6 Simon Berger BODY 4Simon Berger is Founder of IM2 Group, who are world renowned exhibition and conference organisers with an enviable reputation on a global scale. Simon founded the company 22 years ago, and his experience in the events space is recognised around the world.

Simon recently co-founded an exciting, disruptive expo called Millennial 2020, the first expo of its kind that brings together the world’s biggest brands and most exciting startups to uncover the future of millennial-driven business, marketing & entrepreneurship.


6 Simon Berger BODY 3

In this podcast we discuss:

  • Simons simple tactics on goal setting, and how this led to him getting his first Ferrari (of which he’s had several)
  • Importance of relationships
  • Importance of storytelling
  • How Simon has made millions from spotting markets and simply bringing them to new countries
  • How he helps discover and create entrepreneurs that he can work with
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6 Simon Berger BODY 1

  • “School didn’t interest me if I’m brutally honest”
  • “Every Entrepreneur has to be independent”
  • “When I started making money for other people, I decided enough was enough and I needed to go and do it for myself”
  • “Conformism, I hate conformism”
  • “If you’re going to undertake something that has potential loss or potential reward you’ve got to be independent about doing that”
  • “If something is just ‘good’ then it can be done better”
  • “There has to be reciprocity in any sales process”
  • “I’ve sold to the biggest exhibition companies in the world”
  • On business: “It is an evolution, it’s not a revolution”
  • “If you want to be a good story teller, then you have to be a good listener”
  • “If it’s not ‘Must Attend’ then why should people attend”
  • “We have been fairly maverick in our style as a company, and I want to continue  to do that”
  • “I’m not in the business of making a  quick buck, it’s all about growing and building the corporate asset to divest in at some point in the future”
  • “As long as you deliver what you promise, and they end up with the result, then they’ll always come back and buy more”
  • “Do something useful and make it interesting”
  • “FOCUS is a very key word for me”
  • “If you spread yourself too thin the ice will break at some point”
  • “To me it’s about focus, bu focused on what you want to do”
  • “Don’t listen to others, really don’t listen to others”
  • “Mistakes are the backbone of any entrepreneur”
  • “Failure is great”  
  • “Sometimes you have to be knocked down”
  • “I can spend my time the way I chose to spend my time, and that’s a great sign of success”
  • “Never forget to look up. If you don’t look up you’re going to miss so much, The architecture, the blue sky”  
  • “The need for change in the event industry has never been so prevalent”
  • “I don’t know any better for of promotion of marketing than word of mouth”
  • “Anyone who’s a maverick is someone I look up to”
  • “It takes big kahunas to be different”
  • “Why follow someone else’s trail. Get off the path, make your own trail and let someone follow you”
  • “Controversy comes with being an entrepreneur”
  • “I much prefer a humble genius than the big I AM”
  • “When you think you’ve caught up, you’re still behind”
  • “Making decisions as an entrepreneur is really REALLY important. They might be right or they might be wrong, but if you don’t make them then frankly you don’t deserve the opportunity”
  • “Focus. Focus is really important”
  • “The hardest word in business I’ve ever learnt is the word NO. But the sooner you learn it, and you use it, the better you become”
  • “Nothing Lasts forever”
  • “My goals are written down, and by God when I achieve them do I enjoy them”
  • “Who doesn’t want to be rich, who doesn’t want to have financial security?”
  • “I’m inspired by innovation, inspired by difference, inspired by people who are prepared to take that challenge”
  • “I despise the word nice”
  • “I despise conformism. Why conform?  I mean really why conform?”
  • “Relentless perseverance and fierce belief pays off”
  • “Don’t listen to everyone”
  • “You NEED to do it at the beginning. You have to sacrifice, you need to put in that effort and you need to go above and beyond to be a success”
  • “If I walk down the hall of an exhibition hall and not everyone knows my name, then it’s too big, I need to sell it”
  • “As an entrepreneur at any given point in your life you have to be able to sacrifice  time and experiences, just don’t give up the ones that are really important”
  • “Surround yourself with giants, don’t surround yourself with people who are weak”
Links & People

John Berger (Simon’s uncle) who won the first ever Booker Prize in 1972 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otu4tjqrOk0 & http://themanbookerprize.com/people/john-berger
Tilda Swinton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilda_Swinton
Berlin Film Festival https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_International_Film_Festival
‘Ways Of Seeing’, John Berger  http://amzn.to/1WYegHH
‘The Language of Leaders’, Kevin Murray http://amzn.to/1WYe4Is
MMI and African & Eastern (only two companies who can import alcohol into Dubai) http://www.mmidubai.com/ & http://www.africaneastern.com/
Beau McClellan http://www.beaumcclellan.com/
Reflective Flow Chandelier http://beaumcclellan.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=11
Ferrari 328 G28: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrari_328
Rupa Ganata https://www.linkedin.com/in/rupa-ganatra-94839232
Vicktori Chevron https://www.linkedin.com/in/viktoria-de-chevron-villette-4329183
Laurence Kemball Cook http://pavegen.com/laurence-kemball-cook
PaveGen http://pavegen.com

