All posts by DK

taking a TEDx break

Taking A TEDx Break | Resetting The Sights

taking a TEDx break

Why TEDxWellington isn’t happening this year.

A few weeks ago I had to share with the TEDxWellington leadership team that I needed to take a break. A venue had already booked for the 2018 event and we were days away from announcing. It was a tough but right decision to make.

For a little over 6 years I’ve been the licensee / creative producer for 5 main TEDx events here in Wellington, plus the two livestream TEDxWomen events and also 8 Salon evening events (which keep the community engaged in between the main ones plus celebrate the success of our previous speaker / performers). Every event has been sold out and all finances are run through the xWellington Charity (which was set up with myself and fellow trustees Helen and Hannah).

*The chunky time commitment has also been matched by a personal monetary investment with three trips to attend two TEDActives (the first to enable us to get the city license and name) and one TEDFest (whereby nearly every other TEDx organiser I spoke to knew about our creative efforts with the TEDx format, specifically our 2016 trust event which sold out in two minutes flat, did things no other TEDx had ever dared and got featured on ted.com).

So why take a break now?

Especially after the massive success of last years 1,000 strong event (with 5,000 souls watching online)!

Well, it came down to three reasons:

  • needing to pay the rent—as you can imagine producing events at that scale is a full time job in itself. Under the TEDx rules (see General > Funds) no TEDx and its organisers are allowed to make money as it’s a voluntary venture only. Very much agree and champion this, although, at the moment there are other things which need to take priority (like paying the rent sustainably);
  • reciprocal energies—on occasions we’ve literally had to expend so much energy just to get access to certain venues or to available dates that it impacted on other aspects of our endeavours. We were hoping for a growing support from certain sections of the community based on the demonstrative success achieved rather than diminishing assistance. Obviously, big learning opportunities for doing things differently to get different results, and another reason to take a break to reflect on future strategies;
  • continued impact momentum—with any growth you certainly don’t want to retract and the 2018 plans, due to some odd factors, meant we were left looking at significantly reducing the event size (which would have a massive negative effect on other areas like sponsor / partner agreements). As a capital city event we were hoping to continue the legacy building and I’m certainly not interested in leading something that is less.

So the public announcement was made at our last community Salon event and the feedback was vastly positive plus highly compassionate.

Special thanks to the leadership team who have been so courteous in supporting my decision as it came so late in the day.

After a few months sights will be realigned for the 2019/2020 events and a slow run up will begin with new ideas / approaches to hopefully get to that desired different outcome.

Efforts will be made to gain support for a sustainable TEDx in the nations capital, a cornerstone in the calendar which uniquely amplifies the regions talent through the talks / performances / global platform, continue to build the social capital via the amazing community, plus proceeds to provides opportunities for the organisers to craft experiences that develop our city’s reputation as forward thinkers and audacious doers (and all the while developed / delivered by volunteers).

*financial support was received from a TEDxWellington sponsor for the first TEDActive to cover flight costs plus contributions from the charity towards attendance / accommodation costs also.

Same But Different | The Minimalists Jazz Model

Love people and use things, because the opposite never works. the minimalists quote

Could you take what you do, do the same, but different, as a way to evolve the offer and ensure creative continuity?

Had the pleasure to spend time on the weekend with pals Ryan and Josh, who together are The Minimalists.

Ever since we connected online in 2010 (when I was starting my minimalist journey), have watched with smiles and head-nods the flourishing of these remarkable humans.

What started as a blog, curating experiences from a lifestyle change, it’s now morphed into:

the minimalists and DK

In conversation over breakfast, I shared ideas about creativity and being vulnerable, just like a jazz band.

The core idea is about creating space then trust in the ability of your other band members to add value in the gaps. A strategy which means being open to risk and curious enough to ask the question in the first place.

This is the model The Minimalists have been exploring for the past 7/8 years, and a lesson for us all in doing the same, but different, as a way of adding value to the central cause.

Are you doing the same?

 

The jazz analogy was borrowed from the workshop run by Aithan Shapira at last years Creative Leadership NZ conference

Suction Media | The Death Of “Social”

suck suck suck spaceballs

Social media no longer has the spirit of unbiased discovery and the foundation of open collaboration it used to.

Gone are the bloggers exploring their voice and building story through a variety of mediums. Quiet are the RSS advocates hungry to curate their own discerning media menus then sharing it through their networks which they build with care. Muted are the excited discourse of connected communities who celebrate learnings of others and champion wonder / curiousity.

