The last 5 years I’ve been hosting a CreativeMornings chapter in my hometown Utrecht, The Netherlands.
If you don’t know what CreativeMornings (or CM in short) is, an introduction. CM is a monthly breakfast lecture series. Founded in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg in New York to meet the local creative community. The CM’s talks are free of charge (very important) and always include coffee or tea and a small breakfast.
In 2012 I founded CreativeMornings/Utrecht as the first Dutch city, together with my husband Michael and my work colleague Marjolein. I’ve known my husband since college and we always wanted so “do” something together (apart from getting married), that became CreativeMornings/Utrecht.
Now, 5 years later, I have organized over 50 events and I its time to pass the torch to a new host. Talking to people in the search for that new host people always ask me the same question: But what do you get out of it? Somehow a lot of people find it strange to organize a monthly event, spending your free time and a Friday morning every month and not to get paid any money. And yet every month 1774 CreativeMornings volunteers worldwide invest in this great event without getting paid. Why?
For me money has never been a motivator, I have a regular 9 to 5 job, at an awesome app agency, that pays the bills. So I thought hard about what drives me to spend time on this awesome event.
Being an introvert (do not confuse this with being shy or quiet) if get my energy out of alone time or hanging out in small groups. Hosting an event for 100 people is not a small group. I remember after our first few events I went to sleep in the afternoon, exhausted with the stress and the networking. So working my way through 100 visitors, “networking” with everybody is not my cup of tea.
And talking to visitors, one on one, asking what brings them at CM, what they do etc. I love standing in a corner, looking at the happy people all excited for the talk chatting to each other, that gives my so much joy. Or greeting people at the door, welcoming them in our venue, showing them the coffee, triggering them to fill in the icebreaker tags.
So yes, my Linkedin has grown, but not with 50 people a month, but with people that are important to me.
Local and international friends
I’ve met some new friends being a host at CreativeMornings/Utrecht. Our partners of service design agency 31Volts became friends. I love it that they are regular visitors, they come and support us almost every month. Our venue partner became a friend, I love the trust she gives us as a team and she includes us in the strategy of her venue.
A few of our speakers became real friends. I see them around town and have a chat, follow them online and support their work. People I would not have met without CM are now people I love spending time with.
So I have found some new, local, friends. But what I love most is the international friends I have gained. The CreativeMornings organizer community is big, we spend a lot of time together online and sometimes in real life. CM friends from abroad visited us, we have visited CM friends abroad. It is great to share your thoughts on your event with your worldwide friends.
One of our speakers, Astrid Poot, became a friend. We had a good pre-talk interview in which she made me think about my job at that time. After talking to her (and watching this Elle Luna talk) I decided to quit my job, send Astrid my resume, she called and now I’m her colleague at Fonk. And even better, she is my colleague and my friend. #yay
So CreativeMornings got me a job, sort of!
You develop al lot of soft skills being a host or volunteer at CreativeMornings. Guiding a team, being a leader. How to be a leader and how to trust your team. All these things I’ve learned at CreativeMornings.
Finding speakers, learning how to sell your event. Making them enthusiastic to speak for free. And don’t forget coaching speakers, calming their nerves (every speaker is nervous).
Opening an event 50 times, in English (not my mother tongue) gives you some experience in talking to large groups. I was never afraid of presenting, but doing it 50 times in 5 years is really something different.
Seeing over 50 speakers preparing, speaking, answering questions. Also watching 50 talks in 5 years, looking at good and not so good talks gives you great insights in what works in a talk, what makes the audience participate and what not.
Organizing an event, every month, for 5 years, with around 75 visitors a month gives you credibility. Employees or clients know that you can organize, that you invest in things, that you are passionate, are dedicated, that you know your customers, that you connect to people, that people want to “work” for you or speak for you, that you can motivate people, lead a team, can get groups together, are open to new things, that you are not only driven by money.
Happiness and inspiration
The best thing I get out of CreativeMornings every month is the happiness and inspiration. Seeing people cry during talks, make friends while having coffee. Seeing them leave my event happy and inspired gives me the most joy. Watching the comments on social media is great. Watching people connect on social media. Getting good feedback afterwards is awesome. And the greatest thing is seeing them back the next month!
So yeah, I might not get any money for organizing a monthly event, but things that are far more precious to me! And not only for me, as you can see by watching the video below. So with a heart that is hurting, it is time for me to pass the torch!
If you want to be a host for your city read this first, and then apply!
If you want to volunteer at your city, visit an event and get in touch!
If you want to be the next host for CreativeMornings/Utrecht of volunteer click here.