An unconference. What on earth is that? Earlier this year whilst surfing the worldwide web of interesting, useless information, a WWGSD Facebook advert appeared in my Facebook feed. It grabbed my attention, so I clicked through to find out more.
I soon found out that just as the title suggested, the Unconference is a collaborative event for women in New Zealand who are out there getting shit done, bringing together 100 diverse women from all over New Zealand to inspire and engage with one another. They come from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities, life experiences; ages and stages come together to share their stories.
But is an unconference even an achievable concept? Initially, I was a little unsure about how it was going to run. To be honest, I was unsure about the whole thing right up to the moment I sat down in a room of 100 women who I didn’t know.
How an unconference works is there is no pre-set agenda. The plan for the event was built by the group of women attending on the first night and the sessions were run informally, based on what we wanted to share, discuss and learn. Whether that was to talk about something we are passionate about, share a skill, or getting feedback, reflecting or chatting about something we want to change in the world or learn about, everyone had something to add.
As a woman, it’s natural to second guess yourself, and I initially had some reservations that I wasn’t as accomplished as the other ladies involved. But the more I thought about it during the application process, the more I gained confidence in myself. Five house renovations, hell yes. Started a business, hell yes. Raised four kids under six and stayed sane, hell yes – er, most the time anyway. I applied to attend and out of the 350 women that applied, I was one of the 100 women that was selected.
Alongside the business that my husband and I established 13 years ago, Mount Maunganui based brand agency Woods, I have always had a little black book of random product ideas that I have wanted to create and take to market. I was hopeful this weekend away from the kids would give me the time to focus and reflect on how to get shit done in this area.
So, off I drove to Waihi Beach from Papamoa earlier this month wondering what the hell I’d signed myself up for. The first evening, we met and chatted as a small whanau group and then as a larger group to identify what we were all going to talk and learn about.