Leadership reflections. Be good to yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy.

International Womens Day (IDW) 2005 was a pivotal point in my life journey. When I got the call to tell me I was the inaugural Kiama IWD Electorate Women of the Year, I was thrilled, I was flabbergasted, and I had a huge dose of imposter syndrome. It was the imposter syndrome that weighed heavily so I set the bar high for myself and was determined to live up to award and so the journey began.

This is a post for everyone out there fighting the good fight, spending a lot of time questioning themselves, feeling a bit (very) jaded, and keen to get their mojo back.

I woke up yesterday morning to see this post from Airlie Trescowthick founder of Farm Table . Airlie  started her post Thank you for inspiring me: 14 rural women I want to celebrate this IWD. with this preface

In celebration of International Women’s Day (8th March 2018), I wanted to take the time out to thank some women who have made an impact on me during my Farm Table journey so far.

 Some know me, some do not, but they have all inspired me and given me the confidence to develop, grow and take risks running my own business.

These women are running businesses and building solutions to issues and challenges we share across rural and agricultural industries. Starting up a business can be lonely and scary, particularly when in a rural area. But, with a network of like-minded and supportive women across the country, you are never truly alone.

Thank you, from me, and from all that you inspire.

Of the 14 people Airlie profiled I only know two personally and I look forward to the day I meet the other twelve. Wow

When I read Airlie’s profile on me – it generated a lot of reflection

Farm Table 3.jpg

MMMh the ‘ultimate leader’. What is a leader. One thing I know for sure is what Airlie and her support team have created with Farm Table is nothing short of phenomenal and there is no way in the world I could have pulled it off. Super kudos to them

If leadership is creating a movement and being part of that movement. I can wear that hat. My style is not one that everyone is comfortable with and I have spent the last five years questioning it myself.

I’ve been called a leader for taking initiative, getting things done and standing my ground on big issues. My journey has taught me that results are not everything and leadership is not a solo activity.  It’s something that you do with people, not despite people. To be a successful leader we also need to work on how we engage to get those results. One of the things I’ve been working on is developing my style to build stronger relationships because relationships are everything. We always need to be thinking about how we can improve, how can we learn, and to take every leadership opportunity as a personal growth experience as well as a product delivery outcome.

Last year I signed up for several “leadership” courses. I engaged a leadership coach. I identified all the things I wanted to ‘improve’ about myself and poured my heart and soul into it. Let me tell you – you can have too much self-awareness. What my journey to be a  ‘better version of myself’  has reinforced is the importance of deep, genuine friendships, seeking help and surrounding yourself with people who bring joy into your life.

The most insightful advice I can give every-one out there (and we are all leaders) is be kind to yourself. As Steve Jobs so famously said “if you want to be liked, sell ice-cream”. People can pick and choose whether they want to be part of your movement or not.

And the tall poppy syndrome. Don’t beat yourself up. If some-one singles you out for an award or gives you an accolade, wear it with pride. Sure, there will be plenty of people they could have given it too, but they picked you. It’s what you do with the award, it’s how you leverage it on behalf of your cause that counts.

As Airlie identified there is no shortage of women in agriculture doing diverse and exciting things. There is no shortage of people in agriculture doing exciting things. There is no shortage of people in all our communities doing exciting things. If you want to start a movement or join a movement, find the one that brings joy into your life.

Thanks Airlie.  I look forward to following your journey.  I havent had the opportunity to work with you but my gut tells me you have an inclusive leadership style I have always aspired too

#IDW2018 #strongwomen #strongertogether

Speaking of Leadership Courses. The one that has left the most indelible impression on me is Leading Transformational Change. Its a live-in course at the Melbourne Business School. The course is transformational but its the people I met at the course who helped me put perspective to my life journey. They helped me celebrate the person I am. The good, the bits others think I should change and the bits I would like to change.  What others think no longer occupies large parts of my head space and the bits I would like to change help me appreciate others with those characteristics and aspire to surround myself with them.

Be good to  yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy

Getting stronger every day – the pain is worth the gain

Welcome to blog number 4 journaling my hamstring avulsion rehab journey 

Yesterday was another milestone. I managed to drive to Sydney without having to stop and get out of the car once.  Three months ago I couldn’t go 30 minutes without stopping .

Every minute I have spent my local rehab gym Solutions for Wellbeing has been a life saver ( emotionally and physically). This meme sums it up perfectly


Here is a taste of my Gym week.  Friday mornings usually start with a 6am Pilates class. Today it wasn’t to be.   Note to self. It might be a Smart phone, but it can’t read your mind yet. Press the SAVE button next time Girlfriend


No dramas – plenty happening at 7am.

My pre-gym mornings start with a protein shake. I use Whey protein as my base and add a  variety of nutritious goodies.


