A week of breakfasts

Last week I spoke at two breakfasts. The first was for the Wilston Grange Business Community‘s annual Year 11 Leadership Breakfast, and the other was for the annual Small Business Connections Everton Park Business Breakfast hosted by Everton Park State High School.

At the WGBC’s event, our MC and organiser Paul Hudson, asked us to address the question:

What is leadership and what does it mean to me? 

I don’t think I directly addressed the question, but I hope that I gave some value. Here’s what I said:

Good morning. I would like to begin by first acknowledging that we are on Aboriginal land. Here in this place we are on the land of the Turrubal and Jagera.

I acknowledge the unceded sovereignty of Aboriginal communities here in Brisbane and across the continent. And I acknowledge Aboriginal peoples in the room.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all this morning.

When I’m working with emerging business owners I often say to them to take every opportunity you can to talk about you business and how you go about it.

Most business owners I know however are very hesitant to do so. If you’re a really great maker or creator, you’re more likely to want to just focus on making and creating. Not talking.

However like writing and teaching, the act of planning a speech gives you an opportunity to engage with your work. You’re forced to think about why and how you work.

You see taking pause, having a break, stepping outside of the job, allows you an opportunity to articulate your reason for being.

 When I created Deadly Bloggers, I just went about the business of building the first directory of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bloggers. I was passionate about it. I built it one step at a time with little forward thinking and no strategy. I didn’t make any money from it, really I still haven’t. But I knew in my gut that it was a good idea. It wasn’t until later, much later that I came to understand why I was doing it.

And it was through writing and speaking about Deadly Bloggers at conferences and lectures that I came to understand its importance, and to articulate it. For me, Deadly Bloggers is about supporting the writing and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a country that routinely ignores us.

As emerging leaders in a variety of fields and endeavours, many of you may not know yet why you’re going down a particular route or a particular path. You know in your gut that it’s the right thing to do, or the right thing for you, but you can’t necessarily say why.

I would encourage each of you to consider taking up writing as a way to develop your understanding of your own practice in whatever field that may be.

Now, as I’m a passionate advocate of digital media and the opportunities that it can bring, I thoroughly encourage you to use blogging as a means of documenting your journey.

Now you don’t have to just write words when you’re ‘writing’. A piece of ‘text’, can be a video-blog, an audio post, or an image post, a series of images like a photographic essay. Don’t think that you’re just constrained to writing ‘words’, sentences and paragraphs.

As you get ready to head off into the world, image documenting that journey along the way.
Documenting the twists and turns that you will take over the next 8 or maybe even 9 decades of your life.

Imagine the archive that you would leave – an archive that documented the journey of a leader.

Many of us, probably most of us, conflate leadership and authority.

There are positions of authority – positions that by their very nature command authority and power – I’m thinking here Prime Ministers, Judges, CEOs of large companies etc.

And of course, the people are leaders, they’re definitely leaders. But leadership is much bigger than that, much broader than that.

Leaders are in every facet of our world – there are people who are leaders in their fields of research, people who do their jobs well in all industries, who have the most knowledge, who commit more than the rest. They’re teachers, nurses, GPs, lawyers, gardeners, artists, musicians.

Most leaders in our community aren’t known, they won’t appear in the National Biography, but they’re leaders nonetheless.

Documenting the journey of these types of leaders is more important than ever.

The world that you will grow into is very different from the one that I grew up in. Less jobs due to increased automation, increased globalisation. Now, more than ever, we need leaders in every part of the world and across all industries, at all levels who, through reason and thought, can guide their communities through the changes that will come. Writing and documenting the journey of your leadership will provide an archive that generations after you will be able to learn from.

 Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today. It’s given me an chance to think about what leadership means and a chance to be present to why I do the work that I do.

I wish you all the best of luck. Thank you.


On Friday I introduced the guest speaker to the Everton Park event, Ms Carol Vale. I know Carol as she is also a graduate of the Murra Indigenous Business Masterclass at Melbourne Business School. She’s also a ‘north-sider’

Good morning. I would like to begin by first acknowledging that we are on Aboriginal land. Here in this place we are on the land of the Turrubal and Jagera. I acknowledge the unceded sovereignty of Aboriginal communities here in Brisbane and across the continent. And I acknowledge Aboriginal peoples in the room.

When choosing a keynote speaker for this year’s breakfast there are any number of topics or themes I could have chosen. However, one morning at my desk, I noticed the cover of the latest edition of Harvard Business Review asks the question Why Diversity Programs Fail?

The article pointed to many different reasons why programs in corporations of different sizes fail.

In Australia, diversity has been given some attention in the public sector in recent decades, but only recently has the private sector begun to take notice of the importance of using diverse suppliers and diverse employees.

Our guest speaker today, Ms Carol Vale has been working with employeers and employees to create programs that both increase and sustain diversity within the workplace.

Carol Vale is a Dhunghutti woman from NSW and brings to her work, personal and professional insights into working effectively with the complexities of Aboriginal people and communities. Carol draws on her experience to enable participation in conversations that lead to change. She is committed to facilitating opportunities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to come together to tackle the tough issues confronting Indigenous people in all communities.

In 2013 Carol co-founded Murawin Pty Ltd and is the company’s Managing Director and Principal Consultant. She continues to working across the breadth of Aboriginal affairs with a key focus on working with others to enhance leadership and management capabilities and cultural

Carol has a Bachelor of Arts, a Masters of Indigenous Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Public Sector Leadership, a Diploma of Counselling, and will be Doctoral Candidate in 2017 in leadership and public policy. Carol is a faculty member of the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales. She also completed the Sydney Leadership Program in 2012 and the Murra Indigenous Business Master Class Program through the Melbourne Business School-University of Melbourne in 2014.

I have to say, I’m completely inspired by Carol’s work and her achievements. It’s definitely got me thinking about returning to further study next year.