Welcome to this week's episode of The Freedom Fridays podcast, where my guest this week is a podcaster, an entrepreneur, and a newly formed author, and all sorts of things. So Melissa Marsden, welcome to the podcast.
Thanks very much for having me.
You're welcome. It's been a while in the making, you've had a few things go on in between our chats. So congratulations on the birth of your new child.
Thank you. Thank you.
You've now got the magic number of three rounds up the triangle.
I do. And I was lucky enough to close it out with a boy after having two girls. So it's been it's been really lovely.
Cool. Cool. Well, thank you again for making the time because I know we've got three kids but a bit older. It can be a little bit hectic when you've now I've got three.
Yes, it's an interesting challenge. We've got one at daycare one at primary school. And then of course, the little one. He's now four months old. So it's an interesting juggle in the morning to get everyone out the door, including myself ready and ready for the day.
Yeah, yeah, we find that those that can it before school time and after school time are the most hectic.
So maybe this will give you 40 minutes of freedom. Yes, yes. So Melissa again, thank you for your time, as I said to you offline, we start this by a very broad question. In the work that you do, or with your customers and clients, what does freedom mean?
Hmm, it's a very interesting question. And I'm going to start by answering it in the fact that freedom is actually one of my values. And reason that I have read it as one of my values is because what I realised over time was that freedom is something that I think is very important to each of us. And a lot of that comes down to choice and having the ability to choose how we spend our time with whom we spend our time, you know, and what do we want to do with our lives. And what I started to notice was really the opposite of freedom, it was when I felt stressed, burnt out under pressure. It was really because I felt like my ability to choose, and therefore my ability to, you know, have my own personal freedom was being taken away from me. So you know, programme deadlines, you know, project deadlines, client issues, those sorts of things. Anything that sort of constricts or constrained you is a result of a lack of freedom. So that's kind of where I realised that freedom was such an important value for me. And when I first sat down and Deep Mind value set, I realised that that was in there. And it was actually, when I was doing I really big into personality profiling. And there was a comment that was in one of my personality profiles. And it described me as a fox. And this is the the analogy that it used was, you know, if you bought a box, a fox into a corner, the first thing they do is come out fighting. And that's exactly it like I get, I get shitty. Because you feel like you're being boxed in. And that's when it really struck home for me that freedom was something that I really value. And since I've gone through that exercise, and how did it I had as my fifth value, I actually realised now it's actually my number one value. And what that's what's happened as a result of that realisation is that I've shifted my business model, I've shifted the way that I operate my day, my wake, everything has really transformed in a way that I feel like I have working towards creating more freedom for myself, as time goes on. So that's how important it's become for me personally. And it's something that I'm starting to notice far more prevalently in the work that I do with my clients as well. So as a workplace strategist, and commercial workplace designer, you know, off the back of pandemic and everything else that's happened. Everyone else has realised that we really all want this choice we want to choose when we work and when I choose how we work, who we work for, and have a lot more responsibility around how we structure our days. And that is what I'm starting to see far more prevalently with the clients we're working with, and their employees as well.
Well, as I've always found, when I've done these conversations, there's there's so many places we could go just in the opening comments. So I'm gonna go a couple places first, like you our freedom was one of my values. And I did this for you probably heard of Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a bit of a Bible in our world. Part of the programme that I did this will be way late 90s was to choose your values and interesting I've done subsequent ones and it hasn't shown that but I do remember the four F's and family friends finding freedom as being my significant vote, and I've done other ones like you values exercise, but don't quite show up as exactly as that. But that's always stuck with me as being something that I held true. So I'm, I'm going to ask you a couple of questions. When did you decide freedom was number five? For example? Did it come onto your list? And how is that the freedom from? How has that shifted from Freedom from what when it was number five, and freedom from what that it's now number one.
Okay, so freedom came onto my radar would have been about four or five years ago, when I went. And I really started to get deep into this, because I was trying to work out what I wanted to do with my business and where I fit it into that. And that's where this kind of, you know, really the positioning that I wanted to take with how I wanted to put my brand out there. So that's where the whole concept initially started. And I was also doing some leadership work, I was on the border of the entrepreneurs organisation in the Brisbane chapter. And we did some work around value sets there as part of our leadership journey. And that's when it really became obvious to me that freedom was in that top five, what happened as a result of that those I had brought my awareness to the need for that freedom. And I started to realise where all of those pain points were in my business and in my life, that were a result of not having the freedom that I desired. So what that then did was, I started to notice those things, and I went, Okay, well, I don't want to do that anymore. And I don't want to do that anymore. And some of those things are, you know, I, as a business owner, have the workplace strategy and design firm. So community is my my business baby. And we deliver workplace experiences, and, you know, complete workplace environments to our clients. That's a heavily project driven world where there is lots of stress, lots of pressure, lots of deadlines, lots of external demands, things that are constantly outside of your control that you have to manage and deal with. And that was a big thing that was taking away my freedom. And so what I've started to do is I then began to shift my business around, what are the types of projects that we want to do? Who are the types of clients that we want to work with? And what parts of the project do we actually want to be working on. And you know, the delivery end of a project is very stressful, and you're at the beck and call of everybody else, which takes away any freedom, because you no longer have the choice to determine when you can go on holidays, when you have your meetings, you know, any of those things get removed. So what I started to do was I became much more selective over the projects that we were going to be taking on, but also what our role within those projects was going to be. So that in doing so I could then actually control far more how my time was being used when it was being used when I was needing to attend meetings, all of those sorts of things. And so progressively, that's how it's then enabled to sharpen my business, I've been able to shift my focus to be more on my terms, as opposed to being responsive to the terms and conditions of the external factors that go with those projects.
