Maxine Sherrin Spark Festival

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 30: Focus on your journey not the destination, with Sheree Rubinstein of OneRoof

Digital life has provided us with a huge opportunity to bridge businesses and life.We’re often networking remotely from home while growing our businesses and managing a family at the same time. It's a goal that Mums & Co shares in common with today's guest, Sheree Rubenstein, the founder of OneRoof, which started out as a coaching space in Melbourne and has morphed into a digital networking space for entrepreneurial women.

Sheree worked as a corporate lawyer before taking on the challenge of creating the OneRoof community. Her understanding of the startup space and how it feels to be a woman in the midst of building one in what is often a male dominated space.

Links

Flamingo AI
Verve Super
OneRoof

Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Sheree Rubinstein

Are you ready to join a movement of business owning women?  Join Mums & Co today.

Episode 30 Transcript

00:04:25:19 - 00:04:48:24
Carrie
Collaboration. How do you feel about this when you hear this word? As women, we seem to have the innate ability to connect and make connections with each other. As female business owners, the same insights should be our guide. It's the same skill and way of participating in the world, but in a different context. So why does building your network sometimes feel a little overwhelming?

Digital life has provided us with a huge opportunity to bridge businesses and life and network remotely. Often from home while growing our businesses. It's a goal that Mums & Co shares in common with today's guest, Sheree Rubenstein, the founder of OneRoof, which started out as a coaching space in Melbourne and has morphed into a digital networking space for entrepreneurial women.

Sheree worked as a corporate lawyer before taking on the challenge of creating the OneRoof community and her understanding of the startup space and how it feels to be a woman in the midst of building one. Mums & Co are delighted to be community partners with OneRoof and have had great success co-hosting events on my favorite topic building pitch, confidence and clarity.

Sheree, a big welcome to the Mumbition podcast.

00:05:41:07 - 00:05:43:15
Sheree
Thanks, Carrie. It's wonderful to be here.

00:05:44:11 - 00:05:59:03
Carrie
Now, unsurprising, really what's going to be my first question. So what do you do? We obviously believe strongly that women should embrace the opportunity to share their story, to make introductions. So tell us a little about you and OneRoof.

00:05:59:14 - 00:06:35:21
Sheree
Sure. So I'm the founder and CEO of OneRoof, a digital network for ambitious women. And we are on a mission to increase the number and success of female leaders and entrepreneurs. In the last two years, since we pivoted the business, as Carrie mentioned, from being the leading co-working space in Australia for women to a digital membership. We've onboarded over a thousand women across the country and even globally, with a full suite of business support, we offer everything from masterclasses to business coaching.

Literally our goal is really to be an extension of our members' businesses and to help them succeed and flourish. I'm also on the board of the Victorian Women's Trust and I am a mum to Goldie who just turned two and I'm due to have my second in June.

00:06:56:00 - 00:07:26:02
Carrie
Congratulations with number two on the way. Of course we've been a big fan of OneRoof and what you're doing to help support more women in Australia. Especially with pursuing their ambitions and that is fundamentally aligned to what we're doing. So, such an exciting and huge new chapter about to unfold as well it seems like for you and your family.

00:07:29:20 - 00:07:32:21
Lucy
This is your 5th year running OneRoof

00:07:33:06 - 00:07:35:00
Sheree
Actually my seventh yeah.

00:07:35:20 - 00:07:36:07
Lucy
Wow.

00:07:36:08 - 00:07:40:24
Sheree
Yeah I do feel like I started the business all over again two years ago thanks to COVID.

00:07:41:02 - 00:08:06:18
Lucy
Yes it's had that effect hasn't it. So in your seventh year! You mentioned there before a really impressive number of onboarding in that time. And with all the stories that you've undoubtedly heard from business women beginning their business or in all stages, what do you think would be your first piece of advice to anyone who might say to you now, Sheree, I'm considering starting a business. What would you say if it was one thing?

00:08:10:19 - 00:08:48:23
Sheree
Oh, there's so many things I want to say. I would say test and learn and validate the concept. And within that, don't spend your life savings because you don't need to do it all in one go. But when I say test learn and validate, it's finding very low cost effective and quick economical ways of testing an idea with your ideal customers before you spend a cent on a website, branding, marketing, anything.

