Erica Davis, Fiona Triaca and Megan Liston are three women on a mission to redefine success. With more than 30 years corporate experience between them their startup, Naked Ambition, endeavours to encourage women to see ambition as a positive attribute.
You can spend years researching, revising, guessing, writing in isolation but the only way you will get honest feedback and understand the market is by experimenting, putting ideas out there, stuffing up and trying again.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
The idea happened like all the good ones do – over a couple of glasses of wine. We were talking about our jobs and some of the things we wish we knew five years ago. We wanted to create something to help women become more assertive, confident and more comfortable with the idea of being successful. After years of working here in Melbourne and in London in some pretty male dominated industries, we all found there was very little resource available which supported this. While there are lots of brilliant women’s networks out there and plenty of in-house leadership training (all really important) we struggled to find an offering that bought the two together. Our goal is to make the corporate environment a better place for young women and, as a result, companies will benefit from women that are self-assured and maybe even really loving their work!
Please explain your business model.
At the moment our revenue comes from the workshops we run. These are focused on specific topics, like negotiating salary, getting a promotion, managing your online presence and also include one-on-one coaching in these areas. We’d like to think our workshops and coaching materials offer something different, a bit of humour, a bit of attitude and a whole lot of practical tips that you can take away and actually use. We’re active within the community, have set up partnerships with other like-minded organisations and are developing programs with a few Australian Universities as well.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
Right now we’re perfecting our workshop on negotiating your salary. We know money can’t buy you happiness… but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it. We are also attending Louise Greenstock’s Mind & Motive workshops; recently attended the League of Extraordinary Women’s breakfast event (Jodie Imam from the Occasional Butler was the speaker and was brilliant!); Seeing Alan Noble at a tech start up meet up in Armadale next month; Paul Dunn from the KPI guys tomorrow .. and lots of little (but great) stuff found on The Fetch!
How do you make ideas happen?
Once we committed to really doing this it has felt like the ideas come to us – through voices of friends, articles and anything that makes us slightly crazy/excited/angry/inspired. To communicate them day-to-day we resort to our blog, Twitter, Facebook etc. As well as occasionally donning a sandwich board wandering around Sydney Rd.
We also find that it pays to refine your ideas on the fly. With too much analysis and three of us involved it can become a case of analysis paralysis. You can spend years researching, revising, guessing, writing in isolation but the only way you will get honest feedback and understand the market is by experimenting, putting ideas out there, stuffing up and trying again. The more you are communicating with your target market, the more you will understand what the problem is that they need solved.
What does your typical day look like?
The best thing about our days is that they are never typical! At some stage they usually involve working in a shared workspace like The Hub in Bourke St, interviewing potential contributors and we are often either interviewing others that work in our space like University Professors, female Senior Leaders in organisations or younger professionals so we can get a sense of what’s important from both an employee and employer perspective. We frequently run events and focus groups and document the beautiful nuggets of info we pick up so we can share them in our offerings.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Would say that there are actually more benefits starting a business in Australia than challenges. We have spent a combined 17 years working in London and while it’s a wonderful place – the feeling is that this would be a lot harder to do there. The Aussie entrepreneurial community is amazing. As a general comment on business challenges the most common problem we face is translating ideas into revenue and ‘productising’ the concepts you think are important.
Sometimes we feel like we have so much great information and IP that we’ve gathered over the years, it’s difficult to summarise it into a succinct workshop or seminar. But that’s one of the great things about our sessions – they’re interactive and we can make the material flexible to suit our audience.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Keep old jeans to use as patches for other jeans.
In business – don’t be intimidated by anyone – if you get in touch with them they will be happy to help – much more than they won’t – but be prepared to scratch their back too!
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
League of Extraordinary Women – doing good stuff here in Melbourne
What about internationally
BossedUp – two girls form Washington with a super cool attitude and Bootcamp that they run for girls straight out of uni. They speak our language.
Emily Bennington – love her ideas and her very real voice.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
It’s not that business ‘can’ play a role in affecting social change – it MUST affect social change! Our workplaces are the most prominent platform where we interact with the community and take our place in society. Large corporates, in particular, should embrace their role as leading organisations in the community and lead by example with their attitudes and values. There is so much opportunity for each individual to contribute to lead an organisation toward values they believe are important. In the case of females in Corporate environments, we need to blaze a trail by showing we have a voice and a valuable contribution to make to industries like Banking, Legal, IT and others that have traditionally been lead by males.
Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?
We’d love to support White Lion.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
Five second films – ridiculous but funny.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?
Eddie Perfect – very clever
Rebel Wilson – very funny
Simone Ball – very up and coming actor – capable of great one liners.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Indeed there are. We’d love to hear from any of your readers that would be interested in being interviewed. We are always looking for impressive women and men, young and old to profile. Also always looking for speakers.
We’re also thinking of a Bunning’s style sausage sizzle as a source of revenue (see question 7, times are tough) so if anyone is handy with a bbq please call us.
Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.
It seems like your readers and us have a lot in common, we should organize to meet up for sushi sometime.
I would love to ask your female (and male) readers what they see as the major differences between men and women in the workplace (rude bits aside)?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Montague Park Foodstore in Sth Melbourne. We have been working out of Sth Melbourne recently and have become addicted to their roast pork roll on a brioche bun. Dangerous. And their coffees are the best in Melbourne – no joke.
What is your favourite song by an Australian artist at the moment?
Sarah Blasko’s ‘We Won’t Run’:
(But obviously can never go past a classic like Flight of the Conchords’ ‘Too Many D**ks on the Dancefloor’ Hmmm… actually they are from New Zealand)
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
Sure – we can throw in a nice bottle of wine; a coaching session with the three of us.. and maybe some time at my parents holiday place.. but I will have to ask them first..