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Edgeware's Do Well Conference

Over the weekend I attended my second Edgeware event. It was definitely a winner and I must firstly thank Sarah Moran for sponsoring my ticket to the conference. Unfortunately though, I was off to a bad start due to a clash with Friday evening traffic heading to Suncorp Stadium for the Broncos vs Cowboys rugby league game. Despite leaving home half an hour early I was forty-five minutes late when I stepped off the bus from the city! Cutting a long story short, I became so fearful of the time I was spending not yet at the venue among drunken football fans in the street I chose to take the safe route home again, thus missing out on the initial networking session and Map Magazine's Carl Lindgren.

The next morning I was welcomed warmly by the darling Nat Duncan, Edgeware director Michael Doneman and various Brisbane Twitter friends. I filled out a brief profile on myself and stuck it to the physical network of string and people on the wall of Substation 4 and immediately felt connected; even before meeting the majority of conference attendees! Later I was to learn this was part of reknowned Brisbane photographer Mark Lobo's Six Degrees project. Can't wait to see the outcomes!

Saturday's speakers were:

Sunday composed of:

The weekend was very well-planned, very appropriate for the broad range of attendees and made excellent use of Edgeware's kick-arse motto of Make money, have fun, change the world. I was inspired, validated and motivated (even to the point that I wanted to leave abruptly in order to act upon plans!). It was a very comfortable environment, which is sometimes difficult to achieve at conferences. Not that Edgeware has ever had such a problem at all!

To finish up, I acknowledge the lovely Ludmilla Doneman and her volunteers for the fantastic catering, and I'd like to share a collection of my favourite quotes from the weekend. Such gems!

  • "Are you in it for the idea or are you in it for business?" - Samantha Jockel
  • "Be honest with what you don't know. Start with what you do know." - Leesa Watego
  • "Only when you love good coffee can you make good coffee." - London advertising slogan, via Paul Natorp's presentation
  • "Don't ask for help; ask for advice." - Amanda Jackes
  • "Know who you are so that you know what you need." - Samantha Jockel
  • "If you don't fit your imagined entrepreneur then you must re-imagine what you want your lived entrepreneur to be." - Leesa Watego
  • "Sometimes it's easier to seek forgiveness later on than it is to seek permission." - Amanda Jackes
  • "Whatever criticism you receive, turn it into a greater asset." - Paul Natorp

Event Management Lessons I've Learned

This has been a blog post in the making for a number of weeks and even surprised me when it came up in a recent job interview I attended last week. Not to worry that I was prepared! Please leave your thoughts and comments; I’d love to hear your own event management lessons learned.

Age 5: Lolly bags are great. Exceed expectations.

We all know to keep the client happy. This is your number one priority when contracted to run an event. Once you’ve maintained their satisfaction, keep at it! If everything else is taken care of there is no sense in stopping now, offer more than just the party. Giveaways and extra goodies not only keep your guests peeking into their bags days after your event has finished, it ensures that sponsors are willing to help you financially in order to get their fridge magnets and brochures into the hands of attendees. It shocks me how many events miss out on the benefits of creating new business relationships because they misunderstand the concept of sponsorship, a fantastic way of adding on the extra frills for your event.

Also keep your business satisfied internally. More capital means you’re able to serve clients on an even higher level so it is important for constant review of policies and procedures. Exceed the expectations of your employer by making suggestions for that new marketing campaign you think would be a success. They should appreciate your extra thoughts on the matter and will realize you’re keeping your eyes open.

Essentially, events management is all about service, not just striding around enjoying the glory of being the party planner. Actively seek how you can improve the event for everyone involved and you cannot go wrong. You events angel, you!

Age 10: Multi-focal points.

Keep everyone entertained. This means not just having the one aspect of your event; not relying on the music or food to create the entertainment at your event. If you want to create a winning conference, why not shake it up with team-building activities every two hours or so? You'll keep everyone refreshed and amused, which means they'll clearly be able to focus on that killer gala dinner budget you're proposing to them.

Age 14: The media is your friend.

Don't be shy, go on radio and TV (you'd be surprised what makes the news these days)! Blog like your little heart depends on it all about what's happening. Be transparent in planning for the event, short of describing errors that arise. A good, and wise, host never discloses mistakes or challenges that arise.

Despite this, do your homework before approaching the media. Have a well-prepared press release and notes to refer to during radio or podcast interviews. There is nothing worse than a person in charge of a large event who does not appear to know what time the doors open, or for heaven's sake, the major sponsors!

Age 16: Students are lazy. Motivate them!

