Meet the free-spirit behind Dont Tell Summer, Olivia O'Connor who hosts annual event gathering for wandering souls who want to create their own reality.
We attended last year's Rad Livin festival held in Sydney last March, and by the time we had left, our minds were completely blown away, full of inspiration and we were wildly driven to keep following our own dream... OCEANZEN.
We listened to multiple speakers, who had succeeded in their own creative fields. From Cait Miers and her journey through photography, and Grant Trebelico from One Wave and Oscar Martin from Pedestrian.Tv.
Olivia and her team are authentically passionate about supporting our generation to follow their dreams, their passions and their inspirations.
We sat down with Olivia to get a little insight into her creative realm and what goes into living and breathing her events that inspire hundreds of creatives.
Where did the rad living journey begin and how has the journey unfolded?
I was about to get on a plane to go home to Sydney after a 6 week trip to Europe. I wrote down the words in my journal, ‘I never want this freedom to end.’ I knew that when I got back, I needed to do something big; something that made me feel free and hopefully would inspire others. I started thinking about what I love. For the past few years, I’ve written Rad Livin’ features and interviews with rad like-minded people who are doing what they love now. Simultaneously, I’ve been interested in inspiring talks and music festivals. I wanted a way to bring it all together and create an event where people could come to, connect, get inspired but ultimately have an experience where they are totally living in the moment, having fun and feel alive.
The #RadLivin event has inspired and combed a community of entrepreneurial spirits to follow their dreams. Do you ever find it tough to stay inspired and motivated for the community you have created and if so how do you move past that?
I think with anything, there are going to be days where you are totally inspired and days when you just want to take a break. I think that’s totally normal and needed. The great part about the community surrounding #RadLivin is that it was inspired by them - that desire to do what’s in your heart and say yes. I find that when I’m not feeling inspired, I look at someone following their dreams. I sometimes even watch a movie where the main character is going for their passions; it immediately makes me re-connected to why I feel such a pull to do the work that I do.
Tell us about the name ‘don't tell summer’ and how it became the name of your business?
When I was in University, I studied abroad in Australia and fell in love with it. I kept going back and forth between California and Australia and missing summer. They were the best ‘summers’ of my life because I felt like I wasn’t waiting for anything. I wasn’t waiting to be myself or to do what I would love to do. I took that lifestyle and it led my Senior year of college. I was living free, going to the beach in between classes, having house parties that brought together rad like-minded people and I felt this big sense of freedom. I wanted to create a blog and so when I was working out what the name would be, I landed on Don’t Tell Summer. It felt rebellious, fun, free and exactly how I was feeling. People often wait for things, like summer, and I knew that we didn’t need to wait for permission to do what we would love to do now.
We know you are all the way from sunny California, USA. What lead you to Australia (apart from the awesome lifestyle) haha and what are your travel, life, work plans for the future?
Yes! Studying abroad definitely led me here, but I stayed because of the incredible people and the freedom. There’s something about this country where every day I feel like it’s a new adventure. I can get out, meet new people, explore, and follow my dreams. I felt this sense of freedom here from the first week I arrived 6 years ago!
Right now I’m working on the second #RadLivin for 11th March in Sydney and the goal is to then take it to the states. The Don’t Tell Summer story has always been about Sydney and California and so that definitely feels like the next step; to bring the two communities together.
Who is your ultimate muse and why?
I have two! Surf culture - I have always been drawn to it since I was young. I grew up in Portland, Oregon where I didn’t see much surfing, but each year we would go to Hawaii. There’s something about it that has always inspired me. Secondly, my muse is other people going for their dreams and doing what’s in their heart. Even though we all have different dreams, seeing someone pursue their's connects me back to that energy.
What was your dream career when you were younger?
I wanted to be an actress. I loved performing, still do!
Top 3 bucket list MUST DO'S for the coming future of Dont tell summer?
Your last event was a huge success with over 300 people flying in from all over Australia to listen to some amazing and creative entrepreneurial speakers. What do you think the key to success is?
I think the key was that I was committed to making it happen. I had never done an event like that before, and knew that I didn’t have the experience going into it, but I had the drive. I reached out to friends or friends of friends who have experience in the area for advice. I think that’s key for going for your dreams; you can make it happen. Your way may be totally different to how others are doing it, but if you are committed and truly want something to happen, you can make it work. Having a network of friends and family supporting me throughout the way has definitely been monumental in all of this.
If you could tell your supporters one secret that they don’t already know what would it be?
Probably that I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing every day haha! I think that’s an important one to know. There is no one way, or right way. You just have to keep moving forward.
Don’t tell summer and the #RadLivin events are the pinnacle of an entrepreneurial community. Being the heart of that community at your events, what advice would you offer to anyone new who wants to kickstart their dreams?
Find people who are doing what you want to do, or something similar, and learn from them. Also, go BIG. From doing the events, I’ve learned that things that you may think you could do in three or four years time, could actually be done now. Sometimes I sit down with a piece of paper and write out my dreams then ask myself, what if this was bigger? Then write that down, and keep asking myself until I get to a big dream. If I would’ve stopped at what I thought was possible for #RadLivin, it probably would’ve been a 50 person event with 2 speakers, instead of around 400 people, 7 speakers and 2 bands. Sometimes just that extra five minutes of thinking bigger can allow you to get out of your own way, and dream up a plan that’s as big as what you’re capable of.
Founder of DontTellSummer