My inbox is out of control. I mean, WAAY out of control.
(Like everyone else’s, I know.)
I have emails about things I have no interest in, from things I signed up for but have long forgotten, from people who assume that I recognised them by their first name alone.
I occasionally have a cull, chop the number down, have an unsubscribe session. But it often resembles the grass verge on a motorway: full of debris from past travels, unidentified random plants, and weird stuff that wants to take over the general ecosphere.
But sometimes – just sometimes – my benign form of neglect pays dividends and I get an email about an opportunity that I just wouldn’t hear about otherwise.
This happened with the Hay House Writer’s Workshop opportunity last October. And when an unassuming email from a long-forgotten Meetup group landed in my inbox early last month, too.
Because it was from The Happy Startup School, inviting people to apply for a new event they were holding: Lightbulb to Launch, aimed at “budding and early-stage founders that want to bring their ideas to life, attract people to their mission and make a positive dent in their world – and *the* world.”
I mean. YOWSA.
I’ve loved The Happy Startup School ever since I took their Happy Startup Canvas email course literally YEARS ago, but had never attended any of their events in person.
But their one-day event promised that I’d learn to get clear on my vision to “build confidence and attract the right people”, how to create a “minimum loveable product”, give me the info/push I needed to tell my story through video, and even how to create a “killer landing page”
And I was like, “Oh man that looks AWESOME it’s such a shame that it’s not applicable TO ME”, and I promptly forwarded the details to a couple of friends who seemed like a good fit. You know; folks who have a defined THING they want to get off the ground. Entrepreneurial types. Millennials. Folks who aren’t disabled by chronic illness etc *waves hands around*.
A couple of days later, I discussed it with someone. They did the WhatsApp equivalent of tilting their head when I said I didn’t think I could/should apply (“What if I take a place away from someone who really DESERVES it?”).
And so, dear reader, I said “F*ck it” and applied.
And was offered a place.
(Cue some deep breathing into a brown paper bag.)
And, as I sit here and write a few days after the event, I am so, SO glad that I did so.
From the organiser/beaming chief MC/innovation guru Nick Himo‘s swift and super-helpful response to my enquiry about disabled access (such a rarity to find in London!), to the lovely people I chatted to, to the inspiration I received just being in a room full of good-hearted people, it made a full day fly by.
My highlights include;
- The phrase “ecstatic flailing” being used to describe how no-one really knows what they’re doing, but that they still enjoy it
- Hearing Lyndsay Lucero’s story of Baxley Goods, especially how she created the first prototype with some fabric and a bunch of pins, and her reminders that “done is better than good” and to “build, measure, learn”
- Kim Slade’s honesty about his challenges with Unlost Co and, in particular, how his Touch Video Academy was created in an hour as a side line but has become his main business
- Hearing that Ahmed Faid, founder of Dose of Society, began his project as a response to the London riots (and how he needed to leave early, as he was off to buy shoes for his wedding THE NEXT DAY)
- Blossom & Berry‘s founder Gayle Berry’s observation that “excitement = energy = action = flow” (and her Rumi quote, “Respond to every call that excites you”)
- The INCREDIBLY practical video workshop Kim Slade held which covered the nuts and bolts of equipment and tech, talked us through smart-phone tips and tricks, and was a general power-house of energetic YOU CAN DO THIS
- The step-by-step details of how to “thingify” our ideas from Lyndsay Lucera and Juliette Barrette (can YOU write what you’re doing in five words or less? I came up with “Sharing trauma insights with EVERYONE”), and the power of surveys
- Being reminded that “perfect is the enemy of done” and getting things “to 80%/good ENOUGH” for launch in Happy Startup co-founder Laurence McCahill’s phenomenally clear and accessible step-by-step guide to creating a landing page
But the thing that triggered the biggest insight for me came from the other co-founder Carlos Saba’s session “Get Clear: Define your startup DNA.”
His advice was compelling: to be energetically sustainable you need intrinsic motivation to provide the fuel that keeps you going. To bring this truly into focus he advised us to forget what the market needs, or what our business may need. Instead he asked two questions.
The first; What do WE need? What emotional need do WE have that needs to be met by this endeavour?
The screen was filled with words like achievement, compassion, inspiration, etc. I have to say “etc” because only one word stood out;
The screen: INFLUENCE
Me: Lol wut
(This triggered a real “OH SH*T” moment later that weekend, when I realised that my ability to write, the sense of playfulness and safeness I give others, and that I find flow in public speaking/workshop facilitation, means that I have the skill set already in place to influence people.)
The second question he asked was: What is the enemy? What makes you angry?
And I was “Nothing bro, I’m pretty damn chilled”.
A split second later I remembered that I’m pretty pissed off that people beat themselves up for being human, for having no-one who’s explained to them that we all have tricky brains through no fault of our own (it’s just the way they’ve evolved), with a nervous system that can be equally tough to navigate.
This day, and these two questions in particular, have crystallised why I spend so much time attending online summits and webinars about trauma, compassion and coaching. It’s because I want to gently influence people to be kinder to themselves and, by extension and through understanding, I hope, to be more compassionate to others.
It’s what guides my new one-year vision: To find/create spaces/ways to be a “beacon light of the heart”, bringing warmth, illumination and guidance to others. This intention triggered last month’s workshop for Creator’s Club UK, and may even have drawn two new opportunities in December.
And now, I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve joined The Happy Startup School’s community of “purpose-driven entrepreneurs”.
The last decade has been all about social isolation for me. It’s been incredibly painful, challenging and a lousy-assed fast-track to a LOT of self-development and study.
Screw that for the next decade, quite frankly. I want to be part of tribe, a community, to be connected, to be visible in the world after 13+ years of being hidden by my health and my own four walls.
F*ck it. It’s time to go far.