Me and YATM: a brief history

My discovery of You Are The Media came from a bit of a sliding doors moment. I started my business 2018 and attended an event organised by Creative England for entrepreneurs in the film industry. It wasn’t what my business is about but film making makes my heart sing, so I went. The room was full of local industry bods looking for collaborators and funding.

I was drawn to Boscombe based film makers Chris Musselwhite and Pete Hamblin of Treehouse Digital and we got chatting. They ran a networking event at their offices, so I went along. It was there I first met Trisha Lewis, who following a fabulous presentation she gave, I asked help me with my video presence. On another occasion Mark Masters gave a talk and although I was too intimidated to talk to him I liked what he had to say and I decided I’d go along to a YATM lunch club held at the Shelley Theatre.

The Shelley is an awe-inspiring space. Original to Mary and Percy Shelley’s house and built for them, I assume to impress their friends. It’s shabby chic and historically enigmatic.

My one and only picture at the cafe space at the Shelley. Jan 2019

I walked into an absolutely packed café area bustling with people chattering, sat at tables, and eating their lunch from a cardboard box. We listened to an invited speaker on a makeshift stage interviewed by Mark. I remember sitting on a table with John ‘the wire guy’ Jocham. All the familiar faces were there, Jake Moore, Justin Cohen, Gordon Fong, but at that time we were strangers.

Business networking was completely new to me at that point so showing up was outside of my comfort zone and took some courage but there was a buzz around the place, and it was a beautiful venue, so I went back, 2 or 3 times. Unfortunately, there was always so much going on it was difficult to get to talk to anybody, so I’d leave having not really engaged with anybody.

That changed in 2020 when we were all plunged into lockdown.  Mark in his wisdom (and need to stay connected) took the lunch club online and we met fortnightly. I started getting used to seeing people’s faces in their ‘Celebrity Squares’ on the screen. I got to know who they were and what they did, the ones that spoke up and the ones that just listened. To be honest, those meeting were a bit of a lifeline for me. We were all navigating our ‘new normal’ together and Mark and the community felt like a 4th emergency service. My keyworkers.

Then there was the learning. Mark drew people from all over the world to share their knowledge and experience. Joseph Jaffe, Trevor Young, Joe Pulizzi and more. They were happy to spend time with us. They appreciated what Mark was doing.

It was thanks to a conversation in one of the sessions with Joseph Jaffe and encouragement from Tracey Howes, Matt King, and Mark that I decided to start a podcast.

In April of 2021 there was a new initiative, The Month of Learning, apparently instigated by me (although I’m not sure how). An online learning platform, with speakers, a workbook and accountability groups, and where I really began to get to know individuals. We worked together in break out rooms and built connection.

That connection was was really important when in July 2021 at the Lighthouse in Poole we were back in person (The Shelley didn’t survive lockdown. So sad).

Trying to keep the spirit built on Zoom during lockdown alive, as well as the international connections, Mark organised a hybrid event. A live audience in the auditorium and a giant zoom screen full of faces behind.


Jon Burkhart, Jake and Fleur in limbo mode. July 2021

I personally loved it but speaking to energetic, firecracker speaker, Jon Burkhart afterwards (at the first in person after party I attended) he found it difficult to know which audience to direct his ‘performance’ to.

And wanting to give value to both audiences, the ones on the screen and the ones in the room, Mark also found the format difficult. Plus, his intention was to get more people in the auditorium but when given the option and with pandemic still at large people were happier to stay home.


There were a couple more attempts at the hybrid model but following a freak (but maybe serendipitous) power cut at the Regent Centre in Christchurch in December 2021, Mark said enough was enough.

The Snug in Christchurch after the power cut. Huddled around a laptop. The show must go on. Dec 2021

I say serendipitously because that power cut, I think, cemented the community. As we wondered the streets of Christchurch trying to find an alternative venue we bonded as a group, realising it wasn’t about the event, zoom screen, speakers etc, it was about the people. It might also have had something to do with the fact it was Christmas too and led to the 2nd ‘after party!’

