My Moments from Tropical Innovation Festival 2022

A month ago I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the Tropical Innovation Festival in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland.

The Sustainable Lifestyle Project team which I was in for the Mackay Techstars Startup Weekend at Split Spaces won the weekend! And I was lucky to get the prize of the Tropical Innovation Festival ticket and travelled to Cairns with Tegan from Split Spaces to attend.

This past month, I took time to recharge and reflect on what a wonderful week it had been. I let it all sink in as I looked back at my notes and photos which made me remember all the people, the moments, and the experiences.

The Tropical Innovation Festival…  a week where entrepreneurs, innovators, founders, leaders, industry experts and change-makers all come together to collaborate, connect, and celebrate innovation.

The weeklong conference was an incredible experience that I will never forget. There were so many highlights from the week from the inspirational speakers and panellists to the amazing people I met. For me, it was a week of many memorable moments, overcoming challenges and gaining a wealth of knowledge and ideas.

Feeding people’s curiosity to learn

With 50 events and 60 speakers to choose from, the program can be compared to a music festival program – with different headliners on different stages. It was a difficult decision on which room to attend, or which Mastermind or Investor session to attend… as they all looked so enticing! The line-up definitely fed people’s curiosity to learn.

Inspired people inspire others.

My week started off with a great Startup Intensive Day where I filled many pages of my notepad with valuable notes of inspiration and education. Each day of the conference I got up out of bed early with ease and with great anticipation for the day ahead. (however not early enough to make it to the 6am Yoga by the Pool, unfortunately).  By the Day 3 of the conference and my notebook was almost full. I had been jotting down so many snippets of inspiration and information from all the speakers and panellists I had the opportunity to listen to throughout the week.

(Keep scrolling to the tab section to read some of my favourite notes & quotes, favourite speakers and discover my Inspirational Portal from the conference) 

Overall, by Day 5 I felt uplifted, felt more empowered, and confident, and sensed a positive change in myself. It was a wonderful week being surrounded by amazing people with the chance to network and connect with like-minded individuals. Minds were inspired, meaningful connections were made, lots and lots of coffee was consumed (not even the coffee machine could keep up), and a good time was had by everyone!

What was your favourite thing about the conference?

By the end of the conference, the question of the day was ‘What was your favourite thing about the conference?”  My favourite thing was something that happened arbitrarily, a chance encounter – like it was meant to happen.  At the end of Day 3, while at a random bar in Cairns with Tegan, while sipping on our chilli margaritas, we ran into the one and only Yasmin Grigaliunas! Only moments ago I had just been speaking to Tegan about how I hadn’t had a chance to meet Yas yet. Next minute she’s walking into the bar, and realising we’re all repping our awesome Tropical Innovation Festival shirts! Selfies were taken, wonderful conversations were discussed, and Yas even wrote down and explained her newest word acronym in my notepad – which is remaining top secret for now! An experience I’m grateful for and one I’ll never forget.

Less showreel and more real reel

To be quote Yas Grigaliunas … ‘Less showreel and more real reel’. While being inspirational and rewarding, the week was also a challenge for me both mentally and physically – but one I appreciate experiencing as when we go through challenges and overcome them, we become stronger and stronger.  Physically, I was going through some pain of body aches as it was just before my medical infusion to treat Crohn’s Disease. During this time my body gets more worn out and sore easier than usual. I was also worried about fatigue, but the FREE COFFEE certainly helped with that, combined with the adrenaline and energy from the event.

Mentally, I had to find the strength to put my introverted self out there and meet new people, face my fears of public speaking in the Investors Suite and battle my own mind as I overcame a random intense panic attack on Day 3. I’m still not sure why it happened but I’m guessing it was a mixture of overwhelm, Imposter Syndrome, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) and a mental overload that just had to be released. At the afterparty I spoke about this with a group of people, and it led to an insightful conversation about Imposter Syndrome.

