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Mark Fowlestone

ElvisFest 2017 - a little less conversation, a little more action


ElvisFest is the brainchild of organisational culture change guru Chris Barez-Brown of “Upping your Elvis” fame. It’s an annual cacophony of creativity that aims to escape the digital matrix and just bring amazing people together so they can learn from each other and live a bit more extraordinarily. It has everything to spark the imagination – music, talks, workshops and ace local food and drink.

I was invited down to Chris’s palatial base in Lyme Regis and allowed to offer a bit of stimulus on a subject I love – getting disconnected! I’d never given a talk in a moon pit, tree house, forest clearing or tepee before, so just the prospect had me buzzing.

My slot was sandwiched in and around what turned out to be some epic sessions from Matthew Shaw, “Free Thinker” at Lush Cosmetics; Chris Goldson, Director of Commercial Marketing at ITV; Gill Meller, author and previous head chef at River Cottage; Rob Corbett, Vintner at Castlewood Vineyard; and Anna and Cal (ex MD of the Nike Foundation) of Shine for Women. Importantly it was expressed that quickly after my session we would be getting down and dirty at the gin bar that had been popped up and hidden away at the base of the big oak – well that’s good as I’m actually up for anything to be honest.

Burning Love

ElvisFest really gets you in a very good place indeed. It gives you the energy and skills to release the inner ace version of yourself – the one that makes all the good stuff happen both professionally and socially. In a fractured digital world I can’t think of a better way to get some recalibration on board. I’ve known Chris for years and he’s one of those very rare people that exudes energy and relights that fire. He really can reawaken that spark and in an age where personality and humanity is being efficiently replaced by algorithms and data then we need to shine a light on ourselves.

All shook up

And that kind of leads me to the heart of my talk. So, via the medium of some of my favourite tunes and personal stories, I underlined how important it is to have characterful and colourful people at the heart of organisations – not just process, purchasing and playbooks. While they might be a pain in the arse, we need to shake things up and bring more mavericks back into our worlds. My challenge is that if we don’t get extraordinary as businesses then the ordinary just isn’t going to get noticed by customers. So many organisations spend so much time “singing off the same hymn sheet”, eking out small jumps in efficiency, when we all know that it’s mavericks who make the creative leaps - not process.

Yes, we need to get more psychos in the system. They’re the ones that really add the colour and the conversations. I also (probably labouring the point a tad) stressed that we all have to step off the tracks sometime and we also need to allow our colleagues the space to do that also. We’re in an age of permanent digital flow, an “eat, sleep work, repeat” culture but I contested that it’s our own unconscious flow that holds all the joker cards. So there you have it: Dr. Mark Fowlestone, ex punk rocker, turned into a damn hippy way down in Devon. If you’d like to debate this further then please let’s do it over a pint.

The Wonder of You

ElvisFest does a brilliant job of realising that to make life richer, to be more you and ultimately breathe new energy into the companies we represent, then the answer is not online. It’s in the main outside and via the spirited and colourful humans we embrace. I do concur. And as Elvis would say, it’s now or never.

So if you’d like to talk more about how this turns into impact at Multiply then drop me an email  and if you fancy immersing yourself in ElvisFest 2018 then drop Harriet a note







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