All posts in insights

Goodbye Facebook | A Failed Social Media Utility That Is Succeeding In Other Ways

via GIPHY

TL:DR Nearly everyone who reads this won’t care (and that’s why Facebook succeeds).

Facebook recently blocked me for the same reason it did nearly ten years ago.

When attempting to log in a couple of months ago to check the TEDxWellington Facebook page, was notified that access has been denied and to rectify the situation a scanned image of a government issued ID was needed (rings any bells?):

Facebook Name Review

As you can see the reason cited was due to someone challenging my name.

I doubt very much that it was a person.

More likely, an algorithm.

One which noticed I wasn’t using the site much and when I did it was via a proxy (to protect my data, more will be explained).

Data accumulation is the only thing Facebook cares about as fuel to stay alive and also thrive. However, the need for more is exposing the hollow brand priorities and weak foundations of this mighty but fickle empire.

Facebook was always intended, not to be a utility for its users, but a mechanism for mining the information it’s users share on it, then leveraging that against other data most doesn’t know it collects, along with other zeros and ones it has about someones friends, what sites they visit, the weather that day, which mobile phone you use, where you bought something online and what and when etc, which all increases the return for shareholders as it maximising eyeballs for their advertisers and other agencies it sells the insights of all its users to.

Simples.

jeff hammerbacher ad quote

Jeff Hammerbacher used to lead the data team at Facebook (citation / image credit).

Now to return to my situation: for a company built on information, not knowing my name has been challenged before and was also rectified seems odd, right? Any human would look at the evidence I gave back then and in response to the most recent enquiry (which included links to this site plus highlighting the previous time they disabled my account for the very same reason nearly a decade a go), then pretty much straight away would have enough details to re-instate the profile and let me on my merry way. Granted, a human would have to click and read and watch a little, maybe, although the outcome would be swift and obvious. And there’s the rub. No human is now involved in making these decisions.

And the ones which are left makes for cringeworthy reading via the recent Guardian expose which deconstructs the platform moderation rules. These guidelines are dangerously naive at best, sickening at worst, and a further example of how misaligned Facebooks principles are against the perceived and current reasoning for users to be on it (all of the Facebook Guardian articles).

Add to that a few things like how Facebook:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

And of course the argument from users is always: they don’t care about little old me, sharing pictures of my cats and kids plus random Star Wars gifs.

You’re right, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about you times 2 billion and the data which is cross-referenced against you based on the evidenced shared above.

Facebook is not a social media platform, it’s a casino. The house always win and of course it will make you feel special with free drinks if you’re playing, showing off all the pretty people in front of faux scenery, but you still have to pay-to-play and the odds (algorithms) are stacked in their very favourable favour.

So I’m out.

I have tried not to be though.

Have sent a few follow up emails and completed forms online asking me to be reinstated:

facebook reinstatement request

…but alas, no reply. Have hit up two Facebook employees I have contacts for as well, no response either. There’s not even a facility to even delete my account. I remain in a virtual limbo.

I’m a tad gutted as some relationships and communications were carried out solely through the platform, plus I set up the TEDxWellington page there which after this years event I’m seriously thinking of not using further (we’ll just direct folks to sign up to our email newsletter / blog). A massive decision as last year we got 250,000 reach just on our event announcement plus we use it to connect with our amazing community—ethics has to trump convenience.

I know nearly all those who digest this will be FB users and I’m intrigued of the reaction when reading through the links provided above which cites credible evidence on why the platform is toxic…

…remember, as a service, they are banking on you not caring. Literally, taking it to the bank.

And if you don’t care, why should they on what they can get away with.

TEDxWellington 2017 Videos | Giving Voice

A labour of love.

For the past 9 months TEDxWellington has been a massive focus of mine. Above are the final thirteen talks which are the highly public product of the event and which rock!

As the licensee, my job is to be across all aspects of development and delivery whilst ensuring all the rules are adhered to plus also build / communicate / inspire the volunteer delivery team to deliver upon the vision (on top of leading the speaker coaching as well).

