Statement of Intent

Someone told me once that your professional life only make sense when you look back on it. Though I may be only 10 years in, I find this to be very much the case for my fledgling career. My key areas of interest are ethics, economics and the places of intersection between these two seemingly disparate disciplines. I’m obsessed by why we do what we do, why we often do what is easy rather than what is good, and how we can begin to do things better. I want to explore how macro forces impact on our personal lives, and how our individual values shape the systems that govern us. I want to encourage others to be active participants in their own decision making. And I want to actually do things that go against the common belief that business and ethics cannot coexist.

My inclination has always been to try and make sense of things, and I’ve played with a bunch of different roles and approaches to try and get right to the core of it. My professional background is as a community strategist – bringing people together around a central issue, initiative or organisation using a mix of traditional communications (public relations, marketing, and events) and digital communications (social media, video, community management strategies). Alongside this though, I’m a writer and researcher and I’ve had my work published in a diverse range of print and online publications.

I spent several years embedded in the local fashion industry, developing a reputation as a thought leader for ethics and sustainability in the sector. I assembled an online community of more than 600 people working in fashion, who are working on initiatives or businesses focused on sustainability. I carved out a niche for myself in the industry, acting as an advisor, speaker, lecturer and project contractor to key industry groups (the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, RMIT University, The Spirit of the Black Dress, Melbourne Bike Fest, Melbourne Tweed Ride, The City of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Fashion, the Clothing Exchange, Kangan Institute). Even now, more than 18 months after I made the decision to leave the sector, I’m often approached to mentor and advise businesses and individuals still working through the complexities of the sector.

My work in the fashion industry allowed me to gain a strong understanding of a complex system, and a preliminary idea of how global economic systems create positive and/or negative outcomes for huge number of people around the world. My decision to leave the sector came from the realisation that the fashion sector is just a microcosm of the larger economic system. I left in search of bigger leverage points.

Right now, I’m really interested in how economics intersects with philosophy, social and cultural theory, and politics, and how it has emerged as the dominant theoretical framework for human systems. I’m acutely aware that where Law might have once been the discipline that governed us, the flow of capital through international markets now serves that a more important role as the law struggles to keep up and effectively regulate.

I fundamentally believe that the field of economics is at a very interesting junction point, and that consumer awareness (facilitated by digital communication) is forcing business and government to change they way they administer economic policy so that it serves the people as a global collective, rather than a privileged few. I am inspired by a business sector that is focusing on new approaches that hold collective benefit as the highest priority (shared value, Benefit Corporations, completely transparent reporting). I believe that active consumers can have a positive impact, but I also think that consumption isn’t going to solve our biggest problems – this is where strategic, practical and ambitious changes will play a role. I’m frustrated by a global political structure that is completely inadequate when it comes to solving the complex problems we’ve created. I’m intrigued by the fact that what we now call “economic theory” was once considered to have more in common with philosophy, than its current perceived companions “finance” and “business”. I firmly believe that our biggest challenges will be solved by people who understand that creativity and strategic thinking are not opposed but complementary. (And that’s why I followed my Bachelor of Arts (French) with a Commerce Masters, and a Graduate Diploma of Economics, and it’s also why I looked for different kinds of training that don’t play to this false dichotomy with the likes of Centre for Sustainability Leadership Fellowship Program and the RMIT Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program.)

At 28, my long term professional goal is to use a mix of economics, philosophy and social theory to answer questions that are important to all of us, and to do so in a way that engages those who might not typically be interested in the big questions. I’d like to combine my skills in communications, digital and community strategy to bring cross-disciplinary academic research to the masses, and to find creative ways to engage and interact with the public around these big ideas.

For me, the final piece of the puzzle is our ability to take a global perspective. I believe it is all too easy for us to forget that our incredibly fortunate position also comes with the responsibility to improve the lot of those we’ve stepped over to get here. I know that we have much more to learn from the areas of the world who haven’t built their social, political and economic structures on models that have a finite lifespan. I am passionate about economic justice, and I see global equality as the next major civil rights struggle we will face, and I sincerely hope it is one with will win.

I want to combine my progressive views with academic diligence and in a way that is still engaging and palatable to those with no economics education. My professional role models are people like Michael J. Sandel, Jeffrey Sachs, Stephen Fry – people who use a mix of skills and disciplines to engage the public in discussions about big things – the moral failings of markets, the opportunities and limitations of foreign aid, the role and importance of language, respectively.

Next

A new year and a clean slate holds a certain appeal. I always appreciate a fresh start, and the chance to pause and reflect on my goals and recalibrate my focus. The new year feels like such an opportunity to dream big and use your imagination to do some futures forecasting for your own life. What a fun opportunity!

Rarely do I stop to reflect on past achievements, but today I'm glad to see I've knocked over a few major goals in the second half of 2013, with still a few more to tackle in the coming year.

2013 Wins

  • Taught myself that I'm a good saver when I put my mind to it by doubling my goal of 5K.
  • Made great gains in my adrenal fatigue recovering journey by taking control of my own health, and getting support from the professionals, which I'm looking to build on in 2014.

So, to 2014. I've already set some goals for my job, but it is nice to look beyond that and reflect on personal goals for the year.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a perpetual planner and a chronic goal setter. So I've come up with a mix of big ambitious goals and rituals to form my fairly comprehensive list. I tend to aim big, but try not to beat myself up too much if I don't meet all of my goals. I feel like there's a whole lot of value in the process, but too much pressure makes things get stressful, and a perfectionist like me tends to get overwhelmed. I prefer to think of these as ambitious guidelines.

Goals and Rituals for 2014

Academic

  • Finish my first Masters and get Distinction or better for my last few subjects.
  • Knock 26 books off my reading list by reading one a fortnight.
  • Make time to write and publish a blog post a week, either a book review or a reflective piece.

