We’ve watched massive cultural and societal shifts take place in 2020 and 2021. Our latest guest on episode 6 of Mumbition The Podcast by Mums & Co believes that this is a great time to be alive and to experience the effect of these changes throughout the world.
Brook McCarthy is a business coach and digital marketing trainer. She believes that these monumental societal shifts will have a positive impact for women, who have “long been given the scraps” at the table.
Brook chats with Carrie and Lucy about how the realities and pressures, domestic duties and work life during the pandemic is positive for generating a groundswell for change to actually happen.
So how can we make the most of this watershed moment? How do you gain the confidence and audacity to ask? And how do you avoid the vampire time suckers that are the wrong clients for your business?
Listen to the episode now to find out!
Carrie Kwan (00:02):
Hi. Welcome to Mumbition, the podcast for business-owning women by Mums & Co, where we share inspiring stories of Australian mums in business. I'm Carrie Kwan, the co-founder of Mums & Co and I will be joined each week by our community manager, Lucy Kippist. Together, we'll discuss how our guests harmonize their ambition, livelihood, and wellbeing. Let's get into the inspiring stories now.
Carrie Kwan (00:28):
In the spirit of reconciliation, Mums & Co acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, and community. We pay our respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander peoples today.
Carrie Kwan (00:47):
Carrie Kwan (01:10):
What's the number one thing you need in your business or life right now? It's the question we put to all of our Mums & Co members in the onboarding process, and we ask this for a reason. It's because we all need encouragement to make the ask and we are committed to creating a safe and inviting space for this to happen. Today's guest, Brook McCarthy, coins it having the audacity to ask, a phrase we've adopted with great enthusiasm hereat Mums & Co. As Brooke so often shares with such passion in her engagingLinkedIn posts, it's by facing our fears instead of squashing them and finding our voice to articulate what we want, that's where the magic happens. I can't wait to hear more. Brook, welcome to the Mumbition podcast.
Brook McCarthy (01:53):
Thank you, Carrie. It's lovely to be here.
Carrie Kwan (01:56):
Look, we're thrilled and we want to know all about what you do. I love this audacity. I love being brave. The first question we often ask to any business owning mother is, can you tell us about your business? We think that women should embrace every opportunity that they have to make introductions and connect with customers. So please, can you share your 30second elevator pitch?
Brook McCarthy (02:20):
I'd love to. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to practice. My name is Brooke McCarthy. I'm a business coach and a digital marketing trainer. I work with small business owners in service based businesses who would rather just do the work than talk about it, and I help them to build their professional reputation so they can attract the best fit ideal client for them and opportunities come to them.
Carrie Kwan (02:47):
I'm wondering, at this point in time, what do you love most about your business?
Brook McCarthy (02:52):
I think it's a really interesting time, 2020, 2021, and personally I have loved watching the fall of so much of the status quo. There's been so many massive, big shifts, historically, culturally. There's been shifts in the business world, last year, especially during the pandemic, but also the fall of Trump. What a great time to live through. Black Lives Matter and its effect throughout the world. There's been such monumental shifts and I think it can only be good for women such as us, who have long been given the scraps at the table really. It's so nice to see massive shifts in market share this year and last year when businesses either rose to the challenge or failed dismally.They either gained or lost market share in great fell swoops. I think also the pressure that women are under right now, working mother's particularly, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing because I think we need to get to a point where we're mad as hell and we're just not going to take it anymore for real change to actually happen.
Carrie Kwan (04:11):
That has been a groundswell. There's been this buildup andI think it has been a bit of a watershed moment for so many things in terms of flexibility, and how we need to work, and the support that we need on the domestic front, but also from employers. It's a really fascinating time and we need to try and use that in the best way to create that change and to sustain that change.Brooke McCarthy (04:39):Absolutely.
Lucy Kippist (04:41):
Brook, I've got goosebumps where you're talking about that groundswell, cause absolutely, I feel that a hundred percent. I'm wondering what you've had to stop doing in your life or your business in order to make the business that you have created, in the time before COVID and as much now?
Brook McCarthy (05:00):
Oh, look, there's so many things. So many things. I think probably off the top of my head, the biggest thing has been resisting the temptation to try and understand how other people perceive me. I think this is something that we are definitely socialised and conditioned as women. We can't just act in the world. We always have to kind of anticipate how our actions and our appearance will be received by our audience. It's something that women particularly suffer with but also when you work in public relations, which I did, this is just something that you learn. You're always thinking about communication from the perspective of, how are my words going to fall? How is my message going to be received? If you are constantly thinking like that, it really does [inaudible 00:05:50] you and stop you from doing your best work. It's not easy to communicate effectively and to say something worth listening to, if you're constantly second guessing yourself and worrying about how your message is going to be received.
