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I went to a conference on a cruise ship with Eric Schmidt, Quentin Tarantino and a ton of other execs – Here’s what I learned

Musician Wim Hof performs ‘The Iceman’ to attendees of Summit at Sea. Photo: Summit/Facebook

Summit at Sea is a part of the Summit Series, an organization founded in 2008 to build a community of younger, “cooler” entrepreneurs.

Last month I had the privilege of spending four days at the Summit at Sea conference on a ship off Miami. The event featured some of the biggest names in business and entertainment globally—Tony Hawk, Eric Schmidt, Quentin Tarantino, Erin Brockovich, Foster the People and many more.

No WiFi, no phones, no computers, no tablets, just communication and ideas.

These are my top five outtakes.

1. We need to make space in our lives for serendipity

Taryn Williams. Photo: Supplied

I arrived at the Summit with a carefully crafted schedule of all the speakers I wanted to see, together with a perfectly diarised schedule. I approached the Summit the same way I approach my work day. Unfortunately, the first speaker was delayed 30 minutes and my whole plan was thrown into chaos.

It was my first valuable lesson. The incredibly spiritual Spanish entrepreneur I was having lunch with said to me, “This is a part of the process, a part of the Summit. You have to be OK with being out of your comfort zone. Be in the moment. See where your day takes you. Make space for connection. Live in the serendipity.”

And so I tried for the rest of the week to follow the adventure wherever it took me. I went from “We have to go NOW or we’ll miss Gary Veynerchuk!”, to curling up in the sunset on the deck to watch spoken word poet Aja Money crack my heart wide open with her powerful words.

She had not been on my original agenda. The richness and happiness that she brought me would never have occurred if I stuck to my plan.

2. Everything is going to be OK

Quentin Tarantino and Kendrick Lamar. Photo: Summit/Facebook

It was a weird time to be in America, surrounded by 3,000 entrepreneurs and future makers. As the presidential polls closed, there was an eerie feeling on the boat: despair, fear, anger, confusion, shock.

But the incredible Dolores Huerta and Sonia Sanchez took to the stage and reminded us that we’ve been here before. Nixon being elected, Kennedy being assassinated, George W. Bush. Crying about it didn’t help. People power did.

On a boat amongst 3,000 of the brightest minds in the world, people united together to put their time, energy, resources, power and intelligence to fixing this. That’s when I realised, everything is going to be OK.

3. In the age of information, ignorance is a choice

The main performance stage on deck 17. Photo: Summit/Facebook

On day one, I met my new friend Shin, from Korea, who is one of the world’s leading fire dancers and flow artists, travelling the globe with his art. Shin learned his craft by meticulously studying YouTube videos and practicing.

With courses, videos, blogs, and all the other amazing online ways to learn – you don’t need to go to university any more. You need to be diligent, self motivated, and driven to improve. The information is there for you if you want it.

4. Compassionate capitalism is our responsibility

A small seminar. Photo: Summit/Facebook

Listening to Ben Rattray and Suzanne DiBianca on the Salesforce 1% movement, encouraging companies to donate 1% of their time, energy, profit and equity to charity made me realise there is no excuse for anyone to not be involved in some type of philanthropy. As entrepreneurs we are blessed with the opportunity to make a positive impact on our society, and that’s not something that should be taken lightly.

5. Disconnect to reconnect

Musician Wim Hof and crowd. Photo: Summit/Facebook

You can imagine my reaction when I found out 24 hours before boarding that for three days I would have no WiFi and no reception. I would be completely off the grid.

The inherent desire to be able to pick up my phone and be re-assured that everything was fine back at home, was overwhelming. Why? It’s like a drug, the addiction to the immediacy of things.

I was forced to disconnect. To meet strangers. To be fully present and actually make that human connection. It was incredible.

As we docked back into Miami and I dusted off my unopened laptop to write this article, it dawned on me the Summit doesn’t have to stay at sea. It’s a value set that can come with me on the long journey back to Australia and stay with me every day, permeate my life, my companies and my team.

Best of all, you don’t have to go to sea to realise this.

Taryn Williams is the Founder and CEO of TheRightFit and WINK Models. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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