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):
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.
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.
Director Te Auaha
Making safe spaces for creative types to flourish at Te Auaha – New Zealand Institute of Creativity.
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.
MC / Design Strategist
Collaborator in residence for design-focused leaders and currently consumed as an accidental entrepreneur at StrataMap.
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.
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.
Producer / Speaker / Advisor
TEDxWellington licensee. Producer of many events. Speaker coach. Creative Welly founder. Arts Marketing Academy Mentor.
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 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 runs PwC’s Wellington Sandbox. She’s framed, designed, and facilitated dozens of collaborative spaces.
Founder of BeWeDō® + Senior Lecturer at Massey University, School of Design. #BeWeDō is a unique motion-led creative leadership experience.
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.
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.