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I recently hosted a session, in Bendigo, about opportunities for co-working and creativity in central Victoria.

We had a great discussion around what is required for this changing world to encourage entrepreneurship – ideas like co-working and sharing the costs to enable lean start-up of new businesses and testing of ideas, doing deals and collaboration.

 

We didn’t talk so much about backing creativity and risk-taking.  A private initiative by the entrepreneurial leader, Julie Miller Markoff and the current body of work by artist Mici Boxell in Bendigo, is an outstanding example of the value of backing creativity and risk-taking.

Mici was the winner of the 2016 Julie Miller Markoff Award and she has a solo exhibition of the resulting body of work currently on show at the La Trobe University Art Institute in View Street, Bendigo.

 

I know Mici Boxell through her work with a local arts group I deeply admire, CreateAbility. I marvel at her power and drive to set up an artist-run space in town whilst raising a child and pursuing her passion to study and make.

I met Julie Miller Markoff through my co-working space, Synergize Hub, and instantly admired her clear leadership and understanding of her skills, and her fearlessness to give these to others. When she established the Julie Miller Markoff Award in 2014, I loved her conviction to invest into what she believes in.

I asked Mici, “What is it to be ‘backed’?”

Financially it was amazing – I got to produce a body of work to a high professionally produced state. As a student, you really can’t afford to take your work to this level.

 

Having the opportunity to be so rigorous in my work took my state of mind for the development of my ideas into a new state that I hadn’t experienced before.

I became braver and bolder.

I also felt stressed because someone was watching me. I worked so hard in making sure as I made the work that I stayed true to myself, whilst also feeling responsible to someone.

What is becoming braver and bolder?

Having acknowledgement of the work you do by the world and outside of my circle is critical to know your own work and the messages you are sharing.

 

 

Being backed made me braver and bolder – I went so much further than what I could on my own. It had significant impact on my life beyond my art work. It has made me realise how much I know and that I am ready to work professionally as an artist. I know my stuff and I feel confident.

What was the relationship like with Julie?

Julie is a very interesting and passionate person. We would talk for ages, sometimes about the work I was developing and sometimes about life.

Having Julie beside me was great – she told me; ‘I don’t care what you work looks like – it’s all about your experience.’ She was so supportive.

Why do you value making?

I struggle with making sense of the world – I make sense of it with making, and someone else might make sense of it through my making.

When I work with people with disability with the art group, CreateAbility, my greatest success is connecting with others and sharing our human-side.

I thought art making was a selfish act – but it’s not. It’s having an interest in an idea. I am a visual person and it is how I make answers happen.

What other ways can we back each other to be creative?

In all these years I have done disability work, I have found listening and noticing are the greatest ways to make a difference – people want to feel ok about themselves. It is powerful to acknowledge someone.

By turning up to someone’s exhibition, liking their work on social media – it is an acknowledgement and often it doesn’t have to be much at all.

I love my work at CreateAbility because it gives people the right and dignity to perform, and have a stage for their story to be viewed.

 

 

Julie has done this for me. She does this because she understands the value in making opportunities for risk, play, art making and creativity in our community.

And now, over to Julie.

 

 

Why do you value art making?

I value empathy.

I like to implement powerful ideas. This is what my life is about.

Powerful ideas have beauty and truth in them and this is why I value art.

Art is a shared feeling and art makers are brave. They are making for an audience they don’t know yet.

 

 

What is the story behind your motivation to support artists graduating from art school?

Some years back I was sitting at the La Trobe Arts Institute and I liked the works on show. I remembered a desire from long ago when I was a student and also a teacher at RMIT –  I wanted to sponsor an art prize. I know the struggle artists face to market themselves. I wanted to give them a platform and a stage to launch themselves.

I approached La Trobe with the idea and we decided to give it a go for three years.

This is the gift that I wanted to give. However I didn’t realise the history of patronage in the art world. I thought it was just mainly about financial support.

To be an arts patron is backing a person and becoming a part of their history of making.

Oddly, it took me months and months to decide to put my name to the award. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. And there is a real risk because I am putting my name on the award, and I might not like what’s actually produced. In the end, I had to take on a similar bravery as the artists.

This experience really has over-delivered. I felt so included in the artist’s process of getting to exhibition. Mici was so responsive to the LAI and also to my interest. I am inspired by the way she works.

How can others back creativity in our community, and why is it important?

There is heaps of creativity in our community. There are so many small experiments happening around us in the world. To back someone or some idea, you may have to be vulnerable and open yourself to risk and make clear what you value. 

My hope is always that someone else will join in, or follow on.

 

In art there’s beauty and truth that really speaks to me. There are so many small experiments happening in the world and it requires having a view of yourself and the world around you and taking a risk.

You can back creativity by:

  • Standing up for an idea

  • Giving money to get an idea off the ground

  • Giving time to someone with an idea

  • Giving your expertise

We all have the ability to give to someone else and we can all do it on our own frequencies. Backing creative people keeps you young and alive. It opens you for growth.

I’m so pleased I’ve done it and it was one of the best things I’ve done with my life – to back an artist.

Mici’s show is on until Sunday 15 October (2017) at La Trobe Institute for Art, View Street Bendigo. Follow Mici on instagram.

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Thank you to LaTrobe Art Insitute for the image of Mici and Julie published on this blog post

“I almost came out of the first session doubting myself and the role I play in my business.”

 

 

 

Brent Kendall has a partnership in a successful growing design agency, RAAK, with offices in Melbourne and Bendigo. He shares in our interview that he hasn’t taken much time before to reflect on his values and the “why” behind what he does as a leader.

 

“The Life Style Inventory activity and the results really challenged how I viewed myself. I had no idea that my need to receive approval from other people is really high,” Brent admits.  He continues to reflect, “…maybe it is because I have an older business partner and I have always checked in with him before I made a call on any business decision.”

 

 

Since this confronting first session in the Rob Hunt Transformational Leadership Development Program Brent has decided to make a big change in his leadership style. “We have had a number of internal processes that were inefficient and over this last month I have taken the initiative to change them.”

 

“Our accounting management needed a better structure and we had identified it needed fixing, so I went ahead and set up new project management software. I introduced it to the team, and as a team we have begun to utilise it to run the studio better.”

 

“Identifying my values isn’t something I have done before,” he says.  “The leadership program is helping me understand why I do what I do and why others do what they do. It has made me confident to lead major changes in the studio.”

 

 

Brent feels that as a result of the first session, communication has improved with his business partner – “rather than being frustrated with a situation or outcome, I am thinking bigger and trying to work out why something might have happened.”

 

“Leadership with a hierarchy isn’t what we encourage in our organisation. We don’t have titles and we encourage each team member to take on leadership roles for different aspects of what we do.” Brent believes that investing into his personal development as a leader will make his “team stronger, more efficient and better able to deliver innovative products to their clients.”

 

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

Find out more about Be.Bendigo and the Rob Hunt Transformational Leadership Program on their website.

I am a co-worker. Working from the Synergize Hub coworking space in Bendigo.

