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WIN World, inspiring the future

By Carlota Ribeiro Ferreira

In a particular moment in our lives, a quick boldness, our company’s 13-year story told in a very personal way. From WIN World to the entire world, so that we can together give new worlds to the world.

And why am I writing this now? Well, I believe that sometimes we need to take a break, reflect on the story, write it down, so that we can grow in the right direction from there on. It’s a good exercise, I like to do it, and it’s interesting that whenever we look at the path, we’re on the path, and there are new emotions, new connections and interpretations that even allow us to discover new potentials. Looking back, we see that the narrative is about context and intentions, preparation and presence, planning and serendipity, boldness and commitment, anticipation but sometimes also procrastination. And suddenly, it seems like things happen at the right time. It’s curious and wonderful. Big moves and small details in a dance with life.

I also believe that regardless of whether our story is good or not, it’s a story and maybe it’s inspiring and useful for someone – so why not share it? I share in the hope that it can serve someone.

  1. THE FIRST THOUGHTS

I was new as an entrepreneur and when people ask me if this was something I really imagined for my life, I say no. Essentially, I’m a mission-oriented leader, I love big games, complex projects, problems to solve or new ambitions to achieve; and I love serving, managing and aligning talented teams towards great goals, and that can happen whether I’m a business owner or working for others. The important thing for me is the purposeful challenge at hand and being committed to it. So let me explain a bit how the WIN World story came about.

My entrepreneurial journey began because at a certain point in my life, in search for new meaning and growth, I made a life & business plan, reflected on what I dreamed of, what inspired me the most and what my career had been so far. After gaining a few insights about the next move I would like to pursue, I realized that there was no obvious place for which I could send my curriculum, especially in the conciliation that I wanted with my personal life and other intellectual ambitions I had. So, if that company didn’t exist, then I had to create it. And so it was, WIN World was first born as a corporate extension of myself, but only at the beginning, to take off, because if there was one thing I knew it was that I wanted a company that was a collective of intellects creating and building together. 

There weren’t necessarily signs of market opportunity but the vision that things could be done differently – with another type of curation, communication, production and delivery as well as not obvious crossovers of past experiences in the entertainment and information fields that could be applied in an innovative way to the territories of knowledge, business concepts and strategy – my scenes. And from the vision a mission is born, from the mission comes a business plan. As for the order of vision and mission, I’m not sure which comes first… I think there’s a certain intertwining, but, in simple steps, that’s how the company started.

  1. THE FOUNDATIONS

WIN World was born on December 4, 2008, with the clear mission to inspire leaders and organizations for the future. From the outset, a very unique way of being and acting, which we seek to summarize in a philosophy that remains 100% current and which we call the WIN World Way. We feel and assume that we are really passionate about the world, driven by the future and that each of us has a huge role to play. We truly admire leaders who lead organizations for tomorrow and, in that sense, we are here to inspire and contribute in whatever way we can to this call and to have everyone involved in more and greater ambitions.

We stand for cultures of permanent learning and, therefore, this is what we do – we investigate, we deeply study the subjects, we organize knowledge and transform it into impactful, engaging experiences, mobilizing minds and actions for greater purposes.

We never enjoyed fitting into the classic companies’ classifications, so it was never easy to explain what we do. We are not an events company. We are not a consulting firm. Nor even a school. So what are we? One day I was asked how I would define the company, and I immediately said: it is the most beautiful combination that my teams and I have been able to make of McKinsey and Cirque du Soleil. On the one hand, we seek the rigor of investigation, the robustness of study, the vision, the strategic and systemic reach of the matters; on the other, imagination, creativity, narrative intensity, and the ability to design experiences capable of evoking emotions. We are not afraid of doing things differently, nor are we afraid of doing what has never been done. We like ambitions, and we dare. And we know that every detail counts. We are curious, we listen, we have a global mindset and a great ability to interlink subjects and reasonings. We are very pragmatic, focused and committed, and we love making things happen.

  1. THE GROWTHS

Over the years, we have created countless projects, consolidated our own brands and embarked on wonderful trips with our clients. From research to programs curation in the most varied areas of knowledge, from the production of in-person events to large digital productions using state-of-the-art technology, from experiences for 50 people to those with 5000 or more, from projects in Portugal to Brazil, USA, Angola or Belgium, step by step we love getting talents together to learn, innovate and write new chapters of our story. We take care of everything – from concept to content, from design to communication, from production to all of the logistics.

Our current portfolio of ongoing original labels starts with something as beautiful, joyful and exciting as a Happy Conference, which takes entire corporate audiences through topics as good and wide as positive psychology, trust, creativity, exponential leadership or psychological safety. The Happy Conference is the annual gathering of an entire community that, in the meantime, has been joining together in the so-called Happy Corporations Society.

