As promised, this week’s What’s Hot Wednesday for Business Owners shares observations and insights gleaned from my attendance at the EO Nerve Conference in Charleston last week. Nerve was this year’s east coast regional conference for Entrepreneurs Organization, a global organization with over 13,000 members, all business owners driven by a passion to grow their businesses and to use those businesses to make the world a better place. You can already tell I was jazzed to attend my first EO conference, and I’m so glad I did.

From what I heard from other attendees every speaker was amazing. I attended three speaker sessions that were among the best I’ve ever heard. Here are a few takeaways from each, and a link to a TED Talk from each that gives a flavor of what we heard at Nerve:

  • The Future of Business: John Spence, Managing Partner of John Spence LLC

John led off by saying he’s not a futurist and instead shared what is going on in the world now and how his clients and the business owners in the room can and should start looking at the changes and modifying their businesses accordingly. He talked about the rise of Artificial Intelligence, AI, projecting a net loss of 40 million jobs in the US by 2030. He shared an example of farm equipment manufacturers pivoting to become data companies; renting, not selling robotic farm equipment, where the real value is in the data they gather from each farm that becomes part of their intellectual property for sowing and harvesting.

His advice to teens is to learn computer technologies and to go into fields that require humanity and feeling: the arts, behavioral sciences, etc. He warned us we would be scared by what he was sharing, and he wasn’t wrong. Many in the audience were disturbed by how rapidly AI is advancing unfettered by ethical constraints as are other sciences, where, for example, monkeys and pigs now have human DNA and are being created to provide harvestable replacement organs for humans (read the story here).

Another story he shared was about Facebook researchers teaching robots to negotiate and having to shut down the experiment because the robots started communicating in a language the researchers didn’t understand. That seemed odd to me, so I Googled it and got more from Snopes. There’s some truth to the story but it got a bit twisted. Here’s the Snopes version.

He also shared how surgery can now be performed remotely and advances on that front. According to Spence, today’s medical students are now spending about 50% of their time learning technology so they can oversee robotic surgery without ever touching the patient.

Several of us wanted to know Spence’s perspective on what may happen to those workers who aren’t trained for new jobs.  People brought up recent statistics about declining birth rates (there will be fewer people) and UBI, (Universal Basic Income) a stipend paid to the unemployable by governments to help them sustain themselves. Oh, and lots of talk about how we’re living longer, much longer…

I don’t have a copy or video of his Nerve presentation, but here’s a recent leadership presentation by Spence to give you a flavor of how he thinks and what he shares.

  • Then there was Andre Norman, “The Ambassador of Hope.”

His presentation was called “From the Prison Yard to Harvard Yard” and he is a truly gifted storyteller, chronicling, with real emotion.  He shared about his life growing up poor in the slums of Boston, his relationships with his relatives throughout his life, the people who helped, or tried to help him, along the way. Andre talked about how he ended up in prison, got himself out of prison, and didn’t stop with changing his own life but how he dedicates himself to helping young people and prison inmates see the good in themselves and find a way to get on a path to a better life.

This man’s openness and compassion were riveting: I literally could not take my eyes off him for the hour he spoke with us. And his sense of humor wrapped around everything he said to keep making it digestible no matter how tough the topics got. Here’s a recent TED Talk that gives you a sense of him. And he’s got a book coming out in December, it’s on my “must read” list.


Do Good Spotlight: Dress for Success

In keeping with the spirit of this week’s What’s Hot Wednesday, we’re supporting Dress for Success, helping women dress for their interviews and new jobs. Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 150 cities in 30 countries and has helped more than one million women work towards self-sufficiency. We’ve donated clothing in the past—this week we made a cash donation and encourage you to consider supporting this great organization in any way you can.


  • The Queen of Manifestation: Jen Mazur

EO member Marsha Ralls hosted an event for the women of EO and the guest speaker was Jen Mazur, an expert in manifesting what you want in life. She spoke about the connection between intuition and envisioning. I hadn’t heard her perspective before: most people who talk about the power of manifesting what you desire talk as if that desire is the starting point, but Jen talked about co-creating with the universe and that intuition is the sense that helps you begin to see potentials. She helped produce a positive game, the counter to “Cards Against Humanity,” called “Spark”.

I hope you enjoyed this longer edition of What’s Hot Wednesday for Business Owners. And I’m always looking for not-for-profits to feature and support, so please share your favorite with me and if the Owlthena team includes it we’ll shout out to you when we do!