Yeah. So you're not saying I think, because I'm interested in this, you're not saying freedom doesn't mean responsibility?
No, absolutely not. Freedom is still a possibility. It's just choosing where you're going to be responsible.
And I think many entrepreneurs feel this as well, this shift from my term, from their terms to my terms. That's, you know, the, that's a goal, I think, for many entrepreneurs. How long did that take? still a work in
progress. You know, I'm delivering construction projects at the moment as we speak. So what it has enabled me to do, though, is be very choosy about those projects. So I have three projects that are in construction that I'm personally managing at the moment, but there are three projects that I would choose, again, to be involved with. And it just means that we are being more conscious of that. And I think, you know, and that, again, is freedom, it's having the ability to choose, I chose to work on these projects. So therefore I have to accept the conditions with which that they come with. But it also enables me to look at other options. And, you know, I've also then explored the online world and creating online programmes to then create further freedom and flexibility. That hasn't worked as well for me because I think there is a whole new raft of challenges and being a consultant in a corporate world, you know, similar to yourself. There's only so much that you can deliver from an online programme versus a engage consultative process. So it's limited, I think in certain capacities, depending on, you know, the world and the industry in which you operate as to whether or not you can create a very successful and a whole business around a purely online programme sort of it's a it's a secondary piece. It's not the whole business.
Yeah. And so this, this freedom, and I'm hearing you use a lot of startup companies, and a lot of it's a choice. When is it okay not to choose because I guess, you know, the, the roles that we all have, you know, you're an author, you're a podcast, you're an entrepreneur, you're a mum, you might have probably a partner, you've probably got some friends and family, and a number, maybe I'm just reflecting my own position, I feel a little bit of obligation, sometimes a responsibility to be the dad, the partner, the friend, the consultant, you know, bla bla, bla bla bla. So to some degree, I don't have freedom. In its purest sense, I'm not. And I don't know, if I want to be completely free from that responsibility. I quite like it equate a one to I can choose to have that responsibility. And I guess maybe this is my struggle is getting that balance, right of the over indexing of over choosing and over responsibility with under choosing and under responsibility. And I'm kind of just throwing things out there at the top my head Does that, does that resonate in any way? Or any comments about the the overall the under choosing?
Absolutely, um, I think, in our as parents and as partners, there is a responsibility and obligation that you take on when you take on those roles and those positions. And I think that also comes back to your value set, but also, where do you prioritise your time, and, you know, understanding that, the thing that I kind of reflecting on and again, as I said, this is a work in progress for me, as I'm sure it is with many people is that right? Now I have a four month old baby. And so that's sorry, freedom, zero, great, um, but that's a choice that I made. But that also means that there are things that have to give in other ways. So I'm probably not doing as much on the work front that I would have done pre, a four month old baby, you know, so I think there has to be some flexibility and is given take, and, you know, I like to think about it as in the seasons and cycles of life. We go through different seasons, you know, the season that I am is very different to the season that you're in with, you know, your children in early 20s, versus a four month old, but that then comes with it different responsibilities, different enablement of time, different priorities. And that allows you then to make different choices about how you want to spend your, your time, and where you choose to put that. Similarly, for me, I'm choosing to spend as much time as I can with my my newborn son, but I also thoroughly enjoy the work that I do, and contributing back to the lives of the people that I get to touch through the work that I do. And so it's about working out, well, what's a fair exchange of my time, to those people, versus my family and my husband and everyone else that's around me, and what does that structure look like? And how do I manage that?
It strikes me as you're talking, and forgive me, I'm going to be judgmental on us both here for a second. And so you might not feel this, but I feel that sometimes I feel very privileged, that I'm able to be in the space that I'm in the house that I'm in, I run my own business. And whilst we you know, we know as entrepreneurs and business owners, that can be very challenging, but it's a different sort of challenge than if I, you know, if I'm renting, and I, I've only got a job, and I feel I have to turn up because if I don't turn up, I don't get paid. And literally, I'm going from Bill to Bill, and you know, you and I talk about freedom and choice, and I'm sure there are people listening and go, I've got no choice. I've got no freedom here. How could you? Is it even possible to plant a seed that despite the constraints that that person might feel? Is there any freedom in that? Is there any choice in that?
