Collider Talks #8 | Spotlight on Ruth McDavitt

Whether you’re new to Wellington’s tech scene or you’ve been around for awhile, you will have heard of Summer of Tech and the superhuman that is Ruth McDavitt.

Collider is all about making smart connections amongst Wellingtonians and they businesses they build, and Ruth is a top connector. 

By day, Ruth is the CEO of Summer of Tech, a non-profit programme where she has spent the last 11 years finding, growing and matching New Zealand’s tech talent with awesome job opportunities in the Wellington area. By night she supports local tech events and is one of the organisers of the inspirational Women Founders Meetup, sponsored through the Collider programme.

Ruth has been a valuable member of the Wellington BizDojo community for over a year now, and in that time she’s helped its Residents evolve their teams by connecting them with fresh tech talent.

An example of her fine work can be seen in the ever expanding, Properly. Properly is a management tool for people who have rental properties, and when they decided to move to Wellington from San Francisco, they knew they were going to need to hire local talent to grow their team.

Before we arrived in Wellington I called a bunch of CTOs from some big tech companies in the city and asked what was the best way to locate tech talent. They all told me to talk to Ruth.
— Stefan Raffeiner |Product and Engineering Lead
Sid Bardiya (Designer) & Hyojin Jung (Web Developer) Joined Properly through SoT

Sid Bardiya (Designer) & Hyojin Jung (Web Developer) Joined Properly through SoT

Properly moved their team of three into the Wellington BizDojo and through the Summer of Tech programme they hired six full-time team members to fill their design, IOS, web and test positions.

Stefan said that the whole hiring process was so easy, Properly will definitely be doing it again this year.

Firstly Ruth, what attracted you to join Summer of Tech (SoT)?
I was drawn to SoT by the passion and drive from the tech industry determined to help tech students and graduates find work. Back then, there was a core group of dedicated volunteers working on the programme, and they all had this no-nonsense ‘just get it done’ attitude. I also loved that businesses in Wellington were working together to fix a problem and were keen and willing to hire recent graduates.

How important is it to have SoT on Wellington’s tech scene?
Very. For one it helps our valuable Graduates stay in the city as they have high visibility of what their opportunities are after study. A big problem for students while they’re studying is seeing where they fit into the job market. SoT connects them with some really cool local companies that they might not normally hear about.

What advice would you give to graduates looking for tech work in the city?
Getting a job as a newbie can appear hard and I recommend to not get disheartened. Check out local events and get your network on, it will be harder if you’re a natural introvert. Also if you’re looking to re-train to get more industry relevant skills I highly recommend checking out the Wellington ICT Graduate School and Enspiral Dev Academy.

What’s on the horizon for SoT?
Two things - they’re really exciting!

The first sees us going beyond Summer, opening the programme beyond our traditional summer holiday period. It benefits students looking for part-time work throughout the year while they’re studying, or for students who graduate mid-year.

The second is going beyond Tech, with Summer of Biz.  This is just like Summer of Tech but for Marketing and Human Resources students and graduates. We’re working with industry leaders to help students and grads get the right skills and find summer work.

The Women Founders Meetup (formerly Female Founders) was established in 2012 and has built up a vibrant and committed community of Women in Wellington, who are all keen to share and learn start-up and leadership lessons. The Meetup has seen both local and international speakers share their wisdom on topics ranging from building a personal brand to international patents. While the group is focussed on Women, the Meetup is open for men to attend as well.

Ruth is one of the founding members of the Meetup, and along with Zheng Li, Mandy Simpson and Vicky Upton, organise the monthly Meetup at the BizDojo.

What is the main objective of the Women Founders meetup?
The whole point of Women Founders is to connect with each other. The Meetup provides a space for Women who have founded companies to share and support each other.

What advice would you give women looking to start a business?
Find a good mentor. It helps a lot to talk to people who have been there done that as you can always learn from others.

Well, there’s no doubt, Ruth, that you’re a busy lady. What drives you to work so hard?
To be honest, I thrive on helping people and being connected. I love making these mutually beneficial connections where both the student and employer are happy…

...I also get pretty big FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)



Caitlin Mackay is the MarComms person for BizDojo Wellington and ColliderWgtn. Before she started her job here she heard from many people "Oh Ruth McDavitt works there!", and now Caitlin aspires to be as connected as Ruth... it might take some time. 

Don't Just Be A Founder, Be A Leader.

As a Manager, Steve Jobs was reported as being a bit shit.

Being a founder (regardless of how amazing your company is) doesn’t automatically make you an effective leader. In fact, often the characteristics needed for founders and entrepreneurs are not always going to be beneficial for leading and developing a team.

