Hackathon hijinks

I’m sat writing this on a plane flying from Munich. It’s been quite a week. I’m running on fumes. I’ll be sleeping in a hotel at Birmingham airport tonight and back on another plane at 7am in the morning to get home.

But on to positive things.

I’ve just come back from a week in Sweden. I was there to help my client, Quinyx, prepare the marketing materials they need for the launch of a new product they’ve developed. We did a two day ‘Hackathon’ with three teams made up of people from different departments focusing on different elements of the launch: Attract, Convert, and Close.

Off the top of my head I wrote: a blog post, a press release, a LinkedIn article, three nurture track emails, three landing pages, social media copy for the sharing of the blog post and the landing pages, a one-pager for their sales team, I gave them the idea for a really fun way they can drive engagement in their emails, I starred in their video and ad-libbed the ending of it to help make it work. I made new friends with people from Germany, Ireland, Brazil, Sweden, Holland and Finland. 

It would’ve been something fun to do in any circumstances. But to know that I’ve done this on my own fills me with pride while at the same time being deeply humbling.

It’s incredibly flattering to be held in such high esteem. To be honest, sometimes I struggle with it. I’m just me and I just do what I do. The fact that people place such high value in this never fails to overwhelm me. I don’t know if there’s lessons here.

There’s definitely something to be said for being yourself. I’ve never tried to be something I’m not - I’m always just me and it makes life so much easier. The longer I do this the easier it is to spot the fakes and the try-hards a mile off.

There’s also something to be said for never underestimating the value of good, honest, hard graft. Creating that amount of content in around 15 hours is not easy. They were long, hard days and I was quite far outside of my comfort zone (I work in a cabin and try to keep my interactions with people to a minimum so this was tough going!).

And value. There’s a lot to be said for value. It doesn’t matter what you do, bring value to people’s lives and, as a result, become invaluable to them.

Enjoy it too. Relish new experiences and challenges. Throw yourself into them head on. Life’s not for sitting on the fucking sidelines. Get amongst it. Don’t be afraid of failing or what other people thing. Grab hold of the opportunities that are given to you so, when you look back on them, they bring a smile to your face because you know you did everything you could to make the very best of it.

I stayed in Sweden for half a day longer than I had to so I could run a messaging workshop with another client. I could’ve gone home early and I wouldn’t be writing this on a plane, somewhere over Northern Europe, at 11.30pm. We could’ve done the workshop over Zoom - but, for a little bit of sacrifice on my part, I showed the people who put their trust in me and pay me a good retainer each month that I care, and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.

It’s bloody work and being successful at it doesn’t happen over night but, gradually, if you keep chipping away at what’s in front of you, all of a sudden you are the expert and people who you trust, respect and look up to - are the ones turning to you to guide them. And that, is pretty cool feeling. 

InspirationTommy Tonkins