Inspired by… Allison Tsao

Allison Tsao, Humans Who Lead

1. Tell us what this quote means to you and how it inspires you on a daily basis
This quote captures how I’ve evolved in my own life – my journey of growth. Too often, we as human beings suffer because we want to change things that are out of our control. We struggle so much because we think to ourselves, “if only I could change that person, or if only that person would listen.” What we don’t realise is if we change ourselves – our attitudes, mindsets, and behaviours – that we can actually affect real change in the world. It’s called role modelling, or as Gandhi put it, “being the change you want to see in the world”. We must focus on developing ourselves in order to contribute to the positive evolution of humanity.

2. What drove you to start your business Humans Who Lead? And you recently moved across the world to live in Australia didn’t you?!
Yes! I moved to Australia in November 2014 with two suitcases. It was a total leap of faith, I had never even been to Australia, I only knew two people in Sydney, and I didn’t have any job lined up. I had been climbing the big corporate ladder in NYC for 8 years when I realised that that life wasn’t going to be for me. Something in my soul was telling me there was something else I was meant to do and distancing myself from my NYC lifestyle would give me some space to reflect on what that was. So fast forward 3 years, I’ve been working with a boutique consulting firm in Sydney, helping organisations through transformational change. Being in executive meetings most of the time, I realised that the pain I  experienced in corporate America felt very similar in corporate Australia. People are struggling! They are stressed, so busy, and simply overwhelmed with the complexity of the world. There are just so many demands on us as humans these days, how do we make sense of it all and lead lives that are fulfilling and energising amidst all this change?

3. Miss Collective is all about helping women Level Up. Who's helped you Level Up in your career?
If you asked me this five years ago, I would have said no one. Hah! Seriously though, in my younger years, I thought I had to figure it out all on my own, and I was terrible at asking for help. I felt like “asking for help” meant I owed someone something in return. That is simply not true. My own growth has profoundly shifted how I think about asking for help. For me, it’s about two things. It’s about surrounding yourself with people who want to lift each other up and sharing who you are, vulnerabilities and all. This is why I love Miss Collective, because that’s what you’re all about! The other thing I’ve learned is that help takes on a lot of different forms. It doesn’t always have to be formal mentorship. Rather, nowadays, it seems like everyone I meet is helping me Level Up. I learn something from everyone I meet – even the people who criticise and judge. That’s not to say that I take everyone’s advice, rather, I consider it and weigh in and take on what I feel is helpful to me because I know myself.

4. How do you keep the balance between work, life and play? Do you get a chance to do anything for yourself?
Oh, isn’t this the million dollar question? There’s no such thing as balance! It’s all about integration! (Disclaimer, I wrote my thesis on work life integration). Balance assumes that something has to be traded off, it almost inherently creates a sense of guilt in that trading off. I like to look at life as an integrated dance of work, life, and play. What this practically means is that as long as I stay present in the moment and am enjoying what I am doing, I don’t think about work, life, and play as distinct and separate from one another. This, of course, isnt’ easy. Sometimes I find myself going too fast and realise I’ve gone into hyper-doing mode. That’s when I have to slow down and listen to my body. The human body, if we can pay more attention to it, is such a smart instrument that is finely tuned to tell you when you are not integrated, or not in balance.

5. What’s your go-to Podcast at the moment?
I don’t listen to podcasts (am I the only one out there?!) I’m a terrible auditory learner so my mind literally blanks out when I listen to books on tape or podcasts.

6. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Know yourself and value yourself. Once you do, your potential will be limitless.

7. Our three go to pieces of Tech at the moment are Canva, UMUN and Slack to help us be more organised and on top of things! What piece of tech are you loving that helps you work smarter not harder?
– zoom, they are awesome. We have virtual team mtgs all over the world all the time now. We record mtgs, webinars, etc. and share them on mobile and desktop. We share screens and collaborate together. For some reason, it just feels easier with zoom than it did with all the other virtual tools before it.

Inspired by… Jess Ruhfus

Jess Ruhfus, Founder, Collabosaurus

1. Tell us what this quote means to you and how it inspires you on a daily basis
I love this quote because it reminds me that success is up to me! Waiting around gets you nowhere, you need to go out there and create opportunities for yourself.

