Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The best gift of 2012 - A lesson in life

The saying goes something like this: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" and I now know this to be true.

I don't have a lot of enemies, in fact I don't think I have any. But I do have one or two people who are not on my Christmas card list. For those who know me well, they'll tell you that I get along with everyone. From the bus driver to the prime minister (if we ever met), I really like everyone until I have a reason not to. Miss Congeniality? That's me. 

Except this one time.........

I didn't get along with a colleague. Neither of us liked each other and try as we might to mask it, it was evident to all who knew us that there was no love between us. A lot of barbed wired, but absolutely no love. 

A few years ago I was sitting in a coffee shop (theme of my life) ranting to my husband about my colleague who I really didn't have much respect for. At the time, this particular person was making my life hell. She was actively bad mouthing me and spreading vicious rumours attacking my credibility in the workplace. It was toxic. She lied about me, and seemed intent on making sure that my career with that company was not longstanding. I really didn't like her, and it consumed me. I felt bullied and prejudiced because she had friends in higher places than I did who listened to her without questioning the validity of her venom.

During my coffee shop morning rant to my husband, another caffeine loving patron overheard and gave me some advice. "She is your teacher - let her teach you something."

At the time I didn't appreciate his Buddhist views on my nemesis, but now - two years later - I am thankful.

While I may not have had much respect for the way she behaved, I was able to admire some of her successful attributes from afar. She had presence. She could walk into the room and immediately be noticed. It didn't matter what she said, it was how she said it that commanded respect. She also dressed the part. Her interior was tough and toxic, but her exterior was soft. She wore bright colours and soft fabrics which absolutely contradicted who she was. It was like a little trick to give her more appeal. It worked. 

Once, we were sitting in the board room and she was being yelled at by the managing director about something she had done. The MD was a scary alpha male and his ferocious public attack would have made most people run crying from the room. But not her. She kept her composure by looking him directly in the eye - no emotion and no facial movement. She just looked at him and said nothing. It was the most powerful thing I have ever seen another person do. And she pulled it off. The MD stopped his rant and moved on to the next topic. 

When she had presented other peoples work claiming it as her own and was publicly "outed" for it, she maintained her stance and moved on. Her love of plagiarism was accepted because she refused to let it be made into a big deal. I personalised it, its not something I would ever do and it infuriated me that she got away with it. But what I did like was that she didn't react. Not openly anyway. 

She made mistakes. A lot of them, but she glossed them over or blamed other people. I discovered the finger had been pointed at me many times for her errors, and I raised them to the MD directly - on reflection with too much emotion. I will always own up to a mistake I've made, I'm like that - so I wont follow her lead in blaming others. There is still a lesson though, sometimes we learn from others in what they do "wrong" so we don't have to make the same mistake.

The MD gave me a pep talk once and told me that there will always be people in my life that I don't like or get along with - I just have to learn to work with them. Its true. 

These are the gifts she gave me that I am eternally grateful. 

 - Actions speak louder than words. 

 - Be true to yourself. 

 - Crucial confrontations and crucial conversations are my new mantras. 

 - At work, the best interest of the business comes first.

 - After work, there is a life to be lived. With people who matter. 

 - Say it with conviction. Confidence is king

 - Leave emotion at home. Passion is good, but emotion can be damaging. 

 - Maintain eye contact in the board room. Even when you're being called names. 

 - Dont play into the hands of politics. It only leads to tears. 

 - A job is not the be all and end all. If its toxic and cant be changed, move on. 

And if ever another person ever tries to discredit me again, I will stand my ground and it will be professional. 

Through these lessons I have kicked much better goals in my new job, and I am reminded everyday that my old colleague who had made my life hell has paved an easier and much better road for my future. For this I am thankful. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

We Have To Let You Go

Firing someone is one of the hardest thing a manager has to do. This is when true leadership comes into it, because its not the "act" of firing someone, its how you deliver it that matters. 