Leadership has always been our focus and our main area of ​​study. For seven years, we designed and produced the most prominent leadership conference in Portugal – the Leadership Grand Conference, at the emblematic Casa da Musica in Porto, which has the High Sponsorship of the President of the Republic. In 2019, we launched the Leaders in Action Society – a leadership development platform through stories of great leaders told in the first person. A beautiful project that, besides the platform with all organized biographies and videos, has a series of workshops and conferences, analysis and discussion guides to be used in high schools’ classrooms, universities and companies. The first season is out, and now we are on track for the second one. May many more come because one thing that has been increasingly set is that people inspire people and good cases inspire good cases. So here we go! We keep going and we reach the whole world.

By the 10th anniversary of WIN World, in 2018, it was time to open up our game! We created an executive program at Nova SBE – the #1 economics and management school in Portugal and #27 in Europe. The WIN World Playbook already has 5 editions carried out, and here, yes, we teach everything we do and how we do. We deconstruct our value chain, systematize knowledge about the conception, planning and global management of excellent events, physical or virtual, and of course, we teach and share everything we know about our business.

Also within the scope of the celebration of our 10 years, we launched The WIN World Conference – the moment in time when we celebrate life and bring all futures to the stage. We bring diversity, experiment new formats and dynamics, and inspire everyone to this great idea that the future is tremendous and expects the best from each of us, each with their own talents put into practice to serve the world.

In 2020, it was time to give shape to The Knowledge Elevator Society. And deep down, here we do what we’ve always done: investigating, organizing knowledge and creating great content products accessible to more people — which generally have always had a physical expression, no longer an imperative. Basically, we make smart summaries for curious minds in paper, video and podcast formats. On any topic demanded!

In our tailor-made projects portfolio, we go from internal leadership meetings to large public projects for the companies. We are very proud of all the projects. They are journeys of remarkable joint growth. And it is beautiful to be within the organizations and with leaders in their greatest challenges and ambitions. Together, we always go further. Some examples of projects we love: The School of Life Conference, The National Geographic Summit, COTEC Europe Summit, Lusíadas Clinical Summit, Global Health Summit, Farfetch Global Gathering, EDP Business Summit – leaders and corporations committed to energy transition.

To get the atmosphere of our projects, this is how we love to open a great conference: a good background video that helps to tune and align the entire audience on the big theme we’ll explore throughout the program. A good video always works like a ‘mind call’, helps remind people why they are there, and puts everyone on the same frequency and startup information. Another example additional to the beginning of a conference is a more immersive experience: lights that go off, a warm and engaging voice that takes us into the unknown future, just like that, just a voice. Another rich connection that we like to make is with children and schools. After all, it is for them that we create and seek to leave a better future, and having this very present is essential – feel this opening with almost 100 children on stage.

Another thing we like is to introduce the speakers on stage well. This way, people immediately know who is in front of them, promoting humanization and connection and also entering directly into the subject with a certain background of who is there. Here is a different example, shorter but with the same goal.

Emotion is present in every detail, whether it is a face-to-face or digital experience, and the entire narrative is assembled in a good combination of speakers and multimedia, from the first to the last minute. Working with artists is something that fascinates us. Non-obvious and surprising mixtures towards the end is something we do with devotion. Here is a pianist who created an entirely original composition for a conference on creativity – let’s hear and feel how each note is present in our creative process. In a rocker register, another artist we love got an entire audience dancing. There can be poetry, circus, theater… It is important to be something that expresses and elevates, even more, the curation and emotion of a program, highlighting the moment and making everything even more unforgettable. Working for the extraordinary and unforgettable is something that we are truly passionate about.

Taking a good look at the experiences and sharing them locks the project cycle and helps to have an inevitable consequence. Whether it’s a special conference at the president’s palace, another at the wonderful Casa da Música, some at the most beautiful school in the world or on an attractive digital platform, it’s worth recording everything! And to never forget what we do for the planet and the human condition.

Not intentionally detracting from the romanticism of the narrative, it’s also good to look at the numbers. As a very dear person once told us: make sure you make the difference but also make sure you make the numbers. That person was Jack Welch, friend and mentor, a central person in WIN World’s life. In reality, it all started with him, and we will never forget that. 

Of course, Jack refers to the financial indicators, profitability and sustainability of the business, and the importance of ensuring growth and investment in people and the future. But sharing here more general numbers: we have more than 150 projects implemented in Portugal, Brazil, Belgium, Angola and the United States of America; more than 75,000 people involved in the room; more than 600 speakers, trainers and performers on stage; over 825 books in our library and new ones arriving every day.

