2023 Annual Review | Surviving To Reviving

At Moco Museum, Barcelona, October 2023.

A glance back, a look around and a momentary peer towards the future.

As predicted last year, chapters were burning to a close and new ones were stirring in their embers.

2022 was tough. The long tail of the pandemic set in which continued the survival mode of the previous two years, where I and others it seemed to battle and scrape through (emotionally and financially). It was a year which went on to provide a foil to 2023…

…as the borders of the world re-opened I was able to travel and explore and connect into latent communities once again. This created momentum and re-ignited hopes plus fanned the muted coals of my ambition. I was hungry in ambition again and my heart was re-opened!

So lets begin this end of year review with recapping the significant 2023 pages turned and adventures ended:

LEAVING NEW ZEALAND

Visiting Lake Takepo, New Zealand, March 2023.

3 months ago I left (see / read Leaving To Arrive | Way Led On To Way) after 3 months of preparing, which is half a year of transitioning from one immense state of being to another.

It was challenging!

For nearly a decade, I knew I was living in a wonderful country. I had built epic friendships and had intense, transformative experiences. I crafted a different career skillset and personna (when I left I was all about social media and was taking my little company(s) with me to be bought and relaunched there, which never happened). I basically created a life full of richness and was very grateful even against the downside of being so far away from everything.

Then the pandemic hit and boy the isolation got amplified. And with that the communities and activities around TEDxWellington and Creative Leadership NZ went away plus most of my work dried up. Although as I mentioned above, my ambition did the opposite and was back with a vengeance end of last year and beginning of this. So I started applying for big roles and got nowhere. I also noted that when going offshore there was far more opportunities and significant gigs (purely due to market size plus openness of other cultures as NZ is conservative no matter what they tell themselves and the world).

Then I met someone (who lives in Europe).

With that and against the backdrop of a major global market contraction plus a desire to keep pushing the boundaries of my own learning experiences I knew I had to leave (and friends / mentors where also saying the same).

As a citizen I can always return but for now, I’m trying really hard to follow Mr Dass’s advice and be here now because I miss the land of the long white cloud so very much!

CREATIVE WELLY

Read full blog post review: Wrapping Up Creative Welly | A Study In Human Intimacy

After 50 episodes, featuring 100 bold humans having courageous conversations, this imaginative enterprise found a natural end.

I’m so massively proud of what Jono (Tucker from Empire Films) and I did over the three years of this project. There’s nothing like it in the world of podcasts and to have 100 other people participate in a long-form media offering like this still astounds me.

We did one extra episode (watch above plus read all about it here) and if this is the first time you’ve heard about this please, please, please watch this one as it’s a great introduction plus celebration of lessons learned.

ALL the bold humans who participated!

CREATIVE PRODUCING

Seen in Wellington, New Zealand.

I love creating space for people and also designing opportunities for others to have voice. That to me is the essence of a creative producer in the context of events and activations.

This year I got to collaborate with an array of clients to develop tailored and specific stakeholder engagement experiences which went much further than the usual talking at people and asking them a couple of questions (this by the way is called a seminar).

I truly feel at home in the design process of such things: aligning the goals and aims to the advocacy of the delegate experience; going back to first principles to constantly check against presumptions; dealing in evoking emotion and potential; trusting the process of discovery through intuition and informed experience.

So whether it was developing a multi-day / venue experience around the country for a major government organisation who were launching a massive new policy or shaping an arena for high level government elected officials to understand the work of their organisational leads via a showcase, all briefs were delivered with the understanding of creating learning experiences which show rather than just tell, and always impact beyond expectations.

See below on details on how this has now become my day job.

X’ITING TWITTER

After 17 years I’m no longer ‘tweeting like a fool’.

TEULO

After nearly 4 years of MC’ing their online events and leading their in-studio productions plus producing most of their audio podcasts, my time with Teulo drew to a close with my emigration.

Just to be at the start of a new venture is a gift, let alone an initiative such as this, to watch it flourish and blossom from the inside as an aligned delivery partner has been a pure treat.

Thank you Jay for the trust you placed in me and the opportunity to learn aside you.

Will continue to watch and clap in celebration from afar!


And what about the opening acts of new narratives:

RETURNING TO BLIGHTY

For the reasons above, I got a job back in the UK.

I applied for well over thirty jobs in Spring and early Summer this year. Two were in the UK and I got an interview for one with a job offer arriving a week later.

Since returning, I’ve settled back in the heart of the valleys, re-engaging with the family and roots. It’s amazing to be called ‘but’ and ‘bach’ again. It’s an odd thing to find myself where I said I would never go back to but I know I’m just passing through. The aim is to move up to the Celtic north early next year and lay my hat in that region for the foreseeable future.

