Business owners find inspiration from nurturing retreat

A debut retreat provided a boost for some of New Zealand's most innovative business owners, reports Tao Lin.

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Nurture Change founder and business coach Zac de Silva hopes participants of the first-ever retreat find inspiration and create everlasting change to drive their businesses to success.

Businessman Dave Lewis says he has been given a rocket boost after attending the first ever Nurture Change business retreat.

The founder of rubbish collection company Junk2go won a place on the trip through the Sunday Star Times and joined other business owners, managers and leaders in the five-day learning and recharge event.

Organised by Sunday Star Times columnist and international business coach of the year Zac de Silva and lifestyle entrepreneur Steve Pirie, the Nurture Change retreat featured business coaching, networking and wellness sessions set on the pristine shores of Fiji's Natadola Bay.

Zac de Silva, left, and Steve Pirie, founders of Nurture Change, wanted to create an experience that would change lives.

Zac de Silva, left, and Steve Pirie, founders of Nurture Change, wanted to create an experience that would change lives.

Lewis says he learnt something from every speaker and getting to engage with them outside of the seminar room was a highlight of the trip

"I learnt so much, I connected with amazing people. I'm re-energised, I'm like a rocket man ready to go."

Jo Williamson, who owns Howler Hotdogs in Christchurch, also won a trip through Sunday Star Times and says connecting with other business owners was invaluable.

Lizzi Hines and Rodelle Payne connect and recharge at the Intercontinental Resort in Fiji's Natadola Bay.

Lizzi Hines and Rodelle Payne connect and recharge at the Intercontinental Resort in Fiji's Natadola Bay.

"A lot of the value was in catching up with different people at breakfast, at morning tea time, at lunch and in the evenings and understanding their stories in a relaxed environment and the challenges they're facing in their business," she says.

"There's not a lot of opportunities for small business owners to connect in that way."

Williamson is taking matters into her own hands back home and is organising regular catch-ups with fellow Christchurch retreat attendees as a way to help keep everyone accountable for their progress.

The first Nurture Change business retreat in Fiji was as much as learning and connecting as it was about unwinding.

The first Nurture Change business retreat in Fiji was as much as learning and connecting as it was about unwinding.

The retreat encompassed four values - inspire, connect, learn and recharge - and the "inspire" aspect was well and truly met by Order of Australia medal holder Peter Cole, who spoke about setting up the Spirit of Sharing.

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Cole started the organisation in 2000 when he was 17 to help improve many aspects of life for rural Fijians including sending sporting equipment to schools in need, building school dormitories and providing scholarships for students. 

Paralympian and author Curtis Palmer, who was an avid rugby league player before experiencing a life-changing injury at 15 years old, also wowed the group with his story of perseverance, resilience and having a positive, problem-solving mindset.

Plenty of free time to soak up the sun, swim in the crystal-clear waters and sip cocktails took care of the recharge aspect, while connecting happened naturally and freely when you put a group of like-minded people together for five days.

With speakers like Xero managing director Victoria Crone, former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry and tech entrepreneur Dan Khan, the learning opportunities were endless and every speaker had something valuable to add. 

Here are some key tips and learnings from the inaugural Nurture Change business retreat speakers:

Sir Graham Henry, former All Blacks coach: Connect with your team, develop individuals and empower them. Having a solutions-focused mentality is huge.

Victoria Crone, managing director of Xero: All sorts of opportunities come up if you're thinking innovatively, not being comfortable with the status quo and recognising issues. Innovation isn't just for the tech companies. 

On mobile apps - "You need to be operating where your customers are. If you're not building now you're losing your competitive advantage."

On social media - Social media is not going away. It's harder to get "on the boat". Get in and play, even if you don't say very much. Learn and follow those you admire.

Craig Donaldson, chief executive of Kea: Never make a cold call. Make connections, build relationships and leverage them. Rich connections are made on the golf course and in coffee shops, not sitting in an office.

Karl Dwight, partner at PWC: When looking to sell your business, make sure you get your house in order. Put good information systems and procedures in place, formalise key customer and supplier relationships and arrangements, protect your intellectual property, ensure you have robust financial and business records, make sure board and management papers can withstand due diligence scrutiny.

Aaron Callaghan, high-performance coach: Eat real food (as opposed to processed and definitely no sugar), make time for sleep (seven to eight hours a night) and make time every day for recovery, whether that's practising deep diaphragmatic breathing or spending time in nature. 

Dr Sam Hazledine, entrepreneur and author: one of the foundations to a success mindset is hunger. Ask, "What would excite me?" not "What can I achieve safely?"

Dan Khan, tech entrepreneur and start-up adviser: Don't set growth milestones. Set learning ones. What do we need to learn to get to the next stage?

On culture: culture exists whether you like it or not and it's the decisions you make that make the culture. The best start-ups don't let culture just happen to them - they turn it into a massive competitive advantage instead.

Zac de Silva: a lack of focus is the number one reason businesses are not performing at an A+ level. What's the one thing you can do to get to your greater goals? 

On knowing what you're good at: why do clients choose you? How do you truly standout? What you think your company is good at may not be what it's actually good at. 


A panel of four answered the question: what has been the best business advice given to you? These were their answers:

Lizzi Hines, managing director of Spaceworks: Surround yourself with the right people.

Karl Dwight: the importance of executing good ideas well. 

Dr Sam Hazledine: If you can't sum up your business in one line you probably don't know what you're doing. Put staff before customers. Build a strategy that solves an existing problem.

Karen Silk, general manager commercial, corporate and institutional at Westpac: What's your unique value proposition? If you don't understand what it is, you won't have anything worth selling.

 - Stuff


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