According to Business Insider, the wildly charismatic Steve Jobs was a successful CEO, not because of his leadership but for his gift for predicting the markets and building creative teams. However, Steve did employ many great managers who were more emotionally stable and focused on developing Apple’s amazing people.

For many founders of growing businesses the ability to hire amazing leaders is a wee while off, this is why it’s important to gain the skills to effectively lead your team from day one.

This year, Collider is excited to be hosting the LX programme designed by leadership developer and business activation coach, Julie Treanor. The LX programme has been crafted for all types of leaders, but with CEO’s and founders in mind and will explore how to lead and manage amongst the ambiguity, uncertainty, complexity, paradox and doubt that characterises the entrepreneurial working world today.

This programme will cover six topics over the year, with opportunities after each session to take part an LX Café, where you can savour one Wellington’s favourite caffeinated brew and take part in leadership discussions with others.

The six themes of the LX programme are:

March - Audacity

April - Agility

May - Humility

June - Flow

July - Ingenuity

August - Progress

Each session will have facilitated conversation, creative thinking backed by sound leadership principles/concepts will examine the nature and dynamics of leadership and spur new thinking to answer the challenges and frustrations that that leaders face every day.

The LX programme is completely free and while it’s been designed as an entire programme, you’re more than welcome to pick and choose which sessions to attend. We will also be holding a leadership retreat in November which will bring beautifully bring the LX programme’s teaching together. As an incentive to keep on top of your leadership development, this retreat will be free for anyone who has attended all six sessions.

Sign ups are officially open to the first session taking place on the 15th of March; “LX Programme, Session 1: Audacity"

Collider Talks #7 | Aftershocks & Resilience, the science behind your stressed staff

It’s been over three weeks since the 7.8M quake that rocked Wellington and it’s clear that Wellington business workers have been most affected by the aftermath.

Some of you will still be displaced, and some of you will still be experiencing stress and anxiety when entering your CBD office. There is no set time frame to expect you and your staff to "get-over" a quake as everyone's resilience levels differ. The best thing to do is to understand what your company is experiencing and work through it as a team. 

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA), understood the need to provide support mentally to those most touched by the quake’s effects and last week they organised an earthquake resilience workshop at BizDojo. This workshop was targeted to leaders and managers who were concerned about how their teams were reacting to the effects of the quake.

Jacqui Wall, Director of Umbrella and registered Clinical Psychologist ran the resilience workshop, to help us understand the science behind earthquake-induced stress and what signs to look for in staff who might be struggling to get back to the job at hand. 

Behind the scenes:

When the quake struck just after midnight on the 16th of November, the majority of our brains kicked into ‘Fight or Flight’ mode. This mode is a fundamental physiologic response and is our body's primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from a threat to our survival.

This response is great for the immediate quake, but this human reaction can actually prove counter-productive when needing to move on from the experience.

Your amygdala is responsible for engaging the fight or flight response as it initiates a sequence of nerve cell firing and chemical release so you can effectively react during an earthquake.

Strongly linked to your amygdala, is your hippocampus which is responsible for sucking up information while in fight or flight mode. You may notice some people who were highly stressed during the quake can remember fine details of the event, and will often relay their experience to others. Essentially, they can’t stop thinking and talking about it.

Your amygdala in turn stores these emotional memories and without giving it much thought a pattern is developed of approaching many situations (such as returning to an office affected by the quake) as threats that require you to be in a state of fight or flight disproportionately.

Add into the mix aftershocks, staff reciting the event, GeoNet updates, office disruptions and sensationalised news articles about “The Big One”, and it’s quite easy for a member of your team to simmer in and out of fight or flight. This can cause someone to feel a bit panicky and shaky in response to very benign situations, like a big gust of Wellington wind!

Human beings will do anything to avoid the discomfort of fight or flight, it’s how evolution happened, it’s how we survived. You may notice staff wanting to control their environment by avoiding time in the office and increasing their days working at home, where they feel safer.

You may well ask where our ability to reason logically and evaluate has gone? Unfortunately, that is thanks to our pre-frontal cortex exiting stage left. Once the amygdala has been activated our pre-frontal cortex becomes impaired and working memory, regulation of attention, reasoning and logic also becomes impaired as well.

Signs to look out for in your staff:
  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased error rate
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal and avoidance of work and social situations
What you can do:

Managers and leaders need to understand how to best support themselves and their staff in order to reinstate normality in the workplace. As we all know the key to getting through an earthquake is being prepared, however this doesn’t only refer to physical items. You can prepare your staff mentally as well.

