Championing Flexibility – Podcast

Championing Flexibility – Podcast


(gentle music) – Welcome to the “Business
Between Bells” podcast, a space for those trying to
build sustainable businesses between school drop off and pick up. This podcast is here to support you while juggling parenthood,
business, and school life. Now introducing your host, Katie Maynes. – You are listening to Episode 10 with Sarah Piper from Invisible Partners. I hope this finds you all well and you’ve had a great week. Now, something that’s
been on my mind of late is just how supportive the
business community can be. This was discussed last
week with Julie-Anne and Glen from Subo and I
was thinking the same thing when I spoke to today’s
guest, Sarah Piper. I hope Sarah won’t mind me saying this, but after we recorded the
podcast we were having a chat, and she just asked me out of the blue, “Is there any way I can help
you with your business, Katie?” I know this sounds simple, but I just thought that
it was such a kind thing for her to ask and something
I hope to keep in mind when talking to business
owners in the future. We’re all in this together, and often there are really easy
ways we can help each other. It could be something as simple as commenting on a social media post. So it was just a really
timely reminder for me to support those people
around me as much as I can, and I’d love you to reach out to me if there’s any way I can
help you with your business. So this week I had the
pleasure of speaking with Sarah who’s the founder of Invisible Partners. Sarah is mom of two children,
Leah six and Nicholas four, and married to David. As you’ll pick up by her
accent she was born in Scotland and made Australia home 15 years ago. It was on a trip back to Scotland that she had two a-ha moments that saw her launch Invisible
Partners 18 months ago. Before this, Sarah had
over 18 years experience in the recruitment industry, having led and managed diverse
teams across Australia, the UK, and South East Asia. I absolutely love what Sarah has created in Invisible Partners and the way she champions
and values flexible work. This is something we
discuss in today’s episode, along with how she leads a team when she’s not in the
office 40 hours a week, and how her and the family
have found the transition of her daughter starting school this year. I really hope you enjoy this
conversation as much as I did. So thanks, Sarah, so much
for being here today. – My pleasure, so delighted
to be able to speak to you about all this fun stuff. (laughing)
– Fantastic. Now, I just wanted to start, I always ask my guests
about their mornings because something I find is that mornings can be a bit of a pain point. So how was your morning today? And what does a typical morning
look like in your household? – Every morning is different (laughs) in the sense that we have
different destinations to drop our children off
to, different people. My husband and myself, we have sometimes some
nanny support that helps us. So it’s a bit of a jigsaw
puzzle around who’s doing what, and where they’re going,
and who needs what. And so it is a bit of a,
it’s a bit of jigsaw puzzle that if you haven’t planned
it out well on a Sunday night the wheels can come off quite quickly. So I completely concur, mornings can be a massive problem area. But generally speaking,
how our morning runs, and today was a good morning. So I’m pleased to say I’m winning today. I wake up really, really early. I’m one of those kind of crazy people that is a morning person. So I get up really early and I do a yoga class at six o’clock. – Oh, fantastic. – And so that kind of
sets me up for my day. If I don’t do that, I get really
grumpy very, very quickly. And so that kind of is really important to
me and my mental health, and I probably do that
four days out of seven. And I then quickly do a bit of
tag-teaming with my husband. Make sure lunches are made. That normally falls to me ’cause my husband can barely boil an egg. So food and food preparation’s
kind of my domain. And then mornings are really
my husband’s territory. So I have to dash off as
quickly as I possibly can to be in the city early and squeeze in most of
my day in the morning, so then I can then dash
off early and do pick up. So that’s kind of how we tag team. Mornings are my husband’s domain, and afternoons and pick up are my domain. So yeah, then it’s just
around prep drop off, kinder drop off, and
everything else in between. – Oh, that’s great. It’s intense that period, isn’t it? I’ve spoken to other
guests who’ve had kids where there’s multiple drop offs, and I can imagine that
would be quite a challenge. – Yeah, it’s a juggling act. – Yeah, but I like the
fact that you guys share it and that you sort of focus
on your work in the mornings. And I think that that works really well ’cause then you know that
can be your sort of time for getting everything sorted. Were you always a morning person in terms of getting up for
yoga before you had kids? – Yeah, I’ve always been
