This past 4 days I have been in Istanbul, Turkey at an Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) conference (also Paris & Singapore on way home). There were 800 of us from 35 countries attending the Istanbul conference.

I attend these events as part of my quest to search the globe for latest/best/greatest ideas on business and personal achievement.

It was my first time in Istanbul and WOW what a place. It was insanely busy – I have never seen traffic so bad as Istanbul – and with so many people (circa 15M in the city) it has a unique energy about it. It is a very ‘full on’ city mixed with bustling shopping precincts, slums, mega mansions and towering sky scrapers.

I find I get more ideas from these trips then almost anything I do. It is the environment of being somewhere different and mixing it with other like-minded people. Even on the flight over I started a new book which I am now 5% complete.

Day 1

Time to get settled into the hotel, take a trip to the ‘old’ part of the city, visit the Grand Bazaar (dates back to 1461AD with 5,000 covered shops), spot of lunch, get a blade shave and get into the grove of the city.

The conference got started that night with a cocktail reception and then we were transported back to the Grand Bazaar for dinner. This was insane. Every day there are between 250,000 – 400,000 people per day visiting this place and they closed it – just for us. It had never been closed before and it was like the ultimate private dining experience. We heard that 200 people transformed the main street of the Bazaar in 90 minutes. Just amazing.

Day 2

The conference proper started and it was opened up with Peter Diamandis. Peter is the original creator of the X prize which originally was a competition to get commercial space started. Burt Rutan won the competition, Richard Branson did a deal with Burt and created Virgin Galactic. I am ticket holder no. 293 on Virgin Galactic (my wife bought me my ticket 3 years ago for my 40th birthday) so I was most interested to hear Peter talk about Abundance in Business and life. His next venture is to mine asteroids – yes you read that right. With his partners they want to sending drilling rigs on hurtling asteroids and mine precious metals. It gets you thinking what else is possible if you put your mind to it.

Then we had 3 current EO members tell their stories of trials and tribulations as they built their businesses. I was excited because a friend of mine was speaking. When I heard all 3 stories I realised my life was somewhat easier.

The next speaker was Pamela Meyer (author of liespotting) who spoke on telling lies and how you can pick (with some simple training) who is telling lies in business. Very handy skills to know!

Then we changed gears a bit and had an ex Hindu monk (Dandapani) speak on Spirituality in business. I first met Dandapani in Bahrain in May and have hired him to speak at my conference next March in Queenstown NZ. He was simply outstanding. He spoke a lot about managing energy in your life – not your time, your energy – and he related his 10 years of chosen celibacy and poverty back to the business world. After spending a lot of time with Dandapani on this trip I know he is going to be a hit with all of my Accounting members.

That night we visited the ancient Hagia Sophia and 1001 columns (Binbirdirek). Again the 2 ancient structures where closed to the public for the first time for our group. What an honour to have both facilities to ourselves. As we looked at the 2 structures we marvelled at how such structures could be built with the tools available at the time. That night we were entertained by an ancient ritual of twirling derbish which was just amazing.

Day 3

Bit of an easy day as far as speakers went however I did learn about cultural diversity in business. I also heard from a young Turkish entrepreneur who has taken her business from start up in 2011, raised $17M in venture capital and now has the fasted growing ‘gaming’ business in the world – Peak Games. Impressive.

That afternoon was ours to enjoy so my friend and I took a private shopping tour of the city. I picked up a few presents for home and some new shoes for me.

The evening was a boat cruise up and down the Bosphorus admiring the palaces and mansions that line the river. Dinner was at Cubuklu 29 – which was of course closed just for us.

Day 4

The opening speaker made me cry. Doc Hendley was a bartender and one day he decided to start a quest to arrange fresh drinking water to the masses. Doc was saying there are 1 billion people on the planet who do not have fresh drinking water. His Wine to Water foundation has touched the lives of millions of people in the harshest places on the planet. The stories he told made me think that there is a much higher purpose for all of us.

Towards the end of his speech he got us involved by making hundreds of water filter systems (at the conference) which was pretty cool. Many of us also donated some money so many more thousands of water filtration systems could be made.

The last speaker was all about the Psychology of Happiness. Shawn Achor has studied happiness for 10 years at Harvard University and his ground breaking work is now flowing into the corporate world. He says that business happiness can be taught, it is a choice and he gave us tools to be happy every day. The biggest predictor to long term success and happiness is social support. My membership in EO is certainly an important part of my social support.

The last evening event was at an amazing palace – Sait Halim Pasa – where we were dined and entertained in the most amazing way. The palace was simply huge and of course it was ours for exclusive access – no limits.

Then we went to a party. Not just any party – we went to one of the most exclusive and ‘hottest’ night clubs in Europe – Reina. This place was insane. It can hold 2,000 people and it was packed with all the ‘beautiful people’ and apparently many celebrities frequent the club. It was not exclusively closed for us!

Thanks to EO for a most amazing week. Home via Paris and a quick drop in on my friend Paul Dunn in Singapore. Time to consolidate my thoughts, create an action plan and start implementing. Enjoy the photos.