I went to an event yesterday. The Big House Expo, arranged - naturally enough - by The Big House, who are responsible for supporting Nottingham entrepreneurs and businesses operating in and around the creative and digital sectors to think and act differently about how they do what they do. And they’ve done a fine job, juggling their resources and contacts to deliver a programme of workshops, seminars, coaching and mentoring that’s benefitted a whole range of people.
Yesterday was an opportunity to meet a wonderfully diverse group who have in common a desire to do more of what they do. I learned lots speaking with a Palestinian woman about the work she’s doing to make UK universities more welcoming to overseas students. Chatted to an artist whose love of bold colours has led to painters travelling from other parts of the country to attend her workshops. Swapped stories with Phil Hughes, whose no-bull approach to marketing is producing some great work. Caught up with Lucy Brouwer, who as well as doing her brilliant Watson Fothergill tour is planning other Nottingham walks. Checked in with Lamar Francois, whose brilliant photography documented a festival in Mansfield where I’ve been been going in recent weeks to support a group of young people creating social media content and - more importantly - working in teams to deadlines with whatever resources are at hand. Listened to someone describe with relish how she’s found renewed zest in geeky creativity and pungent jokes. Heard doer-of-all-things-media Rachael van Oudheusden deliver the talk she said she’d never do, and (no surprise) make it funny and real. Talked to a savvy producer and filmmaker with heaps of experience who’ve set up a production company I really like the look of. I could go on. You get the idea.
The Big House for me has also been an opportunity to work as a coach with some brilliant people at different stages of their journey - from leaving the security of full time work and putting the hours in to creating what could be a new way of life, to taking a business forward that’s been getting quite a bit of attention and needs more focus for its founders. Every story is different, because each of us is different. How we get where we are is unique, and it’s a privilege to listen to people share what’s led them to the point where they’ve sought support. What they have in common, is the recognition that however well they’re doing now, there’s an extent to which the future requires some kind of transition. Course corrections often start inside, if they’re going to have the desired effect on the outer world.
Billing myself as an escape consultant yesterday allowed for some great conversations about that issue. Expectation is a prison that we all spend time in at various points. Sometimes getting out is as simple as understanding the implications of the language you use to describe what’s going on, or at any rate what you believe to be the case. Other times, it’s more useful to abandon words and rational structures and connect with what your body tells you. For every way in, there’s a way out, and some of the ones I’ve come up with - always a response to the individual and situation - are pretty way out. What matters is that they work. An impromptu chat yesterday led to someone I’d never met before realising they were capable of something they’d considered impossible until that moment. Other conversations were more about eating crisps and swapping jokes. Get in touch, and we’ll see where it goes.