#20 Be. Leadership July 2014

by Blake Leitch

It had been some two months since we last saw each other as a group. It had been about the same time since we lost our precious Joyce from this world. Despite the pain many of us still clearly felt, despite the fact that we hadn't seen each other for so long, the morning of the first day was so… calm. Everybody slotted into their syndicates with ease and everybody just seemed plain happy to see each other. Even though we had some temporary losses over the weekend, and even though Sam wasn't able to make it, there seemed to be a feeling throughout the weekend of actual tangible progress.

That isn't to say that we hadn't been progressing over the previous months, but this weekend had so much focus on life and legacy. On the very first morning we discussed Joyce and her legacy and the fact that little pieces of her kept being found. While I think we all realise that we inspire each other, it felt as though Joyce was especially inspiring throughout the weekend.

So we said our hellos, had a time of remembrance, and reflected a bit on the previous months. We were then introduced to two new members of the Be. Team who explained a bit about the direction Be. was going. After lunch, we were back in position and ready for the first speaker in a weekend that focused on the media.

The first speaker of the weekend was a man who refuses to be called an expert, the social media and public relations hobbyist, Vaughn Davis. His enthusiasm was, to say the least, infectious and provided a perfect start to the weekend. Vaughn didn’t have a leadership model so much as a life philosophy: "Once you've had an idea, you're kinda obliged to do it, aren't you." This philosophy, mixed with Vaughn's obsession with saying 'yes', showed us how new doors could be opened if one continues to take opportunities.

Following the question and answer session, some reflection, and the final break of the day, we convened for dinner before a session of, what could best be described as, cards. We went to bed, we re-awoke, and we were ready for day two.

After settling in and starting a day of birthday celebrations for Cate, we were all prepared for our second speaker, journalist Steve Braunias. Steve had story after story to further enlighten us about his life and his thoughts. He also had a knack for trying to connect his long and meandering, albeit entertaining, stories back to leadership. In the end, for me, his ideas on leadership seemed quite simple: do what you enjoy and take opportunities. There appeared to be a common theme developing from our media-based leaders.

After lunch and reflections, we were ready for our third and final speaker, the social issues reporter from the New Zealand Herald, Simon Collins. Simon was much more reserved than our previous two speakers. Although he had plenty of interesting stories from a long and fruitful career, he remained very humble. For the third time in the weekend, Simon had explained how he wrote what he felt was important and did what he enjoyed. Moreover, and possibly explained for the first time in the weekend, Simon enjoyed what he was doing because he felt it was for the good of the community. While Vaughn and Steve had explained that one should take opportunities and do what they enjoy, Simon was the only to focus on the fact that he did those things to make a difference.

And those were the speakers for the weekend. Beyond that, we had plenty of reflection – personal and group reflection – and plenty of fun. We briefly lost Jules and Debra throughout the weekend, and Sam was not able to come up to Auckland, but we were a strong and happy community. We celebrated life with Cate's birthday, we celebrated life with Joyce's remembrance, and we each learnt a whole other level to leadership.