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Irish Biz Party’s #BizPartyInspires conference took place in the welcoming surrounds of the Green Isle Hotel on Wednesday 15th April. The day itself was one of unrelenting positivity, expert insights and good old fashioned networking. For many, the moment that will be remembered most was Carol Brill’s inspirational speech.

Carol Brill suffers from Usher Syndrome, a rare genetic disease which causes both hearing and sight loss. She has only 3% of her vision left and the day that she will completely lose her sight draws ever closer.

Despite this, Carol took to the podium to address a standing room only crowd of small business owners from across Ireland. She captivated the audience with an extremely candid expose of her life story, detailing the joy or her fundraising and awareness work for Usher Syndrome as well as the lowly depths of battling the condition that has altered, and will continue to alter her life.

Then she uttered a phrase which will stay imprinted on everyone in the room, ‘I will not let Usher Syndrome define me.’

Carol even remarked on how she believes this battle she has fought since childhood has made her a stronger, tougher person, that attitude and perseverance is everything.

It was a timely reminder that there are more important things in life than work and business. Nonetheless, it is a shining lesson that small business owners can learn from because, for many, their business is a disproportionately large part of their lives.

Those who own and run a business rely on it to put food on the table for them and their family. Not only that, their professional and personal pride and sense of self worth is bundled into the success or failure of their company.

Carol’s message to these business owners, and really to anyone, is to persevere and keep on persevering, no matter the obstacles that get in the way. And, at the end of the day, even if things don’t work out for you, that’s ok too. You must not have the attitude that these negative things will define you.

Despite her best efforts, Carol will lose her sight, but that has not stopped her making her best contribution to find a cure for Usher Syndrome.

As part of her Seeing Disney campaign, Carol will travel to the United States to take part in a research study for Usher Syndrome, speak at the Foundation Fighting Blindness Visions conference and attend the Usher Coalition conference. Finally, she will realise her dream of celebrating her daughter Sara’s 8th birthday and seeing her smiles at Disneyworld Florida before she loses her sight.

Aine Collins TD also addressed the business owners at the Irish Biz Party conference, saying that attitudes to failure needed to change in this country. It was a fitting follow on to Carol’s message. Do your damnedest to succeed, but if you don’t that’s ok.

When you’re running a business, or in life in general, things are going to go against you sometimes. They may be small things, like untimely punctures, or large things, like your or a loved one’s health – just ask Carol. The important this is always your attitude.

Carol received a standing ovation from everyone present, such was the inspirational nature of what she shared. Later in the day, and true to form of only defining herself as she saw fit, she asked an assembled panel for some ideas about a business idea she could use in the coming years. The answer was obvious. Motivational speaker.


Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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