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No one can make you feel inferior without your permission

I’ve pondered, drafted, note-padded, and to-do listed my first blog for…ohhh…month! It’s not because I didn’t know what topic to write on, it was because I want to show you who I am – to truly speak from my heart, to inspire and engage you!

Today, three women – whom I don’t know – entered my world through a brown postage parcel. COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In arrived on my desk! And three pages in, I’m a buzz with excitement, for the Foreword written by QBE Insurance Group Limited’s Chairman, Belinda Hutchinson, has spoken to me – or rather empowered me to “speak up.”

I read and re-read each paragraph, nodded in agreement and look down the street (also wishfully hoping my tram was not too much longer) to absorb the power behind the words. I reflected on moments in my life, my career – thoughts flood my mind – I feel inspired. I feel empowered!

I now know what I want to share with you – not just my gorgeous wedding invitations – but to inspire you through my stories, to make you the best person you can be! Whether it be inspiring you to run or join a gym (I’m attempting my first half marathon this year), to show you that you can cook Jamie Oliver’s spring time lasagne (this went viral amongst my friends, and friends of friends – all sharing their proud snaps), read, or through my corporate experiences, take heed and grow and ‘speak up’!

The third woman, and who inspired this blog from the first page of Lean In, is Eleanor Roosevelt, where she is famously quoted, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your permission’ – It’s so true! For me, this is enlightening. It could be because I’m feeling particularly vulnerable about a situation that happened this week (more on that to come) but…it’s something we, as women, should know. To read it, to see it written, resonated loudly with me, and I feel something inside me has shifted.

I’ve berated myself for the last couple of days for not speaking up! At a recent ‘boardroom lunch’– comprising the Managing Partner and six lawyers from my firm, and the Managing Partner and six colleagues from an accounting firm all sat around sharing (and selling) their expertise to one another. As we went around the room, each person taking in turn to talk about themself (an art of never been good at nor enjoy) and the industries they operate in. Finally, it was my turn…I, the Marketing Manager – who cares what I do? What I know? What impact/difference could I make? 

“rather than proving who I was –

I squeaked out a miserable, high speed spiel of myself!”

A LOT – is, and should always be, the answer to those questions. A LOT of people care about what I do. A LOT of people want to know what I know. And there is A LOT that I can change or impact upon. When it came to my counterpart at the accounting firm’s time to talk, he nailed it! We ooo’ed and ahhh’ed and I sat there and thought –shit! Why did I not do that? I have a voice, I have equally relevant skills and experience, but for some reason, shyness and intimidation came over me. Instead, I became a note taker for the action items.

This worries me for two reasons. Firstly, I wasn’t invited to note take – sure we were there to cross sell, but at the end of the day why did I feel it was necessary for me to be responsible to capture the outcomes? Why did my male counterpart ooze charm and ask for notes afterwards? I’m happy to share for the greater good but my anger stems to me taking a passive backseat! As Sheryl Sandberg encourages, “sit at the table.” Be a participant, not a spectator!

And secondly, I was hired for my skills and experience, and for the knowledge I have to offer a firm that approached me to join them! I came with strong recommendations, and rather than proving who I was – I squeaked out a miserable, high speed spiel of myself!

Fortunately for me, I sat next to a lady who reinforced the positive rumblings I’d heard about Lean In. She is driving change and creating awareness about equality in her workplace and was serendipitously sent a copy of the book from an unknown person who saw her quoted in an AFR article discussing women on boards and senior positions.

I’m a firm believer that people and things: books, articles, commentaries, interviews, whatever, comes into your life when you most need it!

I’m not a staunch feminist. But I believe in equality and support women, their choices, their views – who am I to decide what is right or wrong for them.

I remember saying to my Dad when I was in Year 10 that I wanted to be a mechanic, not because I had a love of cars but because I wanted to do a job that was typically a man’s role. I’ve always erred on the side of a tomboy than a girlie girl (I thank my older brother and male cousins for that) but I’m proud of my independence: I can change a tyre, check the oil, tune in the TV, hammer a nail and be a farm girl when need be– all whilst loving having my nails painted, sipping champagne, having gorgeous dresses hanging in my wardrobe and blissfully cooking in the kitchen.

So follow me on this MWG journey. I’ll share insights and pearls from my experiences, readings and meetings that will hopefully inspire you.