It’s 19th January 2011 and the second ‘Escape the city’ Winter party is taking place and the theme for the night is start something you love.

The company behind the event is a relatively new start up beginning in 2010 with the idea that some young professionals in London aren’t fulfilled with their jobs and offering them Another way through a website with opportunities of extravagant skilled work in other places, the first year of the website has been a success with the website having 22,000 members and now hoping to build on this success going into the second year.

The event being held in the Guanabara venue near Covent Garden is quite an exclusive venue with 600 people in attendance.the doors opened at 6 and I arrived at 6 20 when it wasn’t very busy but was happy hour with 2 beers costing £3.70 bargain for central London! However by 7 PM the event had more of an atmosphere to it with people choosing the tables and seats that they want to sit at and the anticipation for the speakers increasing.

The first half of the talks were by successful businesswoman, specifically Lara Morgan, who sold her company Pacific Direct for £20 million and Zarine Kharas, the CEO of JustGiving, the talk by Lara was very much centralized on starting your own business and how it is no fun until about ten years in when you start to reap the rewards, the presentation was pretty frank and to the point which is to be expected in a 20 minute slot. She emphasised how the first three years were no fun and that she did not have a social life however it was worth it for the position that she finds herself now.

Zarine’s talk was very much how she escaped the city, she used to work as an investment banker and a lawyer in the city and when the idea for JustGiving came about she decided that there was a gap in the market and to try and secure investment for the creation of the website for the idea. Now with offices in London and Boston she felt the early struggle to try and get funding without a big corporate name behind her was all worth it and feels she has truly made it with a strong team in place and can relax on the beach a lot of the time.

The event was organised towards young business professionals who are doubting their careers and looking for something different to do in the future so this was a chance for them to get advice from some of the best in the business. However, these first two speakers were very much about working hard and trusting in your own abilities and you will reap the rewards, after a short break the second half was about to start and I had a feeling it would follow a different tact.

Up stepped Alastair Humphreys who left university with hoarded student loans and set off to cycle round the world as cheaply as possible. He did this because he wanted to and wasn’t aware what it would lead to. Alastair now makes a living out of his writing and speaking about his various adventures. This talk was very much about having the balls to just go out and do something if you want it. When excuses come up for an idea they can be overcome with ease most of the time and he just said go and do what you want to do. Particularly amusing, was the tale of his microadventure which he did around the London area and specifically a lap of the M25,  trying to show that you don’t have to travel far and wide to have an adventure. I felt that this was a much more inspiring and engaged talk.

The final speaker of the night was Ed Stafford still looking fresh from finishing his Amazon adventure in August 2010. The extent of his trip is incredible, he spent 860 days walking the length of the Amazon, when before setting off all potential sponsors and funding were certain that he would be killed. However for a trip which he initially thought would take a year, it turned out to be an amazing journey with twists and turns all the way, from falling out with his initial partner on the trip to getting angry receptions in some native villages along the way. Fortunately he met an anthropologist in one village who prevented things from getting any worse. Crossing the drug gangs territory without a proper guide and meeting a local who walked all but the first 5 months with him was a heartwarming story. The whole trip reaks inspiration and the fact it was completed is a brilliant feat.

All in all, the night was  good with a very positive atmosphere although I think that the lack of a Q & A session after each speaker or even at any point would have been a nice touch but if they carry on bringing in such high calibre speakers I’ll be sure to attend again.

Advertisements