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Best of #LL 2019: On Inspiration and Drive

From painful personal experiences to a thirst for reinvention- our 2019 Leading Ladies share their diverse sources of inspiration.

Genevieve Day on what inspired her to dismiss concerns and found her influencer marketing agency, Day Management :

I never had that concern [that influencer marketing would be a fad] but everyone around me did, including my parents and partner. But I had a gut instinct and inner urgency, I knew I had to do it then or it’d be too late.

Foundation for young australians CEO Jan Owen on what drives her as a social entrepreneur and how it inspires her work:

At that young age I just felt this call to experiment and make money and iterate. I think I was lucky that I had that drive because it meant I wasn’t adrift and floating, I was implementing ideas. That entrepreneurial drive was a huge advantage for me as a young person. That’s why FYA has spent the last four years developing Australia’s largest entrepreneurship program for students. Micro-entrepreneurship teaches young people to set things up and fail and learn and iterate. Those are fundamental life skills today even if you don’t go on to become an entrepreneur—the skills and things that you learn through that are powerful in any context and in any organisation.

STYMIE Co-Founder Rachel Downie on what inspires her to continue her work supporting vulnerable young people:

I get messages from principals and student managers every other day saying, ‘the kids used STYMIE to save a life today, we just wanted to thank you’. That moves me. That motivates me.

Kylie Green on drawing inspiration from the eternal cycle of entrepreneurial reinvention

I think as an entrepreneur you’ve always got to look at reinventing yourself. I thrive on that process of reinvention. 

That entrepreneurial fire is something I’ve always had but it comes and goes.

I think it’s really important that you understand when you find yourself going flat, when it’s going a bit dull. Then you need to pursue other things to nourish your sense of entrepreneurialism, to explore other things. I love learning and acquiring new skills and looking out for other industries where there are opportunities. I keep my professional development going. I’m now in my 50s but I want to work for the next 20 years and retire. I’ve got lots of more to give, lots of new ideas and lots of things bubbling away.

Koskela Co-Founder Sasha Titchkosky on what inspired her to start her business:

My husband’s passion is for design, but for me the passion lies in the opportunity to design a company.

Net-a-Porter Co-Founder Megan Quinn on the chance conversation that inspired her first business:

I’m the sort of person who is motivated by someone throwing down the gauntlet. I started my first business, Partners in Grime because of a dare. […] I went out to drinks with my Australian expat friends after that happened and all the boys were asking ‘what do you wanna be Quinney? You could be a prima ballerina, or a bikini model!’ I was laughing and then I started getting sick of the banter. Then one of the boys said you could be a char (a cleaning lady) and I replied that I could do anything. So the next day I registered the business name and paid someone £300 to teach me how to clean.

Sweet Mickie Founder Emma Head on being inspired by her customers:

We’re lucky to have intelligent, humorous customers and they inspire us to be more humorous and focus on what they want which is the funny and the naughty. What makes me excited about going to work every day is that we’re making people feel good and giving people an opportunity to laugh in a hard time.

Jo Scard on the bullying experience that motivated her to start Fifty Acres:

The thing that propelled me to move out of politics and start my own business was that one of my superiors bullied all the women in the office, including myself. 

Auburn Giants Football Club founder Amna Karra-Hassan on seeing inequality in the world and being compelled to act:

When I was growing up the difference between the sexes bothered me deeply. I felt it was a great injustice to be told I couldn’t do things because I was a girl.

When I looked at the local community leaders, business leaders, people on TV and sporting fields, I didn’t see girls, there were only boys. I thought something is wrong here. I decided I’m not waiting for anyone to start a women’s sporting team, I’m going to do it myself.

Want more? Read our #LL Best of 2019 blog on mental health, wellness and burnout.