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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 47: Look within to grow and scale, with Linda Karkafi of Commcentric

Linda Karkafi

Founder of Commcentric

October 18, 2022
After a long time in the corporate banking and finance sector, Linda Karkafi went out on her own to start a thriving business in the communications space.Also an enthusiastic member of the Mums and Co community and a master when it comes to digital networking. Linda joins us today to share some insights into her life as a business owning woman.

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Commcentric

Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Linda Karkafi

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Episode 47 Transcript

00:01:35:09 - 00:02:28:01

Carrie Kwan

Today's guest started a business after a long time in the corporate banking and finance sector. A communications expert, Linda Karkafi, is also an enthusiastic member of the Mums and Co community, and a master when it comes to digital networking. Linda joins us today to share some insights into her life as a business owning woman. A big welcome, Linda!

Now, for those who don't know about the incredible work that you do, can you tell us a bit about your business, Commcentric?

00:02:28:17 - 00:03:46:12

Linda Karkafi

Thanks, Carrie, absolutely. I'm on a mission to make a positive difference in workplaces across Australia. As you mentioned, I've spent several years in the banking and finance industry, developing comms strategies for CEOs and executives. Then in 2015, I established Commcentric, the communications consultancy, which essentially helps organisations develop a sustainable competitive advantage over the long term.

I've been in the field of comms for 20 years now, and I really believe that when an organisation has the right communications strategy, processes and tools, they can make a significant difference in their workplace, and ultimately impact employee engagement, customer satisfaction, productivity and innovation. I really experienced it firsthand throughout my career and also completed my own research in my postgraduate studies at UTS and ultimately it just comes down to this: if you want to be successful, it's critical that each individual in your organisation is engaged with your vision and feels passionately about your value proposition because they're the ones who have the ability to live out your vision in practical ways every day.

So at a grassroots level, my work involves consulting, strategy, development, research, workshops and having crucial conversations with leaders. While I focus on internal communications and employee engagement, I'm also called on by clients to provide broader consulting services like developing their vision, business strategy and competitor research, or running workshops for these key stakeholders.

00:03:46:18 - 00:05:00:23

Carrie Kwan
Linda, you joined Mums and Co very early on in our business journey and I'd love to hear a little bit more about how things were going for you at that stage of your business journey.

Then fast forward a little while, and what you find most helpful about the community now.

Linda Karkafi

Sure. Well, I am a huge fan of Mums and Co. I'm not just saying that because I'm speaking to the founder, Carrie, and to Lucy, who is queen of all things community. But truly, I genuinely appreciate the work that you do to support mums in business and when I started Commcentric I was looking for a community where I could meet other business owning mums who share the same passion to nurture their children and raise them up to be the best they can be.

But also, while running a successful business, I really did find that community at Mums and Co. I am a very proud mother of three beautiful children. One of the wonderful things about running my own company is the flexibility it gives me to be present in their lives and to really show up. I've met several mums through Mums and Co who feel the same way, that connection is so precious. It's been wonderful to connect with them from those early days and to continue those relationships and friendships now, and also just to keep track and to learn about the amazing work they're doing. So yeah, I'm really grateful that I can be part of this community and I plan to be so for a very long time.

00:05:00:23 - 00:06:08:00

Carrie Kwan

So that definitely fills our cup. I know that's the circular motion, isn't it? We do actually provide that understanding and that connection. There's a lot of good things in terms of how we support other business women, but sometimes we just need to be there for them to lean on and share the highs and the lows. I know that even knowing one other successful female founder, that actually increases your success as well.

I know that there are so many elements where whilst it starts with a vision, it's not just the so-called management level that are responsible for communicating that. I love how you linked that to everyone in that organisation has a role to convey that vision. That's where it starts with the people that are actually sharing that story, so amazing.  

00:06:09:22 - 00:06:29:10

Linda Karkafi

Unless each individual is clear about what they need to achieve and capable to bring it about and motivated to do so, then it's really difficult to then harness everyone's energy in the organisation towards that unified vision. So that's where the clear corporate comms strategy comes into play.

00:06:30:00 - 00:07:19:24

Lucy Kippist

Linda, just picking up on the word energy, because along with being the founder of Commcentric, you’re a mum to three children. You're also an author and I know that you said in a meet up late last year that you were getting up at, I think three or four in the morning to write your book before you worked, and my big question to you Linda, is how are you fitting this all in? Is there a secret to prioritising like this or is your productivity a result of good boundaries? What's the secret here you can share with us?