In my previous life I had to "let go" quite a few people for various reasons, and because I worked in a large corporate organisation there were strict rules on how it was to be done. I didn't necessarily agree with it, but was led by corporate policy and enacted the job according to the guidelines. There, I came across many managers who gloated about being known as the "terminator" or even how they silently enjoyed the job because it was "cleansing". I never really understood it. 

While I wasn't fired from my position, but made redundant, the company still applied the corporate policy when delivering the news to me. It was horrible, archaic and very impersonal. I was taken out of a client meeting and up to HR where I sat in a small room with the Managing Director, the HR Director and my manager. My manager awkwardly delivered the script written in front of him, his discomfort was obvious. I was asked to hand in my blackberry immediately which was the only communication device I had for many years, and which held every contact detail of my family members and friends. I was then escorted to my desk to collect my personal belongings before being walked out of the building. In front of my colleagues, my ex staff and my peers - like a criminal. 

How did this effect me? Well lets just say I don't have a lot of respect for that organisation any more. Their methods and policies towards their greatest assets - their "people" are really just words printed on their walls. Resentful? Yes of course, and its been over a year! 

Could they have done something differently? Absolutely!

I made a promise that if ever I was in the position of letting someone go - I would deliver it with courage and ensure that the other persons dignity was upmost paramount. 

Ironically just over a year to the day that this happened to me, I was in the position of sitting down with a staff member and explaining to her that her employment with us was no longer required. Even though I agreed with the business decisions, I still agonised the entire weekend with broken sleep and nightmares. I wrote down what I wanted to say, and was absolutely aware of how I wanted to say it. To me it wasn't about the words but about how I made her feel. 

And I think I did a good job. 

After I delivered the news to her, I then asked if she would like a chance to go back to her desk, say goodbye to her colleagues and take any personal information from her work phone before handing it back in. After a bit of time, she went back to her desk silently and gathered her things. I gave her a cabcharge card so she didn't have to catch public transport home. She then had a chat with her colleagues to let them know, wiped her personal emails, downloaded her photos and personal contacts from her phone, and then gave me a hug for being professional and kind about the way I handled it. I sent an announcement email out immediately afterwards thanking her and wishing her well and ensured that the rest of the team didn't feel vulnerable because of what happened. 

I really do hate the job of letting people go - but this is one of those areas that separates the managers from the leaders. 

I'm a fraud!

I have a confession to make. 

I'm employed and I have been since September last year - I just didn't recognise it officially. 

It's only been the past couple of weeks that I saw myself as being in the right role, and in the right company, and sadly by not recognising it sooner I devalued what I was bringing to the table. 

Last September I asked my husband if I could come in and help out in his IT business. It wasn't that I wanted a hand-out, I just wanted to keep myself busy while looking for my next career. I don't know anything about IT, but I am a damn good operations manager and an exceptional leader. I've also been tagged as the process queen and I knew that I could add my skills to the company and it would be a win-win. 

Still, in my mind this wasn't a "job". It was a place to park my butt and keep my skills fresh until something else came along. 

It's a small company, with a close team and a great attitude. The hours fit in well with my family life and the stress levels are relatively low. There are some flaws, as in any company - but they are nothing compared to where I came from. This is a safe place to bring ideas to the group, and to be given the power to implement them. There are some politics, but having swam with sharks for many years in the corporate world, they are manageable. The company is growing, and becoming industry leaders. Across diverse product lines and industries! Everything that was on my list as the perfect place to work is right here. 

But because I didn't see this as my end game, no one else saw it either. And this meant I lost track in gaining the buy-in and acceptance from the team. 

I made a decision a couple of weeks ago that I would make a commitment to the company and remain there indefinitely. And it felt right. I know its now up to me to do some work to get the team to see me as something other than the bosses wife, or an ex corporate player and to get them to start seeing me as part of their team. I'm up for the challenge!  