a bit annoying (laughs) with my morning. I’m rubbish in the afternoon. Anything after four o’clock
I’m really ordinary. So you can’t be everything, and definitely mornings
are my thinking time. I’m most creative in the mornings. I think at my best. But yes, so mornings have never
been particularly difficult, but it’s another level when you’ve got little people disturbing you overnight. Mornings can become more challenging, and we’re definitely still in that domain. My son’s still in that
sort of waking up right, coming into your bedroom
at four in the morning, staring you in the face,
and you get terrified. You know, we’re still in that domain. So mornings can be a bit tricky if you’ve had that disturbance. – Yeah, yeah, but I think it’s
good to have that in place, that you do do your yoga, and
you know that that’s important kind of to set your day up, so thanks. – Yeah, it’s super important, yeah. – Excellent. Now, you are the founder
of recruitment agency, Invisible Partners, and I just wanted to hear about this, how you started the business and what was the catalyst for starting it? – Sure. Invisible Partners, I’m
gonna slightly correct you, is the antithesis of
agency, recruitment agency. We are the opposite. We are anti-agency, and we’re not anti-recruitment agency, but we are the alternative option for organizations looking to hire. And it’s been a journey, and the journey was really influenced by motherhood and parenthood. So I have had big corporate
jobs with big flash titles, and global remits, and lived
and worked in Singapore looking after the South East Asian region for a big search firm, and had lots of fun, and lots
of big, ego-driven titles. And so that was my world, and that’s what I thought
success looked like, and then I had children, and
that kinda changed everything. I felt like that life was
requiring me to rush everything, rush myself, rush my children,
rush work into little pockets that I just didn’t perform at my best. And I’d gone from
complete high performance to feeling incredibly strung out, stressed out, anxiety-fueled, and just felt like I was
failing at everything. And I wasn’t the sort of
parent that I wanted to be. I wasn’t present. I wasn’t at all the parent
that I wanted to show up to be. And so even though recruitment
is a passion of mine, and I love seeing businesses grow through hiring the right people, and I love helping
individuals ace their career and really develop in
their career journey, I knew I couldn’t continue to do it in the mode that I had been doing it. And so, I took my children to
Scotland for a bit of a hiatus and a bit of visiting of my
family and my motherland. So we went there for a month, and I just had an epiphany around, I knew that I wasn’t the only
female to be feeling like this and to feel kind of stretched across too many different buckets of their life, and I wanted to fix that for myself. But I didn’t just want
to fix it for myself, I wanted to fix it for others. So that was my first epiphany and my first kind of a-ha moment that led to the creation
of Invisible Partners. And the second was really the changing of the recruitment industry. And so, when I corrected you around the terminology of our agency, the agency world is really changing. And so, currently mid-sized corporates, which is our segment of customer,
so employees of 50 to 500, currently when they look to hire they have to go to the very
expensive, over-priced, arguably unreliable solution
of engaging an agency. And so they pay tens of
thousands of dollars. The outcome they get is sometimes okay, and sometimes it’s not, and it can sometimes go horribly wrong, and there’s no real skin
in the game of the agent. The other opportunity they
have, or other option they have, is hiring somebody
internally to do something, but they might not need a full-time team. They might just have a project or a spike of recruitment requirement that doesn’t actually warrant somebody being on their payroll full-time. And often all they can afford for somebody to be on
their payroll full-time is a very tactical, low-level,
inexperienced person. So what Invisible Partners do is help those mid-size organizations to hire with access to amazing talent
acquisition professionals, and they access them
through Invisible Partners. We’ve grown our wonderful community, a wonderful family of talent
acquisition professionals that really don’t want to do nine to five. They want to do flexible work. They want to do great
work and really great, they want to solve great
problems for their customers and their clients, but they don’t want to
do that in the confines of nine to five. They want to do that from home sometimes. They want to do that on-site sometimes, But they want to do it
’round their commitments outside of work. And so we’ve brought those two kind of a-ha moments together and
made Invisible Partners. – Ah, I love hearing that. That’s fantastic. I apologize (laughs) in regards to– – No, no, I’m almost glad. I didn’t correct you earlier
in our briefing notes ’cause I wanted to kind
of talk about that story and the difference.
