All posts in opinion

Collidering On | Refocussing On The Creative Purpose

Crafting creative collisions elsewhere.

Tomorrow is my last day managing Collider, a programme which is transforming the city into an internationally recognised Smart capital.

In fourteen months the project has notched up *nearly 200 events with over 5000 attendees averaging quality rating of 4.2 and above (out of 5).

An epic piece of foundational work—developed from a standing start with no precedent—focussed on raising capabilities and literacies via a plethora of tech, creative and digital seminars, talks, roundtables, meetups, masterclasses, workshops etc.

Due to managerial changes and iterations of the original aim, my personal purpose and values no longer align, so the time has come to allow someone else steer the ship for the remaining Wellington City Council funded initiative.

Huge thanks to my previously line manager, the collaborative Jessica for her guidance and steerage, the partnership of Caitlin for her tireless enthusiasm and spirit, the superb colleagues and friends, Monique, Jeff and Petreece, plus the wider BizDojo whanau (and of course all the facilitators, speakers, stakeholders, partners etc which made this a pure adventure).

Onwards…


…towards manifesting my purpose to shape more creative collisions of and for incredible humans.

Will be amplifying the curatorial nature of my skill set plus the cross-sector translatorial aspects of my talents. In the first half of 2017, that means:

  • launching a curative service of exclusive conversations whilst building micro-networks of creativity;
  • continue to produce TEDxWellington which will be the fifth and biggest TEDx event in the capital;
  • forge an offer to serve as professional development for those seeking to improve both their public speaking skills and to understand deeply the power of kick-ass storytelling;
  • attend TEDFest in NYC;
  • liaise on other smart city-wide / internationally focussed related endeavours.

The aim as ever is to make folks think and / or smile.

Add value where I can.

And forever reach beyond my grasp.

*not included are the mentor sessions created by both the Step Up programme and the InformMe (probably at least doubling the amount of ‘events’ in the final number).

Vulnerability As An Act Of Creativity | The Project 2016

project16 DK naked

Going naked (image credit).

The theme for The Project 16 this year was Creativity in Business and Beyond. Hosted at Auckland University of Technology, the speaker lineup was superb along with the topics tackled, plus insights shared.

After weeks of reflection on the topic I settled on the idea that creativity is an act of vulnerability. With this in mind, it was my intention to illustrate and demonstrate this rather than just talk about it. I decided to ‘go naked’ and present with no notes, slides or cheeky little stuff written on my arms / hands.

Listen to my ten minutes talk:

The silence after I am introduced by my brilliant pal Michelle Dickinson aka nanogirl is intentional—keep listening.

I had several stories to tell to demonstrate my point although the final three were chosen minutes before I went on to ensure they complimented and did not duplicate existing points made by the previous speakers. It was everything you’re taught not to do as a speaker and as you’ve heard, a mistake was made, and the final story was plucked from the recesses of the brain.

Lessons have been learned and there’s a hunger to explore more opportunities to experience this method and a desire to be able to use it more confidently. HUGE thanks to The Project 16 for allowing me to share and participate plus respect to my fellow speakers as gained so much from their talks as well.

project16speakers

“DK is an early adopter of new trends, technologies and techniques as well as a social risk-taker. As a presenter at this years AUT Project 2016, DK gave a very insightful talk about vulnerability, purposely w/o any audio-visual media support. DK’s presentation underscored how difficult it is to put oneself out there clearly, and with purpose, in order to achieve one’s objectives while simultaneously generating proactive outcomes. DK’s talk was most inspirational and I’d recommend him as a speaker at other conferences or events where an outlier perspective would help an audience better understand traditional ideas by stepping out of their usual day-to-day point of view.”
Hal Josephson, Program Chair for Project16

Special thanks to Hal for the invite to speak plus appreciation to BizDojo for the permission / allowance.

Image credit

Crafting Creative Collisions | 100 Starts

100 Collider : cupcake view

Reflecting on activating a Smart city.

Last week we held the 100th event under my day job as manager of the city-wide activation programme Collider.

Each activation has been an opportunity to learn, explore plus move closer to a concept of how best serve the digital, creative and technological ecosystem and transform the city into a Smart capital.

This three year (Wellington City Council funded and BizDojo delivered) programme, is a bold attempt at raising the capability of a region.

