Energy-driven Karen Eck has been known to rollerblade to work and to get the whole office punching above its weight at boxing classes. Once she hopped into a Sonic the Hedgehog costume, simply because someone had to.
Running her own PR agency for more than 15 years (with umpteen years in publicity before that), she has a black book that fairly pops with contacts for the rich and famous. When Oprah took her whole studio audience to Australia, eckfactor was the agency of choice waiting for them at the other end.
Despite dealing with the high flyers, Karen always has time to solve a business dilemma for an acquaintance. That’s her “latte solution”. The importance of taking time out for people – from whom she expects nothing in return – says a lot about her. She says 20 minutes of serious focus and lateral thinking over a good coffee works wonders.
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MV: What is your relationship with C2 Melbourne?
KE: I’m Media Director and PR partner. I’ll be executing – from a media perspective – the vision of C2. As well as exploring media opportunities for all the speakers, I’ll be ensuring the media’s experience of C2 is in tune with the vision, spirit and energy of the event. I’m working closely with the marketing, comms and social teams, and loving the collaborative approach that C2 lives and breathes.
MV: What type of impact do you imagine the C2 conference having on Melbourne?
KE: Being the inaugural anything is harder work than if an event has been run before: you have to bring people with you. Once you get them there, there will be an ‘aha’ moment. Melbourne is very much like Montréal in its characteristics, culture, and openness to business innovation. I truly believe it will get people talking: enthusiasm and energy is contagious with C2. Anything founded by Cirque du Soleil will be a visual treat and surprise. At every turn there will be something amazing to see, touch, feel and experience.
MV: Which one of the five C2 2018 cross-industry tracks (Impact, Leadership, Art & Design, Marketing & Media, and Technology) resonates with you most, and would you explain the nature of your connection to that theme?
KE: I’m looking forward to Art & Design. Ask me to draw anything and it just doesn’t work, but I appreciate the effort that has gone into someone making something. My favourite art is my mother’s: she’s a printmaker and watercolourist. She really has the artistic ability in the family and my three brothers and I are creative in totally different ways.
I like to look at something that is distracting in a good way. It’s a bit of mindfulness. I’ve started a small art collection of my own, with a theme of optical illusion. The things I enjoy demonstrate that what you see is not necessarily what you get.
MV: What part of C2 Melbourne are you most looking forward to (Labs, braindates, speakers, etc) and why?
KE: Definitely braindates. It’s an algorithm that uses technology to match people: business symbiosis at the touch of a button is a pretty cool take-away from a business conference. It’s effective, efficient, and memorable. A lot of people genuinely get something out of it.
MV: Is there anyone in history (dead or alive), who you would want to meet, and if so why?
KE: My great-grandmother Annie was Irish. She died well before I was born. I love the Irish sense of humour. There’s a story that my auntie got into terrible trouble when she said, as a little girl: “I hate my legs”. She got a clip under the ear from Annie who said (and you should an insert Irish accent here): “You wicked, wicked girl! They go right up to your bum like they should!” She had a tough life and appreciated the things that are really important. She always saw the positive. I think she had a really big impact on my mum, who is the most positive person I know. I’d like to sit at a table with Annie, with a big spread of hearty food and have a good laugh.
MV: If you could recommend a book for everybody to read/podcast for everybody to listen to, which would you pick and why?
KE: Books. Oh, I have to sound really intelligent. Failing that, I’ll settle for inspirational.
We collect so much stuff over the years! I read this book whenever I need inspiration to streamline. Her Japanese art of sorting is something I’m applying to home and work. If it doesn’t spark joy, out it goes.
Two inches thick, this coffee table book doubles as a prop to boost my laptop height for video conference calls. From the co-creator of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, it’s the print edition of the controversial, irreverent and uncensored musings and insights of one of TV’s top writer/producers. Not so funny was lugging this book in hand luggage from South by Southwest, halfway around the world.
It’s a great title, which reminds me of my first office landlord who – on my first day of operating my PR agency – said: “I’ll give you 10 years before you’re bitter and twisted.” Fifteen years later, I’d like to think I’ve proved him wrong.
MV: If you could have one magic power, what would it be and why?
KE: To be Wonder Woman. Why wouldn’t you want to feel that fit? I grew up swirling and twirling, dreaming I was her – and finally, she’s back on the big screen, empowering young girls to be strong and independent. Ironically, when I’m an old woman I’m going to be that eccentric rollerblader dressed in a Wonder Woman outfit. And I won’t give a toss what people think. I’ll just be thrilled I’m moving fast and still able to balance and dodge people and cars.
The People Behind C2 is a weekly series that will feature just a few of the amazing people who make C2 Melbourne happen as seamlessly as it does – from operations to creation to partnerships to programming to volunteers and beyond. We can’t cover all of the hard-working team members, but at least you will get a sense of the heart and soul that goes into the production of C2. We’ll even cover a few of the long-time attendees to share their perspective on how C2 has grown over the years.
The interviews are conducted by Maria A. Vassiliou, the content coordinator for C2’s social content, a freelance photographer, and a collage artist during her downtime.