For quite a while now we have had the desire to feature amazing women killing it in the world of business. Finally we are going to do just that. Right here, starting right now. Cool. We will feature amazing women in all different stages of their careers; from just starting their first small business, to running an empire.
It’s a courageous thing to take the plunge and become your own boss. I’m sure lots of us have amazing business ideas bubbling away in our mind, so hopefully you will learn a little about running your own business from the dames we feature. Some of what they share may even help us in our day-to-day lives.
I couldn’t think of a better woman to kick off Ladies Who Business than the seriously rad Jane Martino.
Jane Martino is is what you call a gal that gets s**t done.. At only 26 she founded Undertow Media (a hugely successful PR agency), she is also the Co-Founder of not for profit Smiling Mind (modern meditation for young people) and Co-Founder of Shout For Good (an App that is revolutionising the way we donate money). Wowsa! Oh. and she is also a wife and mum of three boys (8, 6 and 5)… Now the “getting s**t done” part makes sense, right?
Let’s get down to business…
The first business you built was Undertow Media; how did that come about?
I was 26 when I started Undertow Media. I had always wanted my own business and registered the business name a few years prior. I was working in-house in PR and had a few approaches to consult – and I had just met Matt (hubby) who encouraged me to take the leap and was keen to support me financially to do just that. So I decided to take the leap! I secured one client & set up my business on the kitchen table of a tiny one bedroom flat we were renting at the time. It was just me, a computer, our cat and LOTS of cups of tea. That was ten years ago this year!
When and why did you decide to sell Undertow?
Matt and I work in unison. He had been the stay at home carer to our 3 boys (all under three years of age at the time) for about three years and was growing restless to re-discover his passions and work. Meanwhile, I started feeling as if I was missing out on my boys, they were missing out on me and I felt generally disillusioned and out of place in the corporate world. So in the end the decision was easy – especially because I found a way to remain involved in the business as a founder, board member and minority shareholder without letting it go completely – it was a much healthier balance for both myself and the business.
Making the transition was the hardest part – I had to really let go (challenging for a control freak!) and make changes as to the type of person and leader I was and wanted to be. I felt restricted at the time by the pressure of being the provider for our family so had to let go of that as well and just trust it would all work out. But with Matt’s support and our belief that life is too short, we took control of our destiny and made the change.
What is the trickiest thing about working for yourself?
You are ultimately responsible for everything – it feels so grown up! You are marketing/administration/HR/production/complaints department/ finance etc all rolled into one and I believe that is what makes it feel like such a juggle. The key is, especially if it is only you and no other staff, to interact with and seek advice from others. It is important to remain objective, otherwise you find yourself in your own bubble without often stepping back and gathering the perspective you so often need. I have relied so much on mentors – and still do – as well as other like minded people. When I say like minded, I don’t just mean in a professional sense, but those who truly share your values and beliefs and can be your constant litmus test to ensure you are heading in the right direction for your business and also your heart (the two are inexplicably linked whether we like it or not!). This makes it MUCH easier to work for yourself and not feel like you are on an island. Everyone needs people to bounce ideas off, come up with solutions, share the disappointments with and generally spur us on.
Have you ever felt discriminated against being a strong woman in business?
No, on the contrary. I have found that people, both male and female, have often sought out my counsel as I have progressed in business. This is because I am no nonsense and I follow through. Other women respect that and men find my viewpoint refreshing as the perspective is often so vastly different. I have never found that any of my choices have affected me in a negative way. I am a good mother, I have a great marriage and I can pursue all my professional and philanthropic goals because I am a strong woman. I guess maybe there have been times I have been discriminated against but have not noticed or focused on it – I believe the best remedy is to focus on where you are going and move forward, working around any speed humps or ‘no’s’ that you get along the way.
What do you think this is the essence of your success?
I think the essence of my success is my attitude, I am positive and do not over think things. I believe in grabbing life and opportunity by the throat and not spend too much time thinking about doing things or worrying how it will ‘fit in’ to the schedule – often by the time we have finished worrying about that we could have done it! My approach is to be fair and never ask someone to do something that I wouldn’t. My principles have been not to succeed at any cost. Just treat people well, do what you say you will and demonstrate a strong work ethic – just get it done. You do have to work hard, there is no other way. Accept that and just get on with it. It’s that simple and yet it is often elusive.
What are your three top tips for women wanting to start their own business?
1. Be brave. I love the quote from Christopher Columbus ‘ You will never cross the ocean unless you a re prepared to lose sight of the shore” – so true but scary! (PS. Read Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, that will help with the losing sight of the shore bit!!)
2. Be prepared to work. Hard. Put in the hours and the effort – and learn to enjoy that part, not resent it. Find the joy in working really hard – you can balance it out with time with friends, family, exercise, eating well – and meditating of course (shameful plug for www.smilingmind.com.au)
3. Be inspired. Read books on topics that will help your business grow but most importantly – you grow. Get a mentor, a life coach or someone you respect and listen to them, make changes if you need to. Learn that not always but usually WE are the problem. If we work on evolving and improving ourselves it will help every part of our lives flourish, not just our business.
Your newest ‘baby’ is Shout? How did this come about?
I had just launched Smiling Mind, a not for profit that provides guided meditation to young people and schools via an App and I had seen first hand how hard fundraising was. Matt was working with The Lighthouse Foundation on the Fundraising Committee. At the same time there is a huge focus an all things digital, in particular how often people were transacting on mobile devices. Shout itself came about as simple idea to combine the two; 1. A need to fundraise in a different way 2. A desire to give more easily via mobile technology. There is a perfect, timely intersection and from that Shout was born.
What are your hopes and goals for Shout?
We want Shout to change the world. We want to change people’s behaviour so one day the act of ‘Shouting’ on your mobile phone is second nature and we really can change the way people view and feel about donating. Not as something they have to do, but as a simple gesture, exactly like buying a coffee, for a cause. It is real sharing and we think Shout can harness the goodwill that we know exists in the world and make it a better, safer, healthier place for everyone. We want Shout to be the Facebook of giving.
What tough decisions have you had to make in order to keep your career growing while raising a family?
I honestly don’t feel that I have had to make any tough decisions to keep my career growing and have a family. I am lucky to have a partner that supports me 100% – and we have listened and almost ‘taken turns’ on careers and home duties. We have both never looked at it as a choice between my career and his career, it has always been about our ‘life’ and goals at the time and as a result of that, who does what! Every decision we make is about all of us – me, Matt and the boys.
To be honest, the tough moments have come from within and have been more about feeling like I am not being a ‘good’ mother or wife – whatever the hell that elusive term means! But we are constantly making sure that the balance is there. Little (important) things like we try to eat together every night, we spend weekends together and are not too over scheduled during the week (our boys have nothing after school during the week) and I guess we always try to stay aware of this delicate dilemma that could shift out of balance at any minute. Being aware is actually the most important part – you can easily tune in to the ‘health’ of the family at any time and get a read whether the balance is right. Honestly I don’t think I have ever passed on an opportunity or missed out on something in any part of my life that I regret, if I missed out it simply wasn’t meant to be. Fitting the school veggie patch or canteen duty in amongst Board meetings is the upside of running my own business – not to mention it keeps me grounded. Just 20 minutes with a class of Preps around a veggie patch and all of a sudden life becomes simple again.
Thank you beautiful Jane for taking the time to answer these questions for us…
Everyone should download Shout here and get shouting now. A lot can happen from a little – Shout For Good.