As we near the end of the first year the time to reflect seems appropriate and here are some learnings:

  • variety is key—the usual sage-on-the-stage presentations is now mixed with seminars, workshops, masterclasses, roundtables, one-to-ones, mentoring etc, ensuring all tastes and learning styles are catered for. It’s also a trial of see what fits and sticks, plus what formats can be morphed and realigned with others;
  • reframing was important—originally, many were describing the piece of work as an umbrella although the quick reframe as a scaffold (supporting existing good projects and initiatives whilst filling in the gaps to create a broad foundation) made it more accessible. It was also gentler as there’s a huge amount of good work in the city and moving forward with humility has been crucial;
  • trying is better than not—as you can read from some of the highlighted choices in this blog post review, there’s been some fun goes at changing the offer. Merging disciplines and styles is always a step into the unknown although excited we had the opportunity to try;
  • capacity is the biggest issue—a four-day-a-week (which is what I negotiated before I start to ensure I can still produce the most creative TEDx event in the world), does not leave a lot of time other than nailing KPI’s (which we are with a little added on top). Reflection is still needed although the accepted transition into a more quality-versus-quantity mode has ignited the creative possibilities;
  • hidden impact—the softer side of running an activation programme is in the connections made, the conversations had, the thoughts sparked, the ideas inspired etc. The stuff incredibly hard to monitor or track, however, can be found in the stories shared back and the side chats had. It’s the fabric which builds communities of practice and the stuff which amplifies opportunities.

Here’s the next 100 and year two with an emphasis on audacious activations which make the world take notice.

bizdojo collider logo

Email Gating | Blocking Versus Trusting

tim ferris email gating

An email signup pop-up which appears directly above an actual email signup form on the page itself (via Four Hour Work Week blog).

Imagine this:

You head to a restaurant that a friend has told you good things about, all hungry and keen. You arrive and the place looks good. As soon as you take a step inside though someone blocks your way and asks for your postal address, with a smile. It’s explained that it’s so the restaurant can send you notices of when there’s new items on the menu or special offers. Again, said with a smile and a trusting wink accented by the promise they won’t send any spam, just good stuff.

Now you haven’t tried their food or experienced their service let alone seen a menu, would you want to eat there?

When you have your own site there’s a huge amount of control of the experience you want visitors to have and the relationships you want to build. Email newsletters are an element of that potential connection and content distribution.

Unfortunately, the growing trend in the past few years is ‘gating’ access to websites via email newsletter signup popups which block the content either as soon as you enter the site or after you scroll a little.

‘Email gating’ is slowly eroding the web and illustrates the shallow nature of the reliance on numbers to prove impact.

Some of us can still recall those intrusive popup ads in the early years of the web and how there’s a collective understanding how obtuse this strategy is (so much so we now have the blocks built into our browsers). There’s no difference for email newsletter signup popup.

If you visit a site which is email gated, there are three decisions available:

  • sign up
  • leave
  • close the popup and continue surfing

Only one of them serves the creator and unless the website owner is using a system utilising cookies to track the closing of the message so as not to serve it up again plus the website visitor is not using cookie blockers or software which cleans these out, this will happen every time someone visits the site. Every visit corroding the experience and the relationship (potential or existing).

And why do so many organisations, companies and individuals email gate?

Fear!

They are scared they aren’t relevant. Scared the market or tribe will walk away and won’t come back. Scared that quantity rules over quality. Terrified of doing this (ironically you have to sit through or click the ad off to get there).

If website owners don’t trust both their story and the ability of the visitors / tribe / users to find a simple signup form which sits in the sidebar or bottom of the page, then what other message does that convey. There is no hope. No trust. No respect.

Do the opposite.

Have more faith: in yourself, and us (as visitors).

The visitor also has a role. These tactics will only change if we the viewers of this content reach out to the creators and just ask for a little respect. Request, politely, that we now how this stuff works and if we like what you have to say we will trade. Our time or even our email address for a continued relationship.

So content creators and website makes / designers / founders, learn to tell your story and we’ll stick with you. Please stop interrupting us. Please stop making us not like you. Please help us, help you. Stop email gating.

AirBnB Verified Human | Retaining Personal Information / User Bias

airbnb logo

How personal information is something we increasingly have to make an effort to retain.

It’s been a year or two since I’ve used AirBnB and in that time they’ve introduced a verification system. To get validated everyone has to upload a government ID (drivers license / passport) and also give access to another online profile (like Facebook, LinkedIn). Until completed the platform and it’s service is not available.

Any effort to protect users (especially a peer-to-peer offering which potentially is open to abuse) is a good thing. However, the type of information requested plus the linking to another social account, raised questions in my brain around privacy and permission.

