The final day of the massive Qualtrics user summit in Salt Lake City started out with a groan as organizers announced a highly anticipated Thursday appearance by Hollywood A-lister Ryan Reynolds was scrubbed because the “Deadpool” star had tested positive for COVID-19.
But the other Ryan, Qualtrics co-founder and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, definitely helped take the sting out of that schedule change by bringing three-time Olympic gold medalist snowboarder and super shredder Shaun White on stage for a surprise appearance later in the morning.
And in between, the 10,000 or so attendees of Qualtrics X4 Summit at the Salt Palace Convention Center were treated to plenty of other insight, including talks by the queen of domestic arts, and America’s first self-made woman billionaire, Martha Stewart, as well as “Fixer Upper” stars Joanna and Chip Gaines.
Stewart, a multichannel media star who has amassed a string of successes in television, publishing and retail merchandise added podcasting to her resume last year when she launched “The Martha Stewart Podcast” in partnership with iHeart Radio. Stewart, who was a stock broker early in her career, remains a prolific content producer and announced she is working on finishing her 100th book, due to be released next year, as well as 39 episodes of original programming in the coming year for Roku’s streaming service.
Oh, and she’s also kind of a social media titan, with millions of followers on her various channels, and told Thursday’s crowd she has always been an early adopter of new technology.
“I have been called the original influencer,” Stewart said. “And that’s pretty good, to be an influencer, not only at my age but to keep up that influencing.”
Stewart said her time as a stockbroker taught her a lot when it comes to what differentiates a successful business from a floundering one and shared that the key to her ongoing success is her natural drive to be a lifelong learner.
“I am a curious student of everything I’m involved with,” Stewart said. “If you don’t learn something new every day, which is one of my mottos, you cannot be a good teacher.”
Stewart also touched on the challenges she’s faced as a woman entrepreneur, noting the disparities she’s encountered across the business spectrum.
In a 2020 People magazine interview, Stewart noted that even people that were on her business team failed to offer support in her undertakings.
“Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public in 1999,” Stewart said. “I was the first self-made female billionaire. I had opposition, and that kind of opposition to a woman-built business was really outrageous. Even my own lawyers were negative about the possibility of success. I remember one lawyer sending me an orchid, saying, ‘Oh, you did it. Wow. What a surprise.’ What a piece of garbage that guy is.”
And on Thursday, she had this advice for women, and men, looking to make their marks in the business world.
“Never, ever show desperation if you can possibly help it,” Stewart said. “You have to know your value, know your worth. If you’re unique and different and fabulous, know it. Male as well as female.”
Joanna and Chip Gaines also parlayed some advice as a couple who are working on building their own multimedia empire thanks to the runaway success of their HGTV series, “Fixer Upper.”
The Gaineses said they’ve applied many of the same things they’ve learned about having a successful relationship to how they run their businesses.
“We learned early in our marriage about how to pull together against whatever the adversity was,” Chip Gaines said. “One plus one in that context doesn’t always equal two. One plus one equalled a hundred. One plus one equalled a thousand.
“When you lock up and you pull together in the same direction against adversity, it feels almost like nothingness. I really like the feeling of us working together against adversity as opposed to being on opposite ends of the spectrum. That’s served us well in our 20 years.”
Overcoming adversity also figured prominently in Shaun White’s surprise chat with Ryan Smith to close the morning session Thursday at the Qualtrics summit.
White, who became a sponsored snowboard competitor when he was 7 years old and turned pro at the ripe old age of 13, recounted a horrific accident during a New Zealand practice that landed him in the hospital just months before the start of Olympic trials competition in 2017.
“Everything was going my way and all of a sudden it was not going my way,” White said. “I take off on this trick, it’s called a double flip 1440 … and I just know right away … you just know when it’s wrong.”
White said he hit the half-pipe wall on his way down then dropped another 20 feet into the bottom of the course.
“What broke my fall was my face,” White said. “I had 62 stitches in my face and pulmonary contusions … and ended up in the hospital.”
But White would recover in time to make the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang and then pull off one of the most astounding comeback performances in U.S. Olympic history, capturing his third gold medal in the sport.
White said the experience taught him to “take the challenges as they come my way.”
“Instead of spiraling, I take them as a motivator,” White said. “And I can get to where I’m going faster.”
Since retiring from competitive snowboarding, White has launched the active lifestyle brand Whitespace with his brother Jesse White.
The 2023 Qualtrics user summit wraps things up Thursday night with a private concert by rock band The Killers at the Salt Palace.