Breaking up is hard to do

Why you won’t see me at Pause Fest this year.

Uploaded by Pause Fest on 2015-01-29.

This is me, exactly 12 months ago today.

Watching this video now, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by what has transpired in the year since. Beneath my usually unbridled enthusiasm, it’s strange to see hints of what I now recognise to be a toxic mix of anger, shame, anxiety, excitement and fear.

Needless to say, these emotions are not exclusive to the events industry. They affect everyone in different ways, at different stages of project delivery, but I’m not talking about your usual backstage nerves or pre-press jitters. 

This is the look of a startup founder asking customers to pay beta money for an alpha product.

This is the look no CEO wants you to see, hiding behind the microphone on their first quarterly earnings call for a company they love, building a product nobody yet understands, flanked by a board of directors who cannot see more than a few inches beyond their own personal experiences.

This is the look of a husband doing the dishes, instead of discussing the terms of his divorce.

So with less than two weeks remaining until this year’s event, with hundreds of emails and text messages piling up from people curious about my disappearance during 2015 or wondering if I’m available to catch up when they’re back in Melbourne… I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my experience and outline a few of the lessons I learned, while thanking many of the people without whom Pause Fest 2015 could have never happened.

NB. I was deeply inspired by this article from fellow Aussie entrepreneur Nikki Durkin who recounted her failed startup experience in excruciating detail, one of the most honest and powerful things I’ve ever read. Bravery of this magnitude is all-too-rare in a time when it’s easy to hide behind the anonymity of our IP addresses, so please consider this my meagre contribution to the education of anyone setting out to change the world (in any industry or capacity).

The Pause 2015 team: Ren, George, myself and Tim // Credit:   Oli Sansom

The Pause 2015 team: Ren, George, myself and Tim // Credit: Oli Sansom

Some brief context.
Pause Fest was founded by George Hedon in 2011. As a talented designer and art director, George wanted to connect with the community in his new home of Melbourne and showcase some great local work.

I approached George after attending Pause in 2012 and offered to help him build upon that early growth if he ever wanted to expand. I honestly can’t even remember what made me want to attend a motion graphics event in the first place, but as a Melbourne based designer and creative who has long admired George’s strong design aesthetic, it was almost certainly the posters and branding he inevitably posted all over the city.

Our working relationship

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Honestly, this is still too hard to talk about. I’m not here to burn anyone, I just wanted to acknowledge some of what I’ve learned in the hopes of moving on.

Maybe one day…