2018 was my first full year away from any digital service offerings and a pure focus on the analogue. A healthier year in many respects and one which has been defined by the quiet acceptance of limitations plus a gentler approach to myself and others.
Again, travel was a highlight along with the pleasure of collaborating with several clients on crafting delicious learning experiences, any chance I got to speak publicly plus the success of the second Creative Leadership NZ.
This year saw an extremely modest blog offering of:
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 creative future here in New Zealand and beyond.
To continue the process of learning out loud, here’s my review:
It was another sold out event with nearly 200 leaders attending from 85 entities (most represented above – in 2017 there were 150 leaders from 70 cross-sector organisations).
One third came from outside the Wellington region (in 2017 it was only 15%) and nearly two thirds have female names (similar to last year which was 65%). It’s also interesting to note the reach in terms of how many humans the delegates accumulatively lead: 7,295 (an average of 40 per delegate).
Taking the feedback from last years event, the intention was to create more reflection time and space to connect. Therefore we had nine speakers rather than the thirteen in 2017, simplified the workshop offerings and added in generous time for morning / afternoon tea and lunch (plus networking at the end of both days – click the above image to download the full event brochure).
What was amazing this year was having five volunteers / event assistants (last year I had two plus some venue staff). Was also more vocal about the aim of the conference beyond the usual learnings and networking, this was about building a conscious and hungry community of leaders who are seeking out creative insights, literacies and skills sets.
Probably one of my favourite parts of this process is finding / choosing / liaising with the speakers. Nearly all of the speakers I had a previous relationship with so the focus was ensuring diversity and nuance to compliment the ‘intersections’ theme.
All but one of the speakers were paid for their time and involvement plus all expenses were covered. This is a continued attempt to shift the culture in NZ of paying for talent at events (which is not the usual). Each speaker got a plus one also.
this was privately funded venture and delivered under the Creative Welly initiative;
financial grant support was secured again from the US Embassy and Australian High Commission who provided funds to cover the expenses for Aaron, Butterscotch and Tim (respectively);
further partner support came from Wellington Chocolate Factory who offered gift packs for the speakers / facilitators, MOJO in providing coffee / tea refreshments for both days for all breaks (plus an espresso coffee from downstairs in their cafe), QT Wellington Hotel donated rooms for our overseas guests (with a reduced cost for others), and finally a small but appreciated discount from our caterers, The Lab.
Overall, the event profit doubled from 2017, a result of applying learnings, smaller venue cost and having less speakers to pay.
Audio and visual (AV services), catering and venue hire are always chunky fixed costs, and this year, there was the addition of some ‘CLNZ’ letters to ensure the stage looked great.
There was also the speakers / partners meal the night before plus everyone who attended got given a printed brochure / agenda, notebook, pen and badge (plus espresso coffee voucher for the cafe downstairs – see ‘partners’):
Other costs were the bar tab for the networking drinks at the end of the first day, We Do (for photography) and Empire Films (for the review video).
Again with last year, as a solopreneur all aspects of the event are produced by me, which includes:
website design / copy;
speakers curation / negotiation / support;
invoicing delegate registrations;
partner / venue / catering liaison etc.
The design of the brochure / agenda was a trade with a local supplier for a couple of delegate spots.
Marketing & Sales
As with last year I produced these little ‘teasers’ as way of promoting the talent on offer. Here are all the Linkedin versions: Aaron, Jo, Melissa, Paula, Paul, Te Aroha, Tim.
Other activities were time intensive in terms of taking time to reach out specifically to folks in my network although it yielded results. The event details got featured in about half a dozen email newsletters of other networks which definitely raised the profile as well.
My interest definitely lies in crafting and curating the experience rather than promoting and selling it.
As the focus was on creating a community through conversation and connection, there were no exhibits or distracting activities other than one: at the beginning of the event the delegates were asked to write down a creative or leadership challenge they are currently dealing with. These were collected in and stuck on one of the walls which became the ‘wall of wisdom’ where throughout the rest of the event, others added their responses to the questions posed.
Also, during the final reflection session delegates were asked to write a ‘letter to self’ – these will be posted early in the new year as a reminder of the experience and commitment they made to themselves.
This year I decided to MC the event. Was very overwhelmed and will be doing things differently in 2019 to ensure the pace is kept solid whilst freeing me up from most of those duties.
