#TheLookingGlass: Sonophilia Creative Leadership Forum 2021

Last week, Sonophilians met for the Biannual (in-person) Creative Leadership Forum at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg. It was invigorating to see many old friends and also get to know some new faces, thanks to Eva Wimmers, our Sonophilia Ambassador & Advisory Board Member, who brought her whole leadership team to the Forum.

The topic of our get together was #TheLookingGlass. We wanted to reflect on our experiences of the past year, which were challenging yet also opened up many new avenues for our work.

As is customary, we started our meeting with a public event at the University of Salzburg. Following welcome notes from the Vice-Mayor of the City of Salzburg, Anja Hagenauer, the President of the University, Hendrik Lehnert, and the Director of the Career Center, Martin Mader, we presented a podium discussion on “Creativity and Ethics in Business” with Eva Wimmers (CEO ISS Germany), Frank Dopheide (Founder Human Unlimited) and Rüdiger Horstman (Advisory Board of Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH), moderated by Seda Röder (Managing Director and Co-Founder of Sonophilia Foundation). This podium discussion was followed by a lively Q&A session with the public and students of the university.

The following day, the members of our Benefactor’s Circle and our invited guests met at the Schloss Leopoldskron for a full schedule of inspiring talks, workshops and focus groups! The master of ceremony, Daniel R. Schmidt, started the day with a beautiful poem on #TheLookingGlass. As always, we started the day with a listening meditation to get into the right kind of mood. Listening, we believe, should be the beginning of all conversations and is conducive to any creative work.

The two featured talks of the day were by Frank Dopheide, Founder of Human Unlimited, and Izabella Lebuda of Graz University. Frank’s talk “God is a creative, not a controler” was an amusing yet eye-opening call for more human-centric and creative work environments while we move out of the industrial age. Iza spoke about her research in the field of cognitive science of creativity and showed us how self-belief can affect creative performance.

After lunch, which was superbly prepared by the staff of Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron and which was served in the great marble hall of the Schloss, we heard from several young entrepreneurs of Andreas Spechtler’s Silicon Castles Startup Executive Academy. Their session, “Creativity, Crisis and Pivotal Moments in Business”, centered on the challenges of being creative under pressure, in particular their experiences during COVID.

In addition to our customary “Stage is Yours” sessions, where we hear of the various efforts from our Sonophilians, we had two open sessions that were spontaneously proposed by the community. These two workshops were around the topics of “Creative Life for Elderly People” and “Creativity in Schools.” One outcome of the workshops was the idea for a new project that was called “Library of Love.” More on this idea will be shared in our upcoming community call.

The afternoon was also filled with a very special collaborative painting activity that our very own Sonophilian Roman Lipski led together with his Artificial Intelligence Muse! Later in the afternoon we had a debate in progress (fishbowl style) on “Creativity, Critical Thinking and Freedom” with social anthropologist and filmmaker Thomas Marschall and philosopher of economics Elisabeth Tafelmeyer as well as inputs, critiques and deviations by our group of attendees.

During the “Gadgethon” we learnt about the favorite tools of our creative group, in particular about the SumUp credit card reader, which prompted many in the group to give spontaneous donations to the Sonophilia Foundation. These donations amounted to a total of 4,918 EUR which will be matched by our founders, Seda and Matthias Röder to a total of 9,836 EUR (do let us know if you would round this sum up!).

After dinner, which gave us a time to re-collect strength, we convened in the “living room” of the Schloss for a superb dance performance of Potpourri, an Austrian Street Dance Company that culminated in a short workshop for all of us. Afterwards we gathered around the fireplace and the Danish contingency of Sonophilia made sure we used up all of the firewood available to keep us warm and cosy!

After a good night’s sleep (too short for some), we met on Saturday morning for a screening of “Ordinary Creatures” by Thomas Marschall. With the filmmaker present, we ended the 2021 Sonophilia Creative Leadership Forum, discussing food, sex and creativity. As one Sonophilian put it, “since you need creativity to get the other two, you now know where your priorities are.”