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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 50: Separate, survive and thrive

Carolyn Tate & Gillian Moody

Co Founders The Divorce Academy

November 8, 2022
Carolyn Tait & Gillian Moody, started the Women’s Divorce Academy, after finding themselves separated within months of each other.

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Women's Divorce Academy

Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Gillian Moody and Carolyn Tate

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00:01:06:01 - 00:02:17:12

Carrie Kwan

We acknowledge and our pay respect to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of New South Wales where we record this podcast, and all Aboriginal elders past, present and emerging. We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters of New South Wales and the continuing cultural, spiritual customs and practices. 

What's the story behind your business? It's a question we really love asking here at Mums and Co because it is very often the story behind the passion, behind the why of your business.

Today's guests are longtime friends and business partners, Carolyn Tait and Gillian Moody. They started the business, the Women’s Divorce Academy, after finding themselves separated and divorced within months of each other. Finding strength in their friendship and shared experiences, the two women have created a vibrant and supportive community for women who are experiencing this often very confronting life transition.

They join us on Mumbition today to share some more of their story. Carolyn and Gillian, welcome to Mumbition the podcast.

00:02:18:16 - 00:02:22:15

Carolyn Tait

Thanks for having us, we're really excited to be here.

00:02:23:02 - 00:02:45:07

Carrie Kwan

We love it when we speak to one amazing business woman, but also equally love it when we get to speak to two amazing business women. So it's fantastic to have you here. 

Now, you know that we're passionate about telling women's stories. Perhaps I can start with Gillian. Can you tell us in your own words, yours?

00:02:45:24 - 00:04:32:17

Gillian Moody

I had a big life change in 2018. Up to that point I was happily working, having a business, with a husband, couple of kids, and then to my great shock, the rug was pulled out from under me and my husband told me he didn't love me anymore. So it was fairly dramatic at the time and it absolutely shook my world and it took me a while to recover from that.

I was very lucky that I have my amazing business partner and bestie Carolyn in my corner because she had gone through a divorce as well, separation. So she kind of helped me along with many friends and family. But what happened from a business point of view is that it really made it hard to run a business, work, be a single mum and juggle things.

But it also gave us the drive to want to help other women going through what we had gone through. So that's where Women's Divorce Academy emerged from. It's been an amazing ride since then, that was nearly five years ago.

00:04:34:09 - 00:05:44:22

Carrie Kwan

In these sorts of journeys when you're going through a really challenging experience, often it's tough enough just to have to work through things through. But when you have someone that walks beside you in that process, it really can make all the difference, to help you through that journey.

I know that this actually was quite a challenging journey. Often I know through a lot of different situations and challenges that you do find this incredible strength within yourself as you experience that. That's what's been born out of that experience as well, in terms of the now purpose that you have to help other other women through a similar journey and the Women’s Divorce Academy, so thank you for sharing your journey.

00:05:46:12 - 00:06:37:20

Gillian Moody

I do think that there's something really amazing about the concept of post-traumatic growth. It's a subject that I could talk about for a long time, but it’s something that's close to my heart because I think it's absolutely possible for people to not just survive, but really thrive, after having really traumatic things happen to them.

As long as you have a great support network around you and that you have the tools and the information that you need, you really can do that. I think we want to be able to inspire other women going through it to do that, too. 

00:06:37:20 - 00:07:06:07

Lucy Kippist

There's so many parts of you and Carolyn's story that's quite interesting from a business perspective to unpack.

I mean, a, that you had a business before this together, you’re friends anyway, and the fact that the business that you're building now is helping other women through an experience as you've just so beautifully shared. 

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of this stage of business that you're in now? Because that 2 to 5 years is a very common stage for our community. So I'm just interested to hear what's particularly challenging right now about where you are.

00:07:06:19 - 00:08:05:05

Carolyn Tait

Probably just about everybody who's listening to this, the biggest challenge we have is time and resources, that’s two challenges, I’m taking two. Even though we've been in some sort of business together for the last ten years, it's really evolved and we really put it on the backburner there for a while there after our divorces, because we were single mothers who had to do all this stuff.

We don't need to go through all that, we know what that's like. But we're really trying at the moment to to drive brand awareness, to get marketing eyeballs on the product. We know that it's amazing, we know that it's much needed. We have wonderful feedback from the women who are in our program that we're helping.

So right now, what we need the most is to get in front of more people and to squeeze as much as we can into the limited time that we have, because we also hold down part time jobs outside of this.

