I was fortunate to be invited to speak at the Do Lectures
Wales in July. It’s hard to describe the Do Lectures, but in a nutshell imagine a conference joined a festival and it was based on an old farm in the middle of the Welsh countryside, oh and all the attendees stayed in tents, there was limited wifi and it rained 80% of the time. That was Do.
Do describes it like this:
Inspirational talks from passionate, creative people. The idea is a simple one. That people who Do things, can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things too. So each year, we invite a set of people to come and tell us what they Do.
Not knowing what to expect and full of mixed emotions I got on the train to Cardigan with a borrowed pair of wellies and an open mind.
What followed was 3 days of inspiration, learning, exposure, greetings, friendly faces, a leaky tent, late nights by the campfire, last minute swims at dusk, a broken phone and many, many ideas. I came back with what felt like a new family, the ‘Do Family’, as Holley
coined it. It is hard to articulate the value and experience but I highly rate it, and urge anyone curious to try it out.
This newsletter could have easily turned into a novel if I wrote about all my experiences and insights from Do, so I’ll start with what struck me most, and will drip share the rest over time.
The 3 Things that struck me about Do Lectures:
+ Power of people:
Although there were many first timers at Do, there were a lot of returners, people that had spoken years before coming back as an attendee, or previous attendees coming back as volunteers, it was clear from the onset that Do had a strong community. Attendees have to apply to get a ticket, which means there is something special about the audience. Although from the outside both the attendees and speakers had little in common, once you broke the ice and started chatting, it was obvious that we all shared a shared purpose. It was interesting to see a theme come through all the talks, Speakers with completely different experiences and stories sharing similar messages and values. I believe it was because we were all Do'ers, people who were making things happen or have made things happen and were there to talk about it. What Do had collected was a place for the change makers to meet, to challenge and inspire each other and help light the sparks needed to take action. A really great crowd to be around.
How does this impact you?
We can often forget the power of our community, and go for quantity over quality. Strong communities are living beings that can self-sustain and keep a business going. The connections I’ve made from Do have paid off tenfolds and more than any conference I’ve been to before. As a leader think about how you can support and do more to build both your external (customers) and internal (employee) communities. There is an art to forming and shaping a community from the onset, it doesn’t happen naturally. Think of the skills needed to orchestrate that, what would they be?
+ Brand & Purpose:
, who runs the Do Farm with his wife Clare, is the founder of Hiut Denim
, a purpose based jeans company based in Wales. I heard David speak in May on how the power of purpose driven companies. You can hear a similar version here
. You can see how his belief in purpose transcends into the Do Lectures, they’ve created a strong brand through the power of sticking to what you believe in.
How does this impact you?
I think many leaders lose sight of this connection and it can be tempting to falter on purpose based on customer or stakeholder feedback. The founders of Do are clear on purpose and stay true to it. This means that it isn’t for everyone, and that’s exactly the point. The people that are attracted to the event are the ones that form that strong community. The Do brand has now extended into Books
, workshops, and most recently TeenDo. As leaders it’s your responsibility to 1) be clear on purpose 2) be able to articulate how this drives and affects your team 3) be the ambassador and shield to ensure the team doesn’t falter off course.
+ Limited Tech = Facing Fears
I had hardly any contact with the outside world for the 3 days. There was one wifi hotspot in the whole farm, and data service was very poor due to the location. This was not helped by my leaky tent leaking into my cracked iphone screen on day 2 screen and causing it to go on the fritz.
I know it’s easy to 'switch off’ from tech but being on my phone is such a habit for me, especially in public forums. As an introvert I used my phone to 'switch off’ from the crowd and with my phone not working I was lost without my safety net. I was forced to stand in crowds with no 'excuse’ to be doing something else like check 'emails’ or take pictures. On top of doing the talk (which was a new one) being without my phone at a conference really forced me out of my comfort zone. Despite finding it exhausting and uncomfortable I was grateful for the push. I have found that being pushed out of my comfort zone in safe situations has contributed the most to my personal development.
How does this impact you?
When was the last time you did something that scared you? When did you encourage and support a member of your team to get out of their comfort zone. When you break through fear you reach new opportunities and you grow. You have the responsibility to be pushing yourself so you continue to grow, but also to support others to as well.
On this topic, check out the links below to get inspired by one of my colleagues Rikke who launched her first 'Fearshop’ this month.