Innovators On The Reef conference

The Innovators On The Reef conference was amazing!  A conference was held on board the Down Under Cruise and Dive Evolution Dive Boat where we ventured off to the Saxon Reef, a part of the Great Barrier Reef.  Attendees even got to snorkel or drive to explore the reef! How amazing is that?!

I spent a few hours in the water discovering the magical underwater world, something I rarely get the opportunity to do so. (This was only my second time snorkelling.)  I hired a camera to use underwater and really enjoyed the challenge of taking photos underwater for the first time.

While I didn’t manage to get to any of the Learning Labs, I had a chance to meet and talk more with people in a more relaxed and chilled-out setting. I had some great chats with Martin Coffey from KNEWK Entertainment and I saw the amazing AR technology in action and had a good chat about the challenges of naming a business with Kate Morgan from Eggy. By the end of the day, my mind was swimming with new ideas and perspectives.

I wanted to say a huge thank you to Tara Diversi, Kate Montgomery and all the team for organising and hosting this amazing event.

And a special thank you to Tegan from Split Spaces for organising this great opportunity for me to attend the event, introducing me to the best authentic Japanese Ramen in Cairns, for our meaningful conversations and for all the good times we had during the trip.

Thank you Split Spaces for giving me this opportunity to grow and learn at the Tropical Innovation Festival. It was an incredible week, and I am so grateful to have been able to experience it.

Click below tabs to explore my memorable moments, my inspiration portal, my fav speakers, top notes & quotes and who I met.

My Memorable Moments

  • Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, the Saxon Reef on board the Down Under Cruise and Dive Evolution Dive Boat at the Innovators On The Reef conference. My second time snorkelling and my first-time taking photos of this underwater world!
  • Speaking about the Sustainable Lifestyle Project in the Investors Suite with Monica Bradley, and the fantastic support received from everyone in the room who clapped after I very nervously explained the project.
  • Meeting Yas randomly after Day 3 of the conference. We ran into each other late in the night at a bar of all places!
  • Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and feeling more confident and empowered after the event
  • Learning about the Turnto platform launching soon by Jessica Dove London. The first home to all treatment possibilities, from science and the crowd. They use machine learning & the crowd to unlock real-time breakthroughs. This platform has the potential to have a huge impact to help people living with health conditions.
  • The Tropical Innovation Festival team sharing my story snaps on Instagram to their story.
  • Wandering around Cairns after Day 2 with Tegan and Melinda.
  • Meeting Peter Laurie at the afterparty where he asked what my favourite moment was, to which I answered with meeting Yas. He then took a selfie of us and e-mailed it to her on the spot to tell her that she was my favourite moment.
  • The great conversations Peter, Suz and Elisha and myself had at the afterparty.
  • Grateful for having the accommodation where the event was held, at The Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort. Having the room above the conference allowed me to relevantly be on time everyday, saved a lot of energy, and being able to escape and recharge after each day before the networking started was a blessing.
  • Creating meaningful connections – I met so many people and thankful for all the connections I’ve made on LinkedIN so that I can follow everyone’s journey as they progress with their dreams.  FUN FACT: My LinkedIn views increased by 300% that week!
  • The opportunity to learn from connect with inspirational speakers, panellists, industry experts and people.

My Inspiration Portal (Books and podcasts)

  • Emotional Agility by Susan David.
  • A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload by Cal Newport
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott
  • The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber
  • Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
  • Machines Behaving Badly- The Morality of AI by Toby Walsh
  • Stand out Life by Ali Hill (Podcast)

