Extraordinary Women Run the World

Ok. So for now, lets keep this in mind. Done is better than good. Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert for showing me how to be kind to my unfinished work BUT my mischievous inspiration is going to post this unfinished work to put a fire under my ass to complete it tomorrow morning. Let the spark ignite.

Phoaw. Some people are just... phoaw. I was given a great opportunity by the Wade Institute to attend The League of Extraordinary Women's 2015 Run the World conference and it was all that and then some. Having attended last year I couldn't imagine that it would be much different - but it was. The speakers are obviously the jewels of the event with a very close second (perhaps equal) going to the people you meet.

Not really sure where to start with this blog but as I intend to write out my inspirationary notes for myself anyway I may as well write them here (warning: post may feel a bit... note like at times - further to that! These notes are not definitive! They represent my take outs! What was important to ME and what I loved about these speakers - you might listen to them and hear something entirely different! And that's great! If you want to hear them become a member of the League of Extraordinary Women because members get access to the recording of the conference - up in a couple of weeks!)

Talk about a woman of substance and balance. I could feel Gillian's energy from the back of the conference room. Every word was thoughtful and sincere and when she said we could have it all, I believed her. To a degree - ahhh my skeptical sneaky censor is creeping in! I believe she could have it all, and she does have all she wants - and that is tangible to her personality, her relationships and her clarity of vision. I know myself enough to know that I want the career, the family, the freedom, the creativity, the love, the butterflies, the solutions, the adventure, the fitness and then some. To focus on just a couple of life consuming things is something I have to work on and prioritise.

Working mothers are the most powerful economics force in the economy. Gillian pressed this point and I find it incredibly comforting. I don't have children but hope one day they'll waddle into my life. But being a successful business woman with children is a challenging balancing act. Gillian suggested communicating and empowering your children with choice - when faced with reading through board papers one evening or helping her child with an assignment she would suggest two options and let her child decide: either I help you with your homework, do the board papers early in the morning and you make your own lunch or I read the board papers now, you attempt the assignment on your own and I make your lunch in the morning. This egalitarian and value enriched approach acknowledges that both tasks and people are important and worthy and validates the child decision making abilities.

Oh gosh. That was just my first two points on Gillian. This is going to be a looooong post!!

Have strategic career and lifestyle plans set out in 10 year blocks. I recently came across this idea from my roomie when I was in another career crisis meltdown. Look ahead to 10 years from now and how do you want your life to look like? Plan backwards from there. Gillian knew the round-abouts-age she wanted to have children with her husband and knew that she wanted to be in a particular financial position by then so she could afford a nanny etc. She traced back each potential step to her present and executed them well ahead of time.

Create your own agenda. In many respects, women remain second class in society. So it is all the more marvellous to listen to someone like Gillian who was a trailblazer back in the 80's, pregnant and killing it in the business world. This point supports the previous one - work the plan, create your own agenda and prepare the next steps. Be clear about the step after your next step and work your way backwards.

Networking, as they say, is golden. Networks will help you most when you know what you don't know. Who is in your net? And how well do you work them? Work on strategic partnerships that give mutual benefits.
  • The importance of attitude. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you choose to deal with it. Every experience can be a positive one, even the most frightening... 
  • Never compromise on your integrity. Business is always about people. If you operate with honesty and integrity people will understand who you are and what your brand stands for.  Have courage, conviction and tenacity. 
  • Remember, if you don't run your own life someone else will...
  • Respect and value each others differences.
  • How can you help women everywhere? Be successful in your own life. Plan strategically for your life and career. Use adversity to strengthen you resolve. Believe in the power of your mind.
  • Focus on what you really want to have in your life. Have a realistic view. It's not all easy. Don't let people get away with subconscious discrimination - call them out on it!
  • Be brave. Ask people for help.

Ok... I got a little lazy with the last points but they're there. Gillian closed with her favourite poem and yes, its amazing.

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine.
They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do…

- Rob Siltanen

I wasn't quite sure what I would be getting here. I had never heard of Birdsnest and when I read that it was from rural Australia... in all honesty I didn't expect much. Happy to be wrong!!

Jane was so charming and genuine. She glowed with adoration for her team and her 'luck' to be speaking at the conference. It was all too clear to see why she was there. She runs a successful clothing line in Bungarby - an hours drive south of Canberra. Jane epitomised the Run the World slogan: Your dream job does not exist, you must create it!

