Leadership Lessons with a View

Etihad Stadium - Melbourne

Australia is one of my favorite countries out of 188 visited so far, and I was thrilled to have an extended stay of five days there last week.

I first went to Melbourne to speak at Darren Rowse’s Problogger Event, a gathering for bloggers and other fun people from Australia.

The event was well produced by Darren and team, with lots of interesting people working on all kinds of projects. When I went to speak at TBEX last month, it was also a fun trip, but I felt somewhat stressed at getting there late and only being around for the final part of the last day. Whenever possible, I think it’s better for speakers to be part of an entire event, and I’m glad it was able to work out that way for the Problogger weekend.


At the end of the final session, Darren asked the whole group to walk outside. We were meeting in a conference center that was part of Etihad Stadium, a massive arena. Everyone came out to sit in the seats, and Darren asked all of us to look out at the rest of the empty stadium. We were about 280 people by that point of the weekend, and the stadium held 40,000 seats.

The theme of the event was “Small things lead to big things.” Darren shared how we were “only” a few hundred people, yet the collective reach of everyone there—based on Twitter followers or blog readers, I believe—was more than twelve million.

Darren speaking to the group—thanks to Misho for these photos

The point was that together we have great influence and reach: enough to fill a huge stadium many times over. It was a good leadership moment and a thoughtful way to end the weekend.

As I listened to Darren I looked out at the stadium. It had been cold and rainy for much of the time I was in Melbourne, but thankfully the rain stopped just in time for us to be outside. The day was drawing to a close, and soon many of the event’s attendees would be traveling back to their homes around Australia and beyond.

I thought about starting The Art of Non-Conformity four years ago, and how we could now fill a couple of stadiums just with our own group of remarkable people from around the world.

For several years beforehand, I thought about writing but never wrote. During much of that time I dreamed of doing something significant, but didn’t have a vision for its form or structure.

If you have a project you’re just now beginning, I hope you’ll see it through. If the project is in progress and you haven’t achieved the traction you wanted (and you’re still motivated to do it), I hope you won’t give up. If you keep working at it over time, I hope you’ll be able to fill your own stadium with people who engage with it, and I hope you’ll make more of an impact than AONC has so far.

We live in interesting times filled with so much possibility for connection and collaboration. The future is bright.


I ended up hosting five sessions over the weekend, three for Darren’s event, then a $100 Startup meetup in Melbourne after the closing in the stadium, and then another one in Sydney the next night. It was a lot to do all at once and I left Australia feeling weary, but in a good way. As I’ve said before, if you’re doing fun things and work that you love, it should tire you out from time to time.

I’m now traveling on to Kiribati, my 189th country. I’ll be there for the next few days and then going homeward, back through Sydney, up to Hong Kong or Singapore, and eventually across the Pacific early next week.

It’s been a good trip and a good week.

Only five countries to go, and soon to be four.



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