Graham RossSustainable sportswear pioneer, creating clothing that causes minimal impact to the planet.
It takes a grand vision to throw 55 A-type entrepreneurs together, a touch of genius to take them to one of the planet’s most treasured areas – the Amazon, and a strong sense of purpose to achieve the goal: to meet, collaborate and create ideas and businesses that will deliver social and economic benefits to a global population. All in just 10 days.
I was one of those 55. South America seemed like a great idea from my Sydney office. The reality is a 30 hour multi-airline flight across four countries. Last year’s Unstoppables trip named Fire and Ice was held on a luxury boat in Antartica. The Unstoppables is much like any start up, it’s never plain sailing. In fact last year’s event almost didn’t happen due to an incoming weather front. Like most entrepreneurs, founder Julio de Laffitte, made the almost impossible happen.
This year’s event, set on a floating resort on the edge of the Amazon rainforest was aptly called Ideas Gone Wild. It’s a place of intense beauty, extreme danger and for every inhabitant on Earth, a life source – where 20% of our planet’s oxygen is generated. It makes you wonder why we continue to threaten its existence.
Ideas Gone Wild drew a list of impressive attendees and not just by achievements or bank balance. The scope ranged from entrepreneurs just beginning their journey, to those ready to grow their venture to the next level, and successful business owners with exits under their belt now mentoring and investing in the next generation.
With a marketing pitch of amazing people, amazing places, amazing results, the Unstoppables had a lot to live up to. What they delivered for me, was unexpected. By inviting people to travel long distances to a remote exotic location, they embedded a sense of comradeship from the outset. This foundation paved the way to build trust and collaboration and opened pathways for business deals.
As Skyhooks lead singer, Shirley Strachan once belted out, ‘ego is not a dirty word’ and as every entrepreneur knows, you need a heathy ego. Of course there was ego aplenty and strong personalities vying for attention. But what I found within the conference room, out in the wilderness and in the daily rituals of living in close quarters was simply, respect.
I came away with both personal and business development. The Unstoppables concept shows the opportunities to do business are everywhere – especially if, as Julio puts it, ‘you see the other person’. If you engage and listen to others, finding ways to collaborate or even better, starting a new venture is easily accessible. When you have trust and respect, sharing your IP or knowledge comes more naturally and openly. Ideas can be given oxygen and with the help of others, can grow into real change. We found a rawness within the group, laughter and tears came spontaneously and in equal measure.
As expected, we did deals, made investments and created new businesses, but the real value of becoming an Unstoppable didn’t end in the Amazon. The opportunity to share deeper conversation, knowledge and do business with the other 54 members has only just begun.
And what better way to facilitate this as a BBG unstoppables forum – www.bbg.business – creating a forum where people can gain that deeper knowledge and get to know like and trust one another!