Dream Nation’s #IHaveADream15 Highlights & Key Takeaways

After finishing my NCTJ in January, I made the decision not to go and look for a job like they told me to. The financial stability of a job is very tempting, but I want a lot more than just money in life. I want variety, I want to be my own boss and I want the freedom to work on what I want with who I want. Freelancing is no easy life. I made £40 in January, £0 in February and March wasn’t much better. Eventually, I made the decision to focus on my personal brand and concentrate all my efforts in one place. Work picked up after that, but financial stability is still an issue, and a very demotivating one at that.

A couple of months ago, Dream Nation’s founder Claud Williams got in touch with me about working with them. After sealing the deal last week, I felt like things were already looking up. I then managed to win myself a ticket to their I Have A Dream event. I’m not really an event person, especially when they’re on the other side of London, but I love what Dream Nation stand for so I was pretty pleased to win a ticket. I was excited to experience one of their events first hand and also thought it’d give me some useful insight into the company I was going to be working with. However, as someone who doesn’t go to events for a reason (I usually get bored), I did mentally prepare myself for a night that may just drag and make me wish I was tucked up in bed. Let’s face it, there’s ALWAYS a boring speaker at these kinds of events… or so I thought.

The event was indescribable. Amazing doesn’t even cut it. There’s something about being in a room packed with ambitious people. It’s like you absorb their energy.

There were many highlights of the night. I found the live interview with Raffaele Russo very interesting. Not only did he provide insight into how he started out in business, but I found he highlighted some key points that get overlooked. When talking about branding, Raffaele pointed out that people don’t buy into what you do, but instead into why you do it. He also made a great point about focusing on your strengths and hiring people to fill in your weaknesses. For example, if you’re weakness is numbers then get someone else to do that. By the time you try and fix your weaknesses there will be someone out there doing better than you. There’s always someone younger and hungrier trying to catch you up in business. You have to keep moving forward.

As an atheist, my heart kind of drooped when Andrew Gray came on. I knew a lot about him already from reading the Dream Nation blog (he’s dyslexic and wrote a book, he works for City Gateway and he has a daughter called Eden). He seemed like an interesting and insightful person, but when he came on I felt like he was going to sit and preach about God and all that stuff (no offence Andy, it’s just not for me). I felt like the idea of God kind of went against the whole practical dreamers movement in that you shouldn’t be waiting for it to happen or for God to make it happen, YOU have to make it happen. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Andy was nothing like I expected. He was funny, didn’t really talk about religion much and actually made me think about things. He was hosting a reverse Q & A with the audience, asking questions such as “Should you share your dream?” I found the whole thing pretty thought provoking and the chilled out vibe was a nice touch.

Another highlight was David McQueen. David clearly has a way with people and that’s why he’s a public speaker. He was light-hearted and humorous, yet still drove in some important points. The key takeaways from his talk included the 4 Ps:

  1. Plan: Get a plan in place
  2. People: Surround yourself with people who’ve got your back
  3. Positioning: Position yourself
  4. Perform: People don’t pay attention to what you say, it’s what you do that counts. Talk is cheap. Action is priceless.

My absolute favourite speaker and new-found inspiration arrived in the form of Cate Sevilla, managing editor of Buzzfeed UK. I guess I felt drawn to Cate and her story because I related to it. Cate didn’t go to uni (or college as she calls it). Instead, she taught herself how to do the things she needed to do. She started out as a blogger with 17 subscribers. She discussed how success won’t always look like what you expect it to look like and how having one fixed idea of what success is and will be will make you blind to opportunities and achievements. Her talk gave me a lot of hope and was really eye-opening.

There were also some great performers inbetween talks to satisfy my musical needs and desires.

I’m so glad I got the opportunity to attend and I’d definitely recommend that you go to the next one if you have a dream you want to turn into your reality! I exited the venue with an inspired mind and a motivated heart. It was also great to meet so many other ambitious people. I believe everyone has a dream, but most people do want it enough to chase it. These people definitely do. They did pay £15 for a ticket after all – to a broke freelancer like myself, that’s commitment and dedication. I’m not sure about other people’s dreams, but chasing mine has definitely required some financial sacrifices.

Disclosure: I’m not just saying good stuff because they’re a client. I genuinely loved it and if you know me you know I’m honest.