'Scuse my language here, but students ain't going to do shit for you unless there is something in it for them. Now, before the few student readers I have jump up in arms over this generalisation, let me explain. I took many cultural and community initiatives during my high school and college years in regards to events. It was always so difficult to get students supporting my causes because students will always have their garage bands, dance classes, car racing, sports, movies and what-not to attend to. Adults seem to have less of these extra-curricular activities and hence are more willing to support those who do take on initiatives of their own. Maybe it is also that Generation Y has perhaps grown up more connected to global issues and charity adventures. Maybe they’re tired of all of this? Sounds like another blog for another day, but for simplicity’s sake I’d like to argue that students have a lot on their plate these days and hence do not wish to take on more than they can fit in one mouthful.

Age 18: Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Don't be lazy. Check everything twice. Three times even! I find a week’s check and a 48-hour prior check is fantastic, but it greatly depends on the size of your event. This step includes not just checking your own facts, but keeping everyone on board informed on what you do know. Run sheets, room layout maps, contingency plans, cues and directions… the more information you can give to those involved the better problem-solving capacity you will end up with. You cannot succeed without a road map!

Age 21: Use your networks!

Resources are best maintained of course. I have a good friend of mine from high school, Chloe Tully, I do not hesitate to recommend for musical entertainment and I am still dying to use her for my next event. (On the matter of online networks and event management, I shall write more on this in the coming weeks as we all know these are of great value these days.)

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out. You’ll love having that extra bit of rapport on board (pardon me!) when the shit hits the fan and the client will think you are a super human! My all-time favourite experience of this is Twitter. During my diploma in event management I ran a series of four conferences and a networking function over five weeks. On three occasions did guest speakers cancel within days of their booked date to appear and I was left stranded. But the Internet can hear you scream, and within minutes of these desperate pleas I had made some new connections in the form of kick-arse public speakers Tim Longhurst who flew from Sydney to my rescue, Des Walsh who I now treasure as a mentor and role model, and Micheal Axelsen who I also name as a mentor. These gentlemen were only a short 140 characters away online and I will never underestimate the power of online communications in any format again thanks to this one experience.

Action Precedes Clarity: The Awesomeness that was Edgeware's Upload Camp

Today I write my Edgware Upload camp wrap-up. The past weekend I'll admit has been one of sleep catch-up and moping around the flat because I felt the magic was gone. Silly me! I'd just spent the past week feeling that "today is the first day of the rest of your life" and was so hyped up that when Saturday came around I was distraught I'd missed it in favour of eighteen hours sleep!

If anything the business planning of this week took a backseat to the personal development side, which just shows how entwined these two aspects of an entrepreneur's* life are.

I started off quiet, but most do when thrust into a new environment with strange people. This was evident immediately when our godfather for the week, Michael Doneman, pronounced us all "weirdos." The Eco-lodge was gorgeous and even the wasps were bearable for the week. Our kitchen was in a train carriage and I slept in a church loft with a wonderful view.

The general timetable of the camp was for Michael to start us off with some business strategies and planning content, then a guest speaker would present and answer our questions. After a presenter or two (snack breaks in between) we'd have a bit of free time in the afternoon or social activities before dinner. Usually fun activities in the evening and the food was always of the best quality mastered by Ludmila Doneman and Nat Duncan. Oh, except that dinner the 15-odd Edgies devised too.

Monday - Scott McKay of Wolfbyte

Scott visited and was a great start to the camp.

Theatre sports in the evening set a nervous yet hilarious tone for the group's dynamics. Miming and guessing games were just too good of ice-breakers to pass up in the program I guess.

Tuesday - Edward Harran & Elliott Bledsoe

Social media, Creative Commons licencing, swimming at the dam, discussing the Johnny Bunko manga business book. I worked a fair bit on developing my business idea and putting into use the matrix tools Michael had given us earlier that morning in deciding on niche markets. Bit of clarity here.

Wednesday - Esther Cole of Frollop & Ben Johnston of Joseph Mark

I think I gained a fair bit of inspiration on starting my own business from these two, more than on other days of the camp. Both being alumni Edgies, Esther & Ben both had a creative and individual flair which made the day (much like Tuesday) an entertaining one in the least.

The day ended with Japanese taiko drumming by a bonfire. There's nothing left for it. I MUST resume my drumming. I loved it just too much. I was on fire. I WAS that fire. The blisters on my hands are badges of honour and reminding me that by Friday of this week I will have cleaned off my own drumkit in the garage for a bash; the first since late-2007.

Thursday - Karen Woolley of Proscribe

Thursday we worked on our physical representations of our business plans. We had until 6.30 to create them from all sorts of scrap material and craft supplies.

My epiphany came when I was about to hit 'send' on a reply confirming my ideas for Brisbane Twestival, having just been approached to work on the event. The Event Buzz had hit me for the first time during a week of confusion and vagueness over what I wanted to do. Now I know! Event management and social media is where it's at. I love these worlds and I will make a mix of these my bag.

