Carla who attended the Unfiltered Live event has worked with me on gigs for the past two decades, she is EVP and GM International at SweeneyVesty. She attended the Unfiltered Live event. Here is the second part of her two-part guest post.

After a quick delicious lunch thanks to ‘Eat My Lunch’ box, we headed into the afternoon session of Unfiltered Live:

A peak performer, builder, exporter and employer of 900 staff globally, Brendan Lindsayfounder of Sistema Plastics was an enthralling speaker, he everyone rolling with laughter with his stories and his honest, take-no-prisoners, advice. 

Avoid the drainers. Surround yourself with positive people. Trust your gut, don’t give in. Professionals don’t go to work, they do the work. Go after your dream.

Beware the perfect storm, never overexpose yourself to a position that you can’t afford to lose. Be prepared to commit your entire body and soul. Take ownership of your mistakes. Get to know your staff, don’t give turkeys to taxi drivers (yep!).

Be in front of your customers all the time, 3 ways to do this: email (easy for them to say no), phone (faceless also easy to say no) and in-person (really hard to say no). Always be prepared, every dog has its day.

And I think everyone’s favourite was his tale around “Don’t be a Can’t” and the joys of a Kiwi accent. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!

Next co-owner and COO Anna Mowbray of Zuru – the 14th biggest toy manufacturer and producer of Bunch O Balloons the number one selling toy for three years in a row in the US. Have laser focus. Be disciplined, how you execute, be focused to win, to be the best. 

Think about R.O.T. – Return On Time. Don’t get trapped. Businesses fail from lack of direction, not lack of focus. Simplify business, remove clutter. Remove complexity of your products and make them intuitive. Think of simplicity of your product, ie Google – is complex but to the user, very simple interface. Rationalise the offer to your customer.

Create meaningful relationships through partnering. Be passionate. Move mountains. Put your best people on the biggest opportunities – not your biggest problems.

Disrupt yourself. Do disruption on stable product lines. If you’re not disrupting, you are being disrupted. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. Hustle, never give up!

Self-confessed data geek with ideas and innovation in her soul, Carmen Vicelich, founder and CEO of Data Insight and Valocity made every one sit up when she put it simply ‘don’t let anyone steal your dream’, keep the fire in your belly. We are all unique and only you know what you know. Take advice but know where you are going. Know your why. At any stage you have the power to decide. 

Always have plan A, B, C. Plan A never survives first contact with the enemy. How do you make your luck? The power of attraction. Always make the boat go faster – but to which island? An athlete can go to the Olympics but without focus can get never get Gold. It’s all about people, solving a unique problem and what’s right for right now! ‘Better’ never stops. Play to strengths.

Surround yourself with winners. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. With data and tech everything is a race – Have to remember your ‘why’. You can have all the success in the world but if you don’t have the important things, what’s it for? Celebrate success along the way, and all the successes in the team.

Shit will happen 100% guaranteed. Focus on solving customer problems, avoid analysis paralysis. Be crystal clear on what problem you solve. There is no best, only better. Surround yourself with winners.

Successful serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur and angel investor Jeremy Cai, 22-year old, was upfront that technology is seductive. It’s not a solution but a means to an end, look for amplification of what you’re doing today. Put people first, not the tech. 

Focus on things you can control. If you choose the wrong market, you can’t change reality.  Advice is cheap to give, but expensive to take

Beware of raising money. It’s your life. If you don’t grow big, you die fast.

Value, pattern recognition (experience) is useful but it can fool you. You might miss something really big.

Follow your heart and head. Make it count. If you look back in 15 years will you be happy?

One of the most dynamic and ambitious entrepreneurs in mobile marketing using blockchain advertising is Brian Wong. He is the author of ‘The Cheat Code’ shortcuts to get a leg up on the competition, garner attention for creative thinkers and their ideas and to accelerate success, the book has been published in 40 countries and 3 languages. This Q&A with Jake involved a nice glass of wine from Villa Maria.  

Brian is driven, his mindset is to always be creative, always moving. Rule 1 – never freak out, it’s not life or death. Best lessons are experiences never expected.

When you are in product market research phase, if there’s too much data on the Internet to tell you if it’s a good idea, it’s already a bad game. Test your ideas with taxi drivers and see if their gut reaction is positive.

Know your superpower, ask your friends and family what you’re good at, what did you find effortless when you were growing up. Don’t try to fix things you’re not good at.

Be able to take no’s. Being afraid of rejection stops you. Put yourself in an uncomfortable position and ask, otherwise they won’t know what to give you. Keep asking, people will eventually break down.

Use your weaknesses and convert into a strength, i.e. looking young can be a good thing because people underestimate you and you can ask anything, people want to impart knowledge.

NZ’s Internet is superfast so go nuts with it. Our whole population is a city in other places, so use your broadband!

How to be legendary? Learn something a little faster than the next guy.

Jake then announced some exciting news that Brian has joined the Unfiltered Board of Directors.

Founder of her own PR company, innovator and invaluable advisor, Deborah Pead had everyone sitting up listening when she shared her incredible experiences in South Africa, a place where car hijackings happen every 30 minutes. Her work included PR briefs to reinvigorate Johannesburg’s CBD retail after a bomb blast – you do this by creating a ‘bomb sale’ which was highly effective!  

Learn in business to embrace your fear, it can be a powerful motivator and also drive innovation. Use fear as a motivator, not to debilitate. Look for the up side in the middle of every difficulty. When bombs are dropping around you, you need to hustle to find the silver lining.

Don’t be motivated by money. Money is not the proof of success. Deliver excellence, be generous. Products fail due to poor decisions. Reputations are built on actions. Fill your start-up with PR. Invest in PR. PR is rocket fuel for start-ups. You only get to be new once.

Fill your head with brilliance from best:

  • Leaders think and talk about solutions – Cecilia Robinson
  • Never hire an island, success comes from working with collaborating, power of team work – Theresa Gattung
  • Get a proper goal – Geoff Ross
  • Business is like driving a racing car, put your foot flat to the floor at the start, if you need to break, break real fast – Frances Steel

If you feel like you are backed into a corner, ask what the walls are – Sarah Kennedy.


Don’t look for the problem in the opportunity, look for the opportunity in the problem.The last speaker of the day was Linda Jenkinson World Class New Zealander and brilliant entrepreneur with three multi-million dollar companies built and successfully sold, the first Kiwi woman on Nasdaq. Linda hails originally from the Manawatu.  

How do you win in business? The jellybean jar. Jellybeans are the gifts you give to people. In the US you tell people what you’re looking for, what you want people to help you with and they give you jelly beans. It’s the way you help people.

Start thinking about what you can do for others and the entire world would achieve our goals a lot more. Ensure your jellybean jar is not just full, but overflowing. It absolutely works. The universe has the answer.

Play poker. Business is a game, it’s numbers and emotions, the fun of getting it over the line and bluffing. Do it your way, have fun. For Kiwis what is IT you are doing? Find your IT.

Cycle of gratitude, we suck at this as Kiwis. How people feel is important. Take people on your journey. Go exploring. Don’t make assumptions about people. Give back. Buy a jelly bean jar and ask how you can help others.

Congrats to Jake, Yuuki, Kevin, Dom, Matt and the entire Unfiltered Live team who put together such an amazing event! The day was uplifting, optimistic, sometimes brutally honest, provocative, stimulating, and friendly.  I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

Recent Posts

Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


Books on


Join us. Sign up for our blog.

Receive our regular updates in your in-box.