It's a really good question. And I I agree with you, it is a very privileged position from which I speak because I have made the opportunity to have my own business, which just gives me that flexibility and freedom. On the flip side, as you know, many other entrepreneurs are no, that's, you know, total rubbish is brilliant freedom certainly isn't, you know, hard running your own business. It's the dream you aspire to, but it doesn't quite work out that way. I think, you know, from that perspective of, you know, having a job and not having a feeling of not having a choice I can definitely resonate with that, you know, I have been in that situation as well. And that is why I made the decisions and the choices to start my own business so that I was working on my own terms. And you know, that then has afforded me to make these decisions. And to get the outsourced help that I need to enable me to do all of the things like right now, as we're having this podcast, my son's with a nanny. So they've gone for a lovely walk to the park. That's a, that's an, a privileged position that I'm in to be able to afford to have that as a result of the choices that I've made. And I think, I think we all have our level of choice, we can all choose our own reality, and you know whether or not that means that you can make the same decisions that I can make. But there will be decisions that are available to you for you to be able to make different choices and different selections that will give you some level of freedom in your life, I believe that everyone has that opportunity. It's just the varying degrees of what that looks like.
I remember this was maybe a few weeks ago, I read something that says we're not seeking peace of mind, we're seeking peace from mind, which I thought was a lovely way of putting it. And the reason I'm that clicked was because I remember again, it was the Stephen Covey course 2530 odd years ago that I attended. And it was just a change in language from my half to two I choose to. And even if I do have a job that I have to go to nine to five, because it pays the bills in your blood. And that doesn't feel like there's choice, even that switching mindset from while I have to go to work to, okay, I choose to go to work, just that slight shift, despite the having to seems to make a difference for some people.
I think it does, I think there's a big, there's a really big thing in language. And Motoko actually said something similar. He said, It's not that you have to sit, you get to, you know, I don't have to come pick up my kids from school, I get to go and pick up my kids to school. And you know, I don't have to spend time with my wife, I get to spend time with my wife, it's just even the inflection that comes from using that different language and elevate that, you know, that subconscious feeling of, you know, the emotion that you attach to that task or activity that comes with it. And I think mindset has a huge amount to do with, you know, how we feel about everything like in our language has a lot to do with that mindset shift. And, you know, just being very careful about the words that we choose to use in the language that we get to use can have a very big impact on how we start to feel about ourselves and how we start to feel about our world. And, you know, we're all fortunate to be able to work if we can, because that means we're getting to contribute, and we're getting paid for our contribution, which then enables us to go and invest that money back into our families, or however we choose to do that. You know, these are all very amazing things that we get. And we're getting to do those things as opposed to having to do them. Yeah,
I love that. That's such a loveless simple yet, for me profound distinctions and going from I have to to get to that is a beautiful distinction. And where it takes me is because I get to, you know, when you could argue there's always someone worse off than us, despite our situation, that that's probably not true for the last person. But there's always someone worse off than us, which means there's, you know, this this image of the soul with someone better to so we're somewhere in this this hierarchy of some to some degree, but from going from I have to do I get to take me to a place. So what is me getting to contribute to. So even if I'm pumping petrol, even if I'm making sandwiches in some warehouse in Western Sydney, for the planes that other people are getting to fly off the holiday farm, I get to, it might just open up the possibility of me thinking about the contribution that I'm making, however, smaller minute, yeah, which again, doesn't change my wages, that doesn't change necessarily. I'm up at three to get there for for, you know, all the trials and tribulations of that. But it might just soften the I have to I get to
I think a lot of that comes back to purpose. And this is a big piece of the work that I do with the organisations I work with is really getting clear on what the purpose of those organisations are. And how do we align that with the individual purpose of the employees because when you get that alignment, that's when you're getting that buy in, and that's when we get that connectivity. And, you know, the famous one is the janitor who was working at NASA when JFK came to visit. You know, he's the janitors they're mopping the floor. And JFK says to him, you know, what are you doing here? You say, I'm helping to put a man on the moon, Mr. President, and it's like, he's the janitor, but he could see that the contribution that he was making was actually having an impact on those other people with Here's a link in the chain. And you could see this the end game, you had line of sight to what they were trying to achieve at a organisational level, and you could see his place in the ability for that to happen. And I think that's true for the, you know, the person who's working at the service station, or, you know, who who's helping put those people on a plane is that without your contribution, that that wouldn't happen. And they those people wouldn't be able to travel because they wouldn't have fuel or they wouldn't be able to get on their dream holiday because you know, you didn't put the bags on the plane or, you know, you're all contributing to somebody's experience, some way of making their dreams and their reality come true. And in return, it's helping you feel your own reality. And, you know, when you talked about earlier about, you know, I have to go to work. I think that in itself is a choice, if you don't enjoy the job that you're doing, go and find another job that aligns more closely with where you want to be and where you feel like you actually have that contribution. And that half an hour, I suppose it's um, you know, that emotional reward that you get from from making that contribution? I think that's a choice we all definitely get to have. Yeah.