00:07:20:14 - 00:09:40:16
Linda Karkafi

It's such a good question, Lucy. I have been a bit of a type A kind of person for most of my life, so I do tend to have a few projects going at the same time, and I do really love that.

But you're right, it can be a real challenge to fit it all in. I suppose if I'm not clear about my priorities and if I'm not regularly setting healthy habits, then it's just really easy to get burned out. For me personally, I do a few things.

Firstly, I consistently take time out to get clear about my priorities. I plan on an annual, monthly and weekly basis. I've also developed a system which I coach teams on to set goals and stay on top of those goals. So at any point in time, if things start to extend beyond my human capacity, I do look back at my plan and I make adjustments. As you mentioned, my writing, my last book, was quite a challenge, especially with the publisher being in the States and dealing with the time difference, then throwing a second wave of COVID and homeschooling. I really had no other choice than to kind of rise up early and work late and kind of work around my children. But for that season, I was happy to extend myself to make sure that my kids came first and that they felt well supported during that time.

I do also have a few other techniques that work for me in general to stay organised and focused as a business, as a business leader. I suppose firstly having a clear and consistent morning routine, which funnily enough starts the night before, when I plan the next day, and I do like to start my day knowing that I have a plan and I'm clear about what I need to achieve, but with enough flex that allows for hiccups along the way, and as you know, as a being mums, you need to have a bit of flex and be prepared for the things that could go wrong.

I then start each day in prayer and Bible meditation, I also journal, and that's just how I start every day. I suppose another important way that I make the most out of my time that I just highly recommend, is to disconnect from technology for periods of time, especially for me when I'm writing and when I'm doing some deep thinking or strategy work.

I literally stop all notifications. I get in the zone and it just allows me to continue to deliver high quality work for clients and still stay productive and I also batch together email correspondence or meetings. I just find it's a more effective way to face each day.

00:09:41:19 - 00:10:33:06

Lucy Kippist

It sounds like you're really well organised there. I love the bit that you said there about putting in time in the morning without screens, without checking your phone or email. I Actually read an article about that this morning and the importance of that for focus, because this article was saying part of the reason we find it hard to prioritise is because as soon as we open our eyes, we're on our phone looking and we're getting flooded with all this information, which is distorting our natural sense of prioritization. So I love that!

The other lovely thing that you've added in there is your meditation and your and your faith, which I know is a big part of your life and your business. It's actually a really clear theme in your books and on your social media as well. How do you find that your faith helps you to balance life and business, especially when you're facing challenges in either area?

00:10:34:04 - 00:12:12:14

Linda Karkafi

Sure. As many of the Mums and Co ladies know, I am a Christian and my relationship with God is a fundamental aspect of who I am and how I serve my clients and the integrity of my company and why I do what I do. So each day I really like to remind myself about the kind of legacy I want to leave and essentially the kind of difference I want to make in this world long after I'm here.

My relationship with God helps me face challenges with confidence, because I know who I belong to and I know that my purpose in life is beyond the here and now. This is something I share with my husband, our children and our family, the values we stand on is a big part of who we are.

In terms of Commcentric, I share with my clients that I'm committed to ensuring they feel heard, respected and served well. When they deal with me, it's really my goal to live up to that expectation and I believe it really is why clients come back and refer me on, because they know I genuinely care about their success and will absolutely deliver on my promises. I suppose it affects my business in that way and in terms of how my faith helps me with work life balance, I've always found that when I have my spiritual priorities in order, everything else falls into place.

I'm really committed to my local church and it gives me so much joy to give back to my community and volunteer in various capacities. It just fills my cup and it fills my passion in every other aspect of my life.

00:12:12:14 - 00:13:06:19

Carrie Kwan

You have such integrity in that, Linda. We see that in every interaction, whether it's on a personal basis or through your business dealings. It's that deep respect and nod to that care that you mentioned. Caring comes in a lot of different ways, it might be just doing the job really well or might be actually being there emotionally for your clients as well and giving them the confidence to to step forward. So we love that!

Speaking of challenges, let’s flip that side because I think having that well-grounded legacy and that sense of value, it helps us navigate the challenging times as well. Risk is certainly an unavoidable part of the business journey in that process. What sort of processes have you actually adopted as a business and how do you protect yourself?

00:13:06:19 - 00:14:05:08

Linda Karkafi

It is the less exciting part of running a business, I have to say, but it is so extremely important. One example has been in the area of getting good legal support, whether it's registering trademarks right through to contracts. So making sure that's looked at on an ongoing basis and other areas I suppose includes having a really good accountant, who makes sure my books are in order, and having a system that makes sense for me to ensure that the business is sustainable.

