What I learnt in Portugal with EO

by | 19 July 2019

Gatherings of like-minded people are incredibly renewing for the heart, mind and soul.

Emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, over the past month, I have spent weeks conferencing – seriously! And in between, two weeks catching up with friends and making new connections while I travel. It has been incredibly enriching to have been in a position to complete this journey and I truly do feel replenished in each of these areas.



Ten years ago, this was a dream. To be in a position work from afar, learn on a global scale and mix with incredible people who change the world, one step at a time. To be part of this mix is in-satiating. They say to grow smarter you make contacts, but to grow wiser you remove things from your life. This makes complete sense to me and is something I have been actively working on. I feel both smarter and wiser now! Spending time with an incredible bunch of entrepreneurs from around the world has been super inspiring! Discovering new horizons was the topic of my most recent EO Conference in Portugal and that we most certainly explored.

Staring into the new horizon was right in front of me!



“The right question changes everything. Our next cure, our next technology, our next revolutionary change… will come from a question that has never been asked. Wonder changes the world.” Jason Latimer opened with a magical performance that wowed the 400 strong audience. The one thing that I have taken away from this is to ask a question – and to encourage my team to ask questions. Wonders will never cease, but don’t believe everything you see was also part of his message.

We learnt of great successes, and enormous failures, but one thing an entrepreneur will always do is create opportunity from crisis. It’s not all glitz and glory – for every success there are learnings. To be around people that have lived and breathed this has been uplifting.

My mornings always started with a sunrise beach yoga. What a beautiful setting to charge my mind and get my body moving, to create energy for the day ahead and working on my inner dialogue to connect with the burning fire; and not the ashes.



Our first keynote speaker was Nadim Habib, an incredible professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship. His session focused on the pace of change in our modern world, and the impact success is having on change. He cited some interesting statistics – for example the countries that work the most hours in the world are Greece, whereas the countries working the least number of hours in a week are those of Germany & Denmark. The countries working the hardest are the least successful whereas the companies that register the least working hours in the week are economically the most successful. Food for thought!

Overworking affects productivity; if you’re poorly managed you tend to work longer hours, and this is where the mistakes are made. He ran through how documented leadership styles have changed since the turn of the century, and how crucial agility is, to not get ‘stuck’ at the top, and to enable the people at the forefront of customer activity to make decisions. His sentiments are that if you make everyone in the company act like a CEO, you would double sales and halve costs. This is something I was pleased to hear as I genuinely feel at Derma Aesthetics all our team members care about the business as if it were their own and make decisions to reflect this, to prioritise our overall success. We all make a difference, and this is part of the magic.

Hard work does not equal success. Note to self! Millennials don’t want work/life balance – they want work/life blend… Here I am trying to balance everything when the way of the future is blending it all in. I’m happy with that!



Our second speaker, John Sanei, is a trend specialist and in 2018 he was awarded GQ Magazine’s Most Influential & Connected Man. Pretty amazing to be in his presence! How we perceive the future is paramount to how we prepare for it. Foresight is all about connecting the invisible dots between the reality we perceive and the future we create. The right question changes everything. He raised some interesting thoughts regarding innovation – doing what you did yesterday but just a bit better. The most dangerous thing you can do is what you did yesterday. Disruption was a big part of his conversation – but noted disruption is not new – it’s been going on with major inventions such as fridges and ice machines that turned into freezers. We saw many visions of the future of business – which has provided lots more food for thought!



We were then treated to some of Lisbon’s most iconic restaurants. A delicious meal of local specialties, and meeting and talking to fellow entrepreneurs was eye opening!



The afternoon was then broken down into a number of breakout sessions. I chose to listen to a workshop on Emotional Intelligence. Jen Groover helped us to understand how the health of our relationships is in direct proportion to success and happiness, and how to have better communication skills, more compassion, empathy and understanding to enrich our relationships. On average, we have 70,000 thoughts per day. What’s the quality of your thoughts? This generates our thought patterns. We can change our thought patters through creating new neurological pathways – and this is why mindfulness and meditation are so important – to think of 3 new thoughts with intention and mindfulness can change the outcome of our day. Interpreting people by what they mean rather than what they say was key to her message, and was my main take away from this session.

