Master Class In Disruption: 2017 Conference Highlights

Master Class In Disruption: 2017 Conference Highlights

I recently had the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity –  Synergy Global Forum’s A Master Class in Disruption conference at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

This two-day conference gathered world leaders and experts onto one stage to discuss how new technologies, innovations, and strategies are causing disruption and bringing forth a new world. Some of the well-known icons on stage included Sir Richard Branson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jack Welch, Steve Forbes, Simon Sinek, Malcolm Gladwell, and Guy Kawasaki. With over 7,000 participants in attendance, it was the “blockbuster event” to attend!

Here were the highlights and recaps from the various speakers.

Synergy Global Forum: Master Class in Disruption 2017

The Art of Innovation: How to create innovative products and services using tactical and practical techniques.

In his talk, Guy Kawasaki remarked that working for Steve Jobs was difficult, but it helped him to grow and become a better business person. Here are the lessons in disruption he learned from Steve Jobs:

  1. Don’t ask customers what to do if you want to disrupt the market.
  2. Jump to the next curve. Define your business in terms of the benefits you provide, not how you provide them. Don’t be like those ice companies that died out because they didn’t disrupt the market and become refrigerator businesses.
  3. Make an MVVVP, i.e. Minimum Viable Valuable Validating Product. Don’t forget that in addition to being viable, your product needs to be valued by your customers and validated in the market.
  4. Make design count—treat your engineers like artists if you want to disrupt the world.
  5. Polarize people—not everyone will like your product.
  6. Ignore naysayers.
  7. Change your mind. It doesn’t make you look stupid or admit weakness. It’s actually a sign of intelligence, entrepreneurship, and disruption.
  8. Niche yourself. You want your product to be both unique and valuable.
  9. Let 100 flowers blossom. When you ship product, people you didn’t expect will buy it and use it in a way you didn’t anticipate. Instead of freaking out, celebrate it!
  10. Churn, baby, churn. It’s hard to go from disruptor to evolver. Don’t be afraid to constantly revise your product or service.
  11. Perfect your pitch. Customize your intro based on audience when talking about your products and services.


The Stunning Parallels between Great Leaders of the Ancient World and Today’s Top Business Leaders

Steve Forbes spoke about the guiding principles for success and lessons business leaders can learn from ancient leaders:

  1. Give people a sense of purpose. Every business needs to remind itself of what it’s trying to do for its customers.
  2. Focus on creating structures that will last.
  3. Step forward even when you don’t feel prepared.
  4. Know your limits.
  5. You don’t always control your destiny.
  6. When you succeed, you will attract imitators. Success begets imitation! If you don’t learn from this, you will get consumed.
  7. Find out what you have a knack for, and do it! Also, make sure to continue your education.
  8. Go out of your comfort zone. This will make you better in your workplace.


The rise of the weak link organization

In his talk, Malcolm Gladwell spoke about weak link vs. strong link organizations. Some food for thought:

  • To flourish, are organizations better off fixing their weak links or their strong links?
  • What direction are we headed as a society—a weak link landscape or a strong link landscape?


The Wolf of Wall Street

Jordan Belfort spoke about how sales isn’t just for sales people—it’s for everybody. Key takeaways:

  • Sales is about communicating your thoughts and connecting with people.
  • Sales is about prospecting. We’re not in the business of taking Nos and turning them into Yeses.
  • We learn a lot more from our failures than our successes. Learn how to fail elegantly and succeed wildly.
  • The Three 10s:
    • Love your product
    • Trust and connect with you
    • Trust and connect with your company
  • You’re never just selling your product. You’re also selling yourself and the company behind your product.
  • Take a course on how to sell and communicate. It will pay huge dividends.


Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to tell your story in a noisy world

One world describes Gary Vaynerchuk’s morning session: electrifying. He spoke about what got him to where he is today (his parents) and the things he’s learned in the process:

  • Regardless of whether you’re right or wrong, be the better person.
  • If you’re a true entrepreneur, you love losing as much as you love winning.
  • Be obsessed with the climb, the journey, the process.
  • Your brand is what you will trade on for the rest of your life.
  • Never ever get high on your own supply.
  • Make this the day you go ALL in. What story do you want to tell the world?


What makes a leader: Emotional intelligence and the keys to high performance

According to Daniel Goleman, EQ is key to leadership and needs to be actively practiced. Key insights:

  • Mindfulness is about noticing when your mind wanders and bringing it back. Make sure to practice mindful meditation in order to reach cognitive control (i.e. keeping your mind on one thing and avoiding distractions).
  • Being bright alone academically is not the key to financial success. You need discipline!
  • Technology is changing the social norms for attention. The devices that help us to be productive also distract us.
  • It’s not the group IQ that makes a high performing team. It’s the level of harmony on that team. They are in flow together because they feel connected.
  • The work you’re doing should matter to you for you to be engaged.
  • EQ framework:
    • Self-awareness
    • Self-management
    • Relationship management
    • Social awareness


The Infinite Game: Finite players are preoccupied with “winning” or “being number one”

Simon Sinek focused his talk on how businesses should focus on playing the infinite (not finite) game. In other words, you aren’t trying to beat your competition—you’re trying to outlast them. Here are his tips on what’s needed to build an infinite organization:

  1. Just cause. What is the just cause behind your organization that will motivate people to work at their natural best?
  2. Courageous leadership. Leaders need to be able to stay true to their cause and stand up to anything that pressures them to veer off their path.
  3. Vulnerable team. Create an environment where people can grow and be vulnerable without fear of retribution or retaliation.
  4. Worthy adversary. Respect your competition—they will push you to improve your products and services. Use your competition to make yourself better!
  5. Open playbook. An open playbook means that leaders are transparent with their organization on business strategy. Transparency keeps everyone on the same page and invites diversity of thought.


Sir Richard Branson | Q&A

This line sums up the key takeaway from the session:

“Screw it. Let’s do it!”


Reading List and Other Resources

Here were the resources mentioned by the speakers throughout the conference:

Anulekha Venkatram

Anulekha Venkatram is a Product Manager who enjoys partnering with professionals to build innovative products that solve customer problems. In her free time, she reads voraciously about technology trends, writes engaging content for, and somehow finds time for grad school. Follow her on Twitter at @AnulekhaV.