00:08:05:05 - 00:08:18:19

Carrie Kwan

Now, helping women is at the at the core of the work you do. It's at the core of the work we do. What are some of the ways that you nurture your own self sense of well-being in order to stay grounded?

00:08:20:03 - 00:11:17:19

Gillian Moody

It's so important to take good care of ourselves in amongst all the work and the chaos. We're really big on self-care, which is not just about getting our nails done, which we really love doing, although, and taking long balls. It's other things that can make a big difference in our lives and allow us to turn up every day to be the best we can.

Carolyn I both love to meditate, exercise, eating well, not necking a bottle of wine to get through family dinner, even though sometimes you feel like it. Getting out in nature, that's a really big one for me. I love to go bushwalking and get my toes in the sand at the beach, learning new things, surrounding ourselves with great people and socializing and finding a laugh in every day.

That's something that Carolyn and I always said throughout all the traumatic things that were going on for us, we always would find something to laugh about every day. I think that’s why our friendship is so strong because we really do laugh a lot.

I saw a TEDTalk the other day about the importance of laughter and surrounding yourself with people that make you laugh. We have each other and this amazing friendship that we have, it's carried us through every challenge that life throws at us. We really know how lucky we are to have that as well. 

We also have done a lot of work around our personal values, and I know that that might seem a strange thing to talk about when we're talking about wellbeing, and we run a values exciting Women's Divorce Academy. When I found myself a newly single mum and I started to get through the weeds and started to feel a bit better, I didn't know who I was anymore. So for me, that regular touchstone of doing a values exercise and working out what's important to me and some of those values stayed the same and some kind of change over time.

Doing that work has made me live a lot more aligned to my values. So making sure that I have family time, making sure that I have socialising, knowledge for me is one of my values that stays all the time, learning new things like I mentioned before. I think that values piece is really important, even though it seems like something that might be hard work, it's actually not and it really contributes to wellbeing.

00:11:18:04 - 00:11:40:15

Carrie Kwan

I think that is such a wonderful way to stay grounded. Those personal values are like this true North Star for you. They always keep you on compass in terms of any decision that you make and whether it's for business, personal or with friendships, whatever it might be, that's a great reminder.

00:11:40:15 - 00:12:07:04

Lucy Kippist

We know that about 7% of our Mums and Co community like you guys started a business after divorce or separation. You've both really touched on there about the chaos that comes with that life transition anyway. We also know that starting a business is not necessarily without challenges either. What would be your advice, Carolyn, to a woman who might be juggling the early stages of both experiences at the moment?

00:12:08:15 - 00:14:58:00

Carolyn Tait

Well first, I tip my hat to her because she's amazing. There's a lot going on there and I think probably a lot of us, if we looked back and said, was that a good idea? We might go, “should wait.” 

We run a whole module in our divorce survival system called breakup triage, which is all about putting out the fires because there's so much that is on fire in those early stages. We know there are a lot of women in that stage who do need to do something. Maybe they haven't been working or maybe they need to up their income in a big hurry and that was certainly a situation that I was in when I separated, I was a freelance writer and I was working about two days a week and suddenly I had to pay all the bills and you really have to go from 0 to 100 really quickly. 

It can be really overwhelming and it can be really chaotic, as we say. I think it's really important to create a plan and to take tiny steps towards whatever you want to get to.

I think you can't do everything all at once, you're not going to do everything all at once. You can't expect yourself to to do all the things. I think you have to really break it down into bite sized chunks, take one step every day. Some days those steps are big, some days they're tiny. But I think that you really need to just keep moving forward in whatever capacity you can, because it's just that positive movement that creates the belief that you can keep going in that momentum.

I think it's really important to remind yourself that if you've got young kids as well, you're trying to be all the things to all the people and it's really important to take care of yourself, it's really important to schedule that in. Don't do it when you've got time because that's not going to happen.

You don't need to vacuum, just sit down. Sit down and have a cup of tea or take a nap or do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and create what we talk about as white space on a page, the wonderful Kelly Exeter talks about in one of her books, creating white space in your life.

Just creating pockets of time that don't have anything in them. Just for your own brain to defrag and unwind every day. It's so important to have those moments where you can just be and not be a function in somebody else's life or in a business, but just be yourself and relax. As Gill touched on as well, having that community around you, I think you just can't overstate how important it is to have support in both of those things.

00:14:59:04 - 00:15:27:10

Lucy Kippist

100%. I love the reminder there to sit down. I think we need more reminders of that or more celebrations of it really, the joys of sitting in the quiet, it can’t be underestimated. I also like that you're touching on a lot about mindset because that really seems to be the clincher, in terms of if you're setting your mind on track, it's amazing what you can do despite a lot of challenges.

