Delighted to discover and share with you, news of another interesting idea coming out of Ireland, and Cork in particular! Aodan Enright @Smarter Egg.spoke with Irish Tech News to tell us more about
Telling us about Smarter Egg, what it is does?
Through our events, our programmes (both internal to organisations and open to multiple businesses), and our members private network, we design ways for people to connect and engage with some of the world’s best business thinking.
Our mission is simple enough, and the clue is in the name. We’re about helping Smart Eggs in the business world become even Smarter Eggs.
But it’s not about making people go through various forms of enjoyable learning experiences for the sake of it, it’s very much rooted in the reality of helping people build better, sustainable businesses or advancing their careers to greater align with the potential they have.
— Smarter Egg (@SmarterEgg) April 27, 2015
What it has done to date, why it was set up, where you hope to go with it?
I could tell a form of ‘superhero origin’ story of how Smarter Egg was conceived and planned carefully, but the reality is very different.
I chose to move on from a career in the corporate world in 2008. In hindsight, I’d had enough of it and was keen to do more of the work I enjoyed as a ‘consultant’ (that concept makes me cringe now!). At that time, I was heading up a business process improvement unit within a large tech multinational, using programmes like Lean and Six Sigma to drive business transformation. I figured I could make a go of it on my own in that world, but soon lost interest.
The name Smarter Egg resulted from a process to name my new “training” business, and at the time I expected it to focus on the area of personal productivity, trying to combine some of the lean concepts with approaches like David Allen’s GTD.
I was all over the place business wise. Typical of what Carol Dweck describes as a ‘fixed mindset’ outlook, too proud/stubborn to take advice or support, and desperate to prove myself as an expert. I’ve managed to relieve myself of such folly in the years since.
Two significant new adventures unfolded for me in my first year: I did the Executive Coaching diploma at UCD’s Smurfit School and I fell in at an early stage with Bookbuzz, a business set up by Yanky Fachler and Ron Immink (many in the tech world know Ron).
Bookbuzz didn’t gain traction commercially (the economic crisis really hammered training budgets), nor did I pursue a full-time career in coaching but I began to synthesise all of these experiences into new offerings and services.
One such experiment was a programme based around a business book called “Break From The Pack”. The concept was to assemble ten people from across the business spectrum and to meet regularly to review and apply the concepts from the book. That took hold, and over the space of eighteen months or so, ten such groups were formed. And some of those groups just continued indefinitely, re-contracting every nine months or so.
Before I knew it there was a large Smarter Egg client community, many eager for further engagement. Through experimentation, we developed offerings like our SmarterPreneur Circles (support groups for business owners), our Smarter Eggs at The White Horse events and most recently, our Smarter Egg Network.
We’re confident about the potential of our Smarter Egg Network. It’s still in its first year, but the engagements are generating real value for the members and the feedback is very encouraging.
— Aodan Enright (@SmarterEggAodan) April 13, 2015
Who belongs to it? You are based at the Rubicon – did Smarter Egg come out of one of the programs there?
The client base covers the full business spectrum, from the mega multi-nationals to the scrappy start-ups. One of the most valuable aspects of our new network is the diversity of the membership and this sparks very useful learning, as well as creating new collaborative opportunities.
Yes, the HQ is now in the Rubicon, but the business had momentum before arriving there. Not unlike many businesses, Smarter Egg is in the grey area of post-startup but pre-maturity. As it happens, quite a few of our client businesses are also in that space. Centres like the Rubicon are great for enabling serendipitous opportunities as most people there have their business building antennae up all of the time.
Why would someone join the Smarter Egg Network?
If you’d asked me that last year when we started it, I would have said the primary value was building collaborative relationships with high-calibre people from across the business spectrum. But now I think that’s actually secondary. What’s more valuable is having the mechanism to spend time away from the day-to-day, taking a higher-level perspective on the work you’re doing, while in the company of a progressive and supportive community.
It’s the same for most start-ups. You begin with proving out a certain solution to a known problem, but then discover more subtle elements of value from spending so much time with your customers.
When you stop and observe, you realise that most of us are lost in the service of our businesses and organisations and relegate bigger picture thinking to the ‘someday’ list, often until moments of crisis force us to face it. Maybe it was always this way to some extent, but it seems to me that the “always on” working culture coupled with limitless access to interesting information is clouding our capability to take perspective.
So, we provide the means for people to slow down, step back and think deeply about what they’re doing. We explore a different context each quarter, topics like decision-making, influencing, selling etc. and it gives members the means to engage easily without awkwardness. Now we’re piloting a new concept of a “personal offsite”, where members can take time out each quarter to reflect on the important stuff and build in some accountability from fellow members.
What about your events?
We stumbled onto the White Horse events almost by accident. Three years ago, I was running private events for our existing client base and one such event was in The White Horse. Joe Carey, the owner, was participating in one of our SmarterPreneur Circles and was keen to help. Over a beer we kicked around the idea of using his music venue and putting people onto the stage to share their wisdom.
Initially, we just focused on the talks, and kept it private to clients. But then, with growing confidence, we began to open it up and experimented with different formats. AJ Leon of Misfit Inc was our first Red Chair guest and it’s continued to grow from there. The events are very different to anything else open to the business community; there’s delicious food and drink, an informal attitude, and the excitement of hearing personal stories under the stage lights. Above all, they’re great fun.
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