It is said that on average we will have at least 13 different jobs and five career changes over the course of our lives. Rebekah Campbell, guest on episode three of Mumbition, certainly exemplifies this theory.
Rebekah started her career in radio and went on to found a number of startups including Scorpio Music, Posse, Hey You and Zambesi. She’s written a regular column for The New York Times and has recently published her first book 138 Dates.
So why is 138 such a significant number? How do friendships change after having kids? And how can you turn a setback into an opportunity?
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 harmonise their ambition, livelihood, and well-being. Let's get into the inspiring stories now.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 Strait Islander peoples today.
Lucy Kippist (01:10):
Is there any better feeling than getting your hands on a book that you just can't put down? The sort of book where, no matter what else is going on, you're just firing through the pages. Well, I've had that exact experience recently, reading today's guest, Rebekah Campbell's book, 138 Dates. It follows the story of Rebekah, an ambitious entrepreneur's quest for a partner and a family, before she reached the age of 40. And not only is it a searingly honest and vulnerable account of what it's like to date in the current age, and we might get to ghosting later, it also documents Rebekah's extraordinary success as an entrepreneurial woman.
Carrie Kwan (01:50):
Rebekah Campbell is an author, a business owner, wife, and mother. You may have ordered a coffee from her first company, Hey You, and completed training by her second, Zambesi, which offers business training by high growth companies and leaders. Spoiler alert, thanks to a very successful 138th date, Rebekah is married with two children. Rebekah personifies what we talk about in harmonising ambition, livelihood and well-being, creatively looking for ways to make each aspect of our lives that little bit easier, more integrated, and towards achieving our dreams. Hey, Rebekah, welcome to Mumbition.
Rebekah Campbell (02:28):
Thank you. I'm totally cringing as I'm hearing that introduction because I don't feel like that person, but anyway, thank you very much for your generous introduction.
Carrie Kwan (02:36):
Now look, and that is the premise, isn't it? I think sometimes we are something else to everyone, and your book reveals a very different side of and a combining of those two, or few aspects of your life. So, before we dive into that, our first question is always, to business owning women, what do you do? We think that women should embrace every opportunity they have to make introductions and to connect. So please, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Rebekah Campbell (03:07):
Myself. I mean, well, so I started as an entrepreneur, and I started a business, initially, as a band manager. After leaving university, I founded a few bands called Evermore and Matt Corby and a bunch of others. Then I hit 30 and thought I, I can't go to gigs for the rest of my life, I should get into this tech thing. So I started an app which was originally around recommending cafes and restaurants that became Hey You, which is the coffee app. And then I decided to write a book. I always wrote a blog and then that blog became a column. And so I started working on a business book with a publisher kind of around the column. And at that time I had a young baby and a fairly new partner and I was just so incredibly happy with just particularly being a mum and a partner that I really wanted to... That was the story that I wanted to share.I wasn't feeling the massively inspired by the business book. And I thought there's a lot of business books already out there. So I thought maybe if I could tell the story of finding love and everything that I learned through that process that would be more helpful to people and potentially a more fun story to read as well. So, I started writing that book. So at the moment I am not an entrepreneur, I'm an author, I guess, promoting that book and thinking about what I'm going to do next.
Carrie Kwan (04:26):
Such an exciting journey so far now, what would you say that you... What would you love most about the work that you are doing now as an author?
Rebekah Campbell (04:37):
Sure. Well, I love, I mean, at the moment, I'm not in the best space to answer that question because I'm kind of promoting the book and juggling consulting and doing a bunch of business things and thinking about another book. So this is the space that I don't love being in, but the space of writing the book, I really loved because I felt like I could be focused on one thing, which is something that I'm just not great at, but when I get the chance to do it, that's when I really feel like I'm in flow. And I feel like I achieve my best work. I did feel like this great sense of achievement at the end of every day, writing that book, I'd done a thousand words and I'll be like there's something there that I've done that I feel proud of.And also loved that I was at home a lot more. I was doing something that I thought I was quite good at as opposed to lots of other things that I was doing. And my businesses involved a lot of things that I didn't feel like I was that good at. So it was finding that thing I felt like I was good at, I could focus on... And being at home for my kids and being able to pick them up. One of them has just started school, but they were both at preschool when I was writing the book. So just picking them up at three o'clock and taking them to the park and that kind of thing was just amazing. So I'm really hoping to get back into that space later this year.