– Yeah, I really like that. And it’s just so needed at
the moment in this climate, that you’re recognizing that
there is a need for this, and that businesses have to
work in a different way too. I think that that’s really important. I can completely relate
to what you were saying in regards to that feeling
when you return to work after you had your children that you just couldn’t be
everything to everyone and that you would. Well, the way that I felt was as if I was just doing everything poorly. – Yeah. – And I just don’t think that, well, I was not prepared for that at all. I watched people around
me in the workplace return from mat leave, and I had seen that they had challenges, but I think that when
you’re not in that space you kind of don’t relate as much. But I read books while I was on mat leave, like, Lean In, and was
thinking, yeah, I can do this. And I had all this newfound
creative passion, I guess, and motivation in a way, too, but then I went back to my old job, I just felt as if I wasn’t
the same person anymore, and I was not able to do it
the way that I used to do it. And in hindsight, I think,
probably was doing it in, I was just doing it differently. I wasn’t necessarily worse at it, but because I wasn’t that
old person that I was I couldn’t pick it up, and the best solution for
me was to start my business. So I loved hearing you say that. – Yeah. – And that you then kind of
wanted to help others as well. – Yeah, I don’t mean to
sound completely altruistic ’cause clearly Invisible Partners
is a commercial business, and world domination
is my next destination. (laughs)
It’s not completely selfless. But I did feel completely compelled to give really, really good people that had just divorced
themselves from nine to five that weren’t working, that had completely given up on the opportunity
to be financially independent. And it was, my business isn’t
exclusively female-oriented. The reality is all of
my Invisible workforce to date are females. So that’s kind of not
particularly surprising with the caring responsibility
still is default female, even though that needs to
continue to be challenged. And some of the most satisfying
parts of the business that I have launched,
and we’re 18 months old, so still really, really
early in our journey, we have nearly eight
people working on-site in different client environments, and I’d say half of those
people were not working. So they had not worked for
two, three, four years. So part of my role has been to help them raise their confidence back up, to get them to access
more up-to-date skills in our world of recruitment. So technologies and platforms that have emerged in the last four or five years since they’ve been out of the workforce. And the biggest satisfaction for me is having those people go, I didn’t think this was available to me. I am doing such good stuff. Their confidence, I can see,
has grown exponentially, and they’re just flourishing. And whilst, and they’re doing that ’cause they’re investing in themselves, and they’re committing to whatever outcome they’re committing to
with Invisible Partners, and it’s their own journey. It’s wonderful to be part of it, yeah. – Oh, yeah, for sure.
– That’s cool. – I’m nodding my head and smiling because I’ve had that conversation with a few different friends
lately about returning to work, and I know that it is scary. If you’ve had some time out, and it’s scary enough
even after a short break. – It is, it is. Yeah, absolutely. – Yeah, but I love that you’re doing that. What’s some advice that
you would give to someone who has had a little bit of time off or is, I guess, a bit
scared about going back? – Sure. – What would you say to them about, or encourage them to, yeah? – I think part of it is the
language that you speak. So I think when you are, and let’s focus on kind of
parents, stay-at-home parents, and that might not be the only reason that you’re out of the workforce. It could be redundancy,
it could be ill health, it could be looking after aging parents, but particularly parents
who have been around young kids for a sustained period of time, and their only dialogue is around family and around children, starting
to pick up the vocabulary that sits in a professional world, not necessarily recruitment,
any professional life. You get out of the habit
of talking like that, and you feel really disarmed by the lingo or the lack thereof. And so I think just getting
yourself into a short course and going to networking events, even if you don’t speak,
even if you just observe and kind of absorb some
of the language around you to get yourself back into that mode, ’cause it doesn’t take long to
pick the language back again, but being out of that can really undermine your confidence levels. That would be one piece of advice I’d give around education, short
courses, networking events, or even just speaking to
some of your old colleagues, picking up the phone,
reconnecting through LinkedIn and platforms like LinkedIn, and just revisiting those relationships and those conversations
that you’ve dropped since you’ve been out of the workplace. Rereading your resume. And it sounds kinda, you
should write your resume, you can paint over your resume, but actually reading it
and reminding yourself where those pinnacles
of your career have been so that it’s fluid when you
start talking about them in an interview scenario, and being around people that lift you up. We’ve all got those naysayer friends that don’t do that for us. So you might want to minimize your time with those individuals in your life and really be around
people that have your back and can help you see the brilliance of you when you’re at a loss
for seeing that yourself. – Oh, great, I love those tips, and they’re really easy and quite simple to get back into and do. So thank you for sharing those. – My pleasure. – Now, Sarah, I just wanted
to ask you about your family. So you mentioned before
you’ve got two kids. I just wondered–
– I do. – If you’d talk about
your husband and two kids. – Sure, I’d love to. I’m my happiest when
I’m in my complete flow and with my family. So I love talking about my family. So I love that you’ve asked. And I have a lovely husband who I’ve been married
to for nearly 10 years. His name’s David, and he is a huge support to
me and Invisible Partners, even though he gets a bit
cheesed off when I talk about it (laughs) ’cause it’s
kind of my third baby. I have a beautiful daughter
called Leah, and she’s six, and she’s just halfway through
her first year in school, her prep year. And I have a very cheeky
little boy called Nicholas who’s four, and he is
a source of huge humor, and fun, and he’s just like, he’s gonna be a standup
comedian, there’s no doubt. (laughing) And then we have two fur babies. A little dog who’s 18 months old and hugely demanding in
his first six months, and he’s starting to come good now, but no one told me how
hard a puppy would be. That’s a huge piece of advice
I’d give any of your listeners is just be careful what you
wish for when you have a puppy. – (laughs) What sort of a puppy is he? – He’s a Jackoodle, Jack
Russell cross Poodle. – Oh, cute. – Cross probably about two or
three other breeds in there. I think I was sold a bit
of a lemon, but (laughs) he’s gorgeous nonetheless. And then we have Dutchess, our cat, who is beautiful.
