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Creative Leadership NZ 2018 Registrations Open | Get In There

Grab your space (or spaces) now!

A couple of hours ago I opened the public registrations for Creative Leadership NZ 2018:

A two day conference connecting visionary humans into a creative community to solve contemporary challenges.

Just like last years sold out effort, the mission is to build a network of pioneers who share the ability to respond to change, identify opportunities and act on them to better shape our collective future here in New Zealand and beyond.

Held at the new NZ Insitute of Creativity, Te Auaha, on 3rd and 4th December 2018, the line-up is already looking stellar, and includes, cofounder of Masterclass, world’s first female beatbox champion, senior director from Weta Workshop, industry leading foresight practitioner, associate prof in innovation management, president of LIANZA plus CE of NZTE.

This will be another independently produced and financed event delivered under the Creative Welly banner which is “an independent collective – globally minded / locally focussed – providing leadership, action and connections across sectors, with the aim to build the most creative little capital in the world.”

REGISTER NOW

Feel free to share the image above through your networks and channels please.

Hope to see you there!

taking a TEDx break

Taking A TEDx Break | Resetting The Sights

taking a TEDx break

Why TEDxWellington isn’t happening this year.

A few weeks ago I had to share with the TEDxWellington leadership team that I needed to take a break. A venue had already booked for the 2018 event and we were days away from announcing. It was a tough but right decision to make.

For a little over 6 years I’ve been the licensee / creative producer for 5 main TEDx events here in Wellington, plus the two livestream TEDxWomen events and also 8 Salon evening events (which keep the community engaged in between the main ones plus celebrate the success of our previous speaker / performers). Every event has been sold out and all finances are run through the xWellington Charity (which was set up with myself and fellow trustees Helen and Hannah).

*The chunky time commitment has also been matched by a personal monetary investment with three trips to attend two TEDActives (the first to enable us to get the city license and name) and one TEDFest (whereby nearly every other TEDx organiser I spoke to knew about our creative efforts with the TEDx format, specifically our 2016 trust event which sold out in two minutes flat, did things no other TEDx had ever dared and got featured on ted.com).

So why take a break now?

Especially after the massive success of last years 1,000 strong event (with 5,000 souls watching online)!

Well, it came down to three reasons:

  • needing to pay the rent—as you can imagine producing events at that scale is a full time job in itself. Under the TEDx rules (see General > Funds) no TEDx and its organisers are allowed to make money as it’s a voluntary venture only. Very much agree and champion this, although, at the moment there are other things which need to take priority (like paying the rent sustainably);
  • reciprocal energies—on occasions we’ve literally had to expend so much energy just to get access to certain venues or to available dates that it impacted on other aspects of our endeavours. We were hoping for a growing support from certain sections of the community based on the demonstrative success achieved rather than diminishing assistance. Obviously, big learning opportunities for doing things differently to get different results, and another reason to take a break to reflect on future strategies;
  • continued impact momentum—with any growth you certainly don’t want to retract and the 2018 plans, due to some odd factors, meant we were left looking at significantly reducing the event size (which would have a massive negative effect on other areas like sponsor / partner agreements). As a capital city event we were hoping to continue the legacy building and I’m certainly not interested in leading something that is less.

So the public announcement was made at our last community Salon event and the feedback was vastly positive plus highly compassionate.

Special thanks to the leadership team who have been so courteous in supporting my decision as it came so late in the day.

After a few months sights will be realigned for the 2019/2020 events and a slow run up will begin with new ideas / approaches to hopefully get to that desired different outcome.

Efforts will be made to gain support for a sustainable TEDx in the nations capital, a cornerstone in the calendar which uniquely amplifies the regions talent through the talks / performances / global platform, continue to build the social capital via the amazing community, plus proceeds to provides opportunities for the organisers to craft experiences that develop our city’s reputation as forward thinkers and audacious doers (and all the while developed / delivered by volunteers).

*financial support was received from a TEDxWellington sponsor for the first TEDActive to cover flight costs plus contributions from the charity towards attendance / accommodation costs also.

Same But Different | The Minimalists Jazz Model

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

2017 Review | Embracing The Mess

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

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.

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

CoLiberate

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

Designer-in-residence at Google.

At Google she facilitates human-centered design processes & spearheads social impact programs. In Creative Nomad Project, she leads global organizations to foster creativity in education & sustainable impact. Also lectures at Stanford d.school.

 

DK

DK

Producer / Speaker / Advisor

TEDxWellington licensee. Producer of many events. Speaker coach. Creative Welly founder. Arts Marketing Academy Mentor.

 

Nick Kapica

Nick Kapica

Designer

Design Lead at Wellington City Council. Passionate about people, design and the urban environment. Looks after brand and pushes design deep into council.

 

Gareth Parry

Gareth Parry

Designer

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

Designer

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.

 

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

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

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

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.


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 Review | Our Closing Perspective