I think inadvertently, depending on our level of awareness, we're making choices all day, every day about all things. Yeah. And just, you know, putting people back into cars as opposed to effect. If I'm going to switch it and go the other end of the scale, and you know, we're both business owners, entrepreneurs. My guess is that your plates a little bit more foolish than mine at the moment? How would you help entrepreneurs get that balance? Because despite, as you said, and we both know, it's the dream of running your business? By it's 24/7. You know, taking holidays? Whilst it's an enormous privilege, it's a big decision. Certainly, for me, if I'm not there, I don't get paid. And so how do you go the other end of the scale? How would you help entrepreneurs get that balance between I have to, to I get to,
this is a really interesting conversation on that one as well. Because, you know, I got, I got to take two weeks off when I had my baby. So my Matt Lee was all the two weeks long. Fortunately, I could then return to work with my baby, though. And I could work from home part of the time and in the office part of the time, like, I had flexibility around how I could make that work. But I didn't have the luxury of taking 12 months off, and that leaves like I'd effectively would have needed to shut my business for that period of time. So I think it's about being really cognizant of what your choices are, and understanding what the trade offs are like, there's pros and cons that come with everything. And part of the work that I do with coaching other business owners is getting them to actually get very clear on those foundational pieces. And the programme that I run called live a life by design is really aimed at helping entrepreneurs and business owners to get the clarity of that foundational level. Because if you aren't clear on what you want from your own life, where your purpose is, what your values are, what you want your life to actually look like, what are you working towards, your business will just be all over the shop, you know, you'll have lack of clarity in your business, you'll take on projects that you aren't aligned with that don't fill your cup, you'll become resentful, you're you know, you'll get pulled in a million different directions, you'll feel like you're burning yourself out, because you're trying to please all of these people, and you failing to please yourself. And I'm talking about this from experience, because that was me. So, you know, we all learn from those mistakes. And now I'm working to help others avoid making those mistakes to by showing them this framework of relaying this foundation so that they've got that clarity, to move forward. And you know, and as I said, it's always going to be a pro and a con, you're not always going to get it perfect, there are going to be things that you're gonna have to do that you don't want to do. But for the most part, you can also start to realise and you know, look at that and go Well, if I don't want to do that, what's the alternative? What What can I do to change that? And maybe you can, or maybe you can't, but at least then you've got the awareness to kind of address that go, this is what I really would like, how can I make some shifts and tweaks? Can I outsource part of my business? Can I bring in more team members? Do I just cut that piece of my business off and not do that anymore? What are those opportunities to really realign your business to where you want it to be? I think that's really critical to get that piece, right? Because otherwise you're just chasing bright shiny things. And I'm very good at that too.
Yeah, I think we all are. And one of the questions I ask my clients is when I ask them about the results that they're creating, Getting all the results that have happened, you know, whatever it is, I'll say despite or because of you. And you can almost every time see them go into some trans derivational search going, what what I don't know some of the question because some of our results are created your luck, timing circumstance, right place, right time, you know, yadda, yadda, yadda. Others are because the markets gone up or down, or the interest rates have gone up or down, or this client Shut up, or you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, the extent to which we can shift them to creating the results because of them as opposed to despite them? I think so really, for me, it's a really empowering part of the work I do is never going to be 100%. But it should be. We're trying to increase the because of us not despite us. Yeah. Do you have a view on that?
I like that distinction. And I think it's really important, because as you said, there are things that happen to us because of external factors. We then have a choice, though, how we respond to that, again, coming back to Stephen Covey and circle of influence and control. It's like, well, what is within my influence in my control? And what's not? What do I need to kind of just accept? And if it is within my circle of influence, and my circle of control? What steps can I take to leverage that or shift it or change it, depending on where I went ahead? And I think that that context of you know, is that despite me, that's a really interesting piece for for leaders to kind of reflect on and go, Well, what was my role in this outcome positively, negatively? Whatever the outcome was? What did I do to contribute to that situation? And how can I positively do it again, or negatively? act in a different way, or do something differently to change the result? Should it come up again?
Yeah, that's another question that I got. I can't remember where I got it from that I've used it many times where, particularly in challenging situations, when people are, you know, arguing against the reality or facing results team, whatever, it might be a question around, how am I contributing to a situation I say, I don't want and that's really confronting question. And the answer is not 100%. But it's probably not 0%. So somewhere in the middle, I might be contributing 2% 5%, whatever, you know, the numbers arbitrary, but it's to get them to shift from effect to cause to some degree. Again, a little bit of trans derivational searching goes on when you ask that question, How am I contributing to a situation I say, I don't want this like, oh, Lambo, I'm not hanging on. I must be in some ways, you know, always. Always.