NEW JOB

Can’t share much but what I can say is that I’m working for a central government agency, leading a new department with a newly formed team, to develop and deliver a major conference plus some other in-house experiences.

It’s a wonderfully challenging place to be and I’m totally fascinated by everything that that includes (as you can imagine).

In a few months the conference details will be public so sorry about the sparse details but more will follow mid-year.

LEADING (A NEW TEAM AND…)

…an organisation through a new new literacy set regarding events as a professional discipline. That’s the longer game alongside the shorter one of establishing a new team, with the right culture and approach.

As a manger, I try my best to take a servant leadership approach, which manifests in principles relating to collaboration, trust and creativity.

From my previous leadership training and coaching, as well as being exposed to many amazing pioneers in my speaker coaching work plus meeting many more impressive ground-breakers via TED, TEDx, Creative Welly, Creative Leadership, events like HATCH, C2 Montreal, BIF etc., it’s become obvious that the nature of such a role is not about power. It’s about devolving power and forging opportunities to grow. It’s about aiding others to become more than they are which in turn positively impacts on organisational delivery / brand / effectiveness.

For me, authority has never been a title but a demonstration of pedigree, expertise and competence.

Leading is always, always, always, approached with all the compassion and grace I can muster.

SPEAKER COACHING

I negotiated a four-day-week in my current role with the intention of continuing my speaker coaching services because it fills my soul.

For the beginning of 2024 I will be working with just one client to increase the in-house capability of their staff for external speaking opportunities, which means I have no time to offer any masterclasses for the first quarter of next year. However, still open for a couple 1-2-1s with impressive leaders though so just holler and happy to book other things in from April onwards.

ONLINE COURSE

Had another 60+ sales of my Presenting Engagingly Online course this year.

If you present online for any reasons like speaking at virtual events or pitching for work through digital channels, then this cheap-as-chips course is for you (get in now as going to be hiked up next year after a reboot).

TEDx TALK & BOOK

Right at the end of 2022 I spoke at TEDxNelson, a small event situated in the extreme north of the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand.

And since going live I’ve been amazed to watch it creep towards the half a million views mark (currently at 477+k views). It does a good job of condensing nearly a decade of practice in under 20mins.

A few months after it went live I released an ebook / audiobook package which was inspired by the talk and was 20 years in the making.

My hope it that it ignites creative action plus aids your future public speaking endeavors (read Speaking With Purpose: A guide to delivering impressive presentations! | Buy The Ebook & Audiobook Bundle for the full backround plus free chapters).

For only $10NZD this bundle deal features an ebook with 37 juicy chapters, nearly 14,000 words across 89 pages plus a 1hour34mins audiobook version (read by me).


Other highlights from this chunk of time have included:

GIGS

2023 clients who have aided me paying the rent have included: Accenture, ACC, Do Digital Agency, Groov, IBI Arcadis, Impact Hub Munich, Pro Clima Teulo, Shaw Festival Theatre, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Wellington Regional Leadership Committee, plus many 1-2-1s with leaders (as well as a couple I can’t talk about due to NDA’s).

Usually, I do a breakdown of how much money I earned from the different categories of services I offer although due to the simple reasons of time and energy, not happening this year.

HATCH

So good to be back with my tribe again attending the first ever HATCH in Europe (Switzerland).

Read all about it here.

BRAVE LEADERSHIP

What an array of insights gained from those who spoke and such a high caliber of delegates (everyone I talked to was doing impressive things).

Read all about it here.

FEATURES: DAN & PAUL & CNIC

Leadership Now Podcast With Dan Pontefract | Sharing Insights From My Speaking Coaching & Creative Producing Experience
Helping People Perform Podcast | My Journey & Current Approach

Thank you all, deeply and with humble deep waist bows!

CURATED / CREATED

As social media eats it tail, am grateful to have this blog (an activity which I’ve been doing for nearly 25 years now).

Here’s my 2023 tally including curated posts which have so many goodies and further things to explore (I’m in constant wonderment regarding the goodies found online and even more by those who prefer to watch TV instead):

