2019 is my 17th year in business. My inspiration was (and still is) reading Anita Roddick’s revolutionary book, Business as Unusual. I remember reading it in the gardens of the University of Western Australia when I should have been studying.
I was so taken by her words.
We can no longer afford false divisions between work and community, between ethics and economics. But how can we change from a system which values endless increasing profit and materialism to one in which the core values are community, caring for the environment, creating, growing things and personal development? We empower people. There aren’t many motivating forces more potent than giving your staff an opportunity to exercise and express their idealism.
After being so involved in the community as a volunteer in my teen years, I saw the potential of using business as a vehicle of social change. As a 19 year old in 2002, this was in a time before all the business accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurial hubs of today. I remember heading to the small business centre to talk about my business idea inspiring people to develop their leadership skills through giving back to society. They told me it wasn’t a strong business idea!
Well, that was like a red flag to a bull!
That was when I started talking regularly to school and community groups about leadership and giving back.
First Among Equals Finalist (Top 4) in the 2019 Business News 40under40 Awards
From these very humble beginnings to reaching the top 4 in the 2019 Business News 40under40’s this year in Western Australia, I was able to reflect on the 25 year+ journey that has got me to this point.
Running your own small business for social change and impact is hardly the easy road. You are solely responsible for generating the income that comes through the doors – both in winning the work, supplying the work and ensuring it’s a the high standard. You have to believe in your ideas so strongly, because everyone will pick them apart. There will be wins and losses along the way, you can’t lose enthusiasm.
It was great to talk about this beginnings at the Business News Food for Thought event this year too. I’ve always juggled my business with my community endeavours. It was one of the main reasons I started my business. I’ve wanted to work on business projects that have a community benefit, that strengthens the social fabrics of our society – and gee, do we need this at the moment!? So let’s explore some of the business projects for this year.
Our Online Offering Grows
The Board Ignition course continues to grow in its cohort and impact.
The feedback from participants makes the hard work all worth it…
“I just wanted to say a big thank you for the advice and support provided via Board Ignition. Amongst other things, it really helped me to identify what I was looking for from a board and to how seek out such opportunities and…… I am now a proud board member of an international NFP board! I know it’s a great fit as I am so excited about their vision and mission and can’t wait to see what will we achieve together over coming months. Thanks again.” – Penny Dowd
“Thank you Alicia for taking the time to create such a thorough, well thought-out, engaging, and relevant course for young people to access. It is practical, and welcoming. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this process, and am grateful to be connected with the broader board ignition cohort.” – Ria Ferris
“Being able to watch Board Director interviews, hear about their journeys and taking the time to consider the reflection questions to enhance my understanding of what I have learnt from each interview. Really enjoyed contributing to the Facebook group.” – Gemma Malatesta
This year, I also:
• softly launched my second online course, Purpose Masterclass,
• created the Aspiring Community Board Directors Toolkit and
• updated my 15 ways to find a community board position resource into a beautiful flipbook.
Read below too about the new monthly mentoring sessions – Alyceum Live – I’m offering in 2020.
New Formats and Familiar Themes
This year was a lot of experimentation too. I trialed a few new formats. I always love to hear your feedback.
Alyceum Leaders Facebook group – this group grows from strength to strength. We have nearly 1000 purpose driven leaders and change makers on this year. This is a free group – so if you haven’t joined, what are you waiting for? Weekly journal prompts, leadership learnings, read and reflects and more! Join us here!
Ask Me Anything sessions – These were a lot of fun, often people want to pick my brains and unfortunately there are too many to have coffee with individually. But I do love helping people out where I can, so I put together this coffee series where people could register in a small group and fire away questions and conversations!
Alyceum Salons – This year I held a few Alyceum Salons over lunch to gather small groups to chat about what was on their mind – their goals and their challenges. Brilliant groups of people and energising conversations.
Alyceum Live – Just last month, we also started a monthly online gathering focused on reflection, inspiration and connection. The first one in November was a huge success, with a fabulous group of people and great engagement. December’s theme is legacy and it’s really challenging me to step up again as a guide, curator and facilitator of spaces to support people’s personal leadership transformations. I really can’t wait to host these each month.
