Birmingham Design Festival (belated)


I’d signed up to two well before heading off on holiday and if I’m honest I signed up to them because they sounded like two that weren’t going to fly over my head as a non-designer, and were of topics that I kinda liked the sound of.

As someone with a predisposition to saying yes to as much as possible and then finding myself sleeping away a Sunday, I thought the Say Yes talk was going to be dangerous.  As it turns out it was more about Fee Sheal challenging herself to put herself on stage, something she hasn’t done much of, despite convincing other female designers to share the stage as part of the Edinburgh chapter of Ladies Wine Designs that she organises.

I know a lot about Imposter Syndrome as it often comes up in several spheres of my life, and it’s something that I’ve been actively challenging myself about; when I feel like an imposter, I ask myself “if not me, then who” and if I can’t name someone I would ask instead, I do it – fear be damned.  Gemma’s talk took a much more confident approach, but she started with getting the audience to name three things they’re proud of, and it was incredibly powerful.  She also talked about that moment in your life when you’re at your worst, and harnessing that to realise in future situations, anything that could go wrong probably won’t be as bad as that.

I tend to be a fan of bullet points when writing notes, so for future prosperity, here are the notes I made during the two talks…

Fee Sheals speaking at Birmingham Design Festival

Fee Sheals speaking at Birmingham Design Festival

Say ‘yes’ deal with everything else later – Fee Sheal

  • be prepared to do the things you ask others to do – as a woman, if you champion inclusivity of women, be prepared to also be one of those that does the talk
  • Find your tribe
  • Encourage, connect and support
  • Women don’t always think of themselves as “speakers” – so ask them to think of themselves as one
  • It’s about equality of opportunity – you can’t always get it right, not everyone you want is available, but you can try
  • Mainly, play your part
Possible some of my favourite advice from the afternoon
Possible some of my favourite advice from the afternoon

What’s the Opposite of Imposter Syndrome – Gemma Germains

  • Think about three things you’re proud of – “F*ck you, you’re brilliant” – own what you’re proud of, be confident about it
  • You don’t learn confidence in a two hour session, it takes time
  • Confidence is try and knowing it won’t kill you
  • Does Imposter Syndrome as we know it really exist? What if, instead, it is reacting to how people react to us – “I’m not Sh*t, you’re a D*ckhead”
  • Trust your gut instinct
  • “Peak-end rule” how people feel at the most intense point and the end, rather than the total sum or average
  • No matter how hard something is, it’ll probably be alright
  • (It’s also important to find space for introverted people)
  • Do we dislike confident people? Not the arrogant people, but the people who are just vocal
  • Don’t wait for people to notice how good you are
  • Know your sh*t – don’t set yourself up to fail – is this the difference to Imposter Syndrome?
  • What if silencing the nagging through in the back of your head wasn’t always good / bad – Some of it is good, and some of it is something which makes you jog on
  • Are creative people more predisposed to distractions because they’re addicted to the endorphins that come with the end-goal?

I’m guessing given how successful it was, there may well be another Birmingham Design Festival next year. And if so, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on

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