  1. THE NEWSROOM

In 2021, a new move. The newsroom was created to bring our culture of curiosity to life and make it accessible to everyone. From the moment 0 of WIN World this is our essence, and every day, we interview people, devour news, books, papers, reports, and many other sources of information in order to learn as much as possible what is happening in the world and in the most varied areas of our projects. It is from all this research that we organize knowledge and turn it into powerful stories, events and other media experiences to inspire people and organizations for the future.

This is a tremendous project we are loving to do, because not only we are curating knowledge and news that matter to leaders and organizations’ development but also creating stories and programs – like On the Records and BR Talks – that are really cool to broadcast the future. And broadcasting the future is a never-ending game and that’s something very exciting to us!

That said, after our own newsroom, we are already planning the creation of newsrooms for our clients, which is also something we love. In fact, all companies are involved in areas of knowledge that are critical to their development and setting up newsrooms capable of capturing, organizing and writing the stories that are of interest to keep people informed and awake to the possibilities, is really important.

Like the beautiful William Shakespeare quote we have on our office entrance wall, ‘All things are ready if our mind be so.’

  1. THE PANDEMICS

I can’t write a story today without talking about the pandemics. I confess that the week of March 9, 2020, was like a hurricane coming through the door. All projects canceled or postponed sine die, people and families under our cover, limited resources to face such uncertainty in an industry that simply frizzed. Or not.

We had two options: either we would suspend the company or we would reinvent ourselves. We chose the second.

We uninstalled ourselves, studied everything about technology, platforms, content and impactful multimedia. We were obsessed. We formed study teams on each front of action, we set daily meetings so we could all learn from each other the new paradigms of a whole new emerging industry. We enroll everyone in the most diverse digital programs and experiences. We questioned our modus operandi, we adapted it to the times. We were quick to adapt and execute. In less than 2 months we had a 100% virtual edition of the Happy Conference, which grew in number of participants and gained an unexpected global expression. People from more than 20 geographies came together on a unique platform to attend and participate in a global conference on creativity and creative thinking systems. Interestingly, it did not cease to be an absolutely opportune theme in the phase of life we ​​were in. Serendipity. Or not.

Health and financial pressures aside, the pandemic pushed us forward. It provoked us. It accelerated the digitization of WIN World and therefore the globalization of the business. It defined a new reality, amplified potentials and scopes. It shook us but it united us and it made us grow.

  1. THE EMOTIONS

After everything we’ve been through together, the emotions that are most alive in me are: gratitude, joy, love. These were years of great individual and collective growth, and this has been extremely gratifying, and without any doubt, everything was only made possible because of the people who joined WIN World – they are the ones who drive the emotion behind the company.

Along the way, of course there is fear, anguish, doubts and insecurities – it is important to ask for help and not give up in difficulties. Using the union of efforts and creativity to deconstruct the problems is fundamental; and inspiring a mood of courage and collective bravery is decisive. Believing in the future and in our capabilities, an imperative. Humility, permanent learning and adaptation are part of a way of being that we have sought to cultivate all the way.

  1. THE WORLD 

Since we were born, we thought of ourselves as global. We work for the whole world and with people from all over the world. In this sequel, we decided that this year we would go further, be more active and proactive in the markets. As with much of what happens at WIN World, there are projects that start with the ideas and wishes of our people, and that’s what happen with the establishment of our operation in Brazil and we couldn’t be happier because not only we have new projects in Brazil but also new partners and suppliers of the country working with us for projects in other regions of the globe, which turns everything more interesting and meaningful. 

Today, we are looking for partners in other countries who have the same desire to inspire the future and open a WIN World operation locally. Acceleration has to happen not only in digitization or energy transition, but also in the ability to inspire leaders, teams and organizations across the globe. 

  1. THE FUTURE

Inspiring the future, our motto, requires firstly inspiring our people. And this is the main priority of my agenda – having our teams happy, inspired and powerfully involved. In 2016 we elevated even more our culture, reorganized the company and redesigned it to serve our people – their interests, their talents and their lifestyles. The business considers this and is structured accordingly. 

WIN World is only possible because of the people who are part of it and who keep this curiosity and continuous delivery so alive, which includes a good obsession with investigation, organization of knowledge, construction of powerful narratives and experiences capable of training, inspiring and evoking emotions. So when it comes to corporate culture to inspire the future, we are obsessed with diversity and inclusion but also with uniqueness, and here we have a maxim that we do not neglect: The things that make you different are the things that make you. And at WIN World, we are because you are.

We are together. And together, we inspire the future.