Brook McCarthy (06:05):
That extends also to being liked. This is kind of a related topic as well. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. We're often judged for wanting to be liked. I don't think it's a bad thing to want to be the liked. It just means that we care about other people. We're social animals. We're beings that belong together. All good things but when it comes to business, you are probably going to have a few people that they get their noses out of joint. Oftentimes it will have nothing to do with you. Learning to live with that and learning to thrive with that and learning to not fixate and worry so much about other people's opinions, I think is absolutely critical if your business is to grow and you are going to find peace of mind and resilience over the long term.
Lucy Kippist (06:54):
100% and obviously that philosophy is building towards what we talked about in the intro there around your business being encouraging for women to actually ask for what they want because in order to do that, you do have to drop the notion that you need to be liked or that it needs to done in a certain way to make it as comfortable for everybody else.
Brook McCarthy (07:18):
Yeah and you have to live with the possibility that they may say no. Although, nowadays, people don't say no. They just ghost you or ignore you. That's good too and that's not the worst thing in the world. If somebody says no to you, or if somebody ignores you, you are not going to be physically injured from this. Your ego may have a rebuff, but that's not a bad thing either.
Lucy Kippist (07:47):
I guess that notion of us being brave enough to do that, or gaining the courage to do that is probably a better way of saying it, is something that you promote in your business, but what is something that you personally need right now in your business or your life? What's the ask that you'd have for us in our community?
Brook McCarthy (08:07):
Thank you, again. Well, what a lovely, lovely thing to be asked. Look, I love to talk. You probably gathered that already. I can talk. I can talk under wet cement. I had a journalist call me last year from the new daily website and they're like, "Brooke, we're just wondering if you have an opinion on whether it's a good time to start a business in the middle of a global pandemic?" And I'm like, "dude, I was born to answer this question." I really enjoy being interviewed. I love being on podcasts. I love being able to toss ideas around with people and be challenged on my own thinking and hear diverse opinions from other people. I think every time your opinions are challenged, they can probably only get stronger. Either that, or you go, "wow, as it turns out, I had an incomplete picture and I'm going to change my mind." Which is a great thing, as well. I think podcast interviews and media interviews are probably my number one right now.
Lucy Kippist (09:07):
As well as being a busy business owner, you're also a mum of two girls. What have you found to be the most transferable skills between being a mum and being a business owner?
Brook McCarthy (09:19):
Oh, so many things. I think the most obvious probably is time management. The most obvious is the fact that when you've got young kids, especially when they're really small you really get good at prioritising and discerning. You have to get good at prioritising and discerning. So, my partner and I have been self-employed. We both work from home. Me for 11 years, him for about 12, I think. 12 or 11. Then we had children in that time period and there were 21 months between them. There are 21 months between and that was chaos when they were tiny.
Brook McCarthy (10:00):
I used to charge by the hour way back when I was a digital marketing gun for hire. I used to manage multiple different business marketing and every month, I'd have to produce articles, newsletters, social media posts, website updates, all kinds of different things and I would keep my time in a notepad next to my laptop. It was five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. The things I could do in 21 minutes. Oh, my God. It was like a universe. I got really, really good at thinking, what is the most important thing I need to do right now? Like today, not in three months time. There wasn't a lot of space for creative thinking. It's not ideal. It's far from ideal for creative thinking and for strategic thinking, big picture thinking, but certainly you get very, very good at discerning between must do and it can wait.
Carrie Kwan (11:00):
Absolutely. I completely agree with that.
Lucy Kippist (11:03):
I find there's also the, give me 10 minutes and I'd need to have a next [inaudible 00:11:08]. Do you want that with kids or without kids?[crosstalk 00:11:10] Probably thinking, "Carrie, give me 20 minutes on my own right now and I swear I could do my whole week's work." Okay, good.
Brook McCarthy (11:25):
Yeah. I got pretty good at really maxing out a day. For example, I would never go shopping by myself. I would always go grocery shopping with the kids because if I had time, I wasn't wasting it buying groceries. I was doing stuff. I was doing work stuff. If I had the kids, that's when I was cooking, cleaning, doing the household kind of things. If they were hanging off my ankles, which they often were, well, that's life. That's what happened. My sister sometimes complains about the kids. "I can't cook when the kids are here." I'm like, "dude, I never cooked without the kids hanging off my ankles for like three or four years."
Carrie Kwan (12:09):
Value, maximisation; love it. At Mums & Co, we are all about community and that support around us. It's in our name, the Co stands for the partners. You've mentioned your husband, friends, family, clients. Can you tell us about your Co and how they support you?
