Unlocking new ideas in the Vaults with HB Reavis 

Unlocking new ideas in the Vaults with HB Reavis 

I must be frank. As I was pacing around the corner from our HQ on Bankside to the Bankside Vaults, I wasn’t completely sure what I was letting myself in for. Printing hearts, ‘retail futurism’ and a really good poker player. On paper, quite an eclectic mix, but based on the success of the last HB Reavis event (that’s right, we’re regulars now), I tuned in my listening ears and armed with a glass of vino blanc, I was ready for action.

Renown Science and Tech presenter, Dallas Campbell graced the stage with an infectious energy and managed through his opening monologue to ease the audience into switching off from their non-descript issues back at the office. After giving an overview of the event and a nod to the smorgasbord of snacks awaiting us in the entertainment zone, we kicked off proceedings with Tom Cassidy (no relation to David, I checked).

Tom is the founder of a company called Second Curve, who specialise in training companies and individuals to communicate better and to produce better results. At this event he had tasked himself with the not-so-easy challenge of helping to boost 150-odd property professional’s productivity in 15 minutes. Good luck Tom!

Tom started with taking us down the Productivity Walk of Fame. This included the likes of Jeff Bezos and Mark Wahlberg, who famously online discussed his daily routine which included a gym session and a round of golf before his second breakfast and general superstardom until 9:00pm when he crashes. Of course, some of us won’t reach these dizzying heights of productivity but Tom passed on some wisdom to help us on our way.

The main point I took away from Tom’s speech was to take on our daily tasks in the same way we would take on a HIIT workout. HIIT workouts are a popular fitness craze. They include periods of high intensity exercise with regular intervals for rest. Tom states that we should be glued to tasks for no longer than a 40-minute period – the same concentration window applies for adults and children. We’re not wired to stay fixated on things for longer, we are not machines and we need time to regroup and rest our minds. This should help with remaining on one task and not deviating away unintentionally. Try using some of the steps below to see if it works for you:

HIIW – High Intensity Interval Working

  1. Work Duration
  2. Rest Duration
  3. Work Intensity
  4. Mono-tasking
  5. Time-boxing

Also… your to-do lists are too long. Stop writing 30+ items on a page, no one like staring down the barrel of a list like that. Instead, make a list of 8, and don’t include anything else until they are finished. Try adding a time column to give a rough guide for how long you should spend on that particular task.

£3.7 million. That’s a lot of cheddar. That’s also the total winnings collected by Team Poker star Liv Boeree. Liv stepped up to talk about decision making under uncertainty. Once again not always one of my strong points so I made sure to keep eyes to the stage and pen-nib to paper.

Igor, Liv’s boyfriend fired across a question on the sofa one night – “Liv what’s the probability that we'll still be together in 3 years?”, now most couples would probably have a John McEnroe shout-off, but they got their pens at the ready and worked it out. This is how Liv manages her entire life. Whether its grouping probabilities to handle problems better when they arise; like the chances of being made redundant, Nan kicking the bucket and breaking your arm all in the same year are quite small, but together the likelihood of one of them happening is higher. Or, practising by making fifty formal predictions at the beginning of a year, for instance – What is the probability that Bitcoin will drop to below $10k this year? This will help with calculating your accuracy on these predictions and allow you to trust in them when you're making decisions under uncertainty. Next time you’re ‘aiming’ to go to cousin Trudy’s Birds of the Amazon Party in Putney, don’t say there is a ‘fair chance’ of you coming, give it a number, “15% tops, Trudy" - manage expectations.

Doug Stephens, Retail Futurist, emphasised “You’re the property experts!” – cues for all in the audience pulling on their lapels proudly and they sat up in the chairs. But he wanted to take us through the new innovations of the retail sector and how that will affect the way we shop in the future. Doug did a quick-fire round of stating statistics at the audience. He acknowledged the confidence people have when making purchases online. On Singles Day’s last year (China’s Black Friday), Alibaba.com made $10 billion in sales… in the first hour. That’s $167 million a minute. $167 million is more than what four H&M superstores rake in a whole year. Jaw drops and hits floor. With this uptake in e-commerce, 2017 saw it's highest year to date for sales online -amounting it to $2.3 trillion for the year.

What does this tell us? Brands need to focus on innovation, particularly digitally if they are going to compete in the modern retail landscape. With 80% of sales in retail being influenced by digital, its either innovate or die. Retailers are using new technologies in many different formats to differentiate themselves from competitors, improving the buying experience and subsequently bettering their service to encourage the retention of buyers. A couple of examples, L’Oréal is now using AI through an app that uses your ‘selfie’ camera to visualise products on screen – bringing a whole new meaning to ‘try before you buy’. Amazon has patented “Anticipatory Shipping”, a new delivery service that’ll start mailing your copy of ‘Terminator 2 on Blue-ray’ before you have even purchased it. The system works based on algorithms generated from the data they have accumulated over years of tracking buying behaviour from their customers. A bit far-fetched in my personal opinion, have we become that predictable in the way we spend?

This challenged a question around the need for physical stores. Do retailers really need the extra expenditure of fitting out stores from here to Timbuktu? Doug's answer is yes. But in a different way. Instead, the millennial generation are immersed in a sense of tribalism, they align themselves to products and brands that are reflective of how they see the world or how they speak about themselves. Nowadays it’s not about the BMW you have in the garage, it’s about:

  • What you’re doing.
  • Who you’re with.
  • Where you are.

Brands need to show their personality and bring their stories to life inside their built environments. Outdoor equipment retailers should have climbing walls within them, bookstores with listening pods, organic soap shops with a ‘creation room’ which tells the story of how the product is made. There are many other variations I could conjure up, but the time is now for brands to step-up, not just digitally, but in expanding how the customer experiences the brand itself.

“Experiences are the new social currency, focus less on the mass and focus more on the me”.

Finally, we had Gabor Forgacs, physicist, innovator and bio-printing wizard. The human body is an enormous complex thing, which requires enormously complex solutions for when things start to break down. In the modern day, the technology that is at our finger tips has offered mind-blowing possibilities. In our world, we have recognised 3D printing as a past paced solution to build a home for less than £10k or to build a life-sized Batman head (3 minutes of my life spent on YouTube I’ll never get back). But printing a heart? A section of a liver? You have to be joking.

Gabor is not joking. Serious advancements have been made in the field, using bio-inks which are comprised of living materials that adapt with the human body. They can now bio-print parts of organs as temporary fixes for damaged areas. The benefits of this are huge as it helps buy time for those waiting for organs in a world that is currently undergoing a critical donor organ shortage. There are obstacles however, although they have created something remarkable, they are still a long way from duplicating the functionalities of a heart (for example). It’s too complex and has been the bi-product of millions of years of evolution. But never say never! Maybe one day we could live forever? Which actually sounds pretty bad, you’d never have a deadline to meet again. I certainly wouldn’t have written this today. We need to know we’re on a clock otherwise where’s the urgency?! I, like the rest of the audience will be eagerly waiting to see how Gabor gets on with his research in years to come.

Alas, it had to end. Thanks again to our friends at HB Reavis for hosting another knock-out Talks event. And Dallas wasn’t lying, those Mushroom Arancini balls were a delight.


– Posted by HK