I was recently asked in a radio interview about the key elements that have made up my life so far. Questions like these stump me. It’s like being asked to describe where I see myself five years from now.
‘Ummm… I have absolutely no idea where I am going to be tomorrow let alone in five years time!
But when you are asked a question in an interview that begs much more than an ‘I have no idea’ answer, you really need to come up with something profound and you need to do it fast. So this is what I said, completely off the cuff:
“The elements that have made up my life until now are: really strong family values, a passion for empowering women, I think really what keeps me going and what I love the most is connection – connecting with people and building strong relationships. That’s what gets me out of bed every day. And that’s what gets me excited.”
Not bad I’d say. In fact, I think I summed myself up pretty darn well. And what I love most about my response is that it doesn’t only encapsulate who I am in theory but it also defines who I am in practice. I have strong family values and I have forged an amazing support network. I feel very connected to my family and the people who are important to me. I have a deep passion for helping women reach their greatest potential and this has dictated my career, my energy and my entrepreneurial endeavors. I am driven by connection and this has shaped so much of who I am and has led me to where I am today.
So now knowing this, it’s not hard to imagine why being a corporate lawyer left me feeling so perplexed, anxious and riddled with self-doubt. No matter how much I tried to make it work, the reality of the situation was that being a corporate lawyer just didn’t align with my passions and values. For a Type A, academic, high achieving personality that was no easy confession to make to myself let alone to others.
Leaving the law was almost as hard as working in it. I gave up routine, certainty, financial stability, someone to motivate me, and something concrete to get out of bed for every day. But I was eager and determined to find my calling and to pursue my passions even though I had absolutely no idea how I was going to make that happen.
So as each day passed, the law, corporate professionalism and stability became more of the person I was or at least had tried to be.
And staying true to my desire to find connection and inspiration I began meeting with people, loads of people – for breakfast, for coffee, for lunch, for a glass of wine, for a walk around the Tan. I went to networking events and discovered that networking doesn’t have to be about ‘shmoozing’ or selling myself. My kind of networking is about forming and nurturing relationships and friendships. And I realised that this is something I love and I am actually good at. I met some of the most intelligent and inspiring individuals. One coffee with the women who founded Naked Ambition led me to becoming a presenter and coach predominantly for women in the early stages of their careers and business. And my passion for empowering and inspiring women became a reality.
Entrepreneurialism has always been a constant itch for me. Whilst working as a lawyer, I would dream about the life of an entrepreneur, of running my own business and fostering a culture and community where people can truly thrive. I always think about how I am going to make my mark.
When the opportunity arose to trial a pilot co-working space for female entrepreneurs with my now business partner Gianna Wurzl I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
It’s a funny thing. If someone were to ask me a year ago where I would be in five years time I would probably describe where I am right now.
As much as I want to say becoming an entrepreneur has fallen into my lap, the reality is that I have worked incredibly hard to build a network of people, to develop myself personally and professionally, to give up stability to pursue my passions, to be honest with myself and to seek out the opportunities that I now have.
One Roof is my present and my future. In fact, I see One Roof as the future of the way people will work. We are creating and curating unique pop up co-working spaces that provide everything a female entrepreneur needs to make her dreams a reality. We plan to be in multiple cities with multiple spaces and to grow a community of thriving female entrepreneurs.
Now that is a mark I am willing, committed and excited to make.
Everyday is a challenge. Every step requires some kind of risk. Every opportunity demands me to back myself. It’s not easy. In fact in many ways being an entrepreneur seems a whole lot harder than being a lawyer. And yet it feels right.
With the fear, risk and uncertainty also comes exhilaration, excitement and passion. It’s a compromise I am willing to make.