Words: Katherine Ashmore
Last week, I had the privilege of attending Bloom’s annual conference, BloomFest, a day which has become a highlight in the events calendar for so many. As part of the 2019 leadership team, I was on hand to welcome over 250 guests and look after some of the awe-inspiring speakers who set the tone of the event and ensured that everyone felt the need and urge to #Turnitup on all things to do with championing the real voices of women in the communications industry.
I took so much away from the action packed agenda, so much so that I have struggled to streamline my thoughts so as not to write forever!
In keeping with one of my main takeouts from the day, I’m going to stick to the ‘power of 3’ and share with you three things I learned which I hope will help shape the person I am in the workplace and enrich the person I am in the real world. Of course, the power of 3 should also help this piece be far more memorable, engaging and persuasive to you, the reader.
- Lean in
Showing any form of vulnerability at work is difficult for so many of us. In bringing our true self to work, we feel as though we open ourselves up to criticism or mockery. Times have changed. Our differences are a reason for celebration and growth. They should make us stand out for all the right reasons. No matter what our differences may be, we are all just people after all, struggling with our own stuff.
In daring to be different, and being the change that we wish to see around us, we will not only galvanise ourselves into action but it will spark an action- whether it be starting a conversation with someone from a different background, encouraging a celebration of people’s uniqueness or forming a collective of like-minded people. By leaning into our lives at work, we will not only be able to overcome barriers to our own growth but we will be able to overcome stereotypes and prejudices by getting to know others.
- Speak up
From vulnerability to visibility, we all have the choice and power to speak up, to make the invisible, visible, and to be unapologetically ourselves. By being proud of who we are and embracing it, we will naturally feel confident enough to stand up, show up and speak up, not only for ourselves but for those who may not be ‘like you’.
We work in the business of storytelling. We can use our voices to tell stories that break down boundaries, encourage openness and spark conversations.
There is real strength in being ourselves. Not only because everyone else is taken but because we all have unique opinions which, if put to good use, can help shape the future of our lives, business and industry.
- Be kind
Being kind was the overwhelming theme highlighted by many of the speakers I had the pleasure of listening to. As human beings, no matter what our background, we all have the need for cultural belonging- the need to feel like we are part of something bigger than we are helps us make connections, feel empowered and be a role model for others.
We all have privilege- whether it be our education, where we grew up, how we were raised, our beliefs or our experiences, to name a few. By coupling this privilege with kindness, and asking the simplest of questions like ‘how are you doing’, we will be able to make and sustain meaningful relationships with colleagues, friends or even strangers. As the wonderful Maya Angelou once said “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Bloomfest embodies everything that is so special about Bloom. It brings people together, it helps people share their stories, it empowers people and it celebrates real voices. By allowing every attendee the opportunity to #turnitup for the day and gain new skills and tools, we all walked away feeling like we could and will make a positive change in the industry.