Health

  • Lose 20 kgs by finding balance with my eating habits and losing the all-or-nothing mentality.
  • Work out every day, over and above my daily bike commute with a mix of crossfit, bikram and running, or even just a dance class, a long lazy ride or a walk - just as long as it is something.
  • Run a sub 60 min 10 km race. Aiming for Run Melbourne on July 27.

Money

  • Remain debt free and stick to a budget to save another 20K by October.
  • Finish renovating Curracloe Farm and have both it and our apartment done.
  • Simplify all our finances.

Work

  • Confirm my next move for study and get accepted into my new course.
  • Explore the ethics/economics space more and refine my goals and next steps.
  • Get some funding for my research project idea.

Personal

  • Refine what I own down to essentials and only things I really love.
  • Go to Beyonce dance classes to get my sass on.
  • Get up at 5.15 with Marcus every weekday morning.

Rituals

On top of this long list, I really love the idea of sprint goals - extra points of focus over a short term which are designed to shake up and reshape your habits. They say it only takes 30 days for a new habit to be established. I've been brainstorming a list of habits I'd like to form that I'll attempt throughout the year:

Sprint Goals

  • Do at least 1 page of journalling everyday.
  • Get out of bed before 6 am everyday - not just week days.
  • No TV.
  • Meditate for at least 30 minutes daily.
  • No sugar.
  • Bikram 30 day challenge.
  • Practice spanish for 30 mins daily.
  • Photo a day challenge.
  • Practice guitar for 30 mins daily.
  • 30 min walk every evening.
  • Eat only food made at home.
  • Make the bed for 30 days in a row.

So there you have it. A long, ambitious list of targets for 2014. It feels good to do some longer term thinking and planning. Don't forget to have fun, be happy, and appreciate how amazing life is.

Bring on 2014!

What are you celebrating in 2013? What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Happy New Year

My friend Cheryl Lin over at Business Chic inspired me to follow her lead in setting some goals/rituals for the New Financial Year.  (Read her post here.) I always appreciate a clean slate, and I'm using this one to recalibrate and remind myself of where I'd like to be at the end of the year.

Goals

Academic - Finish my Masters

My first masters has been ridiculously drawn out, and I'm pretty keen to get it done and dusted. Four finance subjects this semester will be a big test and a huge intellectual challenge, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Health - Lose 10 kgs

I'm pretty sure I've had this goal every six months for the last five or so years (since the beginning of my Adrenal Fatigue issues). This is obviously part of a broader issue, but it is a big indicator for my health in general and I'd like to get it under control.

Money - Save $5000

I'm planning some serious travel next year and need to get some cash in the bank. I'm hoping that these travel goals will help me make some changes small and large, and knuckle down and do some savings.

Work - Make a plan

My work goals have shifted somewhat in the last few months, and I'd really like to develop a clear action plan for where I'm headed in the next 5 - 10 years. I'll get some coaching, and engage in some consultation to get this sorted out.

Personal -  Recover from AF

Easier said that done, but this is front of mind for me, because it will either prevent or permit me meeting future goals. This takes gentleness, self love and a softly softly approach. It also takes planning on being proactive.

So how will I achieve this? Well, they say success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out, so something simple for each area that you can check in on makes sense to me.

Rituals

Academic -  Read everyday

In the last little while I've been a little lax in actually reading - and I've accumulated quite a bank of content waiting for me. I really believe you learn so much by reading, and no amount of documentary watching or podcast listening can replace it. Fiction, non-fiction, academic, personal, professional, amateur - more of all of it please.

Health - Move everyday

I'm far too likely to baton down the hatches when the cold weather hits, but I've started a new morning routine today - which I'll no doubt write about - and it means I have no excuses for getting up and moving first thing in the morning.

Money - Track everything

In the past I've been willingly ignorant of just where I've been spending my dollars. I'm on the hunt for a good app for tracking spending and maintaining a budget, but in the meantime I'll be writing everything in my trusty notebook, the old fashioned way.

Work - Write everyday

Also part of my new morning ritual is an hour of writing each morning, so be prepared for more entries here. I was reminded this week that writing is a practice, and a regular habit is the only thing guaranteed to improve it.

Personal - Engage the professionals

Like Cheryl, I've realised I can only do so much on my own and I'm working with a few excellent folk to proactively deal with my AF - including a naturopath, a great holistic GP, and a kinesologist. I'm also going to include occasional massages, maybe even acupuncture and a psychologist. I'm allotting myself 1 hour a week to focus solely on having someone else help make me well.

So there you have it. What's on your hit list for the second part of 2013? How often do you set goals and how closely do you stick to them? 

Aspirational / Practical

A conversation with my boyfriend today sparked some thoughts about how differently we process situations and surroundings.I am what I would consider to be aspirational. I have an idea of what I want, where I want to get to and plan well in advance to reach my goals. I try and line up the necessary steps to get to where I want to go.

Marcus is much more practical. He considers the scenario and works to achieve the best outcome with the circumstances he's been dealt. He is much less goals oriented, only plans short term and doesn't often consider how he might achieve an ideal scenario.

Now, as challenging as this is for both of us in our relationship, it is also quite fortunate - as we're both great at counterbalancing the other. He commented that my way of thinking can cause me to become anxious or disappointed when my plans don't all fall into place - at least until I think of a different way to attack it or shift my goals - he finds this frustrating. I was equally frustrated at the possibility of accidentally arriving in a situation without aspiring to be there.

Happily, I think Marcus is in an ideal job for someone who thinks this way. He is often required to problem solve short term issues and is great at avoiding difficult situations in these cases. I wonder then, if my way of processing things is linked to my tendency to think outside the box, and how this might be best utilised in a business sense? Much more investigation and reading needed I think.