League of Extraordinary Women – Jane Harbison


Jane Harbison

Jane Harbison

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

No typical day, really. Last week was book week. We have just published a first of its kind mini-cookbook, with 12 recipes from 12 awesome girls (under 15). We spoke to over 500 kids about the process of self-publishing a book for the first time during book week. Did this with a number of the girls in the book who had participated in our Profit Share Program.
– Book launch
– Morning ABC radio interview
– Setup a new shop website to improve user experience
– Book in a 3 day session to automate a lot of my communications with existing and potential customers to increase conversion rate, avg $ spend and database size before my baby comes!
– Putting together a partnership proposal to an internationally distributed magazine for publishing opportunity for the girls who are members of our Blog
– Did a photoshoot with Adelaide, a 7 y/o and her horse Taffy, for a blog post on “Caring” – one of our 6 words we use to categorise all our blog content.
-Bookkeeping most Fridays (my background is accounting & commerce) – only recently have become a designer. I am also Deputy Chair of an all girls school and sit on a advisory Board of a Sport Ethics consultancy in Melbourne.
– Talk to our cat, ‘Crumble’ – he is a chocolate Burmese – named after one of my favourite chocolate bars, Violet Crumble. If we have a girl cat we will call her Violet.

What are your guiding principles?

There must be a sense of joy and freedom in everything we do and create.
Uncomplicated – simplicity in how and what we create
Opportunity may only happen once – seize it
The girls do it, we don’t do it for them
Thoughtfulness – in every sense of the word
Joy & Freedom – Freedom & a preparedness to take risks comes from confidence. Confidence comes from ‘doing’.

How do you make yourself more productive?

Afternoon naps

What are your top resources when you’re in a need of creative inspiration?

Sharing my ideas with my husband Peter
Catchup with friends
A walk
Doing things with the girls we seek to give opportunity to – they have such great energy

What mindsets helped make you successful?

Comfortable with change
Enjoy people – particularly those who are interested, not just interesting
Quiet confidence

What do you do to challenge your underlying beliefs, paradigms and assumptions?

Reflect. I often ask myself why do I believe that? If I can’t answer this in a way that is aligned with my values then I have to question it. My participation in the St James Ethics Centre’s Vincent Fairfax Fellowship taught me how to do this.

If you wanted to create an environment where motivation can thrive, what’s the first thing you would do?

Be the example I want to see in the world.

Which person of influence, dead or alive, would you like to have as a mentor and why?

The capacity to influence is how I define leadership – The capacity to influence for the betterment of mankind is how I define good leadership. There are simply too many to mention.

What book would you most recommend and why?

I am currently reading ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg – I am enjoying it. Parts resonate, particularly when I have sat on boards.

Did you have any ‘entrepreneurial experiences’ as a child?

My grand-mother exposing me to shares, my parents speaking to me about money and the value of it, being resourceful on our property, allowed to be independent from a young age.

If you count home made lemonade stalls on a dirt road, where approximately two cars an hour would drive along and not be disheartened by it, then yes. But no not major experiences. It is one of the reasons I am keen to give rural kids incredible experiences as part of Dreaming Big for Little Girls.

What do you find most exciting about being an entrepreneur?

If entrepreneur is defined around an approach to leadership then I love the diversity of opportunities that comes with fulfilling our purpose. I love seeking out opportunities for the girls – providing a platform from which they can ‘do’ stuff, because who knows where that may lead them.

What things about entrepreneurship do you struggle to understand?

Sometimes people not seeing how big I see it. But that just means I need to communicate it better. So far I haven’t run into too many problems with this venture.

What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?

It will take you 1-2 years to crystallise your purpose – your why. Once you do that it becomes so much easier. It takes that long because you’re testing it the whole time. It is good to have financial backers – no matter what form that may come in – because traditionally it costs more and takes longer than you think. Don’t forget traditional media. It’s influential.

What has been your biggest sacrifice or challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was getting really solid on my purpose.

What has been your most effective marketing tactic or strategy?

Involving the girls I normally design for in the products I create.

How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?

I don’t know if I am a lot different from others that want the best for the next generation of women. We are sincere and purposeful with an element of excitement in what we do. These girls get published, get interviewed for front page of newspaper, present at book launches, share their story in front of 100s of their peers, get talked about on national radio. People hear about what they are doing and get excited for them – they want to support them and come along for the ride. This breeds confidence in these young girls.

What systems/apps/organisational tools have you used to automate your business to give you more time for planning & development?

WordPress and woo-commerce – after using something else for 2 years. Zapier to integrate some of my applications. I am about to install Infusionsoft to automate much of my communications ( I have used MailChimp up until now.) My notebook and felt tip pen – I put my thoughts down on paper – a lot. I have been able to access some fantastic people to provide services and advice. I like Jim Rohn’s quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

What is the most courageous thing you’ve done in business?

You would have to ask others who have observed such behaviour. I don’t consider starting and driving business a brave thing to do. Although I must admit I have only recently got comfortable with the idea that what I am doing could be a success. i.e. I don’t have a fear of failure – I have a fear of success.

How do you deal with failure?

Disappointed, then change tact.

Looking back, what would you do differently?

Spend even more time working out why I am doing what I am doing. Gosh this informs so much – the ideas, the products, the market just makes more sense – it becomes easier. For the first year I designed a range of gifts for girls – still centred around ‘doing’ – notebooks for drawing/learning, cards for caring, canvases for bedroom dreaming etc. But this year we wanted to create something tangible and lasting that involved the girls we normally designed for. This is how we came up with our mini cookbook.

What do you love the most about what you do now?

How excited the girls get about what they are doing.

What does female empowerment mean to you and why is it important?

I am often asked – why do you just focus on girls? Throughout my career I have been and am currently, involved in a number of organisations associated with supporting girls and women. Girls and women can significantly influence the wellbeing of all societies and we think they naturally do this collaboratively – establishing ground swells and momentum. This often requires resilience and an anything is possible attitude – this is where confidence resides. Our big long-term picture is to be able to be significant supporters of programs around the world that contribute to the wellbeing of girls and women. To do that effectively we need our thoughtful products and projects to be experienced everywhere.

Do you follow any health/wellness/family routines you would recommend to other female entrepreneurs?

I am just trying to stay well and not get too tired for our first little baby due at Xmas / New Year. I haven’t changed my routine all that much. I eat pretty well and do a little bit of exercise 🙂

Words of Wisdom / Personal Quote:

Change occurs through setting an example of excellence.

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