Carrie Kwan (05:56):
Ah, that's amazing. And working on your own terms that does have a really healthy attraction to it.Rebekah Campbell (06:04):Yeah, and I really like working on one thing. As opposed to like trying to juggle so many things.
Lucy Kippist (06:11):
That's actually a great segue to the next question I had for you, Rebekah, because it's so interesting to hear you say about the struggle with being able to focus on one thing, particularly given your background and so much has happened since to tie it back into the book. You've met your date number 138, and you've obviously created a family. You founded a second startup, you've written a book and now you're planning the next one. This is what we call mumbition in action. And it's incredibly impressive, but I'm just wondering what is it that you've had to stop doing as well as obviously dropping things to focus on one task, to make all of these things work for you?
Rebekah Campbell (06:50):
Sure. Well, like I said, I'm very bad at stopping. So my natural state is to be doing a bunch of different things and kind of, not particularly, well, I don't think any of them, but I felt pretty lucky, COVID has been an awful thing for the world and for lots of people, but in my experience of it, I had to kind of shut down my business, which was face-to-face training and consulting and I was at home. And so I had wanted to write this and I'd been trying to write it in the background getting up at 4:30 in the morning, maybe getting an hour in here or there, but it gave me the opportunity as soon as the first lockdown was called where I was at home. And I did a deal with my partner, where I got to work for five hours in the morning between seven and 12. And he would work from 12 for the rest of the day. So I had these five hours where I was able to write my book and that just enabled me to kind of stop. So I feel like I'm always trying to get back to that place of focusing on one thing. But for me it was the COVID lockdown that kind of enabled it all to happen.
Lucy Kippist (07:57):
Yeah, it's interesting what... Obviously, there's so many downsides to COVID, but that is certainly one of the upsides. And I was hearing someone say the other day that it's teaching us to be better at all the things that we do because we've actually had to focus. So you've got to have razor sharp focus on so many aspects of life in order to get any of it done at the moment.
Rebekah Campbell (08:20):
And I think also just on the COVID thing, I think I also was just to go slower. I realised that even the afternoons that I had with my kids, I felt like I should be productive all the time. And it's like an addiction, I felt. In my brain, I felt like I should be on my phone, I should be sending these emails out or something, but I couldn't because I had this... At that stage it was a one and a three year old running around, I had to be with them. And so it was really hard at the beginning to have that many hours where I wasn't able to be productive. But then after a while my brain felt like it was slowing down and I just started to really enjoy it. And yeah, I think it is an addiction, which I certainly can thank COVID for helping me to break.Lucy Kippist (09:09):Yeah. I agree with you. It is an addiction. And do you think in being able to slow down in those ways, around your kids, I've actually started, I've got two little boys and I started playing Lego with them in the afternoons, which does the same thing for me, but I was just wondering, do you find in that slowing down that when you are now sitting down to write that your focus is better?
Rebekah Campbell (09:29):
Yes, I do. And I feel just generally my mental health is better. It's funny at the time when you slow and you're playing lego and doing those kind of things, I find it quite frustrating or I did find it quite frustrating. But then at the end of the day, I'd look back on my day and they would be the moments of joy that I'd remember and go, I'm so glad that I did that. I felt like my brain at the end of the day was kind of well ahead of where the actual present brain was, but after a while it seemed to change and it did make a difference when I was sitting down to do other things, that everything was just slower and more focused and didn't feel like I should be checking Facebook or the new sites. And at the same time as trying to write, I would just be able to be a bit slower in my head and focus on one thing.
