Tag Archive: Business

  1. Falling in love again


    Yesterday morning we launched Business Chicks on the Gold Coast. It was a beautiful experience for the almost 400-strong crowd who were treated to a divine meal, exceptional networking, a powerful speech from Australian of the Year Ita Buttrose and gifts galore.

    GC launch

    Our existing members walked away with a bottle of Skinnygirl cocktails, while our new members were welcomed with Dermalogica gifts – and everyone had the opportunity to win prizes such as Coach handbags, RedBalloon experiences and Pamper Hamper Gifts. Every guest received a copy of Latte magazine, and a gorgeous cupcake too.

    We’d been excited about launching Business Chicks on the Gold Coast but never could have imagined just how successful it would be. We were expecting maybe 200 guests for the launch event, but to have sold the event out shows us that we’re on the right path and that there’s never been a more important time to provide a space for women to be themselves, to back themselves more, to play a bigger game, and to support each other in the process.

    Apart from it being a knockout event, it was a cathartic experience for me too. This is my eighth year in this business (where’d that go?) and I’m still as energised and passionate about the possibilities as I was when I first started it. It was beautiful to witness the power of Business Chicks through people who were seeing it for the first time.

    My secret to falling in love again with your business or job? Find what you do really well. Then find a new way to do more of it.

  2. Getting out of overwhelm



    Being in overwhelm isn’t a state I enjoy. I’m lucky that I rarely experience it but I’m knee deep in it at the moment. The business is growing at such a rate that it feels hard to keep up at times, a couple of my key people are on leave, I’m getting asked to do more and more public stuff, we need to find a new office as we’re bursting at the seams, we need more people on the team, I’m on a plane every week, and to add to all of that I’m moving house this week. And there’s that small thing of the little people in my life – I’m discovering that three children aged four and under is not exactly for the fainthearted.

    So when I found myself drowning today I coached myself out of it and wanted to share some of the learnings with you.

    1) Just work on one or two big things
    Overwhelm can be awesome as it causes you to step back and ask ‘OK what’s important here? What needs to be prioritised?’ I decided just to work on two things and two things only. Everything else can wait until I’m in a stronger state and can manage it.

    2) Don’t look too far into the future
    I did this and it sent me into a meltdown to see no white space in my diary for many, many weeks. Now I’ve decided just to tackle each day as it comes and not stress about what’s yet to happen/coming up.

    3) Say no
    This is an obvious one but crucial to scaling the walls of overwhelm. There are only so many hours in the day and you need to focus on what’s going to create the most impact.

    4) Share how you’re feeling
    Writing this post has lifted me out of overwhelm, so thank you for the opportunity to share it. I’m now back to old Em and know that I’ll get through this week. And next. And the one after that too.

  3. Life from the sideline


    I’ve never really been that good at watching on from the sideline. I’m more of a ‘get in there, get on the court, get your hands dirty’ kind of girl, but I am learning the patience and wisdom that comes from letting others do what you could do yourself.

    I’m now four days overdue with my third baby (my bubs tend to stay put for ages – my first daughter was ten days ‘late’ and the second was fifteen) and this means that I’m missing out on a few things that are important to me.

    My best friend turned 40 last weekend in Melbourne and because I couldn’t fly I missed her party. And for the past season, I’ve missed out on playing netball with my beloved Business Chicks team in our corporate comp. I also sit here with my big belly lamenting the fact that my team are now in Adelaide, about to pull off our biggest ever event (with over 1,700 people) tomorrow morning with Sir Richard Branson. Then they’ll fly straight to Brisbane to do it all over again the next day. This happened last time Branson spoke for Business Chicks – I was overdue with my second bub, so I missed out on that too. (The pic below is when he spoke for us in Sydney and hooray – I wasn’t pregnant and about to give birth!)

    Em and BransonAll these experiences are designed to teach me patience, and teach me how I can still lead and inspire without being ‘right there’. So I made sure my bestie was spoilt with flowers, a little gift, and surprise champagne at the place she dined at her for birthday. I got me and my bump down to the side of the netball court on a few occasions and yelled my heart out in encouragement for the netballing Business Chicks.

    And today, I know I’ve done all that I can to support my team to pull off the biggest events of their life without me. I know they’re going to be fine. In fact, they’ll blitz it! And while they’re at it, I’ll practice the art of letting go, trusting others and cheering on from the sideline.

  4. New kids on the block


    We’ve started off the year with gusto at Business Chicks, adding three newbies to the team. Finding incredible people and integrating them into our family is what I love most about business. Over the past few years I reckon we’ve mastered the art of making people feel part of the team from the minute they walk in. Here’s what we did for Zoe, our new partnerships lead, when she started with us last week.

    zoeLittle gifts with big presence: On Zoe’s first day we decorated her desk with a bunch of welcome balloons – the beautiful thing about this is that they’re still flying high a week later, so it’s a nice reminder to her (and to us) that she’s new and the sky’s the limit for her.

