Shut up and just get on with it!


Disclaimer: The structure of this blog post could get a bit higgledy piggledy as I struggle to contain my irritation!

Over the last few months I have noticed the frustrated clarion call of ‘enough talk, more action’ from all across Leeds. There’s something happening, there’s dissatisfaction in the air, a disruptive time I’m told, a chance to seize the day? Why am I taking this word ‘action’ quite so seriously? Well in part because I think people who use it, are not entirely sure of what they want, but they do have  a sense of wanting something, and partly because they clamour for it and don’t recognise the different ways in which action/change is actually happening!

Here’s a bit more personal insight if you can be bothered to read it, if not, I understand, you are too busy doing and changing the world.

I often wonder, as does my husband, what drives me, to create and sustain this website. Strike that, not just the website, that was always part of a much bigger picture, what drives me to want to address the crying lack of connectivity and community I saw (18 months back)  in Leeds as a result of my work in both the creative and corporate sectors. I am no marketeer, I am a citizen, yet when involved in my day job I heard people saying there was nothing worth staying after 6pm for in Leeds I was perplexed.

I still am!

Is there nothing happening in Leeds?

Of course there is there’s loads happening. Okay then why doesn’t everyone know about it? Well they know about the big stuff, like Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Northern Ballet, & Harewood House etc, because those fine institutions have budget and expertise to support the quality of their projects…but what about the stuff that you frequently missed because it came and went, but sounded pretty cool?

Was it a lack of quality events? Was it a lack of marketing know how, or something in between? ie ambition, vision, collaboration (see this blog post for that question).

So some questions unfurled for me: Do the people of Leeds actually get what they deserve, are they desiring more than is on offer? Do they need to be made aware of what is happening? How can those with meagre budgets involved in the creating, be heard? When they are heard what are they communicating and to whom? This is by no means intended to slight the activities of people already marketing Leeds by the way!

Honestly when I started the blog 18 months ago  I had been finding a lot of very creative clever talented people talking in goobledy gook,  with rubbish copy, images, and no good reason for anyone (other than their parents) to give a damn about their endeavours. Some could not tell a story, they seemed to want recognition, but were hazy as to whom they wanted it from, they seemed happy if they could fill a room with the same faces over and over again! Well fair play if you want to play with your mates, but those same mates are as penniless, and drink all your warm wine. Actually to be fair that’s representative of a minority, the majority I came across were clever, talented etc, but struggling to do a day job to support their passion, or recognised their skills and realised reaching a wider public was something they needed support with. Even those who were involved in arts/cultural marketing for a living seemed to find it difficult to equate real life with doing something cultural.

So out of this came the idea that there were great writers, pr people, savvy social media types, who would gladly rub shoulders amongst exciting talented creative people, and give their advice, support and cheerlead. Hence Cultural Conversations. Is that ACTION or just hot air? Well I’m going to need a few testimonials from people here, who can convince you cyncial lot that conversations, developing strong relationships based on trust and mutuality take time. And whilst we are on the subject, what’s wrong with a bit of pointless fun. See Phil Kirby’s post for more on that.

Okay so you may say, a few ventures are starting now, relationships are developing, they still don’t yet pay the wages, but it’s early days, what some might call sweat capital! Every conversation event we have leads us to identify the next course of action to help bring collaborators together. We’re aware next we need to bring together the people who can help the passionate to realise their ambitions in a way that benefits their visions and goals. Are they funders, coaches, pr whizzes, marketeers, developers of  new funding models such as sponsume, connectors between the idealists and pragmatists, CSR leaders…we can all do the finding to help us all move forward.

We also want to have an ‘action research’ event around some bloody big creative dreams happening here in Leeds, what do those look like, how can we make them come to life, and who can play their part in having great fun animating the city.

So next time you think of  bloggers, tweeters, whoever’s as mere gasbags, think about the times we say great stuff about new talent, help put bums on seats, or even create events  (out of our own pockets, sweat, misery etc).

Next time you find yourself  saying ‘enough talk, not enough action’, show me what you’ve done recently, or tell me what action would realise for you? Maybe we do have something in common? Maybe it’s a language/communication barrier that stops us from engaging, or maybe we don’t trust each other yet?

Have a heart and think how long it takes to curate a blog, to discover  talent, to spread the word about it. There’s still quite a bit of wheat and chaf to mulch! Isn’t what we bloggers/tweeters etc are doing every bit as creative as what ‘doers’ are doing?

PS. It takes more than sticking a blog up on the internet to help people find it…developing a database, nurturing relationships with readers, thinking up interesting articles, finding and developing great bloggers, search engine what do you call it, competition management…and that’s just because…yeah actually why do I do it?


  1. You and your network/blog are one of the most powerful actors I know in the city. Building relationships, social capital,collaborations and developing quality products and decent audiences.

