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Fireside Chat with SheEO Founder Vicki Saunders + Mikaela Jade of Indigital

“What I realized was, if I was sitting with all this trauma around my business and what I wanted to do, and not being able to take the next step in my head, then I was actually not benefiting the thousands of First Nations kids around the world that we want to work with.”

— Mikaela Jade, founder of Indigital

In this episode

This special episode of the SheEO.World podcast was recorded live at the 2021 Australian Summit. Join Mikaela Jade, founder of SheEO Venture Indigital, for a fireside chat with SheEO founder Vicki Saunders. They talk about creating the conditions needed for entrepreneurs to thrive, and the importance and challenges of doing things differently.

They also discuss:

  • Mikaela’s SheEO community experience
  • How Indigital was able to get valuable support from SheEO Development Guide MJ Ryan
  • Growing her team from 1 to 10 people
  • Paving the way and taking down barriers for others
  • Learning and practicing Ask/Give to receive and give support

We invite you to join us as an Activator at SheEO.World.

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Podcast Transcript:

The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).

Mikaela Jade 0:00
What I realized was, if I was sitting with all this trauma around my business and what I wanted to do, and not being able to take the next step in my head, then I was actually not benefiting the thousands of First Nations kids around the world that we want to work with.

Vicki Saunders 0:17
Welcome to SheEO.World podcast, where you’ll meet women and non-binary folks who are transforming the world to be more equitable and sustainable. I’m your host, Vicki Saunders.

Vicki Saunders 0:35
Hey, Mik, how are you?

Mikaela Jade 0:36
Hi, good. Thank you. Sorry, just before we go on, I forgot to acknowledge the beautiful artwork that’s behind me, it’s by Maggie-Jean Douglas.

Vicki Saunders 0:44
Stunning. It’s absolutely beautiful. And I’m coming to you today from Treaty 13 In Canada, and I can feel all of my — the generations of grandmothers behind me. My mother passed in the second year of SheEO. And she gave me this unbelievable binder of all the incredible women who came before me, and, and said that you are here to create conditions for women in this world that your grandmothers weren’t able to do, they had so much power, and but they weren’t living in a time where they could actually share it in a way that the world needed to see. So this is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about SheEO. We’re living in a world that’s not designed by us or for us. And it’s we are so desperately needed, the leadership, our fresh ideas or dreams. So I’m super, super thrilled to be here with you today Mik, to talk a little bit about your experience in this community, because I just for those who don’t know anything about me, I have been an entrepreneur my whole life and spent most of my life thinking very, very differently with a very different vision for the kind of world I wanted to live in than the one I was living in. And as an entrepreneur trying to put these ideas out into the world that were so different, I was constantly poked at for what, you know, that doesn’t make sense. You can’t do it that way. That’s not how business is done, you should lead this way. And it took a long time for me to like break through and build my confidence to know that in fact, the way that everyone is teaching us to be is not serving anyone.

Mikaela Jade 2:14
Yeah, I fully agree.

Vicki Saunders 2:17
Yeah. So what’s it like to be in a place that is a little bit different than some other communities tell? Tell us a little bit about your SheEO experience.

Mikaela Jade 2:24
So my SheEO experience started, actually with a big ass-whooping from Julie Trell, whohad brought SheEO to Australia and was very, very insistent that I become part of a community. So I actually started off as an Activator. And I spent my last $1,200 that I had in the bank of my business on becoming an Activator, because I thought, well, this has got to be worth just putting my last money into because, you know, what else am I gonna do with $1,200. And I felt really, like I needed to invest it in other people’s businesses. And maybe I would learn a little bit along the way. And it was just me at the time in my company Indigital. And the second year, Julie, again, asked me to apply as a Venture. And I thought no way, there’s no way I could do that, I didn’t feel ready. I, it was just me. I didn’t have a team of people. All I had was a piece of technology and some experience running it in community across Australia. But yeah, it was still in its infancy, I was very not confident in what I was doing. And I was still actually working full time as a park ranger. So I did apply, I wasn’t selected the first time and then I applied again the next year and was selected as a Venture and was really grateful to be in a community of women who were all going through a similar journey to me. And for the first time I kind of sat back and I’m not alone and all the things I’m doing is not wrong. The way I feeling about running a business is not wrong. And I get to be in the driver’s seat. And I think that the building of my confidence was something I couldn’t have done without SheEO cuz yeah, I just I really needed confidence in what I was doing.

Vicki Saunders 2:53
Yeah, I mean, this is this is really, but do we really like when you’re in the right environment? No, like, I think we keep thinking that we need to have confidence because we’re living in a world that’s like, trying to take it out of us all the time. But let’s go right into the you’ve got some good stories from your work with MJ. Let’s just kind of start there that you’ve grown from one to 10 people.

Mikaela Jade 4:40

Vicki Saunders 4:42
So tell us a bit about how she’s supported that.

Mikaela Jade 4:45
So as I mentioned before, I really didn’t know what I was doing, Vicki. I think that’s particularly symptomatic of being a public servant as well. Because I never had to bring in money. And I don’t know how to build a team of staff that would be there. Because I invited them to share in a big dream and vision that I’d held for so long. And so being able to work with MJ was incredible in, like working out, how do I make my first hire? And then when Joe came on board, the first person I hired, we both met with MJ every, every fortnight and went through, how do you set up a business? How do you recruit people and what I like some of the things that we were going through at the start to like we had a bit of trauma in our company to start with, and being able to have a mentor who was, is just so incredible as MJ to help us through all those things, and just ground truth, how we were thinking about it and give us other things to think about. It was really fantastic to have MJ support and help us build the team and get back on our feet.

