Well… breathe… This news happened on 29th January.

My friends at D&AD and my good friend Andy Sandoz (Creative Partner of Havas Work Club and current D&AD President, 2015–2016) invited me to be an official Keynote Speaker at the inaugural D&AD Festival during Judging Week this year! I am SO honoured to be offered this incredible opportunity.

Anthony Burrill best said, “Work hard and be nice to people.” Indeed, Mr. Burrill. That’s exactly how I live every day (and will continue to do so) and it’s always served me well in life.

My talk is from 12:30-13:00 on Thursday, 21st April at The Old Truman Brewery, and I cannot wait.

Save the date, save the time — I’ll see you there!

With exactly 30 days left until my talk, I would like to share my thoughts about giving this keynote speech.

For my talk, I didn’t want to focus on my disability and become (as Stella Young best articulated) “inspiration porn” for anyone. Instead, I will be chatting about my thoughts on problem-solving. This is a bit more about my keynote that I submitted to D&AD:

The title of the presentation: Make Today Worth Remembering: Problem Solving + Other Bullshit

The content of the presentation — Synopsis: Problems are all around us, and we all have ambitions we wish to achieve, but often the fear within ourselves takes over. This fear consumes us, and it makes the problems bigger, the bullshit surrounds us. Though through creativity and collaboration, it is possible to solve these “problems” and do the things you never thought you could do. In this keynote, I will talk about some of the challenges I have faced, how to overcome this “bullshit” within ourselves (and in society), and my top three problem-solving tips connected through personal stories. So, share this adventure with me.

The D&AD Festival is set to be an excellent experience. As they best say, “In April 2016 D&AD will be taking over Shoreditch in London for three days of creative excellence. Here are some of the best reasons to buy a Festival pass for one of the best tech, branding, advertising and design events of the year…”

“… D&AD Festival will host 150 speakers over four stages at The Old Truman Brewery, with events from morning to evening. You’ll immerse yourself in an exhibition of the world’s best advertising and design, meet fresh talent from New Blood and taste our Training sessions. Simultaneously, local studios and agencies will open their doors for talks, tours and workshops. After all of that, parties will spring up at night time (but don’t worry, coffee will be plentiful).

Headline speakers from across advertising and design include Sir Martin Sorrell, Sir Paul Smith, Annie Atkins, Ralph Steadman, Lucienne Roberts and Wayne Hemingway.

D&AD represents global creative, design and advertising communities and celebrates brilliance in commercial creativity.”

I utterly love the artwork made for the D&AD Festival (including the cover image in this blog post) too. The Beautiful Meme created it, and you can see some of the artwork below:

Also, I have never felt so alone yet connected to the creative industries as I do right now in the preparation leading up to my keynote next month. I am amongst such industry greats who are the headline speakers (together with other fantastic speakers), but I have not achieved anywhere near the level of greatness like them yet. I am just me. I am so scared and excited at the prospect of being a keynote speaker. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I hope I do you all proud, as I do not want to disappoint anyone. Though I enjoy challenges, which is the main reason I accepted this invite. It is crucial for me always to go outside my comfort zone and push my boundaries (physically and mentally) to constantly do things (and meet people) that get my heart beating faster.

Furthermore, I often feel that I’m a lone wolf in a sea of dragons as well. I have never seen anyone like me in the creative industries and it’s scary to be amongst such amazing people, but most people that I’ve met are not dragons and have always genuinely been very kind to me, especially the entire D&AD team. I just push my boundaries regardless and always aim to proactively get involved in everything I am able, as I want to be a part of our community. I will not be out of sight and out of mind. I wish to have the same opportunity to be a part of the “wonderful world of communication.” We (as people who happen to have a disability) can be just as creative as anyone else and have unique insights into society; and we are capable of delivering innovative and original output, only if we had the right support and some empathy. Empathy does not mean sympathy or a smooth ride up, rather being understanding of needs and providing assistance to accomplish our shared goals. Nonetheless, I’m going to rock on regardless.

That said, as someone who was told I’d be dead by five then at fifteen (but still here at 30 years young) and who never learned to read or write until I was ten, I could have never imagined I would have this huge honour. It is very special to me to just even be considered to be a part of the D&AD Festival, let alone be a keynote speaker.

No one will know how much this opportunity means to me, and I am going to ensure my keynote is the best thing I have ever done in my life. Hopefully, this will lead to greater opportunities for me in the creative industries and beyond in my future.

So, 2016 is looking to be an even better, incredible adventure and I hope you share it with me.

Watch this space.

To find out more about the D&AD Festival and to buy tickets click here.

ONWARDS and UPWARDS, friends.

¡Hasta luego (until later)!

Listening to “Midnight” by Lianne La Havas

Originally published at blog.kinectricity.co on March 21, 2016.

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