The most inspiring weekend of my life – Anna Schaefer (University Innovation Fellows)

Together with James, Sarah and our faculty champion Gerasimos, we got the chance to represent Lancaster University at the 2019 Silicon Valley meetup for the University Innovation Fellows. We got to hear from incredibly inspiring speakers and take part in thought-provoking sessions at Google, Stanford University and Microsoft. Along with 300 fellows from all over the world, we learned about innovation, teamwork, creativity and how we can improve and innovate on our own campus.

Guest speaker Dan Klein taught us how to deliver more impactful presentations as leaders. We learned that leadership is about the ability to inspire and create change. It is important to listen and being able to shift your perspective whilst understanding what other people see, on top of being smart. Empathy, trust and feeling safe to take risks will lead to teams being more innovative and productive.

Another important message was that we should always embrace failure. When we fail, we learn. We have to step out of our comfort zone to try out new things and have the courage to take risks. Innovation is about taking risks and challenging the status quo. We all have the potential to make a difference. Even if we don’t have all the resources, we have to do the best we can with the materials available.

One of my favourite activities was a special rock, paper, scissors competition. Evey fellow turned to someone next to them and played the game. The person who lost, then became the winner’s biggest fan, cheering them on while they battled another winner. Every time someone won, everyone else would continue to follow the winner until there were only two players left who played the final battle with everyone cheering and chanting their names. This was a great ice-breaker but it also had a message. We need to support and empower each other and not be disappointed when we lose.

This meetup definitely was a life-changing experience. We all grew together in such a short time. We learned from each other, danced and laughed together.

I am grateful to be part of such an incredible community and to have met so many passionate and driven people who want to make a positive change. I want to say a huge thank you yo James and Sarah for being an amazing and supportive team, Gerasimos for being out great faculty champion, plus Simon and Amanda for enabling this project at Lancaster University.

I’m looking forward to work from the Work in Progress space together with the Enterprise Centre to implement my learnings at Lancaster.

Read Anna’s first Innovation Fellows blog here.