Slowing down, reflecting on the current landscape and previous events plus being bold in saying no.
Have decided to press pause on this years Creative Leadership NZ conference. The three-time-sold-out experience for visionary humans looking to connect into a creative community to solve contemporary challenges will take a break for 2020 (check out 2019 / 2018 / 2017 event reviews).
The venue was lined up along with speakers and audio visual (AV) services. The idea was to drop the costs to $350 per person to make it accessible as well. Although, as you know I take an unusual approach of paying the speakers well for their contribution, and the ‘hard costs’ remain at whatever price I set it at. Therefore, 140 spots would have to be sold just to break even.
There’s a definite appetite out there for it again although in this current climate of restrictive professional development budgets, not the resources.
As I say: saying ‘no’ is a powerful ‘yes’ to something else.
Ergo, my energies will be devoted elsewhere which will be announced next week… oooh!
An opportunity to amplify your brand in the NZ leadership and creativity space.
For two years, I bootstrapped the Creative Leadership NZ conference and was turning a profit from day one. Last year I took financial sponsorship for the first time (outside of a grant from the US Embassy to support the expenses of bringing over two US nationals to speak) to enable the production side of the event and record all the talks (watch them here).
For CLNZ20 (Mon 30th November & 1st December 2020), am looking for a brand who wants to connect with 200 amazing pioneers at a (three-times) sold out conference, whilst also taking the opportunity to develop related content and outreach strategies in the leadership and creativity space.
Have a whole sponsor deck ready to share with interested parties although here’s the important bit:
CLNZ20 is offering one keystone sponsor opportunity for $40,000+GST, in return for:
– 15x two-day VIP delegate places (worth $15,000) – 2x verbal mentions at event from MC (both days) – 3x invites to pre-event speakers meal / meetup – 3x invites to satellite events throughout the year – prime interaction space in venue plus 1x signage space at satellite events throughout the year – keystone sponsor logo features: – website* – 2x announcements on CLNZ Linkedin private alumni group – speaker & registration announcement email newsletters – pre+post delegate email newsletters – post event review video – post event speaker videos – event programme (with 50 words)
*will last for a year from time of signed agreement.
As detailed in last years write-up and review, the diversity and variety of organisations represented provides a tasty opportunity to amplify your brand in this arena:
Read and digest the 2017, 2018 plus 2019 reviews which includes details of all aspects of the conference.
So if you’re interested in aligning your brand with a community of leaders and creatives please do get in touch.
Curating voices is one of the best aspects of being a creative producer and my process focusses on finding folks who are doing and / or have done great stuff plus have the ability to share that in a compelling way. It’s less about the titles and more about the personal traits these individuals can offer a madly curious audience.
CLNZ19 was the first time I took financial sponsorship which enabled me to up the production options to include recording and editing of the nine keynote talks (for legacy and showing others what they missed):
Am never happy until it’s sold out and this month is both focussed on promotional activities along with the delegate experience design of the event.
This is the third iteration of the event (check out the 2017 & 2018 write-ups and reviews) and even though some things are easier (just due to familiarity) other things have been very challenging.
Producing events (by yourself) is a Herculean task with so many elements to be aware of on top of the multiple human considerations, so something which is helping me keep the energy flowing through the positive lens is the following:
“We’re all going to the same place, and we’re all on a path. Sometimes our paths converge. Sometimes they separate, and we can hardly see each other, much less hear each other. But on the good days, we’re walking on the same path, close together, and we’re walking each other home.”
– Ram Dass
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.”
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.
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 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 Producer / Speaker / Advisor
TEDxWellington licensee. Producer of many events. Speaker coach. Creative Welly founder. Arts Marketing Academy Mentor.
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 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 Designer
Ruth Keiry runs PwC’s Wellington Sandbox. She’s framed, designed, and facilitated dozens of collaborative spaces.
Mark Bradford BeWeDō® practitioner
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.
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):
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.