Rianna Patterson is a force to be reckoned with. Only in her early twenties, Kent-based Rianna is a personal development coach, multi-award winning global TEDx speaker, changemaker and founder of the Dominica Dementia Foundation. Not to mention, she also received a Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2017 for her work to help to ease the impact dementia has on individuals and families! We talk to the young entrepreneur about balancing business and creativity and empathising between generations when it comes to mental health.
Wishu: Where does your creativity come from? You seem to demonstrate a fantastic balance of business-mind and a creative-mind. How would you unpack the split in applying business and creative thinking to what you do?
Rianna: I don’t force myself to be creative but I do have my ‘aha’ moments which can happen in the bathroom and often just within moments of silence where ideas are brewed. I think business and creativity go hand in hand. I make sure humans are at the centre of everything I do and matching the two brings a wholesome experience. Creativity is the idea and business is the execution.
Wishu: Which comes more naturally to you would you say? Creativity or business?
Rianna: The business side for me is more effortless. Creativity has to be spontaneous and free from time constraints. I need the flexibility to be creative and brainstorm when it feels right to me and creativity shows when you are at your best. For that reason I just want to create when at full energy level and when fully inspired.
Wishu: How do you ensure those energy-full moments from a mental health perspective?
Rianna: We have to be mindful of our journeys and understand our limits when it comes to creativity so if you’re creating for a business I would be mindful of how many clients you take on. There’s a soft spot where you can manage but if you’re overdoing it it can be more of a hindrance than a help because I won’t have the energy to create the best work. Time management and understanding energy levels is very effective. Also just having space to recognise and acknowledge your journey and to be creative in your rest period.
Wishu: The media seems to promote a narrative which suggests the older generation don’t care so much about mental health and that the youth are ‘snowflakes’. As someone who has found their own charity which tackles ageism in the media, what is your stance on this?
Rianna: I think older people do care about mental health but there’s also an individual perspective and cultural context that comes to mental health and that needs to be factored in. For many older people, they had to make decisions where factoring in mental health wasn’t an option because it was the only thing offered at the time. It comes to a balance of survival for some. It’s a tricky one but I just think different circumstances come into account.
Wishu: Where does your positivity and motivation come from? How crucial is optimism in succeeding with projects?
Rianna: You have to be enthusiastic otherwise your project will not come to completion. Optimism is very important because sometimes life can look bleak and the direction is lost but optimism allows you to see the bigger picture and focus on the final product and the story that inspires it.
Wishu: You have done a TED Talk, met the Queen and more! How do you network and build relationships in order to develop a rich community and attract awareness to your cause?
Rianna: Networking is very important for supporting each other through the journey of self-employment. Having the level of support from the community gives you allies and people who can advocate for your work. Understanding people’s backgrounds and genuinely connecting with them is crucial too because none of us can do anything alone. You never know when you might need someone or visa versa. Staying connected and developing collaborative relationships should be caught up with too.
Wishu: What were your references when making the film for your charity?
Rianna: I come from a psychology background but because I have done charity work where I needed videographers and creatives, I kept those relationships and the networking came in to support the project. I started working with production companies and sourcing client work which was scary because I realised I was really having to market myself as a filmmaker and that was a new hat to wear! I wanted to ensure I was providing the best possible service. Mistakes will happen that’s natural even though we strive for excellence.