Phew!

The reason I devote so much of my time to such an endeavour which none of us get any kind of monetary remuneration for, is to give people voice.

There’s the obvious voices on the stage but also those in the audience who to come together and experience a TEDx event, then share as a community plus discuss and connect around the topics presented. There’s also enabling a core team of disparate strangers to collaborate and build something within the confines of the format. And finally, there’s the idea of giving a city an expressive platform to illustrate its own wonderful story (as most of our speakers / performers are always drawn from the region itself).

This year was all about scaling:

  • to a 1,000 person event
  • the team to deliver such a beast
  • in the complexity of interactions between all of the above

Along with my co-organiser Hannah, the learning and insights of what to do and equally, what not to do, also expanded in scale.

Even though nearly every external aspect of the event was a success, there’s always stuff to improve upon and do better, and there are many aspects to change and tweak for the next annual event in 2018 (with a few adjustment to trial with the upcoming TEDxWellingtonWomen event in November).

And as I start to reflect further and write up the review blog post for the event plus finish off the finer details like paying invoices, following up with partners / sponsors, ensuring all the speakers are happy etc., I can’t help but feel that twinge of excitement for next year, as hungry to revisit the theme of doing something unique like in 2016.

Life’s to short not to be audacious!

TEDxWellington 2017 Registrations Open | Perspective Shifting Opportunity

TEDxWelly Key Visual Small

Grab your spot now!

SOLD OUT

For those based in Wellington and NZ as a whole, I graciously invite you to register to attend TEDxWellington 2017.

TEDxWellington-SOLD-OUT

As you can see from above we’re trying exploring different categories. We’re very excited about the ‘Pay It Forward’ options in which folks can buy two spots and gift one to be distributed to one of the local charities we’ve partnered with.

Our theme is “What’s Your Perspective?” and the creative vid above needs to be watched all the way through, trust me!

Please, please, please share far and wide as this year will see us taking over the St James Theatre to enable the largest TEDx ever in the capital (1,000 curious souls will be in attendance).

Hacking The Red Circle | Learnings From TEDxWellington

A chance to share our inside story to the wider TEDx community.

I’ve been volunteering as a TEDx organiser for five years.

Last year we did something special with TEDxWellington which we recently found out was being shared by the senior folks at TED with other event organisers, globally.

Enter, Mark Sylvester, another TEDx organiser and keen to champion the efforts of folks behind these events with his new podcast:

Hacking The Red Circle is a podcast created for and about TEDx Organizers and the TEDx Universe.

Was wonderful to celebrate also the voice and efforts of my collaborator and co-organiser of 2016 and current 2017 event, Hannah Wignall. Would also like to shine the light on the other actioneers in the TEDxWellington team who all give their time voluntarily to ensure the capital city and its community gets a fantastic event.

Thank you Mark for throwing your time and energy behind curating the voices and in effect the passion which makes this global event series such a success.

Oh and we’re again doing something special for TEDxWellington 2017 (again).

Eagle Labs | Activating Latent Resources

A bank who does co-working / maker-spaces / incubating / mentoring.

Due to online and mobile banking, the use of branches is in decline. So if you run a business which own an array of centrally located urban real estate nationally, what do you do?

Well, Barclays UK (in collaboration with a couple of other folks) have launched Eagle Labs, an experiment in activating their latent spaces and making them available to the startup community as incubators whilst wrapping around supportive services as well.

With nine locations across the UK, it’s a great start to an intriguing project:

eagle labs why

Was wonderful to be able to visit Eagle Labs Brighton a few days ago and deliver a session plus spend some time advising some of the fantastic startups in the space:

DK at Eagle Labs Brighton

DK gave a brilliant keynote at the Eagle Lab Flight Programme for me where I am Creative Director. The programme is an accelerator run By Creative England in partnership with Barclays UK and their Eagle Lab Programme.

