This is Leisha’s first foray into entrepreneurship – leveraging over 20 years’ experience working with businesses to help them transform, grow and succeed. Partnering with large corporate clients from private and public sectors, Leisha has a wealth of experience shaping business plans and leading change to support and enable large groups of employees to transition through major workplace initiatives.
As the mother of two school-age children, she is now taking a fresh look at her knowledge and capabilities, re-imagining them through her innovative start-up Stickystories.co.
Stickystories.co is a Brisbane-based business which offers insightful, bite-size stories to assist other professionals around the globe facing the same challenges Leisha knows all too well.
Over the next few years, I think we will see big corporations adopting more dynamic methods of communication, using more video, apps, internal social media and other strategies that mirror the communication habits of the millennial generation.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Stickystories.co is an online library of little, animated stories that illustrate complex business concepts and messages that many organisation currently face. The world is full of professionals putting a lot of effort into explaining these concepts to their clients and audiences – topics like leadership behaviours, IT management, organisational change, and Agile projects. They are casting around for video clips to enrich their messaging and help illustrate their point. If they want to include a clip explaining a similar concept they will probably find one for free on YouTube. If they want to illustrate the topic with a scenario or story and show how people really behave, this is a lot harder to find. That’s what we offer – a growing workplace story library that helps to communicate tricky concepts.
My whole career has focused on helping people and businesses navigate change. As everyone knows, workplace change is a minefield of emotional responses, executive politics, rocky implementations and intense periods of effort. It’s been a fantastic field to be in, sometimes very satisfying and at other times draining. For me, it was time to make a change. I wanted to take a break from my involvement in large-scale programs and open the door to something creative and special; something that fits the new world and it’s emerging communication habits, and also lets me share my insights with others.
Can you explain your business model for us?
Stickystories.co is a growing subscription library of animated videos that are useful for professionals working in management consulting, learning and development, human resources, leadership development and organisational change. It has a free or paid annual membership option. The free option provides access to a limited sample of the stories in the library. Fully paid memberships allow full streaming and download access to the content.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
I couldn’t be more excited actually – working with a few helpful freelancers and with my partner and co-director Leigh Walker, we’ve produced a product which is now ready to start sharing with the world.
When we put our library online in June 2016 it had only 12 animated stories. Now there are 28, and we will have 50 by Easter 2017. So right now I’m focused on accelerating our production of story content, and running a series of ‘mini’ digital marketing experiments so that I can understand what connects well with our audience.
How do you make your ideas happen?
I’ve driven the creation of the library by taking chunks of time off my consulting work, and it’s been a long slog – over a year of working essentially 2 jobs, not to mention kids and renovations! I also sold an investment property to enable me to invest in the development of the website and to cover my non-earning time. A lot of sacrifices have been made!
I am lucky my partner Leigh also works in organisational change, and has a history of acting and directing in the Brisbane theatre scene. His support in making great stories has been essential, and he really opened some doors when it came to finding voice talent for our story characters.
Coming up with story ideas – well, the world is packed with them! I’m constantly talking to friends and contacts in my own network who are managers, consultants, coaches, communication specialists or project managers about the issues they face, and their points of interest get jotted down as story ideas. The list goes on forever! And then there is so much content online about business issues and how to solve them, it’s easy to get story inspiration.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
I’ve been lucky over the years to have the guidance of some fabulously talented individuals who have helped me become a better consultant, leader, facilitator and change practitioner. Some of these people are driving some really exciting and innovative business solutions for clients, or in their own businesses. When I started out with the Stickystories concept I was blessed to be able to sit down with many of these and take some advice, it’s so valuable!
What does your typical day look like?
Until quite recently I was continuing to do consulting work up to three days a week on top of stickystories.co – so days were stretching well into the wee hours. Thankfully that’s over and I’m a full-time startup founder now, so stickystories.co is getting my full attention! As our market is online and global, increasingly I find a portion of my day is becoming devoted to social media and digital marketing. I create stories and develop animations myself, and also work virtually with a small number of freelancers helping me with animations, marketing and web development activities. The days I like best are voiceover recording days – I love working with the actors to get our stories done!
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
As so many of your interviews show, the time taken to reach your goals always seems to be more than you estimated! I thought we could create content faster and build our customer base well before now. Time is the enemy of every new business founder, I think!
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Well, my observation is the way large organisations communicate with their employees internally is changing rapidly. Over the next few years, I think we will see big corporations adopting more dynamic methods of communication, using more video, apps, internal social media and other strategies that mirror the communication habits of the millennial generation. I think there are some great opportunities for a lot of new businesses to create technology solutions and content, to be part of this shift.
What other organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry in Australia at the moment?
The power of storytelling is something that is getting a good airing in business at the moment, and there is a bit of a movement to build leader skills to communicate using stories. I’m loving some of the content and thinking coming from small consultancies such as Anecdote in Sydney.
What about internationally?
I’m really impressed with the approach Grovo (an enterprise learning platform delivering a large suite of 1-minute video content to corporate customers) has taken in the US. They are having huge success – it really shows us that watching one-minute videos is moving from fun and recreation to serious stuff!
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
A huge difference – they are massively influential in driving – or blocking –change. The more success a business has, the more seriously they should consider the impact of their decisions on society and the planet as a whole. I hope stickystories grows to the point where we can tell stories that drive a broader change agenda too.
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
Amnesty is my ongoing donation of first choice. The issues that they deal with are some of the most difficult and heartbreaking in the world, they need all the help they can get.
Can you name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
I always enjoy www.theonion.com for getting a chuckle out of the news that’s otherwise often a bit of a downer. www.upwork.com and other freelance market sites are changing the game everywhere I think and breaking down borders. I’m constantly impressed by the breadth of services you can access online now, and have recently used www.thevoicerealm.com.au, which is a great place to access Australian voiceover talent quickly.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
At some point over the coming months, we will be looking for a Brisbane-based intern who has some animation development capability – watch this space!
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?
Gosh – it would probably be to ask someone to demystify the internal algorithms of major digital marketing platforms (like Adwords, Facebook and LinkedIn) to determine what they charge you!
Lastly, what’s your favourite bar, café or restaurant in your area?
Our local favourite to unwind is Kettle and Tin in Paddington, Brisbane.