    Stage the fun: So the balloons were on her desk when Zoe arrived, and then the day unfolded from there. We had flowers, champagne and chocolates delivered to her at mid-morning and then later on in the day we had an afternoon tea for her. If she didn’t know she was welcome after all of this, then I don’t know what else we could have done!

    Leading from the top: I always make sure I write a card to every new employee that starts in our business. No one does this for me – I go out and pick a card that reminds me of the person and write a heartfelt message on it. I always have it waiting on the newbies’ desk when they arrive. It shows them that their being with us matters, and that I personally value them.

    Get the team involved: We always let the team know the new person’s email address prior to them starting with us, and whoever chooses to do so can send them a note congratulating them on the appointment and welcoming them. That way, there’s already a level of rapport there and it’s easier to put all those new faces to names on day one!

    Being organised: We always have the new person’s business cards ready for them from the minute they arrive. Not only does it send a message that we’re organised and on to it, but it says ‘we value you, and by the way – our standards are high and we expect you to hit the ground running.’ No one’s complained yet.

    Let them be late: We always ask our new peeps to start a little later, say 9.30am, on their first day so we can make sure the existing team is ready and we can put any finishing touches to their welcome if needed. And anyway, first days are totally information overload and if you can reduce this time down a bit, then everyone wins.

    Planning out the first few days: We always have a structured induction program mapped out for the first few days so the new team member gets a thorough introduction to the business and gets to spend time with the department heads or anyone else they’ll work closely with.

    First impressions go a long way. Compare the above experience to a friend of ours that recently started a new role and had hardly one person on the floor introduce themselves, and you’ve got two very different experiences. And if given the choice, I know which one I’d choose!

  5. Branson and Geldof both do this


    We had a pretty intense morning last Thursday in Melbourne at the Business Chicks brekky. Sir Bob Geldof was our speaker and he crafted his stories with such passion and conviction that anyone who happened to accidentally clink their fork against their coffee cup was heard, such was the silence and attention he commanded.
    TEST 3
    I spent most of his talk in tears as he lifted the lid on what he’d seen over the last few decades in poverty-stricken Africa. I agree that what’s going on in Africa is our generation’s version of Nazi Germany ie humanity knew about what was happening (to an extent) and yet didn’t take action, or didn’t know what to do to avoid/lessen the atrocities. Geldof spoke of the work he’s spearheaded through Live Aid, and Band Aid, and various other initiatives that have seen him catalyse almost $200 million worth of funding into Africa to ease poverty. He spoke about where he sees the solutions lying, and surprise surprise, it’s women and girls, as we all know. It’s educating women and girls and empowering them to be part of the solution.

    Geldof is also a successful businessman and touched briefly on a few of his ventures. I was interested to learn that, just like Richard Branson, Geldof doesn’t have an office. He said he works from his kitchen bench each day.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of working from home a little bit (I’m currently in our city office every day) but have never fully gotten my head around it. We did an office refurb in my last business which resulted in me and my business partner having our own individual offices, separated from the team. She loved it. I hated it.

    Half the fun of going to work for me is being involved in the office’s activities. Feeding off the energy, having a joke with my colleagues, being able to ask a question then and there without having to set a meeting – these are all reasons I choose to go to an office each day. And open plan works for my leadership style.

    However, after hearing Geldof and Branson speak at Business Chicks, I’m questioning the logic of going into the office every single day. Think of the time they save commuting each day, think of the uninterrupted blocks of time where they’re free to focus on the important stuff, think of the perspective they must achieve looking at their businesses from afar.

    Curious to hear from you as to what works best for you, particularly if you’re a leader of a team (and not working by yourself at home).

  6. What a billion dollar CEO taught me


    I spent last week hanging out with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos and the author of New York Times bestseller Delivering Happiness. Business Chicks brought him to Australia for the first time ever and he spoke at two workshops for us in Sydney and Melbourne. tony-hsieh

    I also spent some time with him on Sydney harbour and had the job of chaperoning him around throughout the week. Here’s a behind the scenes look at what I learned from him.

    You’ve got to work very hard to achieve the level of success he has. At every available opportunity, Tony was on his computer or iPhone. In fact, there were only a few moments when he wasn’t connected to either. We’d get to a venue, have five minutes to get onstage, and he’d still boot up his computer, find a network and get some work done.

    Happiness comes in all forms and levels. You’d expect a guy who wrote an international bestseller about happiness to be jumping out of his skin with joy. He wasn’t. He’s spent lots of time researching the science of happiness and debunks the myth that it’s all about those adrenalin-fuelled moments when you want to pump your fist in the air and hug strangers next to you. In his mind, happiness comes in three forms: those ‘rock star’ moments I just described; when you’re in flow and everything comes easily; and thirdly, when you’re working for a higher purpose other than yourself.