He delivered and inspiring talk with slides and resources for the companies on the programme at the Eagle Lab in Brighton UK on April 21st 2017. Having known and worked with DK at previous events I have run it was great to have him in person in the room with the businesses and clients. The keynote was on “putting the social back into social media” – and with a strong focus on authenticity and voice and remembering that the ‘audience has an audience’ too. Thanks DK – here’s to the next collaboration.
Marcus Romer

A superb example of an organisation needing to diversify, repurposing their latent resources (instead of simply selling them off) to add value to a community whilst still ensuring alignment with a potential customer base.

Here’s a silly man being scared by an eagle:

Speaking with Purpose 2017 | Reflections On Running A Successful Conference

Learnings from developing / delivering an effective and profitable conference.

Last week, over 150 people attended Speaking With Purpose, a one day conference for those looking to increase their public speaking confidence and hungry to develop their storytelling techniques.

This was my first independently-produced, medium-sized, personally-funded event, with folks attending from Tuaranga, Christchurch, Queenstown, Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin and all over the Wellington region.

Here’s what I learned:

Pay Your Speakers

#SWP17 speakers

In NZ, paying conference speakers for their time / talent is not commonplace (unless you’re bringing someone in from overseas it seems).

Committing beyond the usual “we could maybe find a couple hundred bucks for your time” ensured there’s not only an expectation of quality but also a contractual effort from your deliverers. What better way to contribute towards building a trend for valuing this talent and skill.

Thank you again Ali, Emma, Glenis, Michelle, Sarb.

DIY Rules

swp brochure

I opted to run the whole show myself. Apart from paying a few friends on the day for their time to manage operations, I oversaw and did everything, including:

  • design and copy for the website
  • all email newsletters and attendees communication
  • the programme design (see above) plus badge design (see below in ‘lessons’)
  • venue discussions, deliberations, decisions etc

I didn’t use a ticketing service and invoiced everyone individually just to see if it could be done (both saving myself some money in ticketing fees and not passing those costs on to attendees plus allowing for a more personal touch). The seven day payment policy for attendees once they registered (which most stuck to) gave me the working capital which enabled quick payment of the 50% venue deposit (every ticketing service keeps the money till after the event you see).

A lot of the above could’ve been outsourced although it was just as simple for me to do than find someone, explain my expectations and follow up with it all.

Offers & Freebies

20% off

I experimented with the above offer although it yielded only four sales (the Early Bird rate sold out in a couple of weeks in January and 25s-and-under rate a few weeks before the event).

Finding and gifting on freebies to those in the community who do good things already, drove more traffic and sales than any other strategy as they positively shared the event details with their audience.

Was surprised with the small amount of creative pitches received for those who couldn’t afford the attendee rate (got three, reduced rated two). Although a few offered their services for the cost of attending which is an easy yes. Thanks to Francesca for doing the video above, Jane for looking after social, and Trent for taking some wicked pics.

Business Model

DK opening SWP17 for blog

This wasn’t just a money making exercise, although, to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly on top of the meaty risk of covering the $20k venue costs plus speaker fees, printing charges etc., a financial profit was one of the blatant goals.

It took nearly 4.5 months of my time, probably 25 hours a week (then again I already knew every speaker plus have experience of running events via my TEDxWellington and Collider experience).

The total profit reached into five figures with no sponsors to bring the costs down or partners involved to take any of the operational activities on.

A tiny portion of the profits was gifted to the ace One Percent Collective.

