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Life – a game of participation

Guest blog by Katrina Edwards

When I first started to write and prepare for Slow School’s Talk on Purpose (previously ‘Is there a TED-style talk in you?’) program my old self-beliefs, childhood memories and lessons learned announced themselves as important. The business owner, teacher and mother definitely had something to say:

 Katrina Edwards Thank you to Rob Moorman and Hunting with Pixels for the excellent social videography!

 

Being part of this program created an extraordinary opportunity to participate, pull apart, deconstruct and search for meaning – to be real.

Many uncomfortable and disconcerting moments arose. Periods of not knowing and not being able to connect with my purpose drew me up short. I had to really pluck up the courage to work through these uncomfortable times.

I had to find the courage to allow and accept disorganization and confusion. I learned to be patient enough to wait for the idea or story to present itself – and then be prepared to accept it is as not the final version.

But the experience also reinforced that when we fully participate, we experience life deeply. It’s in this space that we feel the extraordinary, hear the possibilities and see the opportunities.

If life becomes a ‘game of participation’ we’re capable of anything and everything. The capability for anything and everything is found in the nothing – in the pauses, the silence, the peace. It’s in this space that our truth emerges.

Put yourself in a new and unfamiliar scenario and prepare to get totally out of your comfort zone. Once you’ve made a choice to open up, the most amazing messages and stories reveal themselves.  Participate today with every little piece of you. The message you are passionate to share will appear and, afterwards, a heart-bursting pride will overcome you. Give it a try.

 

Katrina Edwards is the Director of Aligned for Life. Since completing this program her public-speaking confidence has increased substantially, she’s reignited her passion for her business, and has realigned the company’s purpose and vision.

 

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How I got naked on stage

Guest blog by Meg Dreschler

Life is full of transitions.

We try out different roles as we travel life’s stages, playing each scene in the style we choose.

I’ve played the ‘marketing professional’ role for a long time. Scenes featuring me in front of large and expectant crowds have been common. When the show’s all about selling or teaching, I know the script. The costume fits.

But this stage required something very different from me. This stage was for sharing ideas worth spreading, not selling ideas worth buying. Putting on my ‘business costume’ and pretending to be credible just wasn’t going to cut it.

I was about to get naked.

While fully clothed, I told more than 100 people about my most vulnerable moment. That moment is the reason I began Grow Tales.

Weeks of practice stripping off amongst supportive facilitators and classmates at Slow School gave me enough courage to share the true, personal story behind Grow Tales.

I’ve learned that my story is my purpose, that it is shared by many, and that it deserves to be shared.

I doubt many of us students intended to get so personal. The thought of sharing the ‘real me’ publicly was absolutely horrifying at first. But after standing up and talking every week, learning the secrets of a great talk, having our talks ‘fed-forward’ countless times, facing personal doubts and demons, and a few sorely needed drinks and buddy chats… sharing something authentic no longer felt so scary. It felt right. And it felt necessary.

Last night, I took to the stage feeling electric.

Meg Drechsler

The real Meg Drechsler was on stage… no longer a pretender. Just me. As I stepped away from the microphone, I didn’t feel razzed up or worn out as I can be after a sales pitch.

What I felt was: calm, complete, proud and happy.

I’m grateful for my classmates’ support and privileged to support their steps onto the stage. A play is only as good as its actors – and at this unique school, everyone played a part in our shared success.

Last night marked a new stage in my life. One in which my voice is free, powerful, generous and ready to make great things happen.

If you were granted the courage to take to the stage ‘naked’ – what would you say?

 

Guest blogger Meg Dreschler is a graduate of Slow School’s “Is there a TED-style talk in you?” program and the founder of Grow Tales.

 

Roger McDonald - For better or for verse

For better or for verse

Guest post by Roger McDonald

Roger is a poet and business biographer and a graduate of our recent Is there a TED-style talk in you? program. This is a guest post on his experience and the impact it’s had. So very grateful to have you on the Slow School journey with us Roger.

Check out Roger’s talk and this stunning reflective poem below.

Roger McDonald

(Thank you to Rob Moorman and Hunting with Pixels for our excellent social videography.)

