The continued adventure of establishing a bold event brand in NZ.
Last week was the third Creative Leadership NZ (and second time) at, NZ’s new Institute of Creativity, Te Auaha. It was another sold out affair hosting nearly two hundred humans exploring the intersection of creativity and leadership.
The feedback has been very positive with the general theme of ‘warmth’ coming through. The speakers modelled this in their talks and delivery plus openness to connect in the breakouts, as well as the eagerness of the delegates to embrace the opportunity to share their stories whilst participating in the sessions and / or conversations with others.
As you can see from above, over two thirds of attendees have female names and anecdotally the average age is about thirty-five to fourty.
This year over eighty cross sector organisations and brands were represented, aiding the variety of discussions and connections made in this community of leaders. In theory, the experience and learnings will be taken back to the seven and a half thousand people managed by the delegates.
CLNZ truly bucks the trend of other leadership conferences, away from the pale, male and stale.
What an amazing array of folks we had this year. Tried really hard to again balance the breadth of arenas in the two respected focusses of the conference and the delegate feedback has reflected that aim.
This year I put together a speaker guide which simplified communications of all the aspects of the conference whilst also outlining expectations.
Thanks to these good humans below—a pure delight to collaborate with.
David Bill (keynote / masterclass) : designing empathy at scale,
Emily Chang (keynote / workshop) : The Power of AND – unlocking new ideas by finding the intersection of seeming juxtapositions,
Greg Broadmore (keynote interview) : leading at the intersection of cutting-edge technology and creative processes,
Kaila Colbin (keynote / masterclass) : why courage is the new leadership skill (via Brene Brown),
Samantha Gadd is Founder and Managing Director of Humankind, a business with the vision to create the best employee experiences in the world. Humankind (formerly HR Shop) was a 2015 Deloitte Fast 50 winner, and named fastest growing services business in the Wellington region in the same year.
Samantha is obsessed with Employee Experience and the difference it can have on business performance. Samantha has advised hundreds of organisations over the last 15 years on leadership, culture, performance and all things people. She is passionate about the future of work and the importance of modern leadership to attract and retain top talent. Samantha is currently focused on growing Humankind and recently launched Kin (sister company to Humankind) and building an exemplar employee experience in both organisations. In 2018 Samantha also launched the first Employee Experience Awards programme in New Zealand. Also Mum to three young boys, Samantha is experienced at blending life and work.
Sarb Johal (keynote / workshop) : Making space for creativity: Leading yourself well
Savannah Peterson (interviewer / workshop) : millinial management
Selina Tusitala Marsh (keynote / workshop) : the power of poetry,
Topaz Litman Adizes (keynote / masterclass) : courageous conversations,
Trent Yeo (keynote / workshop) : how sustainability ignites creative thinking,
DK (Master of Ceremonies)
As an aside, one of the overseas speakers pulled out with three weeks to go before the event due to a board meeting timing change which they had to be at. This added thousands to the costs with all the flight changes which had to be made. A fun little hurdle to get over although after a couple of days of panic it all came good.
Sponsors / Partners
This year was the first time CLNZ took cash sponsorship. The Institute Of Management New Zealand (IMNZ) was the founding sponsor and with that got featured heavily in all promotions, received a bunch of VIP passes to share to staff and clients plus also had the opportunity to run an interaction to engage with the delegates. The monies received enabled some additions to the conference (see below in ‘extra costs’).
The second sponsor was for our technical side of the event and enabled the recording of the main keynote talks for the first time (which will be released in the new year). NW Group stepped into this role and looking forward to releasing the videos early next year of the main keynotes.
The other partners contributed either cut-rate services and / or free plus financial grant support for specific speakers.
Finances / Extra Costs
As with previous conferences CLNZ19 was profitable and very pleased to again increase the profit margin from last years event.
All speakers were remunerated financially plus many of them had their expenses covered. When a significant promotional support didn’t transpire I had two invest in a third party agency to assist in the marketing and sales. Other costs included:
- Reprint of event brochure due to design error (click the above for pdf version);
- Banner for arrivals and video backdrop;
- Massage therapists for interactions;
- Carpet tiles to make speaker rug;
- Recording / editing of all keynote talks.
Over half a dozen folks registered who then didn’t pay / attend which equated to over four thousand potential profit lost so next year will have to think how to manage this.
As with the first two years, did a lot myself, including: speaker curation, PR content (like the example above, here are the rest of them: David Bill, Emily Chang, Kaila Colbin, Greg Broadmore, Samantha Gadd, Sarb Johal, Savannah Peterson, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Topaz Adizes, Trent Yeo.), event design, partner / sponsor negotiation / management, website manager, majority of marketing and sales, delegate invoicing, event management, MC’ing etc.
