The time has come for me to share the last interview with our Wellington participants for 14/15 Live the Dream Programme. It has been such a pleasure for me each week, getting to speak with our amazing Dreamers about their ventures, their lives and their hopes for the world.
As the teams all work towards getting their pitches perfect before our Final Showcase in only 1 days, there are mixed feelings flying in the air; anxiety, hopefulness, enthusiasm and then the sad realization that this is the last week, the last few days of Live the Dream we’ll be experiencing together. The journey is coming to an end, but not before I got to sit down with the incredible founders of Inkling,Abbie Thomson and Helena-Grace Treadwell:
So tell us about your venture…
Helena-Grace: Inkling is a mentoring network facilitated through an online platform, with three different levels of participation; those who are aspiring change makers in need of mentorship, those who are actively making a change through social enterprise who are in need of advisors, but also wish to be mentors, and then those with specific skills and experience who want to share the impact they are having through becoming mentors/advisors.
You’ve had quite a transition throughout LTD, and your venture has changed more than any other down here in Wellington. Are you willing to share your story with us?
HG: We started with this idea to create a website similar to the big idea website, but create it for the sustainably-focused job sector. It was basically motivated by a personal desire to see this exist. The biggest thing that coming through LTD has made us realise is whatever we’re going to be making, needs to have a tangible outcome. Otherwise it could be in danger of just being yet another website people look at, but that doesn’t have any sort of impact.
Abbie: Once we began to clarify what we were doing, it quickly became obvious that there are not enough (sustainably focused) jobs out there to have a job-finding website, so we started to think up other ways we could support people in this area. We looked at internships, into events and teaching networking skills. From quite early on, we threw around the idea of mentorships, and both really liked the idea, and could see how it could have a positive impact, and how we could potentially make some sort of business model out of it.
How did you hear about Live the Dream, and what drove you to apply?
HG: I quit my job in August last year, and was wondering what to do, I had come to the end of doing meaningless jobs and wanted to be involved in something with meaning. My Dad said “Write a list of all the cool projects ideas you’ve had”, so I wrote the list and the sustainability big idea was on it and I just jumped on it. I started doing some general research about what was available and that is how I stumbled across Live the Dream. I applied as it was relevant to what I wanted to be doing, and in my interview with Kate, she spoke about the importance of team and suggested I tried getting someone else to come on board and through a strange set of circumstances I thought of Abbie!
You two went to School together right?
A: A long time ago, we went to primary school together. But we haven’t been in regular contact since we were 10! Then Helena contacted me and invited me to be a part of the team and here I am!
Mentoring is a big part of Live the Dream, so how have you found this process, and how have you been connecting with your mentors?
A: I think it’s been really positive, because when you’re in LTD you’re with the same people everyday and they know your venture really well. You are constantly being exposed to their perspectives, which is really great. But it’s so nice being able to go out and speak to someone who doesn’t see you everyday and just catch them up on where you’ve been, and getting an external perspective. Also, it can help make you feel like you’ve made progress, as if you’re just seeing them once a week, you can talk over the changes you have made (to your venture).
Has the process of having a personal mentor helped you to stare inkling in that direction?
HG: Yes, I definitely think so. Before we started (Live the Dream), I kind of had this idea that some people had mentors, but I didn’t realize what that meant. Even hearing someone like Kate (Beecroft, Live the Dream programme facilitator) saying that she was talking to her mentor, its made me realise having a mentor was actually quite a normal thing, and through having mentors in LTD, it’s a first-hand experience of how powerful mentoring actually is.
And Abbie, how did you find joining the programme 3 weeks in?
A: It was great to finally be here, as for those first 3 weeks Helena kept me up to date over skype but it was challenging to feel apart of the programme. So yeah, finally being here and be able to experience it for myself was awesome, and it meant that HG didn’t have to try and explain the sessions we were having. That first week (I was here) was tiring though, just getting my head into the social enterprise space.
HG: It was good to have someone to bounce off, and download on sometimes, and once she got here, it made it easier to be proactive, get things done and to encourage each other.
So we are in our last week. What do you think has been the most challenging aspect of the programme for you both, personally?
A: For me, particularly at the start, it was learning how to work with so much unknown, and being able to be certain when so much of what you were doing was up in the air. It was hard for me to go from a job where everything is so structured, to a space where you don’t know what’s happening and it changes every day.
HG: I have two things; the first is being confronted with WHY; asking WHY am I here, WHY am I doing this particular project. The only real answer I have is that it was the idea I happened to have 4 months ago and the one I applied with, so yeah asking ‘why’ has been an interestingly challenging part of the programme. The second this is getting over my feelings around business; I never thought I would be interested in business, so it has been a learning curve, learning all about business models and tools, and seeing that they can be quite helpful if you want to use them.
And what has been the Highlight for you both?
HG: There isn’t a specific moment, but realizing there are all of these cool people out there and then getting to meet them. Derek Handly, the creator of the shoulder tap, has had a big impact on me. He has had a lot of start-up success, and to have someone like that take an interest in your project was awesome, especially getting to skype with him!
A: I think that it is very hard to define a highlight for me, we’ve learnt so much, each week we get inspired from all these people doing incredible things.
What is the change that you want to see in the world?
HG: I want to see more people being proactive. I want people to feel like they can make the world better, particularity in the environmental and community areas.
A: Mine is similar. I want people to feel like they can create their own direction, and think about it in terms of more than just money and success, with a broader vision of the world. Ideally, my vision is that things like sustainability and social enterprise programmes isn’t even something that has to take place separately. It could be an integral part of the way society works.
And what will be your take-away from the programme?
A: I think that take-away for me has been realizing that people are willing to help, that they’ll help you to find things or share their knowledge with you.
HG: I feel like I’ll go through all my three notebooks, recap and being to categorized everything. All of the things that we’ve learnt are going to influence what I do in my life. My big take-away is realizing that I can’t go back to working a normal job, I’ve tried to tell myself that for the last few years, and Live the Dream has given me inner strength and also the tools I need to not have to do that.