After a short email exchange with AirBnB’s help desk, the following were the main barriers for me:

  • this highly personal and identifying information (drivers license / passport) sits on a third party server which even though is cited to have great security, potentially could still be open to hacks / leaks (there’s a growing list here);
  • linking to another social account such as LinkedIn would give AirBnB access to my network (full names and identifying information) which simply wasn’t ethical (as I don’t have specific permission to share that information on);
  • there’s enough information / evidence / videos etc about me online to validate my identity anyway.

AirBnB are a $20 billion dollar company with over 500,000 users every night and now dealing with some guy questioning their systems when they were put in place to protect folks. So to be honest, I held very little hope in seeing any outcome other than a repetition of the policies and reasons.

To my surprise, instead of dismissing my counters and above statements the customer service rep asked me to create a video stating my name and “AirBnB” plus to hold up my passport (just the outside). They would then explore with management what they could do. I did as requested utilising Vimeo’s password protected option to host my video and forwarded the link / password on.

36 hours later, boom, verified and invited to continue using their service.

Thank you AirBnB for treating me with respect, for listening to my concerns and challenges, for exploring alternative ways to validate my identity and basically approaching this in a manner which verifies yourselves as humans. Appreciate it’s a longer process although one which could provide an exemplar for those who decide to protect their information but would still like to use your service. What you lose in time you make up for in respect.

Special thanks to Sam from customer service who fielded my questions and assisted in getting me verified.

This interaction and outcome serves as a challenge that maybe we should all not blindly agree to terms of service and keep asking those ‘better’ questions, especially if they are ones which protect ourselves and those in our network.

TEDxWellington 2015 | Daring Acts Of Trust

2015 TEDxWellington

Today we announced the theme / date / call for speakers & performers for this years TEDxWellington.

This will be my fourth as lead producer of a TEDx event (not counting TEDxWellingtonWomen which I’m the license holder for although only mentoring the team there). Each previous event has sold out and built on the success of the previous one in terms of quality, scale plus experiential design.

The TEDx event format has a great deal of rules governing it’s production. This, quite rightly, ensures continuity of brand quality and assures the ethos remains intact (that of, ‘ideas worth sharing’).

“When I have something to work against, it liberates my imagination”
Jørgen Leth

This year, with TEDxWellington, we’re trying something which has never been done before (to our knowledge): we’re not sharing the most important parts of the event. That being the:

  • location
  • speakers / performers
  • exact number of tickets
  • programme for the day
  • breakout session details

Why?

It’s an experiment. A journey. An attempt to explore the ‘what if’ which was thrown out to the team who then made it better and gave it back. To bank in some of the trust from the previous years events and believe in the adventurous side of our community.

Here’s to trying something daring!

UPDATE (27.5.15): Here’s some stats from the first 24hours after our announcement:

24hrs updated

TEDAche | Stretching, Compassion & Rebounding

TEDActive spontaneous dance party

The wonders / dangers of attending a TED conference.

A few hours ago TEDActive ended.

I’m currently sat in my Whistler hotel room even though the party goes on with groups of tremendous souls from all corners of the globe still hungry to connect.

Alas, I’m all talked out after six days of immense conversations, nearly 100 TED talks plus a variety of moments which truly remind you of the spectrum of experiences this world has to offer.

I feel stretched.

Full of compassion.

Ready to bounce!

For me, the themes taken away included these ideas of:

  • stretching—reaching beyond your grasp and changing your mind / body / habitat as an attempt to find new solutions or better questions;
  • compassion—embracing and empathising with suffering as a means of connection to discover new perspectives;
  • rebounding—the act of trying again or even using the negative as a reframing exercise to grow or carve out new paths.

Events like these are dangerous if you’re not ready to change (or commit). No matter what your expectations are, in the giving of yourself to the experience you lose something: some light stuff (like sleep and the yearning of solitude) although also the dark (as the stories curated and the organic ones shared with your fellow participants fuel the yearning to be more).

The aim now is to digest, deconstruct plus apply the learning (especially from the other TEDx organisers in attendance—there were 350 of them) to the future TEDxWellington events, and selfishly, my journey.

Onwards!

Picture above is of the TEDActive spontaneous dance party whilst Aloe Blacc woke us up:

The Reason Within | A Guide For All Creatives

Read by Dan Stevens, produced by Penguin Audio.