Lessons

SWP DK badge

There’s are definite areas for improvement or just things I learned from this endeavour, including:

  • Refocussing success targets—I was very precious about selling out and hungry to do so. Even though there were only 10 tickets left, it bugged me that I didn’t (and not because of the money I would’ve made). Should learn to celebrate what was achieved instead of getting stressed out on this one big goal (see final lesson).
  • Invest in (ethical) PR—I could’ve afforded to pay for someone to get some coverage of the event in gatekeeper publications and in return would’ve probably sold out.
  • Learning to steer—being an MC is not my most comfortable role, although I’m getting better and a good skill to have in the arsenal, it’s still something which needs more honing.
  • Build a team—even though I hired my good pals from TEDxWellington to assist on the day, adding a couple more specifically to look after tech and little minor things would’ve been nice.
  • Find partners / sponsors—see business model above.
  • Celebrate—I just created a medium sized skill based event in a very small market and succeeded on all accounts. Yet I’m struggling to figure out why I can’t celebrate (with grace):

therapy

Future

swp17 feedback

There have been calls to replicate the event in Auckland plus some individual enquiries to repeat for specific organisations. Will follow up the latter to see if it’s viable, and explore the former through some partner organisations like the Council and economic development agency there.

Later on in the year, am looking to develop and deliver another broad skill / topic based event in Wellington and to build on this experience and learnings.

And next year, do it again as looking at the feedback there’s a desire.

Watch this space.


And finally, the event was wonderfully wrapped up by Ali Jacs, summarising the whole day in one superb poem:



Any successful presentation is not judged by what is said,
but by what the listener received.
So tell me,
What have you received?

Today we’ve heard from some of the best
To help us put our storytelling to the test
Under the microscope of enquiry
To dig down deep
into our own stories

DK brought us the practical slide deck tips
To present like a ninja-boss
To make each word pop like a hot toast out of the toaster, perfectly done
Emotions wrapped up inside each and every word
And in every slide, a story

When it’s all said and done, at the end of the day,
What’s the word you want people to remember?

Speaking with Purpose
Kaupapa

Sometimes the quietest people have the loudest minds
And Dr Michelle Dickinson is one of those of those indeed

She started out as Santa Claus
Pulling out gifts of introverted wisdom from her sack,
for us to all receive
before revealing her true identity

Nano-girl!
The character she became to overcome
The sweaty palms and heart beating like a drum
Those balled up words that caught in the back of her throat

Nanogirl,
the superhero conjurer
Who can turn sabertooth tigers
Into a room full of kittens,
And with that, the warm, furry, fuzzies of connection began
to weave their way through the room

Michelle reminded us that successful presentation is not judged by what is said
but by what the listener received
And I don’t know about you,
But I received the glorious image of a room full of kittens,
And that’s pretty freaking awesome in my book

Sarb Johal reminded us,
That we should tread with our verbal footprints
Ever so carefully
Social relationships are not rocket science – they’re far more complicated than that.

With so many parts of the brain to process the stories we hear,
Language can be a bridge or a barrier across the spaces in between
For my interpretation of your “we”,
May be more than simply you and me
It could be,
my friends and not you,
Or we as in I,
Or we as in you
Or we as in every liked minded person on Earth
And all in all these situations, “we” has been found wanting in authenticity

And always remember,
Whether you’re finger tapping, gesturing or playing with intonation
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Never communicate that you are nervous, you’ll only be atrocious
if you don’t believe your message, your body will betray you
Be Mona Lisa calm, and you will always be tremendous
Just simply tremendous

Now just as that energy loan shark from the morning’s caffeine hit
was knocking on the doors of our attention, to collect….

Emma Hart took to the stage, to take us on a journey
Beyond the stats
Beyond the facts
Beyond communication just for relevance
Into communication for elegance

Whether we seek to shift the world with our words
Or just to stop being bullied in the boardroom
The metaphor is a tugboat
that can begin to turn the course
Of the freight liners of our predominant narrative
pulling us from the dull oceans of the mundane
Into the vast, limitless seas of visual language
Where we share our stories with intent

The less words, the more meaning,
Talk like you talk, not like you write
Any if all else fails, find your inner Eminem or Lauryn Hill
And channel the rapper within

To close us off for the evening,
We turned our attentive ears,
To Glenis Hiria Philip-Barbara, a living, breathing story of culture
The woman who last year inspired me to set out on a journey
Towards kotahi miriona kōrerorero i Te Reo Maori
One million conversations in Te Reo Māori