Synergize Hub is a collective of people who contribute to the running of the space & this month I have the honour of curating a breakfast leaders round table talking Innovation and Coworking in Central Victoria.

Hayden McDonnell from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is just one of the panel speakers who I recently asked – ‘how does creativity grow business?’ –  as a teaser in the lead up to the event.

Innovating Rapidly

He has some great insights into how a large organisation can consider connecting with initiatives that are fast pace and innovating rapidly.

Hayden is responsible for bringing customer and innovation closer together by establishing Labs – a place for any part of the business to test new business models, new products, and enhanced customer experiences. Since commencing in this role in late 2016, Hayden has become a student of Human Centred Design and is interested to understand what role a bank can play in the world of start-ups and small business incubators.

Of course the first question I ask Hayden is…

T: How does creativity grow business?

H: Creativity, is thinking differently.

It is a skill that has not come naturally to me—I have had to teach myself.

In a large organisation, you can get channelled into a process and a way of doing things. Unless you have leaders that challenge you and allow you to expand your mind, then that allowance for creativity can be stifled.

Creativity is thinking differently.

In growing our business, we’ve been encouraged by our Executive team to explore partnerships, new ideas, and to ensure people have autonomy to have a look at how others are doing business. The prospect of shared value is only going to grow stronger.

This approach just makes sense when you think about how corporate culture is changing and adjusting; we are seeing a rise with Start-ups in the Fintech space (there are greater than 600 Fintechs registered in Australia) so you have to adjust.

Our Community Bank® model is a classic example; it’s helped us broaden our national footprint and established a real point of difference that no other bank has in the marketplace. It puts us in a great position to keep thinking creatively and listen to the communities we operate in.

T: How did you teach yourself creative thinking?

H: I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside some great leaders within our organisation who have encouraged this. My background is in sales coaching and customer engagement. To be successful in this, you have to keep thinking creatively to keep people engaged and connected to what you do. You don’t always do the talking, you need to do a lot of listening.

T: Do you have a daily practice to be creative?

H: In my role, I have new things coming at me all the time. I’m constantly thinking about “how we can practically apply this for our customers, and if we were to apply this idea, what is the go-to market strategy more broadly?”

Testing and learning is a big part of why Labs was established in our organisation. What we think our customers might want may not actually be the case. Getting early customer feedback and iterating on that will help us greatly. We’re seeing different parts of our organisation doing this already – particularly in a digital space, so it’s exciting to think of what we can do next in a physical sense through our branch network.

Inside our business, we’re starting to see the application of a more agile way of working, as well as utilising lean start up principles and Design Thinking. Appling these helping us all in having a creative mindset.

T: Why is a bank interested in coworking?

H: Our Community Bank® partners lean on us for help to make their community prosper. They want to grow their businesses so they can do great things in their community, and we’re now seeing our partners exploring co-working spaces as an opportunity to connect better with their business community.

Connect-Better

We want to become the bank of choice for people in small business, so it just makes sense for us to connect and understand what is happening in coworking spaces and get a feel for the start-up community.

We should be finding out how we can help? What drives and motivates people in a start up? What are their pain points? And what could we as a bank do to help? What might a partnership look like? Does that partnership have to be financial?

I don’t know what the answers are, but it’d be great to find out!

If there is something that the Bank can do for start-up communities, it should be mutually beneficial.

T: How does Design Thinking work in a Bank?

H: Design is a great way to solve large complex problems that may result in an improved benefit for customers and/or staff. It’s still a ‘new thing’ for our business and what it’s doing is encouraging collaboration, challenging our thinking, and allowing us to be more creative. I can see design playing a significant role to help our customers in the future. Banking is more about experience now. Gone are the days where it’s just about products and services – it has to be personalised and relevant.

Innovation and Coworking Bendigo Round Table

Register for Coworking and Innovation Bendigo Leaders Roundtable, taking place on Friday the 8th of September 8am at Synergize Hub.

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses (including a number of start ups) to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

Issy and I burst out laughing after I asked how her business started. She said “My husband told me; ‘It is so good working for yourself. You should try it and you never have to go back to work!”

 

Freelancer

 

Seriously – Issy Kerr is in love with her business and has a strong following on social media that are in love with her and her creativity.

 

In love with her business

 

Issy is the founder and owner of Seriously Milestones – the original milestone cards for real parenting moments. She is also a Bendigo mother of two with strong ethical values that drives her business development.

 

“Angus (Issy’s second child) was a bad sleeper, I was up six to twelve times a night and it is then I started dreaming up Seriously Milestones – I needed something to think about to keep me awake.”

 

“When my first child was born, Zoe, milestone cards weren’t even a thing – and when Angus was born I received a set. I kept on forgetting to use them because they were for developmental milestones like six-weeks old. It was all too hard to make it happen with two small children.”

 

 

Celebrate milestones

“I wanted something to celebrate milestones, but also give you a break as a parent.”

 

“On Instagram everything looks lovely, but in reality, your kids are crying and you are probably crying too.”

 

Seriously Milestones is celebrating some serious milestones itself. Only eleven months after launch date Seriously Milestones was a finalist for the 2017 Bendigo Business Excellence Awards, has over 6,000 followers on Instagram and 2,500 on Facebook. The Seriously Milestones product is stocked in Australia, US, UK, Canda and NZ and has raised 3k for charity and their sponsor child recieves $35 each month.

 

“I just love it – I know people are over social media, but it has been the best platform for my business.”

 

“It means that my business can grow. I love what social media can do. I have collaborated with so many brands and I can’t imagine growing a business without social media.”

 

The Bendigo Business Excellence Awards introduced me to Issy and her creative approach to making business happen. I have to admit I spent quite a bit of time checking out her work on social media and being delighted by her energy and her playfulness.

 

Delighted by her energy and playfulness

 

With her good friend Emma Clohesy of Happy Hands Happy Heart, who was also a finalist for the business awards, they decided to fire up the rivalry and pretend to be enemies with an Instagram Story lip sync battle, during the week leading up to the business awards!

 

 

The lip sync battles I caught on Insta Story included You’re the one that I want – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and Karma Chameleon by Boy George.  Viewers were treated with incredible outfits, hair and makeup to look like the original artists – I loved the passion of the miming – passionate facial expressions and dancing – just like the real singers! Hilarious.

 

“It really got out of hand – we ended up having two battles a day – and we got over 800 people watching.”

 

“I know this decision to battle with another business was totally unrelated to our brands and completely off beat, but it helped us to share with so many more people who we are and what we do.”

 

Issy Lip Sync

 

Issy reflects that she isn’t sure that she would do this again; “it’s just one of those wonderful spontaneous things that happen and connected hundreds of people.”

 

Creativity certainly is core to Seriously Milestones, but dedication and commitment has also been essential to see Issy’s idea through and being open and flexible to new approaches.

 

“My husband’s business is based at our home too. I really wasn’t sure if having a baby and him at home would work, but he was really flexible and comfortable. He worked out early that it is easier to let the kids in for five minutes rather than keeping them out of his workspace. I really think the more flexible you can be with business and whatever situation you find yourself the better you go.”

