Anne McKeown is a Life Coach for Women. Becoming a mum challenged her idea of ambition after a corporate career followed by several years at home looking after her family. Anne drew a line in the sand when she realised only she could choose how life would play out for her. This personal transformation became the foundation of her business. Anne is now a celebrated empowerment coach for women who is devoted to helping women step up, speak up and show up with confidence.
Check out her presentation from Be MPowered 2021 about The power of changing your mindset on our Digital Library here
00:06:14:23 - 00:06:44:19
For today's guest, becoming a mum challenged her idea of ambition after a corporate career followed several years at home looking after her family. A line in the sand was drawn when she realised only she could choose how life would play out for her. This personal transformation became the foundation of the business that Anne McKeown now runs today, a celebrated empowerment coach for women who is devoted to helping women step up, speak up and show up with confidence. We're so delighted to welcome you and to Mumbition the podcast.
00:06:49:11 - 00:06:55:07
Oh, thank you. It's an absolute delight to be here. I just love the work you guys do. So thank you for the invite.
00:06:56:14 - 00:07:09:24
That's amazing to hear. And that love goes both ways. We also love encouraging women to take every possible opportunity to pitch their business, and share their story. So, Anne can you please share yours with us?
00:07:10:20 - 00:07:37:17
Well, thank you for the opportunity to do that. And I almost fell into my business because when I hit 50, I hit menopause, midlife. My kids were all beginning to not want me in their life as much. And I felt a bit lost and lonely. So I thought other women must feel like this and someone suggested that I should start a meetup, which I did.
I called it Women's Self-Empowerment. And within the first week, I had 60 women sign up. And then that made me realise that I wasn't on my own. And as time went on, these women said to me they didn't want to share their things in a group. So could I coach them individually? And I have a coaching background.
And so that's how my business was born, really. Quite organically. And what you said at the beginning was my tagline that I help women to step up, speak up, and show up with confidence in business and life. Because I see so many capable women who have kind of lost faith in themselves and it was that lack of self-belief that held me back for longer than it should have. So as I've grown, my business has grown and I’ve helped other women grow. It's been quite organic.
00:08:35:10 - 00:09:05:24
Anne, thank you for sharing. The journey that you've been on it's interesting because, we stand for women at all stages of motherhood. So that might be your first time experience, first time mum or trying to become pregnant. Or it might be when you've got toddlers or teenagers or those that have technically flown the coop.
Although we just had a little chat saying that they never really go fully flown away. They always come back. They come back in some way. They come back for visits, they come back to live with you for a while which we love because we are always mum. So it's a very interesting journey that you've been on. And I feel like that journey changes at different parts of your lives, depending on the age of your children.
00:09:32:11 - 00:10:05:09
And certainly with that confidence that you've mentioned. Our confidence goes through phases as we go through those phases as well with our children. I remember I heard some studies where teenagers, actually, the girls that are approaching university, they're super, super confident. But then something happens when they enter the workforce and that confidence diminishes over a period of time.
But everything was equal when they started their position. So I think this is a really interesting kind of journey of confidence in the work that you're doing at the moment. It's a fascinating piece to know that, you know, and that all starts from within.
00:10:21:21 - 00:10:45:09
Oh, completely. You're right that the confidence thing comes and goes. And I think one of the things for me was, I'm from Scotland and we'd moved overseas. So I gave up my corporate career to move to Australia with my husband and to be a stay at home mum for six years. And I actually quite enjoyed that because I wanted to be able to be involved in school activities.
I volunteered and I was able to use some of my corporate skills to help in the local area. But I just found that my confidence completely plummeted because technology had moved on. And I wasn't in that environment where I was being treated like a business woman. And there is definitely a societal view of a stay at home mum, which is not at all empowering.
And it's such a shame because my view is that the best job we can do is create kids that are going to add to our community and society who are confident and capable. And if the mums are not that, how can we role model that for our children? So we've kind of got it round the wrong way somewhere along the line. And I lost that insight.
