Last week, I went to Akina Foundation’s Quarter Life event. It was held at Crave Café in Morningside. The event was all about social enterprise and 'finding your why'. There were some awesome speakers at the event including the wonderful Natalie Robinson of Mum’s Garage start-up School (also my second cousin!) and Simon Coley from Karma Cola.
I will summarise my key takeaways from the event. These are the common themes I related to across all the speakers:
Learning how to talk to each other is so important
This is a challenge I face everyday in my volunteer work. I want to find ways that we can better communicate and work collaboratively with residents’ groups and businesses. Especially those effected by cycling projects and concerned about car parks removed to allow for bicycle lanes.
Simon Coley from Karma Cola discussed working in a multidisciplinary consulting environment. His company sent him to America to learn how to communicate his creative UX ideas to the business analyst and coder he would be working with. His key message was always to focus on end outcomes. Values and purpose will unite colleagues, creating a work culture that is high performing.
He also talked about practicing presenting your ideas so you learn to adapt them to the appropriate audience. This is common sense, but I think sometimes we are in such a rush to move forward we forget to let people know why we are going there.
Follow the yellow brick road
What struck me about all the speakers and other guests was that hardly anyone had the career today that they originally expected. There seemed to be no linear path they followed to get them where they were today. It appeared to be more to be a matter of following what interested and excited them.
Natalie talked about taking a year off her corporate work to go to classes, travel and read entrepreneurship books. She then started Mum’s Garage along with two other tech start-up companies. These organically fell away as Mum’s Garage started gaining momentum. I sometimes feel like I am getting distracted by all the different things I want to learn about or be involved in but then surprisingly somewhere down the line they have helped me in my career!
Learn it as you go along
I loved Simon’s quote ‘you don’t need to be an expert from the beginning, you become immersed and it just happens’. I think this is very much against the line young people are often sold; that you need to become an expert before you can action meaningful change. “Go to university, get your degree in X and then you will be able to do Y.” My personal experience of the university system is that people often come out a lot more confused than they went in.
Thank you to the Akina Foundation for organising this great event. You can read more about their programs here.
what I am up to: through the events I attend, this series will feature groups, spaces, businesses and communities who are helping to shape and enrich Auckland.