I am in the place I need to be right now, and it feels fantastic. (But I don't know how to change the name of my blog!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Redundancy: The Best Thing That's Ever Happened to Me

As the Australian news breaks that more than 2000 workers in the media and over 5000 in the manufacturing industries will be made redundant, I reflect on my past 11 months since the velvet hammer of redundancy hit me square on the head.

When I was growing up, the big scary word was “redundancy” and it would find its way into Sunday afternoon barbeques and dinner parties. The grown ups feared redundancy. The kids had no idea what it meant. The politicians suggested we needed thousands of “redundancies” so we could have the recession we had to have. Emotions and stakes were high during that time and as a child there was very little positivity about a workplace act that affected our families in such a major way.

Being great at my job in an organisation I was extremely loyal to, I never thought it would happen to me.

The days and weeks following my redundancy I found freedom in catching up with old friends, some of whom had been through a similar experience. All of them told me that I would look back on being made redundant as the best thing that could have happened to me, and at the time I found this difficult to believe.

Until now, 11 months and two weeks later.

Redundancy has afforded me time to reflect on where I was at in my career and to start to work on where I wanted to head. Instead of looking at the losses, I looked at the gains of which there are many.

I was given a very generous pay-out, so I paid off our debts. The freedom of being able to sleep at night knowing that I didn’t owe a cent to anyone felt fantastic. And I still had some left over to play with.

The financial freedom of leaving work and not being forced into looking for another income immediately also meant I could review my goals and make some plans on how I wanted to achieve them. I still ask myself what I want to be when I grow up and I still have no idea, but I do know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to work for an organisation that devalues its staff and doesnt recognise my right to a healthy work-life balance. I don’t want to go back into the corporate world of cut-throat politics where I am constantly watching my back. This is not my ideal reality, and I am now fortunate enough not to be forced back into that.

I have added to my love of travel in the past year. I volunteered on a house building project in Cambodia, I floated around Indonesia on a make-shift boat that are sometimes used to carry asylum seekers. I snorkeled off the coast of Java with my youngest son. I spent time in a gorgeous old cabin on Rottnest Island in WA to celebrate my husbands coming of age (he was a late bloomer!). I have shopped and dined in Melbourne on more than one occasion. I explored Komodo Island to find some dragons. I ate amazing local delicacies (not Komodo Dragons).

I enrolled in a writing course - for fun!

I collect my son from school every afternoon and I have energy to help with homework and reading. I now enjoy time on the weekends to lounge around in coffee shops. For hours, you can find me reading the paper and indulging in social media. And meeting new friends over a Zambian skim flat white (also known as networking).

I’m putting my learned skills to good use by working in a smaller company who can't pay me as much as I’m used to, but who genuinely value the skills and experience I bring. I’m really enjoying working in an organisation that is fairly stress-free but also challenging at the same time. Its not where I see myself in a years time, but right now it’s exactly where I want and need to be.

Basically the redundancy has allowed me to take back control of my life, I now have the power to do with it what I want.

So for those employees at Fairfax and News and Toyota etc who are facing the barrel of the unknown with a redundancy, I give you the advice I was once given.

Redundancy will be the very best thing that has happened to you - if you let it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Playing Politics

Being political in an organisation is a strategic move. You have to know who the players are, what they stand for and who is most likely to win in order to choose the right political side. You also have to be very good at the game.

Its a bit like choosing a sporting team. If you’ve ever played competitive sport, you’ll have an idea on who the players are, what strengths and weaknesses they all have, and what kind of loyalty they have to the team.

In social circles, there are politics as well. Every person in the group will play a certain role. Some groups are extremely supportive of one another and some are so toxic and divisive that it’s a wonder they have a group at all.