Time Stamped Notes

00:03:45:17 – One of Simon’s dream when growing up was to live (not just work) in as many different creeds and countries as he possibly could
00:04:55:20 – Importance of independence. Went to a private school, but school really didn’t interest him
00:05:19:23 – Independence, trust and respect were the three biggest values instilled
00:05:58:08 – Left school at 17, a decision not respected by folks. If you’re going to undertake something that has potential   loss, or reward you need to have a level of independence
00:07:35:02 – Fond memories of when he realised that being different, being disruptive, being slightly maverick was a good thing
00:08:16:09 – First job as a washer upper in a Spanish restaurant; the staff hated him and used to throw things at him
00:09:03:07 – On his one day off (at the age of 17) he would cycle to an Ice Cream Factory on Eton Bridge, get 10l of Raspberry Ripple, 10l of Vanilla and 10l of Chocolate, loads of cones, and sell them for 20p a  scoop or 40p a double scoop
00:13:40:08 – Started working for A-Z as a courier, then got promoted to sales director. Was awarded 6% of the company which become worth £210,000 at the age of 21
00:15:43:19 – The importance of reciprocity in any sales process and Simon’s sales techniques
00:17:17:24 – On how the ‘sales’ process and business in general is evolving in the modern age
00:18:39:00 – Within 5 years 75% of the global workforce will be Millennials
00:21:02:02 – John Berger (Simon’s Uncle) won the first ever Booker Prize in 1972 and is now having a film made about him
00:22:34:21 – On the importance of Storytelling as leaders, businesses and authors
00:24:56:05 – Simon’s strategy for sustaining relationships with CMOs, and why this has been so pivotal in his business success
00:28:13:00 – on the importance of delivery what you promise, and the delivering a genuinely great product or service
00:30:29:05 – The importance of building something both interesting and useful
00:31:17:22 – The importance of FOCUS and failure
00:32:15:08 – Why Simon decided to go bankrupt for £130,000
00:34:16:21 – Simons three measures of success, and why he loves being an entrepreneur. (1. Freedom of time. 2. Being loved and respected. 3. Doing work you enjoy with people you enjoy).
00:36:31:15 – Simon’s wife left him and he got burgled, and how this led to him fleeing the country and eventually finding his way in to the event and expo space
00:40:50:04 – The power of taking something that already exists and launching it in a new territory
00:44:30:14 – Vertical sectors and niches
00:44:55:14 – Advice given by Simon’s Granddad ‘Never forget to look up’ and how this lesson has been applied to his business.
00:47:43:00 – About Millennial 2020
00:54:08:01 – On the importance of disruption in the world of business
00:59:53:14 –  The innovative way Simon has grown his businesses without massive investment in terms of resource, staff or going out for funding . How his companies actually CREATE entrepreneurs
01:04:55:24 – Making decisions is more important than making mistakes
01:05:23:05 – Resisting FOMO (For Of Missing Out) Simon’s biggest character flaws as an entrepreneur
01:07:35:23 – On the subject of sincerity and impactful interactions with new people
01:11:00:05 – On Matras. Nothing Lasts forever
01:11:35:12 – Beau McClellan and designing the world’s largest chandelier
01:13:30:05 – Goal setting
01:14:04:05 – On getting his first Ferrari
01:15:10:07 – The power of branding & marketing by Ferrari
01:18:38:00 – On anti-conformism and the story of the fleas (to illustrate the importance of relentless dedication and thinking differently)
01:20:00:10 – On morning routines and work habits

The Rebel Wrap Up Round

If you could go back to any point in your life, and have 1 hour with your past self; what moment would it be and what would you tell yourself?

01:25:01:14 -When I was at school, 15 or 16, and I’d say stub out that fag and go learn the guitar

Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary entrepreneur or creator of the last 2 years?

01:25:36 – It’s the influencers, the vloggers, the Viners, the millennials. Anyone who is bucking conformism in terms of doing business. The young who are making money from nowhere. NO one trains you for this. People who embrace different ways of doing things and learn on the job.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, who gave it to you and how has it positively affected your career?

01:27:30 – Grandfather gave me a silver cigarette case, on it was written:  “Live in this life and love it” and I really have lived by that. Every experience I’ve tried to enjoy and if I haven’t enjoyed it I have stopped.  

What is the one generally agreed upon rule or conventional piece of wisdom, that you disagree with?

01:28:28 – That ‘you make your own luck’ I don’t believe in that saying. Lady luck chooses where she wants to shine. Luck is something that you’re blessed with, you don’t make it.

If you could change one law what would it be?

01:28:44 – Inheritance tax. We all work very hard, and pay our taxes so don’t tax us again when we die.

What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?

01:29:18 – Breaking out. Doing things on your own. Not settling for making money for others. Having the belief in yourself. Surround yourself with giants, don’t surround yourself with people who are week.

What advice would you give to anyone listening to this who wants to become an entrepreneur?

01:29:52 – Trust your own instincts. Do something useful. Do something better. People say you have you have to stand all over people to get to the top, I couldn’t disagree more. Be good to people on the way up and you’ll be remembered on the way down.  Be kind, you never know the story someone else is going through or has been through.

Who do you nominate to be a guest on the RebelHead Entrepreneurs podcast and can you sum them up in one word?

01:31:12 – Laurence Kemball-Cook, from PaveGen.  

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About The Author

Matt Cheney
Executive Producer

Matt has been in the media industry for 11 years, specialising in audio post production. Matt has created Emmy award-winning music features, BAFTA nominated animations and acclaimed festival documentaries. Max & Matts’ paths merged in 2015 to produce the REBELHEAD podcast; publishing the successful series, telling stories of today’s most disruptive and rebellious entrepreneurs. Matt is currently Head of Audio at Vice Media UK and currently partner in two growing audio production companies. As part of the REBELHEAD Production team; he is ambitiously road-mapping the rise of REBELHEAD via new media and emerging technologies.

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