This week, something a little different. This week I am going to introduce someone I introduced at a business awards dinner last week.
Someone inspiring, and infinitely clever. Someone you should know well. Someone you should trust to guide you to happiness and prosperity.
I will introduce this person as I did last week.
For the next five minutes, imagine you are sitting in that audience of 250 business leaders. I have stepped onto the stage. Here is my introduction.
Normally at events such as this, the guest speaker is someone who has done something noteworthy.
On that basis, I hardly qualify.
So when planning this short speech, I thought about how to divert attention from my lack of noteworthiness.
And then it came to me. I will find someone who is truly worthy of your attention.
I didn’t have to look far.
So what can I tell you about this person I’m about to introduce?
As a youngster, they were perpetually inquisitive. Always asking Why and How and What. Always wanting to learn more, to understand things that didn’t make sense.
“Why don’t fish have eyebrows?”
“What happens if you throw a tomato at the sun?”
If this person didn’t know the answer to a question, one was made up. It didn’t matter how improbable it was.
“How is dew formed?”
“The sun shines on leaves and makes them sweat.”
“How can you stop milk going sour?”
“Keep it in the cow.”
Every answer was right. No answer was wrong.
As a youngster, this person achieved some extraordinary feats.
As a four-year-old, this person slew dragons, fire-breathing monstrous scaly purple dragons.
At the age of seven, this remarkable young person learnt to fly – without wings – simply by stretching out arms and thinking, “I can fly”. And as easy as that, just lifted off the ground and flew for hours over pine covered mountains.
As a kid, this person believed that everything is possible. Nothing is impossible.
One day when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the answer was a ballerina dancing in Paris and receiving humungous bunches of flowers every night. That, despite never having studied dance and having 2 left feet.
And then, a short time later, the answer was a fireman, rescuing a lady trapped in her burning home.
Then it was a famous actor winning an Oscar.
Then a vet caring for hurt horses and dogs and cats.
Every response was given with certainty, as if nothing in the world could prevent any of these career dreams being fulfilled.
However, over time something happened.
In school exams, this person soon learnt that there was only 1 right answer. Answer it or fail.
Without meaning to, friends exerted pressure to conform to their dress code, tastes and world views.
In their first job, their employer expected them to efficiently perform the function for which they were hired – and nothing more.
Later, when self-employed, this person got distracted by the need to take care of the minutiae of running a business.
In spite of life’s pressures, this person’s creativity, ability to dream, and to ask naïve questions haven’t disappeared.
We live in an entrepreneurial age. There are signs that creativity is starting to get the respect it deserves. Recruiters are looking for markers of a candidate’s creative flair. Colleges and universities use the words creativity and innovation in their prospectuses. Quite staid businesses now have Directors of Innovation and Creative Directors. Even Prime Ministers champion innovation.
You could say that this person’s time to shine is now.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to join me in welcoming and celebrating the person who will shape the future of every business here, shape the future of this city, shape the future of regional communities and shape the future of Australia.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you you.
(I had to pause here. The audience realised I was talking about them. They smiled and applauded.)
Tonight you are being recognised by your peers for your success.
You have arrived here through hard work – but also through creativity & imagination.
That makes you similar to Richard Branson. In some ways.
If you don’t think you’re having as much fun as he seems to have, it’s not because you don’t work as hard as him. So, it must be imagination that puts that smile on his face.
In short, if you want to have as much fun as Richard Branson, make creativity your main business focus.
If you give yourself the opportunity to create, science shows that your lives will be transformed.
You will be happier.
You will be more productive.
You will find it easier to attract and keep the cleverest staff.
You will receive collaboration offers from other innovators.
With practice, ideas will flow naturally and freely. Big ideas. Life-changing ideas.
You will have the confidence and financial freedom to pursue your dreams.
You will have fun!
Tonight’s a reminder that every one of you here tonight has the cleverness and passion to create a culture that develops entrepreneurs, ignites creativity and ultimately leads to business success and economic prosperity.
You are members of a Business Chamber committed to fostering and celebrating your achievements.
I congratulate all of you – winners, finalists, members – for believing. And creating. And succeeding.
Do you have any idea how clever you are? Before you answer, I’ll answer for you. No you don’t.
You are cleverer than you will ever know. You are capable of greatness in areas you can’t fathom. Just because you didn’t become a concert violinist doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have been a great one.
Never doubt your cleverness. Never stop testing your capabilities.