And I often say and it can be a tendency with women that we want to perfect things, we want it to be perfect before we put it out into the world. You spend all this money, but you haven't actually tested and proven that the problem that you're solving is a real problem. And the solution that you've got matches the problem. So just test, learn, get it out there. Nothing needs to be perfect.

00:09:14:14 - 00:09:43:09
Lucy
Well, I love that advice and it's something that I would say that's an important thing to hear at that first stage. Because I don't want to generalize. I'm sure that there's there's men as well with this mindset. But I feel like with women we go into something with a perfectionist mindset often. And if it's a business that we're starting, as you say, it can just overcomplicate things and pull you into a financial position that you don't necessarily want to be in before you've even got underway. Excellent advice. Thank you.

00:09:46:22 - 00:10:12:05
Carrie
We often talk about harmony as a triangle of ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. You've got aspirations of what you want to achieve with your career. Your livelihood is how you go about doing it and supporting your family. And your wellbeing is, all the elements wrapped into your spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing. So I'm fascinated to hear Sheree, can you describe the shape of a good life for you?

00:10:20:02 - 00:10:58:11
Sheree
It's not really a shape that has a name. It's some kind of weird wacky shape that just has lots of lines and circular things and ebbs and flows and then comes back around. I think that the feeling of achieving balance among all those things can feel really overwhelming and hard at times. And I often feel that there are certain parts of that that will give you certain aspects of the triangle that you describe that will be a priority at certain times in your life.

I remember when I read Julia Gillard's book “Women in Leadership”, she framed it so well and she said “Your career is really long and there will be periods in your life where ambition might be the priority. Or family might be the priority or wellbeing and health. And obviously elements of all that need to be at the core of everything that you do.”

But I think that there are certain times when there will be some things that are a priority more than others. And I often find it interesting. Even last night I was talking to my partner feeling quite stressed about all the things that I have coming up like being pregnant. You feel this kind of looming, impending, pending kind of deadline of something happening you've got to get all this stuff done before.

He just kind of reminded me and brought me back and reminded me that these things are not that important. There isn't an impending deadline that's all in my head. And so being able to have the conversation and get it out there just reminds me of the importance of rituals and practices and wellbeing And yes stress can have such an impact and feeling that on your body.

I would say it's a wild shape that I can't describe the name of. But all those three things are super important and it's important to keep coming back to all three of them and talking about it and bringing in new rituals and practice practices on a regular basis.

00:12:39:06 - 00:13:05:06
Carrie
So true. And certainly whatever that shape looks like. I was picturing like bits of Venn diagrams overlapping and I'm doing mind maps with my little boy at the moment and they're pretty messy. We get so many parts of our identity that are important. And I think that, where we need to focus at that particular time, it's not that they're all important. So I think the point is that those elements are all there. We don't have to be at one or the other and have at one at the expense of the other.

00:13:23:15 - 00:13:48:13
Lucy
I love what you said about your partner because it brings me to the next question I wanted to ask you about your co. Here at Mums and Co we have coined the reference to the community of support that's around us both in our business, in our clients, but also in our families and our friends and our partners. I read a profile on a wonderful Balance The Grind website.

I'm not sure how long ago it was, but you mentioned that your partner had really shown you the way in terms of balancing life and work as a business owner and what you just said, that just really spoke to that as well. What is something that you do daily that helps to support that for you?

00:14:10:23 - 00:14:39:07
Sheree
I read every night when I get into bed and I need to transition from the day to go to sleep. I have just resumed my meditation practice, which is just whatever comes and goes and that's OK. And we do it through the community once a week. But then, after talking to my partner last night, it was like, OK, I've got to get back to that.

So doing that in the mornings and I did it this morning and I love journaling as well. And I think beyond that, I am very ambitious and it's very easy. I grew up in a family of very hard workers and working late in business and business at home and so I very naturally fall into, “I'm not doing anything”.

I'll sit on my laptop and do some work. But I do have to stop myself, especially late at night. There are things that take me away from doing that and put my mind elsewhere, like I love board games and card games and cooking. Things like that that I know will take my mind completely away from work and put me into flow, you know, camping with family and things like that.

00:15:31:13 - 00:15:50:09
Lucy
Fantastic. I'm a big reader at night too. And actually something that I heard just yesterday is that apparently the game Tetris, but apparently it's fantastic for that and winding down your brain and apparently actually increases your gray matter.