00:15:28:04 - 00:15:59:06

Carolyn Tait

Yeah, absolutely. I think as something for me, it's front of mind because it's something that doesn't necessarily come naturally to me. I'm very much inclined towards overwhelm and just dropping my bundle. So for me, it's been a learned behavior that I really need to be disciplined and focus and just give myself a good talking to.

I'm a great list maker and I'm a great believer in just do this one thing today. If you don't do anything else, that's okay, but do this one thing.

00:16:00:11 - 00:16:51:16

Gillian Moody

Carolyn, you've been amazing, inspiring me in that way because I tend to be more of a person that works in spurts of activity. So I’ll put in 150% and then I'm back to 50%, which I saw someone talking about this on social media the other day. For me those 50% days can sometimes be zero days.

So making sure they are that something still happens on those days too, to maintain that momentum has been so important. Carolyn's really inspired me in that way because you've really taught me how to make a plan and break it down into into small chunks. That's something that's a real superpower of Carolyn's, and it's been incredibly useful to me in my life.

00:16:52:17 - 00:17:07:04

Carolyn Tait

Well, I think we've been really great for each other in that way. We have great, complementary, kind of approaches because Gill’s a very much a blue sky thinker and I'm very much a list maker on a ticker offer. So, between the two of us, we get stuff done.

00:17:07:04 - 00:18:09:05

Lucy Kippist

Yeah, well, maybe that speaks to a brilliant partnership as well as a friendship, doesn't it? That's beautiful. 

In terms of what separation and divorce challenges you, I'm speaking as a woman. I've also experienced that particular life experience. When I look back on it, I think one of the things that most challenged me was my idea around risk, how I looked at it personally and also how I’ve looked at it in the context of work. I think for me, I've become strangely more comfortable with the idea of risk. 

But how would you describe your relationship to risk in terms of being business owners, and what processes have you put in place to protect yourself in terms of your partnership together? 

00:18:09:14 - 00:18:34:23

Gillian Moody

That's a really good question about risk. I very much agree with what what you said about that, that after going through this life experience I've gone through, I’m definitely more comfortable with risk.

Traditionally I've been an overthinker, very much a perfectionist. Working with Carolyn has taught me to be a bit more feel the fear and do it anyway. I've always really admired Carolyn's bravery and drive to make things happen. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done.

00:18:34:23 - 00:18:39:20

Carolyn Tait

I’m so far from being a perfectionist!

00:18:39:21 - 00:21:23:17

Gillian Moody

It's great because it's all about action, not perfection, which is so important. Perfection is the murder of life, joy and beauty and it's a dreadful thing. There used to be so much pride around this notion of perfection. So, again, that's a topic I could talk about a lot and divorce has actually made me so much more resilient, to be honest.

I dealt with the situation I never, ever could have imagined happening, and I never imagined it. It was so far from my reality and realising that I could not only survive it, but actually thrive, has made me realise that I can pretty much achieve anything. Small things don't bother me anymore. Well, I mean, don't get me wrong, I still get massively get irritated constantly. In the bigger scheme of things, it doesn't bother me. 

Talking about risk in the context of work, I think when it comes to contingency planning to mitigate risk, it's so important to actually have on your horizon a bit of an understanding of what the potential risks are in your business and put some plans in place to deal with them.

I actually have a risk management plan drafted, but absolutely nothing has been ticked off on that list yet. I'm hoping and praying that none of those situations occur. Let's cross our fingers because we're so busy in the here now, we have this limited amount of time and we don't have a huge amount of time to spend on being proactive.

I think this is something that faces many, many small businesses and sole traders. When it comes to strategy, we're really doing a lot of work with forward thinking about a business strategy. Something like a contingency plan is a bit of a nice to have right now. Definitely necessary, but it's that balance of how you get these things done.

But saying all of that, there are obviously things that need to be taken into account, things like insurances, finances and contracts. We work with great people to to help us navigate those areas because they're definitely not just strengths that we bring to our business at all. Did I answer the question?

00:21:23:17 - 00:22:31:08

Carrie Kwan

It absolutely did. I’ve definitely heard that progress over perfection approach, there's nothing diminishing that because we do have progress in leaps and bounds. Or if it's just a little bit of progress, that's good enough as well on those days where we need to scale things back to 50% or 25% or whatever you need at that point in time.

