepreneurial mindset captivated all of us and left us with new belief in possibilities. If you are an EO member, I strongly encourage you to watch the video of Mick’s stage presentation on our website here. It might just change your life.

Sometimes taking a step back to reflect on how our brains work and recognizing they have their own operating systems can really help us when we are trying to tackle a difficult problem. In EO, we see the benefit of taking time to take a step back and to reflect every day.

That’s why the 2022 GLC presentation from brain performance and memory coach Jim Kwik, who overcame a childhood brain injury, was so compelling. Jim’s session focused on supercharging our minds to learn faster, retain more, and overcome our own limiting beliefs. As business owners and CEOs, the mental input we receive can feel overwhelming at times. Jim’s training offered immediate, tangible takeaways that we can apply in everyday life. One memorable analogy was: “Your mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open. We have to overcome the curse of expertise. So be open.”

THIS is why GLC counts as work. GLC is our opportunity for all of us to be open. To practice that Thirst for Learning we value so much.

Experience sharing is central to everything we do at EO. We must be open to listen and learn. During her experience share on stage, supermodel-turned-entrepreneur Tyra Banks offered aspiring entrepreneurs this perspective: “You’ve got to be the dumbest in the room, but have the biggest vision.”

GLC gives us all that confidence to lead by listening and learning. Tyra went on to tell us how her mother, Carolyn’s, guidance has been essential to her success over the years. “You have to plan for the end, at the beginning”, she told Tyra. In Tyra’s case, she had to plan for her future career as a mentor and business owner when she was taking her first steps on fashion runways as a teen. Since then, Tyra has formed a production company that’s created hundreds of award-winning television hours, taught a course on branding at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and launched an innovative ice cream company called SMiZE cream, to name a few of her accomplishments.

I cannot wait for GLC2023. It’s magic when we all come together in the same room to learn and be inspired to take our next step. Hope to see you there.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from EO blog

Categories: Best Practices Entrepreneurial Journey EO News LEADERSHIP Networking


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