  • Check in with your staff and notice changes in mood and actions.
  • Keep up great communication with your team and have an open conversation about how everyone is feeling.
  • Get your team’s Pre-frontal cortex working again through the practice of mindfulness, (which you can watch via the video above).
  • Dial down your team’s Amygdala by encouraging the practice of Diaphragmatic breathing.

Aftershocks are simply a part of life after a large quake, and these shocks have the ability to unsettle your staff very quickly. The best thing you can do is understand why they are feeling the way they are and prepare them mentally to cope in future. 


If you have further concerns regarding your staff, you can reach out to WREDA for more resources and advice: info@wreda.co.nz

Umbrella is also a great resource as they aim to make positive changes in all areas of the workplace: gaynor@umbrella.org.nz


Caitlin Mackay is the MarComs person for the Wellington BizDojo and Collider programme. When she's not practicing her diaphragmatic breathing (as she's not a huge fan of aftershocks), she's stocking up her emergency supply kit, with lots of cat food... for displaced cats...

Collider Talks #6 | Singularity University Summit 2016

Ask anyone what they thought of the New Zealand Singularity University Summit that took place in Christchurch last week, and they will mention the words ‘mind' and 'blowing’. It truly was.

The Singularity University Summit hosted 21 of the world's most forward-thinking minds, who spoke to an incredibly diverse audience of 1,400 humans collectively seeking to know more about our future.

Singularity University is a think-tank focussing on future technology nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The Summit’s purpose was to bring experts from the University to New Zealand so Kiwis can not only hear about the cutting edge of humankind's technological skills but to understand that we need to prepare for a future dominated by artificial intelligence, virtual reality and gene editing, to name a few.

Collider was lucky enough to be a channel partner of the Summit which allowed a few of us to attend this momentous event and have our minds expanded by today’s technology breakthroughs that it will transform life as we know it.

This blog could easily transform into a novel if I attempted to capture all the content produced over the Summit’s three days, so instead here’s a quick and dirty breakdown of what we attempted to absorb from some of the speakers.


Introduction to Exponentials

Kalia Colbin, Curator at SingularityU New Zealand and Summit organiser.

  • An exponential technology is a piece of technology that is doubling each year in power and or speed. It is also something that the cost is dropping in half each year. 
  • All the technology we know and understand today has the power to be exponential and take off at an astounding rate. 
  • Where we are in history right now is on the very edge of a new and exciting world. This is a world we need to understand and adapt to in order to thrive. 

Disruption

Dave Roberts, Faculty Innovation and Disruption, Singularity University

  • What industry are you really in?  
  • What industry is going to disrupt yours?
  • What jobs will humans always be better at than technology?

Energy

 Ramez Naan, professional technologist and science fiction writer.

  • The planet has a fever and the problems of climate change are here today.
  • We can address climate change through policy, business, technology and innovations
We are expecting breakthrough technologies in wind and solar power to help with this fight, but wether they come in time is unknown.
— Ramez Naan

Digital Biology

Raymond McCauley, Chair of Digital Biology at Singularity University
  • Genetic engineering is starting to look a lot more like software engineering. Digital organisms can be created, like this worm living in it's own matrix!
  • Biohacking is a thing and it's not just about people taking nutrient supplements, we could control the genetics going into the next generation, which would have massive ethical implications and create new laws and policies. 
We don’t need another person making us an app, we need people working on things that will help us all be better off!
— Raymond McCauley

The future of work and jobs

Kathryn MyronukChair Emeritus of Finance and Economics; Synthesis & Convergence, Singularity University
  • New technologies that once seemed impossible are now taking off. These new technologies will take over many jobs that humans are currently employed to do. This will effect low income nations the most. 
  • 47 per cent and 81 per cent of current jobs are open to disruption. Most will disappear or change beyond recognition, including many white collar careers such as accounting, law and medicine.
This is a problem that hasn’t been widely researched as to how we will face it, but we have the tools to do so and we need to start now.
— Kathryn Myronuk

AI

Neil JacobsteinChair of Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, Singularity University
  • The race for AI is heating up and funding for AI startups is at an all time high. 
  • AI will not be used to just to things faster, better and cheaper but will affect all areas of business including healthcare and finance. 
  • AI is coming and it will transform business models and alter the world of work as we know it. 

 

Future of Education

Sue SucklingChairperson of Board, NZ Qualifications Authority
  • We need to create boarderless education. Online and virtual institutions will be a thing of the future so there's greater access to education. 
  • Our biggest barrier is our current highly regulated education system which is a product of  generations of fear and control over getting qualifications. 
The role of qualifications as we know it is over. As New Zealanders we need to be a smart nation participating in this world fully.
— Sue Suckling

This is just a micro snapshot of what we attempted to absorb over the three days of the Summit, and as you can imagine our brains were a bit fried by the end of the week! But if you're keen to know more you can follow this link to see everyone who spoke. 

