I wrote this just after the event in December… while it was still fresh – but I didn’t want to publish it until the video of the event came through. Here it all is.

Sitting amongst 700 glamorous people all present to celebrate the achievements of Women from around Australia at Crown in Melbourne on 9 December 2008. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Every detail was taken care of – the 34 State winners who were honoured at the event were treated like celebrities. It was such a privilege to be part of the group.
RedBalloon is in the experience game, our job is to make sure we give people a good time. One of the best parts about what I do is listening to the stories of what people did on their experiences; “the 80-year-old woman who had tears in her eyes as she saw a butterfly released for every year of her life – surrounded by her immediate family at North Head.” “The man who at the age of 60 got to fly an aeroplane – how he described butterflies in his stomach like a boy going to a birthday party.”
The Telstra Business Women’s Awards was all this to me. I am so busy organising other people’s birthdays and Christmas celebrations – I rarely have time to feel excited about my own – really look forward to a special occasion. But these awards touched every one of my senses.
I was nervous and excited – I was flattered and fearful. I wanted it for the team so much. The team have worked tirelessly. This award was for all the people who share the vision to change gifting in Australia forever. It is for both past and present RedBallooners – the wonderful team who turn vision into reality, that is the team who were prepared to give it a go.
To win this award is to acknowledge all those who are prepared to take a risk – and do something different. It shows you can start with nothing (from the front room of your house – with second-hand computers) and create a multi-million dollar business that is globally recognised as best of class.
Imagine being the first supplier to RedBalloon – trusting us in what we were up to… what about being the first customer. We have now delivered more than 450,000 activities in just over 7 years. Each one of these was bought by someone who sees’s that a gift can be something to share with family and friends – rather than an object.
The program of selection for the awards is rigorous – a very extensive: entry form, state-based judging, then more exploration independently into the financial status of the business, then National judging. It is the rigour and the process that make this award so prestigious. It is not for the faint hearted you have to really really want to do it. But the acknowledgement is absolutely worth it.
To celebrate women is so essential. Only recently I was goaded by a fellow entrepreneur that women didn’t run ‘real businesses – just soft ones’ These awards prove that chap very wrong. RedBalloon is built on technology and innovation. There is nothing ‘wishy washy’ about it.
We continually agitate to improve. I committed to all those at the event – that they can count on me to continue to run an outstanding business – that others will look to as an example of ‘it can be done’. Innovation pays off and people can have a great time at work and be truly effective and productive.
I know as the ultimate winner of the Nokia Innovation award I represent a group of very talented women who participated in this program. This award has given us greater authority that we are up to something special. As said at the event ‘what we say today and what we say tomorrow (after becoming a Winner) will be the same – except tomorrow they will believe you.’
Thanks again to Nokia for supporting innovation. Innovation is needed more than ever in tough times. Also to Telstra who have taken such a long-term approach to improving the voice for all business women in Australia. I loved the experience – and sharing it with my family (my children came to the event). It will be one of my 27610 days that I will always cherish.
This experience has put us on a National stage and I urge women who are up to things – to let others know by entering these awards. Then we get a chance to learn from them too.

Grow & Scale Your Business by Naomi Simson

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