November 15, 2019 Print

Thirty participants from twenty different countries attend the 2019 Global Influencer Summit. 

Last weekend, a new cohort of think tank leaders gathered at Atlas Network’s first Global Influencer Summit in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania—a historic town in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The summit centered around key management and leadership topics for senior leaders of think tanks. Thirty participants, representing twenty different countries, had the opportunity to network, learn from each other, and brainstorm new strategic ideas.

With a busy schedule, the three-day event began with a session led by Sarah Gibson (founder of Accent Learning and Consulting and author of Geezer. Punk. Whatever.), who explored generational gaps and their implications for the workplace. The group identified both differences and similarities among generations while discussing best practices to navigate them. In total, the group participated in eight workshops, six of which were peer-to-peer sessions. Some of the topics of discussion were empowering leadership and entrepreneurship, improving employee performance, and building cohesive teams.

Becki Gray at the 2019 Global Influencer Summit. 

“The new perspective that I gained from the workshops and discussions have been invaluable,” said Becki Gray, the senior vice president at John Locke Foundation. “I learned about building teams, taking a realistic look at my weaknesses and where I need to improve and approaching leadership of my team with a greater understanding of where my team members are with background and generational differences.”

Jasson Urbach at the 2019 Global Influencer Summit. 

The connections and relationships that were established thanks to the summit were regarded as one of the most beneficial outcomes of the program. To Jasson Urbach, director at the Free Market Foundation in South Africa, meeting “like-minded friends that can be called upon and utilized as a springboard for ideas” was the most valuable aspect of the summit. 

Another unique—and the most anticipated—aspect of the program was its mentoring curriculum. Just next door, Atlas Network’s Leader Lab for emerging think tank leaders was taking place simultaneously. Both programs came together through a business plan and elevator pitch competition. Each established think tank leader was paired with a group of emerging ones, providing mentorship on how to build an organization proposal and present it to potential donors on a “Shark Tank” and elevator pitch setting.

Andy Mayer, COO at the Institute of Economic Affairs, described his mentoring experience as the highlight of the week: “My co-mentor and I took our responsibilities very seriously taking our team for drinks on the night before the exercise and helping them with their elevator pitches. In my group, one was a natural, two experienced, and one who had no experience at all in public speaking. I was particularly delighted that the first and last got through to the [2019 John Blundell Elevator Pitch Competition], with the natural winning it, and the newbie putting in an amazing transformation performance that overcame her nerves in what is not an easy first time. That made this all rather special.”

At the conclusion of the summit, participants came together to celebrate at Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge, where Lyall Swim, Atlas Network’s vice president of training and events, announced the business plan competition winners and the top twelve elevator pitchers before heading out to New York City for Atlas Network’s 2019 Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner!