Annie Gough

Storyteller at Large | Small Giants Community

June 5, 2024

The 2024 Small Giants Community Summit: Enduring


2024 Small Giants Community Summit

Move over, Superbowl! Step aside, Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour! For us on the Small Giants team, the Small Giants Community Summit is the event of the year! It takes us months of meticulous planning and collaborating, and rushes by in a flurry of excitement, happy reunions, and sparks of innovation. This year, we’re as grateful to our Community as ever for coming together for a beautiful week in Detroit. With the help of our speakers, extended team, and attendees, we experienced an energizing Summit of human connection, insightful takeaways, and memorable spaces.

Living the theme: enduring

2024 Summit blog images

This year’s theme of “Enduring” was carefully selected by the Small Giants team and wider Community, as it felt like a word reflective of our collective experience. After several long years of uncertainty, we’re settling into a new way of doing things and can once again look towards the future. It’s all about enduring the challenges of today to build the sustainable Small Giant companies of tomorrow.

As co-founder of the Small Giants Community, Paul Spiegelman, mentioned in his opening remarks, one has to be willing to be vulnerable in order to endure. And there’s no better place for like-hearted leaders to be open and honest in a safe space than at the Small Giants Community Summit. 

The theme rang true with all of our amazing speakers, as it was evident in the storytelling and takeaways of each session. Notably, our opening speaker, Scott Harrison, took us through his inspirational journey to start a charity from scratch and continues to persist with his ambitious yet vital global goal of providing clean water for all.

The theme of enduring set the tone for our week together. It’s safe to say everyone in attendance has endured personal and professional obstacles, especially in the past few years. But as members of the Small Giants Community, we remain optimistic and look towards the future, knowing we have a supportive community to lean on. After all, obstacles are really just opportunities for us to grow.


“Human endurance requires human care”

human care

The human element really shone through this year at the Summit, and the importance of taking care of each other and ourselves. After all, as Small Giants leaders know, a business is nothing without its people and can only thrive when it fosters a culture that allows people to flourish. 

Nothing sums up that sentiment quite like Zach Mercurio’s recurring quote from his session: “Human endurance requires human care.”

We had many speakers emphasize the importance of care in business. During their session alongside Jess Lilly, Beck Sydow reminded us of the fact that we all have a nervous system, and we have to check in with our nervous system in order to live a healthy, sustainable, and fulfilling life. And in her session, Amy Courter shared her journey, one filled with moments where she stuck to her values and cared for others by standing up for them, even when it risked her own job. 

Endurance is about strength, but it’s also about vulnerability, and being vulnerable is only possible when one has a supportive and loving community to rely on. 


The Small Giants Community is all about connection


While there are many advantages to our Community largely existing online, the Summit is our annual reminder that there’s something special about gathering together in person and the energy that’s created with a group of intentional, purpose-driven leaders. And we tried to create as many experiences as possible for attendees to make those connections.

Both of our tracks – Founders/CEOs, and Next Gen leaders – experienced interactive sessions led by thoughtful leaders to foster connection. The former group was led by Dave Haviland in a session about forward thinking and brainstorming with peers, while the latter group got to practice an approachable yet thought-provoking exercise about removing our masks, led by Lance Shipp. These sessions encouraged attendees to converse with new people and allowed time for collective reflection. 

For those leaders looking to not only level up their leadership, but also build deep bonds with fellow purpose-driven leaders, we have an exciting opportunity: the Small Giants Leadership Academy! Our cohort-based, nine-month program is a great opportunity for those looking to gain practical business tools and a supportive network of like-hearted leaders. You can get in touch with our team and find out more about the program here.

We also had speed coaching sessions throughout the Summit. Thanks to our amazing coaches, attendees could get 1-1 focused attention on topics such as financials, scaling with intention, team management, and more.

While our speed coaching sessions can be an insightful and energizing experience for participants, mentorship flourishes when it has the time to grow. Fortunately, we have our Sounding Board mentorship program, which thoughtfully pairs leaders with an experienced and trusted Small Giants mentor who can help them clarify and execute their goals. Click here to learn more about Sounding Board!


Celebrating founders and next gen leaders with our Hall of Fame

hall of fame finalists

In addition to all of the amazing sessions and experiences throughout the week, the 2024 Summit was particularly special, as we hosted our inaugural Small Giants Hall of Fame ceremony.

Prior to the Summit, we asked our Community to nominate leaders they felt embodied the spirit and values of the Small Giants Community. We then brought the finalists to a panel of judges (trusted members of our Community!), who selected the winners for the Next Gen category and the Founder/CEO category.

We had a stellar list of finalists that made the panel’s decision very tough, but ultimately, two leaders were inducted into the first Hall of Fame class. Tom Walter, Founding Partner of Tasty Catering, won the award in the Founder/CEO group, and Sabrina White, Head of People & Great Work at Text-Em-All, was the winner for the Next Gen group.

In addition to our two winners, there was another leader of note. Bo Burlingham, author of the Small Giants book and co-founder of the Community, was also inducted as an honorary member of the Hall of Fame. Without his deft writing on purpose-driven business, we wouldn’t have the special Community we all are so grateful for!


Enduring on


The Summit may be over, but we’re still holding on to the inspiration, insights, and energy that we gained from these few days together in Detroit. 

Thank you to our amazing speakers, coaches, sponsors, and everyone who made this year’s event possible. And thank you to everyone who attended. It truly was a week to remember!

As we close the book on the 2024 Small Giants Community Summit, we invite you to endure with us, and stay engaged with the Community.

In addition to our aforementioned programs – the Small Giants Leadership Academy and Sounding Board – we have plenty of ways to consume more Small Giants content while you wait for the next Summit. You can get inspired by listening to the Growing with Purpose podcast, access helpful tools on our blog, or join us for the next virtual event.

Don’t forget, you can always reach out for a coffee chat with our team via Zoom. We love catching up with you all and answering any questions you may have about the Community.

Last but not least, we hope to see you next year in Detroit! The 2025 Small Giants Community Summit will take place April 29 - May 1. 

Mark your calendars, stay connected with each other, and keep enduring with heart!

- The Small Giants Team

2024 Summit the team


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About Annie Gough

Annie Gough is a writer who is driven by the power of a good story to bring people together. As the Small Giants Community's Chief Storyteller, she strives to bring out the human element in business, and provide a platform for people who emulate what it means to be a Small Giant and might inspire others to do the same. She has been a Challenge Detroit Fellow, holds a master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling, and has worked with a broad range of clients on vibrant marketing and copywriting content. In her spare time, Annie enjoys volunteering at the local animal shelter, writing fiction, simulating the cooking show Chopped in her own kitchen, and enjoying the company of her very lazy mutt, Paisley.