Tonight I headed to Belfast city centre to the aptly named, ‘Innovation & Inspiration Social Event’. When I arrived home again after 10.30, instead of slipping under the covers I switched on the laptop to write about it – well, when this happens I know I’ve been inspired!
This get together of folk from Northern Ireland’s digital technology sector formed part of the second annual Digital DNA NI symposium of events which celebrate one of the most vibrant and growing sectors of our economy, which I’m proud to be part of.
As a relatively new entrepreneur and business owner of Digital Den, I love hearing stories about peoples’ journey from starting out until now. Often common themes flow through these testimonies as speakers recall their initial desire to do something different and indeed make a difference, which sometimes takes them on a roller coaster to the depths of despair, financial turmoil and even temporary failure, before coming out the other side and reaching the golden gates of success.
Tonight’s speakers certainly did not disappoint, and one of these was a rather eccentric and colourful character who labels himself as a ‘prophet, madman and wanderer’ – welcome to the world of Steve Edge of London based branding and digital design studio, Edge Design Ltd.
Steve’s story took many twists and turns, and resulted in many laughs, nods, cheers and claps of appreciation that would take way too long to recite, however, a few key messages did stick in my head which I’ll share with you.
1. Don’t let anything limit your ability to succeed
Despite having dyslexia and being home schooled, Steve runs a very successful design agency, and was clawing his way into high profile roles whilst still in his teens. We may all be guilty of complaining about the ‘muppets’ we meet in our day to day lives, but at the tender age of 15 Steve Edge was working on the set designs for the real puppet characters, The Muppets! This was followed by a stint working on none other than Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark for the legendary George Lucas. Steve has proved that limitations can be overcome with talent, persistence and determination.
Lesson: Don’t let anything stop you from being the best you can be.
2. Spread good karma because what goes around comes around
This is a lesson which many smart entrepreneurs and business people have learned over the years and Steve’s generosity with his time, and personal words of encouragement for myself and the others delegates showed that spreading good karma is a rule he lives by.
Steve also shared a personal story with us to highlight this point. After the death of his grandfather, his mother who was only a teenager at the time with a number of siblings to support, was given her first job as a PA to a local man who knew she needed the money. Many years later when Steve set up his business, he interviewed many college graduates and took on his first assistant, a young woman who showed remarkable talent in her portfolio but had failed her exams. Ironically after his mother came to visit him at the studio and met his new assistant, she discovered that her son had unknowingly hired the daughter of the man who had given her a job many years ago – karma!
Lesson: Always be willing to help others out when you can, because spreading that good karma will always make its way back to you.
3. Dress Every Day for a Party
If you’ve ever met Steve Edge, you will have no trouble picking him out of a crowd, and with his own very unique and colourful style Steve lives by the belief that if you dress for a party every day, you will have your very own party every day!
Often the ‘creatives’ within our industry are known to toss aside the suits, and opt for a less formal and more expressive form of ‘Personal Branding’. This may include donning everything from multi-coloured skinny jeans, casual shirts, sneakers, bow ties, tweed jackets and dark rimmed glasses, to growing a beard.
My own personal branding obsession may be less obvious by day, but in my own creative space – the Digital Den – it extends to nightwear and crockery, and as I write this I feel suitably branded in my fox themed fleece pj’s and ‘feeling foxy’ mug of strong tea. If the business world can handle Steve Edge’s creative style, hopefully they can handle my version of self-expression too!
Lessons: Create your own style, think outside the box, dare to be different – be you! Being creative doesn’t stop at the end of the working day, it’s who you are all day, every day! Be proud of it!
If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my version of tonight’s event and I’d love it if you would share some of your own thoughts and stories.
Thanks to Gareth Quinn & the Digital DNA NI team for a great evening.
Pictured left to right in the top image: myself, Denise Cowan of Digital Den, Steve Edge of Edge Design Ltd and Marie-Louise Gowdy of Being Online – a friend and former colleague who I had the pleasure of catching up with when she agreed to join me at tonight’s event.