Collective Hub is a monthly lifestyle magazine that brings together entrepreneurial and creative minds from across the globe and has been a key source of inspiration for me the last couple of years since stumbling across the magazine in a News Agent shop in Perth. For the conference, the Collective Hub had invited fourteen of the nation’s most innovative thinkers and doers sharing their stories to a hungry crowd of over 500 goal getters and achievers.
The conference was held at The Australian Technology Park, a business and technology centre located three kilometres south from Sydney CBD. And I have to say: the venue was an experience in itself with its unique environment merging heritage with technology. Such a cool location for the conference and it sat the theme for the day in a beautiful way. I really wished I could teleport my uncle there, as he is probably the biggest fan of locomotives on the planet.
The focus of the conference was on start-ups and served as a practical guide where the speakers took the audience through a step-by-step journey from an early venture to an established company, all providing handy tools and real life examples.
It was a great day packed with handy tips, new contacts, buttloads of inspiration and good vibes!
Despite this, I could not help myself from feeling a bit off and slightly disappointed when I got home. Not in the event itself. Far from it! I was disappointed in me. I felt like I didn’t present myself as good as I could and that I lost an epic opportunity. You know those days where you feel yucky and just horrible? I felt like that. My clothes were a total miss and I know for sure I will look back to this day in ten years time and say: “What the fudge was I thinking?”. Black shoes, brown pants, red top, a blue coat with a brown fringe handbag. The theme of my outfit was: nothing is matching. And not in a casual, cool way. In an “I am trying to look like a grown up but missed” way. And my hair? Disaster in itself. I seriously need to get onto YouTube and learn some styling skills rather than being saved with the good old ponytail over and over again.
Even my partner commented my hair in the car and he never comments my hair. I was rushing into the car, swearing over having so little time and he said: “You can brush your hair in the car babe”. What do you mean ‘brush my hair’? In the rush of putting on clothes and a bit of make-up fixing my hair hadn’t even crossed my mind. I took a quick look in the mirror and I had to admit he was onto something: My hair was going everywhere. In a way that was cool if your name is Alexis Ren taking a “woke up like this next to Jay»-selfie, but not in a
meet and greet with some of Australia’s most phenomenal entrepreneurs and 550 other like-minded, goal driven, ambitious human beings.
Something had to be done, so while we were cruising down Princess Hwy towards the train station facing the city I found a hair lackey in my blue coat and thought the problem was solved.
Until I realised Australian, especially Sydney women, take a lot of pride in their hair and to put it like this: you could really spot the Norwegian amongst us. Everyone was cruising around with their strictly styled beach waves or silky smooth lobs while I was strutting around in my mismatched clothes and sad-looking pony. How was I supposed to network and meet potential partners, friends, and collaborators when I looked like this? As I said, I was not feeling too good about myself. But it didn’t take away the fact that the event was awesome! I loved every minute of it.
I know I know, life is not about looks and I shouldn’t be superficial and make the most of the conference regardless how I feel. And that was the other reason I felt disappointed when I got home: I felt like I didn’t do my best and that I lost an epic opportunity to ask Lisa a question. I have admired Lisa, her spirit and her work since the early days of the Collective Hub and finally I got to meet her in person. What a great chance to actually ask her some questions! One of the questions I really wanted to ask her was:
“What was the one thing you did that made you realise you are actually going for it?”
in regards to her venture and taking the step with The Collective Hub. But instead I got nervous, stumbled in my words and just thanked her for being so inspiring giving her a mini-speech about how she has inspired me to ‘go for it’. Damn it! Exactly what I did not wanted to do.
Smack Chat Bang Bang, the conversation was over, I was standing there with a signed book in my hand, stoked about meeting Lisa face to face but disappointed in my inability to communicate when it mattered. Being outgoing and well-spoken are some of my finest traits hence why I got so disappointed when it happened. All of the sudden I could relate to Brick the Weatherman on more levels than I would like to admit. If this is how I react in the presence of people I look up to what the heck am I going to do when I meet Sir Richard Branson? Some of the things Lisa mentioned in her speech when kicking off the conference were never to think you are less of a person compared to others. We are all of value and we are all the same. Definitely something I have to continue to work on when in the company of people I admire.
Awkward conversation with Lisa aside I did do some awesome networking, met some very inspiring, like-minded people and I have a list of e-mail addresses and business cards to kick-ass companies to reach out to. Something that’s worth its weight in gold for a person that has just moved to a new city in a new country and has to start her network from scratch.
And the conference? Wow!It was food for my soul and creative brains.
While my more technically advanced seat buddies were using their mobile devices to record what people said during the conference I was going old school eagerly writing notes in such a pace the ink from my pen was squirting everywhere. And by reviewing my notes and evaluating over the day in retrospect it was a really great experience teaching me valuable lessons I will adopt in my own endeavours.
It’s always challenging to put a whole day in couple of pages, but to evaluate and self-reflect is an important aspect of personal growth and professional development.