Even though we sold out the week before, definitely need help in the area of ‘Sales’ as have no interest in this area (so feel free to reach out if you can assist for 2020).
The video above played when delegates arrived into the main theatre and was crowdsourced from the registration process. It served to prime the audience and get them situated into the subject matter of the conference.
The massage therapists I have seen and done in previous events so was a lovely addition to this years offering and was constantly utilised.
Our main sponsor IMNZ installed a Christmas tree and invited delegates to write a future message to themselves along the lines of the event theme of ‘nurturing courage’:
At the opening of the second day, I ran an exercise exploring where delegates ‘stand’ on certain topics and get them in the interactive and exploration mindset for the masterclasses:
Lessons / Future
Last year the three future aims for the 2019 event were to gain sponsorship (tick), record videos (tick), build an ongoing community opportunity (ongoing).
For 2020, the focus will be on:
- Building out the interactions both in the main theatre and break out spaces to promote connection through conversation;
- Been approached to explore hosting the event in Auckland by an attendee who is from a major institution up there so will explore that;
- Further financial sponsorship which amplifies the conference values and offer.
Due to the positive feedback specifically relating to the venue have already booked in next years event which will be Monday 30th November & 1st December 2020, put it in your diaries now!
Photos – Day One & Two
So did you attend and if so how was it for you? Are you a creative producer who can answer some of the challenges I have above? Any other observations for me?
Related posts: Creative Leadership NZ 2017 | Reflections & Insights plus Speaking with Purpose 2017 | Reflections On Running A Successful Conference
My eighth TEDx event as licensee.
Am still reeling from the TEDache which comes from running a TEDx event, although, still smiling.
Everything we tried this year worked, even though we had no cash sponsor and had to cut the livestream option plus be very creative with the budget, all whilst going from a 1,000 speaker venue to 200 (as currently St James Theatre is undergoing earthquake restrengthening).
There’s a full write-up of the whole event on tedxwellington.com but here are the choice cuts relating to the experience (we’re still waiting on the final videos of the talks to be edited):
- treasure hunts: with the first clue being handed out by our MC’s, this interaction provided an opportunity to gamify building connections between delegates. There were five clues that enabled the team participating to journey through the space, experiencing ‘chance’ encounters with TEDxWellington team members and the installations around the venue;
- photobooth: creating digital takeaways to share through social channels;
- head / neck / shoulders massage: because sometimes you need help in getting those ideas into your brain plus to shake off the emotions a little from the challenging talks of the previous session;
- speaker stations: allocated spots for delegates to both find and connect with the speakers to dive deeper into their shared idea;
- toilet interactions (yes that’s right): on the back of the cubicle doors we had a matrix of the speakers with an opportunity to mark how the talk made them feel.
- silent disco: again utilising the colours related to the wristbands so that participants were grooving to tunes by ‘chance’.
The lessons learned from previous years were hard learned but oh so precious:
- keep the leadership team small
- outline (via ‘job descriptions’) the specific expectations for each role plus interview for these key positions
- highlight this is not volunteering but actioneering (professionalism and quality is key).
Again, none of the above would’ve been possible without a dedicated group of humans (volunteers, leadership team, speakers alike plus our partners), devouting their free time / products for nothing (or a reduced rate) but feeding on the hope generator that is TEDx:
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.
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.
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):
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.
Coming soon for the creative capital…
…a conference focused on inspiring and managing the creative process / people which leads to innovation.
A two day cross sector / industry event aiming to amplify creative literacies via keynotes, workshops, masterclasses.
Held at the end of 2017 for those looking to accelerate their personal and professional development.
Interested? Sign up to receive the blog post updates via email (on the right hand side there).
Raising the skill set of presenting / public speaking / storytelling.
A one day conference for those looking to increase their public speaking confidence and hungry to develop their storytelling techniques.
The event will feature inspirational keynotes plus masterclasses and workshops so attendees can broaden their professional skill set.
Inspired by my recent tenure overseeing nearly 200 events in fourteen months, there’s an opportunity to assist and develop presenters here in Wellington, the wider region and New Zealand as a whole.
Have seen so many folks stand and speak about their particular topic then struggle with the storytelling aspect of their message. Or suffer with nerves and other nuances which detract from the talk in some. Or fail to understand the importance of a well crafted slide deck in assisting their delivery.
This conference is for them.
