This is an archived blog from when I ran Conscious Public Relations Inc. from 2008-2018. Excuse the potential outdated-ness!
Social Venture Leaders Being the Wind
It’d be easy to start at the beginning with this blog, but a chronological “this is what I did” type of post just doesn’t do my second experience at SVI Hollyhock 2017 justice. So, like the wind, I will start where I want to.
Just like any event, a repeat experience comes with some knowledge and a sense of expectation. Prior to the start of the SVI Hollyhock on September 13, we were even given a sneak peek at who would be coming in terms of attendees and speakers. So already I was feeling some intimidation at the level of success of these individuals. It’s very humbling to be in their presence, especially since I was granted a scholarship to attend this year.
You soon learn at SVI that you also have experience and a level of success that is valuable, even if you are between business ventures, haven’t start one yet, or like me, are running a company for almost 10 years and still not knowing WTF you’re doing. When we engage in hearing from speakers as we did from Goddess Garden Organics CEO Nova Covington, Artist and Emerging Changemakers Network Agent Jessica Norwood, and Alterra Power, Pan American Silver, and Sitka Foundation’s Ross Beaty, we both learn from them and try to see our common experiences in theirs.
When we engage in case studies or business problem solving sessions, we hear our own ventures and difficult decisions in the leaders’ dilemmas, and offer our knowledge to support them.
When we choose workshops, we learn something new from the facilitators and our peers that we hadn’t before. As a result of one powerful workshop I took at SVI Hollyhock three years ago on Corporate Culture, the trajectory of Conscious PR’s mission and culture changed.
And when we share space (whether an intimate circle, in a hot tub, or on a dance floor), take a moment to appreciate or interact with nature, or have a deep and unexpected impactful conversation with someone, we become more than just business owners or people working in social ventures; we expand to fully experience our humanity. This is the experience that SVI Hollyhock offers that nowhere else has, at least for me at this point.
As of now I cannot pinpoint what experience it will be from the last five days that will change the trajectory of the company, but I can tell you that the two emerging themes that hit me to the core that I will never forget are the value of intuition in leadership and the urgency to move.
Intuition played a factor far before I arrived at Hollyhock, when I decided to visit Victoria en route. Though I only spent two and a half days there, I got to get a feel for the city, eat great food (always a bonus when you’re a foodie), and meet new people who are also doing amazing things. Even though I got some “work” done during this time, it set the tone for my physical time away.
The content of the first two SVI days very much highlighted the notion of intuitive leadership and this is something that most business conferences don’t talk about. The need to trust yourself and have the solidity that even if you make a mistake, there is a lesson to learn that will eventually lead you in the right direction.
Jessica Norwood dropped the mic Thursday night when she deviated from the usual business trajectory talk, went super real, and challenged all of us to “be the wind.” We all have an onslaught of things against us, and it’s important we continue to move if we are to do the things we want to in the world. It’s big work we’ve chosen, and we need some big help in our personal development to keep the fire alive.
Speaking of fire, I felt that physical element was the one thing missing in my journey due to the ban to prevent forest fires. I swam in the ocean (water), I dug my feet into sand and walked forest trails (earth), and felt the force of the air when our return travel plans went awry because of yesterday’s winds. However my short stint in the sauna on Transformation Project’s “big red bus” sufficed in place of fire.
SVI offers many experiences to move: Yoga, kayaking, garden/nature walking, cruising, swimming, and dancing. Friday’s nature walk was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had. Thanks to our tour guide, we were able to feel the energy of nature and learn of the history of the land. When joining hands to hug a five hundred year-old tree, I felt a strong feminine presence and knew it was my grandmother saying hello to me and reminding me to stay strong. Though winds are strong as hell, trees like that one can stand the test of time because of their roots.
One of the other most interesting experiences was a workshop I took with Bettina Rothe in which we created powerful vision statements and declared them aloud as we cut the air with bokkens, traditional wooden Japanese swords. Anything involving swords is cool as hell. I learned the importance of engaging my body in my mission. Many talk about writing vision statements and even feeling into them, but I began to realize how my body could be a tool to facilitate making it even more real.
One of the coolest things I did (thanks to alumnus Mohamed) was go down to the ocean at night to test out the bio-luminescence of the sea plankton that glow when they’re touched. I wish I could show you a video of it, but you’ve gotta experience it for yourself. You can wade like Julie and I did and don’t have to fully swim to experience this extraordinary side of water life.
It was not until Saturday when I went for a swim in the ocean, meditated, and had a lovely conversation before our group barbecue on the beach that I could physically feel my heart open. And after one more deep but extremely brief chat, I learned again the need to use my body and realized how much a massage would have been valuable to have the uncomfortable energy move through and out of my body (in 2014 I wisely booked a massage before the conference started).
After a final night of dancing and conversation, our challenge to be the Wind came full force as we were forced to change our travel plans due to wind storms. Float planes and water taxis were cancelled, and ferries were expected to be delayed. Several of us with flights to catch in the afternoon banded together to figure out rides between the ferry terminals on Quadra Island and five of us sprinted – luggage in tow – Amazing-Race style to board the ferry to Campbell River. It was a true feat of overcoming adversity and racing like the wind.
Despite the bumpy ride home among the clouds, there were pockets of gorgeous blue sky and wispy, cottony clouds surrounding us. I connected with my grandfather in that moment, who was a pilot when he was living. Again, we’re always connected to the divine. We just often forget it.
There were so many other small moments I appreciated that I will carry with me. The most valuable part of the SVI experience is the people. Some you may know, and many you do not coming in, but you leave comrades, friends, and dare I say adventurers – when you depart. To Jocelyn, James, Joel, Bonnie, Madeleine, Bridget, Julie H, Adrian & Andrea, Kevin, Judy, and Julie S, the producer staff, the staff and volunteers at Hollyhock, and everyone I jammed with this past week, thank you.