Tag Archive: Leadership

  1. 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.

  2. 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.
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    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).

  3. 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.

  4. Amazing people, amazing things

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    I’ve always been a big believer that beautiful things happen at the place where business endeavours meet social causes. It’s one thing we’re passionate about at Business Chicks and we’ve done pretty well, raising over $850,000 now for various charities and organisations.

    I also love learning about the cool initiatives that our members have started as a result of wanting to do more and be more. Recently I blogged about Sophie Bartho who founded One Dollar Day – she raised $55,000 and will use these funds to build a health clinic in Laos.

    Another one of our members Emma Hogan also launched a fab project this year called The Amazing People Project. Emma has already raised $115,000 for five charities through encouraging people to do amazing things and raising $1,000 at the same time.

    Something that’s keeping me up at night at the moment (in a good way – my head’s spinning!) is our partnership with The Hunger Project Australia. Next year we’ll be taking two groups of Business Chicks to Uganda and Bangladesh, to see firsthand The Hunger Project’s work. These trips are not for everyone. It’s only for those who want to play a bigger game and get out of their comfort zone. If you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself next year, then check this out and consider joining us.

  5. Ask for what you want

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    Milla (my daughter) has a new skill this week. It’s blowing raspberries. Mine is learning to ask for what I want.

    I think it’s fair to say that this is one area that can be more difficult for women. I’ve seen it over and over again throughout my career. A guy will have no problem in saying ‘Can you grab me a coffee please?’ whereas I might put it like this: ‘Um, excuse me, if you’re going downstairs to grab a coffee would you mind picking one up for me too? Oh good, you don’t mind? You sure? Oh, thanks so much, that’d be great’. I try and be mindful of complicating the request, but in the effort to ‘get liked’ and not put anyone out, it often comes across that way.

    Why can’t we just ask for what we want?

    Well in my case it’s because I fear not being liked and I fear that people will see me in some other way than ‘nice’. Dr Lois Frankel puts it perfectly in her book (one of my all time faves) by the same name -Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Not that I’m shooting for the corner office, but you know what I mean.

    There’s so much to be learnt from Frankel’s work. It impacted me in the same way Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth did when I was preparing to give birth and in the same way Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth jolted me into reality when I started my first company. If you’re either thinking of giving birth or going into business, run out and get both. Now.

    I can’t say the journey from being nice to directly asking for what I want is going swimmingly so far. I tried it out with someone today and she pretty much said no to my request (not in so many words, but that was the message back). So, I thought ‘don’t back down’ and stated that I meant what I’d requested and to please go ahead. She did, and all worked out well in the end. Truth is, old Em would’ve said “oh, ok, no problem” but the new one, equipped with the knowledge that it’s ok to ask for what you want stormed ahead and got the outcome.

    Can’t say it felt good first time around

    I had a bit of guilt going on and the little voice inside my head said “she’s not going to like you any more and your relationship will never be the same again”. I’m hoping that over time, that voice will subside and I’ll find a stronger more direct one to replace it. I’ll keep you posted.

    There’s no doubt that blowing raspberries would be easier than this journey, but I’m going to keep working on it.

    What do you think?

    See any of yourself in here? What lessons or experiences do you have to share with us?

  6. Be a charismatic leader

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    Valentino RossiMy husband loves me just that little bit more because I share his infatuation of Moto GP. I can name all the riders. There’s legend racer Australian Casey Stoner… Pedrosa… Lorenzo… dePuniet. And my favourite – Valentino Rossi. He is one of those Branson-esque types that attracts media attention with just one facial expression, and makes the crowd go wild as he zooms past in a post-race wheelie.