Vicki Saunders 5:50
I think one of the things, Mik and I were talking before, and one of the things she said Is she wanted to have five weeks off over the holidays or Christmas. And like, I do that, is that, okay, that’s what I want to do. And MJ’s like, well, of course, I and I, I get those texts too, from entrepreneurs, I really need a break, is it okay, if I take a vacation, I’m like, you’re an entrepreneur, you pick this life, you can do whatever you want. But, you know, if you’re actually surrounded by some more traditional business advisors, or like, you can’t, you haven’t hit your targets yet, you need to do X. And so this is definitely a place where there’s permission to take care of yourself.

Mikaela Jade 6:27
Yes, and our team and something different that we did as well. And talking to MJ was we put out our first goal, the company was to support our team. And she’s like, Oh, that’s different. But she gave us the the advice and support around what we’d need to do that. So that’s maintained a priority. But we we have that as a priority in our companies, the team sort of come first and then being able to have the five week leave at Christmas, we we talk through that with MJ and we gift this to our team every year now because it was so successful, and just allowing everyone to have that five weeks where, like I knew because the people we were working with were so driven and motivated and believed in what we were doing that they actually wouldn’t shut off if we didn’t shut the company. So we’re we decided to shut the company.

Vicki Saunders 7:20
You have a lot of that experience as well. I mean, it’s really like a forced break. Because this work never ends, right. So one other thing, and I know we don’t have a lot of time here, but there’s a couple more things I want to get to one is, I can’t imagine what it feels like as an entrepreneur, to like you have an idea. You have a vision, it feels really sensible to you. And this is something that really makes sense. And then you go out in the world and you get lots of feedback that maybe that’s kind of crazy, or what are you doing. And that SheEO the first entry point in is, like, dozens and dozens of women vote for you and validate you and say this is incredible. How can I help? What does that feel like?

Mikaela Jade 8:02
It feels overwhelming at first. And I think I think I’m not alone in that feeling where you’ve you knocked on the doors till your knuckles have bled and not gotten much traction. And then to have hundreds of women turn around and say actually, this has got legs and we’re investing in you and we’re helping you as well, like, the investment is great. But the help is worth like 10 times the financial support that SheEO provides Ventures like yeah, we couldn’t I mean, it’s, I always say it’s not kind of help you come buy.

Vicki Saunders 8:36
Very true. Yeah.

Mikaela Jade 8:37
Yeah. And just having such an easy way to network with other women who can support you and also who you can support. I think that’s something that I’m really excited. Now having run the gauntlet and waded through the middle molasses of trying to set something up. I’m really excited to be able to share our experience with other people now and you know, it might not be valid, or it might, but if we can help a little than we, or a lot, we’d love to do that.

Vicki Saunders 8:39
That’s so great. Okay, so last thing I want to go to, and this, this is a really hard thing that we work on all the time, which is asking for help. And, you know, lots of us, you know, we’re like, oh, she’s too busy. I know, she said she wanted to help, but I don’t know, she really meant it. Can you talk a little bit about building your ask muscle and was that hard?

Mikaela Jade 9:26
And about building the Ask muscles like, oh my gosh, I think I’m gonna find this really terrifying. The first time that I asked people through the network, I was like, knocked over with support and, and then the next time I got a little bit more courage, a little bit more courage to keep on asking and now it’s like any thing that I go to any meeting that I’m going to I’m flexing that ask muscle because what I realized was if I was sitting with all this trauma around my business and what I wanted to do and not being able to take the next step in my head, then I was actually not benefitting the thousands of First Nations kids around the world that we want to work with. So having that confidence to ask and then see the response from the SheEO community was phenomenal. And that really gave me the confidence to be able to step forward and ask and not just and stop dealing with all the stuff that was going on in my head, like I was having really poor sleep, and yeah, mental health challenges because I couldn’t work out how to do things, because I hadn’t done them before. And I know asking for help seems so obvious, but it’s something I don’t I don’t know if it was my upbringing, or, like the community I grew up with. But, you know, it felt like shame to ask for help. Whereas this community’s really turned that around for me, really grateful for having that skill.

Vicki Saunders 10:46
Now, thank you. There’s a lot of deconditioning here. And so for those who don’t know this, we do this regular process of asking for support from one another and giving what we can. And it really it is an unwinding of the scarcity isolation have to do it all by yourself, taking us to this place where it really feeds our soul to help one another. This is the whole point of the human condition. In 30 seconds, because this is the last thing and we I just saw, there’s a question in here. How developed was your business when it applied to be included? And this just came in from Oh, everything just jump forward? Catherine has asked this question how developed your business when you came in?

Mikaela Jade 11:23
Well, so it was really developed in my head. Actually, now I look back and like, Oh, God, no, we were we were very underdeveloped in all the key areas like, you know, HR, no idea about that. No idea about raising funds or capital or support. It was myself and Joe had just joined as we went to the SheEO Summit. So there was two of us trying to work out how we work together. I mean, I didn’t even have a job description where I’m like, please just come and work with me. I don’t know what you’re gonna do. It’ll be great. And then, yeah, so very underdeveloped, I’d have to say.

Vicki Saunders 12:03
Okay, great. But I do like your answer, because I feel the same way. I haven’t buried a concept. It’s just not written down anywhere. Yes. I’ve got it. Well, thank you very much, Mike. It was wonderful talking to you.

Mikaela Jade 12:14
Thank you.

Vicki Saunders 12:15
Thank you.

Vicki Saunders 12:19
Thank you for listening to the SheEO.World podcast. Like, comment, subscribe, and share this podcast with your friends. We invite you to join a global community of radically generous women and non binary folks at SheEO.World.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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