Whilst Steele Raymond LLP has proudly sponsored Open Sauce for its previous three events, this was my first opportunity to experience it in the flesh and I was looking forward to seeing if the event would live up to its considerable hype.
The premise is fairly simple, yet inventive. Each attendee receives a lanyard with a specific brand of sauce. There are two lanyards for each corresponding sauce – the aim of the game is to find your partner in order to be entered into a prize draw. After this initial period of networking (and attempting to find the least invasive method of scrutinising the sea of lanyards before you), the attendees are directed to another room for a series of talks. These presentations are where things really start to get interesting – each of the five speakers has 6m 40s to share their subject of choice via 20 slides (20 seconds per slide). Time is kept religiously under the ever-watchful eye of the adjudicator.
As I entered Canvas Bar I was greeted simultaneously with a wave of noise and a friendly welcome at the door. After overcoming my initial devastation at not receiving a Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae Sauce lanyard.
I was fortunate to converse with a number of individuals, spanning an array of professions at various stages in their career. It was a genuine pleasure to hear these professionals speak so passionately about their chosen field of work. This fervour was contagious across the floor – the animated discussions only drew to a halt as we were shepherded into an adjoining room for the presentations.
Chris Thorpe – Founder, I can Make (@jaggeree)
“What do we do in this future? How do we make money? How do we find purpose when we no longer need to work?”
Chris discussed mankind’s ongoing relationship with machines and the bizarre reality of an increasingly automated society. This was connected to the arguable rise of quasi-fascism in unexpected locations, which he attributed to a depression caused by human jobs disappearing and the resulting lack of purpose to be found for individuals in the age of “new-collar” jobs. Chris’ thought-provoking presentation was well-received by the audience and it set a high benchmark for the remaining acts to follow. He certainly hit a personal note for me when quoting IBM’s prediction that 90% of all paralegal work will be completed by AI within the next 10 years.
Will Harvey – Innovation Lead, VCCP (@williamedharvey)
“Old technology can solve the problems that we are facing today.”
As a juxtaposition to Chris’ predictions of a somewhat dystopian future, Will focused his presentation on the concept of old technology solving new problems. He argued that the future depends less on technology and more on the culture of consumer behaviour. He quoted Amara’s law, which states that we overestimate the effectiveness of technology in the short-term and underestimate its effectiveness in the long-term. Whilst it was surprising to hear an Innovation Lead decry the new in favour of the old, the candid and intelligent way in which Will delivered his arguments captured the audience’s interest and provided an abundance of food for thought. Will actually had a member of his family in the crowd, who publicly awarded him a brotherly 7/10 for his presentation.
Michelle Jacques – Founder, Octopus Farm (@sneakybeef)
“Brands need people more than people need brands.”
There are few better ways to capture the attention of a room full of creative entrepreneurs than by sharing your recent success of securing a landmark 6-figure job. Michelle immediately attributed this accomplishment to the virtue of collaboration. She explained how brands no longer dictate the product to the market, the consumer dictates what they wish their brands to provide – the suppliers that can’t keep up, fall behind. Michelle highlighted the importance of realising your strengths, collaborating with like-minded experts in their field and moving forwards to create something that is genuinely in-demand. It will be interesting to see which of the attendees take her lesson on board and perhaps return to Open Sauce in the future to share their own recent success stories. Michelle’s husband attended the event and awarded her an unbiased 10/10 for her presentation.
Andy Swann – Protagonist/Catalyst, Simple, Better Human (@andyswann)
“Numbers and clipboards will never see you right, it’s leading by example that sets the world alight.”
Andy threw aside the more conventional formats of the previous speakers and imparted his words of wisdom through the unexpected medium of rap. I’m not sure what was more impressive – the fact that he managed to deliver a genuinely engaging message in this format or his uncanny ability to squeeze in an extra three syllables to any line of verse seemingly at will. To the beat of the Super Mario Bros theme he offered his unique view on the importance of leading through collaboration, communication, purpose and making use of each individual’s unique strength within the workplace. This was a truly refreshing presentation and with his ability to rhyme ‘offer’ with ‘blocker’, ‘proffer’ and back to ‘offer’ again, I don’t think anybody will be surprised when Andy is called upon to open for Eminem’s next business-management tour.
Mark Masters – Managing Director, The ID Group (@markiemasters)
“At the end of the day it should be about understanding our audience.”
Mark outlined his 8-point system for taking on a new approach towards content marketing which focused on quality over quantity. He highlighted the importance of passion in your work, explaining how this will attract the attention of like-minded individuals who will in-turn amplify your content. He cited several examples of local figures who have carved a niche in their respective markets through marketing their content with their audience’s interest in mind, as opposed to marketing for the sake of conforming to a pre-determined ‘brand’. It was clear through his delivery and stage presence how Mark personified his message of taking pride and joy in your own work. This was one of the most refreshing networking events I have had the pleasure of attending – it truly is “networking, but not as you know it”. I look forward to attending the next event on 20/07/17 and can only hope for more success at finding my matching sauce then.
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