A friend of mine doesn't stay home the whole time, but she works part time. And she's a fantastic mum. She was telling me a story about being involved with something at the school and her friend and her son's friends was thinking, isn't it wonderful that she is home and what she's sharing with her son, and he's sharing with his friends. And it just goes through the community.
I said to her, you're actually doing this. Being so involved. It’s such an important aspect of the community to have the mums and dads now that are around.
00:12:26:18 - 00:12:29:24
I love that you said that. Yeah. Now you're an empowerment coach and I love the word empowerment. But we all know that part of that. Well, most of it is an inside job. It's what you're doing from the inside that then gets projected outside. In terms of a sense of yourself. But I'm wondering what you do to nurture your own wellbeing? For so many women you’re empowering them, is this something that you commit to every week that really helps you stay grounded?
00:12:44:14 - 00:13:10:21
It's interesting because in 2020, it was my best year as far as business success, if you like financial success. I know it was a very difficult year for a lot of people because of lockdown and corporate and whatever. But because of that, a lot of women were turning to me for help.
And I just worked because I worked ten hour days, seven days a week. Because I wasn't going anywhere and I didn't have any commitments in the city and the offices were closed down. So I just thought this is just going to be fantastic. My business is just going to flourish this year.
And it did. But by the end of December, 2020, I was so burnt out, I was so exhausted. And people were getting the best of me and I was almost becoming a bit resentful that my business was taking up so much of my time. And so it was really interesting they say be careful what you wish for because I was wishing and wishing and then I got what I wanted and then I couldn't cope with it.
So for the beginning of 2021, I always choose at the beginning of each year a theme or I work on a focus for myself. Because I believe as a coach you have to kind of walk your talk and be a role model and an example. I actually came up with three words and it was fitness, fun and friendship. They were the three things that were missing.
I was sitting at my desk for almost 10 hours on Zoom calls like everybody else. I wasn't really catching up with friends, and I wasn't having any fun. The fun had really gone out of my business and. So I also decided to overcome a fear which was of deep water actually, and I didn't learn to swim till late in life.
So I started kayaking and within a year the difference that has made, it's been so good for me both mentally and physically. So that's the fitness part. And I was so slow in the beginning. But as I've learned and built up the muscle. I'm getting better and we all stop and have coffee afterwards, so that's the friend and community bit and it's just great fun.
And the other thing that I do is I kind of get a lull in the afternoon. So I allow myself a 20 minute meditation and it is incredible how that 20 minutes can just completely reset my clock and my energy. I won't let anybody or anything interrupt those times. I've got really strong boundaries in place because I know that people won't get the best of me if I don't give the best to myself first.
00:15:58:02 - 00:16:01:09
Love it and I love the mention of fun. I don't think we talk about that enough. That's the first thing to kind of go off the list, isn't it? I mean, that shows you how strange I am. But, it's such an important thing to mention. Anne your business has evolved over the last few years to include keynote speaking podcasts, even an online course. But what is it that you love about your work that you do right now?
00:16:25:18 - 00:17:10:15
I see myself as a communicator. So however that is, I want to be able to share my story to help women and whether that's through speaking on podcasts or and whether it's through my online program, or one on one coaching. It's just about communicating and inspiring others because having gone through that feeling of being a bit lost and lonely and losing confidence in myself. I sort of needed somebody like me in my life, but I didn't have anyone at that time.
So I just thought I'm going to be that for other women. And it sounds altruistic, but it's actually not because I get so much in return. I feel that I have a purpose and that I'm giving back and belonging to a community. I'm helping others, so I actually get more than I give. The reward is greater.
I just love seeing women thrive and grow and because I just know it's back to that whole thing. If we are happy, everyone around us benefits.
00:17:58:12 - 00:18:00:13
Absolutely. And speaking of people around us, you named your business after your two grown up daughters who are in their early to mid 20’s. What do you think in starting your business, when you were in your early 50's, has taught them about life and learning?