When you start the narrative of your life,
Where do you begin?
A good place to start is with the purpose
The foundations of your story
Kaupapa
Ka-u-papa
Literally to hold fast to your foundations
And Glenis’s middle name Hiria means to be held

So let’s hold these words like the gift of language
Balanced on the tips of our tongues
Or like snorkestral maneuvers in the wharenui
Punctuating the darkness until the early morning light of te rā whiti
Let’s store them in the treasure trove of our voicebox,
To call upon anytime we need to find our kaupapa

We each hold individual strands of story
That have unravelled behind us throughout our past
But when we weave them together,
With purpose, passion,
Presence and conversation
We get a beautiful rope of storytelling creation

One of the key lessons I’ve learned in telling stories is to be succinct,
So haere ra, ka kite ano koutou,
to both the introverts going home for a nap
And those heading downstairs for a drink

NetSquared Wellington Unconference | Giving Is Receiving

Participatory learning.

Originally, I intended to be a simple paid-up attendee of the NetSquared Wellington Unconference last week (Fri 10 February 2017).

Soon after registering the organiser reached out to invite me to say a few ‘inspirational’ words at the beginning. With the theme of “networking technology for social change” definitely lighting my fire it was an easy yes, however, leading three social media sessions and one on creating videos on your mobile phones sessions later, being a simple attendee was somewhat scuppered.

As with all good unconferences, the agenda is never set with the participants defining the events content. Switching mindsets early on and being open to offer as much as to take from these community focussed affairs certainly increased my enjoyment, plus the conversations provoked by the sessions definitely added to my knowledge / understanding.

Huge thanks to the organisers and sponsors of the event. Volunteering, attending and supporting such initiatives is so important in building informed communities of practice from which good things always are born.


“When I asked DK to share some insights about what he’d learned from running TEDXWellington at our community unconference, his answer was a very quick yes. His opening words really set everyone up for the day in terms of creating an atmosphere where people were willing to freely share. The well chosen stories gave people confidence to take a leap into the unknown. From there, many participants, probably two thirds, took the opportunity to join a impromptu session DK ran. It was a delight to have DK involved in our day, something I hope we are able to do again.”
Stephen Blyth, Organiser, NetSquared Wellington

Top Ten Speaking Tips | Revisited And Revised

For those who present and deliver talks often.

Seven years ago I wrote a My Top Ten Speaking Tips piece on my old company blog and thought with the impending Speaking With Purpose conference, it would provide a good time to revisit and revise.

Was very surprised how little my ideas and tactics have changed, spruced them up a little though and here they are:

    1. Finish the presentation the night before—it stays fresher in your brain than if you completed it a few weeks previous. Gives you time to add in new industry and sector developments plus it also offers the opportunity to add in references from earlier talks (if it’s more than a one day event). Most importantly though it doesn’t give you a chance to practice (GASP)…

    2. Don’t practice—a great talk is like a conversation (and no conversation goes the way you planned, no matter how many times you practice it in your head). Sure, run through it once or twice to check the timings plus transitions etc but this is more an exercise of knowing what you want to convey rather than rehearsing exactly what to say verbatim. Remember, you can practise your talk but you can never practise speaking in front of a room of strangers / your colleagues / your board etc.

    3. Don’t do lecterns—it forms a physical barrier between you and your audience. Less is definitely more in this instance and before you say, “where do I put my script?”…

    4. Never use a script—if you know your stuff you don’t need it written down. This method means: head down, losing intonation / connection with your audience / professionalism. We don’t talk the same way we write and it just doesn’t work. If you’re an organiser of any events / conferences, ban podiums and scripts. It will scare a lot away but I guarantee you’ll be left with fantastic speakers who simply know their stuff.

    5. Let your client dictate the topic not the content—I once had a very needy client who heavily dictated the content of a presentation to the point of even signing it off weeks before. It’s the ONLY time the organisers didn’t think I delivered (even though three quarters of the audience thought I was good/very good). Coincidence maybe, but experience tells me otherwise.

