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TENBY POWELL
Last updated 15:16 11/09/2012

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"It'll be alright in the end. And if it's not alright, then it simply means it's not yet the end".

Queenstown's stunning Hilton is anything but The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but MORGO 2012, the entrepreneurs conference held there by the indefatigable Jenny Morel of No 8 Ventures, had exactly that same sense of destiny.

One hundred & thirty of New Zealand's leading entrepreneurs spent two days together around a theme of 'Success'.

Not once did I hear a moan about the economy, the knocking of an idea or the lambasting of Tall Poppies. Our top entrepreneurs were there en masse; gathered in the spirit of collaboration to tell their stories, listen to stories and most of all learn.

I've noticed over the years how successful people are often good listeners and great observers of life; treating learning as a lifelong endeavour and, where possible, applying it for the good of humanity.

Stephen Joyce opened the conference in his capacity of Minster of Business, Innovation & Education; Minister of almost everything actually. He reminded us that before he became a bureaucrat (his description, not mine) he too was an entrepreneur, having successfully grown New Plymouth's Energy FM into Radio Works, a network of 22 stations employing 650 staff.

I'm not sure if it was Stephen the entrepreneur or Stephen the Minister, but he asked us to do something very simple and potentially very clever. He wants us to visit Principals of schools and ask if we can speak to students about how we grow businesses. In essence, he wants us to talk to the next generation of New Zealanders about 'Success'. And as we know, it's usually the simple ideas that work best. This is one of the best ideas I've heard from a Politician for an age. I'm knocking on a few doors next week.

MORGO, now in its 10th year, is a place where strong friendships are formed among kindred spirits. It's a place where people openly say what's on their mind and make public affirmations about the future visions of their already successful enterprises. It's a place where risk takers bounce around ideas about future risks they will undoubtedly take.       

The ebullient, sparkly eyed, Sir Ray Avery - successful pharmaceutical scientist, inventor and social entrepreneur - talked about risk taking and how Kiwi's are well suited for it.   

Sir Ray has put the sparkle back in the eyes of some of the world's poorest people when he magnanimously gifted his state of the art intraocular lens technology to the Fred Hollows Foundation, making modern cataract surgery accessible to virtually everyone - cheaply.

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Ray, an ex-pat Brit who knew he was 'home' within days of arriving in New Zealand, talked about what makes us special.  And it's simply that we give things a go.  He challenged us with the concept of 'spirituality in business'.  He said, "Businesses who are ethically founded and know exactly how they are contributing positively to humanity often out-perform those who only focus on financial results".       


Jeremy Moon, founder of world class New Zealand Company, Icebreaker, is living proof of this.  He described the future of his, now global business, in clear and decisive terms but it wasn't all about the money.  Their relationship with nature, including animals, the land and people, has led them to apply these principals in practice with a strong focus on an ethically based supply chain.   

These are New Zealanders who positively impact on the world, not just as business people, but as social entrepreneurs. Evangelists preaching the importance of sustainability by bringing their personal values into their work environments.

New Zealand needs more of this - the positive stuff that comes when successful people with big visions freely mix commercial achievement with values and ethics.          

We should all book into the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or, in the absence of being able to do that, reserve a seat at MORGO 2013.  

It will be alright in the end - because with people like the ones I spent these two days with, there is simply no other option.         
     
Tenby Powell is an entrepreneur, builder of organisations, and the driving force behind the New Zealand SME Business Network. Follow him on Twitter at tenbypowell.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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