I snuck to the ladies before Jane's talk and was welcomed back into the conference room by a rainbow. Facepalm. Whyyyy... the next slide better not be a unicorn.... However! Much to my delight, there was a point! Jane used the analogy of a rainbow to explain that goals, achievements and happiness are fleeting and once you reach them, experience them theres a chance to set new goals and search for another rainbow. Purrrfect! My unconscious (subconscious perhaps?) bias towards (away from?) cute-sy girl things was challenged in this presentation! Every time I was faced with some adorable bird, pink thing or dorky matchy-matchy scenario my lip curled... and relaaaaxed when Jane would erupt into laughter explaining the picture.

Jane focused on company culture which is an endearing reflection of how she emulated her personality to reside in the culture. Kind, warm and caring that was both progressive and grateful.

Some quotes (they just kept on coming!!)

'Culture eats strategy for breakfast' - Peter Drucker

'No one cares how much you know, when they know how much you care' - Theodore Roosevelt

'If in doubt, be generous' - Jane Cay

I love this last one. Its so... normal!! In an evolving retail world the last frontier (and first!!) is customer service. I stubbornly return to my 'favourite' cafe because it has vegan offerings like it's nobody's business! But if there were another equal product nearby work I would gladly shift loyalties because I find the customer service lacking. Sorry guys!

Jane, eventually, developed her ad hoc management into a 'birdsong' for her staff to refer to if they had no guidance. A couple of take outs;

  • alignment
  • inspire
  • community
  • attitude
  • agency (foundation)
  • receptive
  • gratitude
  • nurture
  • one flock
  • Believe - have a dream to believe in, believe that you can achieve it
Whats your birdsong?

'If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking' - buddhist proverb

'What would you do if you weren't afraid?' - Sheryl Sandberg

What is the type of leader you want to be?

And then the shift to physical and mental well being. Nurture yourself. 

'Treat you body as if it belongs to someone you truly love' - Charlotte Thaarup-Owen

Jane brought our attention to meditation and mindfulness - I suppose you find this with many entrepreneurs - that even if they weren't into the practice of meditation before they certainly discovered it to become more in tune with themselves and their vision. I find it really hard to meditate - especially if I'm already feeling tired or off. I had a really good run a couple of weeks ago but my schedule keeps on changing. So... bahhh... I have to re-set every so often. And its frustrating because you fell like you back at one again but perhaps re-building gets a little faster each time. Yoga'd this morning. Yeah it was great.

'The mind is everything. What you think you become' - Buddha

Bringing mindfulness into business - productivity with the right intention.

Recommended reads:

Ahh the hilarity in authenticity! The room was so enamoured with Amanda because of her relate-ability - she was nervous and excited and you could feel yourself with her every step of the way as when she explained her story. It was very natural and organic. Being a frequenter of French -Canadian fries at Lord of the Fries, I too have heard experienced the unassuming meat eater who has secretly loved and explicitly been outraged by LOTR being vegetarian! 

It's no wonder that Amanda is vegetarian and through her personal story she epitomises the start small model of business - first a food truck and eventually a retail space.

Some note style take aways:
  • Amanda was taking women’s studies – I am not an object, I am a subject.
  • Taking off the shackles of conditioning – social conditioning. 
  • Be clear, be in the moment – follow the path that appears
  • Be independent; find fulfilment outside your relationship. 
  • Accept each other’s work style; leave the hard work at the office
  • Criticism is an opportunity
  • What goes around comes around.
  • Remember your passion.

Make the decision to participate.

Ps. I just ate some fries with my fav French Canadian sauce. Dee-lish! However I do wish they'd be more environmental... they gave me two forks. Probably a reflection on the size of the chips I bought. They weren't just chips. Won't specifiy my selection of deep friend goodies. All of them. Won't tell you the size. Large. For one. Shhh. I drink green smoothies ok!!

I just need to talk a deep breath recalling this one. Sometimes, when you are in the thick of it - discovery, change, heartbreak, love and loss - hearing some kind of rational, simple uplifting story can take your breath away. Elizabeth created Spell & the Gypsie Collective with her sister.

