It's time to celebrate and persist

Last week I hosted an #upfront confidence and diversity party. Yes, it's a thing! On the 2nd February, it was exactly 365 days since I tried the #upfront model on stage at Silicon Beached. It was an excuse to celebrate one year of #upfront. We raised a glass for all of the people who have sat #upfront and we heard from some, as they took to the stage for the first time to tell their story. We cheered like it was the Oscars, we cried happy tears and we admired the voices who took to our soapbox. We wanted to share and celebrate the impact we've had over the past year; and what an impact! Together we have accomplished much, these figures speak for themselves:

  • 150 men and women have sat #upfront
  • 22 speakers have shared their stage and their power
  • 16 conferences across 4 continents were #upfront
  • 3 public #upfront confidence workshops
  • 3 corporate #upfront confidence training sessions
  • 1 appearance on Swedish television
  • 4000 collective audience witnessed #upfront
  • 99% of those who sat #upfront said it was a valuable experience
  • 30% increase in the likelihood you will one day speak at an event yourself if you take part in #upfront 

For those of you who are wondering exactly what #upfront is and how it works. The first 2 minutes of this clip will reveal all.

We are focused on encouraging and elevating new voices on and off the stage. This is what our workshops look like: 

You can see the rest of the pictures here. If you'd like to reuse them please credit  Elicea Andrews Photography. The talks were recorded so I'll be sharing those shortly. 

Here are some dates for your diary and ways you can get involved with what we are building: 

  • We are having a meet-up on International Women's Day. Everyone is welcome. Grab a free ticket here.
  • We are running an #upfront workshop in Dundee on 4th March. Everyone is welcome. Get your ticket here.
  • Our next Shero workshop; confidence for self-identifying women is on the 25th March. Get your ticket here.

Confidence and conferences need a refresh! Too many speakers derive authority from fancy job titles, overrated books, and relationships formed with elite institutions. This antiquated, homogenous culture not only breeds boredom and myopic thinking but also reinforces structural inequalities. It's time to uncover and elevate new voices. This isn't just talk. #upfront is what stages were invented for.

Thank you to our sponsors Doteveryone and Age of No Retirement. Thank you to Chris, Ashley, Lindsay, Laura and Phillippa for all your help on the night. Thank you to Zahra, Roxana and Alicia for their graphic design support. Huge thank you to each of you who showed up. 

I invite you to look at the photographs, taken by Elicea Andrews and read the words of those who came to our party. Thank you to everyone who turned up, showed up and cheered, spoke, danced, sang and laughed. This is only just the beginning. 

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Ruth Kennedy spoke to us about being a keynote speaker who shares her stage and her power. Ruth was #upfront at Civil Service Live, where 55 civil servants applied to sit on the #upfront couch. 

Katelyn Perry took to the stage to bring us Konfidence. She performed a song about coming out of her shell and being heard, sparked by her recent experience of sitting #upfront at a conference in London.

Andy Swann spoke about being the host of a conference which used the #upfront approach. He even made his own talk #upfront by sharing his stage with audience members.  His conference, All About People, will be #upfront again this year.

Leila Willingham is a 17 year old badass who spoke to us about her experience of sitting #upfront a year ago and shared her opinions on equality and diversity. 

Sandy Campbell spoke about his experience of coming out as trans as a 61 year old CEO. You can read his blog about the night here.

Without confidence our voices are whispers. So grateful to #upfront for starting the confidence revolution! What a beautiful evening surrounded by emerging rockstars.
— Bethan Harris
The power of people’s stories is awesome and humbling. The value of this approach in a world where we are striving to finding our most confident self is immeasurable. I for one was glad to see some of this unfold before my eyes (Sandy’s moment, anyone?) and can’t wait to see where the #upfront phenomenon goes next.
— Ruth Kennedy
#upfront is a powerful, liberating and empowering force in a world dominated by familiar voices telling familiar stories. #upfront’s work is essential.
— Jack Graham
Well, quite the first experience of the #upfrontcommunity! Amazing people, amazing energy. Such an awesome initiative.
— Carl Martin
An inspiring evening full of positivity and openess. People who want to support each other to be the best version of themselves are an infectious bunch to be around. It was a privelege to not only share that, but share my story as an #upfront event organiser. It shouldn’t be a question of why would we be #upfront at our conference, but why wouldn’t we?
— Andy Swann
In 1 year, Leila has gone from the #upfront sofa to the #upfront podium! Absolutely killing it!
— Hannah Rose Thompson
It was such an honour to speak at #upfront and I always feel so at home The whole concept created a sense of family between the audience and the speaker. It really was an incredible environment and a powerful evening
— Leila Willingham
Last week’s #upfront celebration buzzed tangibly with the energy of a crowd congregating in support for something that is right and something that works. We heard about the origins of the idea; we heard from those who had been impacted by the experience; we heard from those who could see the greater potential... and I don’t think a single person could have left the room doubting that they too could turn up the dial of their impact on the world.
— Ruth Kennedy
It’s intoxicating to witness something as positive as #upfront growing and taking hold around the world. Having seen its birth, it was amazing to be at the movement’s first birthday and the love and passion for the project - spearheaded by Lauren and the team, but manifested by the community it’s catalysing - was palpable in the room that night.
— Matt Desmier
I’m always amazed by how #upfront broadens my perspective of what it means to be confident. The highlight of the night was when Sandy began telling his story about coming out as trans...the complexities of his experience and his choice to be authentic in front of a group of strangers deeply moved me.
— Laïla von Alvensleben
This party felt fresh. It was so encouraging to be in a space where it was ok to show weakness and vulnerability. It was amazing to hear such diverse stories. It made me realise that sharing our stories and finding the confidence to do this is a responsibility not a luxury
— Roxana Bacian
The real value for me was the space that was created for people to try different and new things. Every single person in the room was hugely supportive of each other - it was special
— Zahra Davidson
An electric, emotive and inspirational evening which showcased the simple mastery of #upfront’s radical work to encourage and elevating new voices to a public stage.
— Lizzie Lynch
The energy was electric! I loved Katelyn Perry and I loved being on the soap box. #upfront has changed the way I think about speaking infront of a group of people forever
— Audreia Josephs
The evening was eye-opening and inspiring. The whole event was just a wonderful breath of confidence for us to take back to our own individual worlds. Thank you.
— Ummi Jameel
In such turbulence and uncertain times, this night was such a positive antidote and mark of solidarity. #upfront is such a positive movement celebrating equality and diversity. I loved feeling part of something so inclusive and designed to boost collective confidence at a time when it feels so low. It was such a joyous occasion with such a simple proactive agenda! Amazing and inspiring.
— Phillippa Rose
This party was a celebration of unheard voices and untold stories. It was so moving to hear Sandy Campbell, someone I’ve known and respected for years, come out as trans aged 61. It’s a very special space that allows this kind of story telling to happen
— Jack Graham

Onwards. We will persist.