As it was the first time in the venue there are lots of opportunities to hone the experience from dressing the spaces and ensuring the flow of delegates are positive. Still gathering delegate feedback although wonderful to see some offering their insights and creative reflections:
Feeling lucky to be a citizen of a country when the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, says stuff like:
If I could distill it down into one concept that we are pursuing in New Zealand, it is simple and it is this: kindness.
In this time of hollow nationalism and fracturing distrust, a call for compassion, togetherness, thinking of the other truly is unusual and all the more important as we struggle forward in these dark times.
Sign me up for ‘team kindness’. Who else is with me?
Just spent the past two days surrounded by a few hundred ‘innovation junkies’ at BIF2018. The eclectic mix of 32 storytellers echoed the TED format in their variety and structure (each had about 15/20mins to share), and was hosted wonderfully in the Trinity Rep, Providence, Rhode Island.
The broad time given for networking during the breaks and lunch along with the encouragement of MC / Founder Saul Kaplan to add value to each in conversations really amplified into action.
Also, the cross over of the HATCH network (where I attended in 2013, 2014, 2016) added a deeper experience, and was so invigorating to reconnect with this generous and truly special group of humans:
Networks colliding into other networks is crucial in igniting fresh thinking, creative potential and releasing positive energy – just like HATCH and many other TEDx and other events I’ve attended, BIF2018 ignited the desire to stretch myself and also trust my voice in my current efforts.
Truly hoping some of the participants and attendees will also make the trip out to Creative Leadership NZ 2018 at the end of the year (as made an juicy offer through the network).
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.”
CLNZ18 brings together CEOs, senior executives, emerging leaders, experts, and aspiring entrepreneurs, for two days, to access experience, insight and new processes to realise their own projects and potential.
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.
There was a time when the height of technological superiority was how slow the tape deck opened. The smooth, deliberate action hinted at a deeper level of sophistication and created a moment or two of heightened expectation.
All media was slow and on its own timetable, like TV programmes, magazines and newspapers, to consume them meant waiting for their delivery. These pauses in our consumption related directly to the increased intention to savour the outcome.
As we know, the cassette went on to become one of the first portable mediums which influenced a whole set of other disruptive technologies; minituarising hardware which would enable us all to eventually take our music, then media, and now, our online and networked world, with us.
Three decades later, nearly all media is now transient. Fleeting. Immediate. Skippable. Waiting times are mere milliseconds, and even then we guffaw at any buffering icons working to serve us another video of a kid falling off a piano or a cat running into a tree.
Maybe it’s nostalgia relating to being of a generation who knew that watching movies meant putting on a coat and getting out money and the house due to a trip to the cinema or the video store. Or when recording television programmes meant running up or down the stairs and pressing the record button when they were literally ‘on’. Or from the experience of having to wait up to ten or twenty minutes for games to be loaded into my ZX Spectrum etc.
These delays were inherent. Built in. Welcomed even. There was space. Time. Time to create. Reflect. Be.
Technology has decreased patience along with the capacity to accept any empty length of time as a positive factor in the equation of the experience—waiting simply creates another opportunity to gaze into another screen and skip again. Our whole media interaction to the world has become skippable but what have we lost in those moments? What is the cost?
Social media (the industry I gave up this year after being in it for over a decade) has become diluted with “experts” throwing around words like connection, transparency, authenticity, engagement, but there’s fewer voices championing trusting the consumer with making balanced choices, framing content which situates us into the now and championing taking time offline or with others.
This isn’t a one way deluge. We produce more than ever before. We are saturating each other with our requests for attention and validation that our meal or view or opinion means something beyond our own experience of it. The cloud has given us immediacy although it only fogs our view to the importance of discernment. Of choosing better.
All brands and organisations care about is eyeballs. Attention. But it’s the lingering that matters. That’s where the impact is. The video or blog post which creates space and reflection are the ones folks remember.
It’s time to take time back again. To focus on the pauses. To stop hurrying and start living in the conscious(ly created) delays. To start appreciating the slow openers again.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, it’s OK not to:
– have an interest in innovation
– be involved in the tech sector
– be in the start-up scene
– care about disruption
– like the internet
…as long as you’re kind, adding value to the world & feeling good, you’re winning!
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).
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.
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.