  1. #58 November 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  2. Kiwi Diary 2024 | A Transmedium Contribution
  3. Authority Doesn’t Come From Titles | Brave Leadership Summit 2023 Review
  4. #57 October 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  5. #56 September 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  6. Tweetmailing No More | X’iting The Shitfire
  7. Leaving To Arrive | Way Led On To Way
  8. Wrapping Up Creative Welly | A Study In Human Intimacy
  9. #55 August 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  10. Flawed Social Media Engagement Tactics | A Simple Fix
  11. #54 July 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  12. 250,000 Views On My TEDx Talk | Celebrating Milestones
  13. For Those Who Want To Tell Better Stories #11 | Time, Chess And Carbon Dioxide
  14. HATCH Europe 2023 | The Analogue Trust Factory
  15. #53 June 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  16. #52 May 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  17. High Fidelity Imagineering With AI | A Beginners Journey
  18. #51 April 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  19. For Those Who Want To Tell Better Stories #10 | AI, MJ On Fire & Tiny Stories
  20. Back In The Northern Hemisphere | BOOK ME BABY
  21. Vapid LinkedIn Strategies | When Things Aren’t Really Free
  22. Speaking With Purpose: A guide to delivering impressive presentations! | Buy The Ebook & Audiobook Bundle
  23. #50 March 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  24. For Those Who Want To Tell Better Stories #9 | Embellishing, Star Wars Scroll & The Scared Is Scared
  25. My TEDx Talk Just Reached 100,000 Views | Pre-order Announcement Of New Book: ‘Speaking With Purpose’
  26. #49 February 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  27. Leadership Now Podcast With Dan Pontefract | Sharing Insights From My Speaking Coaching & Creative Producing Experience
  28. #48 December 2022 + January 2023 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs
  29. Back To Europe | Free Slots For Extra Gigs
  30. For Those Who Want To Tell Better Stories #8 | Freestyling, Revealing Code, And Getting Moist
  31. Helping People Perform Podcast | My Journey & Current Approach

Not bad going…

TRAVEL

Eckhart Tolle life is an adventure quote

Been so very fortunate to explore new and old places this year such Auckland, Northland, Christchurch, Queenstown, road trip around South Island (of Aotearoa New Zealand), Barcelona, Edinburgh, Montrose, London, Munich, Berlin, Dublin, Montreux, Toronto, Niagara on the Lake & the Falls.

In 2024 I’m hoping to do a lot more of Europe and the UK whilst also visit the last populated continent I’ve yet to visit: South America.


And as for the coming 2024 chunk of time, I have plans but we all know planning is guessing, then again, for what it’s worth:

REDO PEO

As mentioned above, Presenting Engagingly Online is due a reboot.

I’ll basically add more chapters, build out more of the peripheral content and resources plus weave in some ‘show and tell’ of other new tech which I’ve been playing with.

A couple of my peers have mentioned how stupidly cheap it is (even to the point of stating I should add a “0” to the end). Will definitely be upping the price to match the extra content and think about some affiliate options as well.

THIRD BOOK

Been fascinated by some of the historic tales from when the Romans first invaded these lands and the beginning of the cultural colonisation which followed for what would become the Welsh.

Due to the imperialism and in some cases the genocide of the culture, Wales has had the least storytelling from all the Celtic nations appear on a global stage.

So I’m penning an historical fiction tale for no other reason than to try and offer something in the space (and not going to use ChatGPT for it).

RESEARCHING FOURTH BOOK + FOURTH BUSINESS

I’ve also started research on a fourth book and planning out a movement / business idea.

This one has been bubbling for some time and aligns to the last decade of creative producing and other more artistic activities.

It’s a slow burn and I’m in no rush with this one as the world isn’t ready for it just yet, so for now it’s about allowing it to come through organically, through conversation, leaning (again) into my Celtic heritage of aural / oral mediums.

PODCASTING AGAIN (MAYBE)

I’m dusting off an old idea and thinking of podcasting, again.

Ever since I started in 2006, it’s a medium which has liberated and fulfilled many aspects of my persona.

Again though, it will be with the intention of furthering the genre in a creative way (like with Creative Welly).


WRAPPING UP

Was feeling pretty buoyant coming to the end of 2023, albeit knackered after moving from one side of the globe to the other and starting a brand new job with a new team doing something this organisation I’ve never collaborated with has ever done before.

Then some words / actions of others scuppered those good feelings and transformed levity into stressful times and troubling thoughts.

Luckily, I had good souls around to comfort plus offer support and guidance. Seeking further insights from others, I switched into being proactive and produced a solution or two and then activated my creative strategy skills in manifesting potential pathways. I also reflected on other challenges I’ve overcome in the past and in terms of scale how this is very manageable. I uncovered through this process how deeply tied to my values I am and how that is a very good thing for the soul.

So now all there’s to do is greet the oncoming shift upwards in suffix numerals to denote a calendar change with a smile, and welcome the possibilities of greatness we’re all manifesting. With love.


So, how was your 2023 and what does 2024 have in store for yous?

Previous years reviews: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009
Published

4 comments

  1. I have nothing but love and respect for you sir and seeing you in the UK again, twice this year was magical. Proud of seeing what you continue to pull out the hat with pure excellence. Onwards

    1. Thank you David and appreciate your kind words.

      Still feeling inspired & informed by the lessons taken from Brave Leadership event also – can’t wait till next years one plus spending more time with you please ;-)

  2. Nice recap brother!

    Thinking of you often and miss ya.

    So happy for you, sounds like you’re doing great over there on the other side of the planet.

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