 

“I would not be in business if I couldn’t be myself. My followers know and accept me. I get lots of people who tag me with their kids and their cards because they know there is no judgement.”

 

Issy is just as committed to making sure her business creates an ethical impact. Every “Preggo Pack” Milestone cards Issy sells, one-dollar is donated to the Stillbirth Foundation of Australia, other charities her products support include OrphFund, RSPCA and Bendigo Health, and PANDA.

 

Issy has her heart set on creating new product lines with wine and chocolate makers. “I’m getting ready to expand my range, I’ve done everything I wanted to do for now, and now I am interested to get creative through collaboration.”

 

Follow Seriously Milestones on Instagram and Facebook or visit Issy’s website to check out her seriously unique milestone cards.

 

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Create Business has been running regular Facebook Live sessions with Synergize Hub on all things co-working and enterprise. Kimberley from Write Style Communications, and I have got some handy tips to share on filming your own Facebook Live broadcasts.

Setting up

  • Film using your phone camera and set up your laptop so you can watch as you go.
  • Filming in portrait takes up more real estate in the newsfeed, but filming in landscape mode is more visually appealing and perfect for fitting two or more speakers. Just ensure you make the decision before selecting “Go Live”.
  • I purchased a great little lapel mic – useful for big and open spaces. But not necessary for a small or closed room.
  • Make sure you “tag” relevant people and places before you hit go.
  • Before you begin filming, make sure you’re using a data connection on your phone, rather than Wi-Fi, as data is much more reliable.
  • I used a closed Facebook group to test my Facebook Live settings and sound, and to work out the frame of the shot. You could also use your own Facebook profile, adjust the privacy settings to show to ‘me only’.

Preparing your session

I prepared for the Synergize Hub co-worker interview by brainstorming with a friend about general questions and topics that we thought other people with micro-businesses might like to hear about.

We also developed a concept for our Facebook Live program. Very basic really – an intro of three key questions that relate to the business person we are speaking to, then three general questions geared towards our audience’s interests.

Filming

When you finish your Facebook Live recording, make sure you stay in front of the camera and smile! Facebook takes lots of quick images that will become the thumbnails associated with your video.

Make sure you download your finished video to share on other social media outlets like Instagram.

What the experts say

Did you know 1 in 5 videos on Facebook are now a Live broadcast? (Facebook’s data, April 2017). Social media marketing experts, Socialbakers, suggest to succeed with Facebook Live broadcasts, you need to:

  • Keep it short
  • Place your call-to-action at the start
  • And, include subtitles (85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound)

Happy sharing on Facebook Live – and we’d love to hear your tips and successes. Be sure to follow Synergize Hub on Facebook to find me popping up Live (next session is on Thursday 17 August), love to see you there.

Visit Kimberley at Write Style Communications for upcoming social media workshops around regional Victoria including Bendigo, Castlemaine, Echuca, Swan Hill and Mildura.

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

When Patti was fifteen, a powerful longing overcame her.

She was on a bus being driven through the suburbs to Randwick to see the Pope – her father was religious and organized them all to come from the bush to Sydney for the event.

But the longing was nothing to do with the Pope. She gazed at all the suburban houses with their front gardens and their curtains in the windows and became consumed by wanting to know; “What is life like for the people who live here?”

 

“They were unknown to me, and it was on this day I discovered in my nature, a longing to know what is it like to be ‘you’.” The memory of that time has remained with her ever since.

Patti-MIller-talking-with-Tamara-Marwood-of-Create-Business

Patti Miller is the author of Writing True Stories, the complete guide to writing autobiography, memoir, personal essay, biography, travel and creative nonfiction, as well as four books of memoir and narrative non-fiction, including the award-winning, The Mind of a Thief, and, Ransacking Paris. It is my delight and pleasure to be joining her in conversation at the 2017 Bendigo Writer’s Festival.

 

Her desire to know what it is like to be “you”, has resulted in a number of books and teaching workshops. “I am fascinated by other people’s stories—I just couldn’t keep doing this work without this desire—I DO want to hear YOUR story.”

“I’m fascinated by the voice of non-fiction. I like the authentic voice that comes in memoirs. The voice is unmediated, like the relationship between friends.”

“For instance, I feel as if I have a close relationship with Montaigne, a 16th century French memoirist, even though his work is nearly 500 years old. When I read his work, I feel like I am as close to him as anyone I know. I like the feeling of an intimate relationship.”

She believes self-knowledge, or identity, is a fundamental urge of being human. “It goes back to the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where it is written, ‘Know Thyself’.”

 

In her work interviewing Wiradjuri Elders for The Mind of a Thief, she asked Elder Wayne, “What is native title about?” He answered, “Identity—it is the only thing worth fighting for.”

“Our culture, our sex, our appearance, our status—I think all of these things are the stories that we tell about ourselves. We all engage in this and it is how we get up in the morning. Without our stories, we wouldn’t cope.”

 

At this point in our discussion, I asked Patti, “How do you know you are writing a true story?”

“We can only know it is our true story – and even that can change. We all have different versions of ourselves each day. Montaigne writes, ‘To observe oneself is like observing a drunk.’ He thought knowing yourself was a hopeless and futile task, but he was bound to do it.”

“You can only explore possible versions of yourself and accept the flux of yourself,” Patti says.

I felt hesitant asking Patti the question I usually like to ask my interviewees, “How does creativity grow your business?”, as I instinctively felt that Patti did not view her work as “business”.

 

Her response to me was, “I have never thought of myself as a business or running a business. I came up with writing life stories when I was teaching at a university. People wanted to know how to write their life story, so I created a class and it was an immediate success. My life’s work has grown from what I observed—and it worked!”

Patti has never based any of her decisions on what would be good for business. “I have made my decisions about what I want to do. I want to write and teach – and it earns me some income.”

“I don’t do things so I can write about them – I live and then if something comes out of it, I might write about it. I write what I want to write, then, hopefully, I sell it. It works for me to follow my own passions.”

She reflects that she is not doing without or suffering for her art, rather she was brought up to look down on material things. “We were taught to value the mind and the spirit. What matters is what you think is right.”

Australian children’s books by Ethel Turner, and Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery—who wrote Anne of Green Gables, also deeply influenced Patti’s life to become a writer of ‘true stories’.

 

“The books I read were about creative artistic girls who didn’t care about having a nice house,” she says. “They were always creating or dreaming and they liked to read. I can blame those authors for the way I live my life!”

“Thinking back, those books I read have shaped my whole working life. I probably would not have been a writer!”

Having Patti all to myself, I took the opportunity to share with Patti my plans for the next body of work I would like to produce—a sort of “true story”—about each of my family members who all run their own businesses. I am thinking of interviewing them and producing a story with images about their life as entrepreneurs. I asked Patti about the best way to go about interviewing people to pull out their story.

“Personal relationship between the interviewer and interviewee are important. You need to explain what you are doing, why and where the story will go.”

 

“Ask questions that aren’t too big. Smaller, precise questions get the bigger answers.”