On a final note, I mentioned before that the audience was incredibly diverse with the ages ranging from primary schoolers to retirees.

Summit organiser, Kalia Colbin saw the event as being vital for the younger demographic who will be living, leading and thriving in this exponentially fueled future. We were curious to know how the information from the Summit was landing for the young adults, so Collider investigated.

For me, the Singularity University Summit created more questions than answers about our future. However one thing is very clear, we need to work together more than ever before in order to thrive and adapt with these rocketing advancements in technology.

As the second year of Collider progresses we will be keeping everything we heard and witnessed from this Summit in mind, as we continue to connect, curate and collaborate in order to transform Wellington into an internationally recognised smart place to do business. 


Caitlin is BizDojo Wellington's Comms lady who spends half her time with her mind blown by the limitless optimism and breakthroughs of humankind, and the other half mind blown by the fact her cat prefers to drink out of the shower than his water bowl. 

Collider Connects #19 | Trent Yeo

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Trent Yeo has spent most of his time building and establishing @ZiptrekNZ and is a strong advocate of sustainability in tourism and particularly education in the outdoors. Trent sees this as a vocal and vital role in the business of adventure tourism.

Trent is also the licensee of TEDxQueenstown and believes that the serious nature of 'fun' is the catalyst for anchored and meaningful outdoor experiences to build empathy for the natural world. 

We asked him to summarise his talk about the experience economy and where it applies to all industries.

Collider Connects #18 | Colin Wright

Colin is an author, international speaker and serious digital nomad. He hosts a podcast called Let’s Know Things and a show called Consider This. Colin also co-founded a publishing company called Asymmetrical with two fellow authors, Josh and Ryan from The Minimalists.

Colin joined us at BizDojo Wellington to share his wisdom on everything from building a community online to being a digital nomad to launching online publications and to starting a publishing company and so much more:

Collider talks #5 | Five shots to success, creating video using your phone

Everyone is saying that video content is where it’s at. 

 
Video marketing is playing a larger role in customer acquisition and engagement with four times as many consumers preferring to watch a video about a product over reading about it.
— Forbes | June 2016
 
Mitre 10 New Zealand’s Youtube channel has just over 43,000 subscribers, and the videos have been watched by just under 14m people.
September 2016
— Stuff | September 2016
 
The moment a Facebook video ad was viewed (even before one second), lift happened across ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration.
— Facebook business | March 2015

Facebook is loving it. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

And I have just discovered how easy video content is to create. You use your phone. 

Francesca Jago is the founder of Get Ahead Media, and she understands the importance of using video content to help market your business, build brand awareness and create engaging content targeted to your customers.

Fran is also a Smartphone Video Expert and runs two day courses on creating video using your phone. Her course covers everything from video planning to interviewing skills to editing the final piece.

Last week Fran ran a lunchtime workshop for Collider where content marketers and business owners alike absorbed some of the good bits from Fran’s two day workshop.

People retain 80% of what they see and video is the most engaging way to keep people informed.
— Francesca Jago

One of the biggest takeaways from this session was learning that you don’t need to buy expensive gear to create professional sounding videos using your phone.

It’s unlikely that your company has budget ready to be spent on the latest Gimbal, GoPro or Glide-cam, but you don’t need it. You can create quality video as long as you’re strategic in capturing good audio, lighting and angles.

Audio
Good audio is one of the most important parts of a video. If the sound quality is off, people will become disengaged very quickly. When using the microphone on your phone make sure you’re eliminating environmental noises by getting close to your subject.  

Lighting
There’s nothing worse than capturing great content with ace audio to find it’s all grainy because the lighting was poor. When filming on your phone you will need a lot of light to get a good picture. If you’re outside Fran recommended filming on completely cloudy days to diffuse the light. If you do have to film while the sun is out, use shaded areas. 

Angles
The most valuable thing we learnt was the fact that you can tell a story in just 5 shots:

  1. The WHO shot, shows the subject or product
  2. The WHAT shot, close up of the subject or product
  3. The WHERE shot, wide shot of subject in action
  4. The HOW shot, over the shoulder shot or point of view shot
  5. The WHAT ELSE shot, alternative shot showing a different angle. This shot can add more punch or something more interesting to pad it out.

Regardless of what order you decide to put these shots in, they can effectively tell a story in a really simple but creative way.

