Sometimes inspiration builds up over time – experience upon experience, thought upon thought – and other times, inspired ideas arrive in a magical lightbulb moment.
We’ve caught up with four leading ladies across the world to find out what their greatest breakthroughs have been.
JESS SCULLY, FESTIVAL DIRECTOR, VIVID IDEAS: ‘I REALISED PUBLIC ART COULD TRIGGER CONVERSATIONS ABOUT PLACE’
I was in Germany in 2012, working on a policy paper about the creative economy and cities. I’m passionate about making imagination and innovation the driving force of our economy, and I see a connection between how our cities are designed and the opportunities that are open to us as individuals to explore creative enterprises, social experiences and careers. So I was thinking about place and creativity when my friend Emily and I decided to explore Documenta, an incredible art festival that takes over the sleepy town of Kassel once every five years. Documenta is basically the Olympics of the art world: the most adventurous artists from all over the world, presenting experiences and works that go beyond the museum setting. Experiencing a city transformed by art with whole buildings, streets and parks turned into a canvas for experimentation, it dawned on me that public art can be the trigger for conversation about place – thoughtful interventions in public spaces can invite us to imagine the future we want for our cities, and by extension, for our communities and ourselves. Amazingly, the opportunity came up a few weeks later to curate a public art project for the first time, and I leapt at it: three years later I’m curating my fourth public art project in Sydney. It can be a complex process of negotiation, particularly when trying to move clients away from the ‘plonk art’ norm of putting objects into spaces and towards a more participatory approach. But I’m loving the challenge.
LISA MESSENGER: ‘I DISCOVERED WE ARE ALL EQUAL’
When my business was in the early days – quite one-dimensional – I’d only have a lightbulb moment every six months; now it’s more like every six minutes. But there are certainly defining moments and three, which are all interlinked, include being invited to a meeting with Vogue’s Anna Wintour, visiting Richard Branson’s private island and sitting in the front page editorial meeting of the New York Times. They were all different, but the lightbulb moment from them was undeniably the same, which is: we are all equal, the only difference is attitude and mindset. While the initial ‘wow moments’ might be that I am sitting with these people, the real wow moments are walking away thinking, ‘they are just normal people like me, doing the best they can in their chosen field and in life to make a difference in the world.’ The only thing holding us back is ourselves and our belief in what we can achieve.
RANITA COWLED, GROUP MARKETING MANAGER, CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY & CO-FOUNDER, FABLED: ‘I DECIDED TO GIVE FAMILY TO THOSE WHO DIDN’T HAVE IT’
My husband and I had actual ‘family dinners’ with my parents and siblings every week, and one night we realised so many of our colleagues and friends didn’t have that. We made the decision to create that sense of ‘family’ in our home for colleagues, friends and friends of friends, so Wednesday Night Family Dinner was born. Everyone knew RSVPs had to be in the night before (though no one ever complied…). Cooking was a rushed affair that started at around 5.45pm, traffic willing. Our guests started off as guests, but then they became family and that means you can help yourself to the fridge, get to peel potatoes, set the table and buy the wine. Strangers became friends and friends became family. There were stories like the time someone once used an entire bottle of dish soap to do the dishes, that one time we ran out of knives and had to do a run for plastic ones, or the (many) times we had 12 RSVPs and 24 people showed up. It’s amazing what you can do with potatoes and pasta to stretch a meal. At the end of the day, no one remembers the menu or the conversation specifics, I just remember sitting around the table and being really proud of the community we’d created and the new friendships that had started. And that dinner? We’re still doing it today here in Philadelphia and after a big day in the office, it’s a choice, but one that’s worth it to me.
EMMA HENDERSON AND VICTORIA BEATTIE, FOUNDERS, THE BEACH PEOPLE: ‘WE CREATED A BRAND FILTER’
Emma: My biggest lightbulb moment was when we were designing our first collection of The Beach People products. Victoria and I started designing the round towel and our other sea essentials, and we came to the conclusion that we wanted our brand to be ‘beautiful and functional’. If the product we were designing wasn’t these two things then it wasn’t for The Beach People. Now it’s something we stand by. Such a simple statement, ‘beautiful and functional’, but it keeps our heads clear and paths straight.
LI’ER WONG, SENIOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SKYSCANNER: ‘I WAS HUMBLED’
Volunteering in a new city opens your mind to different ways of thinking. Prior to spending time in India volunteering, I was known to be a stickler for details and held the belief that having and following a plan was a sure-fire way to success. In reality, there were so many unexpected turns and twists of events while living in India that I was unable to steer towards a desired outcome. I was incredibly frustrated in the beginning, and started to feel negative about the situations I found myself in. It was the people of India who helped me change how I understood the world. Watching how the local community faced adverse scenarios head on and turned challenging circumstances into sources of happiness and joy was a humbling experience. One can choose to embrace uncertainty as a source of strength and to relish change and unexpected events in a positive light, as the start of new opportunities.
And now, we want to hear yours! Share your ‘lightbulb moment’ – be it in business or life – in the comments section below for a chance to win 1 of 50 new Clinique Smart Eye Treatments (RRP $65) and have your words of wisdom published in September’s issue of The Collective.
To be in the running…
1) Tell us your ‘Lightbulb Moment’ in the comment section below OR
2) Simply comment on @collectivehub’s post about the competition across our social media channels with your personal lightbulb moment
Doing both doubles your chances : )