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#4 The Big Idea: Creative Women Conference

“Empower yourself to be incredible but doing it all on your own is lonely.”

I joined the Creative Women conference this week, an online two-day event.

Their mission:

“We believe diversity is key for empowerment. There’s no denying that there are tons of events and conferences happening in Europe for women in tech, women-owned start-ups, small businesses and wellness.

BUT why not fuse these conference niches?

Giving women from all industries the opportunity to join a two-day event whereby everyone can learn from each other.” 

Brilliant idea.

It’s good to see how different industries have responded to the pandemic, and make contacts outside of your niche.

Here are the top takeaways from day two, which focused on marketing & comms strategy, personal branding and networking.

  • Kiri Sinclair, Founder & CEO at Sinclair Hong Kong on why collaboration is the path to recovery. They created a collaborative digital platform (Art Hong Kong) with over 130 partners to make art accessible to all.
  • Kate Cook, Founder & Director at The Nutrition Coach on your immunity and resilience. You know how to eat well, but did you know stress can block your immunity? And that Qi Gong can help you to set boundaries?
  • Baroness Simone Finn, MP on women in public life and the challenges of leadership. We’ve made progress on diversity, but there’s still a sense of inertia. Companies resist change. “We can’t legislate away a sexist culture.” She’s still getting comments like “How do you put up with her?” The briefs in recruitment for city positions are aimed at men. Why does society still insist on labelling the male brain as better?
  • We’re now in the 4th industrial revolution, which is changing the way we live and work. The industrial titans have been superseded by tech companies. New business models must be governed in a gender-balanced way and delivered by men and women. “We need more women in tech NOW.” Older women need to support the women coming up behind them.
  • Farzana Baduel, Founder & CEO of Curzon PR on how to adapt your marketing & comms to the new normal. There are three phases: Survive, revive, & thrive:
  • Survive – look for opportunities but don’t be opportunistic. There was a backlash against Victoria Beckham when she furloughed 30 staff at her fashion label, and she had to retract. If you’re a solopreneur, it’s important to be seen as more caring and empathetic. Don’t chase profits when people are suffering. Give back to society.
  • Revive (now) – it’s time for reckoning and reinvention. What do you want your business to look like? Can you start a new service? She’s hosting digital events and putting the audio from webinars into podcasts. People now want a selection of channels for content. Businesses that prioritise their employees will do well in the future.
  • Set aside time for research and learning – Coursera, Harvard, Stanford etc. are offering free online courses. Learn about the psychology of storytelling that underpins marketing & PR. Ways to influence and change behaviour. Spend part of your week horizon scanning for trends.
  • Thrive – there will be ongoing crises so build your brand in a way that means you can respond quickly. Her team all work remotely. Keep your contracts with suppliers flexible/short. Be an early adopter of social media channels. She uses Trello boards to plan short-term – little cards you can move around as living and breathing ideas.
  • On information overload – productivity falls, and critical thinking is impaired. Use trusted news sites (am and eves only) and be aware of bias and agenda. Turn your notifications off and have your phone on do not disturb from 10 pm – 7 am. Meditate and get enough sleep. Make information serve you, not the other way around.
  • Focus on the present and things you can control. Do one task at a time to avoid overload.
  • Go for a run or walk first thing in the morning. “The sun needs to hit the retina, to bring you to life!”
  • Treat information like food – eat well. Produce thoughtful, complex and valuable information within your niche. Collaborate with other experts and solve a problem. Have social media timeouts and share positive news online.
  • Marie Diamond, author, speaker on energetic branding. Are your brand values still right for the new norm? She’s big on Feng Shui and suggests having a success space – all your cards, flyers, vision boards (your branding energy) in one place. Get rid of things that are no longer serving you.
  • Francis Segelman, Royal Sculptress. She works fast (two-hour sittings) and has “a mad, positive conversation in my head” to get it done. “I have to put any negative thoughts aside or it just won’t happen… Sculpture isn’t that difficult. The majority of people are much better at it than they think. It’s about determination…”
  • Fi Bendall, Founder of The Female Social Network on how to network. Ask for advice and help. It makes people feel good, and 99% will be delighted to help you. Showcasing other people’s successes helps you build a deepen meaning with that person. Introduce yourself to people at events – it’s what you’re there for, after all. We don’t do it enough!
  • Virtual networking can lead to new opportunities. It’s delivered more than face to face conferences in many ways, e.g. Dell women’s networking event.
  • Advertisers need to invest money in the female social networking space. The ‘recommendation economy’ is huge – 42% of women buy something because it was recommended by another woman. 76% of our decisions are made emotionally.
  • Mako Abashidze, Founder & Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce onopportunities to do business in Georgia. They have a free trade agreement with the UK. Please introduce yourself, ask questions and make use of their database.
  • On the positives of the pandemic: People are opening up, sharing contacts, and want to create and collaborate. Get ready for lots of new products and services, and different ways of doing things…

Zoom is surprisingly intimate, and you can feel the warmth and passion. Creative Women is like a big family – women of all ages sharing ideas, stories, and collaborating to create change.

I also liked how it mixed art and business. We won’t remember all the content, but we do remember how someone makes us feel… art, music, movement are inspiring. The highlight was a video tour with royal sculptress Frances Segelman. We had a peek inside her home studio (busts of the Queen, Boris, Prince Phillip, Joan Collins, Dame Edna…), saw her tools, process, and heard stories about her sittings.

How nervous she was doing the Queen (her dream client). Her hands were shaking so badly she could barely hold the callipers. “I thought, I’m just going to enjoy this.” Asking tactical questions to find out if she liked it. “Are you happy with your hair this length?”

“Maybe a little shorter.”

How Boris has “an incredible aura. He’s such fun. Amazing energy.”

How Joan Collins wouldn’t sit still…

She has a fantastic home overlooking Tower Bridge. Two silver sculptures by the window – the angel of flight and the angel of fun… An Alice in Wonderland mirrored chair. She is self-taught and spends hours in museums drawing the human body, “an amazing thing”.

Someone needs to do a sculpture of her asap!! I can’t believe she doesn’t have one.

A fantastic event, and cheap as chips (£10 per ticket plus recording). Having it online means it’s accessible to all.

Contact CEO Olga Balakleets for more info. www.creativewomen.co.

💡My Big Idea: I want to send a virtual business card to a speaker so we can exchange details. Be great to be able to ping something across the screen. It feels a bit clumsy via chat. Any developers on it?! It would be a useful tool for online networking.

Given that we’ve got to wear face coverings on public transport from June 15, thought I may as well get a nice one and raise some money for charity. Fashion designer Natasha Zinko is selling upcycled reusable face masks from fabric leftovers from previous collections. 50% of each sale will be donated to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. More info here.

If you enjoyed reading this, please share it on social media 🙌 – let’s keep the conversation going. If you have a story, tip or advice to share, email nicci@niccitalbot.com. Find me online @niccitalbot.

Sign up for my newsletter: The Shift here.

By Nicci Talbot

Director, freelance journalist & copywriter

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