You know how duty works. Your partner’s involved in an activity—maybe not your cup of tea—but you have to go along to the finale.

That’s how it was for me in October 2014 and the first Slow School of Business’s Is There a TED-like Talk in You? program.

My expectations were low, but I was prepared to be generous. Instead, a gift of astounding proportions rewarded me out of the blue.

Eighteen people gave their all. I was hooked. I wanted in. And when a new program came up in February/March this year, I was among the first to sign.

I have a confession.

Arrogance is a heartless tart. It steals your esteem, goes on a blinder, and abuses you when the funds run out.

As a journalist, editor, writer and speaker of more than 30 years, I knew I could do this program with my eyes and ears closed and only my mouth to do the work.

I was wrong.

The five weeks learning to speak properly taught me almost as much as all my professional training ever has.

What’s more, I witnessed my thirteen fellow participants’ fear transform to confidence, the ordinary mutate to the sublime, and cockiness (mine) slim to humility.

Women cried. Men fumbled. A boy soared. All returned, magnetized by teachers who knew that teaching is listening, sharing, coaxing, and refining.

I re-wrote my talk nine times, and was still editing it in the peaceful yard of a nearby church minutes before our transformation.

My TED-like talk was on the power of poetry. My thirteen colleagues—through shared courage, conviction and performance—helped me write this:

Catharsis

Catharsis

I’ve Googled fourteen but without success.

Collectively nounless is how we must remain,

a slow school number, in our namelessness;

united, though, in triumph after pain.

We weren’t quite the Charge of the Light Brigade

talking to glory as the canon roared.

But every one of you, my colleagues, played

your part in seeing thought and speech restored.

So many tales of courage, stories, songs.

all ages, genders, walks of life came through.

High standards too—the very least was bronze,

all striving for the honest and the true.

I’m privileged to have seen you grow through this

and with you, achieve my own catharsis.

Roger G McDonald

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Interview with ‘Is there a TED-style talk in you?’ graduate Damian Richmond

When you have an idea to share and a mission to accomplish (especially one that will contribute to a better world) you just have to take that leap of faith and speak up about it! Assisting conscious, conscientious business leaders to do just that is the motivation behind Slow School’s “Is there a TED-style talk in you?” course.

Damian Richmond, Community Development Manager at bankmecu, presented his TED-style talk “Making a difference everyday” at our March 2015 speaker graduation night. In the following interview, Damian speaks with Slow School founder Carolyn Tate about his learning experience.

Damian Richmond Making a Difference every

Carolyn: Tell me about your role as Community Development Manager at bankmecu

Damian: I look after not-for-profit organisations that are community customers of the bank. I work to understand their issues and then provide personalised banking services to help them achieve their goals. bankmecu is an amalgamation of credit unions originally formed to support regional or occupational communities, such as teachers, where everyone has the desire to support each other. The co-operative movement is still at the heart of what we do and overlaying that is our commitment to the environment. I’m very lucky because I get to do good in the communities we’re involved with.

 

Carolyn: Why did you do the “Is there a TED-style talk in you?” program?

Damian: In my role at bankmecu I often present to forums or conferences and talk about the values alignment. I try to explain the uniqueness of bankmecu as a customer owned responsible bank, and the products and practical matters of banking with us, but it can come across as a ‘sales pitch’ rather than emphasising the social or environmental values banking with us offer. Clearly the products and service are important but they’re not why people bank with us. We have so many great stories to tell that truly demonstrate just how dedicated we are to the environment and our communities and making a difference. Being able to present our stories in a TED-style would be a great way for me to talk about responsible banking.

Carolyn: So what are some of these stories?

Damian: There are so many to tell. There are stories like the fact that for every car loan we give out we plant around 17 trees at our Conservation Landbank to offset carbon emissions, how we choose our suppliers according to their environmental impact, the biodiversity projects connected to our goGreen products and the way we run traineeships in Gippsland to support jobs in the local community. We have a responsibility and commitment to be a responsible bank and help all Australians. There are many very specific stories we can share about individuals we’ve helped and even our own personal stories as employees.

Carolyn: How did you feel before turning up to your first class?