Now to find out what smorgasbord of torture,  exercise physiologist Brendan had planned for us today. I had a smile when I saw it. I am a bit of a fan of weight training. In my first few months at the gym my 3rd grade hamstring tear meant gently gently for my legs but that didn’t stop upper body training and I am starting to live up to my surname

The circuit class for this morning was designed to build muscle, aiming for 8-12 repetitions of each exercise and going for quite heavy loads. Research suggests that the most effective way to target muscle hypertrophy is to work within this repetition range. The feeling you should experience at the end of the 8th-12th repetition should be one of muscle fatigue so a rest is required following the exercise. Some of the exercises we performed were a dumbbell bench press, kettle bell squat, dumbbell shoulder press and a bosu squat.  I must admit the body was grateful for the 15 minute stretch session that followed

Then off to my local friendly IGA to pick up my fresh fruit and veggies.


Home for a post gym workout breakfast of healthy grains (see footnote) and good carbs



Dietitians are pleased to see that the Paleo fad seems to be declining and more and more Australians are waking up to grains – which are a powerhouse of nutritious goodness boasting 26 nutrients and phytonutrients that help protect against chronic disease

#srongwomen #strongertogether  #strongerthanyesterday #grainslove #dairylove

Catherine Marriott – a woman who stood up when she knew it would do the most good

I first met Catherine Marriott in early 2012. She reached out because she saw we shared a vision we both wanted to turn into a reality. We wanted to help empower rural and regional Australians in the agriculture sector to share their story and provide them with the tools and knowledge to do that.

I have never met anybody like her. She thinks deeply about every decision she makes. She surrounds herself with an ever-growing network of agriculture’s best and bright minds. First and foremost she cares deeply about people, she consults, she listens, and she always goes with the decisions she believes are best for women, agriculture and rural and regional Australia. And that means she does what’s best for everyone in this country

She joined me at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2012 where she helped me run two events that connect young people in rural Australia with young people in our cities

We shared a room – she declared she didn’t sleep a wink – I snore louder than her mother.

She is a professional photographer, she took our photographs. We couldn’t afford to pay her, yet she insisted on paying for half that room where didn’t sleep a wink.

Catherine Marriott.jpg

Catherine Marriott congratulates Jordan Kerr at the Cream of the Crop Awards in 2012. Note MC Stephanie Coombes

I can understand if it happened a while ago (which is what’s been reported) why Catherine made the decision now.  I can only envision how much heart and soul went into her decision to make an official complaint. She has phenomenal support from her amazing family . She would have thought about the impact on the Rural Women’s Award, the town of Broome, her workplace everyone and everything she has ever touched.

Let’s not forget the self-care. These things don’t go away. Catherine is a woman with an incredible legacy. She has achieved so much in such a short time and I am confident will achieve so much more. The last thing agriculture and anything she has made a reality needs, is for her be known first for being ‘that woman who finally made Barnaby realise it was time to do the right thing”

Men and women everywhere are standing side by side to support this brave, brave woman with the hashtags #standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongwomen

Join us and help people everywhere have the courage to stand up when it matters and when it will do the most good.




Barnaby Joyce has jumped off the cliff of no return

I have followed the whole Barnaby Joyce debacle shaking my head. Here is a man who claims to represent the best interest of farmers and agriculture. Yet so little of his ideas of the “best interest” for farmers matched mine. I will admit there were parts of Barnaby’s style I did admire.  But when it was revealed that the WA woman who filed a sexual harassment complaint against the former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for  inappropriate behaviour was Catherine Marriott  and he described her comments as “spurious and defamatory” I realised I couldn’t forgive him for anything .

Catherine Marriott (affectionately known as Maz)  is agriculture’s darling and she deserves to be. She is integrity personified.  I am 100% confident if Catherine made a complaint, that complaint is 100% valid.  Barnaby you will never convince agriculture that Catherine would make a “spurious and defamatory” allegation.

The court of public opinion is hammering Catherine for not taking her allegation to the police. Lets be real women all over the world. I for one would do something but the last place I would walk into is a police station. And seriously does it matter when it happened.  Who wants their legacy to be “that woman who accused Barnaby Joyce”.

Catherine is a giver. She cares deeply and she supports others who care deeply. This kind of generosity has a ripple effect for others. She inspires. She uplifts and she encourages others to do the same. They become catalysts for better leadership and contribution to the rural sector. All those who personally know Catherine, know how much courage it took to do this. Lets not judge Catherine. Lets talk about how women can stand up without the stigma and the public scrutiny that making a complaint to the police generates.

Some key points from ABC News article Barnaby Joyce sexual harassment accuser wanted Nationals leader held accountable

  • Former WA Rural Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott said she never intended for the issue to become public
  • Ms Marriott said she asked National Party to undertake a “formal and confidential” investigation
  • Barnaby Joyce previously called her allegation “spurious and defamatory”

Catherine Marriott said she made the complaint because she wanted Mr Joyce to be accountable.

In a statement, Ms Marriott said she never intended for the issue to become public and had asked for the National Party to undertake a “formal and confidential” investigation into the incident.