In the workplace situation, politics can be both positive and negative; it just depends on how its played out. A negative political environment is one where there is a lot of division, backstabbing and gossip. A positive political workplace is where there is career development, open communication and internal support

In my recent organisation, there were strong political plays throughout the organisation and it was difficult to understand who the players were and what they stood for. I didn’t consider this a positive environment, or conducive to retaining good staff. There was a lot of confusion on where the goalposts were and also who the good guys were. My intention is not to be negative about the company - just merely making an observation on the behaviour. Being in this environment where the leaders are actively gossipping, it’s difficult not to join in. It takes a very strong person not to partake in the office gossip. While I was aware of the political nature, I tried to avoid playing the game. Sadly there were times when I was unknowingly roped into a conversation or situation that I couldn’t avoid, and I didn’t like myself very much afterwards. Thats a sure sign that the organisation may not be the right one to remain in.

My current organisation is a small company and there are three main departments where everyone seems to get along really well. Sure its hierarchical, but the leadership is strong and the staff are aligned and have bought into the vision. The direction is clear and set out early on, with all communication transparent and honest. To date I have not witnessed any kind of gossip or backstabbing and everyone seems very respectful of each other. Invitations to social events are open to all and often attended by most. This is not a workplace that encourages hungry ambition at all costs, but allows individuals an open forum to grow gradually. I am yet to identify any kind of political agenda here, perhaps I have my blinkers on?

It's a very good lesson to learn. I have since considered alternate ways to playing the political game and hope to be able to put them into use in my next career.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Somebody That I Used To Know

Some time ago, I engaged the services of an executive coach. We would meet for an early morning coffee, and go through my week - the highs and lows - and talk about areas that I could improve on.

Together we analysed my career and wrote strategies on my future goals. I was energised by our time together; it was positive, constructive and focused on a part of my life that was very important to me. Each session had a different focus, from confronting my areas for improvement to expanding my areas of expertise.

One such session focused on meeting new people in my workplace. We called it the “hello” time. At first I was to spend 5% of my day networking with senior colleagues, getting in front of their face and marketing myself as well as find out a bit more about them and see if my skills could help them in any way. I also enjoyed learning about their holidays, their families and their sporting hobbies, and of course sharing my own stories. The key was to not share too much, but enough to let them know I was human; interesting, adaptable, and with a life outside of work. The ultimate aim of my networking was to share information and market myself.

As my confidence built, I was to spend more “hello” time, and each day I had to include a new person to talk to. This wasn’t difficult working for a multi-national, especially with a stream of overseas colleagues visiting.

Easy task right? Wrong. Walking around the office each day is actually a bit of a chore for time-poor managers. For me, I had to schedule it into my calendar as personal time away from my desk. It meant that anyone looking at my calendar knew they couldn’t book me in for a meeting at that time.

My friend Dana had a different approach. As a senior manager in a crisis management centre, getting up from her desk to casually “socialise” was almost out of the question. Instead, she would find someone in the organisation that she had yet to meet and send them an invite for lunch. Dana was a well respected member of the organisation and worked in various offices around the world. Her knowledge of the company on a global scale was surpassed by none, so when she sent an invite to someone, they rarely refused her. Not only was she able to market herself in the company and share knowledge with colleagues, she has also made some amazing friends worldwide. Myself included.

I used Dana as a “silent mentor” in networking. We sat next to each other at work, and I took many mental notes of her methods and success. Dana was approachable, friendly, and had a genuine interest in sharing what she knew. She never self-promoted, never gloated about her success in the job and was sincerely interested in the people she worked with. And she had a wicked sense of humour which attracted a lot of people to her. Again, myself included. I wanted to be like Dana, not for the popularity but for her ability to positively embrace new people.

I’m no longer at that company, yet I still remain connected with many of the people I met there. This has served me well in both personal and work situations. I have called upon ex colleagues to introduce me into companies that I am interested in working for, and have also been fortunate to reciprocate the act. Some colleagues have remained friends and we meet up for social gatherings to continue laughing together. Some have probably put me on the “Somebody That I Used to Know list” - and that’s ok as well. My aim has never been to win the Miss Popularity contest. I don’t believe in burning bridges.