Brook McCarthy (12:27):
I think my clients would have to be one of the first inline, for sure, as it relates to my business because I have gone out of my way to work with people that I respect and admire. I'm aiming for a mutual admiration society. This is what I teach other business owners to do, as well, because I have had the opposite. I have spent a lot, invested a lot of time in working with people who are energy vampires, who are not my ideal client, who would be far better off working with somebody else for a variety of different reasons. I think that honing your marketing so that it works like a magnet to repel people who are a bad fit and attract people who are a good fit.
I think that there is somebody for everybody. Somebody who has a personality type which doesn't work with my personality type could very well be a perfect fit for somebody else for one of my competitors. I love working with clients that challenge me. I love working with clients where I feel a little bit out of my depth. I feel like I'm learning. I feel like I'm expanding. I feel like they're pushing me to be the best I can be to rise to the challenge. That would probably be number one.
Number two, my partner is. He fulfils the role of a wife.He really is. It's important to say this because I don't ever want anybody to look at me through social media and think, "oh, wow. She's some kind of miracle worker who can manage everything." That is so far from the truth.One of the reasons that I'm able to work with the two girls at home is because my partner is my partner. Now he looks after the grocery shopping, he takes care of homeschooling. He's like the headmaster. It's hilarious. I love it. I keep taking photos. It's so not me and he does a lot of that kind of heavy lifting that the woman or the wife traditionally fulfils. So he's a massive reason that I'm able to do what I am able to do in my business.
Carrie Kwan (14:42):
What I'm getting very clear sense of when you talk about our clients and avoiding energy vampires, I love that term, and looking at your Instagram page, where we know that you embrace the idea of facing our fears and asking for exactly what you want in business, in life. Then how you've chosen the qualities that you want in your partner. I feel like I knowhow you're going to answer this, but what's the one thing that you tell yourself for making an ask in the business context?
Brook McCarthy (15:13):
I have to be a little bit careful because I am highly creative and highly empathetic so I'm easily excited. My easy enthusiasm is one of my strengths. I see opportunities everywhere. Like everywhere I turn, I see an opportunity that I could pitch myself for and I've had to learn to be a bit more discerning and to bind myself because especially as a teacher and a trainer I could teach and train on all matter of topics within my particular sphere in a whole bunch of different audiences. I think the first thing that I ask myself is, do we share a similar audience and would I be proud to be associated with this business organisation or individual? Because there has been a number of collaborations that I've done in the early days of business where I was a little bit embarrassed to be associated and obviously that is far from ideal because you're not going to do the best job and you're not going to actively promote the collaboration if you're a bit iffy about the brand.
Carrie Kwan (16:27):
In terms of creating a deeply caring space for business owning women, business owning mothers, we look at upskilling, we look at networking and I'm also fascinated with this journey that we have. We take on quite a lot of risks when we're running a business. How do you protect your business?
Brook McCarthy (16:47):
That's a good question. I don't think I think like that. I would love to be a little bit it more like that. I'm the kind of person who jumps in the deep end, but certainly I think that right here and now, a lot of it has to do with mood. A lot of it has to do with protecting my mood and my attitude so that I'm going to do the best job possible. I think that it's something which is difficult to notice it. It's a little bit like the analogy of boiling the frog, where you turn up the heat slowly, and the person doesn't notice that actually their attitude or their mood is pretty funky, pretty low.It happens slowly over time.
The more risks I take in business, the more I grow, the more I push myself outside of my comfort zone. The more scared I get, the more important self care becomes. The more important it is for me, at the very least, to have a good night's sleep. Not just once, but every single night, and to do those things that I know are going to be good for my mental health, because it is true that things that used to be a big deal become far less of a big deal. If a proposal that I was excited out got rejected, for example. 6, 7, 8years ago, that might have put me in a bad mood for three days. Whereas now, maybe five minutes and I'll move on, but bigger growth, bigger risks, bigger stress means other things become a problem. Then it's a really important to mitigate that risk with self care. I cannot overstate that.
Carrie Kwan (18:33):
That's a perfect segue to the next question that we were going to ask you, actually, [inaudible 00:18:37] around the self care element, because listening to you speak, especially about sleep, I so agree with you. A good night's sleep. For example, last night I had a terrible night's sleep and everything feels really tough. Reminding myself, don't make that decision now, don't do that now, don't say that now because tomorrow you will feel better.
Brook McCarthy (18:57):
Carrie Kwan (18:58):
I've had enough of those in my life as a mom to know that is true and it's such sound business advice because you really are a different person.. Most people are without that adequate sleep.
