Happy New Year !
Ive been on or hosted 256 meet ups with Shy London since my first one on December 19th 2009. Thats 64 a year, or more than one a week for four years. I don’t regret one minute of that time and Ive met some fantastic people.
Apart from the great people Ive met its improved my self esteem and confidence, Im convinced its also helped me progress at work for those reasons. Of course the reason for the group is to help people with social anxiety and I hope that you are getting something good from the group. I do get some great feedback from group members and I always really appreciate any feedback ( good or bad ).
So the moral of the story is that giving your time to help others is good for you. As well as helping others it makes you feel better about yourself, you get to meet new people, have new experiences and develop new skills. Thats not just me saying that, several speakers spoke about the fact that giving your time to a good cause really does improve your self esteem.
At the start of 2013 we had around 800 members, now we have around 1,200, a growth of fifty percent. Of course its easy to attach unwarranted importance to the membership count but what really matters is Active members. We have around 400 Active members.
I do plan to trim Shy London of repeated no shows so that hosts can be more confident when planning meet ups. I don’t want to penalise people who occasionally don’t come because of last minute anxiety. All you have to do to avoid being marked as a no show is to text the host to say you can’t come, before the meet up starts.
So the purpose of this email is for me to recollect on Shy London in 2013 and look forward into 2014 and beyond. This will be a recollection of my own experiences, I very much welcome if anyone else, especially other hosts want to send me their recollections to publish, their thoughts. Shy London organisation is much more than just me, but I can only write about my experiences. Plus this was supposed to be a email newsletter not a novel !
I can also hand out accounts to people who want to create the occasional blog post.
Shy London had a series of talks in 2013. By top selling self help book authors and by relationship experts. Priya Tourkow, Hayley Quinn, Matt Kendall, Jamie Smart, Robert Kelsey. All gave their time for free to us in 2013. Thanks to everyone that supported this new type of meet up.
Our very first talk was by Matt Kendall. I met Matt at interesting talks. This is a excellent meet up group that runs regular talks in central London. Matt has a no bullshit approach to self improvement and I had some concerns on how this would work with Shy London members. However I needn’t have worried, Matts talk was well attended and very well reviewed. I don’t think he actually spoke the lines “the reason you feel depressed is because your life is shit” but that was the kind of no nonsense, straight forward advice given with lots of practical tips.
The biggest talk of 2013 was the most well attended meet up of the year. Forty five people came to hear Hayley Quinn talk on the subject of Social Confidence and Social Freedom at a very plush venue next to Waterloo station. There was even a grand piano on the stage !
I must admit that before meeting and listening to Hayley I wasn’t sure what to make of the assertion that she used to be a shy and socially awkward girl. How to reconcile that against her current online and media presence as a liberated, sexually and socially confident woman who teaches people about dating, social confidence and PUA. However if you came to either of Hayleys talks where she shared personal details of her old and current life you will have realised that Hayley is authentic and has a lot of empathy with and practical information for shy and socially anxious people. For a flavour of Hayleys talks look on our blog : http://shylondon.net/main/?s=hayley+quinn
Hayley is also the only person so far to come back and deliver a second talk, when she gave a talk on handling confrontation.
Jamie Smart is an internationally renowned writer, speaker, coach and consultant. I was very excited when Jamie agreed to speak at a exclusive Shy London event. http://shylondon.net/main/?s=jamie+smart . Jamie gave a great talk and was a true professional when a steel band group ( of eight year olds ) enthusiastically started playing in the room directly underneath us. This was pretty embarrassing and stressful for me and Jamie could easily have stopped his talk and got angry. But he didn’t, he carried on and even did a little dancing to the very loud band under our feet. Jamie even came down to the pub with us afterwards and I had the chance to chat with him.
Robert Kelsey was another huge catch for Shy London. Lee saved the day by bringing a digital projector with him for Roberts slides and setting it up. Roberts was a fast paced, packed talk on overcoming insecurities. One piece of evidence on how well the talk was received was that Robert very quickly sold all his books he had brought along and wished he had brought more with him !
