When I was running an company that was in the middle of growing from 10 to 20 people, there were plenty of times it seemed like there ought to be someone I could talk to that could provide some helpful been there / done that kind of direction.
Except that we had “outgrown” much of the incubator / economic development / small business administration kind of support that was geared to startups, and well, we never found the perfect fit with consultants. (That irony is not lost on me, now that I’m in the business of doing consulting!) This is not to say that we didn’t get some great advice for which I am still grateful, it just didn’t always seem to “fit” the culture/company we wanted to create.
Enter the book “Small Giants: Companies that Chose to be Great, not Big” by Bo Burlingham. Reading it was a breath of fresh air. It was incredibly encouraging to read the stories of several companies choosing to beat to a different drum, and still managing to be very successful. It also helped to be familiar with one of the companies, our hometown Zingerman’s. It made the book more meaningful than a bunch of abstract case studies, having experienced the culture and success of one of the companies first hand.
All this made deciding to go to the first Small Giants gathering a proverbial no-brainer. And I’ve been to almost every gathering since, from Washington DC to Germany and San Francisco. Now that they’re practically going to be in my backyard (Chicago), ironically I don’t have the same need to be there. But maybe you do, and that’s why I’m writing today.
As a second stage business owner / operations person, my job was to figure out how to get from here to there. I’m not a big fan of re-inventing the wheel, but some days it felt like we were. When the traditional b-school stuff doesn’t seem to fit, what else can you do?
Go hang out with other Small Giants.
You’ll meet the guy, Bo, who wrote the book and figured out that there are common threads between Small Giants. You’ll meet the guy, Paul, whose passion brought people with a Small Giants mindset from all over the globe together. You’ll meet other people in very similar situations, struggling with similar issues, and you’ll have chances to brainstorm and help each other. Chance are, you’ll make some great new friends along the way.
Of course, there are plenty of less expensive opportunities that don’t require travel to make new friends and swap stories, so here’s why I kept going back. Every year, I left the Small Giants Summit inspired with new things to try. Things that were new to me, but already working in other, quite similar, companies. Along with an open invitation to pick up the phone if I ran into further questions along the way. No more reinventing the wheel. And that, well, that was priceless. If the book Small Giants resonates with you, I promise you you’ll get your ROI on this conference.
Sign up before July 7th for early bird pricing – and save $150 with the code “SGPeer”. See the full schedule and register here: Small Giants Summit.
And say “Hi” to Bo and Paul for me when you’re there!