Attending a Do Lectures weekender has always ranked highly on my business bucket list, so naturally when our PR/content team ‘Project Voice’ put the application under my nose I jumped at the opportunity and decided to document my experience for future Do Lecturers.
Event: Do Lectures
Location: the newly renovated ‘Ideas Farm’ in Cardigan, Wales.
Suggested method of transport: Car Share
Whilst the idea of a car share with strangers shook my more reserved English nature to the core, I put on my DOer hat and signed up, leading to my first creative collaboration of the weekend. Enter fellow strategist, coffee snob and long distance driver, Tom Eldridge and Yammer’s ex-ski chalet girl Abigail Goodfellow. After 5 hours in the car and some good chat, we arrived and settled into our yurts for the weekend, ready to be inspired.
The weekend kicked off with a bang as the DOers and I embarked on a run around the hills of Cardigan and swim in the sea, during which time our brilliantly-funny guide and running expert managed to, rather less funnily, get hit by one of the only cars within a ten-mile radius. Thankfully our guide survived (and was able to run around Wales 4 days later!) and we returned back to the camp for some wholesome rustic Welsh cuisine, to feed both body and brain before a weekend of lectures.
Although Do Lectures happen every year in both the UK and Australia, each event’s unique mix of business learning coupled with outdoor adventure ensures that no two weekends are ever the same. True to form, this year’s event changed up the format by scrapping the theme and leaving the floor open to a topic of your choosing. This approach is very much in line with the Do Lectures philosophy, in which the best light bulb moments take place when you stop seeking inspiration.
This year’s speaker lineup was a smorgasbord of expertise, with a cross-discipline mix of the good, the uplifting and the unexpected. A few of which, not all of them speakers, really struck a chord with me: Evan Doll, the founder of Flipboard, Justin McMurry, founder of Somewhere and Mo Syed, the founder of For Luca.
For me, Evan’s seminar drove home the importance of small ideas. His company Flipboard reminds me of a service my own grandfather used to provide when I was a kid, sending me (by post) articles or advice he thought I’d like or needed wherever I was in the world. I had never thought of my 80-year-old grandfather as curating and personalising content for me, but in hindsight his clippings provided me with a carefully crafted feed of information, minus the annoying adds, which helped shape the business strategy I use today. Sometimes the best ideas don’t require the invention of something new, just an evolution of something we already know and love.
At the other end of the spectrum was Mo Syed’s talk. For Luca utilizes a modern platform to raise awareness and funding in a revolutionary way for Meningococcal Septicaemia – a deadly disease which his son Luca miraculously survived when he was struck down with it at the age of three. Mo’s uplifting speech brought to the table the power of storytelling to effect change. Rather than simply relaying his tale, which would simply evoke pity, he has proactively used the story of his son’s illness to raise millions of pounds for this rare disease. A true inspiration.
When explaining the concept of Somewhere, his internet viewing platform, Justin raised an interesting point, which made me reconsider the way we measure our success. Why do we always have to associate scale with success? E.F. Schumacher prophetically wrote in the same-titled book in the 1970’s, that small is beautiful and I could not agree more with him on this point.
Do Lectures events give you a 360-life-refresher, from new thinking, business, philosophy, music, running, swimming or whittling spoons. There’s something about being away from the rest of the world that gives you those moments of perspective, and the headspace to have deep conversations and real belly laughs with great people, from seven until two in the morning.
So I ticked one ambition, and my next one has been formed; to speak and fuel the next generation of DOers with some creative disruptive thinking that I was so lucky to benefit from last month. To the organisers – we salute you. Your passion, care and diligence shone through. To the friendly co-attendees – you make one proud to be human and your open mindedness gives hope for the future.