Over the winter of 2018, I took a sabbatical, fact-finding, re-boot odyssey across Europe. I built my itinerary around a very important reunion in Champagne, France (uh-huh), with my alumni from my week on Necker Island with an amazing group of nine CEOs, business owners and all-round wonder women.
These women are trailblazers in law, wine making, mining, T&D, property, one even owns that biz Edible Blooms that delivers insane bouquets of chocolates (you can thank me later). But we didn’t go around saying “I’m a CEO you know”. I can tell you about them in terms of their dance moves, their nicknames ‘Queen tuff mudda’ is one, a signature laugh or a story they told that had everyone wetting their pants.
“If I am honest, I have never been the same since Necker.”
Those four days on that Caribbean island (current rack rate is $US60,000 per night) in 2016 was serious quality time with a random group of people I would never have met if it wasn’t for Necker. It sounds like a chick fest but it was a lot more than that and two years on the experience has truly made me radically shift my thinking. If I am honest, I have never been the same since Necker.
Here’s ten reasons why.
1. “Busyness” is banned:
You know what made Necker so much fun? The bar in the Great House? The beach pool? The flamingos (yes there are flamingos there)? The Necker vibe that can be felt everywhere? It was the chilled pace of the day and no ‘busyness’. Necker gave me space to observe how much I needed to detach from “busyness”. Ever since, I have really challenged my relationship with being busy.
2. Necker nurtures curiosity:
The experience of being disconnected from family, friends, employees really made for a liberating week and an opening up of time and space for new connections, new ideas and for just being curious. You have time to ask questions and explore the new. Maintaining a sense of wonder is a vital for creativity and new thinking (and it feels great!) and there is also hard evidence that curiosity boosts business performance. If you don’t believe me, try great curiosity research and resources via Harvard Business Review.
3. In diversity there is beauty and strength:
Over my time on Necker, there wasn’t a clique to try and fit in with, we were too geographically and professionally diverse. Every person there was utterly unique. So you just had to be yourself and dive in to everyone’s own qualities and quirks. We bonded over those differences and really embraced them. We bonded over the mutual respect of each other’s being and respect of each other’s success.
4. You can make lifelong friends in a few days, seriously:
I asked a few of my Necker ladies what they thought about the relationships they formed during the week. A consistent theme was there. They all said that the bonds they made were the kind where they felt they could call anyone from that group at three in the morning and they would be there for them.
5. Fun is important:
The king of Necker, Mr Branson is a bit of an ambassador for fun and adventure. He’s onto something and fun is infectious on Necker. We had so much fun, not all of it champagne and fluffy-duck-fuelled. (During our trip to Europe, fun came in the form of Leon one of the amazing partners of our group.)
Fun is a wonderful antidote to stress, makes you feel young and alive, I just don’t know why we don’t prioritise it more. From my Necker experience, I have had to challenge my all work, no play periods of time and think about the real effects of forgetting the fun factor.
6. My Necker friends are like family:
When we met up for the August 2018 reunion, it was like a family reunion (except with way more excitement). We know each other now. (There are women there who know things about me that I never share) These are people who I can honestly say I could call at 3am and they would be there for me. Over the time we exposed so much about ourselves and who we are that just doesn’t happen in our “normal” lives. A group of random individuals came together for a week, found a lot of common ground (waaaaay more than work,) enabled true lasting friendships and it really created a family unit. And now husbands and partners are part of it by coming to Champagne for the reunion.
7. People make it all possible:
I started Klick Communications in 2008 knowing that a shift was coming. Brands could get to their consumer directly through social media and earned communications. Now in 2018 that shift has completely happened. Consumers have all the power and employees have all the power.
It’s never been more important to put people first.
It goes deeper than that. The value of our lives can be measured in our human connections (not in Instagram likes). So it HAS to be about people. Valuing people. Listening to people. Investing in people. Necker really did teach me as a business owner that I also needed to pay more attention to diversity too. The island is so good at curating diversity in its retreats for the ultimate [beyond] networking experiences. I know truly understand that more diversity of people provides a rich environment for growth. In a city like Sydney, where Klick HQ is, it can be easy to slip into working only with particular tribes. I now challenge myself on that.
8. Rethink what personal and professional development mean to you:
Necker gave me a deep connection with the most eclectic, different, powerful, inspiring women I know. That experience has turbo-charged my professional and personal development. I could see how investing that time away instead of saying ‘I can’t leave the business because I am the boss’, was life changing. I needed that personal and professional development like I need oxygen and water to survive so I am now utterly committed to personal and professional development – whether it is coaching, sabbaticals, health and fitness, mini-breaks, conferencing and European Necker reunions.
9. Carve out space to get future focused:
Sorry to mix my moguls, but I want to refer to Bill Gates here who has long taken retreats. He has a thing called “Think Week” – read about it here. He did one in July this year and even [briefly] let a reporter photograph his little soda cans and piles of confidential files that he sits and reads without distraction. (A person drops off meals twice a day and that is his only exposure to the outside world.)
As we head into the 10th anniversary of my agency Klick, I’ve been thinking hard about how we take the business forward for the next decade.
Above all, I realise that what got us here (to 2018) will not get us there (2028). Like any future focused business, we are setting out to disrupt ourselves.
Klick was built to continually evolve in a world of transformation and change. These changes are challenging but more than anything, they are exciting.
To undertake these changes, I took August 2018 away from the office, leaving a great team in place to get the ship sailing. I wanted to take time, not just for the Necker reunion, but to really think about the future of work and the future of marketing. I’m excited to come back and continue Klick’s bold (r)evolution.
I want companies, brands and people to be more future-orientated. By 2028 they are predicting that 50% of the S&P won’t be there. This is due to the acceleration of change and we all need to pay attention to the rapid changes in consumer behaviour.
Necker taught me that it is okay to think bigger, to want to have an impact and enjoy life to the fullest.
10. Share what you have magnanimously:
Since Necker, I’ve made a focus on sharing what I do, who I know, what I have and where I go. My grey matter will go to the grave when I finally lay down, so share the shit out of it I say!