Platforms now base their whole business model on distraction and extraction; squeezing users for as much information as possible, repackaging to sell on to others, all whilst positioning only the content it wants its patrons to see which keeps them on the platform and in turn, their shareholders happy (as these are paid for ads). And so the cycle continues.

It’s no longer “social” but “suction” media.

Chamath Palihapitiya we are being programmed

And the permeating enabler is the rise in “smart” technology or any “surveillance device that also does something else” (our phones, computers, wearables, childrens toys, cars, offices, homes, cities). This is the crucial layer which provides multiplying access points without awareness and explicit permission from the user, and certainly without due care to the culture its cultivating.

Watch Cory Doctorow drop some knowledge about the impact of all this (an illustration of how deep the rabbit hole really goes):

Welcome to the suction media age.


In 2016 I launched a little blog focussed on how young people are consuming and creating new media. MediaSnackers (and the complimentary Social Media For Suits, a couple years later) became a business and flourished in their modest ways: in 5/6 years hit the six figure turnover threshold plus was employing a handful of awesome humans as well as enabling organisations to accelerate their understanding and adoption of new / emerging technologies.

In that short amount of time it took me to five continents, put me on stages speaking to tens of thousands of other cool folks and basically rapidly increased my learning by using the technology tools and the social media strategies I was championing.

In 2011 the move to NZ was to take up the position of social media manager for a national education company, an opportunity which included the indication of the same company buying into my ventures with the intention of relaunching it in the Southern Hemisphere. This buy-in never transpired and 18 months later I high-fived out and went back to the freelance life. Both MediaSnackers and Social Media for Suits were put into permanent-pause mode and I picked up social media speaking and consulting gigs ever since all over the place.

Even with employment stints like a year as a business designer or a little longer as an activation manager setting up a city-wide event programme, I still kept the social media services going and have been so lucky with the clients I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the wonderful souls I’ve collaborated with, the skills I’ve gained, and the lasting hunger for learning its created.

I owe a debt to the sector of “social” and it’s definitely been on the whole an enriching chapter.

But alas, the soul has been sucked out of it.

If I had the time and energy the focus would be on advocating for a newer form of social technologies. One which has opt-in/out options already built in rather than hidden due to the regulatory protection which protects its users. Assisting the development of school curriculums to focus on teaching algorithm biases and how to navigate / curtail / complain to platform creators. Learn how to code mobile apps / city infrastructure software which act with integrity and appreciation of the users interest first.

However, my service offerings have already been repositioned with this new site design, and the focus is now on:

  • creative producing—crafting delicious learning experiences for brands / organisations, continuing with TEDxWellington and also building on the past two independent events (this and this);
  • speaker coaching—storytelling and public speaking coaching for senior executives and leaders;
  • Creative Welly—imagine if Wellington was the most creative little capital in the world.
Addendum: This doesn’t mean I’m quitting social media and digital technologies. Will continue to utilise these as tools to humanise the brands and activities I’m working on, to add value to communities I interact with, to learn / curate like a banshee whilst celebrating those doing amazing work. It just means I’m no longer taking paid consulting / speaking gigs on it.

Apart from…

…if anyone wants a vitriolic talk taking to task the ninjas and gurus who have diluted the sector or the smart technologists who need to be smarter, then this is the only ‘social / digital media work’ I’ll now be available for. Anyone brave enough?

Venture Up 2018 | Finding Your Voice In Storytelling

How exposing yourself to out-loud speaking opportunities is one of the keys to finding voice.

Venture Up is a four-week entrepreneurship programme for young leaders. I visited to share some insights on the art of storytelling and delivering it publicly (I have visited in previous years and talked about social media):

“DK delivered a workshop that gave our cohort rich insight into delivering a story that hits the hearts of audiences, while helping many to begin overcoming a deep rooted fear of public speaking.”
Aaron Power, Venture Up Programme Manager

At the session, was wonderful to hear the groups are invited every day to give a one minute ‘pitch’ or update on progress. This continued ‘exposure’ to hearing ones voice out loud and to gain that visual / emotional response from the rest of the group is one of the purest ways to get better at this stuff.

