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: 2018 Event plus 2017 Event
Still learning and hungry to get better.
Last night we announced this years TEDxWellington event along with opening the call for speakers and performers.
This will be my eighth as licensee (2x TEDxWellingtonWomen, 2x TEDxTeAro, 3x TEDxWellington) and have mentored other events in the city (Women and Youth plus University) plus other new licensees in other parts of the country, although I’m still learning so much and find it incredibly challenging.
After taking a break last year it’s good to be thinking with a TEDx lens again and serving my fundamental why: to give people voice (not just those on the stage but also my fellow volunteers who work their bits off to bring the event to life and allowing them space to grow into action).
Please do share this opportunity to those across the region who might have an “idea worth spreading”, with thanks.
Building a community of creative leaders.
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.
As with the first event last year:
- 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’):
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
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:
- Gina Rembe: “One interesting take-away was that a few of the speakers all spoke to the importance of reading widely from people who don’t look like them.”
- Sarb Johal:
Photos – Day One
Photos – Day Two
Am going to be working on three things to ensure legacy:
- sponsorship – looking for one major financial sponsor whose brand values align with CLNZ;
- videos – capture and editing of main keynotes will allow further reach (which the sponsorship will allow);
- ongoing community opportunities – already working on a February satellite event (invites will only be available to CLNZ delegates to continue to build the community).
Onwards to Creative Leadership NZ 2019!
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.”
Feel free to share the image above through your networks and channels please.
Hope to see you there!