The peak of my week

On Friday the 14th of October I – and three other Catalyst members had the privilege of assisting the Brighton Chamber of Commerce with their annual Brighton Summit. For the uninitiated, this event predominantly consists of listening to some highly inspirational people, and eating copious amounts of delicious food. In more detail: the event is geared towards helping businessmen and businesswomen improve themselves and their business through a variety of talks and workshops. It’s fun and informal and provides a great platform for networking. The theme this year was “your desires, dreams and real business”.

There were three keynote speakers. First up were Camilla Stephens and Mark Campbell of Higgidy Pies. The talk was a great start to the Summit; their description of how they built their brand was excellent. I realised that I had this longstanding overwhelmingly positive view of Higgidy pies, despite having possibly never eaten one, and not being much of a pie person anyway. This could only be the result of their powerful brand management.

Luke Johnson was second. He is a tremendously impressive man, who owns several well-known businesses, including Pizza Express, Strada, Small Batch Coffee and the Brighton Pier. What I loved about his talk was how he went into detail describing some of his failures. To hear of such a prolific entrepreneur making his fair share of mistakes was quite comforting for me, and probably even more so for some of the more experienced audience members.

The final speaker was Marc Koska, who developed the non-reusable K1 auto-disable syringe, and consequently is responsible for saving countless lives. His story was simply incredible. He saw this problem: that over a million people die each year from diseases caused by unsafe injections. He studied the problem mercilessly for years, until he came up with the simplest, most elegant solution. The talk was at times funny, at others very sad, and always impactful. It may even have been partially responsible for the very long queue for Brighton Gin afterwards.To my relief nobody’s story included being extremely successful at the age of twenty-two, so I didn’t have to feel too bad about myself.

Scattered throughout the day were more interactive sessions. I watched a workshop given by Hayley Watts on being a “productivity ninja,” which I found surprisingly therapeutic, as she outlined many common stressful moments and habits people experience at work, and how to overcome them. There was also a “desire hour” which, in keeping with the theme of the day, was not about work but rather about enjoying life outside of work. I spent my desire hour doing yoga, which I love, with a fantastic yoga instructor who had a great sense of humour.

Altogether I’m hugely grateful to Sarah Springford and Emily Jones for letting me and my fellow Catalyst team members be a part of this day. As well as all the free food, an enormous amount of invaluable work and life advice was shared that day, so I left with a mind as full as my stomach.

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