I think you've had such a great approach in terms of that risk management plan when you're thinking through a couple of different scenarios as to what might happen. Of course, we hope for the best, but we need to plan for the worst, but hope for the best. I think that's a fantastic tip for for everyone, just to think of all those different scenarios that could play out and that just saves head space later because you have an approach that will help you through that and and you won't get stuck.

00:22:31:15 - 00:22:41:18

Carolyn Tait

I think it also saves headspace now because it stops you worrying about what would we do if this happened. You've got that sorted, so it stops you kind of getting anxious about things that might not ever happen.

00:22:43:15 - 00:23:17:21

Carrie Kwan

Great point. We need to remove as much as that of that mental load as we can. 

Now, I know Carolyn, Gillian, you're you're both avid networkers. We see you a lot on LinkedIn and you really sort of do have that community building, nurturing approach. Now, what do you look for in a digital business connection? Are you a stickler for any particular type of etiquette in this regard?

00:23:18:24 - 00:25:53:09

Carolyn Tait

Yeah, I think Gill and I really different personality types in this instance, and I'm much more inclined to use digital means to network with people. I think Gill is a really great in-person networker. She's a real extrovert. I'm a real introvert, and I find it it's not my natural habitat at all. I'm not an networker, but it's what you do, right?

For me, I have a framework because I can't just get in touch with someone and go, “Hey, how's it going? We should know each other.” It feels really unnatural to me and weird. So I have frameworks that I work from of maybe areas of business that I want to get in touch with and I make lists of people that might be handy to get in touch with.

I have little scripts for myself that I've written of what I will say to people when I get in touch with them, if I've never met them before. I'm really anal that way because it's just not natural to me at all. So for me, having that set out takes the emotion out of it for me and it makes it much less tiring an exercise to make it just part of my workday to get in touch with X number of people or whatever, that kind of thing.

But I think when it comes to meeting people on LinkedIn and all that sort of thing, I think no connection is wasted. You just never know how things go and who people know and that sort of thing. I always keep it professional and positive. 

I do note that on LinkedIn, lately I've noticed a lot of people talking about political issues and I stay well away from that. I can't believe that people on a professional networking site are talking about the things that they talk about. I think that's really incredible and obviously they don't have a business that they're trying to promote. 

But for me, it's all about just being kind and being useful. I think if I know some people that I think would benefit from knowing each other, I'll introduce them, I'll connect to them.

Just keeping it light and beneficial for everybody. Also just taking away the idea that you think you're annoying people. I think that a lot of people worry about that. I think you’re just appearing in their inbox, they can either notice you or they can not answer you, that's up to them, you've done your bit. Don't keep going back to them like every day or anything, but just keep it polite, keep it professional and then leave it. The ball's in their court after that.

00:25:54:24 - 00:27:21:19

Gillian Moody

And I'll add to that. So being a person that is much, much better in real life than I am in the digital world, the whole idea of contacting people with scripts just honestly makes me… I wouldn’t be able to find scripts, I just would know what to say. I'd be like, that doesn't fit for that person.

With my personality type, I tend to reach out and go, “Hey, hey, I know you through blah blah. Hey, can we get on a Zoom?” So I jump on zooms with people and have like a coffee meeting or otherwise in real life if I can. I make a lot of coffee meetings and trying to catch up with people. My method is a bit different and it's because I feel incredibly uncomfortable in the digital realm.I don’t understand what people are saying, I can't read nuances very well and in messaging online, I don't understand what they're meaning. So for me, I just would rather see faces and have a chat either in real life or on Zoom. 

I think it really depends on what you feel comfortable with and I love what Carolyn said about finding a framework that works for you. You know, just do what works for you and seek your way because no way is wrong. The goal is to meet as many people as possible because, like Carolyn said, no connection’s wasted.

00:27:21:19 - 00:28:39:07

Carrie Kwan

Just listening to you both talk, I can see why you're such fabulous friends and clever business co-founders and co business owners. You really do have this complimentary skill set for both aspects of your lives. I do love hearing that it’s so important to make digital networking suit you. 

We've got this phrase that we talk about, which is, a business doesn't suit business owning mothers. We need to reframe that and re own that, so make it work for you. I love that you're starting digital, but taking it into real life mode or taking into face to face mode. That's a great tip. 

Now, obviously, we we love recognizing the community of support around us it's in our name, Mums and Co, tell us about your Co, who are the men, the women, the family, the partners, the children, the community around that, that support you? How does it all work? Perhaps we can start with Gillian.

