On Monday, I travelled for the first time since Covid hit. I was determined to go to ATOMICON and finally catch up with some of my fellow ATOMICs and absorb the amazing atmosphere that ATOMICON always has.
So, with my podcast co-host Ellie by my side as navigator and walking stick if my chronic pain/fatigue got too bad, I headed to Newcastle.
Having been a member of ATOMIC since January 2018, and having had a riot at the last two ATOMICONs (in-person in 2019, and virtually in 2020), I knew that it would be an amazing event.
And it did not disappoint.
ATOMICON always attracts the most energetic, inspiring speakers. And this year was no different.
Here are my biggest takeaways from ATOMICON 2021:
Success isn’t black and white
In their opening keynote, Andrew and Pete raised a valid question: if they aim to hit 1,000,000 followers, but they only get 999,999, does that make them a failure?
While this is an intentionally extreme example, it shows us just how silly a black and white viewpoint to goals and success is.
Does being one follower away from a numerical goal really mean we haven’t succeeded? Is that the only way to measure success?
Too often, success is only measured by if you hit your goals or not. You must hit exactly that number or above.
The journey we go on to reach our goals is forgotten or dismissed.
But there are so many important milestones and skills we develop along the way.
Their keynote was complimented really well by Laura Robinson’s talk. She talked about the importance of celebrating ‘tiny triumphs’, which is something I’ve been trying to do for a long time.
I may not celebrate super tiny things, but I can definitely see the benefit and plan to going forwards. Usually if something has gone well, I’ll reward myself with a westie hug and some Animal Crossing time, or a video on YouTube. Something that’s a change of pace but which entertains, and maybe educates, me.
Celebrating these small things triggers endorphins in our brain, which means we’re filled with happy chemicals more often. If you struggle with your mental health, are neurodivergent, or support someone who is, these are super important things which can help you to see how far you’ve come and get more enjoyment out of life.
Resilience is a skill we can learn
Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience lately. And it just so happened that Jaz Ampaw-Farr’s talk was on that very topic. She’s been through a lot, but comes across as happy, confident, and grateful. I loved her open, honest attitude.
Something she said really resonated with me, which was that when she did a talk and received 199 positive comments, she focused on the one negative comment she received. And she focused on it so much that she cancelled speaking gigs for a fortnight.
Our brains are hard-wired to focus on the negative, even when there’s more positive things going on in our lives. As an author, this is painfully familiar. So many authors focus on that one negative review, even if they get hundreds of other positive ones.
At the end of her talk, she said that she’s gotten her recovery time down to a few hours, and her next plan is seconds. This really inspired me, as I’m trying to work on my resilience, too.
I never really thought of myself as resilient, but a lot of my friends describe me that way, and they’re slightly more removed from what goes on in my head! That doesn’t mean I don’t still have room to grow, though.
I had a challenging summer, and I’ve definitely come back stronger. It never occurred to me that was resilience at work; I just knew I had to find a way out of it. To an outsider, that might obviously look like resilience, but when you’re in the middle of it, it’s a very different perspective.
Anyway, I love that she talked about how we can learn to be more resilient. I’ve seen so many writers struggle with things like rejection and confidence. Jaz’s experiences prove that resilience is a skill we can learn, we just have to be conscious of it and work at it.
Money mindset matters
I really connected with Samantha Hearne’s session on how to get better at sales. One of the topics she mentioned was overcoming money roadblocks so that we stop seeing things like money and sales as dirty words.
Money is something I have a weird relationship with – my mum’s mantra when I was growing up was that she’d ‘never have money so long as she had a hole in her arse’, while my dad never spent any if he could avoid it – so looking at my mindset is going to play a huge role in my growth as a businessperson.
Also, I adored Samantha’s yellow suit. It really suited her vibrant, uplifting, confident personality and brand. And it made me regret not wearing my dogtooth blazer to match my dogtooth trousers!
Facts should guide decisions, not thoughts and feelings
We make most of our decisions in life subconsciously, based on thoughts and feelings about previous, similar events, instead of considering the facts.
I used to be really bad for this. Sometimes, I still am. But focusing on things like clients’ positive feedback gives me the confidence to keep going and grow my business.
The next time you have a decision to make, consider what facts you have to help with the decision. Ask yourself things like:
- What stats do you have?
- What client feedback do you have?
- What happened the last time you did something similar?
Whenever you get positive feedback, store them somewhere easy to refer back to. This will not only give you an ego boost whenever you need it, but also offer some hard facts when your self-doubt rears its head.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer started out as a marketing strategy
Many writers start out in marketing. Or even stay there because they can’t finish their book, or their book doesn’t make them enough money.
