AUSTRALIA DAY 2020 – A REFLECTION

Australia Day sees me sitting at my desk and reflecting on how I came to be here in Australia.

I wasn’t born here, but then again, neither were so many others that call this country home.

There’s lots of controversy around the celebration of this day and it can all get a bit political.

It depends on who you talk to as to their perspective. From my own perspective, I see it as a day to take stock and to think about what it means to be able to live in a country that is free.

The first visit

I first visited Australia as a 19-year-old.

Like so many other young people’s journeys, it started by travelling overland from London to Athens on a bus – a nightmare of a trip with 2 flat tyres but we were young and resilient! Then a flight via Bangkok and Singapore to Sydney and then on to Canberra where I spent a few months before travelling to Darwin to visit family.

Little did I know that Darwin was going to play a big role in my future.

Settling in

It took a long time for me to become comfortable living in a country that was so totally different from where I spent my childhood.

I’d grown up in the Middle and the Far East; although I went to the UK for my final years of schooling.

I felt like a fish out of water for many years.  Australia was so culturally different from what I was used to.

On reflection, I was lucky to have ended up in Darwin as it’s undoubtedly the most multi-cultural city in Australia. A tropical melting pot where everyone lives side by side and there are no enclaves of particular ethnicities.

I didn’t really identify as any particular nationality and even though my passport said British I was not born in Britain.

The lucky country

Today, I consider myself extremely fortunate to live in a country that offers wonderful opportunities and provides, a predominantly, safe environment for children compared to the places where I grew up.

I am blessed that my entry to Australia was relatively easy. There was no citizenship test and I didn’t need to sit any IELTS exams, apply for sponsorship or come on a boat seeking asylum. 

Australia has been good to me. It’s the place that I call home.

Happy Australia Day!
Michelle

Goal Getting- International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is an important day for us at Dragon Sisters as our core team is women. The day marks a time for reflecting on ourselves and our goals as well as for reflecting on the many great women in this world and how they reached their goals.

Achieving Your Goals

Goals are easy to create, but not always so easy to reach. Sometimes, it can seem nigh impossible to achieve a goal.

I often find myself staring into the abyss, contemplating how far away my goals are. But when I start to take action, even just baby steps towards my goals, everything becomes so much clearer.

So as we are marking a day to celebrate women’s achievements, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about sticking to your goals and reflecting on how some great women of history have reached theirs and the challenges that they overcame.

Looking Back Through History

In our modern day and age more and more women are making strides into greatness, but there is still a great deal to achieve.  It’s also important to remember the women who have long passed into the history books who paved the way for our generation.

A couple years ago, my mother, the brilliant Michelle Hanton, and I went to see the movie “Suffragette”. It was inspirational to watch.  I loved how at the end the credits rolled a list of when women had obtained the right to vote in various countries. The whole movie was not only empowering,  it was emotional and a reminder of the many struggles women faced to get to where we are today.

As an Australian I’ve always been proud of the fact that in 1902 we became the first country in the world to allow women both the right to vote in federal elections and the right to be elected to parliament on a national basis (though New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote back in 1893!).

Also, as someone with English heritage; my grandmother was born and raised in Yorkshire, I’m also extremely proud of the women in England who worked tirelessly for the right to vote.  Which brings me to looking at one of the most famous women in the suffragette movement, Emmeline Pankhurst; the founder of the Women’s Franchise League and also one of the founders of the Women’s Social and Political Union.

Emmeline fought for her goals, through protest and strikes, no matter the cost. Unfortunately, the full extent of her goals was not achieved until after her death in June 1928.

The pages of history hold countless tales of strong willed women. Women who followed their dreams. Women who  fought for their goals.

However,  in  2017 there are still gender equality issues, especially in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine), which is why for this post on the eve of International Women’s Day I’d like to reflect on one of the greatest scientist in history, Marie Curie.

Women have never had it easy when it comes to being accepted in scientific fields of study. However, that didn’t stop Marie Curie in her pursuit of knowledge. Receiving a general education and some scientific training from her father, she went on to become involved in a students’ revolutionary organisation, and in 1891 entered the  Sorbonne in Paris where she received her licentiateships (a licence to practise an art or profession) in physics and mathematical studies.

Marie went on to the School of Physics where she met and married Professor Pierre Curie. When Pierre passed away in 1906 she took his place as Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences, becoming the first woman to hold this position.

