What Mia Freedman taught me about being a vulnerable woman

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I am really excited because I just saw Mia Friedman, founder of MamaMia, speak for October Business Month.  She shared her story of starting out as a work experience girl at Cleo magazine to becoming the co-founder of Australia’s largest women’s media companies.

I just got so much from her talk and I wanted to share just some of the gems I took away.

Yes, her success story is inspiring, however, she reminded women in the room, that we are continually marinating, (I loved that term that she used) in this constant barrage of imagery of unrealistic, barbie-esque women.  It’s around us everywhere, not only in advertising, movies, and magazines but in social media and now Instagram.

Everything seems to be falsely defined by hashtags.  Our friends, colleagues and idols share the glossy side of their life with #winning hashtags.

Mia reminded us to consider what it is like to walk in another woman’s shoes.  What’s it really like to be her? It’s not always as rosy as it seems.

What really resonated with me though, was this strong reminder “The #1 mistake women make is comparing our behind-the-scene lives with other people’s highlight reel.”

We constantly try to present this perfect façade, to mirror the perfect façade presented to us.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I have compared myself to others success and felt defeated. Throughout her talk, she constantly presented images of her success. However what I absolutely loved was that she counterbalanced this with images of her being completely real, completely vulnerable.  She shared with us the beautiful images created by a magazine to show her idyllic life of blogging at home.  They set dressed her lounge room, even bringing a coffee cup to match her outfit and photoshopping dangly earrings.  She finished her talk by showing us a picture of what she typically looks like, even commenting she looked like this half an hour ago in her hotel room.  The image showed her with hair tossed back in a tie, no makeup, a teabag hanging out of a random cup while she worked at her computer, trying to free her hands with a sandwich in her mouth.

Mia reminded us that not only do other women judge us, but we judge ourselves. For example, people saying she chose her career over motherhood.  No. Women are constantly having to make choice in the moment, to prioritise things over and over, sometimes two or three times in the day.  Sometimes, those choices evolve out of necessity.

Although I know it to be true, I was reminded once again that success is about showing the human side of yourself, whether it’s following the Simon Sinek principle of “your Why” or showing a side of you that says “hey, I’m not perfect, I’m just like you. If  I can do this, so can you. Let me show you how.”

It reaffirmed for me a recent experience.  I have recently taken over from a highly experienced performer and MC hosting musical bingo at Uncles Tavern in Alice Springs. It’s a great opportunity to showcase my MC skills, to practice thinking on the spot, my spontaneity, to work an audience and to get my name out there.  The previous MC had trained me on how to manage the audio mixing board, how to load the musical tracks and the general run of the show. However, last week, I was faced with the daunting task of mastering this on my own, with no familiar, supporting faces in the crowd.

I made a few little mistakes.  I didn’t have my level set properly and when I played the first track, I nearly burst the eardrums of everyone in the room. It was quite embarrassing. When I finally got the music playing, I was playing the wrong playlist.  Someone had to come up and say I think you playing seventies music but our bingo sheet is disco. No one is getting any hits!

I was also struggling at first to get my mic levels right, forgetting to turn it up before speaking.

I really came across quite ditzy, or so I felt I presented. Yet I really connected with the audience because I was being vulnerable.  People came up and told me what a great night they had, and someone came up and bought me a drink, because they’d had such a fantastic time. Other’s committing to coming next week. The next day, I felt mortified. I compared myself to this image of what I should have been like. Who could I turn to for consolation? I spoke to the original MC, to share my story.

When I told him how dreadful I’d been, he reminded me that people had enjoyed me being human and genuine. The stuff ups I’d made were common and he too had been the same way until he’d got into the swing of things and learnt from the mistakes. An important part of the process.

So back to Mia. I found myself slightly slipping into the slump of comparison, as she showed herself standing next to Malcolm Turnball, rubbing shoulders with the elite and of an award she had won. Mia then showed us, a picture of herself, the night she won the award. She was home, in the shower, holding a bowl of cornflakes, while eating her dinner.

I laughed. I realised the women I raise on pedestals, are just like me; human and vulnerable and when they show that side of themselves, I like them even more. I made a commitment that from this point forward, I will make my blogs more human and more vulnerable, just like you.

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About the Author:

Barbara Clifford - The Time Tamer Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management & stress management enthusiast based in Alice Springs, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things.  She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia.  Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships. Follow Barbara on Twitter @barbclifford. 


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