What do unemployed hippies, an Italian shoemaker, a nun, Western Australian fishermen and a man who knows nothing about business have in common? Passion, creativity and the makings of powerful storytelling.
Ernesto Sirolli's plenary address, Passion, entrepreneurship and the rebirth of local economies, had one simple but profound message: do what you want to do and find someone to do what you hate.
This straightforward message to the artists, community arts workers, business people and others in the audience was delivered lyrically, humorously and, like only the Italians can, with great gusto and feeling.
Sirolli narrated his experiences of developing entrepreneurs in Western Australia in the 1980s. He believes that the idea of an entrepreneur has been hijacked by corporate language which two-thirds of the population doesn't understand. He suggested that the first thing we need to do is reclaim the word 'entrepreneur' and its original, fundamental meaning: an entrepreneur is someone who 'gets it first'; who is innovative and courageous.
Through his engaging storytelling and grass-roots experiences, Sirolli urged the artists in the audience to dedicate their lives to finetuning their skills, to forget about trying to learn how to sell their work and to surround themselves with people they trust who can do that for them. That way, they return the gifts they have been given to the world.
And his belief about the universality of human experience? Every man and woman at any given time in their lives has a wish to better themselves. You don't have to take ideas into communities or tell people what to do - the people there already know what to do. You only have to take your passion and listen - not arrive with a 'briefcase of answers' - to help people do what they want to do.
What community wouldn't he inspire?