ORLANDO, Fla. — Business conferences often like to kick things off with a keynote speaker who makes attendees think outside the box, and this year’s Food Marketing Institute Future Connect event succeeded in doing that with Jade Simmons.
A classical pianist/rapper/stand-up-comic/motivational speaker, Simmons wowed the audience with her quick wit and otherworldly piano skills.
Simmons, whose own career has veered in different directions as she has nurtured her various talents, encouraged attendees to “discover their personal brand,” which she defined as the qualities people possess beyond the ability to do their everyday jobs.
"Flush out your super skill,” she said, noting that it “may be something you have overlooked, because you have always been good at it.”
In her case, she learned that when she offered a few anecdotes and humorous stories to the audiences that came to see her play classical music, she garnered even more praise than she did for her musical talents. The same principle applies to companies, she said.
“As a company, what do you bring to society beyond product?” she asked.
She encouraged people to think more like Superman than Clark Kent — bold, confident, decisive and focused, as opposed to hesitant and worried. That’s why Superman gets to be with Lois Lane, and Clark Kent does not.
“Clark wanted Lois, but Superman believed and acted,” she said.
Other Future Connect sessions earlier in the day focused on various aspects of career development and training in “deep dive courses” led by industry experts, and in some cases, taking place in interactive groups for sharing information.