‘Get started! No-one gets it right straight out of the blocks, but you must start to begin the journey.’ – Karen Phillips
Karen Phillips is a woman on a mission to prove that every professional woman has what it takes to make it to the top of their game. She is courageous, humble and generous in her pursuit to help other women in business to live and lead with true passion and purpose.
At just 14, Karen was one of the youngest delegates invited by the Federal Government to attend the country’s first National Youth Conference. At 15, Karen was honoured with an Australia Young Citizen Award for outstanding to youth at a local, state and national level and has since lived by the belief that one idea can change the world through creating heart to heart connections. So, it’s safe to say that Karen has always been a trail blazer!
Today she is the Author of the bestselling book Women’s Words, has been named the Gold Coast Citizen of the Year (2018) and is the founder of the successful Queensland Women in Business and Women in Business Awards of Australia; dedicated to promoting and inspiring women in business to push for greatness in both their lives and careers.
Karen’s greatest joy is helping pave the way for a new generation of female leaders to better be seen, be heard and be noticed!
Personally, I have known Karen for some years, yet there are still many things I don’t know about Karen! I sat down with her for this month’s Inspiring Women Speak to discover more about how she views the world, what drives her and her words of wisdom!
Q1. Suzie: You are the Author of the best selling book “Women’s Words of Wisdom, Passion and Power, where you showcase 50 influential female achievers inspiring insights… so…can you share one of your favourite quotes to live by and what does it mean to you?
Karen: I believe in thinking ‘big’ and living ‘big’ and to that end – this quote by Theodore Roosevelt has resonated with me in recent years.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”
How we think – is who we become, and I am a strong advocate for positive self-talk because ‘fortune really does favour the bold’. I had that quote made into a fabulous sign which sits above my desk as a daily reminder.
Q2. Suzie: You’ve dedicated your career to inspiring women in business, how far do you think we have come as female leaders? What do you think we have become better at as leaders and women in business?
Karen: Over the past two decades, I have seen a true transformation of female leadership and the acceptance by so many women of the value of their individual leadership strengths. Opposed to trying to fit within the rigid leadership parameters of the past, so many more women are now charting their own course, and that is extremely exciting to witness.
The word ‘leadership’ has changed dramatically, and so too has the acceptance of setting our own course and building heartfelt organisations that are led with emotional intelligence. Given we are now knee-deep in the fourth industrial revolution, there is a growing demand for brands focused on honesty, integrity and dedicated to their client’s needs led by authentic visionaries, so focusing on how your business leads with these key principles is vital to safeguard your ongoing success.
Q3. Suzie: What are three key words you would use to describe yourself?
Karen: The broad acceptance of emotional intelligence has certainly been a key factor in celebrating both the business and economic value that women bring to the table. On the global and home front, bearing witness to the recent increase of inspired female leadership is providing inspired exceptional role models for women across the board and importantly has paved the way for an increase in the general acceptance of new styles of leadership and ways of doing business.
Q4. Suzie: You are a ‘Super Networker” hosting networking events and awards to help women in business. How important is it for women to network to grow their brand and business?
Karen: Networking is a cornerstone of business. To me, the key to effective networking – is in forging ‘value-based’ connections. I think many women aren’t as well developed in their ‘connecting’ skillset as they need to be to better develop their business. Like everything in your leadership toolbox, there is an art to networking successfully to develop powerful connections and ultimately business opportunities. For many women, it lies outside their comfort zone, but it is a very valuable skill and to become masterful – it takes practice and discomfort – but that is always where the greatest learning occurs – out of your comfort zone!
Q5. Suzie: You have been bold and unstoppable in building the successful Queensland Women in Business and Women in Business Awards of Australia? What was your motivation to start the awards and what is your passion and purpose that drives you?
Karen: The annual awards, Women in Leadership Programs, business education series and annual Women in Business Summit encourage entrepreneurship, business acumen, empowerment and inspiring leadership.
The key drivers in developing the initiative were to provide a platform across cities and regional territories to empower women from small business to large enterprise, innovation and emerging leaders, as well as profile their success and support their future development.
The Awards programs have become an important platform for women across Queensland proudly supported by State Government, university partners in each Awards region and major media such as Channel Nine.
Q6. Suzie:In the past 5 years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Karen: Choosing how you spent your greatest commodity is a life-long process, I think. As women it is so easy to yes quickly and then regret it later – so many of us like to be people pleasers.
As you get older (or more practised), I think we become more selective about how we use both our energy and our time. Something we don’t talk about enough thought is the value of our ‘self-time’, many women tend to fall into ‘put myself last’ category and we need to re-evaluate the value on which we place our own greatest asset and then put it in the weekly diary and stick to it!! (Far easier said than done of course).
Q7. Suzie: When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Karen: Breathe – take a moment and visualise one of my favourite peaceful destinations and imagine being there in my mind’s eye. It only takes a moment or two, but it can change my entire focus.
Before an important meeting, I will sit in my car, taking a moment to consider the outcome I am aiming for, focus on how I see the direction of the meeting, always remembering a great meeting is where both entities walk away having achieved value.
Q8. Suzie: What are your favourite podcasts, books or blogs that you follow?
Karen: “The Sleep Revolution” by Arianne Huffington. Let’s face it – we all need more sleep; it regenerates our very being and a lack of it compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work and private lives on every level. I love sleeping in on weekends and yes, I put it in my diary – it gets me ready for the week ahead.
“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle – the audiobook of this is brilliant for a long journey. A guide to living in the only moment in which we have – NOW! A real value reminder.
I’m currently reading ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama and loving it. There are always so many lessons we can learn from great women.
A great Audiobook for transformational growth: ‘Mindset – Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential’ by Dr Carol Dweck. I use these principles for client training and the transformation is palpable.
Q9. Suzie: You are an advocate for our new generation of female leaders, what “words of Wisdom” would you give to a smart, driven young woman starting in her career? What advice should they ignore?
Karen: Get started! No-one gets it right straight out of the blocks, but you must start to begin the journey.
Listen, more than you speak.
Read great inspiring books.
Be your own best friend – don’t down talk yourself.
Be careful in seeking advice, ensure you are asking people who can provide valuable insights.
Be prepared to embrace change and be nimble. We are now knee-deep in an era of unpreceded change and I’m not just talking about the incursion of social media. The technological revolution is fundamentally altering how we live, work and connect.
This transformation is unlike anything business has experienced before and as such heralds a transformative change of every aspect of a business from production to management as well as government and of course our planet’s future.
Q10. Suzie: Who is a woman that inspires you the most and why?
Karen: I have had the good fortune to meet some remarkable people through my work from heads of State to international superstars, but it is the ‘everyday’ women I meet and have the blessing of hearing their stories of overcoming challenges and unwavering commitment to their dreams that deeply inspires me.
Great words of wisdom, thanks Karen!
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