At the end of September, Grace and I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Dare Conf in London, Jonathan Kahn’s labour of love. It is without doubt the best conference I’ve been to. I found every talk so inspiring and picked up something useful from each over the three days, but Dare delivered even more than the talks.
A meet and greet session was held on the Monday evening before the conference kicked-off. The enthusiasm everyone—and I mean everyone—expressed to be there immediately struck me. I could hear excitement in voices and the desire to make Dare something special.
The first three people I chatted to turned out to be speakers, which I found so cool because at conferences I’d previously attended, the speakers were almost like a separate entity, but at Dare they were as much a part of the gang as anyone. To add to the fun, on entry a pack of cards was given out to all attendees with the goal of collecting all six in the set. What was the only way to do this? By talking to other people at the conference of course, it was genius, the perfect icebreaker—and yes I collected all six, yay!
The talks began with a bang—not a literal bang—when Karen McGrane took to the stage! Karen was fantastic, speaking about how to deal with insecurities. One line I loved from Karen’s talk was, ‘Don’t compare your behind the scenes to everybody else’s highlight reel’. I’ve been guilty of this—in hindsight—but never had it articulated in such an eye opening way . It was inspiring to hear such a successful person reveal so openly how her ‘highlight reel’ essentially covers up her ‘behind the scenes’ disasters.
But then that’s what made Dare so special. Every speaker on stage bared their soul to the 100 or so people watching on. There was an overall message at the conference that it’s good to be vulnerable and in turn show vulnerability. Every speaker talked so openly about dealing with depression or having to close their business and how that made them feel, resulting in gazes of wide-eyed wonder, and in some cases tears, at their courage. Some speakers also talked about their work, their challenges, their experiences, their failings and the lessons they learnt from it all. There was such a great mix of stories that it would be quite a long blog post to talk about each one so I’ll list a few of the lines that stood out for me:
‘As we liberate ourselves from fear, we give others permission to do the same’ – Karen McGrane.
‘You have permission to believe in yourself. To be kind to yourself. Extend compassion to yourself.’ – Karen McGrane.
‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure’ – Karen McGrane (referencing Marieanne Williamson).
‘Fear is about the unknown.’ – Neil Williams
‘(Your job as a manager is to) Create space for your people to be the best they can be’ – Meri Williams.
‘Shit, we’re all the same underneath… they’re (successful people) scared too’ – Meri Williams.
‘I found that I was fine with the idea of help for other people. But for ME? Different story.’ – Kerry Anne Galloway.
‘I made the typical rookie mistake of hiring people for the business I wanted, not the business I had’ – Kerry Anne Galloway.
‘Feminism is the radical notion that women are people’ – Kate Dreyer.
‘USE MOMENTUM – you don’t have to wait until things are perfectly lined up’ – Daphne Shinn.
‘I’m mostly here today because I was too scared to chicken out.’ – Daphne Shinn.
‘Courage requires vulnerability’ – Nina Burrowes.
‘Courage is a choice. Choose to be vulnerable, to leave your comfort zone and to grow’ – Nina Burrowes.
‘Courage isn’t about trying the thing OTHERS are afraid to do. It’s about doing the thing I’M afraid to do.’ – Nina Burrowes.
‘Success stories are always told from the end of the journey. It’s survivorship bias.’ – Sophie Dennis.
‘Enjoy the journey. You may never make it to the mountain. But it’s important to enjoy the scenery along the way.’ – Sophie Dennis.
Check out the conference videos to get the full wow factor. They’re worth it!
On the last day we were asked to answer a few questions about the Dare experience. One of those was ‘Who did you meet?’. There was only word I could possibly write down… ‘everyone’. At the start of the second day, I had gotten to know almost everybody at the conference, which was the case for anyone who attended, and that was amazing. I even stood up and spoke in front of a microphone for the first time—twice by the end of the event!—to a crowd, pushing through a personal comfort zone challenge—getting an awesome new book for my efforts—because I felt compelled to share my experience of the conference with everybody and that’s also why I’m writing this post.
Dare was an awesome conference, gathering, party, and experience rolled into one that I’ll always remember. If you do anything after reading this, check out the videos and then go to Dare 2014! You won’t regret it.
- The featured photos of Dave Gray, Karen McGrane and myself were taken by Paul Clarke.