Below is the wee film we made during Fran's workshop using the 5 shots above. Move over Peter Jackson, Collider Studios have landed!

If your company is keen to invest in video content and you’d like to step things up a notch, we grabbed Fran for her recommendations on phone attachments:

Audio: Rode SmartLav+ and/or Ampridge Mighty Mic, like this.
Lighting: A mountable LED light similar to this.
Tripod: Joby Gorilla Pod


Caitlin is Wellington BizDojo's MarComs gal. When she's not spreading the word of the awesomeness of Collider, she's making videos of her cat sleeping.

Collider Connects #17 | Arthur Falls

Arthur Falls is Director of Media for ConsenSys who are working on some of the most exciting Ethereum/Blockchain projects in the world. Collider were lucky enough to host him through the Blockchain Wellington meetup group to give his talk on "The State of the Blockchain Ecosystem."

Arthur is a journalist and content marketing specialist with a background in media production. He has produced several popular blockchain centric podcasts, most notably Beyond Bitcoin and The Ether Review. Follow Arthus on Twitter:

Ethereum is a global computing resource that anyone can gain access to. What makes it powerful is that you have this egalitarian resource that cannot be censored or controlled by a central operator (like government or a corporate). We can actually build a new type of online tool that is perfectly global and can enable the democratisation of things like alternative currencies and online commerce.
— Arthur Falls

For more information on the Ethereum platform check out: 

Collider Talks #5 | It's Time To Understand Disruptive Innovation

Are you being disruptive? 

Disruptive innovation was first coined in 1995 by Harvard scholar Clayton Christensen. Clayton describes disruptive innovation as a process by which a product or service takes root at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up, eventually displacing their established competitors. 

A disruptive innovation is not a breakthrough innovation that makes good products a lot better, but it transforms a product that was expensive and complicated and makes it so much more affordable and easier to access.
— Clayton Christiansen

New Zealand’s own serial disrupter and entrepreneur; Melissa Clark-Reynolds completed a six week Harvard course with Clayton Christiansen. Then jammed that six weeks of knowledge into two half day workshops held at Collider.

The best analogy that Melissa uses to help us understand disruptive innovation is with the demise of the once high and mighty Blockbuster.

Flashback to 1993, Blockbuster has over 3,000 stores worldwide and sold to Viacom for 8.4 billion dollars.

Skip to 1997 where a startup was born out of Scotts Valley, California called, Netflix. Netflix was not the online movie and TV streaming giant we know today, they were a humble DVD by mail business, whose revenue came from a membership subscription with no late fees.

When you get good you start offering your product with more and more features, you create a good opportunity for a startup to get in underneath. A startup can come in with less functionality but less price. Many users who didn’t need the rolls royce product and will opt for the cheaper and easier to use product
— Melissa Clarke-Reynolds

In 2007, Netflix delivered its billionth DVD and began to move away from its original business model of DVDs by introducing video on demand via the Internet. From 2006 - 2011, Netflix grew and DVD sales fell.

Blockbuster’s reaction to Netflix? They laughed.

Their market research led them to believe that their customers enjoyed coming into Blockbuster stores and searching the shelves for movies to take home, while also purchasing movie merchandise and confectionery. Blockbuster didn’t recognise the threat in Netflix’s simpler and more easily accessible business model.

Today there are only 300 Blockbuster stores worldwide and the market value for Netflix stands at $32.9 billion.

There is no such thing as innovative technology, just innovative business models
— Melissa Clarke-Reynolds

If you've got a quick minute, the following clip explains disruptive innovation in action in under 2 minutes:

If you've got more time, invest it in this clip of Clayton Christiansen himself explaining the theory: 

Ready for the deep dive? Chuck your headphones on and get comfortable as Clayton explains how disruptive innovation can explain why the economies of America, Japan and England have stagnated:

 

Caitlin Mackay is the MarComms gal for Collider and BizDojo Wellington. When she's not doing her best to comprehend the latest in innovation & market trends at the back of Collider workshops, she can be found finding sneaky ways to bring her cat, Manny, to work.

Collider Connects #16 | Ally Denton

Ally Denton is a professional writer, editor, and communications expert who helps businesses all over the world create, publish, and own better content. Ally (@AllyDenton) has partnered with movers and shakers in a wide variety of industries (everything from software to beer), to guide, develop, and produce content that gets results.

We were privledged to have Ally come into the Wellington BizDojo to facilitate a sold out Collider workshop on how to write a kick ass blog. 

I’ve been walking individuals and organisations through why blogging matters, showing them how it can grow their business and arming them with the tools and tactics they need.
— Ally Denton