In The Arena 2014, an all day, motivational speaking seminar featured a sterling line-up of keynote speakers from across the sporting and business world. All with different messages and methods, but all unified in their positivity and passion for their selected skills and subjects. The day was put together by Olympian, Kriss Akabusi MBE and The Akabusi Charitable Trust to raise money for the young NEETs (not in education, employment or training) from the local community and beyond, and was managed by VirtuBrands.
“Inspiring Confidence In An Up Turning Economy – Passion. Pride. Can-do Attitude.” So read the large screen, hung centre of the stage. As people filed in to the main conference room and took to their seats, the space was filled with a buzz of conversation, an air of curiosity and a murmur of excitement. The stage was lit up and the microphone turned on, as the host, BBC Radio’s Roberto Perrone took to the stage to welcome guests to ‘In The Arena 2014’.
Opening the show, the man himself. Larger than life, Kriss told of stories of his childhood in a children’s home, discovering his athletic potential while in the army, to that iconic sporting moment where the men’s 4 by 400m relay team beat the mighty Americans. The audience laughed and cheered and shed some tears as they were taken on an Akabusi rollercoaster ride through time. Kriss is just coming off the back of a two year MBA programme at the Ashridge business school, his business knowledge fresh and pure in his mind, but this wasn’t the usual “give it 100%” motivational speech, oh no, this was an amazing comparison of worlds- how to treat your business in the same way one would treat an Olympic racing final.
Following on from Akabusi, fascinating insights into gender marketing or “Buy-ology” by entrepreneur and psychologist Katie Hart.
Ashridge Business School, business psychologist (and Kriss’s tutor) Ange Muir delighted the audience with a presentation on leadership impact and making your mark.
Before the room broke for lunch, world-renowned speaker and business coach Steve Head burst onto the stage with a 35 minute keynote on how to make the 1% difference, high performance and creating personal resilience. Steve explained his theory, that to get the best out of people, it’s all about positivity, giving people the praise they so need, like a dolphin with fish! “When you have to get a Dolphin to jump out of the water, 50 times a day, 365 days of the year… What do you give them?” Fish.”
In The Arena didn’t just play host to keynote speeches, the lucky attendees then had a chance to sign up for two workshops with their selected speakers from the morning. The workshops were all different, dynamic and interactive, giving people that intimate business coaching and personal time with the speakers they so desired.
After lunch in the sunshine, laid on by the University of Bedfordshire’s catering team at Putteridge Bury, an Elizabethan manor house in Luton, guests filed back in to the ‘arena’ to hear one final closing presentation from Paralympian, Gold Medallist, Mark Colbourne MBE.
Mark spoke of his life shattering spinal break in a paragliding accident, how he lay on his back for 94 days, learnt to walk again – and went on to win gold at London 2012. Mark spoke of the similarity between sports and business, and how inspiring confidence among your team and your staff contributes toward the success. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as people rose to their feet to applaud this sensational mans story. All in all, In The Arena’s messages were about confidence, passion and inspiring those around you, be it at home or at work, to achieve their best. Plans for next years event seem to already be underway, Event Director Ashanti Akabusi, of VirtuBrands said “This kind of seminar is what the business community needs. Inspiring stories to generate a new way of thinking among companies and staff. I truly believe every manager or director who attended today’s event will be doing things slightly differently in the office today. In The Arena 2015 will be bigger and better than ever before, but today has been truly special.”