Lucy Kippist (10:20):
Yeah, wonderful. Such a good gift. So in the book, you've documented this... Aside from a wonderful love story and dating trajectory about creating your first startup and getting that up. I wondered what you have found to be the best transferable skills from that startup entrepreneurial mindset to motherhood?
Rebekah Campbell (10:44):
Sure. I do think that is a good question. I've thought about this a bit, actually. It's probably two things, one is when you're running your own business or you are the kind of leader of the business, there's this sense of being a kind of backstop for everything. So you are ultimately responsible for everything. And I think that creates this ability to juggle just kind of opposite to what we were just talking about, but this ability to kind of know all of the potential risks and the things that are coming up that you're going to have to think about. And I do think that I feel like that same skill I'm using all the time with the kids. Particularly now I've got one who's just started school and one who's in preschool, but who's picking them up when and what are we having for dinner?And we want to do this on Friday and who's organised... All that stuff is really the same kind of skills of... Whereas my husband, Rod is probably not... He's very organised, but he's not the backstop, I'm the backstop. And I think that I will ultimately be the person that's responsible. And I think that is a role that I don't know, I naturally kind of take on. I think I've learned things that I'm not good at... And I think things that I knew I was not good at in business or suspected, I was not good at have been made very obvious by having children. I recognised that I was a people... I kind of thought maybe I was a people pleaser and not great at negotiation, but now I have children, I can totally see that I am a people pleaser. I hate saying no to them, they can always talk me around. And therefore they're really naughty because they know that mum's going to give in. So I'm like, "Oh, I wish I was just better at being more..."So I totally have thought that is related to the business skills that I probably was lacking that have been made very much obvious for my children, anyway.
Lucy Kippist (12:42):
I love that, thank you for sharing.
Carrie Kwan (12:43):
It's almost like they can sense mum kindness, AKA weakness.
Lucy Kippist (12:51):
Oh, could we look at it this way that we've taught them excellent negotiation skills? Either or.
Rebekah Campbell (12:57):
Yes, they think there's always a way, which is probably a good thing to have in life, but it's not easy to manage.
Carrie Kwan (13:05):
I think when you said how you were able to spot problems or you're able to anticipate, and then have a solution mindset safety is always front of mind as a mum, you never stop having that radar of where are the dangers? And how can I prevent them or fix them, be that comfort source? So it's a really interesting parallel to running a business too. So in entrepreneurship and in publishing, I'm sure there's some strategies that you use to protect yourself from risk. Do any of those come to mind for you?
Rebekah Campbell (13:43):
Protect myself from risk? I think I have become better at limiting risk. I probably took too many risks early on in my career. I had an idea particularly in tech, and I raised a reasonably large amount of money at the beginning and made lots of mistakes. I definitely learned a lot through that and then in my next company became more risk adverse. And I think also becoming a mum that did change my risk appetite in business in terms of, I didn't want to put myself in the position of being responsible for heaps of other people's money again.I wanted to kind of build something that I knew was going to work from the beginning. So I built something and then tested it and then got real customers and really ensured that the foundations of my business were working before trying to expand it in any way. And I think it's probably just growing up and also taking on more responsibility as a parent and as a provider and that you can't have this necessarily the same level of risk as when you're younger and then learning as well.
Carrie Kwan (14:51):
Yeah. And that's a, I think, a very normal and a right approach to it because you do have responsibilities to your family and other people in a very real way. So your approach is going to change. I think it's this life changing event.
Rebekah Campbell (15:09):
One other thing I think of risk is, I also recognise, and I love the business that I created at Hey You. And I also felt as I got towards the end of my time there, that although I'd spent seven years building and I was super proud of it, it wasn't my life's work. And so I thought, because I had a young baby at that time when I was thinking about leaving the business. So the risk I thought going into my next business, whatever I do next has to be something that I really am passionate about and it's from my heart and it's something that I know I'll be able to stick at. So that's another risk that you might not think about I guess in terms of starting a business, you can think of an idea that can get customers and you could make some money out of doing, but a business takes over your life and I recognise that through doing one business that whatever I did next had to be something I was willing to give my life to, that it was the right thing.
