My WiJ 2017 Experience: Key Takeaways.

I had the privilege of attending the just concluded Women in Journalism 2017 Conference which took place on July 6, 2017, at the Agip Hall, Muson Centre. Being in the same room with notable women in the media industry, who are doing great things was both inspiring and humbling.

The theme for this year’s conference was Pioneers, Innovators and the Brave New World. Celebrating the pioneers, awarding the innovators and curating conversations on how we can keep innovation at the centre of our endeavours in order to survive in the new world where only the brave can last a day. I believe this theme was very apt considering the huge changes taking place in the media industry where the way we enjoy content is fast changing and the traditional is giving way to the not-so-traditional, and to thrive in the media industry now, is to discover new ways to tell our stories. In essence, embracing the rapid change and making it work for us.

One of the major highlights for me was Prof. Anthea Garman’s lecture (it indeed was a lecture) which was simple yet very profound and engaging. “The future looks like those who make it,” she said, speaking on what the future would look like. This I believe captures very simply the technological advancements taking place right now. People are at the core of these changes and it is only fitting that the future would look like the people who are and who will create innovative ideas that change the way people do things.

She stressed the importance of play (yes, play) in creating innovative ideas using facts from the Finland education system as well as the tremendous successes recorded as a result, to buttress this. When we play, we learn a lot about ourselves, we learn a lot about our environment, about the people around us. There are no mistakes in the place of play, it’s play and this is what gives our minds the freedom to create, gives us the ability to embrace childhood passions which, with little tweaks, could form solutions to some of the challenges we face. It frees the mind and age shouldn’t be a barrier to play because when we play, there are no rules, which gives us the freedom to create and make it up as we go along and we need this at every stage in our lives. Make things with your hands; take up making collages, take up crafts, doodle on paper, anything; as long as it is outside what you would consider routine or anything that screams “work”.  We all need to take time out to “play” from time to time.

She also spoke about a few things we need to pay attention to:

  • Our education system and the kind of spaces we create. We need to pay attention to the kind of spaces we create. Are we creating spaces that promote learning? Play?
  • Ideas. Where do they come from? What do we do about them? How do we harness our ideas to create innovative solutions?
  • Curiosity. How curious are you? How open is your mind to learning new things? To grow, you must maintain a certain sense of curiosity, of wonder.
  • Self. Learn how to know, love and be amazed at oneself.

Innovation is tapping into your own creativity. – Zahier Davids

She ended with the words of Mario Garcia on making media:

  • Create something for the eye.
  • Create something for the finger.
  • Create something for the mind.

A few other gems that were dropped during through the conference:

  • Story first, platform second and brand third.
  • Figure out the ‘what’. What do you want to say? What message do you want to pass across?
  • To be innovative, strategic thinking and leadership agility are important.
  • Don’t just see yourself as one thing, you must be ready to break out of the box.
  • Have the right perspective. Don’t expect to “hammer” immediately. You have to be ready to put in the work.
  • Don’t ask for permission to do anything. Go, do, don’t wait for anybody.
  • Do an audit of your skills. See what you need to learn or improve on.
  • Make the familiar strange; approach the world as if you are an alien.
  • Your passion drives your success.
  • Be bold in your vision.
  • Don’t limit your ambition.
  • Success is personal.
  • Dare to be different!

I will close with the words of Judith Okonkwo from her speech on The New Frontier; The future is to us both to imagine but more importantly, to create.



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