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Innovation Insights: BIG Thinkers at the PAC - innovate niagara

Innovation Insights: BIG Thinkers at the PAC


"Don’t do it for someone else when you can do it for yourself" - Terry O'Malley

Written by Terry O'Malley

BEFORE: One of the subheads on the promotional material for the BIG Thinkers event states: Inspired by Terry O’Malley. I’m not sure how that came about. I think it happened one noon hour at the Upper Deck restaurant when discussing possibilities for Innovate Niagara. Albert Iannantuono, Chair of the Innovate Niagara Board and Jeff Chesebrough, CEO, lured me into conversation at the cost of a grilled cheese and a diet Pepsi (I hope none of my former clients see this). They know I can’t resist giving away ideas. I remember saying “You guys need an event to let people know what you’re doing”. I could see something click and what do you know, here we are heading to the PAC for “the event” put together by Jeff and his bright and resourceful team. It’s to be an afternoon tribute to local entrepreneurs, revealing their successes and their experiences in an effort to encourage entrepreneurial activity in Niagara. Let’s see what’s next.

DURING:This is the first presentation of its kind at the PAC, so as well as being valuable to the attendees, the PAC is learning, too. The Marche lunch and chatter had us all anticipating the afternoon. The place was full of entrepreneurs and one could feel the ideas generating. The keynote speech came from Dan Magnuszewski, a young Buffalo entrepreneur who set the tone that one doesn’t have to be in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles or Toronto to succeed, and he did it well. There were two panels with moderators. One focused on making it in Niagara, the other one was those who have been successful and sold firms to larger entities. The panelists were outstanding in their willingness to share and in their sincerity. I scribbled down two phrases that impressed me: “Entrepreneurs live in the future” and “The harder you work the luckier you get”. I’ve been in boardrooms of so many major corporations and the caliber of people on the Innovate Niagara stage was absolutely comparable.

AFTER: There is outstanding talent in our community and we should be so proud of it. I’m just looking at my notes from the day and I want to leave you with these thoughts: “Don’t do it for someone else when you can do it for yourself”. “Do it your way and don’t be afraid”. “Hustle, hustle, hustle and get involved in the community”. “Success can be right here”. And I’ll add, with the help of Innovate Niagara, “Don’t be shy”.Too much credit and praise was given to me during the day. I’ll be happy with another grilled cheese and a diet Pepsi while we plan for BIG Thinkers #2 next year.

This article originally appeared in The Business Link Niagara.