The exhibition of our sculptures was on during the evening. Mine was pretty awesome but I'll have to explain it further.

Friday - no special guests

The day to say goodbye. This was the most intense day of reflection that, yes, there were tears. There were poems, stories, hugs, games and even tree-planting.

We started the day presenting our business plans with ten minutes per presentation plus seven minutes to fill out feedback forms on each. I still am yet to look through the majority of my received feedback forms as I want to look over them when I feel the motivation fading away. Also, I finaly realised that what I'd been told all along was true: action DOES come before clarity.

The drive back to Brisbane with fellow Edgies reminded me how alike we all are. Burning for the future and each with our own individual strengths and weaknesses, all agreeing that screaming the chorus to "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon is the greatest after a few drinks yet you have to be in the right mood for John Butler Trio.

Things I am Accountable for

  • 1 hour drumming each week
  • 6 hours on business plan each week
  • 6 hours blogging each week for TechWiredAu
  • 10 jobs applied for each week
  • Learning sign language

(traditional media picked up on the story and fellow Edgie Mike Boyd's blog on Upload is here)

*I have since learned that "entrepreneur" is not a dirty word afterall!

Edgeware's Upload Young Entrepreneurs Camp

Right now I am at the Glasshouse Mountains Eco-lodge stretched out on a cosy attic bed reading Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Daniel H. Pink and reflecting over the past day at Edgeware's Upload Young Entrepreneurs Camp. Upload 2009 is the maiden voyage of the camp for gutsy, high school to mid-twenty-aged, business-minded souls seeking the path before them. I am one of those people looking to surpass wasting my life away working unnecessarily for a business I have no attachment to in a job I feel nothing for.

Today started at 9am with general introductions and we soon moved on to receiving goodie bags and copies of the above manga book.

The goodie bags contained:

  • the week's schedule
  • notebook and pen
  • party popper for that epiphany moment
  • map of Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth for that moment of despair
  • specimin jar to contain items believed to personally represent the "edgie" on day one and then to be reflected on Friday
  • inspirational quotes
  • various bits of pieces to inspire that crafty side (a fork, wrapping paper lantern. Or box. At least I think that is what it is)
  • and lastly, a copy of Edgeware's Small Business Backpack by Ian Dover FAICD

So today we focused on value proposition, success, cash flow, risk management and more. Michael Doneman of Edgeware facilitated the most of the day with guest speaker Scott McKay visiting for the afternoon. It was a great day and more is planned in the form of a games night - theatre sports! Sounds good to me :)

The Eco-lodge is a beautiful venue, I do not think the Edgeware team could have chosen a more suitable environment to inspire young minds. It should be noted also that through Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE, participants (about 15 of us) are gaining the following qualifications (one or two I believe I actually might already have as part of my Southbank Institute of Technology diploma in events management):

  • (THCICS04A) Originate and develop a concept
  • (THHGCS08B) Establish and conduct business relationships
  • (THHGCS07B) Coordinate marketing activities
  • (THHGLE19B) Develop and implement a business plan
  • (THHGLE03B) Develop and implement operational plans

If anything today I have spent time getting back in touch with my goals for the next five years. We will be each leaving on Friday with both a one-page business plan and a number of artistic representations of that plan. Sounds fun? Sure will be!

The Best Event I've Worked On + Setting Boundaries

Q: Hi Nicole, welcome to Askablogr! What's the biggest event you've ever put on? The most satisfying? What kinds of gigs do you say 'no' to? Are you Brisbane-only, or can you take on clients elsewhere?Chris DeVore

A: a) The most satisfying event I've had a major role in organising was for International House College (University of Queensland, Brisbane). The college holds an event known as Soiree (which I cannot find the website of right now!) and it is completely run by the students. My role in 2006 was to organise publicity, where with two other students I put the word out to EVERYONE in Brisbane that Soiree was on.

It was my first experience at sponsorship negotiations (successful at gaining free advertising on Brisbane's CityCat ferries!) leading and motivating large groups of tired flag-clothed and body-painted students early in the winter mornings for promotional activities, communicating with embassies and local media bodies and more! Let's just say I missed out most of the actual event because I was so exhausted.

To this day people still congratulate me on my efforts that year. I mean, I had a bucket of beer thrown over me at a rival college because we'd interrupted the cricket for a few minutes to promote Soiree!

b) I refuse events I feel I am not competent in running, of course, also I'd have to refuse events outside Brisbane. The reason for both of these is that I would not be able to deliver an event anywhere near the quality of one run by someone more local or qualified. The last reason I'd turn down an event is if it was being run for unethical purposes; it would take all the money in the world just to get me to go against my own code of ethics!

I hope this answered your questions. Thanks for the warm welcome to Askablogr!