My Favourite Speakers

  • Goal Setting and Getting the most out of yourself. Rupert Bryce – Performance Strategies
  • Looking after yourself is looking after your business: Lucas Finch, Head of Wellbeing, Xero
  • Market Validation with Peter Laurie
  • Apps for the time-poor entrepreneur – Heather Smith, Hype girl for accounting apps
  • Views with Vu – Lessons from experience, expertise and an insatiable mind Vu Tran – Go1
  • Started by a school boy… entrepreneurship as a career choice for young people. Taj Pabari – ASE Group, Former Young Australian of the Year (QLD
  • A smart state is an innovative state – perspectives of the Chief Entrepreneur Wayne Gerard – QLD Chief Entrepreneur
  • Curiosity for comfort in a chaotic world Alison Hill – Pragmatic Thinking
  • Fun and fearless – how to embrace innovation for future success panel Heather Smith; Jodie Mlikota; Yas Grigaliunas; Christine Williams; Julia Spicer
  • The scramble of life as second career entrepreneurs, partners and parents Kirk Reynoldson & Kate Morgan – Eggy
  • Taking the leap from building tech at Canva to building a company. Paulwyn Devasundaram – Co-founder – Medoo

My Top Quotes & Notes

  • “Don’t be nice, be practical”
  • Self-Awareness + Insight = Self-Regulation
  • Ask yourself: What do I believe in right now? How could I be wrong?
  • Listen to learn
  • Awaken curiosity
  • Your Well-Being Bank Account
  • Building your best day
  • What Are Most Important Tasks (MITs)?
  • The default mode network (DMN) of the brain
  • Set some unscheduled time at the same time everyday
  • Dominate the eyeballs
  • Find your edge in marketing
  • People don’t buy what you sell, they buy your energy
  • Embrace the NO
  • “Part of the journey is dealing with the lows. Don’t Give Up” – Wayne Gerard
  • Ask better questions
  • Expand your sphere of thinking
  • Inspired people inspire others.
  • Connect on an experience level
  • GAP = Gratitude Acceptance Perception
  • “Love is the next disrupter in business”  – Yas Grigaliunas
  • “Less showreel and more real reel” – Yas Grigaliunas
  • The antidote to fear is Gratitude
  • Capture feedback early
  • Feeding people’s curiosity to learn
  • Hire for cultural contribution, not cultural fit
  • Engage with your community / customers / users – A community will tell you if you’re not solving their problem
  • Build a product that customer love. Communicate with early-adopters, focus on pain points, stay lean and seek creative solutions.

The People I Met

  • Melinda Jones from North Burnett Regional Council
  • Yasmin Grigaliunas from World’s Biggest Garage Sale
  • Heather Smith from ANISE Consulting
  • Claire Lane from Save Our Supplies
  • Peter Laurie from Junta and Mentor in Residence at River City Labs
  • Kate Morgan from Eggy
  • Toni Peggrem from the Queensland AI Hub
  • Monica Bradley, Master Facilitator of impact; Agent of Change.`
  • Martin Coffey from KNEWK Entertainment
  • Dani Gallery from The Gold Coast Innovation Hub
  • Anne-Marie Walton from KidsWantU
  • Elisha Taderera from Creating with Elisha Tad and For the Creatives podcast
  • Martin Renaud from Freedom Potential
  • Talitha Taz Devadass,  Rohit Augustine and Emilee Freeman  from Futures Isle
  • Serena Helsham  – Videographer  & VR Experiences
  • Jessica Dove London from Turnto
  • Suzie Cray from eMotion Video Training & Production
  • Chris Hughes from Mealzee
  • Sharon Bonython-Ericson from Illuminate FNQ

More links & info

  • The Queensland Chief Entrepreneur team interviewed various people at the Tropical Innovation Festival and is uploading new videos every week.  Check it out here.
  • Yas Grigaliunas wrote a great blog about the Tropical Innovation Festival. Check it out here.
  • Albert Jindra, Founder & Director at Celsi posted an amazing video his diving buddy Robert Buhrke filmed underwater at Innovators on The Reef. Check it out here. 

I finish off this blog post by sharing my own word acronym inspired by Yazzyg.

D – Dare
R –  Rewarding
E –  Envision
A –  Achieve
M – Meaningful

Dare to imagine the impossible. Live a Rewarding and fulfilling life. Envision the future and work hard to Achieve your goals. Create a Meaningful impact on the world and never stop dreaming.

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