00:18:11:01 - 00:18:32:01
Oh, that's a great question. Actually their names are Madison and Meghan, so they are the two M’s. Everybody says find your why. Why are you doing what you're doing? And for me, it was about being a good role model for them because I was telling them every day, go to school and learn.
You can be what you want. You can do what you want. But then I was at home being a bit of a martyr and miserable and lost. And so I wasn't really being a good role model. In starting my business allowed them to see that one - you can start anything at any age and that life is challenging no matter what age you are. Two - be open to personal development. It was only as I grew as an individual that my business grew.
They've watched me go through really down times. When things have not worked well in my business, and I've lost money or I've lost faith in myself or whatever. And being able to say to them that if they have a bad day, “Well, I have a bad day sometimes, too”. Kids think that parents are just robots.
So I think it's taught them that there's been a lot of them learning. And what's really funny is that when I would coach them through difficulties, it’s now when I'm having a bad day and they just call back and say, “Oh, mum, you know this and this”. They call my own techniques back to me and stuff. It's great for me.
00:19:53:00 - 00:20:11:06
That is so beautiful. They do absorb it even when you don't realise. We can be that role model and shape them. So I think whatever you're doing, it's working because they're obviously coaching the coach on the strategies.
00:20:14:22 - 00:20:32:03
I think hearing, “Oh, we're so proud of you mum”. And that coming from your kids just fills you with huge emotions. It's the best gift ever.
00:20:33:19 - 00:21:01:05
And on both fronts, I think that moment where you said, you need to be vulnerable with your kids as well. I vividly remember that afternoon when I managed to scrape the side of my father's car. I'm turning a corner and I literally swiped a concrete post. And I was a mess.
I literally started crying. My five year old son, he was probably younger than that, actually. He was probably about three and a half at the time. And I just broke down. I was just crying. And he still talks about that moment. And he knows that he's not the only one that cries.
He said, “Come on, come on”. He's a big emotional boy. They need to know that we have our down days. Exactly like what you said. That's amazing. I get a sense of your advice for our own children.
But let's flip it to the one piece of advice for any woman with young children thinking about taking that leap to start their own business. Actually, it could be with older children as well. So what's your one tip for them?
00:21:57:05 - 00:22:21:09
Look what I realised that to be successful in business or to start anything there are three things that we need. It's time, energy and money. Give yourself time, don't expect to be an overnight success because I don't know that that even is such a thing. Everybody that seems to be an overnight success has got like ten years of hard grind behind them.
And I think I punished myself a lot in the early days. Especially the first couple of years I was like, “Why am I not making enough money? Why am I not bigger? Why am I not getting on social media more?”. I've realised that actually you build a reputation over time, and if you give yourself time then you can balance out your energy and you can work out your money.
Then give yourself a longer term goal and then you won't be so hard on yourself and you'll be able to achieve it. And another one actually, I know you only said one. But a big, big one is taking it as feedback when something doesn't work. Just see it as the market telling you it's not what it wants or that you're not in the right place at the right time. And use that as a positive to then restructure or see things in a different way.
00:23:27:06 - 00:23:35:10
Love that piece of advice as anyone can hear your gorgeous accent and you immigrated to Australia from Scotland with your husband and your daughters when they were quite young. We know that around 30% of Australian mothers running a business are from migrant backgrounds. What do you think your background then brings to your life as a small business owner?
00:23:47:04 - 00:24:14:13
I think all mums are creative. I think we all have to be. We're always thinking of ways to earn more money or save money, entertain the kids and juggle things between home and whatever. So I think no matter where we're from, mums bring that creativity to a business. I was a corporate sales coach and I also worked in a high school coaching kids who struggled and they had no one to believe in them.
So it's kind of always been in my DNA. I think I've always wanted that kind of flexibility that comes from working from home. I think being in Scotland and being there with two young children and just wanting to kind of have a purpose here. Because having to start from scratch is pretty tough in that I didn't have any connections here.
So you get in touch with third year university students and they'll help you find a job or help you get work or you don't have anybody here. But in a way, I think it makes you kind of more determined because it's like, “OK, I've just got to get out there and make friends''. I love people.