Yeah, there's a little bit in behavioural, and it may not even be intentional. And asking that question, again, brings awareness to those, you know, those situations because you start thinking and you go, Oh, actually, when I said that, or when I did that, or when I enabled that. That's all actually contributing to that situation.
Yeah, it might be three dominoes ago, but it's still the first domino. Yeah. Melissa, I'm gonna, I'm interested, if you were willing to share, I feel in a very different situation to you. As an on white, middle aged, I've had many privileges just because of that. What trade offs Have you had to make as a working mum? Hmm.
A few? Yes, I mean, I think the obvious ones are that, you know, luckily, this is changing. So this is quite generalised in what I'm about to say. So I'll preface it with that. But typically, the the mother is the carer, which means that they are the one who's responsible for taking time off work time away from their career to nurture and raise that small child, at least for the first few months of their life. That is something that, you know, many dads don't get the opportunity to do even, you know, my husband wanted to have that opportunity, but it wasn't available to him because of where he was working. So those situations definitely impact us that I think has shifted, and predominantly because I think of my own situation, and the fact that I do run my own business, I have been able to restructure my business to suit my situation. And again, I've, I suppose, in some ways, this is my third child, too. And if I reflect on how things were 12 years ago, with my first child, very different situation, and very different response to, you know, childcare or bringing her to work or, you know, how will that look? So with my four year old, I set up a nursery in our office, she come to work with me, we had the nanny on site, you know, that was in the days where we all went to work Monday to Friday, nine to five, and she came with me, and wherever I went, she went. This time, it's a bit different. Like I only go into the office when I need to the And he's with me. So I've had to make those shifts and changes. But I've also then had to educate people around me around when I am available, when I'm not available, why I might not be available, you know what I can do and what I can't do, because of the situation that I'm in with, with my children. And that has an impact on how much I travel, it has an impact on, you know, where I can do work, and you know, how, how quickly I can respond to something. So there's definitely been all of those sorts of challenges that have come with that. But I think, you know, coming back to that I get to is, you know, I'm getting to set an example for other people in our industry to show how you can do what I'm doing and still have a family because something that I noticed in our in the design and architecture industry is we lose so many women, to families who don't return, because it's a huge number. And it's because of that thing I spoke about earlier about the pressure and the stress and the deadlines that come with, you know, Project delivering project driven work, is that they can't juggle it all, they can't be there on site, and they can't be there in the office, you know, as much as is required of some of those, those working conditions. So that is something that I've worked, you know, quite closely with to try and, you know, shift in my own team was employing women with children giving them flexibility. But even then, you know, if you've got three kids, and you're trying to hold down a full time job, and you're the primary carer, that is very much a different stress load. And so you know, some of my good friends are now pursuing other alternative careers where they can work from home and use their skill sets, or they've got from the industry, but being, you know, not under the same stress and pressure that they had from being in the industry. So it's a really, it's a really sad thing. And I don't have the answers to it. I've tried a few different ways to deal with finding the nanny on site for my staff as well. And it's a mental load that we're carrying that that certainly does have an impact on our ability to stay in the workforce.
And what about, I feel completely unqualified? And I can't answer this. So how about the single moms who, for whatever circumstance don't have the support, you know, family close or partner close, or they are the primary care or the primary breadwinner, the primary everything for that child or children? Is there anything we can offer any counsel Any, any, any hope for for them,
I think that's a really tough situation. And I myself was in that situation for a period of time, it actually coincided with the start of my business. So I was part time single mom, starting up my business. And, you know, again, though, I was fortunate enough to have access to daycare and those sorts of things. And you really do need a support network around you, whether it's friends, whether it's external, outsource help, any way that you can get that and again, I do realise that that's another privileged position that I was able to afford to have. But it's creating those networks of support around you. And you know, my favourite saying is it takes a village to raise a child, and it really does. And whether you pay that village, or you find that village, you know, you need, you need those people around you because it's a tough gig, like, and when you're working, and you're trying to raise children, and you're trying to be there for every, you know, school event that's going on, or you know, the Cross Country Day. And, you know, there's this expectation that you will be the best possible business owner and the best possible mum, and that's a bloody big load to carry. And that's probably the thing that I've realised the most in the last few months and having a chat with a number of other female entrepreneurs who are also having children as well. That's conversation we've been having a lot of is that, you know, in some of the circles that we swim in, is we are in these very large business groups with very successful men. And when we're sitting at the table with them, there's an expectation that we are going to be the best possible business owner that we can possibly be. But at the same time, we're going to be the best possible wife and mother that their wives are as well. And it's like, it's two full time jobs that we're being expected to hold here. That's a bloody law. So this is where I think as women, we start to feel compromised, that we never actually fully achieving our potential in either space, because we're kind of doing both at half mast a little bit. That's where we need to cut ourselves some slack and just go look, again, I get to be a professional woman and run my own business, but I also get to be a mom. And that means that what that looks like for me, is gonna be very different to what that looks like for you or any person that I that I might encounter. that, sorry, I'm rambling here. I think this is where it comes back to us determining our own meaning of success, what that definition of success is for each of us. And again, this is something that I've been mulling over for the last sort of two years as well. And again, I think the pandemic probably sparked a lot of this is like, what is success and ease my definition of success the same as yours, and Joe's and Billy's because we all have different circumstances, different situations, different gender biases, all sorts of things, different responsibilities. What is my definition of success look like? And am I just trying to live up to someone else's definition of success? And if so, what would mine look like if I could get to choose? And guess what I do get to choose? How do I want that to? How do I want that to look? So that's been probably a very personal journey that I've been going on for the last few years is really redefining what my idea of success is, and how I've been letting societal constructs or ideas of others or you know, business groups determine and tell me what success should be for me.
