Alltech International Symposium: Envision the Era of You
The Symposium opened with Alltech president and founder Dr. Pearse Lyons introducing the current time as “the era of you” - an era in which unprecedented control over the future of the world rests in the hands of the people. An era of connection, rapid change and reinvention in which old technologies are rapidly replaced and industries shift according to what consumers want.
“In a world like this it is easy to lose sight of your core,” said Damien McLoughlin, professor at University College Dublin.
McLoughlin’s presentation focused on the challenges of growing a business and the often fatal mistakes that businesspeople make. He explained that 90 percent of growth plans fail, mostly as a result of trying to diversify from the core of the business. This was described as “the paradox of growth,” where businesspeople look at the core of their business, see that it is the most successful part and then focus growth on the weaker areas, mistaking this weakness for opportunity, which does not work. According to McLoughlin, if you want to grow, the most important question to ask is: Do you know what the core of your business is and does your management team know? If the answer is yes, he recommends the following four steps to growing your business:
- Have a well defined and strongly differentiated core
- Follow the customer based on your core. Think about your most loyal customers and why they use your product. There is likely a big gap between what you think you are selling and what they think they are buying. Build value for them.
- Grow thoughtfully through adjacencies - Nestlé’s products have the same consumer, and are sold through the same channels (pet food, confectionary, cosmetics). They buy adjacencies that fit with their core
- Build repeatable models – Create a model that you can replicate. Alltech has successfully mapped its corporate model across 128 different countries.
2013 Alltech Medal of Excellence winner Dr. Eugenia Wang followed with an illuminating and relevant presentation on aging, disease and personalized medicine. She discussed the revolutionary new science behind microRNA and its potential as a mechanism for influencing gene expression via the environment. Dr. Wang explained that age is the time bomb for disease onset, meaning that as you get older it’s harder to remain disease free. Her solution to this is to modify gene expression via diet and behavior so as to reduce the effects of age, as well as to provide cheap and efficient screening for genetic vulnerability to diseases like cancer and dementia. In Dr. Wang’s world of the future, the “era of you” will extend to medicine, arming people with the genetic knowledge to make the kind of choices about their health and lifestyle that will have a real impact on longevity and wellbeing.
The plenary session ended with a personal message from Dr. Lyons to all the current and future leaders in the crowd. He challenged them to find their passion and to use that to lead and to inspire others.
“We all have our greatness and it’s a question of awakening it. A leader’s only job is to help others awaken their greatness. Create the space for people to flourish. Don’t try to get it right get it going.”