How a Conference helped me be a better Human.

By Will Green

Just to clarify, I am not a bot or a Russian fake news agent and I legitimately stand by the above statement with no intention of baiting your click. I promise to give you least one idea that is a fair value exchange for the 1 minute it will take you to read this article.

Now that we have got that out the way and I believe every piece of content in the future needs to have a disclaimer to frame truthful intentions of the author. A lofty dream in an age of short-form hashtags, tweets, snaps and emojis. The Millennial equivalents of the poetic Iambic Pentameter, something I believe my namesake Mr. Shakespeare would have wholeheartedly embraced. But I digress…

Any business executive worth her weight in salt will know the large investment it takes to attend a conference. This includes the time away from family and the work to catch up after the conference. The repeated pitches, the late nights entertaining and lack of sleep in overpriced hotels and uninspiring conference venues. The very thought of a conference can lead to an increase in personal anxiety.

I had the privilege to attend one of the most liberating conferences in the world. An unstructured ‘un-conference’ which is slowly becoming the rage and new normal for corporate conferences around the world. Having attended all four of the expertly organized WPP curated Stream Africa conference held at the beautiful Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

What was so special about this ‘formula’ is the freedom. The freedom to meet new and interesting people from across Africa and the World. The freedom to discuss and share new and crazy ideas like “How public blockchains will impact marketing in Africa or How you can network your brain.”

The freedom to wear a skirt or shorts and serendipitously share a glass wine with a stranger… at brunch.

Like most tribes the quality of the whole is directly related to the quality of the individuals.

Stream attracts the continents best shape-shifters, future-makers and story-tellers.

Marketing Maverick Seth Godin, says it best when he says that the future of marketing is with empathy to frame it as following “People like us, do things like this”. Stream defined this definition perfectly for me.

My personal story from Stream starts back in December 2016, after being inspired by the people met and conversations had. I made a promise to myself and to my fellow Streamers. I promised that I would show a video from a new business that I would create at Stream 2017. A very loft and vague promise but it is amazing what happens when you put these dreams out into the Universe. Six months later I encountered a problem that I could solve, I started a business around it. three months later we had piloted it with one of South Africa’s leading and innovative life insurer. Another three months later we had shot and edited a film outlining the story. Another three months later and we had attracted four more clients.

What was more rewarding is that it was in an industry that I had never worked in before and it was directly helping my fellow Africans that did not have the means to help themselves. In total we helped 100,000 people and helped them benefit by $7.6 million. Our goal now is to expand from Financial Services into Healthcare.

In our lives we need to take a deep breathe and stand back. Draw the proverbial line in the stand and plough your energy into making your dreams a reality. Being away from your daily pressure allows you to decide what dreams you really want to turn into a reality.

The takeout from this years Stream Africa conference was it was inspiring to see how many people were reflective on how to intersect their strengths with their purposes that were not challenged within a ‘marketing or communication or brand’ frame. Since I believe it is our duty as educated professionals to build a future for the next generation of business leaders.

Africa is such a young and vibrant continent with such amazing diversity.

These diversities clash to provide both unique challenges and opportunities.

It is these challenges that make me optimistic about her future.

A future that I am fully invested in for my family.

As the saying goes “If you want to live a billion lives, solve a billion person problem.” In doing so you might even create a business ‘Rhino’ and not a ‘Unicorn’ that is valued at a billion dollars.

I am committed to collaborating with other likeminded optimists to covert these problems into opportunities for the benefit of the next billion Africans.

Join me

About Will Green

Will Green is an entrepreneur leader (Apurimac Africa, Sizmek, Co.lab, Vula Mobile) that for the past 18 years has been advising international clients (BSkyB, Yahoo, Sizmek, WWE, Manchester United) on various executive projects pertaining to their businesses into Sub-saharan African.

From 2015 to 2016 Will was Chairman of the Media Credit Coordinators (MCC), a non profit industry body that was responsible for managing a R2.9 billion trust for providing securities to most of the largest Media companies of Southern Africa including JSE listed Naspers, Times Media, Caxton and the SABC.