Elizabeth's whole life changed at the end of a relationship. She was trying to reconnect with herself and seeing her ex everywhere (literally his face would appear on the side of a bus because he was an actor!). In this moment, this is where I feel the story really lies. With the love from her friends. For her birthday they all pitched in to send her on a business/discovery course (Elizabeth doesn't remember the content so why should I remember the name ;) I felt the love of my friends just today - I'm going through some changes in my professional life and they gave me a little congratulatory surprise which was just the sweetest! I definitely bawled in the reception of our office where we met, hugging them! Bwahhh

As good as the following notes (dash points - dot points) on Elizabeth's will be, thats my main take away - the goodness of the people around you and the love they have to share with you; it will make you transcend. 


700k followers on social media – never had to spend money on advertising

3 things that helped growth:
  1. Authentic brand
  2. 6 hands are better than 4
  3. Embracing online – blog
Insta rules
  • Quality – SLR camera, good phone
  • The surrounds and product look good – no bathroom shots
  • Movement – swish
  • Laugh to your shoulder – make it about the outfit not th efface
  • No insta filters

When you’re on your right path, miracles start to happen
Use your gut feel and intuition to be authentic.
Email is still king – landing page w email
Have hope in moments of darkness. 

Have hope in moments of darkness... worth repeating.

Justine wasn't able to join us on the day - she recently had a beautiful baby with her husband Dan and was needing some well deserved rest. However, we were not left wanting for our thankyou hit! Justine's husband, Dan, filled that role. 

I'm sure Dan's done the pitch a million times now. And you can tell. Not to say that it was bad aka sounds rehearsed and stiff! No. It was excellent! An excellent talk that in thorough and honest. He carried the story with such ease and confidence. And he carried us away with the story. 

Sidebar - I have always been a bit of a... mimicker. I would watch people, see how they moved their face, how they ate, where they would stress their words and how they would pronounce their words. So watching Dan was a treat. He was steady - he didn't fidget or move unintentionally. Every movement was connected to the words, the story he was telling. So you never broke connection. His voice got louder and softer appropriately - bringing the audience up with his excitement, and solemn to attention. What was interesting was that after his speech, the girls I had met that day from SECO wanted to go and say hi. So I went too, why not eyyyy... and Dan's conversational voice held the same ebbs and flows. Unfortunately where we met him to chat was not opportune - right in front of the speaker blaring ridiculously catchy tunes I couldn't help shimmy to a bit coz I couldn't hear what Dan was saying!! Bahhh

Needless to say - the expert presentation Dan led had little notes!! We were just there for the ride! And it was great to hear a speaker like that in person rather than on youtube or on a TedTalk!


  • Impossibility is only someone’s opinion – Muhammad Ali
  • Teamwork makes the dream work.
  • Finding your why – a re-occuring theme in this conference and at many entrepreneurial events I've attended... must be important then hey...
  • Who says we have to do things the way they’re been done before? (Einstein had a bit to say about this too) 
  • The Coles and Woolworths campaign
  • Don’t get lost in the numbers
  • The fear of failure has killed more dreams than failure itself
  • Fear stops us from stepping out and doing remarkable things
  • Everybody has an excuse – they look like a legitimate reason

I ran out for another sneaky wee before Tammy came on so I missed a little of the start. The conference was so jam packed with speakers, competitions, prizes and inspirational stuff that it wasn't running to schedule - hence the sneaky wee!

I love hearing from speakers who are a little older only because their stories have a few improbabilities added to them. Now we live in a little more feminist culture (just a little), a more connected culture (hello Insta-famous generation!!) and we have events like Run the World to encourage female entrepreneurship. 

Tammy started her financial rescue business at 22 which is amazing in itself but even more so because her business was to help people balance their budgets. This is a personal topic. I tells ya! I've been asking my girlfriends how they save and I get round abouts answers, approximations, percentages - any and all information that could shield them from telling me exactly what they earn/save! And that's their prerogative so I can understand the inherent difficulties in Tammy's business particularly when starting up.

My saving woes? Honestly... I'm not hopeless at saving but I say yes to everything! I believe its my past experience with improv - Shall we go out to dinner? Yes, lets! Shall we go skiing? Yes, lets! Shall we go for coffee everyday so that your coffee budget is close to $50 a week?! Yes, let's.... try to curb that shiz!!
Note me timbers:

  • Collect the right data and mix with your gut instinct
  • Measure
  • Articulate top priorities
  • Passionate and enthusiastic
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Believe in yourself and your abilities
  • Build genuine relationships with people you care about. Stay positive
  • Know the why - Run the World theme!!

