Changing the World, Brain Buffering and Carrying On
This Material Culture isn’t just mine anymore, it’s yours, you guys are the reason we make necklaces til 3 in the morning, write blog posts when we fancy a lie in and STAND UP IN FRONT OF HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE AT A BIG BUSINESSY EVENT TO TELL THEM ABOUT THIS MATERIAL CULTURE.
Oh yes, you heard me. There’s photo evidence.
I’d practised my pitch till I was blue in the face and the dog hated me. I’d watched every ted talk on public speaking. I even did some yoga. I’d planned my outfit, complete with button necklace, cloud ring and arrow earrings ( #represent). We were sitting with all the other competitors. There were hundreds of people in a big corporate conference suite at a hotel (who ever decided grey walls were a good idea? I’d paint the whole place pink personally) and I had Sam, my lovely spark up fellow entrepeneurs, my wonderful friend Ellen. I was near the end of the afternoon, everyone else did awesome, there were a few wobbles, some could have done with a little extra sparkle, but it was my turn.
I got on to the stage, in my fave turquoise heels (which matched my hair, nails and business cards) and I went for it. Confident, smiling, I blasted my way through the first two paragraphs and then my mind went blank. You know those nightmare moments, when your brain is buffering, maybe in an exam or in an interview. My brain decided to buffer when I was on a stage under lights, with a two minute time limit, trying to share my passion for fab quirky jewellery and my vision for a company all about happiness and good vibes and being an individual in front of the movers and shakers of the Liverpool business world.
It was awful.
I’m not gonna lie. A few good intentioned audience members called out things I could talk about, but I knew exactly what I wanted to say, it was just on the other side of a rainbow spinning wheel. I took a big yoga breath. It seemed like hours. And continued where I left off. I could’ve been talking russian for all I remember, but I’d practised my pitch, I kept going, Sam said I’d said (mostly) everything I wanted to say. And then…
I FROZE AGAIN.
I think I managed to squeeze out a little ‘please give me some money’ and ‘we want to have a lovely team and a lovely office and happy people’ and ended with a well and truly resigned ‘Yeah…’
And I got a massive round of applause and lots of whoops and a big hug from the host. I plastered that game face on, answered the judges questions swimmingly and finally got to get off the stage.
So kids, I’m not the next Winston Churchill. Pitching is damn hard. No matter how much I’d practised and written the perfect speech, getting up in front of lots of important people and trying to share your vision, your hopes, your plans and your numbers is so freaking difficult. Sometimes the words just go, your brain buffers, you feel like crap. And it’s not just pitching, when you love something, when you believe in it and have put your heart and soul into it and you blow an opportunity or your brain buffers it’s heartbreaking. Carrying on seems like running a marathon through fire on glass with no clothes on and a dragon chasing you. And smiling, well that’s like adding a blindfold and some rock throwers to the situation.
But I did it. And people were lovely and came and said I was adorable (cringe) and brave and that it was a really hard thing to do. And no, I didn’t win the money (my beautiful friend Eleanor did and I’m so proud – her product’s called nature whip and you need it like now). I had a couple of G&Ts, stayed around to network (god I hate networking), went out for a lovely meal with Sam and Ellen who both couldn’t stop hugging me and I was ok.
It was the opposite of a roaring success but I left with my head head high and I didn’t say ‘fucking, bollocking shitbags’ in front of everyone. I giggled when I wanted to cry in the loo. I am so lucky to have beautiful friends, the best hubby in the world and people around me who love me for me. Not for how much money I make or how perfect I look or how good I am at pitching.
The business world is weird, it’s all suits and shift dresses and pop up banners and handshakes and numbers. It’s often data not stories. It’s about success and failure, not journeys and experiences and life lessons. That can and should change. Sam told me that I shouldn’t change to fit the business world, it should change to fit me. Not quite sure how we’re going to all that changing the world, but if you have ideas, hit me up. I want to live in a world with pink walls rather than grey ones, armchair Q&As rather than pitching alone on a stage under lights with a hundred eyes facing you, where you buy things because you love them and their story not because they’re the next big thing. Where everyone shares the prize, or at least the people who tried so hard and carried on are encouraged, not losers. Call me an idealist, but that’s the world I’m fighting for.
And I honestly believe in my business. I want to hire staff so I can give them a paid day off on their birthday, and sell awesome things that kids can afford with their pocket money and wear with pride. I want my staff to love This Material Culture and tell everyone about it because they love their job so much. I want other businesses to look at ours and say they love what they do, and they’re doing damn well and question whether they should work staff to the bone for zero hour contracts. I want to turn on the telly and see adverts with happy people with normal bodies and messy hair and giant smiles.
So. The Moral Of The Story.
It’s okay to mess up, it’s okay for things not to go to plan, it’s okay to suffer from a nightmare case of brain buffering. We’re all human. We all know what it’s like to not quite hit the target. And those who look for perfection will be endlessly disappointed. This Material Culture will fight tirelessly to challenge ‘normal’ and the wonderful people it excludes. We will continue to put our hearts into changing the world, though it may seem like the biggest challenge imaginable. We will continue to give discounts to kids who don’t quite have the right money. No matter how many times things don’t go to plan.