New year resolutions? Less hustle porn & more planet-friendly profits, please.

In a year that polarised every issue, we wanted to do one thing at Web Summit: ask important questions.

Leading experts across industries, startups carving our future landscapes and companies responsible for this year’s major breakthroughs gathered in Lisbon last November to discuss where we’ve been and — more importantly — where we’re headed.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, opened Web Summit by saying, “What matters now is not to learn things, it is to learn how to learn”.

Here are five lessons we’ll take with us into 2019.

1. “I’m here today to tell you all that there’s no conflict between a healthy planet and a healthy bottom line.” — Lisa Jackson, Apple.

Environmental action is unaffordable, right? Not according to Lisa Jackson, who is advocating for a dramatic shift in mindset when it comes to sustainable business. Across our stages, people like Lisa, Pia Heidenmark-Cook of IKEA and Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia urged companies to step up, and warned that lack of affordability is no longer an excuse.

Here’s hoping their takes push other business behemoths to look to “greener pastures” of corporate responsibility in 2019.

Team takeaway: Low carbon, high profits — the start of a beautiful friendship.

Alexis Ohanian on Centre Stage

2. “This idea that unless you are suffering, grinding, you’re not working hard enough … this is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now” — Alexis Ohanian, Reddit co-founder.

We’re sick of hearing it — making it big means working ten times harder than the person next to you. Alexis Ohanian called out “hustle porn” for what it is on our Centre Stage — damaging, ineffective and unnecessary. Sacrificing time, hobbies and even personal health are par for the course in entrepreneurial culture, a trend which Alexis labelled not just unproductive, but dangerous.

With the threat of burnout constantly knocking, “hustle porn” is a bandwagon we can’t afford to jump on.

Team takeaway: Take five, you deserve it.

Imogen Heap explains her Mi.Mu musical gloves on Centre Stage

3. “The most exciting part of blockchain is that people can put the money where they care the most.” — Imogen Heap, co-founder of Mycelia.

Frustrated by the opacity of payment across the music industry, Imogen Heap has discovered that technology and music go hand in glove (so to speak). Blockchain has been pigeonholed as bitcoin’s lifeblood, but people like Imogen are waking us up to its true scope.

She has opened eyes internationally to the cross-industry potential of blockchain and proven that technology can fuel rather than foil creative industries.

Team takeaway: Tech can be creativity’s best friend.

Ben van Beurden on Centre Stage

4. “One of the biggest oil bosses in the world has a message for hotshot young tech stars: trust me, being arrogant won’t pay off” — Ben van Beurden, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive.

Ben van Beurden set an unexpected tone with this one. At the pace tech is moving it can be hard to see the wood for the trees and Ben is making sure we consider the mistakes of the past.

No corporation has navigated such an intricate dance with public approval, so what have Shell learned? “Society’s expectations are rising” — public tolerance for corporate “mishaps” has plummeted, and Ben reminded tech companies that no-one is untouchable. Fifty years down the line, will “Big Tech” find itself in “Big Oil’s” shoes? Not on Ben’s watch.

Team takeaway: Don’t take success for granted.

5. “Without imagination, all the knowledge that you have becomes rather meaningless.” Marek Reichman, Chief Creative Officer, Aston Martin.

Sum up Web Summit in one word? Innovation. Every attendee, startup, speaker, exhibitor and investor injects their own brand of magic to our conference, contributing to its unique spark. Marek Reichman named imagination as the catalyst of progress. Knowledge allows us to reproduce what we already have, imagination takes us one step further.

With this in mind, can imagination create imagination? AI has developed further than we could have foreseen, but will it ever conquer the arena of human creativity?

Team takeaway: Experts are great. Experts with imagination are better.

Marek Reichman

A lot can happen in a year, and every development will be explored at next year’s Web Summit. Our 22 tracks dive into the biggest breakthroughs in every industry.

Sign up here to receive two tickets for the price of one and experience Web Summit 2019 with a friend.

We’ll see you in Lisbon this November.