Back in 2007, a text message came through to David Hieatt’s phone. It said, simply: “Don’t just stand there, do something!” Dick Dastardly. So we did. Over dinner that night, founders Clare and David Hieatt sparked the idea for the DO Lectures. The idea was a simple one. To gather together the world’s DOers, disruptors and changemakers, have them share their hearts and stories, and encourage others to go and DO great things too.
When we first hosted DO Wales we didn’t even have a website. We didn’t think it would happen more than once. And truthfully, the first few years were a struggle. But then, slowly, word got out. Now DO Wales has a global reputation. It’s been voted as one of the leading contemporary events in the world. And instead, the struggle is to fit everybody in.
So now we film the talks. Then we share them with the world. For free. They attract a global audience each day to a cowshed. Which means DO Wales is as huge as it is tiny. Each year we welcome just 100 attendees. But the talks have been watched over 150 million times. And yet, despite demand and growing waitlists, we have no plans to expand. The cowshed is not for changing!
And still we welcome in no sponsors or advertisers. That in part is made possible by 100 amazing humans buying a ticket for the event each year. Which then helps others they will never meet. That is the spirit of the DO.
We want to inspire, to unite, and to open hearts and minds. Our aim is simple and ambitious: To make DO Wales the most magical 100-person event in the world.
The first DO Wales event was held at the magical Fforest camp. After a few years, we were able to take it "home". To nurture and sustain it and to be able to host it in the heart of summer when there was a chance the sun would shine.
DO Wales is now held annually on our old dairy farm, on the far edge of west Wales. It is perched on a hill, overlooking Cardigan Bay. From here you can see the end of the River Teifi as it spills out into the Irish Sea.
At best, it’s at least a five-hour drive from London. The instructions are: ‘Leave London. Head west. Stop when you hit water.’ Sounds simple. But really there is no easy way to get here. And when you do arrive, you will know you’ve left your normal world behind. The energy here is calming, grounding. The journey worth the destination.
And yet it is just the start of new horizons. Here, you camp. You share a tent with strangers. You listen to people open up. Share stories about themselves. Tell tales that move and inspire you. You rise early and go to bed late. You see the stars. You dance. You laugh. You cry. You jump in the river or swim in the sea. You hug more people in one weekend than you do in a year. And when you leave you will be exhausted. But also, full.
The main focus of DO Wales is the talks. They are the beacon. So researching and selecting our speakers is the thing we spend most of our time on. Curating the right balance of messages and stories is an art.
And we want to get it just right. The stories told at DO Wales will touch you and test you. They are the lessons you will take home. We hope they will change your life. Give you the courage to follow your dreams and go and DO great things too. That’s stuff we don’t take lightly. So for us, there are no quick or easy picks.
Our speakers cover broad categories. They might bring insight on anything from business to food, technology to wellbeing, adventure to environment. We pick topics that are relevant to today and try to find the people leading the way. Those making a positive difference. We don’t always go for the obvious choices. We seek out the mavericks, the risk takers, those who took an alternative path.
But one thing is certain. All will tell you the story of their lives.
We provide the space and the platform. The room for magic to happen. But the magicians at DO Wales are the people who attend. They are as important to DO as the speakers we curate. And often they are just as inspiring and have as many great stories to tell. So we honour the part they play.
DO Wales is consciously capped at 100 attendees. It always will be. We think small and intimate is better. It builds a better community. Plus we can only fit so many in the cowshed.
Over the years the number of people wanting to join us has grown. So now we invite people to apply to attend. We look to gather together a diverse group. People from different backgrounds yet united in their outlook. Because over the course of the weekend you will get to meet most of the people. You might attend alone. But you will leave feeling like part of the community.
And that community is something we do not control. It is created by a discussion over dinner between two strangers. From a speaker’s call-to-arms. From late-night promises in the gin bar as the world is put to rights. From sharing a swim as the sun emerges. From singing, as the fire turns to embers.
At DO Wales there is magic. And, it’s the community that makes it happen.
DO Wales is not all about the listening and the learning. It is also about the DOing.
The days start with optional physical workshops. If you rise early you can realign with yoga on the deck, take a run along the estuary, or even go for a brisk dip in the ocean. Here, you will always start your day right.
After lunch the workshops focus on the practical. They offer a shift from the intensity of the talks. They give you a chance to switch off. To pause and recharge. To learn a new skill. To discover something amazing.
You can choose. But there is always plenty here to DO.
Slowly but eventually the sun goes down. The sky shifts and the stars appear. And they keep on appearing.
By about this point, the outdoor stage will have come to life. It is home to the main action in the hours of darkness. Home for poets and comedians, choirs and singer-songwriters, and live bands delivering encore after encore. Home for all the night owls, and for rousing group renditions.
Because at night, the farm becomes a playground. Nighttime is unwind time.
You might choose to sit by the campfire. Hot toddy in hand. New friends by your side. Taking in those stars. Or you might make it over to the gin bar. Whatever you do you won’t miss any magic. Chances are something special will happen.
It usually does.
Mealtimes are important at DO Wales. They are like a family meal. And that’s the way we like it. We all sit together on long communal tables. There are no place settings. You can sit where you like. But we all eat the same delicious food. Food that is nourishing and comforting and always made with love. There’s no doubt about it.
We have world class ingredients right here on our doorstep. Fresh fish, meat and vegetables are sourced from just a few miles away. We grow salads and herbs right outside our kitchen. And it is all put together by a team with a true passion. They are nothing short of artists.
Meals are a time for us all to pause together. To share great food with great people and stir up great conversation. And the volume always rises as the weekend takes shape. Most of the magic at DO Wales happens in the spaces between the talks.
And a lot of it happens at mealtimes.