Silicon Beach – is it all about the shorts?

Silicon Beach takes place every year in Bournemouth – location of one of the UK’s fastest growing digital and creative economies.  An apt home for a creative conference jam packed with inspiring speakers.  Matt Desmier, the curator, is open enough to admit he invites a bunch of excellent speakers he wants to listen to and then invites us all in to crash his party.  [Complete with romper shorts / play suits and very classy deck shoes! You have to be there to believe it!]

Matt Desmier, Silicon Beach
Matt Desmier, Silicon Beach UK

I recommended it as “one of the top 10 digital conferences to go to this year” so I was really pleased to book my ticket this year (early  – as the prices seriously ramp up) and guarantee my spot.

As I arrived on the first day, Bournemouth was treating me well, the sun was shining, I could see the sea from the conference venue and I bumped into a friendly face – Tom from Etch – a digital agency in Southampton who are flying high.  I rifled through the goodie bag – which was seriously goodie – and found some fab USB charging connectors which are always useful at events from Hays and a fish-eye lense for my phone (which we later had fun trying out), as well as pampering hand cream (always useful for the office).

I met some lovely people over the 2 days, there were many speakers, and I certainly appreciated taking time out of the office (though I did take conference calls on both days) to focus on being inspired and getting re-energised for the next season.

We heard about nanotechnology, social influencers, digital detoxing and a light-hearted game of Twitter #BlanketyBlank showing the opportunities for connection and community on social media networks.

The absolute highlights for me were:

Richard Gerver, who offered the notion that as we get older we think everything needs to be complicated, that we only think things are of value if someone else values it.  He challenged us to have a more childlike approach – embrace your creativity, reconfigure the currency of clever and, my favourite, see the spaces between the buildings.

Dr Sophie Kain brought scary changes to the world through nanotechnology from face cream to war. Potential changes to medicine, clothing, food, fuel could all be life changing, but potentially life ending also.

We heard from Scarlett Montanaro of Crack + Cider, revolutionising our giving to those who don’t have a permanent home of their own.  Vikki Chowney, Chief Content Strategist from H+K Strategies, delivered a very astute talk about social influencers and challenged them to take responsibility for their behaviour online.

For my favourite speaker of day 1 was Vladimir Vulic, known as Vanja.  He is from Montenegro, but speaks all over the world. His storytelling was spot on and the most memorable from Silicon Beach.  His story about the herd of deer, that were separated into two groups by fences during the iron curtain between Czech Republic and Germany was mesmerising.

When the fences were removed in 1989, the deer were tracked and they found they never ever strayed across the border, even 25 years and a whole generation later, that was just the way the deer had learned to live.  The story exemplified the human response of “We’ve always done it this way” which is never going to get us anywhere.

We need to start innovative management practices that benefits our employees and ultimately our businesses, being responsible for ourselves, our co-workers and being transparent with salaries.

Marcus John Henry Brown, brought a theatre-worthy performance as we entered his Sci-Fi Orwellian film, in which our lives were now all about our brand and shopping – shopping is freedom – and our ascent to “gorgeous”.  Highly entertaining and scarily not-too-many steps from the truth and reality for ourselves and our teenagers.

Matt Ballantine encouraged us not to have the straightforward Scandinavian approach of Lego or Ikea, following numbered stages of instructions and processes but encouraged us instead to take a tinkering, playing around, having a go, make something new approach to our work.

Chris Barez-Brown, founder of Upping Your Elvis  challenged us about how we stay connected to what makes us unique and special when we are at work.  When our subconscious is running the show it chooses things it’s chosen before.  Instead, practice taking off your flip-flops*, appreciate how this moment in unique and special.  Take a moment to breathe.

*insert your favourite footwear not many of us were wearing flip flops even though we were next to the beach

So what now?  I’m going to be connecting with the speakers and people I met whilst at Silicon Beach and taking onboard some of the challenges they set out.  What about you?  If you didn’t attend – I suggest you mark it in your diary as a productive way to spend a couple of days next year.

I’ll leave you with this picture of the delicious cookie dough chocolate treats Heather Brown created. I was inspired!

Founder and Director @ Autumn Live Ltd

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