Overall, I approach business with integrity and probably not a very common response to this question, but ensuring that all the decisions I make on a day to day basis about the operations of the business, ethical and socially responsible, it really does safeguard me and protect me from potential risks.

00:14:05:21 - 00:15:13:20

Lucy Kippist

I wanted to raise that point there about the point you made about having a good accountant. That's actually something I hear quite frequently from our members and I just thought it's a nice little segway to throw in. That part of the business structure is something we are keen to support our community with, particularly over the next year, we've got a fantastic new expert program with a few experts in there who are covering off in that area.

If anyone listening is keen to expand their own skill set or get some support in that area, please reach out because it is, as you say, so important. If you're not naturally inclined to that part of business, it can really slow you down and can create some challenges. So I just wanted to throw that in there to your lovely answer.

Carrie Kwan

So Linda, you're a keen networker and collaborator, and always very enthusiastic when it comes to engaging with the mums in your community’s social media accounts, so thank you. What do you think is the key to creating meaningful digital connections?

00:15:14:12 - 00:16:25:09

Linda Karkafi

I think it's incredibly important to be genuine and to show up for the right reasons. I connect with people because it makes good business sense, but I don't want to come, and I don't come from a place of wanting to sell my services or to gain clients, and I think it really shows. Yet inevitably, I've had some wonderful opportunities arise just by showing up and coming from a place of generosity.

I love people, I love to connect with people, and I do make meaningful connections online by being myself, and showing genuine care for others. But I'd also say that nothing really beats face to face connection also. We do meet and we connect with so many people online, but it's often when we take the time out to connect with others in person that we can have the greatest impact and influence and deepen those relationships. So I go out of my way to connect with people who I've met online and to continue connecting with them and building relationships online.

But it also forms some awesome friendships and partnerships by making an effort to connect face to face. It is an effort, but like with many things, it's often the actions that we take that are less comfortable, that reaps the greatest rewards. So I have to say, the old fashioned coffee shops are definitely not out for me.

00:16:26:01 - 00:17:20:24

Lucy Kippist

I love it. I love those too Linda, and I love the fact that you pointed out the importance of being genuine and connecting for the right reasons. Because while we're there for business, it's not all we are about, obviously. Beautiful point.

The final question for you today is, as you know, Mums and Co, we talk about harmony being a triangle of ambition, livelihood and well-being. Could you share what the shape of a good life looks like for you?

00:17:21:13 - 00:17:51:24

Linda

A good life for me is to get to the end of my life and to know that I've made a difference in the lives of my children and set them up to continue a legacy of love and using their talents to make their mark on this world.

In terms of what that looks like or the shape that it takes, I'd have to say the shape of the book, being a bit of a bookworm and being a writer. It's a symbol that makes sense to me. Each book has a different story to tell and captures a particular journey in my life and your life and all of us. It's like a book, you know? Our lives have many chapters and seasons and it reflects our stories and the life that we choose to live each day. For me, there really is no separation between all those roles that I play in life, whether it's a mother, wife, a business leader, a friend or a volunteer.

The one lens that I have in all these roles is to make a difference in this world. I mean that with all my heart and so how that looks, I suppose, from a practical sense, is that my spiritual life and my family are woven throughout the storyline of my life. They come first and they're the reason behind everything I do.

So when things feel out of balance, I take a step back and I rewrite how the story's going just to make sure that my priorities are in the right order. The last page of the book is when my journey ends, and it's then that I really realise that the only thing that truly matters is the difference I've made in people's lives.

Whether it's the lives that I've nurtured to adulthood, being my own kids, or those that I've had the privilege to work with and support in business and in corporate Australia, my ambition to succeed in business truly does extend beyond the concepts of scale, hustle and being the next big thing. My goals come from a place of wanting to leave my mark on the world and to make a difference in people's lives both here and in the future. My passion is really to help others to do the same.

00:18:57:15 - 00:19:19:15

Lucy Kippist

Beautiful answer. Thank you so much, Linda. Thank you for joining us on Mumbition the podcast today. If you'd like to hear more from Linda, you'll find her on Instagram @commcentric.

If you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business owning women just like you at mumsandco.com.au

00:19:19:15

Child speaker

What’s your best writing tip?

00:19:21:00 - 00:19:46:09
Linda Karkafi

Oh, it's such a good question. My best writing tip is to keep it simple, less words is better.

Child speaker

Thank you.

Linda Karkafi
What's your best writing tip?

Child speaker
I don’t know

Linda Karkafi
Write neatly. Is that right?