Most notably, she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only woman to have been honoured twice with the Nobel Prize (the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry).

Including Marie Curie, 48 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 17 of those in STEMM fields (awarded for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine).

As we can see from the history books, women have made leaps and bounds towards equality, and yet we still have more to accomplish.

Inspirational Women of the Present

Growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by inspirational women. From school teachers who helped me pursue my passion and cultivate my writing skills to family and friends who are constantly amazing me with their accomplishments.

Back when I was just a little girl I remember really looking up to Cathy Freeman. I wasn’t an athletic kid, but I just found her to be so amazing.

Now, as a young adult I still find her an amazing source of inspiration, an Australian Aboriginal who went on to be one of our country’s greatest sporting legends. Cathy was the first Australian Aboriginal woman to win gold at an international athletics event (1990), the first Australian Aboriginal to compete at the Olympics (1992), first person to win both Young Australian of the Year (1991) and Australian of the Year (1998). And all the way back in 2000 at the Sydney Olympic Games was the first competing athlete in history to light the Olympic flame.  Pretty remarkable!

The way she pushed past everything to win the gold medal for the 400m at the 2000 Olympic Games was breathtaking. In an interview about the win, she recounted how she told herself “just do what I know”; these simple, yet powerful words propelled Cathy towards her goal of becoming an Olympic gold medallist.

Aside from Cathy Freeman,  Australia has produced a range of inspirational women from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Among the great Australian women I’d like to shout out Darwin’s current Lord Mayor, Katrina Fong Lim. Katrina’s an outstanding lady and a great Lord Mayor.

Having grown up in Darwin it’s important to me that our City Council has such a strong, female, leader – she’s a fantastic role model for the young girls in Australia’s Northern Territory and is dedicated to her community.

I could go on and on about all the amazing women in the world who have set the path for gender equality, and who are serving as modern day role models. However, I won’t. Instead I’m commending all of the women out there who are working hard every day.

Whether you are a home maker or a business women, each of you is an inspiration in your own special way.

At Dragon Sisters we are very blessed to be working with a variety of inspirational Australian clients, as well as fantastic women (and some men too) from other parts of the world (we love our international clients).

Remember, all goals are achievable. You just need the determination to reach them and to take action.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Sasha Hanton

PS – if you need support with creating and maximising opportunities to reach your goals, Dragon Sisters can often help.

 

 

ARE YOU TRULY CONNECTED?

Being connected is vital for your business success. Connections and networks are the life blood of business and community.

You don’t need to have a zillion friends on social media. It doesn’t involve lots of contacts on LinkedIn either.

It means having authentic connections.

To be authentic relationships need to be nurtured, yet so often they are neglected. Worst still ignored until someone finds themselves in a time of need.

So, how do we maintain connections?

Let me ask you this question….

Do you like to receive mail?

I’m talking about letters, postcards, invitations etc. Not the kind that brings bills and other boring stuff.

Real, good old fashioned snail mail.

The kind of stuff that comes addressed to you personally. Handwritten, rather than typed or printed.  Something to hold in your hand. To feel the texture of the paper between your fingers, and even, sometimes, to smell the paper.

I love proper mail! But these days, it’s all too rare. My post box hardly ever yields very much of interest – apart from boring bills and even most of those come electronically.

I vividly remember, as a child, staying with my Grandma in Green Hammerton and waiting to hear the thud of the mail landing on the mat. That was back in the days when the postman pushed it through the slot in the door. Letters would tumble onto the carpet, we’d rush into the hallway to eagerly see what had been delivered.

Similarly, at boarding school, I’d anxiously await the mail distribution. Grabbing my letters I’d dash off to read them in a private space – voraciously reading the news from dear friends and family so far away.

Those letters, complete with exotic stamps from a country far away, used to sustain me through the often lonely moments of boarding school life. The best stamps on my mail came from Kenya and Liberia. Stamps from Spain meant a letter from my best friend.

Mail connected me to those I valued, loved and cared about.

Responding to each letter, postcard or note was a delight.  Choosing the stationary for my replies. Walking to the post office always with a spring in my step. Licking the stamps (even if the glue did taste horrid!) that would carry my letter to a far flung corner of the globe. It was a ritual that kept me connected.

Fast forward many years………

Online communications

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs etc have replaced the personal relationships of letters, cards and even phone calls.