– Oh, gorgeous. Fantastic, oh, that’s funny. We’ve been thinking about
getting a pet lately, and one of my clients is
the Cat Protection Society. So I keep going there and I’m surprised I haven’t returned with a kitten yet. Like I’ve been that close. But my daughter really wants a dog. And yeah, but a friend of
mine has just got a dog, and she’s really sleep deprived (laughs). – Oh, it’s horrendous. It’s so much more demanding, and you don’t have the hormones helping you to love the thing. So it’s really demanding, the
crying, the toilet training. It’s just like the toddler
stage but really condensed. So it’s very, very demanding, much more demanding than I anticipated, but we’re out that now. We’re in a nice zone with our dog who’s been worth the
investment (chuckles). – Good to hear, good to hear.
– Yeah. – Oh, that’s fantastic. Well, thank you for sharing that. I was going to ask you a bit later on, but I think I might
ask you now about prep, and how you’re finding
the school experience, and how your daughter’s adjusted, and how that works for
you with the business, if it’s tricker–
– Yeah. It is tricky. It’s tricky purely because of the two different ages that we’ve got. I think it will be easier
when they’re both in school, but because my son’s not there yet. So her adjustment and
her introduction to prep has been wonderful. We’ve got a beautiful primary school that my daughter attends, and the parent network around
that school has been amazing. And so, I think that helps,
but it is a big adjustment. It’s an adjustment for
the whole family, I think, because you have to get up
and out every single day and get your daughter up
and out every single day, or my daughter, in my instance. And the demands around
sandwiches, and preparation, and making sure she’s got
the right kit in her bag for whatever activity
takes place that day. There’s just a bit to
it that’s relentless. And so, it’s exhausting for her ’cause she’s navigating all
the emotional highs and lows, and social cues, and
social kind of requirements that she’s still learning. And so that’s exhausting. But it’s exhausting for us
’cause it’s just relentless. It’s just like the working world. It’s an everyday thing. So, I think you’ve just
gotta allow yourself not take on too much outside of school, and not just for her, but for yourself. I think having a fairly quiet and being kind to yourself as a family for that first six months is really my biggest tip around adjusting to school. – Oh, that’s good to hear, ’cause, yeah, I have
heard that the transition can be quite difficult because
often I think we sort of, you just get into the
flow of life, don’t you? And your kids go off to childcare or whatever circumstance
you’re in, they sort of, everything just happens. And then kinder and then school. And you sometimes don’t
just stop and think, well, this is a transition for everyone. – It really is. It really is. – I think it’s part of the whole family, and I guess, it just becomes stressful if you don’t acknowledge that. – Yeah, I think so. And being ready, I think, I think childcare, specifically childcare, is set up so much for working
parents, but school is not. And so the expectation
that you’re in class, and I want to be in class, I want to be able to be a
participating parent, and I am, but it’s quite demanding. And the expectation for parent
contribution and volunteering is also constant and fairly demanding, and you don’t want to be. I don’t want to be the parent
that doesn’t contribute and isn’t visible ’cause
that’s important for my child to see me being active, and contributing, and being part of her school life, but it’s a demand that if you worked in a more rigid environment
that didn’t have the flexibility that I enjoy as a business owner, I think that would be a
huge source of stress. – Mm, oh, that’s so interesting. Well, that’s why I actually
started the podcast, because my daughter’s
starting school next year, but she’s at kinder, I’m
getting at the school, and I’m getting a taste
for how it will be. And I just have wondered, well, how are other people doing it? And do you find that with
some of your clients, that that is why they’re
looking for flexible work? – Yeah, completely. And because many corporates
still don’t offer flexibility, or not to the extent
that you might need it to be a participating parent in class. It’s those incidental things. You cannot always get time
off for their annual assembly and the kinder school concert, but it’s those incidental moments where you want to be able
to make that decision when you’re child’s said, no, I really wanted you
to come into class today. I really want you to see
me reading, or reciting, or doing whatever the thing
is, the small thing is. It’s those moments that you really want to be visible for her. And so I think the Invisible Workforce, which is my wonderful community that works with my client group, often they have just thought, work’s just not available to me. And so, that’s been wonderful
to be able to help them get back into work, earn some independence through financial independence, and get some mental
stimulation through working, but still be able to make the decisions they want to make around their family. That’s what they’ve been
allowed to do which is great. – I love that. I love that, yeah, that you’re sort of championing this flexible work. And is this something that you’ve always felt strongly about, or is it more particularly
since you’ve had kids and you’ve seen it play out? – It’s a bit like you were saying earlier. I think until you’ve
experienced being a parent or having a demand outside of work that’s a bigger priority for you it’s really hard to have empathy. So I’m not particularly
proud of how I behaved before I had children as
a leader in a business. I was never verbally judgemental, but I certainly would have
some internal thoughts around those working parents leaving early and rushing off to get their children. – Yeah, I was too.
