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10 years ago I sat down in my spare room with an old laptop and a Nokia 6310, you know the brick that you talked to (and which my friend, Paul Nolan, at Nolan Partners still uses) and started calling my contacts in sport. I wanted to put on a content-led conference for the global football industry called Leaders in Football. 1 week later a cheque arrived from Peter Lee, who at the time ran New Era (and is a serial entrepreneur), in return for some exposure at the event. I hadn’t even registered the company, built a website or booked a venue. Thank you Peter. And the many others who followed.
You kind of need to deliver leaders on stage and in the audience if you come up with a name like Leaders in Football. And there was no guarantee of that. But with the help of some amazing people, too many to mention for fear I would miss someone out, the programme took shape with some big names (back then!). Mohamed bin Hammam, Ivan Gazidis, Richard Scudamore, Lord Triesman, Joe Roth, Irvin Khoza, Bruce Buck and Scott O’Neil. I’ll let you work out who made it and who didn’t.
When 850 people turned up for the first Leaders in Football, I had a good feeling about the future. But I didn’t think I would be sat in a brand new office, 10 years later, surrounded by 43 passionate, multilingual employees, all of whom are dedicated to staging the best sport business and performance events in the world, and publishing quality-driven content, to 80,000 senior sports executives globally. So I hope you will forgive me for wanting to celebrate our tenth anniversary with you. Because, the very fact that you are reading this, means you are part of the Leaders journey. Thank you.
So I thought, to kick start the anniversary year, I would list 10 things I think are worth knowing about Leaders in 2017. If you still have a Nokia 6310, you might have to visit an internet cafe.
1. What Christmas break?
The NBA are back in London, with SAP and CISCO, and we’re running their Innovation Summit on 12 January 2017 at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Keep an eye on #MeetInnovation for another glimpse into the future.
2. Are you a member?
Of what? The Leaders Performance Institute, of course. Launched last year it now has 500 professional teams, leagues and federations as part of the membership. Whether its publishing the latest performance insights every day or running Performance Summits around the world, we help teams gain a competitive edge. So if performance is your game, find out more here.
3. Can a curry help performance?
I very much doubt it. But if I said Curry, you might think of Steph who the Leaders Performance Institute has profiled as an example of best practice for the worlds performance leaders. And the Golden State is where we return for the Leaders Performance Institute’s first global Summit of the year at the HQ of Red Bull in Santa Monica. 150 GM’s, Head Coaches, Performance Directors from Team Franchises all over the world attend. It’s amazing content. Can Red Bull help performance? Definitely and not just with a shot of vodka.
4. So good they named it twice.
And it’s almost twice as expensive because of Brexit. But we love it and 700 senior people in sport feel the same. So we are back in NYC for the fourth year running to host the Leaders Sport Business Summit on 21 & 22 March. Find out how Barcelona and Bundesliga plan to rule the world and how the NFL, NHL and NBA plan to do the same. That’s a lot of ruling. Click here for the programme.
5. Who are the Netflix of sport?
Just ask John Gleasure at Perform, whom I saw last week at CES in Vegas. Or, if John’s Nokia isn’t working, read the first in a series of special reports on the changing landscape of sport. This time on OTT and future media published at the end of the month. And if you missed our past ones on China and eSports feel free to download them. Feel free, literally, because there is no charge. They received more positive feedback than anything we’ve ever produced. Ever. That’s because we charge for everything else 🙂
6. They should have named it twice.
Chicago. Its our first time there on 26 & 27 June for the Leaders Performance Institute’s second Summit of the year. Soldier Field here we come. As well as 600 members. And the Cubs are finally winners so will most definitely feature.
7. Time to think?
I know, hardly ever. So Richard Branson would be proud of our retreat for sport. 30 & 31 March in Lisbon. 60 top people (and nice people). Only for rights holders and sponsors. Invitation only. All on us. Think how much you can learn when you are with like minded people in a 5-star resort in the sun. If you want to come click here. But you better have a good reason to get on the list.
8. The rise of China?
We’ve grown to love Finnair. The people are so nice and the food so healthy. After many trips on the Finnish carrier to China in 2016, we are ramping up our activities in 2017. Is it easy to do business? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Just ask over 25 high profile sports properties, including over 15 football clubs. This is not one for the faint-hearted. So get your visas at the ready. We’ll be announcing the plan soon…
9. Change the game.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times (men) have moaned about the lack of women on stage. So we want more Lisa Borders this year (WNBA), best speaker of 2016). Oh, don’t forget our flagship conference for women’s sport and women working in sport, Leaders Meet the Game Changers. Its our way of addressing the issue and if you want to get involved, get in touch.
10. Leaders Week.
Yes, A WEEK. 2-6 October 2017 in London. This will incorporate the Leaders Sport Business Summit at Chelsea FC on 4 & 5 October (where we are going to create a “Main Stage” worthy of some incredible, truly iconic speakers) with an even more senior audience. The beast as we call it. Also don’t forget the glitz and glamour of the Leaders Under 40 Awards at the Natural History Museum on 3 October. No dippy the dinosaur in the room but we do have a giant whale, an Inspiring Leader, 35 of the best talent in global sport and 500 of their supporters. Check your birth certificate and keep an eye out for our launch coming very soon. But we are also running fringe events at venues all over London, morning, noon and night, on Monday, Tuesday and Friday to create a festival for the sport business world. Think content forums, innovation workshops, product launches, networking events, and lots and lots of social gatherings. We’ve spent the last 6 months talking to you to find out what you want. And it seems you want more. More content. Different formats. More countries. More people. More networking. So that’s what we are going to do. And to work out the exact schedule of events we have commissioned a major piece of research. It will be your chance to feedback. So please look out for this and please help!
So that’s it for 2017. 10 things I hope are worth knowing to kick start our tenth anniversary. There’s more besides, including a Leaders party. A big one. For all the people who’ve helped along the way and all our partners and supporters. You know who you are. And we want to thank you. Well, it is our tenth birthday, after all.
More than anything please stay in touch this year with me and the team, you can get us on +44 (0) 20 7042 8666. Or just call me on my Nokia 6310 🙂
Best wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2017.
21 - 22 March 2017