Brook McCarthy (19:09):
Yeah.Carrie Kwan (19:09):So, yes, definitely one for us all there. What's something else that you do to ensure your own wellbeing? Is there another thing that you might do daily? Is there an exercise? Are you a meditator?
Yeah, I am an on and off meditator. I've been meditating sinceI was 17. I'd love to tell you I do it daily, but anyway I'm not going to tell you that. I've done yoga. I'm also a yoga teacher. I've done yoga over a long period of time, but in the last few years, I've taken up weightlifting and I just love it. I've been weightlifting this morning. I do pretty high intensity exercise and weights. If only I'd realised years and years ago, how good it was for mental health, I would've been all over it, but it wasn't until vanity got the better of me that I started doing this. I just find that it is so, so useful. So, yes, there's 25,000 small rituals that I do in my business.
One thing when a zoom call finishes, when I've finished coaching or training or having conversation with somebody over the internet, I always get up. Doesn't matter. Even if I'm just going to get a glass of water. I always walk away from the computer. I find that super useful. Then doing my best to keep social media... To self bind myself for that, because it is highly addictive and I am a keen user of social media. Most of the time it's enjoyable, but it absolutely does start to have an effect. It's just a lot of noise and t's not good for deep thinking. It's not good for following a trajectory of thought. It really is a lot of disparate information packed into a device.
Yeah, that's not useful for my brain and it took some years after I did social media marketing for a living to actually gain the ability to think deeply. I don't think that gets talked about nearly enough. When you outsource your social media marketing to somebody, in effect you are paying them to lose their ability to think deeply, because they're having to scour the internet all day, jumping from thing to thing to thing to thing. It absolutely has an effect on your ability to think.
Carrie Kwan (21:43):
That is a fantastic tip. It's coming from someone who was apologizing for tweeting at events when Twitter first launched, because I felt like I was being rude being on my phone. I've had my fair share of that digital load. I think that's a message that you need to share with business moms. We do need to be prudent about how much time we spend on it and set that strict structure, but also look for the tools that might be able to help them digest their content and curate their content better so they're not [inaudible00:22:24] themselves. Finding those tools even in [inaudible 00:22:27].
Brook McCarthy (22:27):
Carrie Kwan (22:29):
The key words that you can monitor and they're the ones that you look at rather than physically scrolling.
Brook McCarthy (22:35):
Yeah. Absolutely. I think all of us could do a better job because I think if we were to be questioned on this, most Australian mothers in business would say, "sure, I support small business. Absolutely I'd prefer to spend my money with the little guys," but yet when we're on social media, we're following influencers with millions of followers who aren't that interesting at the end of the day. They might have a nice looking body in a bikini, but really they're not adding much. There are so many little guys doing really interesting things. It's not just about spending your money with small businesses. It's also about spending your attention. Attention is our most valuable commodity. If you can curate your socials so that you've got some really thoughtful, interesting people that challenge your thinking, and challenge your opinions, you can actually use social media to develop your thought leadership in your topic of expertise.
Carrie Kwan (23:40):
Amazing and whilst we're on tips, I did want to ask for those that are considering starting a business, Brooke, what is the most important tip in growing a business that you can pay forward?
Brook McCarthy (23:51):
Easy. This is easy to answer and I'm sure you're in agreement with this, it's pitching. So many people, oh my God. So many people start a business and they come to me and they're like, "oh, my Instagram's not growing very quickly. I don't seem to be selling much throughInstagram." I'm like, "dude, get off Instagram and get out there. Pound the pavements, call people, Google, introduce yourself to strangers, talk to people. Go and actively grow your network," because if you're trying to grow a business on Instagram, it's going to be really slow going without a significant injection of cash.
I'm not dishing social media. It's great to do social media, but this is nurture marketing, and it's a tracked marketing that you want to focus on in the early days of your business. That means pitching yourself as a speaker, if you're that way in inclined. Pitching yourself as a podcast guest, if you're that way inclined. Pitching yourself as a guest blogger, if you like to write. Introducing yourself to organizations, businesses that share a similar audience, where you can borrow their audience in order to grow your own, and in that practice, you're also going to grow your expertise because you're going to have opportunities to actually use your skills and show off your skills to best effect.
Carrie Kwan (25:10):
The best pitch on pitching. Love it. We love talking about, at Mums & Co, harmony as a triangle of ambition, livelihood, and wellbeing. Could you describe the shape of a good life for you?
