Who are you and what do you do?
Hi! I'm Kira - writer, communication designer and entrepreneur, but first and foremost a kind and reliable person. For the past 2.5 years my work has focused on how we as a society and individually look at failure. This work was based on a set of notions:
(a) If we as individuals learn to deal with failure in an intelligent and confident way, this will open up big potential for personal growth.
(b) If we as a society redefine what it means to fail, we can create a social environment in which it will be far more or easy to become an entrepreneur and to be oneself.
(c) Failure doesn't make a person inferior, nor success a person superior. We wanted to make a democratic point: we are equal, no matter how high on the social ladder we stand.
Concretely, I co-founded the consultancy antiheroes.org and FuckUp Nights Brussels and wrote the book 'Durf falen'. Antiheroes brings workshops and events to organisations who want to create a culture more open to failure. FuckUp Nights Brussels is a monthly event where for the past two years 3-4 people per month got on stage to tell the story of their biggest professional failure. Because of the event's big (and ironic) success of attracting 200-250 people each month, Lannoo proposed me to write a book on the topic, which was published in June 2016.
I still find it hugely satisfying to hear someone say that my work has helped them overcome fear or embarrassment and allowed them to take a much broader look at what failure and success mean.
What competences would make you a good Generation T?
My most important professionals competences are communicating complicated topics in simple ways and making things happen. You can count always count on me to transmit a message to a small or large audience. I've convinced potential clients by writing them poems and have dared an EU DG-director into talking about her biggest failure on FuckUp Night: whatever gets the job done.
My most valued interpersonal skills are being a good listener, yet generally not caring at all what people think. I care about people, their feelings, ideas, motivations and am always happy to shut up and let someone else do the talking. But I never lay awake thinking about what people think of me. I feel this combo of personality traits allows me to be open minded, well connected to the people around me and highly creative in my work.
That said, I'm having a hard time defining my visions on what this world should look like and how we will get there. I've been working on my own project for 2.5 years now, and so many things I as a teenager & student thought were black-and-white, have turned out many shades of grey. I think it will take me a couple more years to define clear visions and ideas about how society should transit into more sustainable times. For now, I'm mostly a listener and a supporting force for the ideas of others.
Give specific example(s) on how your projects or activities make a difference and initiate change.
As mentioned above, I'm a co-founder of Antiheroes and FuckUp Nights Brussels. Antiheroes has helped about 15 organisations and incubators to take on a more open attitude towards failure, by organizing workshops and events.
FuckUp Nights Brussels has given more than 60 people the opportunity to bring the story of their biggest professional failure on stage, and about 2500 people the opportunity to come listen to these stories, and to ask questions. This impact was made even bigger by the ample media coverage and the fact that FuckUp Nights are now also being organized in Hasselt, Antwerp and Ghent. We have many times heard the phrase 'even hearing about the existence of FuckUp Nights has made it easier for me to accept failure'.
Furthermore, I've written and published the book 'Durf falen', which consists of 24 short, this-shit-happened-in-real-life stories of professional failure, supplemented with advise from experts. On the occasion of this book, I've given many keynotes and lectures.
Overall I think the workshops, events, book and keynotes mean that I've been doing a good job at helping people feel more confident in the face of failure, and live their life the way they want to.
Who inspired you? What made you first passionate about sustainability?
My mother, really. I was raised to always take responsibility for what I do, to take others into consideration and to take good care of the planet. I remember the day my kindergarten teacher explained our class we had to start recycling paper and me thinking she was a bit silly, because I was convinced everyone was already recycling everything.