That ‘failed’ event spawned Liam Tom’s fronting Quiz Nights and several other social meet ups and collaborations and leading to the first Creator Day in May 2022.


Members of the YATM community were on the stage sharing their stories knowledge and experience, including Sarah Townsend, Janine Combes, Jon Burkhart, Emily and Alan from Yellow Tuxedo and Ella Orr who’s talk I had the privileged to help shape. The ‘after party’ was at Delfino Lounge, where the fabulous Sarah Townsend managed to spill not one but two large and very cold glasses of Rose wine down my back. Very refreshing!

The Delfino played its part again at Creator Day last year. I’m not sure we’d be welcomed back. We pulled several tables together to seat at least 20 of us and then Jon Burkhart managed to convince Ella that Mark had made a bet she wouldn’t sing for her supper. Not only did she sing to the whole restaurant, but she stood on a chair to do it.

Of course, Creator Day 2023 was a triumph as expected. It began the evening before with the first Failed Nights event held at the Foundry in Poole. Matt Denyer’s initiative to celebrate career failures and the lessons learnt from them welcomed humorous and cautionary talks from Gus Bhandal, Janine Combes, and Lucy Whittington.

The following day Mark introduced a programme of fabulous speakers including Jason Miller, Anna Bravington and Chandy Green.

And for the first time I stepped on the stage to show the audience how to breathe!

Image Zelda de Hollander

Over the last couple of years, the lunch club has found new homes at Pi Pizza, in Poole and various venues in Bath, completed several world record attempts, collaborated with John Espiran’s Espresso+ community, and welcomed overseas visitors, the authors and marketing legends, Mark Schaefer and Trevor Young to the seaside. Marks Creator Lab collaboration with Bournemouth and Poole College has seen 3 graduations and the Creator Day event has gone from strength to strength. This year seeing the audience swell to 200. I had to queue to get in!

Plus, Oli Perron’s catering, Zelda’s camera work and the Janine Combes Photo Booth have become legendary.

Posing for the Janine Coombes (far left) photo booth. Image by Zelda De Hollander

Creator Day 2024 has been special for many reasons. From Matt King opening proceedings by trying to run across the stage in his surgical boot and sunglasses, to his hilarious video collaboration with John Jocham. From the world record attempt for the most hugs in a minute with Alix King to me falling flat on my face in front of 200 people. From the Bon Jovi sing-along (Ella on lead vocals) to the ‘last man standing’ after party at The Drift! Classic YATM!

Me speaking at Failed Nights at the Foundry


The icing on the cake for me this year though was to be invited to share my career lowlights to the Failed Nights audience and give an energising wake up call to the audience from the main stage.





Shelley Rostlund. Be More You, More of the Time

But the cherry on top was to be in the front row to watch (and support) the lovely Shelley Rostlund as she delivered her 20-minute talk, Be More You, More of The Time.

I worked with her over several months shaping the content and getting Shelley to a place where she didn’t fear ‘the bobbing heads beyond the lights’ and the ‘blank trauma’ when she came off stage. She did an amazing job engaging and educating the audience with her vulnerability and honesty. Proud mummy moment!

All of the speakers were truly remarkable but for me the biggest gongs must go to the YATM’ers that step up every year and make this community unique. Matt, Gordon, Liam, John, Justin and the rest.

This is not networking in a conventional sense. No one tries to sell anything to anyone. However, just by being there, I have collaborated with many of the community. Ella and Shelley as speaking clients, Christophe Stourton, a fabulous business (and life!) coach, and Janine Coombes sales advice to mention but a few. Many of the community have also been podcast guests for me and me for them.

YOU Are The Media is community at its best, willing to share and show love and support to those around them. Perfectly illustrated for me by the Speak Like a Speaker Club I run. John Jocham suggested I start it and although open to all, members of the community have been there every single month, supporting me and each other.

What started as networking evolved into a community and has transcended into friendship!

Anything transactional is a by-product of the trust created and facilitated by Mark and the community.


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