You probably had no idea, but imposter syndrome has been keeping me from being really open with you. For a lot of people my ideas seem crazy, or, they see me as naive; that there's no way I'll ever be able to accomplish what I set my mind to. But the reality is that I'm doing it because I believe. I believe we can make a difference. That THU and this tribe can be a catalyst and driving factor for change. So, where does imposter syndrome fit in? I know that what we're doing at THU is important, but I never feel like I'm doing enough, or doing it well enough. So I keep my thoughts to myself. But I realize now that in order to make a difference, I need to put it all out there. That I can't be afraid to share my dreams, my vision, why we're doing things and the bigger picture - the bigger goals we're looking to achieve...and also the struggles along the way. Here's the beginning of that, starting with the latest installment of Sony Talent League. The first steps of me being more open with you about all of it.
Our collaboration with Sony wasn't born out of nowhere. We built that relationship over years, getting to know each other, doing smaller gatherings, them seeing what we do and why; them sending people (without us even knowing!) to the Main Event to experience firsthand what makes our Tribe and approach unique. It's only after all that that Sony joined us. Because they saw THU as a partner who believes in creators. Because that's something that's important to them as well. And something they want to help grow. Having a partner who believes in and trusts you makes all the difference.
Together, we noticed problems in the industry - a lack of new ideas and new blood and we wanted to help solve these. How do we encourage young creators to share their ideas? How do we reach out to those who are creative, but are also shy or unsure? And how can we best nurture and support them and their ideas? We considered a lot of different approaches and looked at the initiatives THU already had in place. And I realized that in order to achieve what we were looking for, we needed to build something new from scratch. We had to craft something that spoke to the underdogs, where creators could gain both knowledge and confidence, be pushed outside their comfort zones, and finally have the support to bring their ideas to life.
Funny thing, the initial prize award, that was my idea. At the time, I thought attaching a monetary prize would be the best way to get people to participate, the best way to encourage those who were too afraid, to make the leap of faith and apply. But in reality, as I learned, that didn't work at all. The fear was even stronger than I imagined. Society, the media, schools, they all see the problem, but what are they doing to help solve it...When we approached the media telling them about what we were working on, and that we wanted to talk about imposter syndrome and fear of failure, we were told that wasn't newsworthy. I guess that's the kind of thing people know about but no one really wants to talk about or understand. That's the kind of thing we face at THU. Sometimes it feels like we're alone. But we keep going because we know it's important, that it's still a problem that needs solving.
And we're always learning. In 2020, after 8 months of work, the first edition of Talent League was born. We were new to it and I'll be honest, there were a lot of important lessons learned along the way. The two biggest ones: that it's harder to reach our target audience of shy introverts than we thought, and that what we thought young creators needed wasn't necessarily right.
For example, hearing from the participants last year, we realized that money wasn't what got them to apply and wasn't what they valued most from the experience. The mentorship itself, the chance to interact with that caliber of talented creatives, get tailored guidance, make lasting connections in that way, and pitch to people in the industry, that was what was most impactful. And that instead of money at the end, what people really wanted was the opportunity to get their projects in front of investors and get advice firsthand on how they could make their projects and pitches more viable. This year, we've done just that, keeping the financial subsidy during the mentorship, but replacing a monetary final prize with the opportunity to pitch to investors and leaders in the field.
And after talking with hundreds of creators in the first edition, it became clear that lack of confidence was the biggest thing holding people back from applying. Fear of being judged, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough. In a world where failing is seen as a bad thing, it's no surprise that young creators are afraid to put themselves out there. You probably have no idea, but in 2013 I invited investors to come to the THU Main Event to hear project pitches, and it was a complete flop. Nearly no one showed up to pitch. We saw that with the first edition of Talent League as well...so many submissions were started but were left incomplete.
So, what's holding creators back? What struggles internal or otherwise are keeping people from their true potential? We need your help to better understand that. We don't have all those answers yet, but we want to figure it out. We want to be part of the solution, giving people a safe space where they feel supported. Because even if the world is telling you that you're not good enough and that your ideas will never become a reality, through this challenge we want to show you that's a lie. That making things happen is possible if you trust yourself and try.
And I get it. Even the word "challenge" can be scary. I can relate. When I was young, and even past that, I didn't apply to anything that had the word "challenge" or "competition" in it, because I didn't want to be judged. But there's no easy way to solve that. It's not fair to change the name of the initiative, because there's a selection process involved (to make an impact, there has to be, in order to focus efforts). But maybe it's a question of more clearly defining what we mean by challenge in this case. The answer is simple: the challenge is to learn.
In a society that's becoming more disconnected and sadly, more individualistic, I really believe Talent League provides something unique: a group of people who support you and actually care about your success. These mentors are an extension of our mission, aligned with wanting to better understand, grow and nurture the next generation of creators.
In all honesty, I wish I had that when I was first starting out. I didn't, unfortunately, but at least I can help give back now and provide that to others. And I'm all for creators. The rights of the project you create stay with you.
And this is just the beginning. Our mission to help a new generation of creators is just starting and we know there's still a lot to be done. Changing mentalities takes time. But you've got to keep at it. In this second edition we know we will continue to make mistakes, but that's ok. Just like with you, what's most important is to continue to learn from them and improve. To talk about what's happening, share, and grow. Together.