Today we tend to see and share more of what’s happening in our worlds – there’s also lots of over sharing!

The flip side of this coin is, although there is a lot of sharing going on how much do we actually take in? I mean do you pay the same attention flicking through the digital space as you would to a letter, or to a phone call?

Of course you don’t. There’s so much to look through and hey, yesterday’s posts are now outdated.

So are we really more connected?

Umm, I don’t think so. In fact, I’d say definitely not.

We are only connected in the sense that we are voyeurs. We’re looking in and observing.

Kind of like a Peeping Tom, except we’ve invited this voyeurism by allowing the connection request.

These are not real, authentic connections because there is no real response.

Most are too busy scrolling down the newsfeeds to give stuff more than a cursory glance.

5 reasons why responding in the digital space makes good sense

  1. It is only when you respond that you’re truly connected. By responding you are demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to read what has been written.
  2. A written word of response is far more valuable that just a LIKE. It’s showing the person on the other end, that you value them. That you have made the time to read what they have shared and to frame a response.
  3. It’s an effective and inexpensive way to nurture your connections. We always remember people who make time for us.
  4. For people who live in isolation and have very little real-time interaction, often for reasons beyond their control, a response can mean the world. It lifts their spirits and helps them feel connected.
  5. LIKES are easy.  It’s a simple matter of clicking a button. So even if you are time poor a quick like does not go astray – not as good as a comment, but better than just scrolling past.

connected-love-writing-letterOn a personal level, I also regularly use good old fashioned handwritten cards to personalise messages.

They’re becoming rarer these days, and (I never have to lick the stamp!), but I know all who received them truly  appreciate the time taken to scribbling the note. Same as I love to receive them too!

Do you still write handwritten notes? I’d love to know if you do.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with digital communications and social media. I used it every day. It’s a vital part of my business.

Cheap and effective.  It’s also a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family far away.

The key is this – treat your connections with respect and courtesy – that means responding regularly and with authenticity.

Your business grows when you make genuine connections with your target market.

Michelle

P.S Want to be part of a private Facebook group that is supportive, motivational, aspirational, refreshing and talented ? Join us in The SMART Circle


Thank You …

Thank you. Two little words.

Two very powerful words.

When you contract a service, it’s usually in exchange for a fee. This kind of makes a thank you unnecessary and it is not usually expected. Of course, it is good manners to say a verbal thank you and that’s pretty standard.

But some take it a step further. They make it more personal.

They send a card, (or sometimes a gift). It’s always a double delight and a surprise to receive personal thank you notes.

Think about this…..it’s a rarity these days to receive snail or hand delivered mail. Even on our birthdays we tend to get good wishes via Facebook – not that I’m knocking it. It’s nice to be remembered by friends far and wide, but it’s just not the same as receiving a card in the mail.

I recently received two beautiful notes. Both very different to each other, but each precious and special.

There’s a lovely little frisson of anticipation in slitting open the envelope. Bubbles of anticipation are floating to the surface as the card/note slides out,  rounded off with a little heart skip and a smile while reading the notes.

Thank you notes

Both these clients (who remain unnamed for the sake of confidentiality) are winners, but have been struggling with their businesses recently.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them.  Working in business for yourself can be lonely. It can become quite overwhelming trying to gain crystal clear clarity on how and where your business needs to be adjusted for success. Providing support, teaching the skills needed and then seeing things start to turn around is something that both Yvonne and I love doing.

We’re paid, and we’re also getting a thank you card – how fabulous is that?

It makes the world of difference. It inspires us to take things a step further and always strive to be improving our services; this includes the bonuses and adding to our Resources4Results so we can share more to pay it forward which is my Dragon Discipline #5.

SO here’s my hot tip – saying thank you, either with a personal note or in some other unique way helps your business to stand out from the crowd. Try it.

Michelle

PS Love you to share how you choose to say thank you, feel free to post a comment below. Always great to share ideas.

 




4 Reasons Why You Should Always RSVP – apart from being good manners!

Don’t you just love the feeling of slicing open an envelope and carefully sliding out a personalised invitation with your name on it? Even better if it’s vellum, gilt-edged or embossed with a crest!20160225_141748-1

Even after all these years, and countless invitations, I still love that moment as the sharp opener slices clean the envelope to reveal its contents.

Those little moments of using my letter opener are becoming rarer and rarer.