Damian: I was nervously excited. Like most people, public speaking is one of my fears. The course was always going to be a big challenge but also a tremendous opportunity for professional and personal growth. I hoped it would give me some great skills that I can use internally and externally at work, as well as personally.

Carolyn: How do you think the course will help your team?

Damian: In our first class I learnt a lot about how to tell our stories in a way we haven’t thought much about before. I’ve already been able to pass on a few ideas to my team and got them thinking about stories they could share that will bring out their passion and purpose. We have a unique advantage in that we are unlike any of the other banks. For example, we don’t reinvest in coal or fossil fuel mining. What we don’t do is as important as what we do do. We have awesome stories that need to be shared both internally and externally.

Carolyn: Now that you’ve finished the course and performed your final presentation, how do you feel?

Damian: I definitely feel a real sense of achievement now that I’ve completed the final presentation, knowing that all the time, all the work and all the hours debating what to say and how to say it all paid off into that one event. It feels like the same sense of pride that you would get as if you had just handed in a thesis or just completed a marathon that had taken months of training in readiness to the big event.

Carolyn: How will you use what you’ve learned?

Damian: We spoke about the idea that ‘every sentence must have its place and every word in that sentence must earn its place’ in a presentation. This really taught me that every presentation I do from now on needs far more preparation time. I’ll definitely be practicing them many times over to ensure I am happy with how I will communicate to the audience each time I’m offered to do so.

Carolyn: What have you taken from the experience?

Damian: I initially thought the course was around ‘public speaking’ but it is much more than that, it’s about public communicating. The course really forced me to rethink the preconceptions that I had around presenting at any forum event or group presentation. There’s also been a lot of support from my colleagues and they’re all really proud of how I went, which is a bit of a buzz.

About the course

The the last “Is there a TED-style talk in you?” program was a five-week course generously supported by bankmecu. 14 students were guided through a series of classes designed to help them unearth their big idea and craft a five-minute talk around it. The course culminated in a public graduation night on Tuesday 3 March, where the graduates delivered their talk in front of a live audience.

This course is facilitated by four of Australia’s leading speakers and facilitators: Jon Yeo (curator of TEDx Melbourne), Yamini Naidu (business storyteller), Sandy McDonald (TEDx speaker) and Rob Moorman (creative and videographic strategist). Our next course commences on 14 April.

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Is there a TED Talk in you?

What do you reckon: how do world-changing ideas spread?

Where are they found? Who gets to decide whether they’re brought into the world, and why do some burst into flight with a life of their own once they get here?

I think the answer to all of these questions is, “You.” Or more precisely, “Each of us.”

When you have a bright idea, you explore it. You poke and prod at it. You expand it in your thoughts to be larger than life. Then, while everything about it is vast and brilliant and limitless, you sharpen your mind’s eye into laser focus on the nooks and crannies. You identify key minutiae and the delicate weave of connections which unify into this monumental thoughtform you’ve conceived.

And then you decide. Will you manifest it? Is it ready to cross that bridge of neurons and synapses connecting possibility with reality? Or does it remain behind the curtains of your eyes, developing and perfecting itself in the safe recesses of your imagination?

You decide. Each of us every day decides. And we exist, living our lives, in a world full of ideas made manifest.

All the innovations of technology, of science, of philosophy and medicine: each one started out as a bright idea. Every element of our modern world – from the meals we eat to the clothes we wear to the languages we speak – had to make that crucial journey across neurons and synapses into the world we interact with daily.

It’s like breathing, the way we construct our reality. And as with breathing, we often do it subconsciously without any specific strategy or intention around what we do. We toss around our actions and our words like so many beachballs at a crowded foreshore. But just imagine what could happen if we decided to pay more attention, all of us, just a little. If we increasingly chose to construct our reality with conscious purpose, with intention, with focus and compassion. Imagine what we could accomplish then.

I find our innate powers of reality creation awe-inspiring. What’s more, it’s in our nature to apply that creative force whether we’re aware of it or not. The only choice we actually have is in how we direct it – what tools we use to craft it, what kindred souls we build it with, and via what platforms we showcase the manifestations of our bright ideas.

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Genevieve Sovereign
Community Manager – The Slow School of Business

 

Slow School’s Talk on Purpose program gives participants a TED-like platform from which to promote their innovative business or idea, culminating in delivery of their talk in front of a live audience as well as a professionally produced video they can use for promotional purposes.