    You don’t need charisma in spades to be a successful CEO. Tony admits he is incredibly introverted. When asked if all the fun stuff he does in his business (dressing up, endless parties/celebrations, parades around the office etc) is a reflection of his personality and personal ethos, he said nup. He likes to think of himself as the designer of a greenhouse where all the plants are the same size and they all move and grow together, rather than him being the biggest and tallest plant.

    He approaches business like a science experiment. I’ve never met a more researched, well-read, educated (about business) individual than Tony Hsieh. He’s concerned himself with details such as the optimal space between employee’s desks to increase collaboration and innovation, and has even gone so far as to move the entrance to the Zappos office so that all employees have to walk through all departments, thus increasing the amount of ‘serendipitous collisions’ which ultimately lead to greater communication and teamwork.

    If you’re looking to grow your business to reach revenues north of $1 billion, or if you fancy exiting one day to Amazon for over $1.2 billion, then maybe you’ll do well to adopt some of the above practises.

    Read some of my team members’ take aways from the workshops here.

  7. Strategic planning: your business at a bird’s eye view




    There’s nothing much more powerful than stepping out of your business and looking at it objectively from afar. What’s working? What’s not? Where are the priorities? What have you achieved?

    At Business Chicks, we love getting out of our business and, you know, working on it and not in it. And that’s exactly what my team and I did yesterday. It was a day of sharing, debating, and reporting on the highlights of 2011 as well as presenting our strategic plans for next year.

    Last year we achieved a 69% increase in sales and a whopping 157% net profit growth. If we can maintain the pace we reckon we can achieve similar numbers next year, but it’s going to take some doing.

    I was so proud of my leadership team yesterday. Amber, our general manager, presented the operational strategy including her plans for HR – next year in the first two quarters we’ll be recruiting a marketing manager, a community manager, a PR exec and an events manager. She also announced a number of employee engagement and development initiatives which the team loved hearing about.

    Liv, our director of brand and partnerships, along with her team, presented the strategy for the corporate relationships we enjoy at Business Chicks and how we’re going to work even harder for them next year. Building the businesses of those who support us is a key passion for Liv and her people.

    Soph who heads up digital marketing for Business Chicks had us going cross eyed at all the stats and data she’d prepared, but managed to maintain even my attention as she and her team shared what they’re working toward next year.

    So we’ve got our plan. Do you have yours?

    Oh, and here are a few tips to make your offsites count.

  8. 5 tips for overcoming procrastination



    I came up with this post while I was busy procrastinating over writing a feature for Latte (the Business Chicks magazine.) In each issue of Latte I interview a female entrepreneur who’s doing cool things. I’ve had the fortune of interviewing Camilla Franks (the kaftan queen); Louise Olsen, founder of Dinosaur Designs; Kristina Karlsson from kikki.k; Natalie Bloom of Bloom Cosmetics and heaps more amazing women.

    For the next issue (which is coming out next week) I interviewed Lorna Jane Clarkson who’s famous for her exercise gear. I loved meeting Lorna Jane – she’s gorgeous inside and out – and that’s where the trouble begins. You see these women are so extraordinary that I always want to tell their stories in the best way possible so that our members can be inspired and learn from them. And in my efforts to tell the story in the best way I can, I get stuck. And I avoid it. I find anything else to do other than write that piece. I’m positive I drive my editor mad.

    So here’s what I came up with for how to overcome procrastination:

    1) Chunk the task down: So with my Latte piece I have to submit about 2000 words. That’s overwhelming for me, so instead I tell myself: “Em, just write 300 words.” And when I’m done with those 300 words, I tell myself to do it again. Breaking up the task and taking small steps always makes it easier.

    2) Get someone else involved. When I feel myself procrastinating, I ask someone to give me a good talking to. In the case of finalising my recent article, it was my husband. I told him to be really strict with me and not to let me get up from my desk until I’d written 300 words. Turns out he’s really good at being bossy! He kept coming over and saying “get out of your emails and just write!” It worked.

    3) Connect with the end result: It’s great if you can visualise yourself completing a task and trying to attach to that feeling of how good it will be when it’s over. I know whenever I hit send on my article I let out an audible sigh of relief and give myself a little pat on the back.

    4) Give yourself a reward. It needn’t be anything big, but should be something that you can look forward to. In my case, I promised myself a glass of wine after I’d reached 300 words. My writing got a whole heap better after that anyway.

    5) Just do it. That’s right. When all else fails, just get on with it and do it. Don’t ask your feelings, just do it now.

  9. Remember your why


    One of my favourite books in the world is Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. Have you read it? If not, run out and buy it now. Hang on, no one does that any more – just google it and some online bookstore will have it to you in days. (more…)