I’m sitting here in front of my laptop, trying to think of the best way to explain to you just how amazing The Digital Edge event was for me… Honestly, you really had to have been there to experience it.
The Digital Edge was like a brand-new book that I’d started reading and within the first 2 pages I was hooked and couldn’t wait to get lost in the rest of the story!
If you are into digital marketing / innovation / disruption / trends / and storytelling, then this was the place to be to learn from some of the industry leaders out there. I took tons of notes throughout the event, and absorbed every bit of info that was shared!
When planning this post, I decided that I wasn’t going to go into detail about every speaker who was there on the day, and instead I would rather mention the ones that really stood out to me – pretty much how I would describe an exciting book to you by telling you about all of the memorable moments in the book that kept me hooked and reading on, even if I was running late and had to be somewhere or knew I really needed to be working on something else instead of reading. These are the snippets of the day that really stuck with me and the stories gave me goosebumps.
Dr Sindi van Zyl
Her story really evoked emotion in me. I realised how I’ve taken access to information for granted, and how my whole life it’s been relatively easy for me to do searches and learn via the Internet (and encyclopaedias back in the day). Growing up I attended many talks on HIV and Aids, was given pamphlets to read, and even received condoms that were handed out as part of awareness campaigns on campus. But what about the people out there – and there are many – who haven’t had/don’t have any access to this vital info. Who’ve never been to a talk on HIV/Aids, don’t have the internet or pamphlets to provide them with info, and don’t have family and friends they feel they can talk to, let alone a qualified health care professional. These people don’t have anyone to turn to when they have questions, and as a result of this, many are given incorrect information.
Dr Sindi van Zyl is a qualified doctor who got fed up with the system in which she worked, especially when it came to delays in giving HIV-positive moms the medicine they need. After using Twitter as an outlet for her frustrations, Sindi started a blog in order to share vital information and really help make a difference. She provides life-saving information online that in turn provides hope, which makes a huge difference to the mom’s out there. Some people were sceptical at first about whether she was a qualified doctor, but her authenticity has helped build her credibility and she now has a large following, which continues growing daily. Authenticity and anonymity (her followers can choose to remain anonymous) have been key to the success of her online work. You can ask her life-saving questions, without ever having to share your identity, and she will answer your questions with the correct information you are looking for and need. If you read through the responses she has provided online, you will see just how patient, dedicated, and passionate she is about what she does daily. She helps people who need info the most – and let’s not forget hope. She is an inspiration!
Jenna Lowe #GetMeTo21
I remember the first time I saw the hashtag for #GetMeTo21. I remember reading Jenna’s story and trying to imagine what she must have been feeling and going through at that point in time. My bad day at work was nothing compared to the struggles she had faced and was facing. And yet, not once did she ever play “the victim”, but instead continued to spread the word about Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (which she had), create awareness about other rare diseases in South Africa, and the importance of organ donation. Jenna’s dad, Stuart Lowe, told us a bit more about her foundation, her ambition, and how she had shared her story with people out there – which went viral with #GetMeTo21. Genna eventually did receive her new lungs, but passed away shortly after. Stuart described her as a child who was obsessed with the social injustice around her, a prolific reader, and a writer of poetry. I didn’t know her personally, but I respect and admire everything she achieved, and especially the strength she showed us all. She never played “the victim” and was authentic in her messages. She was an inspiration to many and even though she’s no longer here, her message will continue. The campaign was a success and her dad shared a word cloud of some of terms used in association with her…
What can we do together with technology and with storytelling to change the world?” – Stuart Lowe
I signed up to become an organ donor when I was 18 and am proud to be one. Did you know that your organs have the potential to save 7 lives? I think that is pretty amazing! What’s more amazing is how Jenna’s campaign inspired others to sign up. If you’d like to, go to the Organ Donor South Africa site. You could save someone’s life.
Yossi Schwartz, Chairman of Y&R Africa, showed a few videos – stories – that again aroused emotions in me because they were real stories that were authentic. Social upliftment is possible through digital.
One was of a young girl and her grandmother, sitting in a classroom and talking about school. The grandmother talks about how she never had textbooks growing up, and as a result had to clean toilets instead of attending school. The granddaughter shows us how things have changed over the years, and how technology now enables her to learn from her tablet – with that tech she has access to information and her textbook, and she doesn’t have to clean toilets. I unfortunately couldn’t find this video.
I was, however, able to find on video about two young entrepreneurs in Kenya, who run their entire business off a Facebook group and Whatapp groups. Their street-culture story caught the eye of CNN one day, and took them on a brand-new journey. I work for a business incubator and could identify with this story because I write success stories for the entrepreneurs that are on our sponsored business growth programmes. Each and every time I phone one of them for an interview and hear about their journey to date, I am wowed by their innovation, endurance, dedication, and strength. These two guys in the video reminded me so much of the stories I write.
A lot of stats and really interesting facts were shared throughout the event, and I was going to share them, but decided to rather focus more on these stories above that really touched me. If it hadn’t been for digital, I might not have heard about them and they might never have occurred. And as I sit here with my laptop on my lap, I am able to now share a bit about them with you too.
The following are some quotes I jotted down during the day which also resonated with me:
“Storytelling is about to be overhauled by tech, and so is reality. The stories you tell, create the world around you. Stories play a critical role in our lives. We use stories to delve deeper into the heart of who we are.” – Jason Xenopoulos
“If you want to write great stories, you have to read great stories.” – Rahla Xenopoulos
“Develop your own voice, don’t duplicate a story.” – Spike Lee
When The Digital Edge ended, it was like I’d just finished reading an awesome book that left me wanting more. Every chapter captured my attention, made me smile, made me think, made me laugh, made me tearful. It was a bestseller in my books, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Thank you Digital Edge 2015. It was mindblowing!