Da Vinci celebrates World Escape Day

World Escape Day 2015: Johannesburg – Celebrating South Africa’s Culture of Entrepreneurs

Johannesburg joined 20 other cities around the globe on Wednesday, 24 September for World Escape Day. The aim, to take small steps to have a more fulfilling career and lead more meaningful lives. World Escape Day was an opportunity to connect, collaborate and inspire each other to escape from the City and follow our dreams. Whatever they might be.

As the event coincided with National Heritage Day, we incorporated a traditional “braai”, and many celebrated by wearing bright colours and aspects of traditional South African wear. The vivid colours added to the relaxed atmosphere on an already bright and sunny day, where people sat around in an open garden setting, informally sharing their own stories and plans to escape.

The event was hosted at The Da Vinci Institute, a local leader in managerial leadership education. The day was facilitated by Henra Mayer, CEO of Innocentrix and she welcomed all with a background to World Escape Day where after attendees watched a short introductory video by Dom Jackman co-founder of Escape the City. She then set the scene by talking about the power of collaboration, the genius of Africa, the need for support for small businesses and encouraged the audience to dream big, make a difference and create their own futures.

The stage was then opened to three inspirational stories from remarkable locals who shared their personal journeys:

The first speaker, Bandile Dlabantu, was a successful bio-scientist with 13 years of industry experience under his belt, when he decided that he needed to escape. He spoke about the “Top 5 lessons learned by an entrepreneur”. Having an entrepreneurial spirit from early on in his career, Bandile set out to start Khepri Innovations, a bio-conversion company with an innovative strategy to convert bio-waste into other, usable products. Bandile explained that, for him, starting his own business was the realisation of a dream – a chance to create change in his life as well as in South Africa. With an inspiring recollection of his entrepreneurial journey, including failures and success, Bandile told the audience that starting a business is hard work, requiring diligence and structure, “A business is built by hands, not pitches” and “structured dreaming will get you there”, said Bandile. But through all the work comes an unmatched satisfaction, the possibility to take your life into your own hands, and to create opportunities for others to do the same.

Bandile was followed by speaker Odwa Gulwa, a medical doctor, who is in the process of publishing a book called “Stop working: Get wealthy”. He spoke on “Why escape is a good idea”. Odwa explained how wealth is not necessarily materialistic or measured in money, rather, it is the personal feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction. He stated that people are often placed in a box – go to school, get a job, have kids, retire – which causes us to stop believing in our own dreams. His book is meant to inspire people to find their true passions, and not merely do what others tell them. Odwa encouraged the audience to go out, to escape, to live their dreams, and ultimately create a fulfilling life for themselves.

The final speaker, Kekeletso Khena, spoke about “overcoming fear of failure and taking the leap into your future”. Kekeletso shared a moving story about her life, explaining that when we are afraid to take the next step, we know we are in the right place, as fear shows that we are challenging ourselves and stepping out of our own comfort zones, which is where all the magic happens. Kekeletso followed her own dreams, even directing two short films, and is now a successful and independent social entrepreneur working to bridge the gap between public and private businesses.

After the three sessions from the speakers, the stage was opened for attendees of World Escape Day to “grab the mic” and share their own stories in an effort to create collaboration. This turned into the most inspiring aspect of the day – listening to people’s escape stories and plans. A lot of detail was shared by people from different walks of life perusing their own passions and dreams. The sharing prompted a variety of networking and collaborative discussions. People shared thoughts on their businesses, had ideas for collaboration, identified next steps and swapped a large amount of contact details to and fro. Some instant opportunities were identified and more than one shout of excitement was heard!

World Escape Day Johannesburg turned out to be a great celebration of passion with lots of inspiration and planning of next steps to achieve dreams. Taking small steps were at the centre of the conversation and all agreed that we are what we repeatedly do. Many a commitment was made to encourage each other to take action, and plans for the next gathering was discussed.

This was an opportunity to come together and next to the braai fire, under shady trees, share our passions, acknowledge our potential, and collaborate to enact an escape from unfulfilling working environments. The event attendance was an inspiring collective of individuals who wanted to make a difference, who wanted to create a fulfilling future for themselves and those around them and who wanted to prove that happiness and life, is what you make it!

World Escape Day is an internationally hosted event, focused on meeting other, local Escape members for a day of inspiration, conversation and action to help you in your pursuit of more meaningful work. World Escape Day 2015 was hosted on 24 September, simultaneously in 20 different cities from around the globe. The city of Johannesburg joined London, Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and others in locally hosting this collaborative event. Innocentrix was honoured to be able to facilitate this event and acted as local volunteer organiser, to bring it to Johannesburg.

World Escape Day is part of Escape The City . Escape The City believes that today’s corporate environment is not ideal for many individuals, who ultimately end up feeling unsatisfied and frustrated within their corporate positions. To assist people in following their passions and finding more rewarding and fulfilling occupations, events like World Escape Day are created to establish a community of entrepreneurs and small businesses who can aid and support each other in perusing their dreams. Here a community of individuals who are building their careers on their own terms can be formed. These events are structured to advance collaboration between those looking to advance their own entrepreneurial dreams and create a fulfilling work environment, no matter the industry.