Blog Review of WiT Regatta Workshop “Be Flawsome”

Be Flawsome – Be Awesome

Blog Review by Nadine Stille

Roaring laughter, empowered statements, and emotional stories – I could never have thought I was due to experience all this during two hours of attending the “Be Flawsome: How to Turn Your Flaws Into Awesome” workshop, led by the SPARK team during the Vancouver Women In Tech Regatta.

I knew I was in for something special though. This session was on top of my list of events to attend during the inaugural one week event. Creating the right kind of workplace culture is something that I’ve actively worked on with my own successful team over the past years. So, I was curious what I could learn about embracing our authentic selves in order to thrive. Elena Yugai, Growth Strategist at Olencha Consulting, was very strategic about attending too: I am a big fan of Lorie [… Corcuera, Co-Founder & CEO, SPARK Creations] and SPARK Creations and wanted to participate in her mission to integrate LOVE into Women in Tech Regatta.”

Throughout the first few days of the week, I had come to realize that others were similarly excited to see what was in store for us. I overheard people talking about it with rumours spreading about possible acting exercises and a super interactive session. Candice Dermo, EAX Production Coordinator at EA, mentioned that the description of the session stood out to her, “I’m all about being honest about who we are as people and embracing our greatest qualities including our greatest flaws. I was curious what I could learn from this seminar.” While Rybo Chen, a Support Engineer at SAP and one of a few men in attendance, explained that “…I’m a huge believer that one thing can be viewed from various perspectives. That means, flaws, too! So I was interested to hear what others have to share on flaws.”

And as soon as I entered the conference room, the ambience was notably different from previous sessions I had attended. The rows of seating were now arranged in a semi-circle around the stage which had been set in front of the amazing floor to ceiling windows – making good use of the evening skyline while also ensuring that participants could see each other better and interact.

Uplifting music, impromptu dancing, motivational quotes on screens, and a lot of interaction between workshop facilitators and participants set the tone for an inspiring, positive environment, while a short mindfulness exercise to officially start the workshop, brought the room and everyone in it, attentively together.

Our moderator, Jennifer Curleigh of SPARK Creations & Company, introduced us to the panel of storytellers:

  •         Lorie Corcuera, Co-Founder & CEO, SPARK Creations & Company
  •         Leah Hennessey Rai, Culture Collaborator, SPARK Creations & Company
  •         David Chandler, Co-Founder, Managing Partner, Creative Technology Resources Inc.

One after the other, they shared their emotional stories about self-compassion, disappointments, struggles and dread. You could hear a pin drop while we hung on each and every word, willing them to tell us how they worked through these challenges to eventually thrive. And thrive they all did! We were thrown from one spectrum of the emotional barometer to the other, several times over, especially when we attendants courageously shared our own stories in between the main speakers.

We shared situations that turned out completely different from what we had expected, we wrote mantras on how to be kinder to ourselves, and celebrated our flaws by making proud “Be Flawsome” statements. Here are some empowering examples:

“I embrace the weirdness in me.” (Rybo Chen)                               

“I am good enough without overdoing it.” (Candice Dermo)

“I embrace that I want to solve everyone’s problems.” (Elena Yugai)

“Yes, I’m curious and the one with all the questions.” (Nadine Stille)

One of the most surprising activities literally had everyone in the room on their feet, and produced some laugh out loud moments and roaring applause. We learned that during improv theatre class, actors’ mistakes are a normal part of the process and are celebrated. In our exercise, we were instructed to throw both our arms over our heads, stating something along the lines of “I’ve made an error!” This is where the real fun kicked in. Like a wave during a sporting event we each stood up, one after another around the circle and row-by-row, to exclaim in our own individual style that we’ve messed up,while our peers cheered and applauded; the message being that when you dare to try something out,it’s okay to fail.” So, there we were, a room full of people who have made mistakes, clapping, cheering, and laughing in support of each other.

I’ve attended countless professional trainings, panel sessions, and workshops over the years. This one was first class and something that will stay with me for a very long time. Rybo Chen is using the energy he experienced in the workshop to remain committed to his goals. “…It was inspiring me for me to experience the courage and braveness the room offered that evening. It empowered me to practice being vulnerable, and that’s one of my themes for 2018…”

The tone was so right; positive, uplifting, and yet, so comfortable that we could all feel safe to share and learn, which is something that both Candice Dermo and Elena Yugai commented on afterwards too. Yugai commented,: It was so powerful to see how those attending felt safe and supported to be vulnerable and in that vulnerability draw new strength. I am in awe at how quickly the SPARK Creations team was able to guide the room to a very authentic and real place.”

A roomful of conference participants who, for the most part, hadn’t known each other beforehand, openly shared stories about flaws, failures, struggles and, ultimately, victories. It took this intentional setup and engaging expertise to get this across:

  •         Authenticity, with all its failures and victories, is strength.
  •         Making mistakes is part of life and means you’re moving forward.
  •         Practice self-love and treat ourselves with kindness. We deserve it.
  •         Flaws make us individual human beings and have to be embraced and celebrated.

According to Canice Dermo it’s, …a great reminder we are all human and have our own story.

Needless to say, conversations continued long after the workshop finished and the building closed.

Be Flawsome, be awesome everyone.

About Nadine Stille

With over 15 years of international work experience in 5 countries, Nadine is a dedicated leader, lifelong learner, Diversity & Inclusion champion, and mentor to help people excel.  Having recently moved to Vancouver and in career transition, she would love to connect via LinkedIn or Twitter to exchange ideas around leading, learning, engaging and Diversity & Inclusion.

Lorie Corcuera