Niall Cairns is someone I met 15 years ago, and his venture capital business was the reason why I relocated my first company Insomnia Marketing and Communication to Sydney. They were raising a fund and I helped out with marketing and public relations activities for both them and some of their investment companies.
They kindly gave me a few seats in their prominent George Street location which was perfect for me at the time. I so loved being in their office that as I expanded, I moved my staff to another location and only popped in to see them every now and again. Possibly not the best business decision but it worked for me at the time and I was only 25 years old, so I had a lot to learn.
What I really enjoyed about working with the venture capital firm is the intelligence of all the VC's in the group. They all understand finance, business structures, law, expansion, mergers and acquisitions and if they had a shortfall, it always seemed to be marketing. That's where I came in and the combination between all of their brain power and my creative marketing and public relations skills had us working side by side for four or five years.
Eventually I had to grow up and I moved in with my staff, but it really was the biggest learning period of my life and no amount of study could give me the real life experiences I had with their investment companies and watching hundreds of companies come through the door pitching their latest big idea. It really was phenomenal.
So, it really was nothing for me to join Niall and a couple of our other friends in New York for a catch up.
What I realized from this 24 hour world-wind was:
1. I am starved for intelligent conversation: There is nothing against the people I know in Atlanta, but the conversation because you don't have the depth of trust that you have with old friends, is light. On top of that, most of the people I know in Atlanta don't travel, don't read, don't go to the theatre and wouldn't know a good restaurant if they fell over it because they never get out to experience new and exciting things. What all of these things do is that they make you interesting, worldly and full of experiences that people are mostly interested in hearing about. Living in a bubble makes you un-interesting! Simple.
2. Trusted relationships take time: Niall and I have been good friends for 15 years or more and we have a trusted relationship. If I made a wrong business decision, he would be one of the first people I would go to with my tail between my legs for advice. To trust people with the good and the bad takes time so it is very important to invest in relationships and if you can, stick with it for the long haul.
3. No matter how often you see someone, if they are a good friend, they are a good friend. It's such a warm fuzzy feeling when you catch up with a friend that you haven't seen in a long time. If they were a good friend to start with, they always will. You will talk like you saw them yesterday and nothing replaces that type of friendship.
4. Business ideas can come from anywhere: Sitting down with my good friend recruitment guru Michelle Fish and Niall, we discussed business. We each give each other an update on what we are doing and within minutes, Michelle offers to introduce me to some of her clients and Niall does the same. Then, he says, "I met this guy that takes businesses like yours and takes them to the next level - you should have a chat with him." You betcha!!!! That was not all, the melding of contacts and sharing of information just kept going and going. There were lots of "have you thought about this" or "would you like to meet this person". I wanted to run back to my room and start adjusting my business plan.
5. Focus is everything: I am a reasonably focused person but by being exposed to others that sometimes are not, you can learn from their mistakes and try to minimize yourself making the same. By starting something and finishing it - you will not only feel more satisfied but most likely you will be more successful.
6. You can learn from every other persons successes and failures, all you have to do is listen, absorb and walk away with some take home value.
I feel more inspired and more focussed than ever and I am sure that this 24 hour bender help me in more ways than I will ever imagine. If you haven't seen someone for a long time and you both have something to bring to the table, have a coffee or a glass of wine - it will be the best $10 you ever spent.
Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.
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