Banu was invited by Pegasystems late last year to feature on their "Bold Stories. Future Focused" podcast. The poddy just dropped and we are beyond grateful for the thoughtful and very real way in which our journey was uncovered. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say we learned a thing or two about ourselves through this process.
So our key takeaway is, if you're ever invited to be a guest on a podcast - do it!
Here’s the link: Abrupt disruption and the catalyst for innovation (20 min)
A summary of the transcript:
Every business’s best laid plans were upended in 2020, forcing new strategies to emerge and capable leaders to step up. One such leader is Banu Kannu, co-founder and chief experience officer at Uncommon Conferences. When faced with the many shifting priorities of 2020, Kannu cemented the mission of her one-year-old business: to use participant-led gatherings to empower organisations to drive change. Listen as Kannu shares her story of disruptive thinking, her unique perspective on the (online and offline) conference industry, and her challenge to all the transformers out there.
[2:00] Banu launched Uncommon Conferences with her business partner Marcus Magee in 2019, with the goal of poking a hole in the bloated and boring conference industry. She saw this world in desperate need of disruption, and it was her goal to shake things up.
[2:24] Banu's background in business and marketing gave her first-hand experience of seeing just how much the conference industry needed consolidation and a more meaningful user experience.
[3:57] The hierarchical way of running conferences is becoming more outdated by the year. We must recognize that almost everyone in the room is a passionate professional with worthy and shareable thoughts and opinions.
[5:07] Finishing business school gave her the courage and confidence to start up Uncommon Conferences with co-founder Marcus Magee. They sought to provide a fertile environment for attendees to connect with each other and have fun, and for organisers to feel as though their time and money was well spent.
[9:13] Banu discusses how Uncommon Conferences was a good idea in theory when it launched, but they knew something was missing. People liked what they were doing, but they weren’t confirming contracts or deals the way they had expected. This led them to really dig into their why. They questioned not only the “why” behind Uncommon Conferences, but for participants and organisers, and even the conference itself. They had some very timely and valuable help from a dear friend in Henri Myöhanen, COO of Booming Strategies.
[13:09] Banu & Marcus identified three simple conditions to make Uncommon Conferences a must have for clients - complexity, urgency, and tension. Do you have a multi-stakeholder challenge or opportunity with a deadline and that people can't agree on the resolution of? They also realised, they weren't an events company after all, rather designers of platforms that create real change.
[16:26] The pandemic shifted the very nature of conferences and events, and Banu talks about going back to the basics for online interasctions to make them engaging, rather than a snooze fest that we have on in the background while we're doing the dishes.
[17:56] The democratisation of technology has been critical. Moving away from the hierarchical structure of conferences gives us participant-led events that drive sustainable change and a landscape of collaboration.
“When did we decide that we need to wait for happy hour to have fun at a conference?”- Banu
“If you are not at your truest and most authentic self, it’s going to be very hard to be good at anything you do.” - Banu
“How much better when diversity, democratisation, and inclusion are the values that guide change. What changes are you driving in your world? What old thinking are you disrupting?” - Jo