'Don’t ever feel the need to conform. It crushes your creativity' – What Inspires Me, with Formula E's Katie Traxton

Formula E's chief communications officer reveals what drives her creative mind.

'Don’t ever feel the need to conform. It crushes your creativity' – What Inspires Me, with Formula E's Katie Traxton

Listening

People are my greatest inspiration. You can learn from anyone – if you’re looking and listening properly. It’s so tempting, as you strive to prove yourself in your career, to feel the need to speak up in order to be seen and have your talent recognised. I love talking – and have plenty of referees who’ll attest to it – but I also love listening, hearing people’s stories, what matters to them and why.

I’m an only child. From a very young age, my mum taught me that the antidote to loneliness was to extend a hand to a new person and say: "Hi, I’m Katie, would you like to be my friend?" I’m more subtle nowadays, but I still see each stranger as a fascinating world of untold stories, and potential friendship.

Strangers

For more than 10 years I’ve been campaigning for diversity and inclusion. I’ve been lucky enough to have diverse inputs all my life. The perspective that provides, the cocktail of voices, views and experiences, lights up your mind. Too often we fear what we don’t know, but why? We’re all are strangers to someone.

We should welcome the opportunity to discover someone or something new. Each story holds priceless nuggets of inspiration. Take time to hear people out and you’ll get as much, if not more, from it than they do.

My team

The people I work with inspire me. Finding solutions together that are better than your best solo efforts is one of the most satisfying feelings in working life. A former colleague once turned down a promotion to take a sideways career step – she said enhancing her skills was more important than ostensible signs of success like titles. I was bamboozled at the time. She’s now accelerated past her peers.

I’m inspired by the people I share life with, warts and all, whose support is non-judgemental and unconditional, from frustratingly wise parents and grandparents to friends who follow their hearts.

Brilliance

I’m inspired by people I’ve never met, including brilliant communicators. Shakespeare is, to my mind, the greatest communicator of all time. He writes about people; human dynamics, relationships and truths – exposing our deepest insecurities, passions and fears, playing them out and providing answers framed within questions, allowing each individual to relate, 400 years ago or today.

I’m currently reading Alastair Campbell’s diaries. People tell me they’re hooked by the politics and the personality. I can’t get enough of the window into the electric mind of a phenomenal communicator. I am in awe. Yet what inspires me most is his boldness and bravery, sharing his mental health challenges to lead by example and use his reputation to counter an outdated taboo.

You

Social media is a modern marvel of communication that I’ve whiled many a happy hour away on. But it isn’t real life. People are real life – with all their idiosyncrasies and irregularities. Don’t ever feel the need to conform. It crushes your creativity. Block out the noise, be confident in who you are, be proud and I guarantee you’ll inspire me too.


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