It’s the wrong time to be announcing any kind of new initiative, let alone a medium-sized conference, however, just couldn’t keep it under wraps till the new year.
Check out the current impressive line-up who will be sharing their wisdom (more to be added soon):
The early-bird offer along with the 25s-and-under registrations rates are currently active under a first-come-first-served scheme*:
As already mentioned, the day will include a mix of keynotes and workshops focussed on deconstructing presentation styles, understanding the psychology of what makes a good talk, exploring models of speaking, other good practice insights and delivery methodology. On top of the usual food and refreshments and networking opportunities.
*At the time of writing, over half of the early bird spots have already been registered, so please act quick.
Would truly appreciate you sharing the above announcement:
- with team members, colleagues, friends, family members etc.;
- via any newsletters, blogs and / or communities;
- through your online social media networks.
Thank you and hopefully see you there,!
#becauseofHATCH we find purpose.
I’ve just spent four days participating in HATCH.
Located this year at Moonlight Basin, deep in the Montana Rocky Mountains, a stunning setting with an elevation (7,000 feet) which matched the magnitude of experience.
It was a delicious cacophony of hugs, conversations, hugs, challenges, hugs, inspiration, hugs, provocations, hugs, presentations, hugs, performances, hugs, exploration, hugs.
As a third time attendee, I still find it hard to describe: it’s an event of sorts, a space where mentorship and personal/professional development is rife. A tribal, enriching, challenging, fulfilling, frustrating, expressive, dangerously optimistic place. Where it fails in fluidity it excels in impact, spurned on by the vast variety of the 150 curated souls.
There were diplomats, rappers, actors, app developers, inventors, sustainability champions, musicians, students, academics, makers, scientists, marketeers, film-makers, entrepreneurs, dancers etc all openly sharing, hungry for collaboration, being present.
The long and full days are littered with immensely powerful stories offered through presentations and unique performances, workshops driving deep questions like ‘what is your intent?’ coupled with sessions to truly play and create, accompanied with relaxed evening activities and an abundance of opportunities to simply converse and connect. These layers provide a richness which resonates beyond the traditional event format to create a community of shared experience that endures.
I’ve learned over my three visits that my favourite and most important thing to do at HATCH is to listen.
There is a copious amount of legacies being built for those who take notice and new pathways being treaded lightly or with barbaric servitude (a first time for many). These are extremely talented people who are shaping their future in the open, raw, honestly and with encouragement.
HATCH is a unique place which gives permission and provides the support to start/continue/stop (depending on where you are).
We were offered a fantastic lexicon to explore around ‘intent’ and ‘purpose’, whilst also being challenged to decipher our ‘ask’ and ‘offer’ to not only those in attendance, but also to the world.
It’s a new model for mentorship based on designing a space and time to cultivate relationships, which manifests trust through shared narratives (a forgotten element in creating deep and lasting change).
And as the event continues to mature and polish it’s rougher edges, the brilliance has always been in the people curation (as it’s invite only and deliberated through the lens that is Yarrow Kraner, founder / organiser who understands magnificently that if you bring a group of fantastic souls together, you can trust in their ability to add value to each other).
What I learned
Listening is an art.
Better questions really do exist.
Curation + purpose + space + time = impact.
Be bolder and don’t shy away from your voice.
Your worth is amplified when adding value to others.
There are too many to mention although HUGE thanks to the organisers, facilitators, performers, sponsors, volunteers and all the HATCHlings who hugged me, shared their story and listened to mine.
Together, we’re hatching a new world:
The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things
To dance and love and be apart
To hug and hold those around you
Fill your soul with the life of others
Embrace your place in life through your soul
Challenging more and more tomorrow.
Deep thanks to BizDojo for contributing to the costs of this trip.
Past posts / HATCHs: HATCH 2014 and HATCH 2013
Hatch is about connecting a group of madly curious people and trusting in their ability to generate creative value.
Split over two locations (one in the Montana hills at the Rainbow Ranch Lodge, Big Sky and the other in the heart of Bozeman via an innovation lab / space), no other event has ever challenged me as much to be present and in the moment (hence the lack of notes):
This was due to the loosely structured agenda and being surrounded by film-makers, musicians, technologists, artists, entrepreneurs, marketeers, architects, trouble-makers, designers, writers, inventors, specialists, generalists (full attendee list here), all of whom ignited the brain with conversations that dripped in inspiration and possibility!
And oh those delicious Rugrats moments:
Deep waist bows to all attendees, partners, sponsors and obviously the organisers—humbled to have been invited and definitely learned (again) that giving is living!