    It is just tragic that those responsible for ‘developing an enterprise culture’ think that the only way to do this is to run business planning workshops and to urge people to ‘start a business’.

    Next stage is for all of us to learn how to find people who can do stuff that we can’t and to collaborate with them effectively to create real value. I still see too many people collaborating with other people that have the same or similar skillsets and see the world in very similar ways. It is when a great artist meets a great marketer and someone who really understands how money works that exciting things start to happen.

    Ad just remember that no great endeavour ever started with a business plan. They all start with a conversation.

  2. You work proper hard Emma, you should be be really proud of what you’ve done here, and stuff it if people prefer to moan. Like you say, building relationships is a skill, and a time consuming one at that, and it saddens me when people don’t see the value in that and are happy in their own little (stifling?) bubble. You’re an inspiration! What would “do-ers” be without people to spread the word?

  3. I’ve been reading the recent round of post about ‘what’s up with Leeds’ etc. Personally Culture Vulture, Templeworks etc.. certainly seem to be bringing life and community to the things I’m involved in. 18 months is no time at all, and there’s no specified date in the future when everything will be done – cultural development is ongoing.

    The people I’ve met, really as a result of Twitter, CV, Templeworks, involvement through work and play all look like a big bunch of do-ers to me. The talk does drive connections and those connections will create collaborations and I think transform the cultural landscape of our city.

    To be honest I think the frustrations you hear are good, they’re a sign of progress, and I think they’re happening precisely because as a city our culture IS progressing, not stagnating.

    Keep it up everybody. LIKE.

  4. I second all that. You are an inspiration and literally everyone I know values and appreciates your work. No-one could accuse you of sitting on your hands, moaning, and doing nothing. The places where people can find kindred spirits, share and spread ideas etc, are the seedbeds of great works…great action even.

  5. Thanks to the lovely votes of confidence! How ungrateful I’ll now sound when I say, as do-ers the lot of you I would expect you to be first amongst the people who recognize the passions that drive us who knows where. What with Innovation Lab, Progress School, Experience Leeds etc you are up there with the actionistas!

    What about those people who don’t feel able to comment, for whatever reason, they strongly disagree, think I’m talking rubbish, don’t feel part of the party? Is it because they are not frustrated and think everything is hunky dory, or because it’s too scary to articulate half formed thoughts on a blog? (As mine all are)Or don’t give a damn?

    I ramble, inanely! See we can all get on a blog and talk rubbish, why not give it a go, that’s a form of action

  6. ……..just get on with it’ were the words I received from @msmarmitelover when I contacted her many months ago about doing an Underground Tea Room. I wanted to know what the legalities of it were. But sometimes just getting on with it is not enough.

    I remember hearing someone say at a Cultural Conversational that they never finish anything, because they are a starter,an ideas person and not a finisher. We can all have great ideas. I have ideas,lots of them and attending the Cultural Conversationals enable me to put some of those ideas into action.

    Sometimes a bold statement like ‘just get on with it’ is all we need to get us over that first hurdle. But there are times when we need a helping hand. Not only to get us over the first hurdle but the second and beyond. This is where you come into it Emma.

    Your introductions, collaborations, meeting of like-minded people as in the CV conversationals are a catalyst to get us moving.There are bound to be times when, for some people, it isn’t enough, or it isn’t what they are looking for. You will never please everyone.

    Social media such as Twitter,CV,and gatherings such as BettaKultcha and CVSM and many more all play their part to great effect in spreading the word and coming into contact with some very interesting people.

    But for those of us who are at a ‘cross roads’ with some of our ideas,due to lack of skills etc, we also need someone to look at them and say… ‘this is the way to go. Let me help you’.

    Keep up the good work Emma.I for one am grateful for those CV conversationals, and look forward to attending many more.

    1. Thanks Lynn! I am a get on with it type of person too! You have been a source of wisdom for me these last months, and have helped keep me sane at times!
      You are also great fun, and I love the speed in which you not only have an idea but realise it within an hour it seems, there is no stopping you, and why should there be?

      I think my post came over as a bit ‘poor me’ it’s not really how I feel…I just get confused by the distinction people make when they say ‘less talk more action’ Sometimes I think the relentless pace to ‘do’ as seen all across the city has resulted in some stupid decision making, so caught in the moment, so desirous to grow, to create wealth, that the time to play, reflect, connect is not considered as important!

      So here endeth my sermon! Good night and bless you for your baking goodness

      1. And thank you too Emma. 🙂

        Although, I do get carried away with some of my ideas. Reigning myself in is very difficult. I often find myself chomping at the bit to get going.

