Billed as the biggest and most inspirational conference in Ireland, Pendulum Summit is a bit like the Graham Norton show – how can so many celebrities be packed on one sofa? Last year it was Richard Branson and Conor McGregor, this year the lineup was a who’s who of just about anybody with Ruby Wax, Colin Farrell, Boris Johnson, Brian Cody, Stuart Lancaster, John Cleese and many more, Stretching over two days the conference is one of the must-attend events on the Irish corporate calendar.
I attended by myself and found I was in the exception. Most people, as in the Ark, came in twos, and some in much bigger groups. One pharmaceutical company seemed to have brought an entire floor with whispers of up to 50 people attending. It begged the question of just who was doing the work back at the factory?
Running over two days the Pendulum Summit is exhausting. Each guest seems to surpass the next. Each mega star could very well hold their own and yet packed as tightly together as they were it was impossible not to compare and contrast.
So while I am a life time fan of Ruby Wax, running as she after life coach and Professor Marshall Goldsmith her talk seemed patchy. Or having seen lots of Nick Vujicic on Youtube I missed the presence of young school kids crying as they hugged him. I think the audience was a little old to be moved in such a visceral fashion.
Nick for those of you unfamiliar with him was born without limbs and now travels the world giving inspirational talks with lots of bad jokes about said missing limbs.
I did like his opening joke though – Nick spoke of a kid looking at him intently and then finally asking what happened? His answer – “Cigarettes!”. As grownups we all chuckled as here we’re on familiar territory.
There was an interesting bit in Nick’s talk where he asked us to write down the top three things we valued in life and for which we were grateful. He then questioned the audience – Was it faith? No one, not one person put up their hands, and we were fairly expert with the hands-up actions at this point in the proceedings. In contrast there was a sea of hands risen for friends, family, and sports. An interesting observation on modern Irish life.
Even before Boris Johnson landed the following day, there were pot-shots from Stuart Lancaster. Ruby had some pot-shots for Trump and mentioned how when once standing next to Melania she could hear the ocean – and put her hand up to cup a pretend shell to her ear.
And Colin Farrell was very interesting according to Miriam O’Callaghan. He never mentioned if he had a girlfriend (one of the top questions wanted answered by half the audience) and wandered a little. However, he did have a very strong point to make on gratitude. His aim was to grateful now for the people and things in life. He didn’t want to experience loss to appreciate what he had once had.
I didn’t make the second day due to a most unfortunate clash of appointments. So I read a few articles and spoke with new best friend Miriam O’Connell with ‘Mojo for Leaders’. As a single delegate I grabbed as many cards as I could during breaks and hers was one. So I rang her afterwards and asked how day two had gone.
“Very impressive,” she said. I asked if it was too much – the relentless rollout of celebrity after celebrity all espousing gratitude as a way of life. She did not think so – but also pointed out reasonably that since she travelled from Cork two days were better than one.
I asked about Boris Johnson of course. She was not that enthused. “His actual speech was clever on the nature of his own brand of leadership. He claimed his style was fact and data led not emotion led.”
But then he overran his time on purpose so that the hard hitting interview keenly anticipated with Brian Dobson did not materialise and Boris did what Boris does best – he descended into Buffoonism, even stealing the notes from Brian’s hand.
“Both seemed pretty frustrated at the end,” was Miriam’s comment.
John Cleese did not fare much better. In the graveyard slot he, the comedian, went serious and heavy. “It was too heavy for the end of the day,” Miriam said. “I learnt some stuff but it wasn’t the bang we needed at the end.”
While I had asked about those two gentlemen, Miriam offered better talkers – Mandy Hickson, fighter pilot, and Baroness Karren Brady. I had missed excellence in their talks.
Harking back to my first day and my attempt to network during the breaks I have to recall one conversation over lunch. I introduced myself to three strangers and the conversation, turned by my own tug, went to blockchain. I was evangelising about the technology when Shane, real name but surname unknown, finally said – “This is lunch not networking.” I was quite surprised and pointed out I was not selling him anything.
“That not the point,” he said. “You should be focusing on your kids not that technology.” And he left, pointing deliberately at his chest where his heart might have been. As he disappeared out of view down those long Convention Centre escalators I belatedly had my answer. “I am thinking about my children, but I am also thinking about yours.” And no, even if he had heard me, he would not have understood either.
So, there you have it. I had one day and learnt that gratitude is the 2019 way to live – whether you are a celebrity or a plebeian. So I thank you for reading!
(ps – I had pitched blockchain as a topic to Pendulum organiser Frankie Sheenan – if you are talking to him, please make the same pitch. Next year we’ll have blockchain inside the tent not loitering in the corridors)
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