Since my redundancy and after a lot of practice, I have become even more confident in my “hello” time that I now enjoy the 30 second elevator pitch, coffee shop conversations with strangers and networking on the twitterverse.

You can find me on @lisafryar on Twitter.

I've met a lot of Bunnies in my life. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The People You Know.......

I received an email today from an ex-colleague. He is a well respected Emergency Doctor, in a high position within the Australian healthcare system and we worked together remotely on some very complex cases.

His email was out of the blue. Totally unexpected, but very well received.

He wanted to let me know that he had passed on my details to a friend of his who was now in charge of a large Multi-National in Asia Pacific and was looking for senior personnel to run the Sydney office. It’s the kind of job that has my name written all over it, and I happen to know a few people I could bring to the table as well.

We’re not friends. His is not someone that I would include on my Facebook page. He is not on my Christmas card list and if I were on his side of the country I probably wouldn’t even think to look to him up. Our relationship is purely that of ex-colleagues, with mutual respect for each others work.

This email is not a job offer, nor does it guarantee a call. But the way I see it is this: Someone in a very high position who I have worked with has referred me to someone he knows. This is one of the most flattering things that can happen, it’s a validation of my work and he wouldn’t do this if he didn’t trust my ability to get the job done.

Maintaining relationships is key.

The path of friendship can lead to the most interesting places. 
Photo by John Dobbin

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Not You, It's Me

All the best Hollywood movies include a devastating split between lovers; the saddest line is when one party tells the other that it's not about them.

“Its not you, it’s me....” inevitably leads to a heartbreaking breakup.

It’s the same with rejection responses from recruitment agencies. Not only is the rejection praising your skills and resume, but it's just so bland and standard. In fact, after carefully reviewing numerous rejection emails (which I promised myself I would never do) - I have come to the conclusion that they were all written by either the same person, or a screenwriters guild.

Dear Lisa

Thank you for your recent application for the position of Life Guru.

We found your resume extremely impressive, in fact the quality of your resume was so outstanding that we feel we may not be able to offer you an interview for this position. You are just THAT good. Honesty, we felt you were way too good for this position, there are much better positions out there for you.

Please continue to look at our website daily for other opportunities that you may be interested in, and continue to send your resume to us so that we can review it and see if you tick the boxes on the jobs we also find on and As we have staff and systems trawling through these websites 24hrs, we may find and  advertise the job before you even wake up. We’re clever like that.

We have your resume on record, however we are unlikely to reference this as this is time consuming and the unemployment market is so high that we don’t actually have to go find candidates. They come to us.

Have you considered a job in recruitment?’

We wish you every success in your job search,

Kind Regards

Recruitment Consultant

OK, so that’s not exactly the wording, but you get the gist of it. A response telling me how great I am, but that I don’t tick all the boxes. Hey! All of my life I have never ticked all the boxes. It's what makes me great.

Seriously, this response (or one very much like it) has been received from multiple recruitment agencies. I honestly feel that they have all gone to the same recruitment school and were given a few templates to work from. They are all identical.

The email responses I am sent directly from companies differs slightly but are along the lines of:

Dear Lisa

Thank you for submitting your application with our company for the position of Life Guru.

After careful review of your resume, we regret to advise that you have not been successful in this instance in obtaining an interview. We were impressed with your skills and value you can bring to our organisation, and very grateful that you took the time to send your resume and award winning cover letter to our company.  

We are not the right company for you, we wont treat you right. There are other companies out there who are so much better for you; you deserve better than us.

Please advise if you wish us to keep your resume on record for future consideration.


Human Resources Director.

Fortunately I don't take these to heart. It's not me, it's you! Missing out that is.

Apart from there being plenty of fish in the sea, this picture has absolutely no relevance to the blog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shameless Act of Self Promotion

I’m going to tell you how good I am.