Check out Slow School’s YouTube channel for dozens of talks from our Talk on Purpose course.

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Introducing the Hoffice

The next evolutionary step in co-working is here, and it’s been dubbed the “hoffice”.

Launched as the brain child of Swedish entrepreneur Christofer Graden Franzen, home offices or “hoffices” provide a space for freelancers, consultants, artists, solitary professionals and independent traders of all stripes to connect and enjoy the comforts of a home while working alongside other trail-blazing entrepreneurs. As Franzen explains, “The problem with working at home for most of us, is to be so lonely in the complex soup we call life. All our addictions of distracting ourselves, all escape mechanisms here and there – they’re difficult to handle when you’re on your own.”

The hoffice concept solves these issues by enabling participants to spend their days in a social working environment that allows them to be productive without ignoring other vitally important human needs. Participants support each other to concentrate their efforts on self-identified priorities – and to work methodically, accountability and with focus. Throughout the course of a typical hoffice day, intensive work periods (~45mins) are interspersed with short breaks (~15mins) that involve some form of structured physical, social or mindfulness activity – such as meditation, stretching, games or connection-building exercises. The idea is to empower participants to continuously learn about their optimal working processes and, ultimately, themselves. Participants actively contribute to a shared environment and work practice that helps everyone feel happy, calm, creative, refreshed and inspired throughout the workday.

The team at Slow School is excited to announce we’ve launched our own Melbourne hoffice to serve as Slow School HQ. Our hoffice will function as a sustainable co-living and co-working environment where members come to connect, collaborate and accomplish their goals. Plans are underway to start designing the space to make it a fun, vibrant and respectful environment suited to both work and play.

If you’re one of the ever-growing tribe of entrepreneurs wanting to do things differently and work in a fun environment with great people, we suggest connecting with other like-minded professionals in your area and exploring the possibility of establishing a hoffice near you.

Or come along and be a part of our new Melbourne hoffice right here in Prahran/South Yarra Melbourne.

For more information about the hoffice concept, visit http://hoffice.nu/en

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Breaking free of the corporate trap

WWe’ve all been there. I’m not going to dwell on the downsides of corporate life because, well, many are universal and each of us has spent more than enough time lamenting them I’m sure.

Rather, I’d like to explore with you the steps that go beyond it. I want to talk about the hope that there’s something else out there more worthy of your life and effort. I want to celebrate the decision to go find what that is, to discover yourself and recognise what you can really offer this world – on your own terms. And I want to support you with all my heart and mind to take that step, to make that leap of faith and to build for yourself a life and livelihood that’s true to your needs, wants and calling.

We all have it in us. The journey is far from impossible – but it sure helps to have a plan.

So, how does one go about breaking free of the corporate trap? While there’s no instruction manual, no blueprint for the maze, there are some general principles which – if kept in mind – will make your landing a little softer and help you hit the ground running.

1.       Decide what it is you want. This doesn’t have to be your deep, foundational, meaning-of-life-and-everything want (although if you know that bit already, you’re a step ahead!). This is simply an understanding of the changes you intend to enact – what they are and why you desire them. The “why” is vitally important because it will serve as your fuel to get you to what you want.

2.       Plan your exit. As tempting as it may be on some days to just throw your hands in the air and storm out, that’s rarely the best way to approach important life decisions. Having a timeline (with dates) in place that takes into account your finances, personal life, health and other factors will not only give you more confidence when making a change but will also help cushion the impact of any unforeseen events.

3.       Go for it! You know you can do it, and so do I. It can be a scary and sometimes lonely thing to head out on your own and follow your heart. The comforting familiarity of an old corporate trap can start to look quite attractive in retrospect, when you’re breaking new trails in unfamiliar territory. Always remember to sound in with your values and motivations – they’ll keep you on the track that’s truly yours to form.

Of course, general advice and theory are all well and good – but what about the practicalities, the approaches and functional techniques which countless corporate escapees have used successfully in the past? There are certainly heaps of those out there too. If you’re interested in learning about them, I invite you to join us for Slow School’s course on just that topic.