2. So other than having the best name ever (!) tell us about Collabosaurus and what drove you to start the business?
Everyone hated the name to begin with! Luckily, I stuck to my guns and I’m so happy I did - Collabosaurus is fun and memorable, and we get so many comments on it.
Collabosaurus is a matchmaking platform that helps brands grow through powerful marketing collaborations in social media, products and events. We’re a marketing tool up to 30x less expensive than other digital advertising (and much more fun, in my opinion!)
The idea came about because I was frustrated sourcing effective brand-to-brand marketing collaborations while working in PR. We were pulling together venues, caterers, goodie bag inclusions, photographers & instagram-worthy event experiences for media launch events - and it was such a time consuming, scramble of a process. Tinder was becoming popular and I thought: “how amazing would it be to have a Tinder-style platform for brand partnerships?”
Now, we have built a community of over 30,000 businesses, big and small, across fashion, beauty, lifestyle, B2B, food & beverage (and more!) in 5 countries, all looking for brand collaboration opportunities.

3. Miss Collective is all about helping women Level Up. Who's helped you Level Up in your career?
My business partner, Nick! He was heading up the development of Collabosaurus - so we had already established trust and a great working relationship - and we decided to officially become business partners about 18 months ago. Nick has a background in the financial services industry and his perspective has been extremely beneficial to the business. He motivates me and has had a huge impact on the business’ success so far.

4. How do you keep the balance between work, life and play? Do you get a chance to do anything for yourself?
Running an online software business is a 24 hour job, however over the last year I’ve made it a priority to invest in myself! I haven’t taken a holiday in the 3 years I’ve been running the business, and instead I indulge in making sure I get enough sleep, see friends at least once a week and spend quality time at home. You do have to make time for these things - I go as far as blocking it out in my calendar - but it’s 100% necessary and worth it. I work at a greater productivity level if I’m not burnt out and stressed.

5. You’ve recently started your own fabulous podcast! It’s cued up on our phones! What other podcasts are you loving at the moment?
Yes! That was such a difficult project for me - I had no idea how unnerving it was to edit hours of your own voice recording! Thankfully, I have outsourced this part of the process now haha. To check it out...
For iphone:
For android: we're searchable on the Stitcher App, otherwise you can listen to the episodes straight through their pages in
Other podcasts - there are so many! My all time favourite is How I Built This, and I also love ‘Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller’ it’s a very interesting take on communicating & presenting in an engaging way. I’m a B2B SaaS nerd, and there’s a podcast exactly for this! It’s called The Growth Hub Podcast and it interviews B2B SaaS founders, like me (although far more seasoned)

6. If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out in their career, what would it be?
Even if you’re packing event gift bags all day, you’re learning, making valuable connections, and making an impression. Do all things with the right attitude and your career will move quickly in the right direction - everyone started out running coffees and ordering office supplies, it doesn’t make you less of a person, in fact it presents a unique opportunity. When you make your way further up the ladder, you’ll also have a grateful mindset because you earned every little bit of success you achieve.

7. Our three go to pieces of Tech at the moment are Canva, UMUN and Slack to help us be more organised and on top of things! What piece of tech are you loving that helps you work smarter not harder?
Collabosaurus of course! It reduces what currently takes 6months to accomplish, down to about 3 - 5 weeks. In terms of tech, I am also obsessed with Yesware, The Dropbox App and the new ‘Send & Archive’ feature in Gmail.

Inspired by… Amie Fitt

Amie Fitt, Sparro Designs

1. Tell us what this quote means to you and how it inspires you on a daily basis
“Wing it til you bring it” was recently introduced to me by the talented Andrea Clarke (Career CEO).  It struck a chord and has become my new mantra!  So much of starting Sparro has been navigating uncharted waters. I experience at least one moment every day that either throws me a completely new challenge, or one I feel utterly unequipped to manage. Thus “Wing it…” has been a powerful and positive reminder that to succeed I need to step up, take control and keep moving forward.

2. Miss Collective is all about helping women Level Up. Who's helped you Level Up in your career?
Throughout my career, I’ve had the fortune of being surrounded by a number of remarkable colleagues who’ve inspired me to be better – to level up in my work, but also in my life at large.
Unbeknown to them, many of the most influential women in my career have been those who’ve simply lead by example. Furthermore, many of these women are those I’ve met during mascara application and chats over gym shower cubicles in the early hours of the morning. These are the women who inspire me to be the best version of myself – the ladies who are up before the sun, juggling careers, relationships and life, always striving to be the best version of themselves.