Have you noticed an increased propensity for invitations to arrive by email?

Even wedding invitations turn up via email!

You can call me old-fashioned. I know electronic is better for the planet and more cost-efficient, but in my book, you can’t beat paper.

The days of snail mail envelopes are almost gone. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, they will be entirely obsolete.

Anyway, I digress.

No matter how an invitation arrives, it nearly always has RSVP on it (répondez s’il vous plait) and date to reply by. Of course, electronic invitations can get trapped in your spam filter or the junk mailbox, so you’re often none the wiser till it’s too late!

Responding is just plain good manners.

Yep! I can remember my grandmother always used to insist on Basildon Bond stationery to write RSVP’s and thank you notes. But, aside from not wanting to appear rude, there are other less obvious reasons why you should always RSVP.

#1 – Someone has thought enough about you to place you on their guest list. They want you at their event.

Give them the courtesy of knowing you appreciate being thought of. That’s the RSVP.

#2 – When we look at the business scenario – invitations are a way of saying “Hey, we value you. We’d like your company”. You’re being invited, you’ll be giving or gaining something from your presence at the event. Hopefully, you’ll do both!

Your RSVP, whether you’re accepting or declining, means you respect the business relationship.

#3 – If you repeatedly fail to respond, you could well find yourself scrubbed off the database permanently. When that happens, if you’re in business, it means the networking opportunities become more limited.

#4 – When you RSVP promptly (by the due date at the latest), you’re showing that you respect deadlines and value the organisers time.

Your appropriately timed RSVP is affirming that you’re a responsible and reliable person to deal with.

When sending an RSVP, if you need to decline, there is no need to go into any detail about why you are declining. A simple ‘regretfully unable to attend’ is usually sufficient.

If you are in the public eye or a position of seniority, you may well find yourself flooded with invitations.

Just because you’re invited does not mean you have to accept. It’s perfectly okay to decide what you will and won’t attend. Just make sure you RSVP to every single invitation that arrives with RSVP on it!

The easiest way not to forget is to do it immediately, or at the very least make a diary date and flag so you don’t miss it. It’s all too easy to forget when you get busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday living.

Michelle

P.S. Emily Post has this to say on RSVP’s

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

 

 

Success – A Different Perspective

WINNER1 cmpThis blog post was, in part, inspired by the speech Michelle gave almost 12 years ago as the 2004 Telstra NT Business Woman of the Year. It was first posted on Simple Team Meeting in April 2015.  We believe it is just as relevant now as it was then.  Wishing you every success in 2016.

Michelle & Yvonne

 

When you hear the word success what do you immediately think of?  Wealth, status or fame? I suppose the most common is the trappings of wealth but this is purely external.

Success, at least the monetary kind, and happiness do not go hand in hand. For numerous reasons. Sometimes individuals have a tendency to push themselves so hard to succeed that they do this at the risk of loosing everything else around them. This includes health, family and even themselves.

The more pressured your job is, the more important it becomes to take the time to ensure you are succeeding in all aspects of your life.

In my eyes you are a success when you are happy with where you are. In other words, being happy in the moment. That is not to say you should not have ambition, goals and dreams, rather it means accepting and enjoying the present as opposed to constantly looking ahead to the future, the next goal.

Now this may sound a bit strange to some, but based on personal experience, I believe this is absolutely the case. The epitome of success is allowing yourself to appreciate the present.

Accept and give yourself a pat on the back for what you are achieving at the moment.

Do not pay too much heed to what everyone else considers or thinks is appropriate.

Living in the moment means taking the time to enjoy what are often the very simple pleasures of life. I embrace moments when I walk to work. I admire the scenery and absorb the little details like the blossoms unfolding , the birds cheeping,  and the way the light changes in the sky at different times of day. I enjoy allowing my mind to wander where it chooses.  I take the time to appreciate the walk and see it as an exercise opportunity rather than a drudge. It is my choice to see these as a pleasure moment and it sets me up for the day with a positive mindset.

We are each responsible for our own success, for our own feelings.  It does take some time and effort to achieve the skills to be able to live in the moment, but it is definitely a skill worth developing.

Developing awareness of living in the moment is a skill which accompanies us through life. It gives us the power to embrace success in all its forms and allows us to experience the greatest success of all in life, personal happiness.

Michelle

PS – love to hear your thoughts on what represents success. Leave a comment here.

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.