The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Daniele Busato
The Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.
In this interview recorded in June 2020, Julia Skupchenko speaks with Dannie-Lu Carr, a UK-based coach, consultant, speaker, author and founder of Creative Wavelengths. Dannie shares how the unknown has pushed her to be even more creative. The lockdown arrived suddenly just in the middle of the workshop when everyone was asked to leave immediately. She tells how seeing the agenda emptying and all events being “indefinitely postponed” put her on an emotional rollercoaster. Nevertheless, she kept in touch with her clients. Dannie channelled her energy into creating new online programs. One of them, 28 Days of Defiance, was meant to help people overcome the feeling of confusion by offering them a lockdown Truth or Dare.
What do you do and what is Creative Wavelengths?
Dannie: I am a coach and a consultant and my specialisms are in creativity, leadership and communications. One of the key things that I do is a concept called “Creative Wavelengths”, which is a business in its own right. I also have my consultancy which umbrellas a lot of shorter courses, usually in the room but at the moment not in the room.
I have been in one of your room-based workshops. It was quite ground-breaking for the team that was in that room, in terms of communication and creativity. Since you mentioned that many sessions that were based in person got cancelled, how was it for you?
Dannie: Crazy, in a word. The lockdown was imminent and I remember the week where everybody started to get really nervous and it seemed to happen really suddenly. I had a public speaking workshop booked in central London with 12 people on it and I remember contacting the venue on Monday evening (this was a week before we were officially locked down by the British government) and asking if it was still happening and they said yes. I was relieved! But by the time it took to get from where I live to central London (about an hour and forty minutes) I’d had 10 people cancel. I still ran it but I ran it with two people, and we finished several hours before schedule because everyone just started to panic. So from that evening pretty much everything I had in my diary (which was looking really busy from March to August) got “indefinitely postponed” because the vast majority of my work consists in travelling around and working with people in rooms, so it’s kind of obvious why that fell out.
That must have been quite a shock. How did you get out of that situation, what entrepreneurial drive did you find in yourself to fight it?
Dannie: It’s definitely been a roller coaster. Some days I’m up and driven and feeling creative, but other days it’s been a lot harder to feel energized and positive because it is all so unknown. But I very quickly realized that I was still going to have to do what I could do; obviously we had most of the world going onto Zoom and other platforms of that description, so it was very much a case of trying to move some of the work that I had booked onto online. I didn’t manage to do that much moving of it online because most people were just in such disarray because of what had happened, so I had a couple of weeks were I just sat back and processed what was going on.
Then I started reaching to clients again asking if they needed any support, firstly, because I’m an entrepreneur myself, I am used to things being a bit unpredictable sometimes. But a lot of my clients don’t work that way so actually, I was able to support them in a lot of ways and stay in touch with them. From that, I did some free short webinars to help keep their team together and cohesive because they all work in pockets now, so I managed to get some income-generated stuff, but it was minimal. Then I created some online programs, so I’ve been pretty much glued to this desk.
Tell me a bit more about the courses you have developed.
Dannie: I had just gotten into a place where I just wanted to run something, and it was partly surviving and getting my business through, partly that I needed a focus (I love my work and was feeling a bit lost without it) and then there was also a sense of me that I really wanted to run something for people because a lot of the messaging that I was hearing back from friends, colleagues and family was that people were feeling low, despondent, frightened. So I kind of put that into a metaphorical pot and asked: “What do they need?” And came up with a program called “28 Days of Defiance”, which was an online program where they got a task per day.
I positioned it as a bit of isolation “Truth or Dare” to get their resilience and self-esteem back up and to get back to having fun again. The first one sold out in a couple of days, which was amazing; the second one is a smaller group but they are in their third week now, so I’ve run those two concurrently. I’ve also gone on to develop two other programs, one called “Flaming Leadership”, which is a much bigger piece, running in September, and the other called “Warrior Women”, which started on the 13th of July.
Can you tell us more about 28 Days of Defiance? Give us one example of Truth or Dare that you give to your students.
Dannie: There are 28 examples to choose from. Here is one: I go through the alphabet (each day is A, B, C and so forth) and when we get to the letter L they have a day which is all about Love & Laughter. They have a “Rebel Buddy” (they’re buddied up with somebody picked out of a hat and are accountable to each other) and they have to list all the things that they love about their lives, themselves, their friends and so on, and then think about all the things that make them laugh and commit to indulging in that Live & Laughter that day. A lot of the dares are very much about sharing these things on social media as well, so they have to go public with it and that’s the dare. Sometimes I get them to do crazy things, other times it is a bit more thought through and others it is just daft.
Tell me more about “Warrior Women”.
Dannie: “Warrior Women” is an eight-week program with a module per week. It is quite a small group but started selling quite quickly. What it does is to look at the untold (or lesser-known) stories of iconic women from the past or current day and age, from all over the world. We look at one woman per week, what they do, why they are so amazing, what skills did they utilize to do what they did. Then comes the implementation bit of it, because my work is always a bit of theory and then “do” (otherwise we don’t really benefit). So they study all of that and then I pull in my assertiveness and leadership work and give them tools and techniques where they have to take what these women did and find ways in which they can implement that into their own world. It’s a female-led leadership program as in we’re using women as the narrative, but you don’t have to be female to do it: that for me is a way of re-balancing -or creating more balance- between male and female voices.
Are you expecting a lot of men to sign up for this one?
Dannie: I don’t know, I haven’t had any men so far. I’ve had one man express interest (but hasn’t signed up for it so far) and got three women. There are only twelve places on Warrior Women because it’s an in-depth study and an in-depth coaching activity. Every Monday they get a new module and every Monday evening we do a group Zoom.
If I reflect on what we did in the room session with you and based on what you’ve said so far, one thing that really stands out to me is the practical application. There are many brilliant courses out there, but they don’t get you to practice what you learn anywhere near as much as you would.
Dannie: Yeah, it’s a big passion of mine because you get a lot of stuff cognitively (most humans are really smart and get things immediately), but the minute you try and do it it’s harder. Sometimes we know and understand something but when we’re in a situation it falls off our radar, because we’re creatures of habit and pattern, so unless we play around with stuff and try to implement it consciously then we’re never going to really make those changes.
What is the outlook for the next months?
Dannie: I’ve started to re-engage with my clients and swerve them to come back and do work with us again (so far, mainly online). However, I do have some workshops in plan for September, but in a certainly lower intensity than before.
Is there any advice you would like to share?
Dannie: The biggest piece from this is that there is a lot of fear and trepidation. Stuff can be really infectious and we can really let that penetrate us and keep us stuck. So my advice is to notice when you’re in it and do your absolute best to gently move yourself through it. Move yourself into curiosity, courage and proactivity, be resourceful. It is easy to get pushed into victimization, and whereas that is to some extent true, we are still masters and mistresses of our own destiny. It is amazing what humans can do when they put their mind to it.
About the Guest
Dannie-Lu Carr is a training consultant and coach who works with people to get braver, find their power, purpose, use their voice and embrace fearless leadership in all areas of their life and work. She ensures that others will stand up and be heard, provoke important thought, create new narratives and ignite change through effectively galvanising others into action. She is the founder of three signature online programmes: Flaming Leadership, Warrior Women and 28 Days of Defiance. Dannie is also a published author, award-winning theatre director and singer/songwriter. She is the founder of Creative Wavelengths ™, the first approach that directly articulates and implements communication around the collaborative creative process.