Carrie Kwan (16:05):
Thanks for sharing that perspective, it's really important one for our many business owning mums. Now Mums & Co wouldn't exist without the support of our co, this is our partners, our friends, our family, our clients. Could you tell us about your co and how they support you and has this network actually changed since you've become a mum?
Rebekah Campbell (16:29):
Yes, I think, so when I wasn't a mum, when I didn't... So it was a very short period of time where I had a partner and wasn't a mum. Because we became pregnant six months after we met, so I had probably deeper friendships before I became a mum and it was just girlfriends that I would spend a lot more time with. And then when you find a partner and you have children, you have a lot less time for those friendships. I think now I have a greater number of friendships, mainly as a result of the community that you get through preschool and school. But they're probably not as deep friendships because whenever you are with them, you've got kids running around and I've found that it... I've actually felt recently a real need for those kind of deeper conversations with women that I just don't have as much anymore since I've had children. And I don't have a solution for it yet, other than it's something that I'm committed to working on. So I guess that's how it's changed.In terms of how it supported me, I've built this great network of people that have supported me in my career. There's a handful of mentors, kind of two in particular that have supported me through my entire career and continued to support me through the book and whatever it is that I'm going to do next. So definitely, and I call on those people for advice, sometimes they've invested money. In terms of friendships, there's become more friendships that haven't been as deep. And in terms of business relationships, there was probably a greater number of business relationships earlier on in my career and now I've really narrowed it down to a much smaller number of deep relationships that I've had for a very long time that I feel like I could call on for anything.
Lucy Kippist (18:17):
I love what you just said then Rebekah, about in becoming a mum, you've found this need for deeper conversations with women. And certainly I totally understand that from the perspective of having the age children that you have as well, because that's a really difficult age to have any kind of... Actually finish a conversation for one when you're in the company of other women. So I think that's a really wonderful thing to highlight there, that is a real need. Making introductions to other women is a hugely innate part of what Mums & Co does from a business perspective and also from a motherhood perspective, if there was anything that you could ask for right now in terms of your business or perhaps your life that we could help within our community, what do you think that would be?
Rebekah Campbell (19:04):
In terms of business? I mean really, I guess, I'm very passionate about the book. I mean, I would love people to check out the book and if they like it to tell their friends about it, because I mean, it's a story that just means so much to me. I've invested a massive amount in writing it, but I mean, I feel like it's my kind of contribution I could make to the world. So I would love people to talk about it, to share the book. But no, I really need a holiday right now. That's probably what I need more than anything. It's been a big year finishing and getting the book out and now trying to juggle a bunch of things again. So I'm just at a point where I'm trying to think about resetting, having a break, moving on to the next book and starting to getting back to focusing again.
Lucy Kippist (19:45):
So good. And I can put my hand up and say very proudly that I have read your book and I absolutely loved it. And as someone who is dating in the dating world, it resonated so much. And I really do think you have done the world a favor with it because the way you write is so generous, you're giving us a really intimate portrait of you and your life and what it is really like to date.
Rebekah Campbell (20:09):
Lucy Kippist (20:10):
So that's the story you're weaving through your book and certainly in parts of your Instagram feed, you're showing lovely photos of your beautiful family, but what's one thing about you, Rebekah, that we don't know about yet, you'd be willing to share with us?
Rebekah Campbell (20:24):
I feel like I'm a super open book. I mean, you got the book. I guess, I mean the one thing would be that going back to the introduction at the beginning, this is the kind of point that I want to make because I always read other women's bios or I go to conferences where they're speaking and I'm like, oh my goodness. She's done all these things. And you just think I could never be like that or she must have it all together and it makes me feel worse about myself. Whereas, it's just that it's not like that at all. I feel totally un-together almost all of the time and I'm still working everything out.
