I’m writing this on a Tuesday (worst day of the week) in November (my least favourite month) in 2016 (need I say more?) I thought I’d lift myself out of this dark place by reflecting back on the top five most powerful, inspirational speakers and performers who’ve all brightened up my year in various ways. Positive thinking and all that.
I can’t write this blog and not mention the amazing Clarke Carlisle. I’m not even going to try and do justice to Clarke here so if you’re not familiar with him, I suggest you go and read up pronto, and if you’re a client looking for inspirational speakers, then let’s not waste any more time: I’m sending you the paperwork. Clarke’s the most gifted, engaging and eloquent storyteller and campaigner and I won’t forget his visit to the JLA office for a long time.
Clarke may have stunned me into silence but Margaret Heffernan made me want to jump up, punch the air and scream “Yes, you’re SO RIGHT!” at this year’s JLA conference (I just about managed not to). Margaret makes my personal cut of inspirational speakers because what she says defies conventional wisdom in business yet makes so much sense. Margaret’s also managed to improve how we all work together here at JLA; our levels of social capital are off the charts. Some of my favourite takeaways? Read (widely, anything, everything, voraciously), celebrate mistakes, embrace conflict. She’s my hero.
Lianne La Havas
Inspirational speakers aside, I’ve seen some pretty inspirational performances this year too. One of my highlights was seeing Lianne La Havas perform a sublime rendition of ‘Unstoppable’ at an intimate venue on acoustic guitar. She flew in from Mexico between tour dates especially for a client and on paper she should have been tired and flustered after a long, delayed flight and not much time to get ready (well, I would have been pretty grumpy anyway). Instead, she greeted me with a warm smile and massive bear hug like we were long lost friends, and was generally a joy onsite from start to finish. Spine-tinglingly good. I was completely humbled.
Carlos spoke at one of our Breakfast events last year and every time our paths have crossed since then, I’m awe-struck. He’s pretty much a mega-star to anyone with a passing interest in dance, but you really don’t need to know the foggiest about ballet to be mesmerised by his story of humble beginnings in Cuba through to international Ballet Great. One word of advice: if you book Carlos then your security might need to be tight. Can’t say I’ve seen many other inspirational speakers practically followed into the toilet after their speech…such is his hypnotising star-quality.
It was a rainy day in August in Edinburgh. I’d spent all day trudging around the Fringe Festival, I was weary, I might have been hungover, and most annoyingly of all I hadn’t seen any remotely good shows. Luckily I had Felicity’s show scheduled in to round off that terrible day, and it was a total triumph. Me and my colleague Damian’s sides were splitting at her tales of navigating London life as an Aussie. And so, she ended up on this year’s Real Variety Show!