3. Tell us a bit about your amazing new business Sparro Designs? What inspired you to create it?
Proudly Australian, Sparro Designs is a brand of sleek, strong and seriously smart carry-alls for women who work, and love to workout.
Sparro exists to ease the load of women so typically caught struggling under the weight of multiple bags as they travel from the house to the gym/studio, office, dinner, and everything in between.
A Sparro Carry-All isn’t a gym bag, a work tote, laptop case or dirty laundry carrier … it’s an intricately engineered single-stop solution for all of these bags combined!
The Sparro story began when a Hong Kong (HK) adventure presented itself in late 2014. Originally from Melbourne, I’ve spent the last three or so years living in overseas with my partner – a fellow Aussie working for a large multinational company.
Before relocating, my week days were like that of many busy, working women. I was up and out of the house before sunrise, running or in the gym before heading to work. For me, exercise was critical. I needed it not only for my physical health, but to keep my mind in a good, balanced place. My morning workouts were like quality therapy sessions!
With this AM routine, I typically found myself showering at work or the gym. I’d leave home every day carrying clothes, shoes, toiletries, a hair dryer, laptop, keys, earphones, my wallet, breakfast, lunch, snacks, stuff … lots of STUFF, and lots of bags. My life in bags!
Upon settling into HK life, I quickly realised this regime was truly universal. Every busy, fitness-focused working woman I came across was carrying her life in bags. Moreover, we were all making a frustrating compromise between form and function. We’d either be using a stylish assortment of bags that looked good but were functionally useless, or an armful of functional bags that were, well, daggy.
The more fashionable bags would break under the weight of the 'life'; offering little or no room for sweaty post-workout apparel, while the more functional options were masculine or a bit ugly. Surprisingly, none appeared to be designed with women in mind (umm ... where do I put my steaming hot hair straighter or protect my lovely patent pumps?!)
So, therein lies the essence of Sparro. My mission is to offer a range of genuine, yet stylish carry-alls that consolidate the many bags we typically carry from workout to work, and everything in between.

4. How do you keep the balance between work, life and play?
Good question!  Merging work and home life has definitely required some navigating, as has finding a way to relax in the same space as that of my office. I’m not sure I do this terribly well - it’s a WIP!
After some challenging periods in the past 2 years, I’m learning that routine, exercise and sleep ARE critical (the books don’t lie!). My most productive and successful days have definitely been the ones with those boxes ticked.
I love to run and have learnt that it’s incredibly important to my mental health. While living in HK, I really struggled to run – the climate was far from ideal. Since moving to Chicago in late 2017, I’ve ‘levelled-up’ my running again, and have noticed significant emotional and physical improvements as a result. The simple act of getting outdoors and clearing the head does wonders for productivity!
Living overseas and away from family and friends has added another layer to the challenge of all things ‘balance’. While being away has afforded me solid focus time when i’ve needed it most, I’ve definitely missed my nearest and dearest. I’m looking forward to building my Chicago and US based network in 2018!

5. With your jam packed lifestyle I’m sure you’ve got some great Spotify playlists or Podcasts lined up to keep you motivated! What's on your playlist at the moment?
I get great energy from hearing stories from women doing amazing things in business and life. The #NoFilter Podcast hosted by Mia Freedman is a fave, as is Rachel Corbett’s You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere.
Music wise, I’m listening to a Spotify playlist called Acoustic Covers A LOT! This subdued but familiar music seems to get me in the zone and stay focussed!

6. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Only one?! Hmm, I’d most definitely encourage myself to “consider and embrace alternate life adventures” rather than be scared by them.
I’m (very!) conservative by nature, a forward-planner who generally opts for all things safe, comfortable and familiar by default. However through recent leaps of faith and embracing associated bumps along the way, I’ve learnt these adventures are the most rewarding ones. I’ve surprised myself, emerged stronger, more resilient, more capable than I ever thought possible. I also have a greater sense of who I am, what I REALLY want from life, and now trust that things have a way of working out.

7. Our three go to pieces of Tech at the moment are Canva, UMUN and Slack to help us be more organised and on top of things! What piece of tech are you loving that helps you work smarter not harder?
Living abroad and working across multiple time zones, Meeting Planner by has been a savoir! Without it, my head seriously spins coordinating meetings with contacts in Chicago, Hong Kong, LA and Melbourne.

Inspired by… Sheree Rubinstein

Sheree Rubinstein, CEO, One Roof

1. Tell us what this quote means to you and how it inspires you on a daily basis
Regardless of whether you run your own business or work for someone else, I believe we should all act and think like an entrepreneur. An  entrepreneur thinks outside the box, they take risks, they innovate, they think about the future and the way the world of work is changing, they listen and observe, they test and learn, they are resourceful, they work towards solving big problems in meaingful ways. We have this quote splashed across one of the walls at One Roof. We recognise that it is hard to be and act like an entrepreneur and it can most of the time feel like falling of a cliff but it’s also exhilarating and game changing. We encourage our members and our community to think fast, act smart and build products and services that are of real value and drive positive change.