Just like a sportswoman needs to train and constantly work on specific aspects of their game, nothing can replace the true nature of that learning she gets during ‘match-time’—this ‘match fitness’ is what separates great speakers and story tellers from the rest as they have again and again, with intention, shared stories and hopefully, noted the impact and iterated when things did not land.

Thanks again to Lingy for the invite and the superb teams at Venture Up 2018.

Chamath Palihapitiya | We Are Being Programmed

Chamath Palihapitiya we are being programmed

From former Vice President of Growth at Facebook.

I shared this via Twitter last month and it became my most clicked / retweeted / liked tweet of 2017:

For anyone who had ‘leaving Facebook’ as their New Years resolution this year, this might help:

Related posts: Goodbye Facebook | A Failed Social Media Utility That Is Succeeding In Other Ways & Living Without Television | Replacing The Idiot Box

2017 Review | Embracing The Mess

Taking stock and taking bold new paths.

2017 was a good year.

Gloriously messy and varied, but good:

The focus of 2018 will be about building a body of work and new brand relating to my producing and coaching services. These have been the major themes this past decade as well as aligning with my hunger to be more creative and human (less digital).

The aim is to ‘create wealth that matters’, going beyond just financial and into the realm of radical collaborations, crafty collisions of sectors and new experiences, which in turn (I’m hoping), will lead to more speaking gigs.

Here’s to a wonderful end to the year, a messy new year. Be kind to others and gentler with yourself, remember:

“We’re all just walking each other home.”
Ram Dass


Not much blogging (compared to previous years) but here’s what else I offered the world:

Related post: 2016 Darkens | 2017 Lightens

Creative Leadership NZ 2017 | Reflections & Insights

Starting a creative leadership movement in NZ.

Last week, the (sold out) inaugural Creative Leadership NZ conference brought together 14 speakers / facilitators and 150 attendees for:

Two days of ideas / insights into inspiring and managing the creative process / people which leads to innovation.

The event took about four and half months to organise and featured 6x keynotes, 5x different workshops, 4x idea-bombs, and 1x jazz trio (for the first day), plus 3x two-hour masterclasses which were repeated (for the second day).

In an attempt to learn out loud here are my takeaways:

Stats

As you can see from above we had a healthy gender representation of females. 15% of attendees were from outside of Wellington and overall there was representation from 70 cross-sector organisations (judging by email addresses):

Paying Folks

Just like at Speaking with Purpose 2017 earlier this year, nearly every one of the speakers / facilitators got remunerated in some way (some wouldn’t / couldn’t take payment). Everyone also got a plus one for the event to gift on as they pleased.

Thank you Aithan, CoLiberate (Bop, Jody, Sarah), Elysa, Emilie, Gareth, Gus, Mark, Nick, Pavani, Ruth, Victoria for being so generous in your time and for sharing your wisdom.

Finances

This was privately funded venture (even though many were approached for sponsorship / support) and delivered under the Creative Welly initiative.

The only external financial support came from the US Embassy and Australian High Commission who provided funds to cover most of the overseas expenses for Aithan, Elysa and Gus.

Other support came from Wellington Chocolate Factory who offered some gift packs for the speakers / facilitators plus our wonderful venue hosts The Roxy Cinema for a little discount for returning and booking the whole place out for two days.

The event cost $55k to run although I achieved the goal of just about doubling the profit of the Speaking with Purpose 2017 event.

Extra Costs

The ‘Creative Care Packs’ included: a printed brochure / agenda (with poster of creative leadership quotes on back), name badge, post-it notes, spare paper, Airline 210 medium black pen plus a bar of custom made chocolate for sustenance. These were given out to all attendees upon arrival and cost approx $3k.

There were items which wasn’t first budgeted for including fees for the jazz trio and the extra chairs to ensure preferred execution of the workshop experience, plus added material costs for the masterclasses / workshops.

Additional extras included nearly $2.5k on external lighting and sound / mics (to improve the experience) as well as paying my pal Emilie Fetscher for her MCing duties.

DIY (Kind Of) Rules

A few services were traded and registrations swapped against programme / brochure design plus the photos and main video on the top of this post.

Again, I didn’t use a ticketing service and invoiced everyone individually to both save on ticketing fees (as every ticketing provider holds on to the monies until after the event) whilst also creating the working capital needed for pay for venues and other costs.