– I wasn’t particularly kind. But I don’t think you
can really understand what it’s like to be a working parent, or have those commitments outside of work, or just want that flexible balance, until you’ve gone through it yourself, or I certainly couldn’t. I didn’t have that empathy
chip strong enough in me. And so flexibility has become a huge topic of importance to me
since children, I’d say. – Yeah, yeah, and do you think
we’ve got a long way to go, like particularly in Australia,
in regards to flexible work? – I do, not because we
don’t talk about it a lot, because there’s still some things that can make it come unstuck. So I think in large
enterprise, large corporates, and even to a certain extent,
smaller organizations, it’s still left to management discretion. So if you get somebody who does not subscribe to flexible working or does not understand
the importance of it or the benefit to the organization
around empowering people to make decisions around their work life, then you can come up
against a real blocker. So I’ve observed my husband in various corporate roles in his career, and he really needs to wait for, to navigate what the
tone is within that team before he can start asking
for a level of flexibility to balance his life in general, because it’s not become
work-life balance anymore. It’s become life balance. Work infiltrates our
life beyond nine to five. So we have emails and technology
that infiltrates our life, and we’re responding
to those urgent moments in evenings, and over
weekends, and that’s okay. I think that’s still also okay. You can choose when you don’t respond, and you can choose when you do, but similarly, we have to be able to make those decisions around our families. So I think it’s just life balance. And so, and the fact that it’s
still largely dependent on someone’s management
discretion around whether they subscribe to flexible
working or not is weakness. And so, there still is that underlying, I’m not sure what you’re
doing, or distrust, or lack of, if you’re working from home, there’s still a perception around that, and sometimes that fueled
from people taking the mickey because not everybody
does do the right thing in those environments and those scenarios. And so I think flexibility and the way that we can embody it, and the way that we can measure outcome, and the way that we view
performance in the workplace. Flexibility’s just one subset in that, and I think that there’s
still a huge evolution, or the evolution is still ongoing. – Yeah, yeah, and sort of
what you were saying before, I think it’s about the
community valuing parents. I hate to say it like that. And if I’d heard someone
say that before I had kids I’d be like, (groans) (laughs) But it is in a way because
I feel the same way, going back to what you were saying, I feel like I didn’t have
empathy for my colleagues who had kids, often in my mind. I would never show it,
but I would often think, oh, leaving again, or
I’m left to do the work, which wasn’t always the case anyway. But I think that without
community as a whole kind of just looking at working, it doesn’t even have to be a parent ’cause people, like I look
at other colleagues I’ve had who’ve been caring for parents, or now there are so many people who are doing side hustles as well, or studying on the side, and
I think that’s brilliant. Like I think that that
actually creates a really wonderful, fulfilling life, and that we should be able to kind of look at this and think, as you said, this is just one subset of
the life that we’re living not to try and work just around work. So yeah, thank you for sharing that. I think that’s really interesting. How does flexible work play
out in Invisible Partners, like with your team? How do you kind of embrace it there? – So our Invisible workforce
are a very diverse bunch, and they are the working parents, a big chunk of working parents. We have an amazing member of our workforce who is a triathlete, and she’s in Ironman, and so she spends an
awful lot of time training in a way that I could never, like I couldn’t imagine myself ever doing. But she doesn’t have children. She just has a huge
passion outside of work that’s really important to her, and that makes her flourish in her career, and that makes her happy. And so, all power to her. And so, there’s millions of reasons why people want to access
flexibility in our workforce. We make sure that our
technology allows all of our, technology is cloud-based. It’s of no consequence where you’re based as to how you can access technology and be able to sort of sign up and work. And of course, there are moments, particularly in a recruitment lifecycle where face-to-face contact
is absolutely critical. So you can’t be offsite and
work from home all of the time, but it’s about understanding
when those moments are and managing your week accordingly. And so, the flexibility might not necessarily be in a location. People sometimes like turning
up to an office environment and getting the buzz that
you get when you sign up and land into an office environment. So people sometimes preference that. So it can be location, it can be hours, it could be just working
part-time, it could be job sharing. There’s loads of variances
to flexible working in our community, and every person’s got
individual kind of drivers for it and things that are
gonna be right for them. – Yeah, that’s really interesting because I often, I work from home, and I can see the benefits to that, but I can also see, I try and tap into a co-working space when I can. I was doing that weekly. I haven’t really been lately, but I was finding at times, it is quite isolating and lonely, but I know some people are like, no, I don’t wanna work from home. I want that separation. And yeah, I wanna have
that buzz in the office, and I must say that is
something that I do miss– – Of course.