So with that being said, here are my top take aways from the KICK.START.SMART Conference on Friday:
From “The Company You Keep” session:
- Choose your crew wisely: As the Collective Hub wrote on their blog: surrounding yourself with the right people is vital to your business success. This is not a new theory, but it never grows old. As the quote goes: “you are the average of the five people you hang around the most”. What kind of people are you hanging around? Are they lifting you up or weighting you down? Do they believe in you and empower your ideas or do they laugh telling you that to work hard is a waste of time? Are they goal getters or coach potatoes? Are they healthy or doing drugs? Choose your friends, business partners and collaborators wisely.
From Lisa herself, the founder and Editor-In-Chief of Collective Hub:
- It is possible: Lisa’s Collective Hub venture started three years ago with three staff and no money wanting to create heck of a magazine and a creative community that are cheering for each other in an industry everyone said was flooded and too established. Three years later she has kicked some serious industry-butt, her magazine is published in over 37 countries and she has established a thriving community of creative, driven and like-minded people. We might not know exactly how to get from here to there, but stick to your vision as the vision never change.
- Live loud: In the end of the day we only have one life, one opportunity to make a difference and to create a life that is full of purpose and colour. Or as she wrote in one of her books: “Your life is your message to the world. So embrace the journey and live it out loud”. Ah, how I love that quote! The quote is from her book “Daring and Disruptive: Unleashing the Entrepreneur” in which you can purchase from the Collective Hub’s website.
From Dan Gregory, President and CEO of The Impossible Insitute:
- Definition of success: Success should not be defined just in monetary terms. Success is the amount of movement and inspiration your venture can produce. I find this to be beautifully true.
- Understand who you help your customers to be: Buying just for the sake of the purchase itself is long gone. Now days we are purchasing stories that enhance our identity. Dan emphasised that we buy what we want to become, a statement Lizzy from Spell & The Gypsy Collective confirmed: They are not only selling clothing. They are selling a desired lifestyle.
- Innovate at every touch point: As we grow older many of us shut down our creativity. We need to find the creativity again and utilise it in every touch point of our company. Dan used Airlines’ security videos as an example of this. No one is actually watching the security videos on-board of the aircraft. I know I don’t! To solve this many airlines have created a unique and innovative way of showcasing security on board of the flight.An example used by Dan was the safety video from Air New Zealand where they used butt naked flight attendances only covered in body paint. Of course they didn’t show any holy body parts, but everyone was intensely watching in case there was a nip slip somewhere in the video.
- I first came across this new way of creating awareness over the security video when I was flying with Qatar Airways from Oslo to Perth. In their video they are starring FC Barcelona using exceptionally hot soccer players (hint: Gerard Pique). I’ve never watched the security video with so much pleasure before. I even watched it when they played it in Arabic. With over 11 million shares from YouTube the company has also embraced the safety video as a marketing channel staying fresh, fun and relevant.
From Mim Haysom, General Manager of M&C Saatchi Sydney:
- Everyone benefits from having mentors: Again, this is something many of us already knew. Big names such as Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins and Bill Gates all had/have mentors. However finding a mentor is like having sex as an adult. The intention is there, but since you’re tired and have heaps of other things to do you might as well wait to reach out to your prospected mentor until tomorrow. Despite knowing that it will probably not happen tomorrow either because you will have another excuse. Mim didn’t use this metaphor. Instead, what she gave us was some very practical advice on how to create a positive mentoring relationship using five easy steps:
- Have a clear ambition on what you want from the mentorship, but also a clear ambition on where you see yourself in 1,3 and 5 years. By knowing yourself, your values and goals you can more clearly communicate these to your mentor.
- Do your research on what qualities you are looking for in a mentor and be open about why you want that specific person to mentor you.
- Set expectations and ask your mentor to do the same. In that way you eliminate misunderstandings and can use the time you have together more efficiently.
- Be prepared and set an agenda for each meeting using descriptive language and real life examples when talking to your mentor. The more prepared you are the better conversations you will have with your mentor.
- Be open to change and embrace the fact that you and your mentor might outgrow each other over time and that the relationship won’t always be the same. A relationship is dynamic and constantly evolving. Mimi also recommended you should also pay it forward by becoming a mentor yourself when the time is right.
What I learnt from myself:
- Preparation is gold. Sort your outfit out the night before, have your business cards ready and if you are attending the conference with a mission in mind (whether it’s to gather a minimum of ten new contacts or ask a question to a certain someone someone) make sure you practice the questions in case you get nervous or stressed. “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” as good old Alexander Graham Bell said.
- If you feel good. You do good. Make sure you are wearing clothes you feel confortable in, or even better: clothes that makes you feel hella good! Whether that be you favourite nickers in which no one can see but it still makes you feel good or your very own ‘success blouse’ is irrelevant. Wear something that makes you feel awesome! By the way, if you still haven’t encountered the term ‘success blouse’ I highly recommend you to check Josefin and Vanja’s podcast out. It is in Swedish, so it probably doesn’t make sense unless you are a Scandinavian but if you understand Swedish I highly recommend you to give their feel-good podcast a go.
Honestly, I could have written 3000 more words describing all the take aways and handy tips I received at the Kick.Start.Smart conference but rather than giving it all away I recommend you to attend the next conference. Something tells me this won’t be the last time the Collective Hub is hosting an event like this.
Watch this space!