Priya Tourkow gave the last Shy London talk of 2013, based around the topic of dating, with her husband Bob. Priya is a qualified expert on relationship and psychosexual therapy with many years experience. So it’s perhaps no surprise that Priya was able to establish such a positive, engaged, fun and explorative atmosphere in the room.
I know that Bob has worked on communications technology on events as big as Olympic games opening ceremonies. So it was perhaps no surprise that this talk should have the best technical setup ! Speakers played relaxing background music at appropriate times to make people more comfortable trying exercises. Priya was able to walk about the room in exercises with a radio microphone and engage with people even as she led the exercises.
If you couldn’t make Priyas talk you missed something special. As well as lots of really practical information there were exercises to engage you.
Shy London also had two speed dating events in 2013. This was another new exploration for us. The events were extremely well attended, in a fantastic romantic Central London venue and we had lots of matches which I hope led to some dates in 2013.
They were also stressful, both for me and Lizzie and for some of the attendees. It was stressful to host because so many people arrived all within a very short time, but thats was OK, everything was prepared. It was mainly stressful because some of you just couldn’t bring yourself to actually participate when here and I felt bad that I wasn’t able to help those people relax more. If we run another speed dating event in 2014, we will think hard about ways to reduce the stress, including a new system of rotation which reduces stress for people. Its possible we would even get somebody else to help lead the event.
A group of us went to Margate for the day in the summer. It was a bit chilly and the group decision was, first stop Primark, for some warmer clothes ! One highlight was a visit to some underground caves covered in sea shells. Barry came and it happened to be his fiftieth birthday. We ended the day in a local pub and it proved to be a great choice. A stranger in the pub found out it was Barrys fiftieth birthday and went across the road to buy Barry a huge handmade chocolate cake which we all had a slice of ! The evening ended with most of us dancing to the pub jukebox, with the encouragement of some very lively women who were also visiting Margate for the day.
This years Shy London Christmas event was the fourth one me and Lizzie have hosted. The day was split into three meet ups. A Christmas lights walk, a meal at Pizza Express bankside, drinks at a pub. This all went smoothly apart from you may have notice the pace of the walk gradually got faster and faster as we tried to get to Pizza Express in time for our booking !
I created a website for Shy London in 2013. Something Ive meant to get around to for a while. It was fun learning how to do this, as Ive never created a self hosted WordPress site before or commissioned a video. If you haven’t seen it have a look at :http://shylondon.net
Currently I have to focus on personal stuff, mainly buying a house, as well as expecting to be busy with work this year. ( my day job is in IT ) The plan is to move outside of London but me and Lizzie will still commute into London every day. So I expect to run less meet ups in 2014. Therefore the character of shy london will be increasingly set by hosts other than me and Lizzie. Thats you guys ! if you like Shy London and want to keep it vibrant please let me know and I can make you a host on the site.
A big thanks if you RSVPd yes to one or more meet ups and came along.
A huge thanks if you hosted a meet up for the group. As you no doubt appreciate there is more work, preparation and risk to this than meets the eye. Risk that lots of people will flake out, risk that you will have to plan on your feet due to some unforeseen eventuality. Sometimes you are risking your own money as well, e.g. on the bet that enough people will attend. But there are also some huge benefits aside from those to the shy london group. You hopefully find your self esteem increasing and your confidence. People look up to you because you took time out to host something. You may gradually find yourself stretching what you host and therefore learning new skills as well.
So if anyone wants to try hosting please let me know.
I plan to host less things myself in 2014. Having said that I’m struggling to stop myself scheduling stuff 🙂 I will be hosting some stuff myself and Lizzie will also want to do the same. Just less meet ups, especially early in 2014.
Meetups I do want to schedule include :
– Talks, including one given by myself, just a lot more spaced out ( in time ! ) than in 2013
– coffees. I enjoy meeting shy Londoners and the venue is only twenty minutes or so from home ( until I move ! )
– Social Anxiety Workshops / Support Groups. Probably just not at the start of the year.
– Social Challenges by text message ( with people feeding back on progress to support each other during the days this runs for )
Happy New Year, only one person is responsible to make 2014 the year you want, and that’s you !