There’s no denying that our member of the month Dan Holden is a very busy guy! From putting on events to running his own business D2U-Coaching. We had a chat with Dan about his work and his advice for hosting a successful event.

So Dan, for anyone that isn’t too familiar with your work, what is it that you do?

I have two jobs, which is always fun! I work at the University of Liverpool three days a week as a postdoctoral researcher. Last summer I decided I wanted to start my own business, so I set up D2U Coaching, where I help academics in businesses try and work out where they want to get to. I’ve done a lot of mentoring and coaching with people, coaching is basically speaking to someone and giving them an hour of your time and really working out what they want to do. It’s not really giving advice but more giving people a chance to sit down and unload. I’ve got a few people coming in today, and I’ve got an event here next Thursday that I’m running with the university as a workshop. It keeps me fairly busy, oh and I run a football team as well!

It definitely sounds like you’re very busy! Do you enjoy your work?

I love it, it’s problem solving, working in a great team and looking at cutting edge research. I love the coaching because you have the opportunity to help people, you sit down with a problem that they want to talk about and it’s confidential. Some people don’t know what they’re doing in their career, sometimes it’s relationships, sometimes it’s just life, sometimes depression, and you need try and help them out with it. It’s important to create an environment that they can be excited to work on themselves, because sometimes we don’t like spending that much time on each other do we? And the football is great, we have a final this Saturday in Charlton so that should be fun!

You recently put on the HiPy in the City event here at Launch22, in a nutshell what was this?

So HiPy stands for Hello Python, Python is a programming language and as this becomes increasingly popular and useful, particularly when applying for jobs and showcasing transferable skills, we decided to give people the opportunity to learn it. It was actually my friend Rob Treharne, who set up the idea of getting people to teach each other how to code. We started it in the university and it’s for anyone — even if you’ve never done it before! There are no exams, it’s a great way people can meet each other and have a bit of a community, and try and work on similar problems together. A few weeks ago we brought it into the city, we’ve been doing it in the university quite a lot, and I thought it would be quite good to open up to external events.

Coding is definitely becoming more popular nowadays and it’s great to give people an opportunity to learn a new skill. Was the event a success?

People went, people got encouraged and the feedback was really good. Quite a lot of the feedback from it was: ‘I’ve always wanted to do it but never really started,’ and it’s all about having the confidence to try something new. There’s no pressure to actually get anywhere with it, it’s all about building confidence, so that’s really exciting. It’s all about getting people to come in, and interact with people you’d never meet otherwise.

Bringing the university into town is quite nice as well because you’ve got students and businesses, and quite a lot of retired people who came along that wanted to try a new skill which is really exciting, so we were really encouraged to see these new people come in.

It sounds like it went really well! What advice would you give to anyone putting on an event?

Do your homework. Work out who is coming along and work out what people want, and just go for it. There’s nothing wrong with an event going badly, you’ll learn something from it. I think we live in a world where everything has to be perfect, and HiPy definitely taught me is it doesn’t have to be perfect. For example the guy running it was slightly late, but it didn’t matter we just went with it. People came in, had a cup of tea and a chat. If you want to help people at an event, be passionate about it. Don’t do something you don’t want to do, enjoy the process of it, it’s scary, but it’s exciting! That’s probably the best way to look at it I think! I would always encourage people to try new events they would not necessarily think of as well, just to see if they’re interested in it, it’s the only way to find out!

You’ve been here nearly a year, what do you think of the space here at Launch22?

I love it! I’ve been here since last July, I’m in two days a week so I’m on the part-time membership as I still work at the university three days. I really like the idea of sitting down and relaxing in an area that’s completely different to where I normally am. There’s also free tea and coffee, so I can’t complain! I really enjoy it, it’s a community as well, people are really lovely and you find people actually want to help each other. I’ve met loads of different people wanting to give advice and help out on different things, which is really nice. It doesn’t feel like business if that makes sense. Business is important, it’s great, but the nastier side of things doesn’t seem to be here which is great. It’s really creative as well, especially when you’re running a creative business it’s nice to meet other creative types, and there’s definitely a sense of camaraderie that you’re all in it together.

Free tea and coffee is always a bonus! How does it feel to be member of the month?

It’s exciting! Because my job is coaching I enjoy helping people, and that’s what I want to do. So if it brings some exposure that’s brilliant, I’m a firm believer that if you help people they’ll help you. It’s brilliant, I feel humbled.

Have you anything exciting happening in the near future?

I’ve got an event next Thursday* “Using your personality to drive forward,” which is with the university, and that’s about looking at your personality to move forward. Personality is a really important thing, it’s unique to everyone and it’s about how you can use that, embrace it and be aware of other people’s personality types. We’re looking at different tools you can use, for example the way of life, goal setting, and in general just helping people move forward. So the idea is you have 10–12 people who come in, leave and learn something. I think HiPy will also have a few more events coming up, the great thing about that is it’s a free event that people can come along to, if they don’t like it they can leave or they can just chat to people! I’ve got more one-to-one coaching that I do with people that I really enjoy, and I’ve got some more work with the university.

To find out more about HiPy you can visit the website:

More information on D2U-Coaching is available here:

Interested in putting on your own event here at Launch22? Just drop us a message here:

Tori Erskine

*Edit: “Using your personality to drive forward” event is now postponed until further notice. Keep an eye on Dan’s Twitter (@dl_holden) for further updates.