Same But Different | The Minimalists Jazz Model

By | insights, smile, think | No Comments

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

Creative Leadership NZ 2017 | Reflections & Insights

By | insights, smile, think | 2 Comments

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:


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.


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.


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.


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

Three Little Words Which Spark Creativity | Foundational Thinking Of Creatives

By | insights, opinion, smile, think | One Comment

i don't know neil degrasse tyson

Every creative act starts with an act of vulnerability evidenced by three little words:


Many state the above as line in the sand, a closing down of conversation, a refusal to explore further.

Others get excited, and lean forwards, hungry for adventure, ready to fail forwards.

These are the creatives!

Whether it be composing an orchestral piece in 10minutes from nothing:

Collaborating on a dance piece when you can’t speak each others language:

Drawing blind to spark an abstract drawing piece:

…this is the imaginative mindset at work.

When mixed with curated ideas and experience plus audacity and mad curiousity, its forms the most delicious path to potential.

Whether you’re starting a business, leading a team, beginning at a new organisation, figuring out the next steps in life, or shaping a city-wide initiative to infuse a city with creative literacies

…saying “I don’t know” more often is a rallying cry to creative action.


Registrations Open For Creative Leadership NZ | Book Your Spot Now!

By | random, smile, think | No Comments


After many months of development am honoured to announce Creative Leadership NZ:

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

On 27th-28th November, will be heading back to The Roxy Cinema (as they hosted us so well at the beginning of the year for Speaking With Purpose).

The pedigree of the speaker / facilitator line-up is brain-tingling impressive:

Gus Balbontin

Gus Balbontin

Investor – Founder – Advisor

Former Executive Director at Lonely Planet, Co-founder of SneakySurf, Director at Roshambo, Entrepreneur in Residence at Vic Uni.

Bop Murdoch / Sarah Tuck / Jody Burrell


Creators of Wellington’s first Gym for mental wellbeing, the CoLiberate team are leaders in personal and professional mindhealth.

Victoria Spackman

Victoria Spackman

Director Te Auaha

Making safe spaces for creative types to flourish at Te Auaha – New Zealand Institute of Creativity.

Pavani Rao Boddapati

Pavani Rao Boddapati

CG Supervisor at Weta Digital

Pavani has over 12 years of experience in visual effects for film and has worked on numerous projects including Avatar, Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit trilogy.

Emilie Fetscher

Emilie Fetscher

MC / Design Strategist

Collaborator in residence for design-focused leaders and currently consumed as an accidental entrepreneur at StrataMap.

Aithan Shapira

Aithan Shapira, MFA PhD

Founder + Leadership Strategist

Founder @ Making to Think. Lecturer @ MIT Sloan. Aithan builds leaders’ creative instincts using time- and science-tested techniques from the arts to expand perceptions and accelerate solutions.

Elysa Fenenbock

Elysa Fenenbock

Creative Nomad

Designer-in-residence at Google.



Producer / Speaker / Advisor

@TEDxWellington licensee. @swpconf creator. @creativewelly founder. @amadigital mentor.

Nick Kapica

Nick Kapica

Design Lead

Design, customer insight, and strategy, also interested in collaborating, teaching design and innovation.

Gareth Parry

Gareth Parry


Gareth Parry is a partner in PwC’s Experience Centre. Gareth has experience in architecture, learning design, digital advertising, infography, human centered design, and event creation.

Ruth Keiry

Ruth Keiry


Ruth Keiry runs PwC’s Wellington Sandbox. She’s framed, designed, and facilitated dozens of collaborative spaces.

Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford

BeWeDō® practitioner

Founder of BeWeDō® + Senior Lecturer at Massey University, School of Design. #BeWeDō is a unique motion-led creative leadership experience.

And here are the cheap-as-chips prices:

See you there and please assist in spreading the news to your colleagues / friends / peers / family / communities etc.

The Impossible Dream | Rotary Forum 2017 Wellington Talk

By | opinion, smile, talks, think | One Comment

What would it take for Wellington, the city and region, to be the best in the world?

I gave a talk at the Rotary Forum 2017 this week. Unfortunately, due to technical issues my presentation video / audio wasn’t captured, *so recorded the above version.

As you’ll hear / see, my response was to challenge us to think about Wellington becoming:

The most creative little capital in the world.

A lofty goal.

Raising the creative literacies of a city / region to ask better questions sounds impossible although wonderfully audacious.

Something I’m working towards with (the two “common soon” projects of) Creative Welly and Creative Leadership NZ (reach out if you want to know more or subscribe to blog posts on the right hand side there).

Thanks to the event organisers for the opportunity to have voice:

DK gave an inspiring address to the Rotary Club Forum: “Achieving the ‘Impossible Dream’ for Wellington: the city and region” on Tuesday 1 August 2017. His themes included creativity, innovation, compassion, empathy and branding. He challenged the audience on achieving a “creative Welly”, connecting the creative capital, providing leadership across the sectors, an independent collective and a community that is simultaneously globally minded and locally focused. He personifies the quote of “Life’s too short not to be audacious.” He set the stage for a Forum that was bold, diverse and audacious about achieving ‘Impossible Dreams’ for Wellington.

Dr Roger Blakeley Chair, Wellington Rotary Club 2017 Forum

rotary wellington forum DK sketch note
Image credit for sketch note – Sketchability NZ.

*not the same flow and impact of a live talk so apologies for the lack of intonation and delivery (I’m much better in front of a live audience).

