PauseFest 2018 is done and dusted for another year!! Over three action packed days based at popular meeting place, Federation Square in the Melbourne CBD, speakers converged from all over the world. Presenting panels, workshops and networking opportunities all about Creative, Tech & Business topics.

The calibre of the attendees meant for the first time, the festival actually sold out of tickets! A huge feat for such a large venue.

Here’s a round up of just a few surprising things that we didn’t expect to learn at PauseFest 2018.


1. If you’ve got an idea, the time to act is NOW!

There’s no better time to start a business. The resources needed are often a phone call, direct message or connection away.

The panel discussion on ‘Raising Startup Capital’ was moderated by our Director of SheStarts, Nicola Hazell . The panel covered some clear points about how straightforward the startup world can be – once you start taking action!

Technology has made it easy to connect with people who are passionate about the same topics, no matter what industries or region they’re in. The way the world is now, you can often access tech, tools, capital and key people very quickly. But you’ve got to reach out and connect.

Key Lesson: Nicola summarises the many lessons from the panel below. 

Nicola on Panel t at PauseFest 2018

Panel ‘Raising Startup Capital in Australia’ at PauseFest2018 – Nicola Hazell, Samantha Wong, Elicia McDonald, Lucy Lloyd & Rohen Sood. Photo cred: @RohitBhargava7

 

2. “YOU are the creativity you seek.”

Cecilia Ambros – Head of Design Research at Amazon. She studies people, emotions and our reactions to content.

Ambros spoke about Creative Chaos and how people find inspiration. Ambros started the presentation by showing an image of the crowd looking at the Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre.

But the crowd wasn’t looking at the painting.

They were all looking at their smartphones trying to capture the moment of being there – rather than really looking and experiencing the historic painting. This is such a poignant realisation that shows how humans not only digest other’s creativity, but how they experience the world.  

Ambros emphasised that “creativity is not a talent, strength or process to go through. It’s something a bit bigger than that. It’s a state of mind.”

Especially in the tech and startup industries, people are imagining things that aren’t a reality yet. They’re visualising what’s possible and that only happens because of creativity. A downfall of this creativity is people often hold themselves back from taking action, because they think they need more skills or knowledge before starting.

Creativity is never a linear, text based process where you make progress after learning more skills. It is not a solo-based project, and people often use many different mediums. It’s creative chaos.

Key Lesson: Everything you do can be creative. Be kind, be curious, because “you are the creativity you seek”.

Cecilia Ambros describing creative chaos.

Cecilia Ambros describing creative chaos. Photo cred: @stephEchung

3. If you THINK you don’t work in tech, you probably will soon.

Most companies these days are either based online, offer services hosted in the cloud or hold a lot of information within different technologies.

The panel discussion ‘Is It Ever OK to Lie in Business’ covered transparency and being a woman in business. It was very interesting to hear from Susan Brown (Girls in Tech), Jessica Box (IE Digital), Shahirah Gardner (Finch) and Milly Schmidt (EstimateOne) on the purpose of work.

The speakers emphasised, if everyone at work adopted a growth mindset by being honest about setbacks and gaps in knowledge, we could all do better work, make better products and live overall better lives. This is a great vision for doing transparent and purpose-led work.

As a women, it’s a gift to be working in tech now as skills are in demand. Often women can request the roles they want or start their own business. Susan shared how now, there are girls at schools that are being encouraged into tech fields by their dads who currently work in tech, and these fathers don’t want their children to go through the same experiences that women in tech are facing now.

It’s encouraging to know that we all should get more comfortable working with tech. 

Key Lesson: Embrace tech and learning new things.

Panel 'Is it ever ok to lie in business' at PauseFest2018

Panel ‘Is it ever ok to lie in business’ at PauseFest2018 – Shahirah Gardner, Jessica Box, Milly Schmidt & Susan Brown. Photo cred: @MishManners.

4. Machines HELP us to be creative.

Many humans try to develop creativity by removing technology. But there are tools, software and hardware that can actually help tackle the creative process.

People are quick to be concerned about how AI can impact lives. Often the feedback about AI is that it’s creepy. Which makes sense if a machine can analyse humans and emotions better than we can. 

John Smith from IBM spoke about: The Next Horizon for AI. Smith described AI and machine learning that was used to create the 2016 Morgan movie trailer. To assist with the trailer composition, the AI analysed 100 scary movies, their trailers and judged the common emotional scenes from the movies that were used most effectively in the trailers.

This AI helped the editors to determine that the most impactful and emotional points in these trailers are either suspenseful, scary or tender. They then used these learnings to suggest scenes to include in the trailer for the Morgan film. A human then created the trailer based on all this collated data.

The trailer was definitely impactful. Apparently the feedback was that it was creepy. But effective.

Key Lesson: You don’t need to switch off tech to remain creative.

PauseFest banners at FedSquare in Melbourne.

PauseFest banners at FedSquare in Melbourne. Photo credit: @PauseFest

5. Think big, but start small.

Guy Kawasaki was a headliner for PauseFest. He covered his “10 most common mistakes that he sees entrepreneurs make” – and he suggested better ways of working.

Most of the mistakes he explored were about founders focusing too much on the big dream, the ideal scenario or the biggest impact they’re going to make.

Frequently, founders didn’t evaluate where they are now and the small actions they can take to make a significant impact on their niche. Kawasaki frequently sees founders in pitches use 1% as a gauge of how much market share or growth they’re going to experience.

Our very own, Nicola Hazell, summarised this point well during one of her panels: “It’s really hard when you need to design the kite when you can see the spaceship you want to build in the future.”

Smartcompany have a great summary of Kawasaki’s 10 points.

Key Lesson: Big things take time. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.


There was plenty of inspiring content at PauseFest and many inspiring conversations.

A theme constant to this year’s festival is that whatever you’re working on, there are people, processes and technology out there that can help you to develop, grow and learn.

In a bid to motivate attendees, an Eckhart Tolle quote listed on the first day’s run sheet stated: “In today’s rush, we all think too much – seek too much – want too much – and forget about the joy of just being”.

We hope you’re working towards your goals while taking the time to enjoy the journey. Or to at least take a Pause.