Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the Harvest Summit — an outstanding intimate invite-only event (its first year) — held at a private estate in Sonoma County. The event was the brainchild of Jessica Kilcullen, whose husband John Kilcullen used to run Billboard Magazine (where we first connected), and it was designed to bring together innovative thought leaders in a variety of fields from tech, entertainment, sustainability, food and wine, and a host of forward-thinking authors and visionaries. The goal was to foster inspiring conversations about trends and issues shaping our future — by those who are leading the charge (all of us present). Examples of some of the intimate conversations included:
- several thought leaders hosting a group of us in break-outs to come up with ways to unite the “divided states of America”
- a discussion of the importance of storytelling and brand, by a leader in the world of storytelling, an NBC exec & the CMO of the Warriors
- a deep dive into the world of VR by the creator of Microsoft’s Hololens project, and leading VR analyst Robert Scoble
- chef perspectives from two Michelin-rated chefs in Sonoma County talking about food trends hosted by TV personality Leslie Sbrocco
- TV producer/creator/exec Mark Burnett gave an inspiring off-the-cup story about his personal journey which was the closing keynote
- …and much more
Breakout sessions were held in a gorgeous glassed-in barn, a wine cave, in front of a space ship sculpture, under oak trees, in the olive press room, and with walk and talks throughout the gorgeous grounds of the estate.
I had a terrific time interacting with many of the speakers and attendees — several of whom I’ve known previously and many of whom I met for the first time; from the moment I arrived and ongoing I truly felt like “these were my people” several times throughout the day. I felt like I was right where I should be — and was essentially blissful and grateful to have been invited and a part of this amazing group of bright lights.
The key to attending events like this is always in the (timely) follow-up; you want people to remember you as you seek to establish new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
I go to a lot of events and industry conferences throughout the year — but similar to the Vanity Fair event I recently attended (also invite-only) this one stood out head and shoulders from the others between the speakers, attendees and how the event itself was structured. The people at this event were my true peers and those who I enjoy working with more than just about anyone else — and aspire to collaborate, serve and do more business with. I’m really thrilled to have been invited, and look forward to the opportunities that result from it!
As you consider which events to attend yourself, aim for those that inspire you, where the other speakers and participants will encourage you to be more of yourself and to reach even higher in your efforts (to do more and to become more); that’s what great peers and role models can do.