The second keynote was all about storytelling (one of my favourite topics!), and was with Ann Hadley. She shared something I never knew, which was that Rudolph started out as a marketing tactic.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by a Robert L. May, a marketer, as a Christmas story for Montgomery Ward, the department store he worked for.
But it goes further than that…
We can use the story of Rudolph to create a story for our clients. Which helps us to write better copy and content.
Ann Hadley’s keynote broke down the connection between marketing and storytelling in a super simple, effective way. It was probably one of my favourite talks of the day.
I tell authors on a near daily basis that their storytelling skills are in high demand by businesses, but they rarely believe me. Ann explained how storytelling is so beneficial to businesses in the most perfect way, using a similar structure to The Hero’s Journey.
Constraints trigger creativity
Andrew Davis’s keynote at the end was perfectly timed. I won’t lie: I was knackered by the end of it. If the closing keynote hadn’t been someone with as much energy as Andrew, I probably would’ve fallen asleep (I only got 3 hours sleep the night before, and not for lack of trying!).
But his talk was super inspiring. And he said one stat that was utterly insane: the pandemic caused businesses to get seven years ahead of their business goals. It forced them to speed up their digital strategies in order to survive.
Which shows you just how quickly businesses can act when they need to. And why we should.
Businesses which didn’t adapt, and accepted the situation instead of challenging it, struggled to survive. Businesses which found creative ways to stay afloat didn’t just survive – they exceeded their goals.
Goat 2 Meeting is the most brilliant example of this, and I’m so tempted to suggest it to the people I know, as it’s an amazing idea!
Goat 2 Meeting is how Sweet Farm, which could no longer have guests over, saved itself from needing to let go of animals or employees. It’s their way of breaking up monotonous meetings…with a goat.
The goat crashes the meeting to make everyone laugh, and can share sustainability tips, too.
This is fun and creative for everyone involved. it helped them spread the word about sustainability and grow their business even faster than their previous way of operating.
Andrew took his advice one step further, too. He suggested that to free ourselves up to try new ideas, we let go of TWO other things. Two!
The audience’s reaction – which was to outsource things instead of kill them – showed just how bad many of us are at letting go of things. We think we need to do ALL THE THINGS.
But the more we let go of, the more time, energy, and money we have to focus on the thing we really want to do, and which could grow our businesses faster.
The one thing worse than not reaching your goals…
There was one theme which really stood out to me, and that was one of the biggest threads throughout the day: the only thing worse than not reaching your goals is not even trying.
Whether it’s imposter syndrome, lack of confidence, an unsupportive network, fear of challenging the status quo or of the unknown, or something else, there are lots of reasons why we stagnate. Why we don’t even try.
Too many things in life can hold us back. And the longer we ruminate on those things, the longer we stagnate.
Before ATOMICON, I listened to an episode of my favourite podcast, No Such Thing as a Fish. In this particular episode, they mentioned that a study was done on the effect of playing Tetris after being in a car accident. The study found that if someone played Tetris within 20 minutes of the accident, they were less likely to develop PTSD. Which shows it’s the rumination of the event that causes the PTSD, not the event itself.
When you do something which occupies your mind, it doesn’t have the space to replay trauma, rejection, or other negative events which can hold you back.
And the more you focus on taking action, not on rumination, the easier it becomes to take action.
You don’t have to start big, especially if you’re not used to it. Once you start, you can build yourself up to doing more and more. Which builds your confidence, resilience, and skills. A very nice combination indeed.
ATOMICON and ATOMIC are all about taking action.
Just because a business is small, that doesn’t mean it can’t be MIGHTY. Small businesses can make a big difference to the world. The only limit is how far you’re willing to challenge yourself.
Feeling inspired? Tickets for 2023 are on sale now! (And only £189 for an online or in-person ticket until 19 November 2023, with a 100% refund policy until next November and easy ability to switch between in-person and online tickets.)
Challenging your fears is scary.
Breaking out of the status quo is scary.
Nothing we want to do is impossible. It’s the voices in our head – or maybe even the doubters around us – which stop us from doing things.
When we talk to people who understand our situation, and/or people who’ve been through it, it lifts us up and makes us realise that what we want to do isn’t so impossible after all.
I’ve grown a lot as a person and a business owner since I joined ATOMIC in January 2018. That’s down to how amazing Andrew and Pete’s content is, and how supportive their community is.
ATOMICON has more energy, passion, and inspiration than almost any other in-person event I’ve been to.
And let’s not forget how amazing their branding is, too.
If you’re not sure if it’s for you, I’d recommend booking your ticket now, at the flash sale price. You can always cancel it between now and November 2022 (but you won’t want to).
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