It is Thursday morning, the day after our official Women in Family Business Australia & New Zealand launch event. What a whirlwind year it has been to get to this point. So much energy has gone into making it happen. Countless hours of brainstorming, sharing ideas, finding solutions, and continuously looking forward; never letting go of our vision.
But let me take you back to where all this started.
Three years ago, I realised that what made me feel uncomfortable at times in what I perceived was ‘weirdly different’ in my family business consulting approach, was in fact me being a woman in a male-dominated professional space.
I just see the world from a different perspective. That’s all. I have a sense for what the individuals in a family in business have experienced emotionally. I tend to not just understand what is happening for them on an intellectual level, but I can feel it, sense it and understand the possible implications for the collective. I guess that is what people refer to as EQ.
But I digress. The realisation that there was in fact nothing “wrong with me” was like a sudden sense of being at peace with who I am and how I work. It also prompted me to reflect on the women in family businesses I had worked with over so many years.
It occurred to me that from what I had seen, heard, and experienced, many of them were suffering from a similar sense of unease, uncertainty, and insecurity about their roles, their voices, and their legitimacy – whether as a leader in the business or of the family.
Don’t get me wrong, I am talking about outwardly confident women, who are competent in their business and accepted as a critical influence in the family. They didn’t struggle intellectually with what they knew and what they could see was needed, they struggled with how it ‘felt’ and how to voice concerns they had, in particular about the state of the family unit.
I am not going to go into all the stories, all the reasons, and all of the emotions here, but it stirred something – a vision and a passion to provide tools, conversations, and content for women in family business, not just via a conference or webinars, but in a framework that is accessible 24/7 to provide inspiration, support and solutions when they need it most.
A vision and lots of passion were all that was needed to create the first conference in October 2019. If I thought that getting a conference up and running was brave and a huge effort, then I clearly had no inkling about what ‘crazy’ idea was going to be next.
On the back of COVID making conferences rather difficult, the idea of a 2-day event in 2020 was out of the question. Admittedly, I was quite disappointed, given that I had already mapped out the first day in my mind – opening ballet dancers and all!!
Instead, on the back of the 3-year partnership with Family Business Australia that was signed off in May 2020, I felt it was time to be serious and take the first steps to turn WiFBANZ into a real business that could deliver on the vision I had.
I would like to say at this point that the rest was history. But it is never that easy, is it?
WiFBANZ was a complete start-up. All funding had to come from my consulting business, and I needed good people to fill all the knowledge and skill gaps I have. I am not even going to start listing them all.
At times, I was scared – terrified even – and sometimes, I probably still am. But that hasn’t stopped me yet and is unlikely to in the future. Sometimes, I just have to remind myself to just do it afraid. However, I don’t have to do it alone!
Apart from assembling a good advisory board with the patient, kind, smart, and well-connected people, I was also blessed with an amazing team that ‘showed up’ just at the right time.
If you asked me how I found them, I think the truth is that they found me. Their love for my vision, their belief in what we are here to do, their collective strength, and their unwavering willingness to support this business and each other is something I have never experienced and could have never foreseen or known how to ask for.
A vision and passion alone do not make for a successful journey. It takes a whole bunch of good people to create it and stay the course, even through difficult times. There were numerous times in our team meeting when I looked around the room and was close to tears, barely able to believe how amazing, capable, diverse, and positive this team is.
There is so much ahead of us – a mountain of meaningful content to be created, many conversations to be had, many connections to be made – and I am excited about where we are headed and what we will be sharing with you in the future.
So, as I finish my reflection, thank you Ishara, Luiz, Caity, Helen, Dee, and Kannu for the love, commitment, and patience you are showing me and are giving to this vision. Thank you to all who have been supporting us to date and to those of you who will be supporting us today and into the future.
Our story has just begun.