Brook McCarthy (25:26):
Oh, nice. What is the shape of a good life? It would definitely involve food. Lots of it. I knew I was a glutton before lockdown, but [crosstalk 00:25:38]. The highlight of every day is dinner and they're getting more and more extravagant. Lunch is also becoming quite extravagant. I think that, personally, I love pushing the envelope. I love seeing what I'm capable of. I love hearing ideas that I've never heard before. I love being challenged on my opinions. I like that feeling of being stretched. That's definitely part and parcel of what I would consider wellbeing but then the flip side of that, of course, is that you do need your creature comforts. Especially if you're out there at the periphery, whether that's intellectually or beyond that, because I'm certainly not an emergency doctor or doing anything that exciting, but you need to take care of yourself.
So, I'd definitely put friends and family in there. I've had a couple of big overseas trips with extended friends and family where there's a large group of us and it was such a joy and such a privilege.Especially now that we can't go anywhere beyond our lounge room, and our hallway, and our fridge, I'm so grateful to have had that and I'm so excited todo more of that. Especially within Australia, there's so such a massive country and so many beautiful parts of it that I'd love to explore further. I also want to point out that ambition is often seen as a dirty word for women in particular. I think a lot of us have a vexed relationship with that. So, learning how to recognize that in yourself, if that is a problem for you, and learning how to reconcile that, I think, is super important because it's a strange beast, ambition, and it can rob you of your peace if you are constantly thinking of the next thing, the next thing, the next thing.
I'm speaking from bitter experience here. Learning how to live with our desires and to actually embrace that, and realize that if we deny our desires, if we deny our ambitions, they don't go away. They just tend to transmute into depression or anxiety or rage. I see that with women all the time and I think it's fabulous that Mums & Co are focused on that angle because I think there's a lot of healing to be done for women and ambition.
Carrie Kwan (28:20):
Thank you for mentioning that, Brooke, and we feel like we're so passionate about this that we've trademarked the term Mumbition, which is the unapologetic blending of motherhood and ambition. It is a very complex area and we see identity linked very much to ambition. That can't be suppressed or diminished or minimized because you become a mother.
Brook McCarthy (28:47):Absolutely.
Lucy Kippist (28:49):
That's a tremendous answer to that question. Really, really, really amazing to listen to. You're obviously an incredibly passionate supporter of women and women in business. We'd love to give you the opportunity now to say hello to the Mumbitious in your own network that you think are doing a great job at the moment.
Brook McCarthy (29:08):
Oh, my goodness. There's so many people and I feel likeI'm giving a speech at the Oscars. I'm going to miss people and piss them off.I feel bad about that but off the top of my head, Alyssa Jane is a fabulous website designer based up in Brisbane with a business called Flourish Online.Melanie Miller is a fellow business coach based up in the Gold Coast. She has a business called The Profit Lovers. Lisa [inaudible 00:29:37] is down inMelbourne. Louise Nealand is one of my clients. She works in publicity and PR here in Sydney for purpose based businesses. Another client, Michelle Walker, also a Sydney sider. She's an architect up in the Northern Beaches. That's just a handful of people off the top of my head and like I said, I'm sure I've missed many, many more. Please hit me up. If anyone's listening to this and you want a recommendation. A copywriter, [inaudible 00:30:11]. Another Sydneysider, another client. I've got plenty of great women that I would love to refer you to.
Lucy Kippist (30:19):
Wonderful, Brook. Listening to you has been a treat today.There's so much to take away from this conversation. Thank you so much for your time and thank you everyone else for your company. We hope you've enjoyed today's podcast. If you'd like to follow Brook McCarthy, you can find her onInstagram at Brooke McCarthy. She's also very prolific on LinkedIn. If you haven't ready, come and join our Mumbitious supportive movement of thousands ofAustralian business owning women just like you at MumsandCo.com.au.
Brook McCarthy (30:50):
What does it feel like to own a business?
Brook McCarthy (30:58):
What a great question. I think it feels very exciting.There is nothing more exciting than when somebody wants you to do something for them, and then they pay you, and then you can use that money for chocolate or ice cream or whatever you like. Owning a business, I think, is an awesome idea.I went back to my high school and I told all the students that that's a really good idea for them to consider, too.
Carrie Kwan (31:29):
We hope you enjoyed this episode of Mumbition by Mums& Co. Head over to the show notes for a full transcript of the interview and any links we have referred to. Mums & Co is Australia's most caring business network for women. Join us today for just $30 at mumsandco.com.au. This podcast was produced and edited by Morgan Sebastian-Brown of Brown TreeProductions and hosted by Carrie Kwan, co-founder of Mums & Co, and community manager, Lucy Kippist. We love hearing your feedback so if you haven't already, please share, rate, and review this podcast and we can reach more business owning mothers, just like you.