The other things I personally undertook were:

  • design, content and copy for the website
  • all email newsletters and attendees communication
  • venue discussions, deliberations, decisions etc
  • all speaker and event curation
  • badge design (see below)

I also crafted extra content for promotion. These little ‘visual pearls’ were insights into what each speaker / facilitator will be bringing to the conference (example):

Here are all the Twitter versions: Aithan, Coliberate, DK, Elysa, Gareth, Gus, Mark, Nick, Ruth, Victoria.

Marketing & Sales

I tried to engage support in this area and spoke to half a dozen people in Wellington. Two didn’t respond, another three were busy and one agency priced themselves way above what was briefed.

Had some lovely support from several organisations in featuring the event and opportunity through their social channels.

One thing I did this time was spend time talking to gatekeepers within of organisations: business development, head of marketing, team leaders, CEOs etc. Those who are considering the larger impact of their brand plus who have direct access to monies.

From this I gained there’s not a lot of consideration given to leadership development and / or budgets set aside for professional development. Maybe something to remedy by highlighting the opportunity earlier in the year for future budgetary considerations.

Learnings

Three big takeaways from this event are:

  • Variety is key—the mix of 20min keynotes interlaces with 5min ‘idea-bombs’ ensured the event had pace and diversity of subjects / voice. More choice was available through the workshops which were a mix of physical, hands-on plus in-depth and participatory. A strategy which paid off and which was reflected in the positive feedback received;
  • Sales support is needed—as a builder and curator I want to continue to craft incredible events. The deficit I have is in my interest in pursuing sales. The need to find a sales partner with ethical core values (get in touch if that’s you and can prove it) will be something to develop;
  • Sponsorship—additional funding would grow the conference and reach of participants (from outside the region). Some of this funding would go into the marketing plus fund the sales support and the rest into sharpening up other elements.

Future

Encouraging and nurturing creative literacies plus leadership talent here in Wellington is part of the larger Creative Welly initiative, however, conversations are already starting with other regions in the country who have expressed an interest in hosting future events.

Connections are also already being made with potential sponsors for next years event as this is definitely something I’d like to replicate if the city and attendee base is willing.

Related post: Speaking with Purpose 2017 | Reflections On Running A Successful Conference

How You Can Help LinkedIn Not Suck | The Invited Power Of The User

Don’t let the algorithms decide what’s important.

Over the past year or so LinkedIn has been dwindling in its usefulness in regards to showing me what people are posting / sharing / writing about. My feed has become littered with stuff from days ago and from folks I’m not connected to (although which others in my network have commented on or liked).

The only option users have to control their feed is ‘top’ (which are suggested posts based on algorithms) and ‘recent’ (which is new posts plus more featured things again someone in your respected network has commented on which you probably won’t care about etc.).

As the top image shows, I contacted LinkedIn recently and then got invited to complete a form (because for some reason asking on Twitter is not the same?). I finally got a response back saying the solution would be to hide a person to stop seeing the things they comment on or like. This obviously would also hide anything else they will post which was the opposite point of the whole exercise.

In the same response though was also this:

When many of our members ask for the same improvement, we try our best to get it done.

And what followed was the suggestion to do this “by clicking any “Feedback” link on the right side of your homepage. This will send your comments directly to the appropriate team.”

Unfortunately it’s not that simple as LinkedIn hide this away. After a little searching though here’s how to do it (see gif below—you have to click ‘more’):

If you use this platform I invite you to join me in submitting the suggestion to have granular control of your feed (even though it says they will not get back to you regarding your feedback which is a little dismissive). To aid the effort, just cut and paste the following (don’t forget to add your name though and a little line to personalise it to ensure it goes through and is not marked as spam):

Hello LinkedIn – I’d like to have control over what I see in my feed please. The current functionality doesn’t increase engagement although this simple addition would clean up the feed, foster goodwill whilst also provide a differentiator to FaceBook. It would also show trust in us as users to understand what we want to see.

Thanks for playing and realising again these platforms do want to hear from us the users on how to not make their services suck. Help LinkedIn!

TEDxWellingtonWomen 2017 | Building On Wellingtons Diversity

Championing difference through spaces for understanding and extending the gender discourse.

Having attended TEDxWomen events in the past I was keen to explore how we could create a broader audience to ensure the ideas worth spreading did just that, spread. Pitching the TEDxWellingtonWomen volunteer team our event should aim to have a gender balance (which nobody in the world has ever done before) was audacious—as shown above, we did it!

Read more.