So for me, that's not wasn't really a challenge. I think it was just always in my make up to coach. I don't know if you guys have done the enneagram. But it's one of these great personality profiling things. And I'm the helper and that's, you know, your nurses, your teachers, your coaches. So I'm just in the right career for me.
00:25:36:10 - 00:26:04:21
That describes you perfectly, that helping hand. I think you are always open to being of support or of service to other people. So if we're looking at you the flip side, you've sort of taken that leap and we have that entrepreneurial thinking. But with that entrepreneur thinking comes a little bit of risk. So I'd love to explore a little bit of how you describe your relationship with the idea of risk and particularly as your business has grown even more successful.
00:26:17:01 - 00:26:39:20
Yes, I guess I'm actually quite risk averse and maybe it's the Scottish in me. I don't like wasting money, but I do know that you have to speculate to accumulate. So I take measured risk, I suppose. I'll try something for a sort of event and see if it works and I kind of test the waters and if it does, I'll do more of it.
I get people around me like a good accountant and a good social media person and whatever to help in the areas where I'm not an expert. So it could be more risky for me to put my time and energy and money into things that I'm not an expert in. Even with clients sometimes I have ladies that want to leave a corporate job and start their own business.
And I always say to them, start your business and replace your salary one for one. Once you've got that and you're really earning enough money to go down to four days a week, do that and then when you're earning enough to cover two days' salary, do that.
And eventually, it takes more than enthusiasm to be profitable, let me put it that way. And so I do have a plan and I kind of work out that plan otherwise it stresses me out.
00:27:45:10 - 00:28:05:24
That's a really sound and sage approach. If anyone is thinking of starting a business, that transition, you don't have to do it in one big lump and throw everything at it. I think that's the beauty of being a small business owner, that you can do it on your terms.
And it is prudent especially if you are stepping into some area where you don't know exactly what your product is or your services are yet. We haven't actually really figured out the willingness of your customer or your intended customer base. Taking that step by step approach is really sound.
Now let's look at the family side of things. At Mum's & Co, the Co refers to our community of partners, men, women, friends, family, clients and the network that supports your business. How does, how does the Co work for you?
00:28:56:13 - 00:29:33:20
Well, when I started my girls. They're a great help because they would be in their teens and I was terrible at technology. So they would help me with Facebook ads and all sorts. So as I said, they were the motivation. So even when they were actually helping me and they were still there as part of my Co. They helped me upload videos and edit things on iMovie and all that kind of thing. Early on my husband has always sort of said, give it a go, you've nothing to lose.
He's never put any pressure on me to earn a certain amount or do it in a certain way. So you know it’s been just lovely to have that support. And I actually have a team in the Philippines now who do all my social media and because I can now afford it. But I couldn't in the beginning and I'd be a bit lost without them if I didn't have them. But I think my biggest support is the other female business owners.
And when I go to a networking meeting as we said earlier, we kind of like and comment on each other's things and we all want to rise together. We want to help each other. So when I get a down day I just know that there's all these other women out there doing the same and I'm there for me.
I just need to reach out and ask. I think it's one of the big things that women don't do enough for help, per se. And we're all givers. But we don't ask for enough support and so I want to thank you guys, because you're always very supportive of what I'm doing as well. So I appreciate that it's beautiful.
00:30:47:09 - 00:31:07:19
It's a lovely little segway to our last question for you. As you know, we are also big supporters of women. So in the spirit of women supporting women, who are the other mums running businesses that you'd like to say hello to today.
00:31:08:01 - 00:31:26:10
A very good friend of mine is Connie Mastroianni. She's a buyer's agent and she lives nearby me as well. She's always calling to see if I'm OK and popping in. We renovated our house last year with the intention of selling and by the time she finished helping us come up with ideas we decided to stay here. She's really great. She helps those struggling through divorce to deal with their money issues.
And Monica Rosenfeld of Incredible Communications. She runs stories and she's a PR agent. There's lots of beautiful women out there doing amazing work.