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Champagne Consultants

In my recent ‘Champagne Consultants’ meeting, they’re my Brains Trust, their feedback hit me; “when you talk about the work you do with women, The Female Factor, your face lights up.”

It’s interesting what others observe in us when we’re in the arena.

What subject makes your face light up?

My subject is ‘Women and the need to have more female leaders in our business and community.

I’ve deducted that women carry so much baggage from their current and past roles, including home and work life, that they’re exhausted when they arrive into the present; too weighed down, missing opportunities which require them to make a sprint.

My goal is to take their baggage, unpack it, repack it with items which will never date and remove what’s unfashionably heavy and holding them back.

I recall wearing a grey suit to the office and I immediately felt ‘one of them’ – a feeling which I was unconsciously aiming to achieve. I was generally one of the few females in the office. When I reflect on my wardrobe’s era, it was a beautiful suit, however I wore it the least. I was the one wearing the canary yellow, the red and the green suit … I was fighting for my seat at the table, to be seen and heard!

It’s not 1920; it’s 2019 and before we know it, it will be 2020.

How do you want our workplaces to feel and appeal to your crew, clients and colleagues?

I don’t and shouldn’t need to share this, but I’m going to.

Women are unique; to begin with, they have the X factor – they have an extra X Chromosome. This chromosome gives us the estrogen which filtrates our bodies, think of periods, pregnancy, post-natal depression, inability to fall pregnant and then it depletes when we travel through menopause. (I’m not going to linger here – that’s another story.)  These bodies of ours are wired differently. And then, there are the emotions associated with all these changes!

Women can’t be treated equal; we are unique. We bring a different and diverse set of behaviours, strengths and feelings to the table which are needed for fair appraisal of decisions in the workplace.

More men need to sit at the table – the kitchen table (Who said that?) and more women need to sit at the boardroom table.

We are all responsible to have women at the table yet it’s reliant that there is a belief and desire to be in these leadership positions. Whether it’s leading a project, being the gatekeeper to the CEO (there are some awesome EAs) or a first-time team leader.

My 12-year-old daughter proclaimed this week that she’s going to become the Prime Minister of Australia. She’s disillusioned with the behaviour of the male leaders. Only three years earlier she was surprised that I had a female doctor; she believed only men were doctors and women were nurses.

There’s a gender deafness when there is only one women in parliament.

We are stuck; sadly, women are stuck because we are invisible. There are so few women at the table that men don’t notice us, let alone hear us. As Julie Bishop, former Foreign Minister in the Australian Federal Government said, “there’s a gender deafness when there is only one (or a few) women in Parliament.”

There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other.

And worse still, some women, don’t support each other. It’s one of the worst offences in business and I believe there should be a punishable charge for being guilty of this inaction. Madeleine Albright, First Female Secretary of State of the United States of America said, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other.”

What got you here, won’t get you there.

Being stuck needs action. You may know or not know you are stuck. And being pulled out is a step in the right direction; a woman needs to take control; make a choice of the change she wants to see and develop a system of behaviours to make that happen. What got you here, won’t get you there as Marshall Goldsmith, world leader in the art of coaching, told us on the front cover of his 2007 book.

Or, maybe the woman has been thrown in the deep end, into a position with no training or experience. She’ll have the technical expertise yet missed receiving the manual to follow the function of a leader.

Let’s proactively help women around us. Whether you’re a man or woman reading this (thanks for staying with me) we need to act.

Women are less likely to do this alone - they have less ego and bravado of her male counterparts. I suspect this stems from the testosterone levels in their chromosomal composition! Men sit, stand, speak, show and share differently.  Sadly, we want to be treated equal, when, how can we? What we want, is to be included. The more we seek equality, the more closed we become at seeing our uniqueness.

Let’s concentrate on enabling females to become who they are and ask males to make space at the table for the female heads, hearts, and hands.



The Female Factor was created when a client solidified what I was observing in client workplaces. She said, “we need to help women with a ladder of frameworks, tools, techniques and tips to have presence in the room to confidently speak and take a lead.”

The speed to arrive at achieving this confidence and presence isn’t breaking any records. If anything, some businesses should be charged for going too slow, if not backwards. Those racing ahead have role-models, mentors and coaches and a clearly defined map.

However, life isn’t always laid out that way and often the confidence prohibits the urgency to request help.

I’ve researched this desire and business requirement and created a system to fast-track women to an awareness of the route on the map and arrive at where X marks the spot.


These are five factors for the journey to arrive at The Female X Factor:

1.      Know your fundamental motive - your reason, purpose, philosophy, drive and allow these to do the heavy lifting when you find yourself failing.

2.      Be the force. Be strong and identify with your leadership style. Find folk who will lift you, challenge you, sing your praise and remind you to play to your strengths.

3.      Be flexible rather than fixed with your communication. Use your three key intelligence: emotional, conversational and relational to build and give trust.

4.      Flip your thinking and focus on what you can confidently do and watch your facade take on a reputational presence.

5.      Find opportunities to continue learning, experimenting with the exercises, connecting with other female leaders and developing your super X factor.

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Investing in women/yourself, giving permission to someone to guide you to focus on what is more effective for your performance, rather than listening to the loudest voice, the one in your head is the ultimate approach to an agile mindset, ready and flexible to grow the X Factor.


Psychological Safety

Warming up the room. Making the space safe & creating trustworthiness.

When I work with women, I mold a psychologically safe space to connect and communicate, to be open to hear new and wise words. And, when women get together, there’s a vibe which feels like an electric blanket on a cold evening in a strange bed. There’s an immediate warmth which enables you to quickly relax and feel comfortable and trusted.