Speaker line-up / order


Inventing Worlds In A Changing One | Creativity, Faith And Curiousity

By | insights, smile, think | No Comments

Wisdom and insights from heavyweight creatives.

What a combination: Sir Jony Ive and J.J. Abrams interviewed by Brian Grazer. So many pearls here to chew on, digest and adopt.

The openness of Ive remembering his boss as someone who was focused on simplifying things to be beautiful, functional and good whilst championing the idea of craft and care to create superior utility. Love his highlighting the designers quest for being desperate in that care so others will sense it. Other gems include the challenge to how, when you create, you should learn from the things you worked on and the things you learned from the act itself. And finally, his sharing of how Steve Jobs taught him focus by asking: how many times have you said no today.

jony ive discerning quote

We are capable of discerning far more than we are capable of articulating.
Jony Ive

J.J. Abrams unpacks the creative process as asking the right questions along with having ferocious curiousity (something Ive also agrees with—see above). Abrams also advocates the concept of following your gut and not starting from a place of deconstructing other peoples work, rather, find a story which should exist and do that.

jj abrams creativity quote

Any act of creation is a leap of faith.
J.J. Abrams

What did you take away?

Jad Abumrad | Gut Churn Of Creativity

By | insights, random, think | No Comments

jad bumrad radiolab

Reflective storytelling and analysing the ‘crappy queasy space’ in the journey of finding your true voice.

This week I attended a talk by Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, Big Sky, Montana.

It was a storytelling masterclass with layers of different media from sound to text to animation to video (tapping into the VARK model of learning), all orchestrated by Jad as he weaved our attention deeply around the forms created.

The talk was a personal reflection on Jad’s own grappling journey with finding ‘his voice’ and the hunt for authenticity, ensuring you are true in your own self is so important as you’re often:

…forced to sit in the emptiness to face the authenticity.

In radio / podcasting, here’s his description of where the power lay:

…it’s like being with people whilst being by yourself…

And the ultimate goal in the act of producing is an attempt to:

…create an emptiness which is so much bigger than you.

With a splendid assortment of delectable stories and experiences to quote, from napkin sketches of radio shows story structures through to Ira Glass’s gap, Jad also shared his own three big lessons:

  1. Chasing the antelope: storytellers are like shamen as they lull an audience into a collective dream state. And just like the shamen, it’s not just asking the questions but living it, chasing it down, just like Scott Carrier;
  2. Chase the little shit: a lesson from a filmmaker friend regarding the cognitive effect of how paying attention to the smallest of details reframes a story to have massive impact;
  3. Follow the odds: how talking to poker player Annie Duke led to understanding how 25% odds are a great bet. Like the time Jad did a radio piece on how many colours we see in a rainbow compared to other animals. Hard to do in the medium of sound. So they converted the the colours of rainbow to sound which led to Jad assembling and conducting a choir in this radio piece.

Here’s an older and much condensed version (not as multi-layered, polished and doesn’t have a lot of the above) presented at a 99u conference:


Thanks Jad and gutted you’re too busy to explore a trip out to NZ to speak—let me know if you change your mind.

If you’re reading this Jad, would love to know what setup you were using (in terms of hard/software).

Big Sky Montana Thinking | Hatch 2013

By | opinion, smile, think | 3 Comments

Hatch is about connecting a group of madly curious people and trusting in their ability to generate creative value.

Split over two locations (one in the Montana hills at the Rainbow Ranch Lodge, Big Sky and the other in the heart of Bozeman via an innovation lab / space), no other event has ever challenged me as much to be present and in the moment (hence the lack of notes):


This was due to the loosely structured agenda and being surrounded by film-makers, musicians, technologists, artists, entrepreneurs, marketeers, architects, trouble-makers, designers, writers, inventors, specialists, generalists (full attendee list here), all of whom ignited the brain with conversations that dripped in inspiration and possibility!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And oh those delicious Rugrats moments:


Deep waist bows to all attendees, partners, sponsors and obviously the organisers—humbled to have been invited and definitely learned (again) that giving is living!

Fascinating Stuff #2 | February 2013

By | insights, think | No Comments

fascinating fireman bible app

Image Credit / quote and story link

fascinating hd cams fashion week

Image Credit / Image Credit / quote and story link

fascinating google parents days

Image Credit / quote and story link

fascinating hugh creativity

Image Credit / quote and story link

fascinating innocente

Image Credit / quote and story link

fascinating itunes 25billion

quote and story link

fascinating riot big brother

quote and story link

Bible app, fashion show streaming, google parents day, creativity, crowd-funding Oscars, 25billion iTunes, Riot big brother.

Stuff which has fascinated me this past month.

Other fascinating stuff

Creativity Is Not A Talent | Cultivating Innovation

By | random, smile, think | No Comments

Habitat cultivates habit (UPDATE: video now blocked due to copyright infringement. Other versions are here)

The above video is a feast for the brain / heart and introduces the conditions for creativity:

  • Space—obviously, both the physical and psychological
  • Time—half of creating the oasis
  • Time—to play with the problem and solving it with something original
  • Confidence—to get things wrong
  • Humour—getting us from the closed to the open mode/mindset in the quickest way possible

For me the most compelling idea in the whole presentation is that creativity is not an in-built-DNA-traceable-disposition.

It’s something which can be learned.



So, do the organisations / companies we create / work for foster the above conditions so creativity / innovation can blossom?