Nine life lessons from the Edge
Graeme Edge is the co-founder and chief instigator of Energy Disruptors, a ground-breaking conference to "accelerate solutions to energy challenges" held in Calgary in 2018. In his mid-30s, with a wife, two children and at least three business ventures on the go, he arrived recently at SAIT sporting a backpack, jeans rolled to reveal striped socks and looking every bit like a student himself.
Edge was on campus Nov. 15 to speak to students about his experience with Energy Disruptors and how he secured conference speaker, Sir Richard Branson. During the 60+ minute talk, the audience was treated to some bankable lessons on how to be successful and get an idea off the ground. Students appreciated the chance to hear from Edge.
"It was a great event and fantastic opportunity to hear him speak in such a genuine tone — no script and straight to the honest facts about the difficulties entrepreneurs face," says Sam Timms, a student enrolled in SAIT's Business Administration program.
Here are nine takeaways:
1. Execution is more important than having a good idea.
"We all have good ideas, all the time," says Edge. "But too often we listen to that voice in us that expresses doubt and good ideas get forgotten. Doing something about them, that's where success comes from."
Execution requires action.
"You need to be willing to move quickly. Once I had the crazy idea of hosting Energy Disruptors, I jumped in. Partly so there was no turning back."
Edge's "real" job is co-owner of an executive search firm where he is constantly surprised to meet people who have worked decades with the same company and have no outside contacts.
"You have to get out and meet people within your industry, and beyond it. Connection and networking are critical to long-term success. When we were filling seats for Energy Disruptors, I personally sold 600 tickets. I drew upon my contacts to get the word out."
4. Then network some more.
Edge is known as the guy who brought Sir Richard Branson to Calgary to be part of a conference of energy movers and tech shakers. The number one question Edge hears is, "How did you get Branson to agree?" Edge admits to simply Googling Branson and oddly enough, his cell number didn't come up.
"We chose the person who had the best shot and then asked for an introduction to the Branson team. Your network is so useful in reaching out to people you don't know."
5. Get real.
"It sounds cliché to talk about being authentic, but when I was getting Energy Disruptors going, I was really honest with those I was trying to get on board. I hadn't ever done anything like this before, but I shared my passion and vision — and people wanted to be part of it."
6. Be uncomfortable.
Do stuff that scares you, urges Edge.
"Even being here today to speak to you, I was nervous. But the more times you're uncomfortable and overcome it, the better you get at things. Me and my business partners, we have massive doubts on a daily basis. I try to tell myself that we've dealt with tougher problems."
7. Surround yourself with the right people.
"We are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Think about who that is in your life. Are they amplifiers or diminishers? Focus on the amplifiers because those are the ones who are going to help you reach your goals."
8. Be ready to have five or six or seven careers.
"The most important thing SAIT can do is prepare you for the future. Along with your studies, develop your resilience, grit and creativity. These will serve you well as you shift from career to career, or even as you grow in the same job."
9. Your personal success is more important than your work success.
Edge rises each day by 5 am and puts in two hours of work before his kids wake up. His day is spent largely in two-hour work blocks, interspersed with family time, fitness and geeking out on some of his many passions, such as Harry Potter and cars, particularly electric vehicles.
"I'm happiest when I get to work all of these elements into my day. Not every day can be balanced, but success in work is nothing unless you have personal success."
Edge is the first in a series of speakers at SAIT to address the topic of disruption. In February 2019, Andrew Chau of Skip the Dishes will share his story with the SAIT community. Watch the event calendar for details.