STREAM — the more you put in, the more you get out

Written by Riddhima Minocha, The Trade Desk

When I was first asked to attend WPP Stream 2019 in Jaipur, I was told that it would be unlike anything I had experienced before. This made me excited but also extremely nervous. I was expecting three intense days of attending presentations, discussions and networking in a formal setting. Little did I know that I had gotten it totally wrong…

Stream is otherwise known as the global WPP [un]conference for [un]conventional thinkers and is meant to bring together over three hundred people in the creative, media and technology industries. Whilst I’m not entirely sure of the source of the term “stream”, I’m taking the liberty of expanding the abbreviation and a stab at my narrative of the Stream experience.

S = Scenic venues

Be it Salvador, Miami, Athens, Cape Town or Jaipur, Stream is known to be held in stunning locations. The Stream event I attended took place in the gorgeous Fairmont Hotel property in the “pink city” of India — Jaipur. Despite having visited Jaipur as a child, I did not remember much of the city and was completely blown away by the venue. In contrast to the regal, palace-like setting, the conference definitely had an extremely chill [un]conference-like vibe — oozing vibrancy in every nook and corner.

T = Talented participants

From entrepreneurs, artists, C-suites (within and outside of WPP) to young professionals like me, Stream is an open faucet of talent. Given the un-usual, out of office setting, I got to witness participants wear their non-corporate hats and showcase their flair for cooking, singing, fitness, speaking — you name it!

The format of the event is such that there is ample opportunity to mingle with people over meals, masala chai (I think I consumed at least 10 cups of chai/day) and drinks. What impressed me the most is how easy it was to engage with all the participants on “off topic” discussions. As a first timer at Stream, I am happy to admit that I came back having learned so much on an intellectual as well as personal level, built a strong network within and outside of media and also made some friends!

R = Realm of discussions which are E = Extremely collaborative

Discussions, discussions, discussions — these truly form the heart and soul of Stream. All attendees have the opportunity to host a fairly open format discussion on any topic of their choice. From mental health, self-empowerment, thought leadership, superbowl, sci-fi, and media to cocktail making workshops (yes, I learnt how to make a whiskey sour and a gimlet), the discussions are a breeding ground for people to group around and openly discuss their opinions. My colleague Michael and I had the opportunity to host a discussion on Armchair Activism a.k.a slacktivism a.k.a the phenomenon of engaging in social media activities such as re-tweeting/posting about social topics to curate a digital image of ourselves without actually contributing towards the cause (still not sure? Click here to know more). First time streamer, first time-discussion host, this experience was definitely foreign to me and I also had the opportunity to hear people’s thoughts in relation to a variety of social causes, such as plastic consumption in India.

A = Activities (back to back!)

Someone referenced Stream as being a “corporate vipassana” of sorts. I couldn’t agree more!

Volunteering? Check. A few of us volunteered at a school in Jaipur. Such a heartwarming experience! We partnered with students at the school to plant saplings together and literally got our hands dirty as we mixed organic manure to create compost and also stamp our handprints on T-shirts (as a keepsake for the students).

Yoga? Yes, at 6:45am with a videographer shooting our groggy faces :’) some of the participants even managed to sneak in an early morning bike ride followed by a hike.

Ignite talks? Such amazing speakers! The only part of the event where powerpoint is allowed — Slides of 15, all pre-programmed to flip every 16 seconds over the course of 4 minutes.

Cookouts? Yep, the participants cooked! Safe to say, I came back with some added padding.

Technology? A tech lab, augmented reality experiences, Instagram booth, spin the wheel to win a Google Home contest..

Art, music and dance? The Stream band was incredible. Dharavi Rocks is a joint educational music and dance project initiated by Acorn Foundation, an NGO in Mumbai. Did I mention that some of us danced (and made everyone else dance too) to Baby Shark? (Not sure what I’m talking about? Disclaimer: This might be stuck in your head for a while, please don’t blame me. Click here)

M = Magical experience

No exaggeration here — Stream is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Being an introverted extrovert, I was extremely fortunate to be able to push my boundaries, engage with people and truly immerse myself in discussions that broadened my horizons. There’s a place for everybody here and a multitude of things to learn!

This is a condensed version of my experience, there’s so much more to Stream! The more you put into it, the more you get out. Can’t wait to be back again!

Keep streamin’ on.