While the tech community met at the webSUMMIT, we explored the very human future of business from November 3rd to 8th. After Barcelona and Lisbon 2017, it was our third time at the House and we had a good time together with our daughter company Tools of Innovators.
The House of Beautiful Business is a unique space to humanize work in the age of machines. It’s a community poised to humanize business in the age of machines. Bringing together fresh voices and 300 CEOs, founders, investors, artists, philosophers, and scientists in a playful and intimate setting, it is a unique space for creating positive visions for technology and humanity.
Once again it was a whirlwind of information and new insights. The house is a mix of conference, workshop and networking event, but without the usual business cards wars or the crude new business/solution provider pitch situations. In the House of Beautiful Business you meet – as the name already suggests – nicer, prettier or rather human. You also have something to say in business life, that does not hurt – but first everyone here is an individual person and introduces himself or herself like that. This is extremely enjoyable, especially when you know other events as well, where only the business card details remain in your CRM while the related human impression quickly fades.
Therefore, there was a real reunion pleasure among the returners. I hugged and embraced people I had not seen for 12 months, who were “just” posts in my LinkedIn feed due to different professions, but now we and positive memories of Lisbon 2017 were back. This has happened to me so rarely at other conferences that I might call it remarkable.
Regardless of the profession, we created as well real human encounters with the colleagues of TOI. At “In Vino Veritas”, we invited at the first afternoon to a curated, playful wine tasting. Each glass came with a corresponding question and needed to be answered by your counterpart. Inspired by the “36 questions to fall in love with a stranger”, the participants asked deeper questions than usual when first getting acquainted. And the concept worked. Not only were several crates of wine emptied, but above all new relations were formed, which based on sympathy and openness, regardless of business interests. It was exciting to see that the cards spread out generously. The whole night, we saw someone with a question card in their hands, engrossed in a real conversation with his or her counterpart.
With the questions we have taken a calculated risk. Not any event, not any attendee can be expected to engage in such personal conversation, but in the House of Beautiful Business, the personal approach is mandatory. If you visit the event out of pure New Business interest, you run the risk of being disappointed. Either narrow-minded people are likely to struggle with the open, pluralistic attitude of the whole event.
Diversity was the also the subline for the lectures and workshops: from mindfulness to transhumanism, from AI to Fernando Pessoa – on the stage as well as in the audience was a variety of opinions represented. Especially on Sunday, the main conference day, a lot of high level lecturers challenged us. Sometimes I went out with more bullet points for in-depth study than I could tweet enlightening insights. But that’s what makes the event so special. You never know who is a speaker, resident or a guest, because everyone responds openly, explains their topics in an understandable way and greets you kindly when you meet them on the way to or from the house. So you can spend an evening with an AI artist and a ballerina, while the next evening sitting between a philosopher and a manager from the fashion industry.
Assuming the interest, one must of course also afford the luxury of being allowed to exclude large parts of the business-as-usual for one week The program left little time for relaxation (or processing of the daily mails). From the morning yoga session to the mid-night lounge talk with clever minds, workshops, talks and sessions await participation. This is sometimes not “beautiful” but exhausting and you have to take care of yourself. But I learned that from last year: a long walk through (this time rainy) Lisbon works wonders.
What do you do with a week’s input / what does it help to talk to a ballerina, some may ask. Honestly: I can not say yet. I felt the same way last year. I was able to implement one or two insight directly and some topics led directly to an increase in performance (if you want to call holistic thinking or a broadened view that way). Other topics became relevant only in the course of the following months. As a result, there were always aspects that allowed me to find links to the House of Beautiful Business and its contents, or pleasant personal connections to participants suddenly turned out to be business relevant. You can hardly ask for more.
By the way, Karel published his insights right after the event on LinkedIn. Read it here.
So will we see each other next year? It’s up to you, because we have recovered so far and digested most of the information to say: House of Beautiful Business 2019 – We are coming!
Thanks to “embedded photographer” João Nogueira, who truly captured the spirit of the event.
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