Last year was one of the most memorable and action-packed years to date. As events sprung back into action following years of COVID lockdowns, and people became more confident and eager to reconvene life, the calendar filled up with events, parties, weddings and work commitments. Therefore I’m grateful I got to travel again, work in different locations and spend more time with friends.
Travel changes you
I found not being able to travel during the pandemic quite challenging. Before the very first lockdown, we had just returned from a fantastic trip to Sri Lanka, which sparked an urge to travel much more. So when the pandemic began, those plans were paused, and we went into planning mode. I’ll start by saying how fortunate I am to be able to travel to places I want to go to, and I’ll never take that privilege for granted.
Anyone that knows me knows I love Anthony Bourdain. There are so many good soundbites from him on travelling, and this is one of my favourites:
Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.
I’ve been a long-time lover of skiing, and at the start of the year, Ailsa and I went to Gstaad in Switzerland. I’ve wanted us to ski together to share something I love so much with her (and selfishly go on more ski holidays). The skiing conditions were excellent, and the general food and drink scene there was incredible (we had a particularly memorable meal in Rougemont). If you’re looking for somewhere with a mix of skiing and culinary delights, I’d recommend Gstaad. There’s also the most beautiful train journey on the Golden Pass railway from Geneva to Gstaad. It winds up the mountain through the snowy hills, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to go on one of the older carriages, which resemble those of the Orient Express.
2022 was also the year Glastonbury returned. If you’ve been before, you know the score. It’s essentially a playground for adults, with some of the best acts in the world. This produced so many memorable moments that again made me grateful that events had returned.
Lessons on resilience
Last year was also a time to reconnect with friends. It was amazing to see friends finally get married after years of delays, and it’s fair to say we did an excellent job of celebrating. We were fortunate enough to get married before the pandemic hit, but I learnt a lot from friends about resilience and patience as they replanned weddings over the course of a few years.
It was also a year where I tried to focus more on my health, with running and strength training stepping up a notch. I had a few critical running injuries that were hard to shake off, but hopefully, I’ve worked through the worst of them. As a result, I entered the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, which takes place on 2nd April. Along with this, I’m planning on a few shorter trail runs, too.
Louie, our dog, is keeping us full of joy. The continued focus on getting him out for walks and keeping him occupied does wonders for our mental health, even if it just takes the edge off stress at work and home.
Pushing forward on work commitments
I started last year with a focus on revamping the Hey! Presents brand and events. I took some time to think about what I wanted the future of the conference to look like, as well as revisiting some of the messaging and branding. I’m pleased with how it’s turned out. The brand is playful but professional and something people want to be a part of. The core of it has always been a community, and it was great to see the conference spring back to life as we opened up the in-person event again.
This year is selling well so far, and I’m looking forward to welcoming a new cohort of speakers and attendees to the city to show them what we have to offer. I’m pleased to welcome more international speakers to the conference than ever before, making it one of the more diverse line-ups we’ve ever had.
Travelling to Brighton (for ffconf) and Berlin (for beyond tellerrand) was inspiring to meet other organisers and see how they do things. As an industry, I think it’s essential to support and meet fellow organisers, as these things take a lot of time to produce, and it’s good to establish a support network.
James and I also managed to stick to our schedule for the podcast, producing at least an episode every month alongside busy schedules. I love doing the podcast with James. It really helps to articulate thoughts you’ve got on a particular subject and can help mature processes and ideas you’re putting into practice daily. We’ve put together the plan for the next 6 months worth of recordings and plan on continuing it this year.
I also started with Logically last year, a welcome break from more corporate projects. Joining a startup again was so much fun, getting the chance to establish processes, teams and technology from the ground up. This isn’t always easy, but it’s an area I’m much more comfortable in than a corporate structure with inflexibility. I believe there is so much creativity in our industry that you need fewer constraints to sometimes achieve your best work, and I think I’ve achieved that over the last year.
So I begin 2023 with an optimistic mindset, faced with new projects and possibilities. Here’s to more travel, creativity and events. After a manic end to 2022, I’m finally ready to tackle this year. Let’s go!