Patti explains that if you ask, “Tell me about your childhood?,” the response will be, “I had a good childhood, or not”. But if you ask, “What did you do when you got home from school each day?,” you will get a more detailed answer revealing deep insights into their life and their truth.

“Before I interview anyone, I write down everything I want to ask. I imagine I am shaping a story emerging from the questions. But you also need to let the interview flow and take you to the story.”

“In my research work for, The Mind of a Thief, I learnt about stopping myself from interfering in people’s answers. I had to let the person who I was interviewing tell me their story, not what I wanted as a story.”

Join Patti and Tamara on Saturday 12 August, from 12.30pm-1.15pm, in their session “Life Lines” at the Bendigo Writer’s Festival 2017.

Patti Miller has written about her forebears, place and belonging, about a year spent daydreaming in Paris, and about the very deep joys of finding the words to write memoirs. She talks with Tamara Marwood about setting up the Life Stories Workshop and about her new book, Writing True Stories.

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

Ning Ning Zhang, founder of export consultancy Best Exchange Group is participating in the 2017 Rob Hunt Transformational Leadership Program.

She shares, “I have always wanted to do a leadership program. I don’t think I am leader, but when I talk to Leah (Be.Bendigo CEO) she tells me ‘You are already leading.'”

I grew up in a very different environment to Central Victoria. In China, my life was very strict, and very dry due to the education system. I was often locked up to do my homework. Individualism wasn’t appreciated, I had to fit in to the mould. But I never fitted! All I wanted to do was to be FREE.

Seventeen years ago I went to Canada to study at the age of seventeen. It was so different in terms of language, culture, and values. I started my life-long journey looking for a sense of belonging. The leadership course is a way of finding myself and where East and West balance. I want to find my potential as a leader and learn more about myself – it is very personal what drives me on the leadership course – it is not work.

 

On the morning of the second day I shared with everyone what the first day realised for me. Overnight the vision for my enterprise crystallized. The time spent working on my core values opened up my subconscious and revealed to me our new business mission and vision. Our team has been working on the why for some time and now we are settled and moving forward.

The Best Exchange Group is Ning Ning’s recently established enterprise, in Central Victoria. “We empower Australian leaders from government and industry to build a shared vision and capability in innovation and growth of their regions through international exchange activities.”

“Whatever skills I receive in the course I will use to lead our teams in Australia and China – we have a big vision for The Best Exchange Group – it is growing to be global with many teams of people employed in both Australia and China. Leadership in China is still catching up to leadership in Western business and leadership courses are very popular.”

 

China is going through an evolution in the field of leadership. China has experienced a lot of authoritarian management. Strong leadership is a real edge for business wanting to operate internationally. For me, understanding my leadership style helps me to understand myself. When I know myself, everyone around me tends to be in harmony and at ease. I’m really looking forward to the next sessions to learn the techniques to influence people in our team and our clients.

 

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Find out more about Be.Bendigo and the Rob Hunt Transformational Leadership Program on their website.

“Now is the perfect time.”

This was Rob Hunt’s reply when I asked; “As a leader, when do you recognise when an idea isn’t working? Do you keep pushing forward or do you drop it and move on?”

Named after the former Bendigo Bank Managing Director, the Be.Bendigo initiated, ‘Rob Hunt Transformational Leadership Development Program’, offers senior business professionals the chance to learn from industry experts and develop their leadership skills.

Over the next six months, I will be sharing with you program insights from the leadership participants. I am really looking forward to getting into the nitty gritty of how they plan to apply their new knowledge into their own businesses, and their hopes for the outcome of the transformational leadership program for their own personal development.

 

I am the Creative Director of the engagement and communication consultancy, Create Business. I am also participating in the leadership program, as a leader undertaking transformation and as a content creator to tell the stories of our local leaders and their journey of leadership transformation.

 

 

Over the four years of my consultancy’s operation, I have worked with clients from the not-for-profit sector, social enterprises and also commercial. I offer organisations and businesses strategies to engage their audience using storytelling and experiences. Engagement is all about relationship building and I work with my clients to build their capacity to do this in day-to-day business, social media, public relations or events.

My passion is creativity in business and my background is in economics, project management, visual arts, social enterprise and community cultural development. I really believe how you do business matters. I am a regular blogger, exploring how creativity grows business, and I host a fortnightly Facebook Live discussion on co-working for Synergize Hub.

Rob Hunt is the patron of the Leadership Program, and is a well-known humble and successful leader who has achieved transformation. The first morning of the program we meet with Rob for over an hour. He shared his insights into his value-based approach to leadership, and time was provided for the leadership participants to ask questions.

His approach to leadership deeply resonates with me. “People deeply need to belong and contribute,” Rob shares. “And people want to be valued for their contribution.” He believes that leadership is a privilege and as a leader, you have the ability to empower others to lead.

Rob’s answer to my question, ‘how do you know when to push through as a leader when things get hard?’ continues to delight me; “There never is any ‘right time’. You can pilot ideas, contain risk and appear to keep business as usual. As a leader, you have the position and the power to do what is right and to make a difference.”

 

 

He shares; “learning more about yourself and what is important to you is the first important step to bring people on the journey with you.” Rob’s time with us established a strong foundation for the next session where we explored our values. I wanted to share with you some other inspirational insights Rob provided.

 

 

 

“You are always learning to be a leader, the more caught up you are in your ego the less you will be able to lead. Why you lead, and what you value, affects how you lead and interact with other people.”

 

 

“Leadership is important because as a society we are obsessed with doing. Leadership is about intention. Even the worst plan will work if you have great intention. To get intention you need to slow down because leadership isn’t linear.”

I look forward to sharing more key takeaways from the Rob Hunt Transformational Leadership Development Program so you can get an insight into what local leaders are experiencing and an understanding of the theory behind the program.

Did you know that this is the second leadership program-taking place in Bendigo with over 50 people participating or who have graduated? This is an exciting number and fills me with hope for the future of our region – we have an abundance of transformational leaders.

Tamara Marwood is the Creative Director of Create Business, delivering strategy and content for businesses to engage their audience and create attention. You can stay in touch with Create Business on Facebook and Instagram.

The South Pacific has been listed as one of the poorest countries on earth. Being such a close neighbour to Australia, this should not be the case.

 

There is so much at risk within this region. Just one of the major issues this region is fighting, is climate change, resulting in an increase in storms and leading to an increase in poverty. Local social and urban infrastructure is inadequate and struggles to cope with demand.

 

 

Strategically, the South Pacific is overlooked by many global business partnerships. Seeing this region as a community that is in so much need and so close to Australia, Compass Housing decided to invest and then do more.

“We felt that we could share our skills and knowledge in social and physical infrastructure development—that also builds community capacity—despite knowing the high level of risk of investing into this country.”

I’m talking with James Cameron, for the Create Business blog. James is the Executive Manager of Tenant Communications and Engagement for Compass Housing. Compass Housing Services provide secure and affordable housing for low to moderate income earning households, as well as housing products for disadvantaged people who have difficulties sourcing adequate and affordable accommodation in the private market.