00:28:39:07 - 00:31:06:20

Gillian

I'm really passionate about community building. This is something that I have done as part of my life just naturally forever. My dad is one of the greatest salesmen that ever walked the earth and has these amazing, amazing networks of people. When I was 14, he gave me a copy of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, which I never read and back at him because I was a hormonal 14 year old and was not impressed, thinking that was what I needed in my life.

However, his skills in that way, my mum's an amazing networker. We always had big family parties, big family gatherings. Dad was part of Rotary International, has done some amazing work over the years. So for me, community, whether it's through business personally, family is incredibly important. I have a very close relationship obviously with my mum and dad, my siblings, my sister and brother, and my nieces and nephews and we do a lot of family get togethers.

I'm very lucky to have my bestie Carolyn walking beside me in my life, which is amazing. I also have two beautiful children myself who I love and I've loved the networks that I've created through the schools. I've also got a fantastic neighborhood network, which I think is one of the things that I would say is such a key thing when you are going through separation and divorce is to keep your neighbors and your friends really close.

It's a time when you need people. You need people just to drop over carton of milk because you can't get to the shops or pick up the kids or whatever that is. So that's really important to me in a business sense. I would say that Carolyn's done this incredible job in digital networking and through blogging, and we've created this amazing network there.

Then I've got my networks as well and between the two of us, we've got so many amazing women know in our corner. It's so, so fantastic. I feel really lucky to have this amazing crew around me. I also have re-partnered and have a beautiful man who supports me, which has been very unexpected and really beautiful, so I feel very blessed.

00:31:06:23 - 00:31:55:14

Lucy Kippist

Thank you, Gillian and Carolyn, for joining us on Mumbition today. If you'd like to find out more about the Divorce Women's Academy, you can find them on Instagram. If you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business phoning women just like you at mumsandco.com.au

The question is what do you love the most about running a business from your best friend?

00:31:56:21 - 00:33:07:20

Carolyn Tait

I don't know. It's really hard to pinpoint what I love the most because I love everything about running a business business with my best friend, I can't imagine doing it any other way. I think just having someone beside me the whole time who I trust with my life and can share everything with and we just know each other so well that we and you've heard us talking today about our complementary skills, which was completely unplanned and just super lucky.

Gill fills all of the gaps that I have, and I feel like I fill a good percentage of hers. Between us, we create this superpower when I'm with Gill, I feel like I'm invincible and we can achieve anything and that's not a feeling that I have on my own. 

It's fun, we laugh a lot. We achieve more than I think we could on our own, and every day is just better. She always makes lunch and she's such a good cook that the work days are always very well catered.

00:33:07:20 - 00:33:12:04

Gillian Moody

I love all of that, that's so good, thank you and I agree with everything.

Assets

Quote

We also have done a lot of work around our personal values, and I know that that might seem a strange thing to talk about when we're talking about wellbeing.

Audiogram

00:12:02:15 - 00:12:07:04

Lucy Kippist

What would be your advice, Carolyn, to a woman who might be juggling the early stages of both experiences at the moment?

00:12:08:15 - 00:14:58:00

Carolyn Tait

Well first, I tip my hat to her because she's amazing. There's a lot going on there and I think probably a lot of us, if we looked back and said, was that a good idea? We might go, “should wait.” 

We run a whole module in our divorce survival system called breakup triage, which is all about putting out the fires because there's so much that is on fire in those early stages. We know there are a lot of women in that stage who do need to do something. Maybe they haven't been working or maybe they need to up their income in a big hurry and that was certainly a situation that I was in when I separated, I was a freelance writer and I was working about two days a week and suddenly I had to pay all the bills and you really have to go from 0 to 100 really quickly. 

Little Co

The question is what do you love the most about running a business from your best friend?

00:31:56:21 - 00:33:07:20

Carolyn Tait

I don't know. It's really hard to pinpoint what I love the most because I love everything about running a business business with my best friend, I can't imagine doing it any other way. I think just having someone beside me the whole time who I trust with my life and can share everything with and we just know each other so well that we and you've heard us talking today about our complementary skills, which was completely unplanned and just super lucky.

Gill fills all of the gaps that I have, and I feel like I fill a good percentage of hers. Between us, we create this superpower when I'm with Gill, I feel like I'm invincible and we can achieve anything and that's not a feeling that I have on my own. 

It's fun, we laugh a lot. We achieve more than I think we could on our own, and every day is just better. She always makes lunch and she's such a good cook that the work days are always very well catered.

00:33:07:20 - 00:33:12:04

Gillian Moody

I love all of that, that's so good, thank you and I agree with everything.