Right here. Right now. After all, this is what I do on a daily basis when writing my award winning cover letters. 

I am an exceptional leader. What makes me exceptional besides me telling you? Well, I enjoy leading a team of people. I get my kicks out of developing staff, watching them grow and develop in careers and as people. In my performance reviews, in the hallway discussions with managing directors, and in emails from staff, I have been told how great I am as a leader. Its true. I have evidence. 

I am a “can-do” person. I don’t just tell you I can do it, I roll my sleeves up and do it. I have often walked into the office to find myself short staffed and the only option is for me to get in and do what I tell my staff to do. As a manager and leader, I also had to do it without error and with a positive attitude. How can I expect staff to do something well if I can’t do it? 

I am a strategist. I can break down any vision you give me and turn it into a phased plan that will knock your socks off. Or heels if you’re not wearing socks. 

I am savvy. Not just school yard savvy, but I come with the business smarts. I’ve been there on day one of a start up company that is still going strong after 16 years. I’ve provided solutions to large multinational companies that made sense, and made money. 

I am an excellent communicator. Actually, I have no idea on this one, all I know is that I communicate. A lot. In various mediums. 

I am a thought leader. Again, I don’t really know if I am, but someone on twitter told me I was. Well, I don’t really know what a thought leader is to be honest, but it sounds too good to pass up. I have now included this on my resume. Lisa Fryar - Thought Leader.  

I am beginning to really enjoy the cover letter writing exercise of applying for a job. 

Everyday I am granted the opportunity to provide some positive blurb about myself, it's like a form of new age therapy where I continually go through the list of everything I am really great at. I don’t even struggle with this anymore. 

Where I need the practice is telling people in person. 

Australians are not known for their face to face self promotion. We cut down tall poppies and eat them for breakfast, so singing my own praises seems a little unnatural. This is something I really need to start working on because walking into an interview, I need to have the same confidence that my resume promotes. 

I can't exactly walk in and introduce myself as Australia’s Next Top Thought Leader. 

Any volunteers who would like to hang out with me for a little while and listen to my shameless self promotion blurb?

PS - that's me in a "marketing poster" showcasing some of my skills. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Silence is Golden.

I love silence. Peace and quiet. 

Unless I am waiting for a response to a job, then silence is deafening!

As a mother of three lovely kids, I have certainly had my moments of wanting to lock myself in a padded room wearing earplugs and an eye mask. The straight jacket goes without saying. I imagine after an hour of living with only my thoughts, I would return as a bit of a bliss-ninny to my beautiful family and cope with the noise so much better. Until the next school holidays when daily torrential rain forces everyone to catch cabin-fever.

Silence after an interview can be quite frustrating. When the interview has gone particularly well, and the hiring manager suggests further contact (and provides a timeline for the communication) and then remains silent, it’s confusing. I don't understand this. If I commit to making contact with someone, I always make contact. It’s about being a professional, a good communicator, someone who lives by their word.

I have had more than one experience where I have had successful interviews, leaving me on a high with an expectation of a phone call, an email, or even a second or third interview. I’ve even been given dates and times when I can expect this. When the communication hasn’t happened, I am pro-active and (after an appropriate time) – follow up.  After following up through email and voicemail, and then further silence – it’s not just uncomfortable but it also leaves me questioning my judgement and doubting myself. It’s an unhealthy place to be in my mind.  

It also makes me feel that my follow up emails are a desperate attempt at getting an answer. Actually they are. I like to complete things and close them off.

My message to Hiring Mangers: I can take constructive feedback, in fact I welcome it. It’s how I grow and develop as a person. Feedback is a gift to me. Bring it on. 

I don’t mind if you come back and tell me I’m not suitable for a role as long as I also get an explanation why.

A company that fails in communicating to a potential employee also provides an impression that they are not good at communications, and do not value honesty.

