Last week I had the privilege to present a 7 minute keynote at NSW Leaders about my leadership journey with Twinlife Marketing. It was a challenge to condense all the learnings of this amazing business adventure into 7 minutes as there is so much to talk about, but somehow I made it work.
When you love what you do, perceived obstacles become manageable and the challenge becomes fun: a way to grow, learn adaptability, a trigger for progression.
If you’d prefer to read the text, please continue:
“Going against the odds, adventure and taking risks, that has been the story of my life. In 2001, Arjen, my husband and I left the comforts of our stable corporate life in the Netherlands to go travelling around the world. During this time we had very few possessions, but we had an abundance of unforgettable experiences. This adventure taught us that you don’t need much to be happy.
During our travels, we fell in love with Sydney. We arrived in sept 2002 with a 3-month tourist visa, $800 in our pocket and a determination to make it work. Before we knew it we scored a sponsorship and two corporate jobs. This taught us that you can do anything you want, you just have to believe in yourself and give it your best shot.
Exactly 7 Years later, in Sept 2008 (there must be something to say for the 7 year itch), I was starting to feel restless again. The year before, Arjen and I had become parents of beautiful identical twin boys. They made a big impact on our life, but most of all they changed my whole perspective on life.
I was quite exhausted of being on the corporate treadmill and I was over politics and working for businesses that were more interested in keeping share holders happy than looking after their people. In summary I craved a more fulfilling life. I decided to pursue my dream of setting up my own business.
After some soul searching, I realised that the essence of my happiness boils down to one thing: quality relationships. This starts with having a quality relationship with yourself and from there on it flows through to the people around you and the wider community.
I also realised that quality relationships have always been the essence of my marketing success, as in my view marketing is about creating meaningful long-term quality relationships with staff, clients, prospects and the wider community.
I founded Twinlife Marketing and brought this philosophy of quality relationships in combination with high-level strategic marketing expertise to the SME business world in a practical way, in bite sized options and with the aim to educate and transfer marketing knowledge and skills, helping our clients build a valuable market-driven business.
Some of our first clients are still with us today and have become great friends. I couldn’t be happier.
Very soon though I learned that I had very limited capacity and being on my own was kind of boring, so I started building up a team of highly talented and experienced marketers who also craved a more fulfilling life.
I ran the whole business based on trust. We all worked from home and at clients and our team meetings were in my living room. This worked really well for a while, until I started to make some mistakes.
Looking back at it, I think my biggest mistake was in recruiting some people with the wrong cultural fit. As you can imagine these recruitment mistakes not only had an effect on the business, but had a big effect on me as a person. I must admit, I started to act a little out of fear, whereas I was used to act out of love and I started to question this whole trust thing.
So I brought in systems & processes and a business structure and control mechanisms and started to focus on $$. I even scrapped the living room meetings for a while. It was an absolute necessary step for us and I am really glad we did it as it brought in a whole new level of professionalism that we needed for growth, but I also realised that our purpose and culture are equally important.
I am very happy to say that over the past few years, we’ve been able to find the right combination of purpose, culture and strategy.
What have we done, what have we learned and where are we going?
I believe that having a great company starts with being a great leader. Striving for greatness starts with continuously improving and working on yourself. This is my highest priority day in and day out. I also regularly evaluate whether Twinlife Marketing is still the right vehicle for me to live a fulfilling life and whether I am the best person to lead the business.
The second thing is clarity of purpose. We are 100% committed to creating better work life and helping our clients build valuable market-driven businesses. Everything we do, and everybody within our business is completely aligned with this. This is our guiding light that helps us stay on track, make the right decisions faster and keeps me balanced.
Thirdly, I have surrounded myself with people who have complimentary skills to myself. I’ve build up a diverse and talented leadership team, who are driving the success of Twinlife Marketing. Once you have those people, it is about letting go, empowering them and trusting that they will look after your business as well as you do.
Fourthly, our work values are our personal values. We are all bound together by our common values of respect, trust and caring, as well as the values of how we deliver our work in a truthful, practical and inspirational way. These values have been the base of building quality relationships with each and every one of our marketing consultants and clients.
Fifthly, strategy and systems are important. With the support of Joanne, we’ve developed a bullet proof recruitment and induction process, as well as an ongoing mentoring and marketing education & innovation program for our marketing consulting team and our clients are benefiting from this.
And last but not least, I’ve given myself and my team permission to make mistakes, as long as we learn from this.
Deep in my heart I know that this sustainable model that we’ve created and gives both clients and marketers a great outcome and enriches lives works very well in Sydney and in Australia. I am now exploring how to take this model internationally, so that people in places like Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, New York, Chicago and San Francisco can also benefit from this.
The only way to find out is to try it and go for it, as I believe that life truly starts at the end of your comfort zone.”
Tags: business leadership, business strategy, leadership