Insights from a true celebration of confidence | Strafe Creative

Insights from a true celebration of confidence

One of the speakers at the conference speaking on stage

Event Review: Confidence Live

Here at Strafe, we actively encourage a culture of personal development, and give our team autonomy to decide how they shape their career through training through courses, events, and conferences.

At the end of March 2023, a couple of the Strafe team chose to attend ‘Confidence Live’, a conference at King’s Hall, Stoke-on-Trent. Billed as a ‘one-of-a-kind event designed to help you develop the skills and mindset you need to build self-confidence and achieve your goals…’ – Hannah and I were really keen to not miss this opportunity!

Walking into the venue, it felt like we were attending a ball – the building was incredible and the scene was set for an impressive day.

The event delivered all that it promised, and so much more!

In search of inspiration

In her journey to becoming more confident and impactful as a woman and a Project Manager, Hannah was looking forward to gaining motivation and inspiration from the impressive speaker line up.  As Head of Operations, I was hoping to find some pointers on how to build the confidence of our team members and learn some practical skills to better support their mental health and well-being.

The day started with an introduction from the host, Dr Kieran Fenby Hulse, a specialist in exploring connections between inclusive leadership and the arts. By 9:30am his arts background had been put to use, we’d had a full cabaret style performance of This Is Me, from the Greatest Showman – we were off with a bang!

Throughout the day Kieran proved that he certainly was the greatest showman. At several points during the event, he’d remove his wild patterned blazer, to reveal yet another equally whacky jacket underneath!  He was incredibly funny, witty and despite walking around the room with a microphone, he instantly made 600 people feel very relaxed about what was to come.


Overcoming obstacles

First of the speakers was Kirsty Hulse, the creator of the event. She shared a terrible experience she’d had speaking in front of a large crowd of 6,000 people in the US. It had destroyed her confidence completely and she’d vowed to never speak in public again.

Thankfully for us all, she’d worked hard to overcome that experience and talked about how to change our mindset to achieve great things. Seeing her oozing confidence, having had such a crushing encounter made us all realise that even the things we think aren’t possible, can be, if we have the right mindset.

Shani Dhanda is an award-winning disability specialist and listed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people – she delivered a session titled ‘Why diversity and inclusion is more than someone’s job title’. Despite being exceptionally capable and very determined to have a career, Shani discussed how preconceptions have held her back from being offered opportunities. She was told by a careers advisor at school that she should “apply for jobs at the council because they are good with disabled people”. Her determination to overcome the numerous barriers that were put in her way was truly inspirational and gave me a lot of food for thought.

Harnaam Kaur has certainly overcome adversity. As a woman living with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS), she has had many battles with body positivity and as a result of POS, at a very young age, she noticed she’d begun to grow facial hair. For many years, she tried to stop the bullies by conforming to the expectations of how a teenage girl should look, through many painful hair removal treatments.

At the age of 16, she decided she’d fed far too much energy into negative things. She bravely decided to allow her body to do what it wanted to naturally do, and she proudly embraces her full beard. As a motivational speaker, she gave ideas on how everyone can become the best version of themselves, putting energy into positive actions, rather than pleasing other people, and by doing so, we can flourish.

We heard from Natalia Pilgui, a Ukrainian teacher who had fled Ukraine at the start of the ongoing conflict following a week cowering in a bomb shelter under her office, in the city of Kharkiv. She’d travelled west across Ukraine with her husband and two young children, sleeping in their car and has now settled in Staffordshire. With the conflict continuing, her story was very poignant and her overwhelming gratitude to her sponsor was heartwarming.


Anything is possible

Thierry Alain asked us to write down a great idea we’ve had but have done nothing with. He encouraged us all to start with 1%; whatever that great idea is, just do a small step to get it going. His advice was that it might not turn into a lucrative business and make you millions but you’ll never know if you don’t make a start. He discussed several startups that he’s founded over the years, many of them in areas where he didn’t have any real experience or knowledge but all of them being successful. He made us believe that anything is possible!

In all honesty, I can’t say I’m a massive poetry fan but following Desree’s session, it certainly changed my mind! Her poetry was thought-provoking, and excellently delivered. It was so engaging, I found myself getting swept away in her words. The main takeaway for me was being scared of something but doing it anyway.


A focus on mental health

A meditation session, delivered by Briony Gunson, a Breathwork Facilitator and Meditation Teacher, which, after the buckets of caffeine we’d consumed, made us feel calm and focussed and ready for more!

Jess Jones, the Fat Funny one, (her words, not mine!) spoke about reframing our limiting beliefs to allow ourselves to be open to new opportunities and to see the world in different ways. She also encouraged us to be kinder to ourselves and to make sure our internal dialog is gentle, not abrasive. She shared a story of her friend Emma, who was the life and soul of the party. Emma was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 26, and her advice to Jess before she sadly passed away was “Be unapologetically you, and don’t run out of time”.

Mark Briant, a mental health advocate, introduced innovative ways of approaching mental health issues, particularly for men. Following multiple family bereavements, and a breakdown in his relationship, he focussed on finding ways to improve his own mental health and went on to co-found That Day, an organisation that champions mental health, physical well-being, and diversity and inclusion.

He shared his tools on how to give a safe space for people to open up, and to encourage vulnerability by leading by example. He discussed finding the things that are good for your own mental health; reading, exercise, meditation, and ‘banking’ these in the morning to get into the best possible mental state and build resilience to tackle obstacles that come up throughout each day.


The final confidence builder

The final talk of the day was a Q&A session with Caitlin Moran and Kirsty Hulse. As a music journalist, Caitlin shared funny stories of encounters with music legends, how she’s gotten people talking on controversial subjects, and her trials and tribulations of raising her children. Aside from being hilarious, the whole session was full of thought-provoking anecdotes and titbits for building confidence in ourselves and others.

As a surprise at the end of the day, Kirsty had managed to get Apache Indian on stage to perform his top ten hit from 1993, Boom Shack-A-Lak. Immediately, the entire room was on their feet, singing along… “Wind your body, wiggle your belly…” Insane but so much fun!

It was an awesome day, jam packed with light-bulb moments, and certainly set the cogs whirring for how we can put things into practice. A truly inspirational event – we can’t wait for next year!

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