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Written on: May 4th, 2018

I had the opportunity to attend the Onward conference sponsored by the CALGARY CHAMBER May 2, 2018.  The conference had inspiring presenters that are mostly local entrepreneurs and risk takers that shared both their successes and failures.  The stories that resonated with me were from Jamie Clark, DJ Sures, Don Tapscott, Jim Love, Andrew Gordon, Graham Sherman, and Alfredo Tan.  As well, Randi Zuckerberg provided an inspiring perspective on creativity and innovation.

Each person’s story is very different but there was a common theme of passion, commitment, and resilience.  Jamie Clark has so much energy that everyone was left sitting on the edge of their seat for his entire presentation and yet he was so real. He spoke of the importance of not letting fear get in your way of achieving your goals, learn from failure and live outdoors.  A big shout out to Jamie for being honest about the challenges he faced, the emotional roller coaster, how he dealt with his fears.  It was great to hear the heart wrenching story that many entrepreneurs can related to and yet how Jamie carried on.  His honesty and keeping it real was appreciated by the audience.

DJ Sures and Don Tapscott, both Canadians, provided innovate insights to worlds that we don’t often get exposure to.  DJ Sure is a Calgarian on the leading edge of building robots, his business is EZ ROBOTS.  So cool! Don Tapscot on the other hand was discussing the mysterious world of Blockchain.  I can honestly say he took a very complex subject and was able to explain it in a way the audience could understand it.  Excellent presentations by both DJ and Don.

Randi Zuckerberg, yes brother to Mark, talked about her career and experience in the highly competitive tech business. She talked about the importance of creating an environment to allow creativity and innovation. However, she also discussed the challenge she faced with often being the only female voice at the table. Randi has done a significant amount of research and has discovered that to change the number of girls entering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) means we must introduce young girls to these subjects and encourage them by the age of 10 if we want to the increase gender diversity in these fields.

The next three people to present just warmed my heart to see them on the stage together.  Jim Love inventor and owner of CASK BREWING COMPANY, Andrew Gordon Assistant Manager at CRAFT BEER MARKET, and Graham Sherman co-founder of TOOL SHED BREWING, all connected through their passion for craft beer and were a delight to listen to.  These guys were a complete inspiration and their approach to business and competition was refreshing.  What I loved the most about their conversation was the fact they all have different businesses in the same industry and how they work together for the greater good of their industry.  The greatest take away from their presentation was the importance to collaborate with peers and even competitors, and to support local.  As a local business owner, I cannot agree more with this message.

The final presenter of the day was Alfredo Tan who has recently joined WESTJET and will be looking at innovative ways for the airline industry to deliver the customer experience. It was inspiring to listen to his experiences and how he draws on other industries to look at how to be innovative in the airline industry.

ALBERTA STORAGE PLACE is a locally owned and operated storage business, so we were particularly interested in all the conversations that occurred on May 2nd. As a small business owner, it is always great to get out and meet other entrepreneurs.  A big shout out to the Calgary Chamber for putting a major event together.

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