Earlier this year I was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Asia. I’ve just returned from a summit in Hong Kong where the whole list comes together to meet. I learnt something interesting on the journey that I thought is worth sharing, as sharing is caring, right?
Before I kick into my little insight, I’ll give you some context on the event and the list. Most people know Forbes magazine, it’s most famous for ranking the world's richest people. Which is interesting, as I always thought of it as a praise thing, but they actually see it as an accountability thing. The world should know who holds all the money, which I guess I agree with.
Anyway, they’ve been running this 30 Under 30 thing for a few years. Clarification, it’s actually a list of 300, as it’s 30 under 30 in 10 categories. I was in the media and advertising category. I’m stoked I got on the list, it’s an amazing achievement to be recognized among such incredible minds.
On that topic, the summit in Hong Kong really was a melting pot of incredible minds. I’ve got to admit, I thought it was going to be a room full of massive egos, but it was anything but. Everyone was there as an equal on the list and therefore it stripped out any competitive nature. It’s a great thing: giving recognition without the need for a winner. We should do it more in life. The combination of people, ideas, cultures and opportunities were really incredible.
You know how often you’ll go to a conference and see the same people, hear the same ideas and kind of regret going, well this wasn’t like that at all. I was sitting on a ferry ride where a few people pitched to investors while we sailed around Hong Kong harbour (super rad) and a Japanese woman sat down next to me. I asked her what she did, she was an astronomer, I asked her what her specialty was, it was the origin of the universe. I was like “Cool... I could make a VR simulation of that?” in a super high voice, feeling really insignificant and unworthy. That was one example, another was a woman making designer sunglasses. She showed me a picture that was two days old of Rihanna wearing them in a fashion shoot. She had no idea of the value of it, she was thinking about re-posting it but hadn’t got around to it yet! I could definitely add some value in that conversation... The examples go on.
What was really cool, and I must admit a bit surprising, was that everyone in the room was really progressive in their mindset. It actually gives me hope for the future of our planet and society. There is a change coming; in the way we do business, think about commerce and operate global markets. When this group of people starts driving big business, they want to do things differently.
This is the insight part. What I realised is that New Zealand is uniquely placed to be the ideas lab for the world. Through a unique convergence of history, circumstance and culture, New Zealand is already shifting towards a type of thinking that markets like Asia will soon embrace.
We’re finally starting to catch on that Mātauranga Māori holds so many of these progressive views, and more businesses are beginning to listen to what’s actually been there all along. A greater appreciation for the land, the people and communities. Combine that with our number eight wire mentality and our unique mindset that if you want something done you just go out and do it, and you’re starting to get some interesting ideas come to life.
Then pair that with New Zealand’s growing brand as a country who puts people first – this is in large part to Jacinda and her leadership style of being kind to be strong. The world is certainly taking note of that. The list goes on, but I think we’re at a point where we could really leverage this momentum to put New Zealand at the forefront of this thinking and help push the economies towards a greater future, where profit is only one factor in success. Sounds lofty, but I genuinely think we can do it. I mean, why not? We can continue in the way we’ve been going, which I would argue is not sustainable; exporting goods. Or we can keep growing what’s happening, be inspired by the landscape we live in, and evolve into an ideas generator that inspires the world.
- Ben Forman is the founder/CEO of Wrestler.