– of that day to day. Those chats that pop up. So yeah, that’s a really good point that everyone has different needs and wants around flexibility
and what they want. So I guess it’s kind of
just being able to offer a whole range of different things and work to people’s strengths as well. Like some people probably
may be an introvert and want to sort of have a
quieter space to work in. – That’s right. – And some people are extroverts, and yeah.
– Yeah. – So that’s really interesting. I wanted to talk to you about leadership ’cause you obviously lead team, and I love talking about
leaders in this day and age because there’s a lot of, there’s a big change in
leaders I think at the moment, and leadership is really important ’cause there’s a lot of
bad leaders out there. – They do. – So yeah, I just wanted
to talk to you about that and the importance really to you, Sarah, being a group leader. – I think being a good leader in today’s ever-changing workforce is, I was going to say it’s
challenging, but it’s really not. It’s just about being a good human being. So treating people with respect. I think kindness is one of
the most critical qualities in being a good leader, and humility, and presenting to your team
that you don’t necessarily have all of the answers ’cause you don’t. No one does. But being okay with that. So without being kinda too
Brene Brown and cliche about it, vulnerability, humility,
kindness, and respect, they are fundamentally the
qualities that I try to work on and try to bring into my leadership, and the components I admire in others. I think, and having a team, and having a team that flourishes, and one of the single
most important factors in high-performance teams
is psychological safety. And so, and what that means in real terms is not being fearful
of putting up your hand and having a suggestion for
fear that it might be shut down, or it might be wrong, or for whatever reason it
might not be received well. If you feel safe as a team, you feel like your leadership
and your peer group have got your back, then you, generally speaking, teams
flourish, and are brave, and are able to take those
risks that pay off sometimes and learn from your failures
when it doesn’t work out. So I think if you can
role model, and represent, and those qualities of
respect, kindness, humility, and vulnerability to not
have all the answers, that really creates and harnesses that psychological safety in a team, which helps people bring
their best self to work. So yeah, they’re the things
that I prioritize in leadership. – Yeah, I love that. And you know what, like, we’re only having these
conversations really I would say the last 10 years or less, and I love it because I feel like I haven’t seen leaders
like that before that. And I think that that’s
really, really important that we can feel as if, yeah, where we’re listened to in the workplace, we can speak about what
we wanna speak about, we can put our hand up. So yeah, I really think that’s great. In terms of leaders,
who do you look up to? – It’s an interesting question because I think an awful lot of the large enterprise businesses still have a level of command and control there. And so, I’ve kind of bucketed
a couple of leaders locally that I have been fortunate enough to build great relationships with, great professional relationships with. And so there’s a lady
called, Helen Souness, who’s a Chief Executive
Officer for RMIT online. She’s also led teams
and had executive roles at Seek and Etsy in her career, and she’s somebody who I
hold dear in my network. She very much leads with
vulnerability and humility, and is incredibly talented
and really inspirational that doesn’t need to shout about that. She just is. And so that’s really,
and I’m very grateful to have her in my network. And another leader locally and
who’s the managing director of Momentum Energy, who is
a firecracker of a leader, so really dynamic, really inspiring, breaking all the norms within
the energy retailing industry around gender, and age, and stereotypes that normally beat businesses
of that size and sector. And she is just amazing,
incredibly high energy, and inspirational to sort of local Australian leaders I really admire. And then I’m a huge fan of Oprah Winfrey. I think as a thought leader,
and a female role model, and even a spiritual leader,
I think she’s phenomenal. And so, I subscribe to her podcast, and I love the language she speaks, and I love the people that
she has on as her guests. I think she’s purely one
of my kind of more global leaders that I really subscribe to. – Yeah, I agree. Yeah, I think it’s really
good that you’ve got sort of local leaders that you look up to, and I think that you’ve got a massive, it’s a huge factor in terms of not just actually, you’ve
got your own business, but work in general to have
those mentors, I guess– – Totally.
