Guest keynote speaker — local farmer, financial adviser and national speaker Eric Brown — told business owners and employees they are the group that will carry the city out of its next economical “oh crap moment” — but only if they’re willing to do what is needed right now.
“It’s invaluable to live and breath and to be surrounded by people like you guys, to know that if something happens, I have fellow business owners to lean on,” he said. “But now is the time to not be conservative. Today is the day to be bold. Boldness is the thing now. Boring is not safe anymore.”
Brown reminded owners that while they can’t rent movies at a Blockbuster anymore, companies like Netflix have survived because they were willing to be bold and to take the necessary risks.
He said back in 2000 Netflix approached Blockbuster’s CEO several years ago and offered the CEO what would have been the deal of a lifetime — to purchase the company for $50 million. He said the man told Netflix he would have to think about the offer and consult financial advisers to crunch the numbers and “to know if the offer was a safe one to accept.” After no answer came for several months Netflix withdrew its offer and began a new approach: online streaming.
Brown said today, Netflix is a $32.9 billion business.
“That was the deal of a lifetime,” he said. “That was a $32.9 billion company that could have been bought with $50 million. But because of a CEO that sat on their thumb and had to have all their answers, had to have all the details — they lost that.”
Brown then asked John Flickinger, owner of local Flickinger Insurance Agency, to act as an assistant in a demonstration. He had Flickinger hold the end of a measuring tape and walked the other end out until it read a number in the 80s — telling Flickinger that represented his total life expectancy. He then asked the business owner how old he was and walked that many inches toward the man — leaving 21 “years” left in John’s life.
Brown asked the audience if they knew this was all the time they had left, what would they be doing to make sure their business was successful.
“I would be willing to bet every single one of the business owners and managers here knows what needs to be done,” he said. “Why the hell aren't you doing it? What are you waiting for? You don’t have time to sit on your thumbs. Stop waiting for every single detail. Now is the time to be bold.”
He offered a few tips for a successful business: know your business’ numbers, to take time to get to know clients and “actually talk to them,” and finally to make their brands and marketing stand out as unique, even utilizing Facebook advertising to do so.
“Entrepreneurs come across as fearless. A lot of times, though, at heart we're chickens,” Brown said. “But I’m telling you who cares what (user) Johnny217 says? I think the power that we have is that everyone is dying to have authenticity. There are so many uniquely great people here. Anything you can do tout your unique story and brand is what's going to set you ahead. People want to talk to actual human beings. I think people are starving for life.”
Brown wrapped up his presentation by encouraging the business community to never let anything get in their way — especially themselves.
“So don't quit,” he said. “Keep kicking (butt) and taking names. Make a decision and take action. You have to freaking move. You have to make decision. You have to engage and you have to take action. It's time to act and there's no group that I'd bet my life on more than the group I'm in the room with today.”