Last week I flew to Dallas to attend my first Summer Brandcamp. I had an incredible time, and having reflected on my trip, here are a few things that resonated for me.
Being looked after and looking after others – this was a strong experience for me throughout the whole event.
On arrival at Dallas Fort Worth airport on Monday I was met by David, who drove me from the airport to my hotel. David is a friendly guy and we talked about sports and the weather as he drove safely to the hotel. I arrived feeling very well looked after.
As part of my contribution to the event, I ran an Art and Soul of Better Work session. The people who organise Summer Brandcamp did a fantastic job of sourcing all the materials we needed to explore work through an artistic lens, and the tech team checked and tested everything, leaving me with the time I needed to percolate nervous energy into excitement and facilitate the session. I arrived at the end of the session feeling well looked after, and feeling like I’d been able to look after the participants well too. If you are interested, there is a lovely review of the session here, written by Liz D’Aloia, and here are a few pictures I used to help illustrate the session.
Doing good, feeling good
One morning over 100 conference guests got up early for a Mexican breakfast before being bussed out to the Salvation Army in Garland, a city to the north east of Dallas, to spend a few hours helping out. We gave a playground a makeover, did some drainage work, made 1,200 sandwich lunches to be handed out, painted door frames, and more. It was a hot, sunny morning and people made sure we had plenty of cold water to drink, and sunscreen to put on. We did a good job, we were well looked after and the work we did will help the people at the Salvation Army look after others. As well as being a fantastic service project – this was a great way to get to know other people at the conference.
Photo by Jonathan Brewer
There was a great mix of speakers – and hallelujah, plenty of women speaking too. I’m really bored of the prevalence of white, older men like me taking the stage at conferences, the line up here made for a powerful, lovely change – more please.
Sessions were short. This meant there were lots of opportunities to learn from different people, and it gave the event a good pace. People and purpose were two powerful, recurring themes.
The conference organisers made donations to No Kid Hungry in the name of each speaker, another lovely idea which helped reinforce a sense of togetherness, and a reminder that this is not just another ‘same old same old’ event. There was also a silent auction to help raise money for the charity – and over the course of the event I know that over $30,000 was raised. A kind soul even bought some of my artwork. #IAmAnArtist
There was a great sense of fun brought on by lots of people excited to see each other, and a genuine effort to make first timers like me feel really welcome.
Changers of Commerce
This was a morning of stories told by businesses and not for profit organisations making a difference, in their local communities and beyond. An inspiring extra session laid on the mornign after the close of the main event. Around 100 people came along to this, and we heard some great, sometimes funny, sometimes moving, examples of people doing good.
I began with wow – I’m ending with it too. The whole Summer BrandCamp experience has made a powerful mark on me. I caught up with old friends, made some lovely new friends too. It was a fantastic experience I hope to repeat. Here’s a short, 15 second slideshow of my trip. Wow!