A long time ago in a cafe not far away…

Ten years ago I posted this on Meetup…

Although there were already “techie” people and companies in the city doing good things, there was zero community.

I wanted to change that.

Twenty people came along to that first meetup and I’m delighted that I still see Ian, Dave, Adam and JP 🙂

I didn’t have any specific expectations. I wanted to bring people together. If you bring people together in a welcoming environment, good things happen.

Hull Digital grew quickly. It was clear, even in those early days, that there was something there, something that could grow, something people enjoyed being a part of.

Little did we know how much the tech and the digital community would flourish. I was soon determined to raise the profile of Hull and provide opportunities to people who worked in the growing digital sector.

There was one thing that really ticked me off… I was fed up with having to travel to other cities to hear inspiring speakers.

So I decided to do something about that.

That’s how the HD Live conferences were born and they ran in 2009, 2010 and 2012. I’m very grateful to the support of Kcom and also the University of Hull for supporting these events (amongst many others, not least the people who attended and the wonderful speakers).

Here’s the interview I gave on BBC Radio Humberside talking about the first HDLive in 2009:

HDLive – the region’s first tech conference

Momentum was clearly starting to build and something talked about for many years happened. The C4DI. This has been a real success with national recognition providing a home for talented people, companies and startups.

An exciting startup is Moodbeam – the first wearable device that logs how we feel, at the push of a button.

A company who is growing at a startling rate and showing how it should be done with software and app development is Sauce. Hat tip to JP, Matt and Jim for having the guts to start something three years ago.

I’m very proud to have played a small part in delivering the C4DI, although it was not an easy project. It took a heavy toll on me, both mentally and physically which is why I took the decision to leave in 2016.

I was lucky to have some incredible people who looked after me through some very, very tough times.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride. Looking back, would I change anything? Not much is the honest answer. Especially the decision to sit in Costa coffee in January 2009 and see if anyone turned up.

What have I learned?

Well, as stated before, bringing people together is a good thing. I like doing that.

Listen – everyone has a story to tell.

Don’t assume that it’s not possible. If you want to do something, set your mind to it and make a start.

Keep going. Consistency is key. 185 meetups is a lot of meetups 🙂

Be focused (I get distracted easily but am improving). As Jim Collins said in his book Good to Great,

“A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.”

Jim Collins

Encourage people. Often a simple word of encouragement and/or advice is all they need to start something amazing.

Be open and welcoming.

Don’t expect people to behave in the same way as you. People have very different levels of integrity and honesty.

I used to assume that people have your best interests at heart. This is not always the case.

There are people who will take advantage of others for the benefit of themselves – a key skill is to identify these people quickly!

Never, ever allow people to exclude you and make you feel worthless.

Don’t be afraid to remove yourself from toxic environments.

Life is way too short.

Last but not least. Be nice. It’s that simple.

If you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

Steve Jobs

What I’ve figured out is that seeing the world is important (as well as doing meaningful work with great people).

Hull is a small place and the UK is a small country (and having a few issues right now).

The world is a big place and travel is easy. There are a lot of countries to visit and people to meet.

Go and see the world. I am 🙂

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