That's a really, for me, it's a it's an interesting and for me personally confronting choice, because one of the advantage I think of all this stuff that's online, is we get to see other possibilities. You know, certainly when I was growing up the village was the street next door. Yeah, that was it. And that was my only comparison. So it was a very limited, constricted view of what's possible. You know, on the Nine O'Clock News, which was the only broadcast of the day, you got to see, you know, Armstrong go to the moon, you got to see world events, and perhaps get inspired. Nowadays, it's the flick of a switch, it's a scroll, it's the next picture. It's the, we're always, you know, this constant bombardment, I think of living your best life. Now, contrast that with what you've just said, and I totally, I don't get it, because it's not my situation, but I can see why you would, how do you live your best possible life as a mum and a carer and your best possible life as a professional businesswoman? Those two things aren't necessarily congruent at the best level. So how do you navigate, you know, without saying it's not the best, because it probably isn't a circumstance. So how do you navigate that one notch down from the best mom, you can be in the best entrepreneur you can be? Because like you say, you probably can't do both. But you're doing it's like this DNA helix the best of both as I can. And whenever I can, with what I've got, how do you navigate those two almost challenging paradoxes?
With great difficulty? The simple answer, I think there's an, there's an ebb and flow that comes with this. And it's about being really clear and very conscious about where is the best use of my time? And where can I make the biggest impact in both worlds? So as a mum, what am i Non negotiables? Where am I going to absolutely show up? What do I need to be there for? And what can I potentially let go of, you know, do I need to be at every school carnival? Or are the critical ones that I need to be at having those conversations and with my kids, as well, when they're old enough to understand is like, I can be here for this. And I can come to that, but I can't be there for this. And this is why. So I think there's a lot of there's a bit of soul searching that needs to happen in that to be to be able to have that clarity about, you know, what are those important moments that matter for our kids and being there for those. And you know, likewise, with my with my son, I spent, you know, we've only just hired a nanny, he's four months old now. So I've made sure that I was around, you know, juggling the 100 things, so that I was there. Whereas now he's a bit older, it's like, okay, well, what are the moments that matter with him, and it's playtime and, you know, feeding and those sorts of things. So having that balance in that space. And then I think from a work perspective, it's really then comes back to what I said earlier about being really clear on who it is that you want to work with, and who it is that you want to be serving and aligning with, and not saying yes to everything, because it's the old 8020 rule. Again, you know, 80% of your results come from 20% of your clients go back and align to those 20% of clients and focus hard on those. And maybe it means you're not doing the same volume of work in the same volume of projects, but the impact that you're making is significantly greater because you're honed in, you know, so clearly on your nation. Again, niching is something that I've discovered over time because I thought you know you I'm a designer, I do something for everybody. No, no, I'm a workplace dynamic strategist. I work with commercial workplaces. And I work with businesses that are in this range, who are professional services firms who have an investment in their people have aligned behaviours, they have clear sense of purpose. Like once you know those things, you know who your perfect client is, and you can be very specific and very targeted about that. And then I think that enables you to help get some of that noise to fall away. So you can be very conscious about what that looks like. And then there's the the juggle that comes in between because you know, you know exactly what you want. And it's just like, there's so many hours in a day, what can I actually do?
Yeah, I'm gonna pick up on your, your idea, or moments that matter, because I agree. And I'm going to share a story that might indicate sometimes we don't know the moments that matter. And it was, it was actually only maybe 10 years ago on my eldest daughter was in our teens, she'd never really taken to milk. And that's a ridiculous story. But you'll hopefully see the point in a second. And we get, why don't you like milk? Why didn't you like milk, and eventually, her awareness came to the wall, she realised that when she was someone like three, she came downstairs in the morning, because she was bottle fed. And my wife was feeding our son, who was four months, sitting in the dark feeding column. And my wife simply said to my daughter are gone get your milk, it's in the fridge. Now, there was no intention, there was no lack of love, there was no, you know, you could argue nothing happened. And yet, in that moment, my daughter decided to like milk. Now, the milk is inconsequential, it doesn't really matter. And to some degree, you know, nutrition, and you could argue it's a bad thing anyway. However, I wonder how many moments that matter, we're just not even aware of that we've no idea that someone has made meaning from that interaction that comment that statement, between you and someone else, including them, that there are many, if not, as much moments that matter that we're not even aware of, we're unconscious to them.
