First of all, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the MC Paul Holmes (pictured). Very different from the TV character, more likeable and enjoyable. Even funny. If I had something like this on Geekzone 2007 (or further), he could be the one (but I guess he charges too much for our small event).
I was late for the first few sessions, because of the late invite and my morning routine. So I missed the Welcome with Paul Winter (EMA Central), followed by John Heng (Click Clack) and Michael Hill (Michael Hill Jeweler).
Noticed something? Yes, it's all about manufacture and retail. The event was organised by the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association (Central), so you won't see anything about services listed here. And no Internet businesses either. And not a mention of web 2.0, although I met Peter Torr Smith (letuseit.co.nz) there. And he noticed the same.
Back to the event. It looked like a TV talk show, with Paul Holmes interviewing the guests (and sometimes the guest going through a presentation). The stage was really well done, and the organisation was great. They also had 20 exhibitors (including Telecom New Zealand - Orb) showing their services and products geared towards business owners.
I did catch the Ralph Waters (Fletcher Building) chat with Paul Holmes, which was really good. He compared New Zealand production with a similarly sized country in population (Ireland, approximately 4 million people) and questioned how the cement consumption here is much smaller than there. He also questioned the media role in always pointing out the bad stuff instead of showing a "can do" attitude (something I agree with). I just think it was strange that his definition of "media" doesn't include the Internet, only newspapers and TV.
Next up was Richard Tweedie (Todd Energy), with a brief history of the Todd group, where they work, and other stuff related to energy generation, including an interesting video about gas exploration in high sea.
I missed the next sessions because of a lunch meeting on the other side of the Wellington CBD, but was back in the afternoon to roam the stalls and attend Neville Findlay (Zambesi)'s session on starting a business - and what a story from being an engineer to owning a fashion design company.
Tony Kerridge (Cafe L'affare) has got to get the award for being the funniest guest speaker. He told the audience about Cafe L'affare business, selling it out to the Japanese food group Cerebos Gregg's, how they had to introduce the "cafe culture" in Wellington to create the business around it. Very entertaining.
Gareth Morgan's session on retirement, planning and KiwiSaver was very entertainment, albeit painting a daunting prospect of insurance companies as "sharks" feeding on the money kiwis will save for their retirement. What a character, I say. And he had the best presentation in terms of multimedia, starting with some cool shots from his motorbike travels on screen before he entered the stage.
Gareth was followed with some music by Boh Runga, a panel discussion between Paul Holmes and some of the guest, and finally by a chat between Paul Holmes and Rugby Union star Jonah Lomu.
Jonah Lomu (pictured) was the "motivational speaker" for this event. He told us about receiving the All Blacks jersey from the hands of Colin Meads before his first test, his kidney transplant in 2004, and how he's working now in coming back to the sport.
As I said, no one talked about Internet technologies, or even IT for that matter. Naturally, as this was mainly a manufacturers' event, and most of Internet technologies are in the services area, I wouldn't expect Rod Drury to show up there. But still it seemed like IT and Internet didn't exist at all.
I was interested to find out how technology support their success, how it can be used to increase our presence in the international markets and other stuff related.
I wonder if anyone else will blog about Thrive Wellington...
Other related posts:
A few quiet yarns
Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012: Call for mentors
Case Study Challenge (ecentre Massey University)
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