James and I are yet to meet in person, yet I think it is safe to say that we have worked together on a life changing project for James. We overcame the distance (James is in New South Wales, Queensland and Vanuatu and I am based in Central Victoria), using the internet and some great content collection apps, such as Evernote.

My business is driven by my passion to share my skills and expertise, for bringing value to communities and organisations that make a difference. My aim is that after my body of work is completed, my client will have resources or assets that continue to create business. I worked closely with James to document his first engagement visit to Vanuatu. The Create Business team developed campaign content to pitch to key leaders the need and the value of investment into community infrastructure into this community.

 

 

During his time in Vanuatu, James undertook a community needs assessment to determine the most effective way for Compass Housing to make an impact in the community, and to navigate all the risks associated with working in this country. It was vital that the infrastructure was not linked to government commitments, instead owned and managed by the community, for the community.

Using a voice recorder, diary entries, video and photography, James spoke to people from all sectors of the community—from tribal leaders to people making a living from resorts and facing the challenges of raising a family with a minimal income and limited education opportunities. He developed a case for what infrastructure needed to be developed—a soccer pitch and a community hub for education, women’s health and a local market to boost the local economy.

 

Overcoming poverty and empowering people to make a difference in their community and then the world—is an ambitious proposal. James’ work practice is based upon decision-making, practices and frameworks that empower people to have choice and control—and this means for fundraising too.

 

To address the divide between a community infrastructure project in Vanuatu and their Australian tenant community, Compass Housing established T4V ‘Tenants for Vanuatu’; a Compass Housing leadership group to come up with innovative ways to fundraise and drive fundraising for Vanuatu.

“No matter how hard we think we have it,” shares James, “there are people on earth who have it worse. You don’t need to be wealthy to be a part of the global solution.”

Fundraising gives people an opportunity to discover who they can be, and it’s a new and interesting way to participate socially and globally—that is why Compass Housing put T4V and the Vanuatu mission together. “We manage housing stock. When our tenants feel good, they like where they live—they take care of where they live.”

“We are busting the myth that if you come from social housing, you are a burden to society. It simply isn’t the case. You can be valuable to society no matter where you come from. It has nothing to do with where you live.”

 

 

Compass Housing believes community capacity is built through the engagement and relationship between people making decisions and driving local fundraising campaigns for global issues. “It is about people being in a position to tell a story and influence people,” says James. “Being in a national fundraising group, you can get creative about social housing and have a say about how things are run—and also encourage their community to give to another community.”

“There are a lot of people in Australia and the South Pacific who could benefit from the programs we run. It’s about the tenants contributing to their community and revolutionising the idea of who are the leaders and givers in our society.”

 

 

“Once you create a culture of giving, you change the way people think about social housing and it becomes a cultural movement.”

James explains that this way of designing community development and fundraising isn’t new. His design references the work of David Adamson, the founder of Deep Place methodology.

“We measure the impact of our community capacity building with tenants through an annual social outcome assessment,” James explains that this is a questionnaire, with the same questions that they have been monitoring over time. “People also tell us anecdotal stories and we always have different ways for people to tell their stories.”

Compass Housing has a number of engagement programs for their tenants including, “In the House” for which they won an Australian Business Award in 2016.

 

“We know we have made the right decision to invest into community infrastructure in Vanuatu and that we have a sound model to build community capacity in the South Pacific and our existing tenant community in Australia—connecting the two geographic locations through fundraising.”

“Cultures vary, but people are the same. They want to be heard and tell their story.”

You can contribute to the Compass Housing Go Fund Me campaign for Vanuatu here, and keep up with the project’s development by following their Facebook page.

 

Sometimes, rules and regulation get in the way of creative solutions in business.

Creatively growing business often means re-thinking everything and pushing the boundaries that may be constraining your activities. Create Business is speaking with Leah Sertori, CEO of Be.Bendigo, a platform for visionary organisations to help shape the business climate and conditions of Victoria’s third largest city. We are talking about how Bendigo is going to become a Smart City.

 

Creative Solutions in business, Create Business talks with Leah Sertori

 

So what is a Smart City and why be one?

 

A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate information and communication technology and Internet of things technology in a secure fashion, to increase the city’s sustainability and personalise the experience of living in the city for residents. Smart city strategy generally includes a major focus on smarter asset management. These assets include local departments information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services.

 

Last year, the Australian Federal Government launched the $50 million Smart Cities Plan for local governments to collaborate and apply innovative technology-based approaches to improve the liveability of cities and their suburbs, and to solve urban problems.

 

A key challenge is the need to find new sources of funding for infrastructure, as government budgets are increasingly constrained in their ability to fund projects. While government spending will remain an important part of the mix, user charges and other funding sources need to be considered to ensure that Australians continue to enjoy world-class infrastructure.

 

Over a cup of tea, Leah shares with me some of the unique and creative thinking that Bendigo is pitching to shake up Australia’s financial and energy sectors and re-think how business is done.

be.bendigo sky line view of Bendigo

Our Smart Cities proposal for Bendigo includes the idea of bond issue for major infrastructure projects. In the financial sector, a bond is a debt instrument which allows the issuer to roll together projects with both high and low rates of return. Bonds provide the borrower with external funds to finance long-term investments, and, depending on the terms of the bond, they are obligated to pay interest and repay the principle.

 

Each of our projects has a different forecast rate of return—some with low returns at 4%, some at 11%.

 

We plan to offer investment opportunities with projects grouped together, rather than individually. Low investment returns are matched with more attractive returns to make the ‘bundle’ of returns balance out to be more in the ‘middle.’ More viable for an institutional investor, such as a superannuation fund.

 

The idea of bundling projects is an important option to make social and community infrastructure projects with lower rates of return viable.  The projects we are looking to establish in Bendigo using this financial bond model include:
• Renewable energy projects
• Affordable housing
• Mixed use and purpose buildings e.g. health
• Transport
• Water treatment infrastructure

 

Bendigo is seeking to pitch for both bond projects and social impact bonds. Social impact bonds pay for an outcome that has not yet been achieved. For example, in Bendigo, lifestyle-related illnesses cost our health system $80million annually. Social investment bonds to fund preventative health measures over the medium to long term will reduce the cost of health services.

 

Fixed infrastructure leased out to a user such as a water authority, will have a predictable income stream over a period of time, and the supplier and user can put this fixed activity into their existing business model and plan accordingly. Unlike physical infrastructure, social impact bonds can be more difficult when specifying the anticipated return, due to forecasted future costs reducing.

 

What we definitely know, is that the government can’t afford to keep paying for infrastructure and social services under the current policy/business model of taxation.

 

Health services are always seeking increasing funding levels, as costs are increasing exponentially. Having the option of social impact bonds is very exciting because the incentive to create real outcomes that result in better health will influence investment. Investment decisions will be made upon the best preventative evidence for a distinct community.

