What is your area of expertise, who do you serve, and how do you serve them?
My area of expertise is helping people to kickstart ideas and projects. I help emerging leaders initiate projects that address global issues. I have 2 programs, ‘Get Off The Bench’ and ‘Elevate Your Genius’.
‘Get Off The Bench’ unpacks the steps and components of a project to reduce the overwhelm and bring about clarity, and culminates in identifying the first step and taking it.
‘Elevate Your Genius’ takes people through a visualisation and drawing process to identify their desired future and the space they want to step into, and then determine actionable steps to get there.
My book titled ‘Get Off The Bench’ is also a useful tool in considering the many aspects of building projects, and my podcast titled ‘Get Off The Bench’ showcases people who have kickstarted projects as means of inspiring others to back themselves and do the same.
Why would someone choose you over a competitor?
I have a unique capacity to harness the ‘Jack of all trades’ within me, which helps me to very quickly understand and navigate the many components of projects, even in fields I have never delved into.
My experience as a behaviour specialist and a DISC Advanced behaviour/personality profiling consultant, enhances my understanding of individual motivators and challenges, and I can use this knowledge and insight to leverage the person’s talents and strengths.
I genuinely see and feel the value in those I work with and bring this value to the forefront for them, helping to transform their thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’.
Naturally wearing my heart on my sleeve helps people to feel safe, which means they are willing to share their vulnerabilities with me, accelerating their transition.
Share a specific time you encountered an obstacle and describe how you overcame it.
When I started One Planet Classrooms in 2015, I had dreams of it being a school Skype program where students in Africa could Skype with students in Australia and hopefully be empowered be each other. As it turned out, I had seriously misjudged many things, the most prevalent being that the kids in Africa were in bed when the kids in Australia were in school. It was never going to work and it took me many months to even realise that!
We also had incredible difficulty getting laptops into Uganda, and I had not even stopped to consider that I was sending laptops to a country where a huge percentage of them don’t even have power. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to advise the 45 African schools who signed up, that I completely screwed the whole thing up. It was an epic fail!
However, while eagerly awaiting the world’s best Skype program to kick off (prior to becoming aware of my failings), I had many conversations with key people at the schools and learned of the very flawed water collection system. It is the job of girls to collect water, and often from filthy stagnant ponds. The contaminated water often causes terrible illnesses and on occasion causes death. The trip to collect water is also fraught with the danger of men awaiting the innocent girls and sexually assaulting them. Some as young as 3 years old, and sometimes these assaults result in death.
It was at that point I had the choice to say I failed and run with my tail between my legs, or to step up and pivot my vision for One Planet Classrooms. I chose the latter and now we provide water tanks and wells to schools and communities, along with solar systems and other items that help to keep girls at school. We have bought several blocks of land and set up women’s empowerment projects, pioneered adult education, and have 140 students in our sponsorship program.
Sometimes obstacles are meant to present themselves!
Share a short story about your best (or favorite) case study.
In 2019, I was speaking at a conference in Michigan and was asked to run a Get Off The Bench workshop for attendees. I imagined it would be fun and inspiring for those who participated, but I never expected the profound impact it had on one woman.
She hid behind shame as she told the group she was useless, overweight and ugly, and that while she had a dream, good things weren’t on her side. I decided in that moment to target my whole workshop at her, using every opportunity to let her know how beautiful and loving she was and how the world really needed her to be in her magnificence.
Her dream was to photograph families impacted by autism who couldn’t go as a family to a studio, so instead she would go to their homes where the person with autism felt safe. As I said, the world truly needs this!
My admiration for her strength and courage is something I can’t put into words. In less than an hour she had completely changed her lens and her business was born.
What advice would you give the “20-Year-Old-You” who’s eager to start in life?
Back yourself. Don’t waste time listening to naysayers and don’t live life trying to meet the expectations of others. 20 seconds of courage can change your life. We always believe that the negative narrative we hear in our own minds is shared by those we interact with, this is not true.
Please describe a monumental time in your life that you’ll never forget.
I have many! I lost my younger sister to cancer in 2003 and that completely turned my world upside down. In 2014 I wrote my first award winning book ‘Magnificent Kids’ which ended up in the hands of people like Larry King, Chelsea Clinton, and Jane Goodall. It blew my mind to learn that when Larry King held my book in his hands he said “I’ve seen this book and have been meaning to get it”. Then only a few weeks ago I was asked to be a special guest on a zoom with the Dalai Lama.
All of those things only just overshadow the time I did a weekend songwriting workshop with Jason Blume, a songwriter with more than 50 million album sales and has written hit songs for the likes of Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys. When I sang my original song to him, he turned to me with magic in his eyes and said in his unmistakable New York accent “I could listen to you sing all day. You could sing the phone book and I would still love it!”
How do you pick just one!