By Hilary Buckley

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Quite the impressive panel on stage at #SageSummit. Build the #brand and create a customer-centric culture.

— Sage ERP X3 (@sageerpx3) July 30, 2014

Wow! That was a lot of keynotes all put together for today’s Sage Summit keynote and MAN! were they good! In the spirit of yesterday’s popular keynote recap (43 reads and counting), I am also providing a quick summary of today’s series of keynotes. This one is not as fast as yesterday’s, because the keynotes were a great deal longer, and had a lot more people. Scroll down to read the sections that you actually care about or want to discuss. By the way, I have to say it: My favorite keynote was the interview with Biz Stone.

Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter)

In this tell-all interview (which I suggest you take the time to watch on the Sage Summit site), Biz talked about starting up Twitter and many other companies. Most of the interview, however, was spent exploring Biz’s personal philosophies, such as:

    • Put people first (and technology second).
  • Make sure to have a strong emotional investment in what you do (in other words: joy). This will keep you going when people tell you that you’re stupid.
  • Money is a great distraction. Figure out what you want to do without thinking about how much you’ll make.

Biz told a great deal of stories about his career, such as the amusing turn of events that led to his one-man blogging operation, Genius Labs (# 8 on this list), being permanently listed as an official Google acquisition. (He published a fake press release on his blog when he was hired by Google, then it was listed on Wikipedia, and then someone at the New York Times researched Google acquisitions using Wikipedia. Now it’s a part of the public record.)

“Most of the world’s information is still in people’s heads.” –Biz Stone

Perhaps most thought-provoking, Biz also talked about doing the math about how much people really know. Essentially, Biz heard a factoid about how many human brains it would take to hold all the information on the Internet (a million), and he reverse-engineered the numbers to see how much of the total human knowledge then is available on the Internet (since we have 7 billion people on the planet):

The internet can be stored in 1MM human brains, therefore the internet only has 0.0142857 percent of human knowledge. @biz #sagesummit — edkless (@edkless) July 30, 2014

So go out and talk to people and learn what they know. And while you’re at it do wonderful things for them and for humanity.

Magic Johnson (Magic Johnson Enterprises)
Jessica Alba (The Honest Company)
J. Carey Smith (Big Ass Solutions–which sells “big ass” 24-foot ceiling fans)

These three stars (well, two stars and a hilarious CEO) participated in a panel, led by Tom Davis, who is the chief marketing officer of Forbes Media. They all talked about their business philosophies, covering topics as diverse as:

  • Leadership style
  • Hiring practices
  • Effective business growth
  • Business strategies
  • Branding

With leadership styles, Jessica and Carey talked about the importance of supporting your employees’ work-life balance, and how being authentic, listening to your employees, and involving them in company activities really increases their passion and makes them happier.

For hiring practices, all of them agreed that hiring happens “beyond the resume.” What they really looked for was people with new, fresh ideas and who were passionately aligned with the company values.

They also agreed that listening to the customer’s pain points was the crucial step to be able to develop and grow your business, and Carey talked about how he feels the most important thing is also to know what exactly you messed up for a customer. He said that knowing what went well is great, but it doesn’t help your company get better.

In between the hilarious back-and-forth repartee that Magic and Carey had going, they also pointed out some real business gems:

  • Be nice to your suppliers, they’re a small/mid-sized business just like you.
  • Offer more products because a prospect would rather deal with one business for all its needs, than with multiple businesses.
  • Always, ALWAYS underpromise and overdeliver.
  • Make sure to always monitor your brand. If your brand is overexcelling, that will build loyalty and trust for you… and it is far more important than how many patents you hold.

Their overall message was that small and mid-sized businesses have a strength that big businesses do not: the ability to be nimble. At one point, Jessica Alba talked about how her customer service department (where everyone in her company has to rotate through) was getting a large number of complaints about their baby wipes. They listened to the complaints, and within four-and-a-half months they released the best baby wipe on the market–all from a quick response to customer concerns.

Their closing remarks:

“Always make the business about your customer and not about yourself. Don’t try to create demand, make sure the demand is there.” –Magic Johnson

“There are a lot of opportunities out there for new businesses, you have to educate them [about their need for your product].” –J. Carey Smith

“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you… don’t be discouraged by failures. Have them motivate you.” –Jessica Alba

Small side notes: Jessica Alba had some awesome metallic, coppery nail polish and Magic Johnson had some sweet diamond and sapphire (?) cufflinks that caught my eye.

Rich Karlgaard (author of The Soft Edge)

This presentation was informative, and opened with this video of Dave Wottle, winner of the 1972 Olympics’ 800 meter run to illustrate how businesses that work steadily are the ones that win in the end. The video was compelling, and Rich took the time to walk us through the exact speed that Wottle ran on each 200m section of the track. The speed was almost exactly the same the whole time.

Rich talked about the business “Triangle of Health,” developed by Fred Smith of FedEx, which balances these three sides:

  • Strategic base (in which you analyze your customers, your market, your competition, the disruptors, and the substitutes that people are using instead of using your product)
  • The “Hard Edge” (your business execution in terms of speed, cost, supply chain, logistics, capital efficiency)
  • The “Soft Edge” (your company’s culture–which transforms your company in the long run)

He also talked about the five things that comprise the Soft Edge:

  • Trust – founded on 100% commitment from everyone at the company
  • Smarts – grit and curiosity are usually stronger than talent and IQ
  • Teams – diverse teams lead your company to growth
  • Taste – intellectual and emotional appeal makes your sales effective
  • Story – how truth and vulnerability in your story make you stand out to customers

John Sheldon (head of innovation at MasterCard)

John talked about how MasterCard supports innovation and how your company should, too. He gave demonstrations of new products that the company has created, and his main message was about how much innovation matters in not only your company, but also in the world.

John’s tips to foster innovation in your company:

  • Listen to your customers’ pain points
  • Make space for your team to innovate
  • Open up, because ideas can come from anywhere
  • Evolve your innovations
  • Try a lot of ideas out and fail smart (by being quick to respond, and to learn from your mistakes)


As I watched all of the keynotes today, I was struck by how everyone seemed to be saying the same thing in different ways:

  • Failure is inevitable (embrace it)
  • Surround yourself with people who think differently than you
  • Small/medium businesses should really play up the fact that they have great customer service
  • HAVE great customer service and listen to your customers

In fact, doing good in the world and treating business as a philanthropic opportunity, no matter how much or how little money you make, was the thread that held all of these speeches together. Everyone agreed: the most important thing you can do as business owner is to do wonderful things for people and to let their inherent “goodness” shine out. Are you doing that?

How did I do?

Think this summary was too long, too short? Appreciate it? Hate it? Speak up in the comments section below, or just come talk to SWK Tech at Booth #922 at Summit. We’ll see you there!