 

Social impact bonds have the potential to disrupt the current funding model, which is defined by short term commitments, influenced by the political cycle. Under the current model, organisations and sectors often receive funding commitments during an electrol cycle based on the perceived value for the government of the day. If communities were required to make their own case for investment, with an evidence-based approach that preventative health care services (for example) would reduce cost further downstream…..they can attract investment in the form of a social impact bond. Such a model offers greater independence and resilience for the community. It decreases the community’s reliance on government investment in preventative health as the primary resource for such important work. Organisations, with the best evidence of outcomes for the health of a community and the best business case, are most likely to be supported under such a model.

 

Bendigo’s Smart City has seven key areas:
• Governance
• People
• Technology
• Resources
• Health
• Research & Evaluation
• Transport

 

Bendigo’s Smart City submission is currently being finalised and submitted to local, state and federal governments to form a City Deal. City Deals, an idea borrowed from the UK, are agreements between federal, state and local governments to develop collective plans for growth and commit to the actions, investments, reforms and governance needed to implement them.They can work across whole metropolitan or regional cities or areas.

 

City Deals are long-term in their nature—around 20 years. We believe Bendigo is best placed to test out our proposed City Deal model.

 

There are existing City Deals around the world in Barcelona, Glasgow and Amsterdam—each investing into a mix of smart resources, governance, investment and technology.

 

Bendigo’s Smart City pitch is unique because it focuses on an innovative financial model—including bonds and social impact bonds. Another point of difference we are drawing attention to is the fact that our region is the perfectly-sized living laboratory to test data and smart sensors, etc.

 

Rather than asking for cash, we are asking for a smaller financial investment from the government with a regulatory ring fence to allow for the creation of innovative ways to re-think financial services and other services like energy-use.

 

We are proposing to introduce peer-to-peer energy services for householders and industry. For example, a neighbour who has a large solar-energy system and is away from home most of the day will be able to sell cheap energy to a pensioner who lives next door, at a lower cost than a retailer. Our vision is to establish an energy enterprise using a similar, successful model that Bendigo Bank has established through its community-banking sector.

 

In industry, we are seeking regulatory relaxation so that industries can build their own power stations and share energy generated with their neighbours and other large manufacturing companies.

 

It really is an issue that needs to be addressed. This year, a manufacturer in East Bendigo has seen their energy costs increase by over 100% in the last 12-months. By investing into energy production, they reduce their costs over the long term and also have a secure energy supply.

 

Australia’s regulatory environment is admired the world over for delivering strong consumer and environmental protection and it is imperative that Australian and state-based regulators continue to play this vital role. However, there is also a need to review some individual rules within regulations pertaining to individual sectors, such as energy, finance and land use. For example, energy regulation does not allow a generator to pass electricity over a property title without a license as an energy retailer. To obtain a license as an energy retailer the applicant requires a surety of several million dollars. In this case, our concept of precinct level, clean energy generation for our manufacturing sector is not supported under the rules. We are asking governments at all levels to partner with us, to explore the need for regulatory relaxation and possibly reform through innovative pilot projects in Bendigo.

 

We need to think beyond business as usual, to think about innovative investment. Investment purely into infrastructure isn’t enough. Digital channels will drive our economy and manufacturing will be automated—we need to get ahead of the curve now and ensure our city is relevant for investors in the future.

 

Bendigo’s Smart City bid will be presented late June and it is expected that the outcome will be known later this year.

 

Stay in touch with Be.Bendigo and the Bendigo Smart City bid by liking the Be.Bendigo Facebook page.

I’m in an impressive, neat and modern print and design studio, housing million-dollar printing machines in Bendigo. Peter Reading is the managing director of the Bendigo Signarama franchise.

Discovering we are both green tea lovers and both grew up on dairy farms, our conversation shifted quickly away from a formal interview. We fell into a warm open discussion on entrepreneurialism and what it takes to generate the drive to keep moving a small business forwards.

I really enjoyed talking with Peter, and I never expected him to open up with some great, real advice for small businesses. I suspect this openness is at the core of his business practice. It is difficult to dig deep and have a good hard look at yourself and your business. It’s an ongoing wrestle for small business owners to not work in their business work, but on their business.

Peter responded to my question of “how creativity grows business,” away from the inspirational and into the uncomfortable. I know that it is difficult for small businesses to share with others that they are going through a hard time.

“When you need drive most—is during awful times.” I nodded in agreement with Peter. And my stomach gave a little knot of yes; I know how hard you need to dig to find the reserves to “create something to create the momentum again.”

“If you always only think about the awful times, you will always be in the awful times,” Peter shares. “You need to pull yourself up by the scruff of the neck, feel the burn and get on with it.”

 

Feel the burn

So how do you go about feeling the burn?

 

“I have other business owners I can talk to and I know that the conversation will remain between me and them. I have a very special network—my inner business network is personally and emotionally tied to my business, although they don’t have any financial connections to the business.”

 

“I have a mate and we can call each other and say, ‘I want to come and talk to you’ —we go to each other’s house and the conversation usually goes something like; ‘This is what happened at work today—how would have you handled it?’ ”

 

“I think there is so much complacency in business, and behind the scenes of a business becomes an unspoken secret. People can become so guarded and protect their profit and loss. If you can open up, then you can get some sanity in your business—and new ideas.”

There is so much complacency in business

“If all you get is a new idea when you put yourself in a new situation—then it is worth driving yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone.”

 

“Although I was a part of a franchise, I was frustrated—I wasn’t sure how my business was going—I didn’t know if we were performing well, mediocre or terrible.”

 

“I approached other Signarama business owners and asked them— ‘are you prepared and willing to do some comparisons and see how your business is travelling?’ I invited them to come to Bendigo for the weekend with their profit and loss sheet.”

 

“Funnily enough, after spending a day together, we concluded that our businesses were either going very well, mediocre or extremely poorly.”

 

“Our statistics were really close and our businesses were operating similarly. Although over time—I found as we checked in with each other—the Melbourne-based business did not grow as rapidly as ours. This was because we invested into capital and a sales person.”

 

Peter didn’t just conclude with talking to one business owner and sharing the intimate deals of his business. He approached a Signarama business in Sydney that is double the size of his in Bendigo. “I thought that the larger size business would reveal efficiencies we might be able to adopt.”

 

“The first thing we noticed in comparing our businesses, was the mix of business activity. For example, in Sydney, they have a day marked out just to update directory boards in high rise buildings—we might do this sort of signage work two or three times a year.”

 

“I was also surprised to discover efficiencies in our business and they wanted to know how we did this—it turned out this was really hard to share because it is something we just do in our day-to-day work. But I found that when I started this conversation and shared the discussion, it lead to new ideas and ways of thinking to grow our business.”

 

As Peter talked more about the way he connects with a peer group to find ways to reward his team, to train his team and grow his team with his business, I find myself growing in respect. As a small business owner, I am always on the lookout for ways to scale my business and balance working in my business with working on my business. I love his fearless creativity and drive to find answers to grow his business—because no one else is doing to do this for you.

 

fearless creativity and drive

I do have business mentors, and within a co-working space I have others around me that keep me buoyant and challenging myself—but I have never sat down and made a like-for-like comparison. My goal for 2017 is to actively take some of Peter’s advice and talk more about profit and loss—and reveal my secrets.

