Using the example of a journey up Mount Kilimanjaro, the Confluence keynote speaker urged potential entrepreneurs to map out where they want to be.

“Not knowing where you are going can have a pretty dramatic effect,” Curtis Morley told the group on Friday. “Do you have a goal, or is it a wish, or a hope, or a dream.”

A trek up a remote mountainside in Tanzania has inherent risks, and taking that trip without a map, or plan, compounds those risks.

His travel agent helped arrange for the Mount Kilimanjaro trip in 2020. When the pandemic hit, the agent’s business shrunk to virtually zero, he said.

Pivoting, that same travel agent then switched over to the adventure clothing business and then became involved in the luxury camping industry, termed glamping. She now has more than 200 domestic glamping sites because people still want to travel — they just have to do it differently than in the past.

Entrepreneurs and future business leaders alike were encouraged to transform their “what ifs into what is” Friday during the Rome Floyd Chamber Confluence conference at the DeSoto Theatre.

The University of Utah professor explained his formula for success involved setting specific goals and making them known to others.

He asked the audience to consider things like how much revenue do you hope to generate? What kind of time frame do you have for reaching that goal? What’s going to happen when you do reach the goal and why do you want to be in the business in the first place?

“What drives you, what’s your passion,” Morley asked.

Morley showed the crowd statistics indicating that as many as 30% of business don’t make it past the first year and nearly half don’t make it five years.

“Companies don’t fail, entrepreneurs quit,” Morley said. In explaining why entrepreneurs quit, Morley pointed to fears: the fear of failure, or the fear of having to layoff personnel in troubling times.

He encouraged entrepreneurs to proactively plan their next steps, not to give in to fear of failure. He suggested changing the F in what if to an S as in “What is my next step, What is something I can do today.”

The professor and entrepreneur said humans only have two innate fears, the fear of falling and he fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned, he said. If they can be learned, then they can be unlearned.

Learning together

Chamber President Jeanne Krueger said the purpose of the annual conference is to inspire people to learn, react and adapt to all of the things that are happening around us everyday.

The conference was initiated two decades ago as the Spectrum of Technology conference to highlight rapidly changing technologies and the growth of jobs in biotechnology

As part of that drive, Meaghan Kennedy, founder of Orange Sparkle Ball in the metro-Atlanta area, spoke to the conference via teleconference.

Kennedy’s company, called an innovation accelerator, helps people develop new ideas and bring them to the market.

Kennedy and several of her staff used five W’s to walk the audience of getting started.

The process involved determining what a problem might be, when a problem occurs, understand why it is a problem, where the problems can be solved and who a target user would be.

Vaccine advancements

Trudy Rey, a patent agent in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, spoke about the technologies involved in developing the vaccines for COVID-19 so rapidly. The vaccine came about so quickly because much of the research was already in place.

She also said the COVID-19 vaccines have been much more successful than many scientists and researchers originally anticipated.

Rey also presented a graphic comparing other data relative to the risk of blood clots from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

U.S. health advisers on Friday urged resuming COVID-19 vaccinations with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot, saying its benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clots — in line with Europe’s rollout.

Federal health officials uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot, out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. All were women, most under age 50. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.

Rey said that birth control pills have been linked to clotting in as many as 1,200 cases in a million women.

Clots have been attributed to smoking in 1,763 cases out of a million smokers and the coronavirus infection itself in 165,000 out of a million population.

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