By Michael Gunther

I consider myself a learner. I’ve always liked learning new things through reading books and newspapers, keeping up on economic trends and research, watching TedX videos, subscribing to select business blogs, etc. But recently I realized that nothing compares to actually getting out of the normal routine and hearing world thought leaders speak in person with a group of my peers.

I was in New York City at the beginning of October for the World Business Forum, a two day conference featuring some of the top minds and personalities in business. I’ve read many of these presenters’ books and follow them on Twitter, but my experience at this conference profoundly shifted my mind set and re-energized me like nothing else has in a long time.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t even planning on going. Even after a friend bought my ticket for me as a gift, I still struggled with whether I should go across country for just a two day event when I already was fairly overwhelmed with all that I had on my plate. What a mistake it would have been to have missed this event—to be at Radio City Music Hall with six of my business friends from San Luis Obispo plus 5,000 other business leaders from across the globe, listening to these men and women speak about the future of work and what it takes to be a leader in today’s work environment. It was amazing.

Imagine watching Jim Collins (Good to Great), Marcus Buckingham (First, Break all the rules), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Jack Welch (General Electric), Don Tapscott (Digital Generation), and Fareed Zakaria (CNN) all on stage, educating you in areas of economics, leadership, and management. In addition, a new level of inspiration came as our group met every evening and discussed what we learned and how we could not only apply the ideas and concepts we heard to our organizations and improve our leadership skills, but also how we could share this information with other business leaders in our community back home.

On my return flight, I began to outline all of my notes and think about some of the key takeaways that I wanted to share with my team at our next meeting. It occurred to me that as I wrote down the ideas, the words felt so uninspiring. I realized that the words alone were not what had made the message powerful. It was how the individuals intertwined their stories, research, and experiences that brought about the paradigm shifts and “a-ha” moments. It was watching them live, delivering their words with passion and conviction, that made the concepts become a reality to which I could relate.

This is where I began to realize that it had been way too long since I’d attended an event such as this. Learning cannot just happen by reading and watching videos online. There is a powerful transference that happens when you’re at a live event capturing the energy of the room and passion of the speakers. This energy has been with me since I’ve been back now for three weeks. I continue to get more excited about transforming our company and assisting our clients. I keep pulling out specific thoughts or ideas that were generated at the conference to improve how and what we are doing. My mind was not on overload from the conference but actually freed up—or maybe oiled, like gears in a machine that need to keep the engines churning and moving ahead.

Bottom Line

I encourage you to find a seminar, conference, or a speaker forum to attend within the next six months. Get it scheduled and get prepared to get those wheels turning again within your mind. I realize reading books and watching YouTube and TedX videos can be stimulating, but there is no substitute for live, thought-provoking events with other leaders.

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at

Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. Learn more at


Let’s Talk

Something’s not right with your business. You know it, your team feels it and maybe it’s trickling down to your clients too. Whatever issues you’re facing, let our friendly, smart, intuitive team give you the tools you need to elevate your business. Give us a call, send an email, or meet us out for coffee or a cocktail. Let’s collaborate to create a successful business!

{We Are Here to Help} Read Our Recent Whitepaper About 'Managing Your Business Through Uncertain Times'Download here!
Share This