    6. Move—the best speakers are passionate and passion means movement. Move around the stage / floor. Move your arms, your face, your eyebrows. Communicate with your body not just your words / slides.

    7. Look at your audience—don’t pick a spot at the back of the room / hall and drift off. Sometimes this is hard if you’re speaking on a lit stage but you can still make people out. After a while you can have some fun with this: I like to pick out those yet to be convinced (you’ll spot them through body language—the ones with their arms crossed and sitting back in their seat—once you have them coming forward and sitting on the edge of their chairs and nodding their heads you know you’re onto a winner).

    8. Bullets kill people attention—people can read faster in their heads than you can read it out loud. Break each point up into a slide and use one word titles for each to direct your talk. They act as cues for the topics or a point I want to convey. The figurative underline comes from the images/video plus the story weaved around it.

    9. Fool your nerves—those damn butterflies can turn into courage-eating moths which can eat you from the inside out. Trick them. The emotional and physiological response to fear is exactly the same as when you’re excited. Tell yourself it’s not nerves but positive anticipation and after a while you will create an ingrained learned response.

    10. Enjoy it—if you don’t have fun speaking then don’t do it. There are other ways to promote yourself or spread your message.

Hope the above helps…

Culture Hive Digital Marketing Academy | Everything Is Beta

abraham-lincoln-axe-quote

Mentoring is never linear.

For the past three years I’ve been honoured to be mentoring ‘fellows’ from the cultural sector via the the Arts Marketing Association, Digital Marketing Academy.

Fellows are invited to devise, test, develop and share digital marketing experiments with the help of a leading digital specialist as their Mentor. The experiments are developed on real audiences in order to trial and adopt good practice and achieve new ambitions and perspectives in digital marketing.

Every year, I’ve been working with three fellows and although many experiments have seen fruition, like using printed flyers to promote digital offers, connecting schools with arts and cultural organisations online and using online data to drive digital efforts, the most important learning is that everything is beta.

Ideas don’t follow a neat, linear pathway to actualisation, there are just too many factors which influence things, like resources, time, other projects, literacies, organisational culture etc. Developing pathways to action is sometimes more about understanding deeply the causalities of the hurdles and / or clearing the route rather than walking them.

The two most common challenges facing the fellows during my time as mentor is that of capacity and expectations. The first relates to simple the amount of ‘other’ in the professional portfolio the mentee is juggling. Space for reflection let alone experimentation is rare so even being part of this initiative is a fantastic opening of potential. The latter is obviously an internal, softer set of attitudes which the organisation manifests. Again, another ongoing, sometimes abrasive hinderance to the intent of the projects, which is specific and is tackled by rephrasing or positioning the efforts in a digestible and values / outcomes based manner.

Without at least attempting to address these factors then experiments rarely gain deeper traction.

Put another way, the axe needs sharpening first.

Big thanks to my mentees this year: Rachel and Ryan from the digital team at Barbican Centre plus Helga who’s heading up the marketing team at Pavilion Dance South West.

Minimalism: A Documentary | Challenge Consumerism, Live Intentionally

Love people, use things—the opposite never works.

On Saturday, 23 October 2010, I posted the first blog entry to my Declutter100 project, an attempt to take one hundred hours to explore minimalism.

Nearly two months later, a comment from a chap named ‘Josh (one half of the minimalists)’ started a conversation which transitioned into a friendship (including the other one as well).

The Minimalists have forged a movement and rallying cry towards a simpler and fuller life through their writings, talks and wonderful storytelling.

Last night I watched their documentary (finally, sorry guys) and was reminded again about how living intentionally, without forced consumption and expectations of ownership, increases the richness of the moment plus amplifies the essential experiences of human relationships:

How might your life be better with less? MINIMALISM: A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE IMPORTANT THINGS examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life—families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker—all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.

Watch the film although be prepared to have it question your habits, ideas of success and consumerist lifestyle.

Well done Ryan and Josh for this great achievement and thanks for doing what you do.