00:15:50:23 - 00:15:58:11
Sheree
Interesting.

00:16:03:05 - 00:16:27:10
Carrie
Now, you've just shared some wonderful news that you're about to welcome number two. You've got a young daughter at the moment as well. What's the transferable skill between business and motherhood that perhaps has surprised you or what's definitely come to the forefront?

00:16:50:16 - 00:17:11:02
Sheree
I think one thing that's been a surprise, although if I really thought about it, it isn't surprising. I'm sure you both really resonate with this being a mum, but being a parent, it forces you to slow down in certain ways. I mean, you can also feel really stressed and anxious a lot of the time.

But it really forces you to slow down and to appreciate the journey that you're on. And my brother always laughs at me because I once said to him when we were trying to get my daughter to the beach and he was like, “Come on, let's go, let's go”. And I was like, Dylan, “It's the journey. It's not about the destination:.

It's the journey. It's not the destination. I think that really sums it up. It is just the journey that can be so long, getting your children to a place and you're like, why am I even forcing them to go to that place? Let's just enjoy this journey of where we are and what we're doing.

That just brings me back to the importance of being present and slowing down. I think in business, when you slow down, you actually speed up and you find nuggets of wisdom and ideas and creativity. And it's just so easy to fall back into the hustle culture. Go go, go. But it's really about slowing down and observing and assessing and enjoying.

That actually leads you to incredible ideas and strategies and directions of taking your business.

00:18:37:19 - 00:18:58:19
Carrie
There's so many analogies that I have between business and motherhood, but I love how you said that. To me that's almost like perspective, like your children are actually making you see things through a different lens. And sometimes it's a beautiful lens and a beautiful perspective.

00:19:08:03 - 00:19:48:06
Lucy
And especially at two, that's a really good age to be teaching. I mentioned we love asking women to practice and teach, but we also really love introductions, which I know is a big part of the OneRoof program for members, too. But just to you right now, if there was anything you could ask for in business or life that we might be able to help you with in terms of our community, what would that ask be?

00:19:48:07 - 00:20:32:05
Sheree
Well, if I was going really big and thinking about an introduction, someone who's been on my list for a long time. It would be Mel Perkins, the co-founder and CEO of Canva. She's just incredible. In terms of introductions, I guess beyond that, obviously, you know, I just love meeting women who have great ideas and are out there giving things a go and testing. And wanting to connect with other women, doing similar things and just wanting to chat. At the start of this podcast, Carrie spoke about collaboration and networks.

I really think it's everything that has set up my entire career and business. And every door that's ever opened for me has been through my network and introductions and the support that I've gotten from people around me. And I still think that's the greatest barrier that women face in business, is access to the right networks and so, yeah, for me, it's just all about building networks and meeting people, and that's what I love to do and introducing others to great people.

00:21:04:21 - 00:21:25:07
Lucy
I think as women we have a natural advantage for that. I was saying to a member just yesterday that, our word of mouth as women is the most powerful marketing tool that we have. Because you get told something and automatically your brain just goes to, “Oh, I know someone who that would be good for”.

And it's no different in business. And I think that gives us the edge as women in business, that natural community building, networking, capability, whatever part of the brain that is, we obviously have that down.

00:21:40:04 - 00:22:07:04
Carrie
Personal development or lifelong learning, it's something that we love to encourage and for our community and as I'm sure it is with yours, it's this way to to grow their capabilities, their confidence in their success. How important has that been to your career trajectory? Is this something that you've done in this area that has had a significant impact?

00:22:07:24 - 00:22:33:16
Sheree
I do lots of things. I love putting myself completely out of my comfort zone. I love doing leadership programs and retreats and going away and being in an environment where I don't know a single other person. I'm just thrown in the deep end and I have to swim because I have no choice and I'm always freaking out.

But I just love it. I always have. I love meeting new people. So I do a lot of it. It's harder, of course, when you're a parent or when you know you've got young kids and it's harder to get away and find time and do things. But I recently did, which was actually the first time I'd been away from my daughter since she was born.

I did a course up in Mullumbimby with Ana Rubenstein who is actually my cousin. She runs a Facilitation Leadership Training, and it was on her property. Two nights camping, and it was the most uncomfortable experience, but also just incredible. Sitting around a fire with 12 other people sharing stories that you've never shared, talking about your goals and your issues and your needs and your traumas and your family.