I think that's a really good point. And I think there's probably quite a number of particularly when they're young, in a day, influential age, and it's just an off the cuff comment, you know, we had a similar conversation with my four year old is that she had to give up her bottles when the baby brother came along, because he needed the bottle. All of a sudden, there's probably some resentment there, because he took my bottles away, so And she, she refuses to drink milk as well now, because it's not in a bottle. So it's really interesting. And I think, you know, as they get older, I find now I can actually have, you know, very intelligent conversations with my 12 year old now. And there's a book that I am that I've read, and it's the five love languages. I don't know if you read. Yeah, yes. Love them, too. We use them at work, we try and find out what are the love languages of our team so that we can, you know, fill their cup that way, but are keen to have them too. And, you know, my my 12 year old daughter's love language is quality time. So I would ask her at the end of a weekend, what was the best thing about the weekend, and you know, we've been to the beach, we've done all these things. She said to me, was sitting on the couch watching TV with you last night. And you know, we cuddled up together and watch TV. And it's like, they are the simplest and the easiest thing for us to do. But sometimes as busy parents, they were the last thing that we actually do. We're too busy trying to create big moments that matter and experiences of memories when they are actually the little memories that that really counts. So yeah, I think just having a conversation with them when they're a little bit bigger. You can can't understand that. But yeah, I take your point when they're little. Who knows what meaning they're making from some of those things? I
know, I've read that, you know, it's inevitable, we'll screw them up. Our job is to screw them up as least as we can. Yep. Yeah. Because this isn't my camp to a, I'm surrounded by, you know, family and friends and kids. We've talked a lot about being a working mom, what about the people that are listening, perhaps that don't have kids or don't want kids? And that's not their choice? Or maybe we'd like to but they haven't, they can't. So not about the kids thing necessarily. Do you have any counsel for them? Or tips about how they might go around balancing the needs that they have with, you know, working full time?
I don't think it's any different. I think it's still about being really clear on what it is that you want from your life personally. And whether you've got kids or whether you don't you've still got aspirations, you've got dreams, you've got adventures that you want to fulfil. I think it's just having the clarity around what does that look like? And again, you know, as I spoke about earlier, that you know, being really intentional about what you want to do with your life and laying that foundation will then enable you to use your business, your work your job, you know, whatever content except ease. It's a vehicle. And that's what again took me a long time to realise like myself, and my business was so intertwined that, you know, I was my business and my business was me, and extracting that and realising that my business is purely a vehicle to enable those things to happen. It's the thing that generates my income, it's the thing that gives me the opportunity to contribute. It's an external thing, like, I'm still me, and I still have things that I want from my life and the person I want to be. That is separate. And I think that's having that distinguished separation and understanding that then enables you to make much more clear choices and purposeful, intentional choices around what you do with your business or your career or your job.
Yeah, let me if I may ask you some personal counselling, because that's one of the biggest struggles I face. Is this conscious and probably more unconscious connection with the work I do? Being what I'm worth? What, what process? Or what work did you do to help make the distinction?
Lots of little things, I think, and, you know, it's not an easy thing, because when my business was going really well, I was like, Yay, things are great. I'm shit. It's like, Oh, shit. Yep. And I've had, I had, okay, so last year, I had three different business coaches all teaching me different things. One, at a very functional business level, sounding board, someone I could just talk through things with, I had another more of a, I suppose you'd say, a spiritual level. So she was working on like, emotional healing and deeper, ingrained, you know, trauma, sense of worth purpose, those sorts of things. And then I had another, you know, mastermind business group where I could see, you know, aspirationally, how I could restructure parts of my business and grow different different aspects. Each of those things gave me a very different lens, and a very different perspective on value of myself and my business and helping to just kind of separate that. And it's not an easy thing, I don't think I've got a simple answer. And there's no sort of magic formula that I followed. But it's kind of just teasing that apart, and realising that, you know, the business is one thing, and there's only so much that I can do to influence it and control it. And there's other things that are external to that, like we talked about market conditions, etc, that make that happen. And it's been a bit of a process. And I again, it's about that definition of success as well, I, I had, I was defining what success was based on external factors again, and I had to redefine what that's definition of success was both for the business and for me, because I needed to start treating us as two different things. Part of that also, I think, was, I have created more of a personal brand as well, in separation to the business so that I had this I, you know, I reclaimed my own identity, I suppose through through that. So with writing the book, and having my podcast and doing online programmes that was enabling me to have a sense of worth in myself, that was purely me. And then the business was a collective of people that came together to deliver on projects. And that was something that was separate. And I think that helped me a lot, because I felt like, at some point, I had been so deeply ingrained in the business, that there wasn't that ability to separate us, whereas now there's like these two, two independent parties, but we work collectively and collaboratively together.
Well, thank you. I look forward to the day, when that's the case. For me, it doesn't feel like that.