The pace of business is demanding that we provide professional development in shorter sessions, aka masterclasses, hosted in the early hours of the day or as evening classes to cause minimal interruption to the business.  Although we know there is tremendous outcomes associated with having day long focused sessions, thankfully I have tested its ability to be delivered over multiple sessions.

Now is the time to consider how it’s possible to create the opportunity for the women in your organisation to get together and celebrate their uniqueness, differentiate themselves from their male counterparts and think and focus on their future as leaders of their workplace and community.

Let’s connect to have that conversations.


One of my projects is hosting a group of women who don’t have business/corporate/government funding to participate in The Female Factor. I’m thinking entrepreneurs, small business operators, sole traders, freelancers and consultants.

Do you fit one of these categories?

I want to offer you the opportunity to participate on this program. This may involve some face-to-face (the more the better) or by virtual connection and a conversation hub to enable you to create your own X Factor Tribe.

Who do you know who would sponsor this project? Are you a government department leader who values the growth of women leaders or you’d like to leave a legacy, investing in female leadership?

I’d welcome this very important conversation.


Influencing The F Factor


In the pursuit of a successful career, there are a few things which can cause us to stumble, trip and sometimes fall. Being a woman, there appears to be additional manholes which we encounter:

Female – those two letters F & E, make all the difference in the life of a woman

Facebook – whether you’re the subject of discussion or the Chief Operating Officer, you’re on the back foot copping criticism more so than favouritism

Feminist – seeking equality in the workforce, let alone in life, still appears to be a dirty word

Family – being the natural caregiver doubles the workload caring for children and the home.

Sheryl Sandberg, author of the still popular bestseller, Lean In, holds no bars. In her tell-all life story, from cradle to Facebook’s COO she reveals what it’s taken to become who she is. I’ve never encountered anyone who is so open and candid about life, especially a woman holding such a prestigious position.

Sheryl has gifted us with the licence to be vulnerable and have a voice at the table. Writing this book was Sheryl being ambitious and facing her fears: picture her writing this book, possibly ‘leaning in’ at the kitchen table, after she’d shared a meal and put the children to bed.


Are you this Authentic?


Being an authentic leader has been a very topical subject for the past ten years and Sheryl role models through every page (maybe too often for my liking) but I take my hat off to her for putting it all out there, as we do in the land of Facebook.

Given my recent read of The Wife Drought by Journalist, Anabelle Crabb, I became overly cautious reading Lean In’s lengthy Foreword by Belinda Hutchinson, Chairman of QBE Insurance Group Limited - I thought I was in for another lecture on the history of the woes of being a woman. However, I was immediately engaged with the first chapter devoted to closing the Leadership Ambition Gap, Sherly asks: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN'T AFRAID?

Sheryl reminds us of why we fall into these manholes, exploring why women are less likely to aspire to the powerful roles, believing that ambition is a dirty word and assuming that having it all vs losing it all equates to good employee vs responsible parent.

Lean In is a call to action, hence the reason why so many women have found it uplifting and inspiring. There’s even a Lean In Facebook page which you can join upon reading the book – sharing uplifting stories of the book being acted upon.

My five favourite pearls of wisdom:

·        Women need to be relentlessly pleasant when negotiating; smiling frequently, expressing appreciation and concern, invoking common interests, emphasising larger goals and approaching negotiations as problem-solving. All this appears like crossing a minefield backwards in high heels!

·        We need to withstand criticism. The cost of speaking your mind will inevitably offend someone – so allow yourselves to react emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness being criticised arouses in us and then we should quickly move on… just like children do.

·        When you identify a weakness, do something about it. Turn to a coach to help correct it. Trying to overcorrect a weakness is a great way to find a middle ground.

·        Get a mentor and you will excel. This is a common message for aspiring talented people.  However, flip this: Excel and you will attract a Mentor; impress others and they will want to invest in you.

·        Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships. Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about. To really care about others, we have to understand them – what they like and dislike, what they feel as well as think.


As leaders, you can exercise leadership by supporting, encouraging and role modelling the F Factors:

Fraternity – Create your own women@google to help each other out: gather a group of women, share a meal, practise boasting about your successes and then share these women’s success stories in your own circles

Fearless – rid yourself of debilitating norms and stereotypes; tell yourself that you can do a job even if you only possess 40% of the job requirements (it’s the only time that I suggest you be like a man!)

Face time – leverage off 21st century technology and stop measuring facetime but focus on the results. Which goes in hand with …

Flexibility – offer flexibility together with accountability, encourage parents to be with children, adults to be with elderly parents … allow them to work around what’s important to them and they’ll respect you

Failures - reflect, learn and see it as an opportunity as you spruik your successes

Fast – the faster we act to break the cycle of the patterns we’ve inherited from our parents e.g. doing more housework than our partners, we will reach greater equality.

Forward – look to the future, be forward and be bold.


If you haven’t kept up to date with Sheryl’s life, in May 2015, her husband Dave died suddenly while on holiday. The world of followers were in shock after Sheryl had declared her love for him in this book – in particular how reliant she was on him to continue in her successful career.

On the anniversary of his death, this year, Sheryl addressed UC Berkeley, it was her first public discussion about life after Dave – being challenged to the core, surviving through adversity, relying on your muscle of resilience and realising that we must show gratitude for the joy that there is in your life.

This YouTube, from Sheryl’s own account is a must watch, just like her book is a must read for every woman and man and our children.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!