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You go, teams

by Ansley Dunn, Associate Account Director

A technology marketer looks back on her first Sage Summit experience

I had high expectations for my first Sage Summit and the 2016 event, in downtown Chicago, did not disappoint. The main themes of this year’s worldwide user’s conference were innovation and entrepreneurship, and the main takeaway focused on the importance of “surrounding yourself with good people.”

Keynote speaker Sir Richard Branson wasted no time making that point, as he regaled the audience of 15,000 business professionals at Chicago’s McCormick Place with his story of how he founded Virgin Airlines and wound up marrying his wife, too.Branson was stuck in Puerto Rico, trying to get to the British Virgin Islands, after he and several others were bumped from their flight. Desperate to make a date with his eventual wife, Branson chartered a plane using his credit card, scratched out a handwritten sign that read “BVI $39,” held it aloft where the other bumped passengers could see it, and soon sold out the flight.

“Screw it, just do it,” Branson told the Sage Summit attendees, reminding them of the importance of finding the right people to delegate to and to trust them with carrying out their vision. For him, the influence of and partnership with his wife of 27 years has been a major factor in his success and stature.

Actor and investor Ashton Kutcher, in his conversation with Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler, reinforced the importance of driving innovation by surrounding oneself with the right people. Humility—and admitting when you don’t know the answer—is critical when it comes to creating teams. Known for backing such successful startups as Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify, Kutcher said he looks to invest in the entrepreneur first, the idea second.

Kutcher’s fellow Hollywood stars and entrepreneurs Gwyneth Paltrow (Goop) and Zooey Deschanel (Hello Giggles) echoed that advice. Neither Paltrow nor Deschanel consider themselves traditional “business people”—but both said that once they found the right partners and team, their ventures were well on the road to success.

That theme teamwork marked practically every presentation.

“If you’re going to do everything in your business, you’re always going to stay small,” said Robert Herjavec, the star of Shark Tank, during his interview withSage EVP Jennifer Warawa. “The only way to grow is with a great team.

Personally, all of these messages and the personal stories behind them resonated with me. At April Six, we also take human capital seriously—and, in fact, it’s one of the reasons I joined this team. If you’re interested in what we’re doing here, check out some of our openings.