Snapshot of the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit 2011 #DILS11

The Discovery Invest Leadership Summit happened this Wednesday and caused a lot of conversation both online, and among attendees at the Sandton Convention Centre (Johannesburg). Being my first one, I had really high expectations, and they raised the bar from the moment I arrived.

Without going into too much detail about all the talks, the speakers who stood out for me were Dan Ariely and Chris Anderson. It is not the things I hear or see for the first time that make sense, it’s realizing I’ve overlooked them in all of their simplicity.


Note from Chris Anderson’s talk


He spoke about concepts from his book ‘FREE – The Future Of A Radical Price’. Here are some highlights:

  • Zero as a price, is not a price, yet drives economic behaviour.
  •  The internet created the new form of FREE, which is really free.
  • Things are too cheap to meter when you can treat them as though they were free.
  • “In a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost.” – Joseph Bertrand 1883.
  •  This era is the end of physical media, as all media goes digital, it is moving to a marginal cost of zero.
  • Younger people have more time than money, older people more money than time. As a result young people can consume free, yet problematic media that has formatting issues, with advertising. But the older audience would rather pay for a better service.
  • We created the internet, with our content, our ideas and our time.

In closing: As you offer your service or product for ‘free’, what will you sell that people will need to use with your product?

Dan Ariely

His talk was about irrational behaviour, its importance in our business and personal lives. Here are some key points:

  • “As decisions get bigger, we don’t know what to do and leave it to someone else to make that decision for us.” He was referring to how we make choices and decisions when using online platforms and deciding on courses of action.
  • We need to evaluate things in relative terms, rather than absolute terms.
  • “How is it possible that people working in a particular field are always wrong based on their intuition and legacy?” Because things have always been done a certain way, we continue to do them that way without questioning.
  • Opportunities exist for us to constantly improve ourselves.  How often does intuition fail us? It is time we tried something else, doubt your intuition and try something else.

Without taking away from all the other speakers, these are some of the many highlights from the conference. For snippets of all the other talks, have a look at the conference blog here.


Image by PopTech on Flickr

Learn from the best at Tech4Africa

In the third episode of NetWebTV, I was fortunate to interview Gareth Knight. His views on building a business, I have followed since (with a bit of tweaking for context). Now, any opportunity available to hear him speak I cease every time.

The episode is more about how he built a company that got acquired and a project he was developing at the time called Tech4Africa. As he put it then, it was meant to be a conference that brings global viewpoints to the African context. The chicken in me at the time thought it was overwhelming and impossible. Fast forward to over a year later, the idea has spread online and tickets have become more coveted than a black BMW M6 convertible in Soweto.

More accessible than the shiny M6

This conference, being the first of its kind in South Africa and possibly Africa, might have been inaccessible for people in South Africa. Mostly the entrepreneurs who need to attend it. That’s one of the questions I asked Gareth off camera.

Seemingly he gave that a lot of thought to that and worked it into the package. Not to mention having tickets that are discounted to make it even more worth your while. The caliber of speakers and topics they have challenge current thinking. I find that a significant influential force in contemporary business ethic.

Is it for everyone?

No. And like all things that are really worth your time and investment, it shouldn’t.

The conference is very focused. It is about technology and how it affects you as an entrepreneur. The knowledge of speakers like Clay Shirky, is definitely for people who want to make real and rapid progress. Fortunately, not everyone is that person which means there is only a few of you out there. Otherwise there would not be such a great demand for you.

I was meant to tell you more about the learning prospects at the conference.

Tech4Africa Scholarships

One of the major things lacking in Africa is the skill needed to develop globally competitive businesses, but the conference also addresses that. The discounted tickets already make it easier to attend, but in partnership with Old Mutual, the conference also has tickets for people who need to need learn.

Below are some workshops and what they are about:

1. A masterclass in Usability and Accessibility

Gain expert knowledge from a global leader in usability and accessibility

Usability tests are an excellent way of discovering problems with a product or service.

2. Google University

A deep dive into Google Analytics and Adwords

Google Analytics is a powerful web analytics tool, AND it’s free, and Google Adwords is a great way to drive traffic to your site. However, you get the most out of them when you understand how they work, and how to customise for your needs.

3. A Masterclass in Architecting applications and Advanced Javascript

Learn best practice for developing applications that enable you to work fast and agile, whilst being robust and secure; and learn advanced features of the JavaScript language to create complex applications

4. Successful digital projects

A strategic look at the digital project implementation lifecycle, for decision makers and programme managers.

Whether you want to or not, you are now project managing a group of (hopefully) willing people to create a product that you are attempting to get done in an (un)reasonable amount of time, within an (in)sane budget.

For the entrepreneur there is Seedcamp.

Seedcamp is a programme created to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in Europe, and now Africa, by connecting next generation developers and entrepreneurs with over 400 mentors from a top-tier network of company builders; including seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, product experts, HR and PR specialists, marketers, lawyers, recruiters, journalists and venture capitalists.

The scholarship applications close tomorrow.  Go on, signup and read more here.

Aside: No BMWs were dreamt of during the writing of this post.