And it was really profound and powerful. I think one of the first things I ever remember doing was my dad put me through a Dale Carnegie course when I was really young. And after that, it just kind of set me up to want to always be doing things and going through programs and leadership and training and support. I think it's so priceless wow.

00:23:51:23 - 00:24:20:22
Carrie
Sounds like a magical experience. And I love that. It's that doing something that scares you, like  putting yourself out there. And I guess that's a bit like what we're doing as business owners, isn't it? It's this pretty scary, scary journey. We don't know having trodden the path before and that process of fear is always going to come out, even though it's a bit uncomfortable. I think you'll always come out stronger or have some sort of personal growth related to that.

00:24:27:12 - 00:24:43:22
Sheree
And just to add to that, in order to be a truly effective leader, you've got to take yourself out of your day to day and you've got to do the work. You've got to reflect and share. And it's very difficult to do if you're just stuck in the day to day, in the doing and the detail.

So I think it's just so important for business owners, so important for leaders. Because business is very hard, leadership is very hard. And if we expect others to step up and know themselves and work hard and do these things. We have to constantly be checking in on ourselves and doing the work as well.

00:25:06:23 - 00:25:34:23
Lucy
That's very prescient. And I think the other side of that coin is your relationship to risk as a business owner and a leader. And I know before you started, or went on your entrepreneurial journey, you worked as a corporate lawyer. I'm wondering how that previous life experience, combined with all of this entrepreneurial experience, has influenced your risk, your attitude to risk in business. And what are the types of practices you've put in place now, seven years on to kind of protect yourself against that kind of risk?

00:25:44:10 - 00:26:08:04
Sheree
It's interesting because, you know, studying and working as a lawyer is obviously all about being completely risk averse and everything needing to be perfect. And I remember a friend and mentor saying to me, a couple of them saying to me, when I left the corporate world and spoke about starting a business, they said, You need to get an account, you need to get comfortable with feeling completely uncomfortable all the time.

You need to unlearn everything that you've learned over the course of your entire life, and you need to just be comfortable with scaling and testing and learning and making mistakes. And so it was obviously a steep learning curve. But I think I'm also much more naturally drawn and always have been more drawn to the entrepreneurial way rather than the kind of rigid corporate legal risk averse way.

I actually did it fully align with me. Something wasn't quite right while I was there. So and also I have parents who are business owners and have run their own business their whole lives. And, you know, that obviously had a big impact so you know, yeah, there's that. I guess in terms of managing risk, I mean, I'm like the balance.

Like risk and I like testing and I'm happy to kind of make mistakes and things not to work out, but my appetite for risk doesn't go to the extent of like, you know, I am going to like, yeah, the financial risk there kind of what is at stake I'm very clear on. So I'm always and I surround myself with people who help me check like and ask those questions around what is the worst case scenario of taking on this decision.

For instance, I was about to sign a lease and if it wasn't for COVID, I would have done it on a space in Cremorne in Melbourne to open a massive co-working space on a huge deal like I'm talking $1,000,000 a year rent bill with a huge fit out and invest an incredible amount of money into that and you know, I had advisors sitting down looking at me saying what?

What are the risks? What happens if all of this falls over? Let's go through it and talk about all of that and see if you feel comfortable and it's not something you want to talk about, especially when you're like, I've just got to go. I've just got to do it. I've got to sign a lease. Like there's no time but stopping and getting that advice and talking through those really uncomfortable scenarios that you do not want to think about.

I think because the most has always been incredibly valuable for me. So I am very clear every time I make very big decisions, especially if it's a financial decision. Exactly. What worst case scenario can look like.

00:28:50:14 - 00:29:20:12
Carrie
What could happen if this went completely wrong? What happens if it goes well? Thinking through those different options, just spending some time doing it. I must admit, I had a recent experience. I read a book about a business continuity plan about five years ago. I have not used it for five years, but when I needed it, it was just something that had given me so much confidence to work through that challenge.

It is just one of those days today where the children keep open that door that's obviously closed. OneRoof social's have a really compelling call to action for women to believe in themselves and to connect and to collaborate like we've been talking about in this episode. So what happens behind the scenes, though, so off social vital to you and your community that we might not see on the grid?

00:29:54:04 - 00:29:57:13
Sheree
In terms of what we do within the community.

