Well, that was quicker than I expected.
It wasn’t long after I published my blog post last week, when the first two featured conversation speakers for Sage Summit 2015 were announced, that Sage went ahead and announced a bunch of other featured speakers. I figured we’d start getting Sage Summit fatigue if I put up a second post about it last week, so I decided to wait for this week’s post.
Just like last year, when Jessica Alba graced the stage as a featured conversation speaker, Sage Summit 2015 will feature two celebrities who have their fingers on the pulse of the business world.
Although many will remember award-winning actress Jane Seymour from her lead role on television’s “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman,” the younger people in the audience most likely will identify her as the artist who created the design for the Open Hearts jewelry collection.
Jane is also a professional artist, working in watercolors, oils, and bronze, and has had works exhibited across the country. She’s also created Jane Seymour Designs, “a national lifestyle brand inspired by her homes, art and family-centered lifestyle,” according to her Sage Summit bio.
Although her business work comes in different forms than Jessica Alba (who founded the online store for affordable, sustainable baby needs, The Honest Company), Jane Seymour has based her entrepreneurial pursuits around her artistic ventures. But like Jessica, Jane is an active participant in her businesses, so I’m looking forward to hearing her insights.
Now I’m sure there are some people out there who will frown on celebrity speakers at a business conference. Fear not: These aren’t celebrities who have just lent their name to a project and collect royalty checks. These are people who built their own businesses, went through all the normal pains of a start-up company, and work hard every day to make their businesses flourish. Yes, they may have had a bit of a push from their celebrity status, but if their products didn’t deliver as promised or their customer service was atrocious, it could mean curtains beyond that one company. It could spell disaster for any future business interests because of their fame. It’s a double-edged sword.
‘Mad Men’ creator coming to Sage Summit too
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the series finale of “Mad Men” yet, you may want to do it before you leave for Sage Summit. Because I’m pretty sure all the beans are going to be spilled when Matthew Weiner gets on stage for his featured conversation.
The creator, executive producer, and writer of “Mad Men,” Matthew has spent the past six years surrounded by the business world in this series about the business and social lives of a “Madison Avenue” advertising agency during the 1960s, and how society’s mores changed as the years went on. The series ended this past weekend, but not without leaving a long trail of awards, accolades, and recognition as one of the most respected television dramas ever created.
Interestingly enough, according to his Sage Summit bio, Matthew doesn’t come in with a business background. But I see what they did here: In one aspect, you can’t be that deeply involved in a project that so accurately portrayed the business world of the 1960s (and some of the ’70s), and not have learned a thing or two.
On the other hand, “Mad Men” frequently has been called a “groundbreaking” series. Last year, Variety magazine featured Matthew’s work on the series:
AMC has been a good home for shows that are weird, break genres and don’t have any stars, which has been seen as a recipe for disaster in broadcast TV, Weiner said. “This is a risk-taking environment,” he said. His approach is to tell the network, “I will work for less, I will work harder, if you trust my creative vision on this.”
Now that’s something that every businessperson can understand and appreciate. Perfect example: One of our customers manufactures scented candles. Obviously, there are many scented candle manufacturers around the globe, whether it’s a person earning a few bucks off of a hobby all the way to the multi-billion dollar corporations. So when everyone’s pretty much selling the same thing, how do you set yourself apart from the crowd?
Matthew answered that question: By taking risks. Selling the idea for a show to a television network is exactly like selling the public on the idea of your product. He took a big risk by sticking to his standards and not relying on nudity or violence to attract viewers. Successful business people take the same risks, whether its a manufacturer choosing higher quality materials, even though they’ll end up with a more expensive product, or a franchisee choosing to open businesses in under-served communities instead of near a high-end community (as Magic Johnson did and talked about last year during Sage Summit), or a framing contractor sticking to honest principles while those around him cut corners to save money.
So how did Matthew’s risks pay off? Although it never came close to topping the ratings chart, and its main viewing demographic is older than the 18-49 honey hole that advertisers love, “Mad Men” became the first show on an ad-supported cable network to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama in its first season. And then it decided to go hog wild and win the next three years, too. And the only reason it didn’t continue its run in its final three seasons (even though it was nominated) is that “Mad Men” broke the ground for other ad-supported cable network programs to win.
Sage Summit notes
- Other featured conversation speakers — The rest of the announced featured conversation speakers for Sage Summit 2015 are: William A. McDonough (Chief executive, McDonough Innovation, and cofounder of the Make It Right Foundation), Bre Pettis (Chief innovation officer, Bold Machines; cofounder, MakerBot Industries; leader of the DIY movement), Baroness Karren Brady (Government small business ambassador, CEO, Business Woman of the Year, BBC The Apprentice), and Brandi Temple (Founder and CEO, Lolly Wolly Doodle).
- Airline discount update — A few of our customers have asked about the airline discounts for Sage Summit, especially since they’ve been listed as “coming soon” ever since the website launched. One of my Sage contacts said they should be available this week or early next week.
- Customer registration — Customers can still receive $200 off their Sage Summit registration until June 30, while groups of three or more can still receive $400 off per person until July 27. (Practical Software Solutions customers … remember to still use our code for your discount!) Pro tip: Make sure you actually click on your company’s name in the drop-down menu during the registration process instead of just typing it in. It’ll help the folks at Sage make sure you’re accounted for.
- Session sign-up — Even if you’ve filled out your session schedule for Sage Summit, make sure to check back every once in a while. Many sessions can’t be finalized when the first catalog is published, so it’s a good idea to take a few minutes every few weeks to see what’s been added. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to fill out your schedule. The most popular sessions (the ones that are hands-on labs) are always the first to fill up.