  7. I think you have to remember here Emma, that not everyone mentions what they have achieved. What have I done? Well I have shown a group of bloggers, on three occasions around the city of Leeds, who have shared their experiences with other people on Twitter and their own blogs. I have organised a TweetUp in Pudsey (possibly the first one? Not sure) for the 24 October.

    I have also shared my knowledge with a number of local businesses, something that I love doing because I have experiences I want to share. Finally, I am in the early stages of organising an event in Leeds for 2011, so plenty of action here in the background at My Life in Leeds HQ! 🙂

    There, I’ve blown my own trumpet, something I dislike doing to keep the Ego intact. So, yes, I have said on numerous occasions, less talk, more action!!

    1. Darren I truly respect you, as a fellow blogger and events person! Therefore well done for stepping into the ring and giving me a right hook!
      As you surmised your comment last night crystalised some of my thinking, but please let me state that your ‘less talk more action’ was the last (but one comment) not personally directed at me, that I had seen recently, that made me itch.
      The truth is I just don’t understand what people, actually mean, when they say it! Seriously? You talk, that’s your way to get people interested in your venture, you are building relationships! Is that not action? You act, you put n an event, then at the event, what do people do? They talk? They rant? So what would less talk achieve, what more action look like? What do YOU want to see change?
      I’m directing these questions at you, but to be fair, they are directed at a great many people I hear bemoan a lack of action!
      We are not in competition with each other just in case you feel that we are. I think the great wealth of blogs developing within the City demonstrate action, civic pride, a desire to connect, and communicate.
      Should we not even be having this conversation?

      1. Good questions Emma.

        Sometimes it’s easier to stay stuff and not back them up. So, let me explain what I mean. I obviously spend way too much time on Twitter, but I see a lot of talk people meeting up with people, and they’ve had a meetings to plan this, that, and the other, but very rarely do you see something come out of them.

        You mention competition. There isn’t any competition – we are all working on the same goal, to promote our home city (and let’s be honest, make some money!) – if I was worried about competition I wouldn’t be selling subscriptions to the Leeds guide or, promoting events organised by Welcome to Yorkshire and Marketing Leeds. What’s the difference between what they do and I do? Nothing.

        I recently had an email from Geoff who runs and I am hesitant in linking to his forum on my homepage, because, obviously, I want people to read my content, book hotels, concert tickets, because that is how I make revenue.

        My decision on that hasn’t changed, but, I did sleep on it and realise that I want people to promote my guide, so I should do the decent thing and do likewise, so I am coming up with ideas on how this can happen.

        What I am trying to say in a roundabout bloody way, is that we sometimes need to stop being precious about our own community and help promote others (I am not suggesting you are not doing that Emma!!!). The fact that neither Welcome to Yorkshire or Marketing Leeds promote Leeds blogs and guides like mine, is for another debate 😉

        Hat off to the likes of Guardian Leeds and the Leeds Guide who are promoting local blogs and websites. Now I’m babbling on so I’m going to go 🙂

  8. Can’t help thinking that all the notion of ‘enough talk, more action’ is a bit old school. I agree, the talking we do on and offline IS the action. Shouting for more action is a blunt stick and misses the point. I see platforms like Culture Vulture, Cultural Conversations and Bettakultcha as opportunities to form new and meaningful relationships, exchange ideas, create, innovate and most importantly a chance to do things differently. In that respect, I feel like I’ve never been more active.

  9. Hi Emma,
    Bit of a long time lurker, but thought it’s about time I stuck my head above the parapet.

    I am one of those who long thought that there wasn’t a lot going on in Leeds. And I speak as someone who works as a creative in a creative industry. As an initially cynical newcomer to social media – only on Twitter a few months, still not on Facebook nor plan to be – I’ve come to realise that I’ve had some really poor preconceptions about Leeds’s cultural life just based on my own ignorance. Twitter has completely revolutionised by understanding of what’s going on our city and it’s made me look at it through new eyes.

    And what I’m beginning to realise myself is that I’m not really engaged in the cultural life of the city. I’m merely a creative who happens to work here. Partly, that’s a result of working in the television industry – a more horrifically Londoncentric place at the best of times – and partly because I guess I’ve not considered what I do to necessarily be ‘useful’ to anywhere in particular. Don’t get me wrong, what I write I fight to set in Leeds (I’m working on a series now that we set in Leeds but is now filming, like so many things, in Manchester). But beyond that, I guess I’ve not considered having a ‘responsibility’ to contribute to Leeds.

    That view is rapidly changing and that’s partly as a result of wonderful work such as yours. Because I can see that I am part of a city with a cultural life and great people doing interesting work, and it’s really about time I got off my arse and started engaging with them.

    So. In short: what you do has directly inspired me. So there.
    Now I just actually have to turn those fine words into fine deeds…

Comments are closed.