Today was exceptionally nerve wracking. I was asked to speak at the Rotary 6830 District Conference held at the Burnie Arts and Convention Centre about myself, my business and my role as chairperson on the Devonport Chamber of Commerce Junior
Committee! There was over 100 people in the room, and my stomach was doing cartwheels!! In 2013, I was invited to attend a Leadership Camp, called RYLA, by the Rotary Club of Devonport North after working with them on some websites.
From the 9830 District Website: RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) is an intensive training program for young community leaders. Those chosen for their leadership
potential attend an all-expenses-paid seminar, camp, or workshop to discuss leadership skills and to learn those skills through practice. It is an invaluable personal and professional development program.
Each program is designed to provide lifetime leadership skills for young people, adapted to local needs.
RYLA is definitely all those things... but what it really did for me, was give me a chance to sit back and really assess myself, and the things I was passionate about! I've popped the speech below if anyone is interested in having a read about my story! If you are 18-30 years of age and interested in attend RYLA then please let me know and I will put you through to the right people :)
Hi Rotarians, thank you very much for having me at your 2015 conference.
I am here today to talk about the amazing Rotary Project that is RYLA!
Firstly I would like to give you a bit of a background on myself and then I will explain exactly how RYLA has shaped the direction my life has headed in the past two years since I attended.
In 2012 I was working in one of the most prominent advertising businesses in the state, a very fast paced industry, with constant changes that put me in direct contact with a high percentage of the business owners on the North West Coast. As an assistant to a team of 5 I had a lot of responsibilities and showed quickly that I was reliable, efficient and often rather stressed! We had introduced an online element to the business in 2011 and through the different campaigns that we were able to offer to the client I started noticing the high percentage of small business that did not have a website, and even more importantly, a social media presence. Often they did not exist on the internet at all.
Devonport was emptying, with business after business having to close its doors and I was getting really concerned! Within the advertising business we began to notice a real difference between that year and the year before targeted budget and actual sales, businesses were finding it difficult to afford to advertise.
At the same time, my very talented partner, Simon was having success with his musical band Deligma. I insisted that they get a website to sell their recently launched CD, and as with a lot of non-musical tasks in our household that then fell to me to get organised!
Through school I had always loved art, and I believe I have a talent with putting things together to make them look good, but I also have a talent with computers. I purchased my own computer with my own savings when I was 11, have qualifications in information technology, and am rarely seen without my laptop.
I had never thought of connecting the two.
I looked into website design for the band, found a program that I liked, studied, studied, studied and got to work creating their site. I told my colleagues what I was doing, and one of them then mentioned to a client that I may be able to assist with their online needs. A business was born!
My very first website was published online on the 27th of June 2012 for a Devonport clothing business.
At the same time, the pressures of the marketing industry became too much to handle and I decided to move on, gaining employment in an office on a 12 month contract.
I was surprised one day to receive a phone call from Mr Leon Peck, the Chairman of The Devonport Motor Show Committee. Turns out a mutual business acquaintance had recommended me to him as someone who may be able to assist with the website for the Motor Show.
After a minor freak out, I agreed to come along to their next meeting.
I ended up designing the website for the club as well as helping them get started with their Social Media Presence.
The Rotary Club of Devonport North asked me to come along to a meeting, to show them all the website, and give them a bit of information about how they could use social media with their businesses.
Scariest speech of my life… until now!
A family friend, and a Devonport North Rotarian, Mike Doyle, was at Taste the Harvest with me in March 2013 and gave me a brochure for RYLA 2013. “Have a look at this and tell me if you would be interested in attending, the club will sponsor you to go”.
I had a look, ummed and aahed, wondered exactly what would be involved in a “Leadership Camp”, could I spare time out of my busy schedule, (my 12 month contract was up and I was in the process of looking for work again), and I was starting to have consistent business with my websites. I felt all the usual things you feel before you head into the unknown, fear, apprehension. I’m not a shy person, and I have always considered myself a bit of leader at school, in my job and even amongst my friends but these other people were going to be “real leaders”!! Most of the time I felt like I was bluffing my way through life, but not really knowing my purpose. Thank goodness I decided I was worth it.
While writing this speech out, I looked back on the speech I wrote after Ryla had finished to present to my sponsor club, what a crazy whirlwind of emotions I had. Ryla was like nothing I had ever experienced before in my life. For starters we had to get up super early! (I will never forget you Lindsey) But we always started the day in a positive way, with a quick workout then a hearty breakfast. Day after day we heard from the most amazing speakers, who had so much life experience and inspirational information to tell us and to encourage to take that information back into our own lives and use it in the best way we could. People who through their own hard work, had managed to truly find where they fit and what their purpose was.
