Presenting to 150 fifteen-year-old girls is probably one of the tougher gigs that I have had. Not helped by the fact that my daughter said, just before I left home, “Don’t be embarrassing – they really aren’t interested at all…”
I looked at these young women and thought what would I have liked to have known all those years ago? I showed them a photo of my girlfriends and me at the same age. This started the conversation – instead of a mother, CEO and old woman – they now saw that I too had started my journey in the same place they are now.
I shared with them about the difference between accountability and responsibility. I gave them vivid examples of leadership versus management. But more than anything, I wanted to leave them with the message of persistence. Of not giving in.
I’ve met people throughout my journey – all of which have added to who I am now. Even the most horrendous manager taught me how I did not want to be. I said: “When I’m running the show it will be different.”
Entrepreneurs are like clown punching bags – we keep getting dealt a blow (we never know where from) but up we get and keep going. We never give up. There is no option of when should I quit. We have only one way forward – towards achieving our purpose.
Our purpose engages others in what we are up to. It is the people around us that will make it happen (as my colleague Megan said to me yesterday – “I’m the detail in your devil”). Persistence is a key ingredient. And being passionate about what we do every day is a given. Going into business just to make money is not very inspiring to anyone.
These young women were eager to hear my story and had many questions. But I left them with one thought; to follow their dreams single-mindedly – that it is wonderful to bring our femininity to whatever we choose to do (we don’t need to act like blokes). That by the time they are my age I would like to see that the public company boards in Australia are representative of the communities they serve.
Perhaps some of the young women I met today, will be part of that amazing revolution yet to take place in the boardrooms of Australia. I just hope we don’t have to wait 30 years to see it happen.