Rebekah Campbell (21:03):
I mean, at the moment I'm feeling very unfocused and trying to think about how to reset and trying to figure out how to focus again. And I guess the thing is just that, that I would want people to know that they might not know is that the actual reality is nothing like the bio for me. And I don't think it is for anyone. I think that we're all the same and we all struggle and yeah, that's...
Lucy Kippist (21:27):
Beautiful. Thank you.
Carrie Kwan (21:29):
It's such an important message. I really don't feel like it undermines how capable you are, there's just layers and there are times we will show up and do whatever needs doing, but then there are other parts to ourselves. So, yeah great message and thank you for sharing that. If you had to pick a shape, we actually have this... If you can visualise perhaps even a triangle for us, how would you describe harmonising your ambition, your livelihood and your well-being?
Rebekah Campbell (22:06):
In a shape? I mean, I feel like I'm always striving forward and this is something again that I'm trying to stop doing to some extent. I'm always kind of striving to the next thing and I think to some extent that can be helpful in that it pushes you to kind of, I mean, it's almost like a scramble. I'm constantly feeling like I'm not going to get there. And therefore I work really, really hard to get there, but at the same time, not enjoy the process as much. So I think the metaphor would be kind of like a person trying to strive forward, but then I'm trying to kind of pull myself back and just enjoy each moment and slow down and focus.
Carrie Kwan (22:52):
I'm visualising like a type of shape.
Rebekah Campbell (22:57):
I'm sorry, I can't give you a shape. I see this kind of statue type person, I'm sorry.
Carrie Kwan (23:05):
Ah, no apologies needed that shape is your shape and I'm very happy for you to own it. So in the spirit of women supporting women who are some of the mumbitious that you would like to say hello to?
Rebekah Campbell (23:18):
Sure. So I had one idea. So I had just run some events for the city of Sydney. And there's one woman who I met who has a lovely business that I wanted to call out called Laura Brading her business is called WellRead and it's a subscription business for books. So she used to work in publishing and she chooses, with some curators, creates a subscription books where you get sent books every month to read and they read it as this giant book club, it's called wellread.com.au and I think it's a really cool little business and she's a great entrepreneur and a mum.
Carrie Kwan (23:56):
Definitely going to be checking that one out.
Lucy Kippist (23:59):
Rebekah, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today and sharing everything that you have. And thank you for your company. We hope you've enjoyed today's podcast. And if you'd like to follow Rebekah, you can find her on Instagram at Rebekah Campbell writer. If you haven't already please come and join our ambitious supportive movement of thousands of Australian business owning women, just like you at mumsandco.com.au.
Question from "co" (24:22):
What was your favourite chapter in your book to write?
Rebekah Campbell (24:30):
So my favourite chapter of the book would be the chapter where I met Rod, who is now my partner and the father of my children. And it's my favourite chapter because it's the moment in the book where everything comes together. So there's a whole lot of... And I chose to write this book in this kind of unreliable narrator style. So you kind of see real thoughts as I had them at the time, which were very flawed and there's a huge amount of personal growth that happens throughout the book. So early on I'm second guessing what men want on these dates and trying to change myself.And then there's lots of note taking and learnings. And then when I finally do meet the man who become my husband, it all comes together. And I am kind of at a point where I can just be myself and he's himself and we have this very lovely, authentic conversation. And it's obvious straight away that this is the one. So it was a really happy moment, I cried many times as I was writing that chapter and stilled my favourite chapter in the book.
Lucy Kippist (25:34):
Aw, thank you. It is such a beautiful chapter. It's so beautiful. I love everything about your book and I really can't wait to read your next one.
Rebekah Campbell (25:44):
Aw, thank you so much.
Carrie Kwan (25:48):
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 produced and edited by Morgan Sebastian Brown of Brown Tree Productions 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.