It's a tricky one. And I took a lot of external counsel on that as well. So yeah, I think that helps.
I'm gonna, I'm gonna guess I guess I'm hoping for this, too, that it's not any one thing. But it's a number of things, a number of seeds get planted, and you pick a little bit from here. And a little bit from there. And that question from there and this than that. And, you know, the counts I'm being given is it still has to have some signature of your own? Yes. Like you're saying the definition of success, whether it's material or immaterial, whether it's hard or soft. What's Pete Clark's stamp? What's Melissa Morrison stamp on that? Now that might change now you've got a four year old son or a child that's no longer at school or when the business is doing this or when the business is doing that? That might be? I might change. I think
it's definitely an evolution. Like, I'm not the same person I was four years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, like I think we're constantly evolving and to think that we kind of figure it out and that's it, I think, is a little bit short sighted. I think that If it's something that continues to change, and you know what works right now, for me, probably won't work for me in six months time. And it's that constant evolution and reflection to readapt. And to shift into pivoting to change to to suit where you want to be heading. But yeah, it's definitely wasn't one thing. It was a collective of things. And it's collective conversations as well. You know, hearing other people's stories and going, Oh, that bit could work for me. And like you said, it's collecting all these ideas and thoughts, like almost like a big sponge, I will seek counsel from all these people. soak it all up, and then I distil it and go, Okay, well, this is what feels authentic. And real for me, like, this is what I feel like I couldn't own and this is how I think I can move forward. But it's, you know, collating all of those ideas from a broad variety of people as well. And that's that diversity of thinking is a really big one, making sure that we're getting lots of different perspectives. And I think that, you know, listening to podcasts, and going to conferences, those sorts of things really sparked so much creative ideas in my brain about what the possibility and the potential is, and sort of moving forward from that.
I'm intrigued to know, if you are able to share the clues that tell you you're not the same person you were four years ago. Oh, yeah. How do you know,
um, I think as a person, I'm far calmer. I know, my triggers now. And I know when I'm or you know, or I'm in that state of stress or flight or overwhelmed. And I now have the tools available to myself, and I know how to bring myself back. And I think, you know, we all get to that state. So it's knowing how to manage it. And I think it's just, I feel far more comfortable now about saying no to things that I don't think work well for me. And I've got a language and a toolkit of how to do to say no respectfully, and, you know, by by maintaining that sense of truthfulness to myself, I think as well. So, I think a lot of it comes down to how I inherently feel about myself, and how I feel like I'm showing up and the contribution that I'm making, and the you know, the way that I am with my family and the way that I am in my business, I think all of those things, you know, they feel better, they feel more real, they feel much more calm and smooth. There's definitely less pointy bits.
Yeah, and for me, this is not a criticism at all. It's it's a little bit generic, but I get so much how even just a comment, it just feels better. is so powerful, so empowering, because that this like this is the umbrella term that means yeah, there's less pointy bits.
Yeah, it's not so sharp around the edges anymore.
Yeah, which is cool. And look, Melissa, I'm so grateful for your time before we finish. We're going to ask you some really quick, hopefully easy to answer questions. If people want to get ahold of you. How did they How did they do that?
If you head over to my website, which is www.melissamarsden.com.au you can find me and my contact details there. Or come and connect with me on LinkedIn, I hang up there quite a bit. Or instagram.com/melmar.
Okay, cool. And we'll put all those in the show notes as we as we produce that so thank you. So Melissa, are you night in or night out?
sunrise or sunset? Sunset? Okay. The last movie that made you cry?
It'd be a movie. Disney has a way of making you pull on those heartstrings. And which one was it? I don't know. It was one of the kids phones recently. Terry the music so much.
Yeah, yeah, the music is supposed to limit them for kids. But actually, I think there's some adult messages in there too. Absolutely. Yes. Um, what's a maxim you live your life by? Oh,
life's short. So or F sake? Do what makes you happy?
And are there any rules you'd like to break?
Probably all of them within
a given our conversation started with freedom.
Yeah, yeah, I think there's a few rules that I tend to like to break just in terms of shifting the status quo. I like to argue the point, instead of just doing what we've always done is like question a lot of things there.
Okay. And maybe one final question, what's a book that's changed your life? Hmm.
I'm looking at my bookshelf here. And there's so many one that I think has made the biggest impact On me in the last few years is super attractor by Gabby Bernstein, which again is kind of a bit more in that spiritual realm. If you take some of the woowoo away from the message, it's in that a lot of it is about mindset. And again, big, big lessons in that around getting to choose and reframing situations. They were probably the biggest takeaways that I took out of out of that book.
Alright, we'll put that in the show notes too. Wonderful. Thank you so much for taking time out from your very busy entrepreneurial life and I'm grateful that nanny was able to take your son in the park. It's been lovely chatting, and thank you. It's been wonderful. I really enjoyed it. Thanks so much for having me pay. You're welcome.