The First Speech
Well, not really.
This story starts in Podol, Kiev. The old Jewish part of Kiev. Outside a Falafal (Mr Falafal, best in Kiev) kiosk. Showing my German friend one of the best parts of Kiev, we start talking about how hot it is, complaining in our usual fashion. It was actually beautiful weather but whatever.
Three Locals overhear our conversation, two ladies and a gentleman. The bloke asks us what we’re doing in Kiev, as per norm. We’re both in Tech, so give them the standard run down. To find that they all work for a really cool outsourcing company down the road. Always happy to meet new people, I add them on FB and think nothing of it.
That same day what one of the ladies told me about a Conference in Odessa. The Black Sea Summit. Perking my interest, I immediately ask more questions and quickly find myself asking the organizers if they need an extra speaker.
Boom I was in.
I quickly scrap together a presentation based of one of my past articles and start preparing for the trip. Based in Odessa, a beautiful part city on the Black Sea, I was happy to take the 5 hour trip from Kiev. They sorted out the accommodation in an awesome hotel. I packed my bags n’ was off.
An incredible pre-party at да́ча (‘Dacha’), wine was flowing, smart crowd, great networking. I was still pretty nervous about the talk the next day, but Georgian Wine helps in these situations.
Fast forward to the next day, we go to the top floor of the mall where the event was being hosted. Presented by a plethora of stands, technology and startups. The first talk was by The Chief Cyborg officer at a Biotech startup based in Germany. At the end of the presentation he implanted a chip into a guy’s hand. this guy becoming ‘the first cyborg in Ukraine’. It was an excellent introduction but a bit daunting as I’d have to follow it.
I was on the Grow stage. Naturally, being in Growth Hacking. A smallish crowd of no more than 50 people would have to listen to me trying to link the Mafia’s Growth Strategy to Modern Day. By the way, the 1960–80s Italian-American Mob had an incredible Growth Strategy.
I must have said ‘Customer Happiness about 20 times’, but really wanted to drive home the message. Speaking slowly so the crowd could understand by British Accent, I took my time and made sure to try and engage the audience as much as possible.
Relieved and satisfied with my talk, I got to meet and talk to Ukrainians about their problems. One thing to note, acronyms don’t translate very well. Such as LTV, CPA and so on.
At lunch I met people from across the world, from the States to Japan, but also close to home such as Romania. It was really an eclectic crowd and a perfect mix-match of personalities.
I always underestimate how much can be learned from just talking to people, over that of reading online or doing some sort of MOOC. A 10 minute talk can provide so much value. It’s also great, to, you know, socialise.
Overall, I really look forward to speaking in the future and am already scouting for conferences and summits. It’s great fun, very satisfying and an all-round learning experience. There’s nothing quite like talking shop with your peers when you spend 8 hours a day hustling for clients.
Oh, and Odessa has awesome bars!