My second breakout session was on WELLth though wellness. You cannot achieve wealth if you are not well! We often succeed with business strategy, networking and investing in our accounts, but often fail or lack planning in our own personal wellbeing. Ain’t that the truth! We were versed with strategies to handle emotional and mental stress, and how crucial this is to increase business ROI and employee retention – not to mention increasing productivity and presenteeism (being physically present on the job but being mentally distracted). This session focused on yoga, meditation and mindfulness. It’s all about mindset and this helped me to fall in love with my journey all over again. 90% of our physical toxicity is emotionally derived – and for me, starting my day with a simple breathing exercise has taken on high importance.

We were next able to meet face to face the champion who surfed the world’s biggest wave in Nazare. This beach in Portugal we had just visited is home to the biggest wave’s in the world and Rodrigo Koxa risked life and limb to successfully surf a world record breaking 80-foot (24.38m to be precise) wave. His story of bravery has inspired me to have confidence to #gobigger in my own life! His story of perseverance and courage was inspiring. #liveyourdream



Our next keynote speaker was very interesting! Jon Acuff; a New York Times Bestselling Author spoke about the importance of finishing. Sounds straightforward right, but so many people start so many different goals, and never end up completing them. They always come back to haunt us… According to one study 92% of resolutions fail. We pursued content around what makes a person a consistent finisher as opposed to a chronic starter.

We all know SMART goals, but getting the size of the goal right is crucial. His 6 month study of over 900 people concluded that people who cut their goals in half were 63% more successful in achieving them. I am going to try this! People will generally think that motivation increases whilst we are achieving goals, but in reality, his research proves that motivation disappears on day two! It is all about action; which always beats motivation. Overall, make a goal fun and that is the best way to ensure completion. So now I am trying out how to make losing weight fun – hmm let’s see!



So, after my very zen afternoon, we were in for a real treat with dinner at a beautiful country estate winery, complete with local national costumed dancers, bands and cuisine – some of the best food I have ever had! Slow cooked pork, lamb and spareribs complete with beautiful salads and vegetables – I am still dreaming of it! And more Portuguese Tarts, or Pastel de Nata as they are actually called…



Our next day started with trend specialist Jay Samit – it was time to be disrupted. This guy advises the Pope and the President, and is highly regarded as a change agent in the corporate world to the likes of Coca Cola, Disney, Ford, American Express and Unilever to name a few. He had even the hardiest amongst us planning for disruption and change. Often in the company of Gates, Spielberg, Jobs and the like, I was in awe to be listening to his predictions. Of course, the world is a changing place; nothing new there – but it’s all due to happen a bit faster than I had expected. Over the next 5 years, he predicts that half of the current jobs will disappear. Interesting considerations for me as I help my boys navigate their final exams at school before they decide on their own career path.

He raised some interesting thoughts regarding innovation – doing what you did yesterday but just a bit better. The most dangerous thing you can do is what you did yesterday – so rest on my laurels I will not. ‘The world is changing; it’s how you respond that will matter.’ Most people don’t adapt – what matters most in your business is data. He predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will not involve a human. Gene editing will have a profound effect on disease and healthcare, and virtual currencies could become more stable than traditional currencies.

Next up we listened to Rolf Schromgens, the founder of Trivago talk about how important creating the right culture has been in his company’s growth. His focus was not on creating too many rules, but rather giving his people relative freedom to drive value.