When did one letter ever hold more advice, challenging steerage and tantalising insights than this. Listen with openness, hunger and potential (you can also read it in full here).

Written by a 27 year old poet to a man only 8 years his younger.

If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place.

Read all letters

Current / Future Projects | Shifting Priorities

changed priorities ahead

Prioritising projects.

Taking inspiration from a recent conversation with Derek Sivers (and his ‘now’ post), here are six things I’m focussed on currently and in the near future:

  1. Advising / Speaking

    I mentor / coach one-to-one clients and throw together longer consulting services, for example, guiding a national sport association exploring the world of social, being part of a larger mentoring team for the UK arts and cultural sector, plus individually tutoring a social media manager for a major university explore sustainable strategies / practices.

    Sadly, the speaking market in New Zealand is extremely small and frugal hence the return trip to North America early 2015 where I already have several gigs lined up.

    This is how I pay the rent.

  2. Wysdem

    An idea being now born into a project which I’ve spoken about and written about before. More to follow next week.

  3. Social Media Automated Strategy Creator

    Currently in alpha testing mode, this little idea is nearly ready to share with the world (if you want to become a beta tester holler in the comments or ping through a message).

    It’s the manifestation of a simple and ongoing idea of extending peoples’ thinking beyond seeing social media as just a marketing platform.

  4. COMPLETED—check it out.

  5. TEDxWellington

    As the license holder / curator for NZ’s capital TEDx event, discussions have already started for next years offering. The highlights from this years review is that we sold out in under three hours, had 12 amazing talks / performances and entertained 400 curious souls in person (and 1,500 online during the stream).

  6. Real Life Has More Bandwidth

    A side project which crowdsources stuff you could never get online. Like hugs (and don’t send me this—close, but still not a hug, although what a lovely project).

  7. Sci-fi Trilogy Novel / Graphic Novel

    For the past few years I’ve been sharing with a few folks the plot to a sci-fi trilogy I once dreamed. Have never written any long-form fiction before although feeling buoyed by the initial responses with those I’ve shared it with.

If anyone has any thoughts or guidance on the above let us know. Let me know what you’re working on as well?

Image credit

Why I Love Public Speaking | Thinking Out Loud

Wellington Young Professionals Image

For some people it’s what they fear most. For me, it’s where some of my best thinking occurs.

Yesterday I spoke to 30 young professionals on social media and personal branding—an attempt to advocate for using social to build pedigree which sustains and moves with them.

My speaking preparation style is counter to most (don’t practise or have a script or write out bullet points) although it works for me and manifests two very important things:

  • the talk becomes more of a ‘conversation’ not a rehearsed lecture;
  • forces me to construct improvised value based on the audiences needs with the stories being shared.

In this loose and open approach, new concepts are created and interesting ways of presenting or mashing up old ideas occur. Some, are remembered which then form new blog posts or strategic leads. Others are luckily recorded by the tweets of those in attendance (here are just three of my favourite takeaways from the session):

"Blogs are great for metacognition: even if no one reads them, think of them as training your brain to contribute meaningfully" @justadandak

— Shadoe Stone (@shadoesuzanna) November 18, 2014

Damn, that’s a pearl!

So many folks want popular blogs and a readership which validates their effort although in the beginning the process of finding a true authentic voice is far more important than that.

"The currency of online is attention, not clicks" – I like that. Thanks @justadandak and @WellingtonYP for the social media tips!

— Katie Kenny (@kennykatie) November 18, 2014

I like it also.

So much so I added it to the image above (image credit).

Building credible and deep relationships should be the aim not the figures (see Social Media Is Dead | The Marketeers / Advertisers Are Taking Over).

"We are our own gate keepers, we now choose what media we consume, so we must be our own curators" #WYPseries with @justadandak

— WYP (@WellingtonYP) November 18, 2014

Ah the importance of curation as an emerging skillset as a way to combat the saturation and dilution of the signal.

It’s a shame there’s such a small event and speaking scene here in New Zealand. Although come the end of February I’ll be revisiting North America for several opportunities to get back on that stage to think out loud.


Huge thanks to the Wellington Young Professionals for the opportunity to speak:

A huge thank you to DK for his engaging and thought-provoking workshop yesterday. Not only did he open our minds, challenge our understanding and perceptions of social, and dare us to be digital curators, but we’re all heading out to make moleskin pen holders, and feature them on our new blogs!
Behold the new wave of social media users.

Alexis Trevethan, Vice President, Wellington Young Professionals

Other talks