I had bouts of extreme frustration, elation, sadness… 30 young people, all in a room, often suddenly finding themselves brings out very high levels of emotions. I think I cried every day. I discovered I can be impatient, analytical and I am very empathetic.
I’d like to read you exactly what I wrote in my post Ryla speech in 2013 about one speaker in particular:
“I just want to touch on Jess Jacobson, the daughter of Julie Jacobson, one of the facilitators of the camp. Jess has a passion, a big one, to help the less fortunate in developing countries. She is only 23 or 24 but already she has found her passion, and made a huge impact. She set up a Tasmanian branch of the Oak Tree Foundation which is about Young People working together to end global poverty. It made us think about how many of us had ever taken the time to really think about what we are passionate about? It might be your work, your family, a special hobby or interest, or something on a large scale like poverty. The session we had with Jess was so valuable for me, as it made me think about what I am truly passionate about and that even though it’s not ending poverty or saving the children, the things I do to achieve my passion are just as important as feeding the world. We all had a big cry again that day as well shared the things we are passionate about, and then focused on how we can encourage others to find theirs too.”
I think about Jess ALL THE TIME. I offered up a HUGE part of myself in this session. Something I had been passionate about for quite some time but had never connected the dots. I’m passionate about Tasmania. I LOVE Tasmania and it HURTS me that our beautiful state, and the wonderful people who live here are finding it difficult to run their businesses. I find myself taking the closure of another small business personally. But what on EARTH could I do to help them.
From that one day at RYLA I have evolved my whole business to fully incorporate what I am passionate about. Tasmanian Business. I offer my services, in the field that I have talent in. My Business name is now The Island Creative.
My mission statement is: "To be a Small Tasmanian Business that looks after the Web and Social Media needs of other Small Tasmanian Businesses". Business is booming.
I’ve also now been employed part time by the Government Authority, The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, taking care of two surveyors and ensuring the office runs smoothly. I often I feel it’s the nice and calm yin to the crazy yang of the small business world.
Keeping contacts is important, and I am so glad I stayed in contact with my old employer from my time in advertising. Sylvia Sayers is the President of the Devonport Chamber of Commerce, member of the Devonport Zonta Club and also the General Manager of the Devonport Radio Centre, also known as 7ad and Sea FM. I was in the office one day and we got into quite a lengthy discussion the recession plan for the Devonport Chamber of
RYLA popped back into my mind again. Wasn’t this my passion, my purpose, suddenly appearing right in front of me on a plate? The opportunity to be part of the future of Devonport, using my skills, knowledge and determination to make a difference and do something positive for the younger generations, for the current and future business owners? With Sylvia’s support, I went about gathering interested friends and a wider group of people as to whom would be interested in being part of something like this. I was hugely surprised with the support and interest I received. 26 people between the ages of 18 and 39 contacted me with questions about forming Junior Committee.
On the 3rd of March at 5:30pm we held the very first meeting of the Devonport Chamber of Commerce Junior Committee, soon to be renamed, with a possible suggestion of the Futures Committee, with 11 people in attendance and another 4 confirmed. I am very proud to say that I was voted to be the very first Chairperson of that committee! I’ve since had contact from multiple other people interested in joining and have actually had to create a list of interested parties as we are trying to keep our numbers at 15. I did not expect to receive such a large response and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed! I certainly do not like having to turn people away, but at the same time it is showing how much hunger we have in the younger generations in our community to make a difference and do something to help themselves and the future gen. We have our second meeting coming up soon and our agenda is packed solid.
Initially we will be working very closely with the executive committee and giving our much needed opinions and ideas on the current items they have on their agenda. But what came out of our first meeting, and that we will be continuing with in our second meeting is what we can do to engage young people within their local community and helping them to take that engagement with them into the workplace. We have so many amazing young people, who often just need a little nudge to help them find that spark within them that sends them on the path to success.
RYLA finds that spark. Without RYLA, I’d still be drifting along, trying to find my place. I’ve not only found it but am now dedicated to helping others find it. Everyone who attends RYLA will have something different from another that really strikes a chord with them. Every past RYLA attendee I have spoken to brings home a passion to be more, and do more. They all find themselves at different times doing something or saying something that instantly takes them back to RY:A. A saying, a feeling, even a smell, takes you back to a week that if you were not at Camp Clayton, could have been quite insignificant, but for me, has been the kick start I desperately needed.
I want to thank you again for having me at your conference and I hope I have encouraged you as clubs, to continue to support RYLA. Have a look within your community and support the young people to attend.