 

You might like to consider some of Peter’s advice about how creativity is growing his business:

 

• Business owners need to have an open mind

 

• You need to pull closely around you; peers who you can trust, and you need to be brave and courageous

 

“If you look at high flyers in business—do they do it on their own? No! They have people around them—staff, friends and mentors.”

 

Thanks so much for your time Peter, wishing you and your team much success for the rest of 2017.

Stay in touch with Peter and the Bendigo Signarama team on Facebook.

“Death has always been milling around in my practice.”

I’m in the light-filled gorgeous studio space of Hayley West. Her beautiful making and showing space are within the new Mill complex in Castlemaine. A Central Victorian township that is affectionately known as North Northcote,” brimming with creative businesses operating with and for a difference.

creative businesses operation for and making a difference

“It was when I did my Masters that I began to research the death industry in depth, and I began to realise how fraught this industry is. Becoming a Death literacy advocate has become an important part of my art practice.”

At this early stage of this interview, I wasn’t really sure at all what Hayley was talking about. My intention was to conduct a nice safe interview with Hayley to find out how creativity is building her business, but I found myself talking about death and the business of death—a subject I rarely consider!

The Departure - studio view

I came across Hayley’s work on Instagram and then her Facebook page, both called “The Departure”. I loved the look of her work and the way she was using social media to share her practice. I recently listened to an interview on Download, a show interviewing the makers behind the Glass Bedroom series. Profiling six Australian millennial artists who use Instagram to create self-portraits, it is a great documentary about how art has changed in the digital age. Little did I know, Instagram really was just the surface for the depth of Hayley’s complex and important work into death advocacy.

Hayley goes on to explain that her work as an artist and as a death literacy advocate is about death and not dying. (Me nodding, and scrambling for my brain to take in these new concepts—is there a difference between death and dying?) “My passion is getting people organised for death, and thinking about what is possible when organising a funeral.” Hearing the word “organise,” I relaxed a little, feeling like I was back in my comfort zone.

“The Departure is a curious combination of making space for advocacy, the discussion around death and also it is connected to the art world.” Hayley goes on to explain, “In the space of The Departure, I can do something I really love within my local and digital community. It is about contemporary art and challenging (Western) societal taboos around death.” Importantly to Hayley, ideas about death in this space (and on social media) can keep on growing.

Studio view of death items for sale at The Departure

“The deathie network is huge in the UK and US—in this network I am known as a deathling or a deathie. (I can’t help it—my eyebrows raise while I scribble in my notebook). “Social media is so important because you need an online community to sustain what you are doing when you are operating outside of social norms. This is a space that not many people think about and it can be very uncomfortable.”

“Especially when my advocacy focuses on affordable and natural burial and questions the established funeral industry and the practices they have in place. I strongly believe that elements of this industry need to be questioned, and people need to be aware of how they can be taken advantage of in a this very vulnerable time in their lives. There are some wonderful funeral homes, you just need to know where to find them.”

“Online, there is lots of support for natural burial and more environmentally friendly cremation options. The UK and US alternative funeral industry is moving fast, but it’s taking its time in Australia.”

Death Cafe

Hayley also co-hosts a local Death Café in Castlemaine — connected to the international Death Café movement. At a Death Café, people talk about death over tea and cake. Death Cafés happen in 40+ countries.

She kick-starts death discussion in her studio gallery space with a coffin. “I wanted to have a coffin in here so people can actually see and touch one. Generally, people don’t think about death until they have to, usually not until they are physically sitting down with a funeral director being talked into buying something conventional and expensive,” Hayley smiles. “The coffin in here really works to get a conversation going. People say, “Oh my God, this is a coffin?!”

The coffin at The Departure is biodegradable: woven from ethically farmed wicker with a non-dyed calico interior. Hayley explains, “It’s on loan from a local funeral home, and people often like to have a peek inside. They will then stay and talk about their own experiences with death Kids are the most curious, they love being in here because they love all the skulls!”

So how do death and art work together at The Departure?

Ceramic urns by Hayley Mills of The Departure

“The Departure is my studio and gallery. I show my own work, and work made by other artists with the theme of death. It is also a shop where you can purchase death-related items such as personal adornments and (non-native) animal skulls.” She also offers services such as facilitating cremation ashes to be placed into memorial glass weights.

I have an ongoing project where I’m making ceramic urns for ashes and have just received my first commission for vessels to hold the ashes of two family pets.” Hayley sources hand-built, discarded ceramic vessels from op-shops, some have also been donated. She reclaims these once loved, one-off ceramic forms and makes custom lids for them, giving them a new ‘life’. Right now, she is sourcing inspiration and icons from the “Book of the Dead.”

Ceramic skulls at The Departure studio

“I have an idea, and the material that I use to express this idea is secondary. I do play with all art forms except painting.” Hayley’s need to continue to explore the idea of death and provide opportunities for others to do the same comes from her own lived experience of death in her family.

“I wasn’t equipped to deal with my family’s deaths—the funeral, the wake and then the grieving that comes and goes. When I look back, I can now see that my experience was so hands-off. If I could, I would organise my parent’s funerals differently and manage life after their death differently.”

“I first attended a Death Café because I wanted to know what people did with all the stuff that is left behind when someone dies. I went to the café with this thought in mind but then I found I could talk about anything. I am an artist who has experienced a lot of death.”

Make this venture sustainable

“The Departure is so important to keep my ideas generating and keep conversations happening about death in this space and on social media. I’m still working out how I fit in, how to make this venture sustainable and also how I can influence.”

Follow Hayley and The Departure on:

Instagram @the.departure Facebook Web 

The answers to our problems are local, and it is all about your reputation on bHive.

It took me a little while to understand Ian McBurney’s vision to connect the people of Bendigo (a regional town in Australia of 120,000 people) to one another, and to services and products they need using an online platform cooperative.

 

My trademark blunt, black-and-white response to Ian was, “Why don’t you just use Facebook? I mean EVERYONE is on Facebook and let’s face it—there is no escape from Facebook.”

 

The answers to all our problems are local

Patiently, Ian explained to me that yes—there are models of “stuff sharing” on Facebook—but eventually it falls over—people begin to squabble over who gets what… “It’s because on Facebook,” Ian explains, “No one has a ‘reputation’ and there is no way to foster trust and belonging. And Facebook owns and sells your data.”

 

BHive is the online platform cooperative for Bendigo’s own sharing economy, pitched to the community of Bendigo last September by Ian and the bHive team. It’s a collective of innovative micro-businesses who are offering their expertise to create the online platform cooperative.

 

“When you sign up for bHive, it locates you at the centre of a neighborhood—about a 200-300m radius around your home,” Ian goes on to say. “It’s a village of people and this is where your reputation grows, as a part of a village. Using bHive Bendigo could build, operate and own our own sharing services in transport, money, skills, food, stuff, time, housing, logistics and more. We could remake our local economy and this time we benefit and for the long term.”