– To look up to. – Totally. – All the people to talk to,
or even if you don’t even know, that you can kind of admire form afar and see how they operate.
– Absolutely. – So yeah, I think that
that’s super, super important. Now, Sarah, I just wanted
to pivot back a little bit back to family life. And a question I’ve often
asked my moms on the show is about mom guilt. I wondered if that plays
out for you in your life and how you look at mom guilt, I guess. – Yeah, it’s a horrible thing, and it’s so, there’s just
no use for mom guilt. It doesn’t help anyone. But yes, of course, I have absolutely
struggled with mom guilt, particularly early in
my mommy working career, being a working parent. When I first went back to
kind of full on corporate my daughter was 13 months
when I went back to work, and I went back to work four days a week, and I put her into childcare
for four days a week, and I was wracked with guilt,
and I was consumed by guilt. And it wasn’t really until
I launched my own business and was able to dictate a bit more around how I choose to spend my time that I minimized that feeling of guilt, and that feeling of kind
of, I’m overwhelmed. And not every single day I master that because it still raises
it’s head from time to time. So it certainly, it’s
always a working progress, and I think it’s really, really tough. I think the thing that I try,
this sort of internal dialog that I have with myself is that mommy guilt doesn’t serve anyone. It doesn’t make your child any happier. It doesn’t make you any more, any less, any more present by feeling guilty. No one’s served by that. So I just try and have a
bit of positive self-talk around who is it serving? It serves no one.
– Yeah. – And so, you either can
change what you’re doing. So if you’re really
experiencing feelings of guilt, is there something you can
change to minimize that, or do you just need to
reconcile that with, this is not serving anybody and move on? But it’s a huge topic that I think, for me, it’s most working parents, particularly moms, particularly moms. – Yeah, I think so too. Is it something that you see come up amongst your community as well? – For sure, without a
doubt, without a doubt. And I think we just need to let ourselves off the hook a little bit more. Children are so good at showing us how to live in the present. They don’t ruminate over
the missed thing last week, or the wrong sandwich
put into the lunchbox, or the same thing,
whatever the same thing is that’s stimulating our mom guilt. And I think they can be
some of our best teachers actually seeing how present they are and how they aren’t thinking about the thing that you missed yesterday. And so, I think using them a
little bit as our teachers, that being kinda too
(mumbling) about it all. I think it really, and is
a really great life lesson like just being present in the moment. So the thing that you forgot
to do yesterday, let it go. – Yeah, exactly, I think
that’s great advice. And as you said, yeah,
they’re the greatest teachers, and they don’t care.
(laughing) – They really don’t. They really don’t. And if you bring that kind of baggage or that kind of anxiety
into your role as parent, all you’re doing is role
modeling that for them, and giving yourself a hard time, and missing out in the fun in the moment that you can have with your children. – Yeah, I agree too.
– So yeah. – Now, Sarah, you mentioned before in regards to your
daughter starting school and trying to volunteer
if you can or help out, and I just wondered how you do that when you have a team
and your own business? How do you find the time to do that and fit it into your schedule
and make it all work, I guess? – Yeah, I mentioned earlier
that my husband and I kind of tag-team in the day. So he does the kind of
morning shift with drop offs, and breakfast, and stuff like that, and I try and get, I’m
home by four every day, so that kind of is a thing
that I try and make happen, and I have a Wednesday
off with no formal work or be it calls and fending
things off sometimes occurs. So that’s kind of my working week is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday,
Friday, but it’s tough. It’s touch. And so, sometimes things fall off, and it’s not an exact science. Every week’s slightly different. We’ve gotta sit down on a Sunday and kind of look at both
of your calendars together and make sure there’s no crisis points and there’s no things that are gonna make the wheels fall off. But I think just being able to have, I think it’s very, very difficult if you have one parent that’s striving for a particular career
destination or a business outcome, and I’m very ambitious about where I want to take Invisible Partners. There’s definitely, I’m definitely driven, and I haven’t lost my ambition just because I’m a working parent, but I think the fundamental
thing that makes that available to me is
having a supportive partner and having somebody who
I can collaborate with and be a team with there.