Our next keynote was one of the best speakers I have ever heard. Jessica O. Matthews wowed us with her incredible journey. At the tender age of 22, she founded Unchartered Power, When she was just 19, she invented the SOCCKet, which was a soccer ball that when kicked around in the African Villages that she grew up in, harnessed kinetic energy and she worked out a component to hook into the ball that powered light in poor remote African villages that had no power. She has since taken these concepts and created a power and date infrastructure company that is transforming the ground we walk on into electrical grids and high-speed micro data centres. There is nothing that will stop this woman from succeeding. She lives and breathes diversity, stating that diverse leadership teams generate 19 % more revenue, and companies that focus on diversity perform 35% better than those who do not.

She engaged us with her common sense thinking, ability to get up and make positive change, and is now challenging the utilises monopolies in the USA and around the globe. I will never forget the inspiration for creativity, determination and passion that she instilled in me.




Next, I was again in a position to choose from a variety of breakout sessions and I listened to Rachel Wilson talk about cyber security. Security expert for the NSA and some of the world’s largest banks, I had my eyes opened to some of the risks we face as business owners – and having just been subjected to commercial fraud, I quickly devoured all there was to learn and think about risk. I now place higher importance on keeping my devices patched and up to date with software updates, as the update is a patch that fixes bugs – I never knew that! Alarmingly, she spoke of hackers that get onto open networks for example in hotel chains, cafes and all sorts of places that we might sit down to work at. A change I have made is not giving apps I download permission to use my photos. She also highlighted risks associated with using public charging stations – I would never have thought… I will be sticking to my own cord and power supply. And of course, there was the talk around the likes of Alexa and Siri knowing everything about everyone. We workshopped some simple changes that can be made to protect our privacy and reduce risk. A truly valuable workshop!

My next breakout session was again around change – it fascinates me! Chris Kutarna took us on a journey as we discussed ways to avoid burnout and lead with visionary, inspiring energy. Interestingly, in a global population of 7.7 billion people, there are 5 billion people of working age. Of these, only 1.3 million earn a wage they can live on, and only 200 million are happy in their work. Sobering statistics indeed, and I would like to think 25 of these 200 million people are happily employed at Derma Aesthetics! It’s interesting that to think back in 1930, the average age of a company was 90 years. Now the average age of a company on the S & P is only 11 years. And keep in mind that the things we think of as new are not always – like the Vegan Society that was actually founded in 1944. He linked leadership to value, purpose and courage and these have all been heightened on my radar.

The final keynote resonated highly with me, as Rha Goddess spoke about the legacy we would like to leave. I loved the ‘live every moment’ mantra she illuminates. All too often as entrepreneurs we drive so much energy and passion into our business and ideas that we let it rule our lives. Been there. Done that. Not doing it again! Stay true, get paid and do good were her consistent reminders to her loyal audience. Rha’s message was a lovely one to end on: each of us are here to do and be in this world only what we can do and be. If we live life as our authentic selves, we contribute more and create our biggest impact. She impressed upon me the values that family, education and community all play in forming the shape the heart and soul of what you are truly passionate about.

Our evening celebrated the close of the formal educational sessions and as we donned formal attire to the beautiful Colares Winery. A sensational dinner complete with monks singing Bohemian Rhapsody, and an opportunity to meet and talk to more inspirational entrepreneurs as we shared stories and realised the succinct beauty of what we all have in front of us.



The following day was designed to split into smaller groups with an activity that appealed – everything from horse riding to surf lessons, wine tours, spa experiences, fishing and 4-wheel drive adventures. As I was about to embark on the long journey home, I chose a hike along the beautiful coastline. It just happened to coincide with the European heatwave that decided to arrive early! Barely noticing the heat, we met even more inspirational people and shared stories and experiences as we walked, swam and lunched along the magnificent Portuguese Coastline.




And then for the closing party – I have few words as I am still stunned by the ambience that was created with our white theme. Arriba by the Sea wowed us with a beautiful sunset as we farewelled Portugal. A little tequila in hand perhaps, and a toast to a magnificent event that I am so grateful to have been able to attend, and the rest was history – or as we say, ‘what goes on tour stays on tour.’ I must be getting old opting for bed instead of the after party. My ‘live every moment’ self-appreciated that the next day as I headed to the airport to return to my much missed family and work.