 

On Facebook, your profile is manicured and preened; it is for a fake life that doesn’t exist. “When you are a member of bHive, you won’t be putting up a post about a pretend life. It will be an online social network that is practical; sharing, organising and connecting people,” Ian smiles. “Your reputation on the platform will be about how well you share, organise and connect.”

 

Screen Shot of the bHIve app

Members of the bHive villages will be able to share things like babysitting and areas of common interest and have access to a sharing register of garden tools and, appliances. Then there will be services that have a cost set up at the Bendigo scale, like car sharing, skill sharing, stuff sharing and more as the platform develops.

 

A little bit crazy

Ian describes himself as a little bit crazy on the entrepreneurial journey to creating a new platform that has never existed before.

 

“At first, people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” –Frances Hodgson Burnett.

 

Ian is the father of three young children, and owner of a successful consultancy; working around Australia with business, government, in the health sector, communities and not-for-profits. “Live Ecological is about empowering people and organisations to operate with environmentally sustainable practices.”

 

“All OECD research proves that when businesses invest into sustainable practices, they will save money and they will make money. All available science says that ecological sustainability is our only available path anyway.”

 

local trade benefits local people and place

“But even when saving money, only very special businesses will prioritise ecological sustainability because, in the end, they exist only to make money.  So I’m working on the bHive because what we need is economic transformation.  The problem is our economic system- which believes that money and profit are the ultimate and only outcome.  People and place and the planet will always be sacrificed to money in the current system.  The weird thing is that we continue to worship extractive growth even when most of the money is leaving the country anyway and feeding the billionaires.  The answer is localism.  It’s BHive.  Local trade to benefit people and place.”

 

Does what Ian observe resonate with you? “Everyone is busy, time-poor and stressed and everyone’s budget has been cut.”

 

Courageously, this year Ian has placed his business on the backburner and stepped into a world of uncertainty, well out of his comfort zone, to get bHive platform off the ground. Ian is bravely offering his community a platform to re-think the economy, to re-think our use of time, resources and skills.

 

“The new economy is localism; local renewable energy, local food systems and local currencies. This concept gets me so excited and I don’t want to travel around anymore working in other organisations and communities—I want us to make this happen in my own life, for our own lives, in our own community.”

 

$80million is spent on power each year in Bendigo. “Our spending is leaving town. What would happen if our spending stayed here? We can create so much work here!” Ian proposes that thousands ?” Ian proposes that thousands of people would have opportunities for work in Bendigo if we generated our own renewable energy and exported this energy.

 

However, he is careful to back this vision up. “We don’t want to be a business brought out by a global business—for our community to thrive we need to be local for the long term. Local needs matched with local skills. This is in stark contrast to companies such as Uber and Airbnb, who identify themselves within the sharing economy—sharing labour and spaces. Ian says, “Those platforms are not sharing—they are using people and their stuff for rentals without employment benefits or paying tax.” He calls them value-extracting beasts.

“The bulk of the value they generate goes to investors and management who live far away from the worldwide communities in which they operate.”

 

“The platform cooperative, like Bhive, overcomes the problems of these well-known enterprises, because the people who use the platform, own it too. Imagine that Uber was owned and run by its’ drivers, or that Airbnb was owned and run by its’ hosts. Platform cooperatives allow local owner-operators to protect their local economy, community and their environment.”

 

You can stay in touch with Ian and the bHive movement on Facebook or sign up to their newsletter here.

Life coaching is something I had considered, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen.

Image by Apricot Berlin

It’s something that I became aware of from listening to podcasts such as Inspirational Living, The School of Greatness and Over and On With It.

I love listening to positive stories and messages. I make use of any moment that I have to myself, such as travel time in the car. I even listen to podcasts when I am grocery shopping!

 

Running a business is something that I truly enjoy. I love a challenge. I especially love that in business, I serve all different parts of our community. I have worked in disability, in agriculture, in social enterprise, in health, and in fundraising.

Drawing By Izzy Stewart

Drawing by Lizzy Stewart

One of my strengths is my organisational ability; my project management skills and my creativity to deliver a message. I pride myself on being prepared for every situation and possibility. My foundation of consistency and discipline is my formula for making creativity happen.

 

Scarily, some of my firm beliefs started going a bit wonky in my third year of running my business. Growing a business was all time consuming and I started to feel exhausted and unsure about my next step. To my horror, I was coming up with indecisive and incomplete ideas and visions!

 

I decided to take up the opportunity of three complimentary sessions, provided by central Victorian life coach; SallyRose, of Restore and Replenish. I had worked with SallyRose on a mental-health engagement project last year. I really enjoyed working with her. I admired the way she made everyone around her feel at ease and quickly brought out the best in everyone.

 

At my first session with SallyRose, she welcomed me to a judgment-free space. I entered giving SallyRose complete permission to challenge me. I was delighted that the permission specifically was for my unconscious mind to be challenged and for my conscious mind to become aware of the unconscious. (What a mind twister!)

 

All the things I dare to do

 

Her first question was, “What would you like to call this session,” and I replied, “All the things I dare to do.”

 

Over three, one-hour sessions, SallyRose dedicated her time to listening to my ideas, thoughts, concerns, vision for my business, vision for my health, my creativity, my future and my family. Coaching is about making time for reflection and feeling safe about not getting everything right. In fact, I found a lot of what I chose to talk about surprising—shifting away from my business to my family and my core relationships.

In the second session, we talked about beliefs and language. For someone who works a great deal in engagement and connecting people, you would think I found this easy—but to be honest with you, when I stop and stilled myself, connecting with my inner beliefs was confronting.

 

SallyRose broke down this process to reflect on my values and how important they are into my life, by walking me through the “wheel” exercise. Basically, it was visually slicing a circle up into wedges that represent different aspects of life—from family, friends, career, health, spirituality, play etc.

 

It was a great opportunity to get off the treadmill of delivering to others—be it in business or at home—and connect with me. SallyRose calls this “belief coaching.” She explained to me that as you become familiar with your beliefs—the beliefs that serve you and those that don’t serve you—you naturally build the skills to change them and grow as a person.

 

power to create joy

 

In the book (referred to me by SallyRose as my homework) Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, I really liked reading about the power within yourself to get to know your beliefs and change them—or confront a fear, be afraid, yet do it anyway! Jeffers writes about power within self as being, “Power over your perceptions of the world, power over how you react to situations in your life, power to do what is necessary for your own self-growth, power to create joy and satisfaction in your life, power to act and power to love.”

 

SallyRose is based in Castlemaine, and she is ready and able to travel in central Victoria to deliver coaching to people and also in work-places. I met with SallyRose both at my office (although I was worried I would be all tears!) and at her studio.

 

She is offering three complimentary coaching sessions to people. I really urge to you get in touch with SallyRose and try life coaching. I know my time with SallyRose has added value to my business, my family life and also my inner life.

 

As a small business owner, I deeply valued the life coaching with Restore and Replenish; to reflect with someone with the tools to help me grow my business and my creativity.

Image by Apricot Berlin

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