From Fargo to Finland: Innovation Abounds

John Livesay  |

Image via Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr CC

Recently, I was in both Fargo, ND and Helsinki, Finland within the space of two weeks. You might think that these cities have nothing in common (aside from being cold!) , but as it turns out, both are hubs for business innovation and growth.

Here's the story of how I ended up going to both places, and what I discovered along the way--and, why your next great idea may be closer than you think...

Fargo's North Dakota Today show on NBC invited me to be a guest to give my tips on how I take survival lessons learned from the corporate boardroom table to the holiday dinner table. The hosts of the show Chris Berg (@ChrisBergPOVNOW) and Kristi Larsonhris (@KristiLarsonVNL) were so warm and friendly. Click here to watch the segment.

While in Fargo, I also met Greg Tehven who has led the charge for innovation and growth in the Fargo area Among other things, he is the exec director and co-founder of Emerging Prairie His Tedx talk is all about creating the community you want to be proud of.

Then 2 weeks later I found myself on the "NERD bird" flight from Silicon Valley to Helsinki Finland to attend This was an opportunity to join some of the top investors and most successful entrepreneurs like Mark Pincus, founder of Zygna (Words with Friends et al) for the 11 hour flight. When you invest in growing your network, your net worth increases. The relationships I built on those flights going and coming could never have been formed any other way.

How did the people in Finland create Slush 2017 that would attract 20,000 attendees, 2,600 startups and 1,500 investors from just 300 attendees in 2008? They have a targeted mission to help the next generation of companies move forward. They pitch it as a TED talk meets Burning Man. From an opening laser show in a night club vibe to two days of events and speakers, there is an energy that makes everyone come alive .

The sign that welcomes you says: "Nothing normal never changed a damn thing. Welcome Weirdos"

Fargo and Finland are both places that people don't think right away as as a place for entrepreneurship, yet both places have created a thriving community that is full of innovation and impact.

Wherever you live or whatever challenges you are facing in your business, be inspired by the creativity and focus that people all around you from Fargo to Finland are doing. Keep yourself motivated that you too can create something from a great idea that is well executed.

John Livesay is known as "The Pitch Whisperer," who is a keynote sales speaker to brands like Coca-Cola, Anthem insurance and Coldwell Banker. He shares lessons learned from his award winning career at Conde Nast. His keynote talk gives sales teams the tools they need to become revenue rockstars. When that happens they win new clients and even learn how to win back ones that have left.

To Book John for Your Next Event: Email Or call The Speakers Group at 615-526-6600

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

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