00:29:59:07 - 00:30:11:12
Carrie
No. We all know that social media has got a bit of a lens on it. What we show and how we show up there so is there anything that we might not know about?

00:30:12:15 - 00:30:34:02
Sheree
I guess one of the biggest and hardest things for me was walking away from that deal that I spoke about before. So making the decision to say I'm not going to sign a lease. And that was lucky that I hadn't signed the lease. And returning all the money that I'd raised to investors. And we all know how hard it is for women to raise money to begin with.

So I felt incredibly sick being like, “OK, I've raised it and now I'm going to give it back”. And also to say to investors, Sorry, I made a mistake in the direction I said I was going on. I'm not going on. And I've kind of failed you all but I'm now going in a different direction”. So that was all really, really challenging.

And I would definitely say that I'm probably still mourning and grieving the loss of what I thought I was going to be doing building a co-working empire for women led businesses and being like the wing for Australia and creating these beautiful spaces for women. I am just not doing that anymore. And people still ask me when you are setting up a co-working space?

I'm not, it's done. I'm not raising money again on office space unless anyone wants to gift me a building. So, we talk a lot about it in the business and entrepreneurial world. It's OK to fail and, and failure and mistakes and it's all wonderful. And you should do it over and over. But the reality is it's incredibly hard and your ego really struggles with it and, you know, you let people down.

And so that was a lot to stomach and handle. That said, I still and with the importance of network and keeping your building your network and nurturing it, I keep good relationships with my investors. I check in with them. I let them know what's happening. I don't need investment, but I think it's still important to kind of maintain those relationships. The other thing I would say is we're a growing network, which is awesome.

But we are such a small team. We are three people, one being myself, the only one who works full time, is about to go on maternity leave and then to work part time. So this is the reality for most of us building businesses. Seven years on and I'm still always at the early stages and so, you are really taking on a lot of different hats and that's the reality show.

00:32:41:15 - 00:33:07:13
Carrie
Thank you for being so brave in that process. And we need to understand that, too. That capital raising process is so challenging, all consuming. It literally takes up 75% of your time whilst you're still doing business as usual. So a hugely brave decision. And I'm sure there are many lessons learned there and an empowering of the women to know that that's what happens.

It may not be the outcome that you wanted, but it was the right decision that you made. Based on all the inputs that you had at the time. And the other thing that really spring to mind was, yes, I think because we've got this digital community, sometimes it feels like we are able to deliver miraculous results you know, with a very small team, a small but mighty team.

And so, you know, I really do feel that and you and you've done amazing work, but yet I do also understand thatyour team works really, really hard. And if we did pro-rata it, you're probably actually only three years old if you take away some of the actual full time hours that are spent. A lot of these women are spending maybe something like four or 6 hours a day on their own business.

00:34:15:02 - 00:34:41:08
Lucy
It would be an interesting maths quiz. Obviously, you are an incredibly passionate supporter of women. I would love to know who are the mumbitious mums in your life. So the mums running businesses at the moment and I'm sure you have a huge list, but who is one or two that you'd especially like to say hello to at the moment?

00:34:43:18 - 00:35:06:23
Sheree
I'll call out if you cover more than one or two. So Katrina Wallace, who was the CEO of an ASX listed company called Flamingo. It's an air company and it was the second company in ASX history to have a female CEO and chairperson. She's amazing. And so honest and real and I've just learned so much from her. Like a friend and adviser.

I mentor Caitlin Tait as well, who's done a lot with Why Gap and Why Heather built incredible social enterprises and programs and has two young boys and she's amazing.

Also Christina Hobbs, who runs Verve Super, she's got a seven or eight month old. I love everything that Verve Super stands for Ethical Super Fund Run by Women for Women.

And then also Frances, who is our community manager at OneRoof who is a single mom with two young kids. Runs her own business on the side and then is just always available at OneRoof. Even though she only works three days a week and she's just your typical superhero mum. Always smiling, supportive, warm, welcoming, an incredible human being. And I could not run OneRoof without her.

00:36:05:11 - 00:36:32:09
Lucy
That’s so beautiful. And I wanted to share that someone in our community shared with me the other day how warm Frances is. I think they described her as the ultimate community manager or something. To that effect, but it was just so glowing. And it's true. She is. So please pass that on. Thank you so much for sharing all of that to me.