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2017 Review | Embracing The Mess

By | insights, opinion, random, smile, think | No Comments

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

By | insights, smile, think | One Comment

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

By | insights, opinion, smile, think | 2 Comments

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!

Work In Progress | Why Everything And Nothing Has Changed

By | insights, opinion, smile, talks, think | 4 Comments

WIP17 dk and sarb

24 hours out got invited to add my voice to the Work In Progress conference.

I followed my friend Kaila Colbin as she wonderfully made heads spin about the exponential growth in technologies using the Singularity University lens (and her role as Ambassador). My part was to continue the discussion with (another pal) and MC, Sarb Johal on stage for the 300+ attendees.

The main thrust of this section of the conference was digital disruption, something which for over a decade I’ve been delivering services around relating to social and digital media. And even with the newer concepts of AI, automation, big data etc. already shared, I mainly focused on the need for understanding the importance of creating work cultures which amplify curiosity, celebrate learning, plus cultivate audacity and exploration:

“The feedback we had about DK’s “Reflections” component was all extremely positive and people were talking about the Digital Disruption Topic late into the night whilst referring to the ideas he brought up, along with Sarb and the video presentation from Kaila as well – DK’s contribution certainly hit the mark.”
John Dow, Director of “Work in Progress – Wellington’s New Collar Future” Conference

Image credit / cropped

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:

I.
Don’t.
Know.

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.


CLNZ logo REGISTER NOW

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

By | insights, opinion, smile, think | 5 Comments

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

By | insights, random, think | No Comments

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 Review | Our Closing Perspective

TEDxWellington 2017 Registrations Open | Perspective Shifting Opportunity

By | insights, smile, think | No Comments

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

By | insights, podcasts, smile, think | 3 Comments

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

By | insights, smile, talks, think | 2 Comments

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: