First of all, yay new website! I'm so thrilled with it and am excited to bring you the first blog post from here about something so special.
As I shared in my last post, I went back to the US last month! I was attending a business conference unlike any other. It was being run by the amazing Kristen Kalp of BrandCamp, and was held at Pine Forest Camp - an actual summer-camp in Pennsylvania!
I was first introduced to Kristens work in 2013, when I attended the FIND 2.0 Business Workshop in Hawaii which she co-hosted with Jon Canlas, and I've been following her brilliant work ever since.
When I first heard about The Brand Camp event, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect or what it would be like, I just knew I had to be there.
I remember the night I read the info page - reading that Brand Camp was going to be a time for pausing and reflecting. Listening to ourselves and what we really wanted. Recognising where we're at right now, and what we may need to change, improve, let go of. It was about getting closer to making a meaningful life, daring to tell the truth, a time to be really honest with ourselves.
There was also mention of surprises... Ice cream trucks, ferris wheel rides at sunrise and an eternal smores flame - this whole event sounded amazing, crazy, fun but also a bit scary and way out, like nothing I've ever heard of before.
Being a part of this included not only the conference, but a series of live business-focused masterclasses and bonuses from January through till September, an online forum and all the live recordings from the event (which I can't wait to listen back to!).
Brand Camp was an amazing experience, it was life changing.
All of the other attendees were as lovely and fun as I'd thought they would be. There was a joyful vibe the afternoon we first arrived as everyone gradually made it there and started getting to know each other. There was so much anticipation for what would unfold over the next few days.
We all stayed in wooden cabins, in bunk beds! It was a real, proper summer camp! I was so happy to be a part of it, although feeling a bit surreal to actually be there. The first night we enjoyed an outdoor dinner where Kristen spoke and welcomed us, followed by an inspiring spoken word poem from beautiful Jeanette Leblanc. We all sat around a fire she'd just lit, and listened in awe… This was special.
For the following days, I just asked myself to be present and take what I needed from the experience. We had been told to leave our phones and cameras etc behind so that we could give ourselves the freedom to really be a part of this. Most of us were photographers, familiar with the feeling of living life through the lens and feeling urged to capture every moment, so it was a good experience to engage with each other without cameras!
At home, so many of us are used to being 'plugged in', sharing our lives on Facebook, checking emails, replying to messages… It can keep us distant from the physical world and from the people that we could be interacting with if we put down our phones.
Being unplugged for the whole time I was in America was great. I will admit that I did take a few iPhone photos as you can see in this blog post (all of these photos are from my phone) - but I think that being more conscious about it and taking only a handful was good for me, and I didn't share anything online until I was home so that I wasn't taken away from really being there. I'm so glad I've got a few to look back on even if I broke the rules!!
I was completely blown away by the speakers on the first day. I felt like I was so meant to be here...
It was weird actually, because the day I arrived and settled in to my lower bunk, I lay down and was shocked to see the name 'Becky' scrawled in biro on the wooden planks above me!! It was so strange that of any of the cabins and bed I'd have this one!
The speakers were fantastic... They talked about the value of connection, seeing others with Love, dropping beliefs that aren't serving you and planning your business in a way that feels really fun and exciting to you... Trusting yourself, being authentic and not being afraid to look foolish for following your heart... Acknowledging fear, walking with it. Taking action!
I felt an overwhelming gratitude to be there, to be a part of this event and to be surrounded by so many amazing people...
Between the talks, there were so many crazy surprises which totally put me out of my comfort zone. Paint twister, marshmallow fights, impromptu dance parties, ferris wheel rides… It was fun getting in touch with our inner four year olds and doing things you used to think were fun before you cared about what people thought of you, or judged yourself!
I am so grateful to Kristen for creating this event. For making it such a different experience, making it so fun, for bringing so many wonderful people together and connecting us. It was an amazing time.
I think when you go on an event like this, it's clearer to see the way it's affected you when you get back home and back to work. I've taken away a lot of profound learnings, but I think most importantly what it reminded me is that I'm okay to carry on 'being myself' in business.
When you love what you do, it feels like such a huge honour and joy to work with your clients and make a difference... So sometimes in certain situations (especially networking) I worried about coming across too excited!, and not looking 'professional' and therefore didn't explain myself well anyway! Holding back on being passionate is so much worse, because you're worrying, and it's impossible to convey what you really do and care about from a place of fear. People sense that uncertainty.
Seeing the way that Kristen and the other speakers walk their talk was a powerful reminder to let go and be truly authentic - that's what attracts your people to you.
I've felt a really positive change in the way I communicate what I'm about and my business to others, because through this experience I more fully understand my values, the way I make a difference to my clients, and why I love what I do so much! I feel more confident and relaxed about everything and people I've spoken to and seen at meetings have commented on that shift, which is lovely to hear!
After Brand Camp I headed to New York City. It's something I'd decided to do before I left. I'd imagined myself spending the weekend there reflecting on camp, journalling in cool cafes and letting everything I'd experienced sink in. But being in New York I just couldn't take it easy - I felt I had to see as much as I could while I was there!
I'd been kindly lent a NYC City Guide by one of my fab clients before I went, so had a whole load of things on my list to do while I was there - even though I'd only be in town for a day and a half! I'd also been given some great recommendations from some of the people at Brand Camp, so there were a lot of places I wanted to check out.
I walked miles and saw so much, met some more interesting people, saw some amazing views, and shot lots of personal work on film… I was happy that I'd made the most of my time there and look forward to returning to do the things I didn't have time for and experience it in a more relaxed way!
I'm looking forward to getting my film scans back from this trip and sharing more with you about what I got up to in New York!
Now that I'm back and I've had time to reflect on what I've experienced more fully, I thought it would be good to share some of my experience with you here.
I hope you've had a great few weeks too!
Heres a quick video I made from Top of The Rock - an awesome place to see some of the Manhattan Skyline!