“I requested that … to ensure there is accountability in relation to the incident I raise, and to prevent this type of inappropriate behaviour towards women in the future,” Ms Marriott said.

“This complaint was not made solely to address the incident against me — it is about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions.

“I will await the outcome of this investigation before determining any future action or commenting further.”

Ms Marriott is a former West Australian Rural Woman of the Year.


Catherine Marriott
I think Katherine Murphy from The Guardian sums it up nicely in her article  In this mess of his own creation, Barnaby Joyce’s self-pity was repulsive 
#standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongwomen

People forgive but they rarely forget


Forgiving someone is easy, but being able to trust them again is a totally different story

As Malcolm Turnbull prepares his apology to the survivors of Sexual Abuse   I had a stark reminder of how the pain never goes away

When the CSIRO removed this stunning time lapse video of a cotton boll opening from their website I loaded it on ours

Yesterday this comment appeared

Cotton Boll opening quote.jpg

I am confident you will agree forgiving and forgetting is great in theory, but in reality it’s difficult. Lets not beat ourselves up if we don’t achieve both.  Forgiving allows us to move on but we don’t forget either, so we can take the valuable life lessons with us.

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Turning the anti-bullying conversation around


You can find this poster here

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?

This above quote is an extract of a comment from reader Andrew on my post Is the Mean Mob Mentality Out Of Control.  See footnote

I am confident we will all agree that Andrew makes a very valid point

When you Google ‘Modelling Anti-Bullying Behaviour’ Google Scholar offers a plethora of articles 

Social science research tells us if we craft the message that signals preferred behaviour we get preferred behaviour.

Using an example I saw at boys school I visited in 2016. The sign in the foyer said “65% of men and boys interviewed think domestic violence occurs”

The social scientists tell us this sign models negative behaviour. The ideal sign would say “100% of men think domestic violence is wrong.”

Clearly the image at the top of the post is a great example of modelling preferred behaviour. See article here

Love other readers thoughts on how we rise to challenge that Andrew has posed


Andrew’s comment on the original blog

Where I’m coming from is contrarian to many, so please read to the end.
This is not a criticism of what’s happening in general or the posts and comments here.

In grappling with the issue we are faced with in relation to personal attacks in social and mainstream media we need to call out bullying for what it is, and those carrying out that behaviour need to be held to account.

At this time I’m reminded of Sister Teresa of Calcutta.
She was asked to attend an “anti-war” rally, where the proponents would have obviously used her presence to leverage the PR.
Sister Teresa’s response was if you can explain to me what you are for, I’ll consider it.

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

Using Sister Teresa’s framework … if we are anti bullying, what are we for?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

We know what we don’t want but, have difficulty articulating what we do want.
When training dogs, we reward positive behaviour for the obvious reason, with young children we do the same when it comes to behaviours. Or we should.

So what behaviour do we wish to recognise as it applies to social and mainstream media behaviour?
It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?


Persistence and Determination are all conquering


This week marks 12 months since I tore my hamstring off the bone – a very serious and rare injury. See backstory here 

I had two options – surgery which had many risks and a long recovery period or very extensive rehab.

I chose rehab. I am very excited to say at this point in time I am a hamstring avulsion conservative treatment rehab success story. Very few people with this injury get the movement back that I have.

I have also learnt at lot about me. I always wanted to be fit but avoided gym classes like the plague. I always considered myself unco – the aerobic class would be waving to the left and I would be waving to the right and when I started fitball classes that is exactly what happened. But its one big family at my rehab gym and everyone laughed along with me and encouraged me and I have got it. Go me ( I may even start dance classes)

TRX, now that was another animal all together. No matter what my personal trainer said  there was no way anyone was going to get me to hang from the ceiling.


Then I found out a fortnight ago that classes I was attending where going to become circuit classes and TRX could be part of the circuit. So I put my big girl pants on and booked a 30 min TRX personal training session and guess what I can now add TRX to one of the things I have mastered in the last 12 months

TRX is about trust as is balance. Me trusting that not only will the rope hold me as well as me trusting me. Balance remains the stumbling point. One leg trusting the other that it can hold me up. You should see me at night sitting in my lounge room watching Netflix or SBS OnDemand on one leg on my fitball lifting weights

The last 12 months has taught me talent and intellect come nowhere near determination and persistence as markers for success.  I know success at the gym relies on technique combined with persistence and determination to get the technique right. I relish my technique being corrected in front of others, its means I am being watched and they care about me.  I ask questions as often as it takes to get it right and I still have a lot to learn but learning I am. I am very proud of me and I have also lost 5 kgs (extra awesome)

We can all get value from Calvin Coolidge’s wise words. Lets not be afraid to do the hard yards.  Lets be brave enough to ask advice and wise enough take it.  Persistence and Determination are omnipotent

#gogirlfriend #strongwomen