Interview with Louise Ash, Director of Meaning
The future is ours to create. Katie at Meaningful Recruitment is playing her part to unite like minded organisations and people to help business be a force of positive change to our world. Louise Ash, Director of the Meaning Conference, also recognises that business has a critical role to play in innovating and piloting new methods. With her team, Louise is curating and producing the Meaning Conference which brings together a diverse range of talented changemakers, speakers and businesses. These inspiring people will congregate under one roof on 15th November 2018 in Brighton in the UK, to listen to the amazing speakers, raise their voices and share their thoughts of what purposeful and meaningful business can do for the world.
You can learn more in the interview with Louise about where the inspiration and creation for this event came from, the amazing line up of speakers and the topical six key themes of the conference. Louise describes how it feels to bring together 500 like minded people together and why events like the Meaning Conference are so important. If this all resonates with you then join Katie who has booked her early bird ticket and is hoping for a front row seat on this incredible journey with Meaning.
1. Where did the inspiration come from to create and host the Meaning Conference event?
Meaning was founded back in 2012 by transformation consultancy NixonMcInnes. We were constantly experimenting with new ways of working, like democratic decision making and open book accounting. We wanted to find a way to bring together a community of people around these ideas and approaches, people looking for better ways to do ethical, meaningful business in disrupted times. NixonMcInnes has now devolved into other businesses, but Meaning lives on, and has been growing ever since. As well as our main conference, we now have a bunch of ‘Meaning Fringe’ events, ranging from sea swims to business workshops - lots of smaller opportunities to make the most of the people and ideas that gather in Brighton each November.
2. Tell us what Meaning is all about and what attendees can look forward to experiencing.
Meaning was founded on a belief that business can be a force for good. It's about finding ways of working and thriving that aren't based on greed, exploitation and extraction of resources, but on co-operation, fairness, justice and equity. We're a community of people who think business exists to meet our human needs, not that humans exist to serve the needs of business.
So when we gather in November for our conference, you can expect lots of big ideas about better ways of working, some real-life practical examples of businesses who are doing things differently, and the chance to meet some brilliant, brave, inspirational people who are making sure this good stuff happens.
Among the speakers for 2018, Atif Choudhury will tell us the story of Zaytoun, the business he co-founded to enable Palestinian farmers to find a market for their produce despite deeply challenging circumstances. We’ll also be joined by Poppy Jaman who will turn our focus onto mental health, looking at the link between the way we work and the way we maintain our emotional health. It’s this kind of variety that makes each year’s Meaning line-up fresh and interesting.
3. What are some of the key themes that the speakers will be talking about on the day?
We have six key themes that run throughout Meaning:
- The future of work. The way we organise ourselves to do good work is changing. Our relationships with our colleagues, with our companies and with technology are all evolving, so we're looking at new ways to work: ways of working that may look nothing like the conventional hierarchical structures and processes we're used to.
- Beyond sustainability. We must adopt a systemic approach if we are to truly consider the impact of each of our decisions and actions on people and planet. So we’ll be exploring the ways in which we can all take responsibility for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Post-growth economics. Conventional economics needs a huge rethink. When you look beyond the simple motives of profit and wealth, there are new ways to consider the the flow of resources, money and power around the world of business.
- 21st century leadership. Making good things happen in this new world of business takes bravery, courage and wisdom. Leadership means something very different when organisations are designed around people rather than process so we’ll be exploring what that means for leaders today.
- Disruptive innovation. Some of the changes taking place are truly dramatic - not just for business, but for the wider world. Digital technologies like blockchain are really shaking up established industries. New ways to collaborate, manufacture and bring products to market are all massively exciting - we’ll be hearing from some of the people that are embracing and creating change.
- Personal growth. As well as the big new challenges for our organisations and governments, many of us have personal journeys to go on, to enable us to lead and thrive in this challenging new world. It’s important we look after ourselves and give ourselves the opportunity to learn, grow and be healthy.
4. Can you describe what the buzz feels like when 500 people gather at one event to make a positive and meaningful contribution to our world today?
It’s amazing. It’s a real thrill to be part of such a significant gathering of people. People come to Meaning from different kinds of business backgrounds, with varied experiences and different stories to tell, We’re quite a mix. But we’re all united by this unshakeable belief that with some courage, some imagination and some determination we can keep building better ways of doing business. The warmth, passion and scale of the community makes me feel very proud.
5. Why is it so important that events like Meaning take place?
There are good people throughout the world of business. There always have been. There are people with unconventional ideas and bold convictions, wondering if they can make a difference. But it’s easy to feel quite alone when you’re existing in a conventional business culture where profit and shareholder value are worshipped. By coming together as a tribe, these people - who hold the future of business in their hands - get to feel the fellowship of others who share their values. They get to encounter new ideas, hear new approaches and see the success stories that are happening all around us - if you know where to look!
6. Any wise words you'd like to share with us that you haven't had a chance to say yet?
Good question! The wisdom of Meaning comes not from me, but from the hundreds of people who get together in Brighton for our conference. Some of our previous speakers have left us with profound wisdom that resonates for years: Mary Alice Arthur, one of our speakers in 2013, asked us all the powerful question “What’s mine to do?”. In other words, what’s my role in all of this? Or what’s my purpose? It’s a big question but I personally find it helps me deal with the potentially overwhelming feeling of being confronted with so many challenging ideas and issues. It helps me to focus. And I feel very blessed to have been involved with a community that brings together so much passion and wisdom.
Huge thanks to Louise for her time to do this interview.
For more information about Louise Ash and Meaning go to : www.brighton.meaningconference.co.uk
Early bird tickets are available until 6th July 2018 and can be purchased by clicking here