'We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create them.' - Alberto Einstein

Eli was funny. And a presence on stage. Family and friends were a reoccurring theme of the conference. Eli had a lot of support from her mother and was motivated to make a difference in her own life to show gratitude for all the sacrifices her mother made to give her the best. She was also strongly influenced by her grandparents who were all hustlers and business owners in some way. 

Obviously I personally loved that Eli has a little Polish blood in her and her connection to her family was strong and apparent. I was speaking to a friend who is in the Melbourne Accelerator Program and was saying that out of the 17 start-ups that went through MAP, 15 were second generation Australians. That's amazing and definitely needs to be researched. 

The key feeling I got from Eli was to do it. By any means possible. Take the risk. Get the loans. Work hard. Empower those around you, recognise good ideas and acknowledge them. Eli did not create KX Pilates but she loved the idea so much that she worked with the founder and expanded the brand. 

Eli's supporting video; The first follower

Von notes:

  • People are superficial – develop your personality when you don’t fit in
  • Shirtless dancing guy – make first follower an equal
  • Exercise every day
  • TM meditation
  • Have a supportive partner - eliminate toxic relationships
  • Build a good team around you and empower them
  • Research, google, everything
  • Investigate people – study different personality types and communicate
  • Start today
  • Get a mentor; see a psychologist, life coach, independent non-bias person
  • Be yourself – everyone else is taken
  • Think like your ideal customer
  • Travel
  • Positivity manifesting
  • Find like-minded people
  • Think big, make stuff happen
  • Define yourself

There was a lot to Catherine that I don't think she let on. I couldn't look away. Yes at times she was nervous and lost what she wanted to say, but for the most part she sucked you in with the words she didn't say.

Catherine comes from a business family - her father established Supre and she had worked in the business for 15 years. It looks very different now from what it used to be. Catherine mentioned that she had some issues working with her father  but not much further than that. It was revealed later on to her that some of the practices held at Supre before it was sold were less than conscionable. 

Catherine's move into creating Think: Business services came out of a recruiters refusal to place her into roles because they did not align with her personal values. 

I really enjoy this mind frame - looking at businesses as more than money making endeavours. Its inline with social enterprises and takes a holistic look into the daily practices of a business to ensure that their actions are in line with their mission. Another Australian, Carolyn Tate, has established a Slow School of Business in Melbourne - 'An unconventional business school dedicated to building purpose-driven and prosperous businesses that make the world a better place.' These practices will frame businesses of the future and will bring more work satisfaction to people in business.

Notes and notes and notes and notes; spaghetti, spaghetti, spaghetti, spaghetti:
  • Living without purpose – find purpose – passion – loves
  • Journal – write: be honest. Explain and explore yourself. Focus on your family story and pluck out all of the feelings, thoughts and moments that have pierced your heart. Parents. Hugh. Be honest. It’s just for you.
  • Values align – stick to your purpose
  • Put love into everything you do. Create an emotional contract with stakeholders (any person that you have a beneficial relationship with in your business)
  • We come from an unconscious world. Be more conscious 

Book recommendations: 

Well. I tried to look into each speaker before I came to the conference. I thought about questions to ask them and the like. I now follow them all on the various available media outlets. And following Pia on Instagram... well... I can't just let it lie... She had a rockin bod! Daaaaammm!! Obviously (as you see on her Insta account) she's healthy and works out like a monster! As you can see from above (note: LOTR) - I eat like a monster! And thats ok with me... for now! ;)

I've managed to have many of my subconscious biases shaken up a bit at this conference. And Pia is no exception.  Dux of her school. Scholarship to Bond Uni. First class honours - last year! Lions. Tigers. And Bears. And SLINKII. Oh My!!

As with many of the self started businesses, the story of SLINKII is one of grit and hard work - late nights, juggling a 'career', testing product's and the market. But particularly - starting small. Work with what you have, be authentic (the new buzz word and with good reason!!) and grow organically. And have a blog. Write about it all. Just... write.

  • Looking for a creative outlet
  • Social media is great for marketing. Put top quality content on Instagram
  • Play to your strengths; Pia: model, Pia's boyfriend:photographer – goal: one great photo, every day to post
  • Personal branding – be authentic, grow an audience. Talk about you as a brand. Plan the type of content you want to be
  • Start a website. Write content. Research and write about what you like. 
  • Research will help you figure out the market
  • Start small and grow organically 
  • Get it out there – make sure your product or service is perfect
  • Life is too short not to live your dreams
Believe. Be inspired. 

- Helena

No comments:

Post a Comment