Fabulous events, workshops and clients
Emotional intelligence, self awareness and reflection have all rated highly as topics required by clients this year. It’s been wonderful to work with a range of clients such as Southcare, St Vincent de Paul Society WA Inc, Public Sector Commission, Water Corporation, Linkwest and LIWA.
The 7th Engaging Young Leaders on Aged Care and Community Boards program brought together the most beautiful group of aspiring board directors and change makers. It’s a privilege to work with the extraordinary, Dr Nicky Howe and lead this program in the Not For Profit sector. Each year, we learn the nuances of social change, leadership and the power of community.
It was great to talk to James Lush and Mike Drysdale on the super new Dear Storyteller Podcast this year. What an incredible podcast series.
Exploring the world
I traveled to Singapore twice this year. Once with my family to celebrate my sister in law’s 50th birthday and the second time for the Singapore Institute of Director’s Annual Conference.
It was a brilliant time in Singapore, firstly to explore the culture, food and infrastructure and secondly talking about boards, leadership, diversity and social impact! It was great to chat with new and old friends, who all made me feel so welcome.
I can’t wait until I can come back again! I love the different perspective that travel gives you on life, business and leadership. What travel or conferences have made a difference in your perspective?
Growth, Gratitude and Great People
I was again invited to the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Perth where I was kindly awarded the EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) award for the western region in 2018, profiling the success we’ve achieved with 100 Women.
This year, I got to sit back and reflect on just how far we have come in the last year with 100 Women. I got to meet the most incredible people through these awards, including these two amazing leaders Sarah Bagshaw and Wayne Peel (EY EOY WA winner), who now proudly join me on the 100 Women Trustee Board (how lucky are we?!). The 100 Women Gala (our 6th Gala) was incredible too. When everyone gives a little, we can achieve a lot. Congratulations to our 2019 grant recipients doing phenomenal work helping women in Perth, regional WA, Uganda & Nepal!
Projects supported in 2019 included…
• Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Services – educating young girls from diverse cultural backgrounds in Perth with respectful relationships, physical/mental/sexual health & wellbeing information.
• Yiyili Community Indigenous Corporation – supporting 50 women and girls across three generations by creating opportunities locally to earn an income whilst maintaining and strengthening Gooniyandi culture for future generations.
• Love Mercy Foundation – empowering communities in Northern Uganda to overcome poverty caused by years of civil war by empowering them with financial support.
• Pollinate Energy – scaling a women’s empowerment model linking some of the poorest women in Nepal to clean energy markets & empower them with business skills. HUGE thanks to our members, volunteers, sponsors, supporter, board and everyone who came last night!
Kickstart your giving power with 100 Women today and join us here.
The Juggle is Real
We always hear about the juggle and it’s never been more ever present in my life than this year. Personally – my family is well, daughter learnt to roller skate, read and revelled in her friendships. My son had a huge year of learning too. He struggled with leaving me and my husband whether it was at daycare or at the end of the day at bedtime but towards the end of 2019, he is really coming into his own (even if he does wake us at 5am every morning!). His passion for dinosaur adventures is evident in all of our lives and his zest for life is incredible. My sister had a baby on the other side of the world which was so hard not to be there to support and snuggle, but watching her grow from afar is a joy (especially when your talented sister makes gorgeous family videos).
My Grandma has not been so well this year (this is a photo of her with my daughter a few years ago now) and so being there to support her and my mum has been important to me. It’s in these tough moments, which all of us go through, you tend to ask those existential questions – what’s the purpose of my life?, how will I measure the success of my life when I’m laying on my deathbed?, what happens after life? and what’s important to me?.
It’s in these times that you heavily rely on the strength of your relationships with friends and family. To keep talking, connecting, relating and reflecting. It’s a privilege to support my Grandma in her final stages of her life, to remember how special she has been to me and to remind me of what’s important in life. Thank you Grandma.
So on the whole…
I have to be so grateful for the people and opportunities around me. The life I get to live and experiences still ahead to devour! 2020 is looking pretty exciting!
What’s your take on 2019?