– Yeah. – And so, to answer your question around how I manage that as a
leader in my business, I think you need to get
comfortable with thing happening not necessarily on the hop, but happening when you’ve
got availability for it. So, it’s very rare that I
would sit down physically with my team and have
a check in physically. You have to make those phone check ins, or those Zoom check ins work. You have to get comfortable
with living virtually and living, being able to connect online, and you need to be able to create meaning and create genuine connection online, and to make those moments of connections still be meaningful. – Yeah, and I think that
that’s actually really great role modeling to your team too that you’ve got these boundaries that you leave at a certain time, and that you have your Wednesdays at home. Because you’re showing to your
team that I’m not working, trying to cram, and do the 40 hour week, and try and get it all done. I’m living the way that I wanna live. And the way that I wanna I guess highlight and show to everyone else
is a way that it can work. So that’s great. And I love what you said about Sundays. I’ve heard a few people say that now. It seems to be kind of this magic formula. (laughing) That you plan everything
out with your partner, and you set the week up, and that sort of set up a good week. – Yeah, there’s no doubt
that I log on most evenings. I’d say that the biggest
thing that I work on as a business owner is there’s
no way that I could manage to cram all of my work into
that four o’clock cutoff and still have a sustainable
high growth business, which I’m very grateful to have. I definitely log on I’d say
four nights out of seven. My husband is very
tolerant of the fact that he’s watching Netflix and I’m doing work. (laughs) And that is the reality of
running a business in growth. – Yeah, that’s so true. I’m glad you’ve mentioned
that ’cause that is true that work’s still going on. How do you find it though with your team getting in touch with
you and things like that? – They are, we’re pretty
respectful around doing that within working hours. So I don’t tend to do team
stuff in the evenings. That’s more around client delivery. So when it comes to my clients, I would tend to sort of shoehorn
in some evening components, or a writing that I have to do, or content that I have to develop, that tends to be my evening work. ‘Cause that’s really hard
to deliver that stuff during the day. So day’s all about connection,
and face-to-face meetings, and Zoom meetings, and then evening work is
about actually delivering some of the content. – Yeah, excellent. Yeah, I just wanted to know what is next for you in the business? – Yeah, it’s exciting, but we’re growing. So, I mentioned earlier that
we’re kind of 18 months, nearly two years into our journey, and we’ve really established the formula and the business model
that’s working really well with our clients. So helping those businesses
have an Invisible Partner in their business and helping them grow
their own employer brands is really fundamentally what we do And so, within the next 12 months we will take that model to
Sydney and launch in Sydney. And that we won’t necessarily have a physical presence there, but growing our Invisible
workforce committee and extending our network to
that state New South Wales. And then there’s a
distinct ambition I have with taking this global. Fairly obscured destination, or probably the next
destination being Scotland, and you can probably tell
by the accent, that’s why. But yeah, I think, so the
model is really exciting and very replicable, and able
to grow beyond just Melbourne. So it’s just about netting out Melbourne, making sure the model
is really, really sound, and then I’m extending it. – Wonderful, that’s fantastic. How long have you lived
in Australia for, Sarah? – 15 years. – 15 years.
– Yeah, a long time. – And would you have any business
model in Scotland as well? Would there be sort of a wish to live somewhere between both
countries at some stage? – I’ve definitely become soft
since I’ve been in Australia, and I don’t think I could
handle the cold any longer (laughing) So, no, I would definitely do a bit of fly in fly out magic making, but my network’s still
amazing in Scotland. And so, I’ve definitely
got a few people earmarked to take on the mantle of growing Invisible Partners there over time. – Fantastic.
– Yeah. – That’s wonderful. I love hearing that about business, and it creates that opportunity that you can grow it
internationally if you want to. – Yeah. – Yeah.
– For sure. – Wonderful. Fantastic, well, that’s very exciting. Where can the listeners find you? – I’m most active on LinkedIn, being a employment oriented
business that we are. So LinkedIn’s probably
where we’re most active. And so, our LinkedIn Invisible
Partners’ company page. We’ve got all of our updates on that, and our website’s pretty active too. So, blogs, and kinda thought leadership, of course, they’re very
much contained across our LinkedIn platform and website. – Fantastic, well thanks
so much again, Sarah. It’s been such a great chat. I look forward to watching
you and seeing what’s next. – Thank you so much, Katie. – Thank you, bye. (gentle music) – Thank you for listening to the Business Between Bells podcast. We need your help to reach
more parents during the juggle. If you have enjoyed this episode, Katie would love it if you
could help spread the word by leaving a rating and review on iTunes. You can also find out more
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at Business Between Bells.

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