2. What drove you to start your business OneRoof? What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about business since starting it?
I began my career working as a corporate lawyer and felt frustrated by the lack of gender equality that exists in business, leadership and entrepreneurship. I questioned what success looks like for me as an ambitious woman. With passion, determination and courage I left my stable career and dived into the crazy world of entrepreneurship. I created One Roof to remove the barriers that exist for women to succeed in business. One Roof’s vision is to be the #1 trusted brand for women starting and growing successful businesses around Australia. One Roof aims to have female-centric co-working spaces in most major cities around Australia in the next 5 years providing everything women-led businesses need to thrive and succeed all under one roof.
The most suprising thing for me in running One Roof has been that I have been able to work my way through any situation no matter how hard, challenging or unfamiliar. One of the first things a mentor told me when starting One Roof was “get comfortable with being completely uncomfortable… all the time”. And it is so true. I am faced with new challenges and unknown territory on a regular basis. Whether it’s opening or closing a co-working space, splitting up with a business partner, hiring or talking to potential investors. I learn by doing and by asking people I trust and respect for their advice. There have been many challenges along the way and I have always found a way to push through and find resilience in the process.'


3. Miss Collective is all about helping women Level Up. Who has helped you Level Up in your career?
From the moment I started One Roof I have surrounded myself with individuals who help me level up. I would never be where I am and One Roof would never have had the kind of success it has achieved to date without the mentorship and support of like-minded people who have experience and share a similar passion to me. Gianna Wurzl, whom I started One Roof with and now runs an amazing business called Quilt ( has been a guiding light for me. I never would have started a business without a partner like Gianna and even though we are no longer business partners we continue to support one another, our respective businesses and our common passion to help women thrive. Catriona Wallace, Alison Hardacre, Kaitlin Tait and Kerri Lee Sinclaire who are all ambitious, intelligent and bold women working in the startup sphere have been incredible role models and mentors to me. All the Founders who work out of One Roof have helped both me and One Roof to level up. Last but not least my partner Rodney Janover and my family who have all been so supportive of everything I do. They are there to talk through ideas and challenges with me and we have spent countless weekends working on One Roof together. Without a tribe of supporters One Roof wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t be where I am!

4. How do you keep the balance between work, life and play?

I am a hard worker and have to I am working on or thinking about my business most of the time. And it’s important to note I absolutely love what I do. I live and breathe One Roof and wake up every day excited about what we have created so far and the direction we are going in. That said, I of course have to have plenty of down time and time for play. Every morning I go for a walk and have a coffee before I start my day. I love walking. I exercise 2-3 times per week. I try to meditate as much as possible. At the moment my meditation practice is about 3 times per week for 20min at a time. I love reading and often read before I go to bed. I just finished Sarah Wilson’s book “First, we make the beast beautiful”  hich I highly recommend. Next I am going to read Sapions by Yuval Noah Harari. I love listening to podcasts while I walk and in particular I am drawn to Tim Ferris. I also love hiking, camping, cooking big dinners with friends and bbqs in the park when it’s good weather. I love going out in Melbourne. It’s such a fun city with great cultural and dining experiences. I love travelling and I spend a lot of time in Mullumbimby and Byron Bay. In running my own business, even though I work a lot, I have the flexibility to spend time travelling and working from different places. Tim Ferris calls this lifestyle design – designing how you live and where you want to spend your time.

5. What's playing on the OneRoof’s Spotify playlist at the moment?
Triple J is a go-to for the One Roof playlist. Favourite artists at the moment:
- Chet Faker
- Boney M. (love the Song “Sunny”)
- Avalanches
- Lord
- Vance Joy
- And have actually been playing the Garden State playlist lately

6. If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
“Always be curious. Forever continue to learn. Your passion for supporting women and love of meeting people will guide you. Sit in the hard times as that’s when you grow the most. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

7. Our three go to pieces of Tech at the moment are Canva, UMUN and Slack to help us be more organised and on top of things! What piece of tech are you loving that helps you work smarter not harder?
- Asana for task management
- Gain for social media management
- We are about to move to Active Campaign for our CRM tool and I know this will be game
changing for the team and the business

Be scared – but do it anyway

One of my favourite parts of Miss Collective and SheSays events is meeting amazing women during the pre-event drinks and networking. Last week at our Female Founders event with Cyan Ta’eed, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting brilliant women from all sorts of sectors and professions – IT, data analysis, tech start ups, digital agency and even a business owner in the niche medical tourism field! Networking doesn’t come naturally to me but I’ve never felt intimidated at our events – somehow, without fail, our attendees are consistently friendly and interesting to talk to.

But moving on to the main event – the super-smart and super-successful Cyan Ta’eed, co-founder and executive director of digital marketplace Envato. Which is basically a one-stop shop for everything people need for their creative projects.

Cyan and her husband Collis have built a worldwide success with Envato over the past 10 years, and the story of their journey is equally as inspiring as hearing about the leadership that Cyan and Collis continue to deliver to their organisation in it’s quite unique culture.

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