I refuse to doubt myself or my abilities through silence from a hiring manager. 

Hand me the earplugs? 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

When You Were A Kid.....

Today I had a lovely lunch with my Mum, Dad, sister and nephew - a rare treat because we all live in polar suburbs of Sydney and we don't get to spend as much time with each other as I'd like. Another reason we don't see each other often is because of everyone's work commitments. My family are hard working. My Mum and Dad have worked hard every day since time began, in fact they have the strongest work ethic of anyone I know. 

When I think of my parents in old age, I cannot imagine them not working. 

Today at lunch they made an announcement that they plan to retire in twelve months time. I wasn't floored, in fact I was quite thrilled for me...... (cough cough) I mean for them. All I could see were opportunities, and rewards for a life of remaining loyal to organisations and rarely taking sick days or extended holidays. 

I begged them to build a mansion on the beach in Northern NSW. I fantasised about spending weeks over Christmas in my parents beach side mansion at Byron or Ballina. Weeks in a beach side mansion............They'll most likely think of an acreage and farm somewhere that my dad can drive his ride on lawnmower and mum can decorate to her hearts content. 

I took the opportunity to ask them a really important question. 

What did you want to be as a kid?

My dad didn't even have to think about this question, he said all he wanted to do was drive since he was nine years old. Of course he was too young at nine to drive a car, but he found the means to find a way to be driving a car by the time he was eleven. That's ambitious! He hasn't made a living out of driving, but I'm sure he has managed to drive every single day of his life since he was eleven or twelve years old. He was always proud of his cars, he changed them every couple of years when I was growing up. I also remember him driving trucks when I was little. He now drives tractors. 

My sister took a little more time to think about it and then said she wanted to be a nurse. She studied nursing many years ago, but didn't go into nursing. Its a shame because I know she would have made a really fantastic one. She is caring, organised, sensible and someone who I know I would want to be looking after me if I were ill or injured. I asked if her career took a turn for the worse would she consider retraining to become a nurse. She didn't even have to think twice to say "No" because the changes in that industry are so significant that there are no motivating factors for going into nursing. 

Tonight at a party I asked my new best friends around the table what they thought they were going to be when they grew up. 

Sally also said she wanted to go into nursing when she was a teenager. At sixteen she had accompanied her mother into the hospital and was in awe of the women who looked after the patients. She was met by the matron who dissuaded her by telling her she was too young. I don't know Sally well enough to say that she would have made a good nurse, but she went on to tell me about her career changes throughout her 20's and 30's and how much she enjoys being a successful podiatrist in Sydney today. She too said if the situation changed, she would never consider going into nursing now, but given the fact she is in her 60's might have a lot to do with that. 

Mark wanted to be an architect. He was sitting at a part of the table where I couldn't quite hear the reasons of background to this, but I have known him for a few years and followed his career through many highs and some lows. Mark became a businessman and interior designer and from the work I have seen of his - he really has found his place in life. His contracts are in the hospitality field; I have been in pubs and restaurants admiring the decor only to be advised at a later stage that Marks firm had designed it. Mark is a talented designer. (he kind of followed his childhood dream because I don't think they had interior designers when Mark was growing up).

My husband said he wanted to be an engineer, but only because he thought it would lead to travelling to distant lands building bridges and buildings. Instead, he is the founder of an IT firm which specialises in the publishing and advertising industries. My husband is an entrepreneur, and we make it part of our life to travel on a regular basis. So he too also found a way to live out some of his childhood dreams. 

So this leads to me thinking about what I wanted to be when I was growing up. 

I wanted to be a mum and a wife. Tick. 

I wanted to be an air hostess. Not anymore since my years of travelling and being a demanding passenger. 

I too wanted to be an architect. I designed so many of my own houses in my head as a child, but in reality a 6 story cascading swimming pool in my dream home wasn't going to eventuate. No builder in his right mind would ever build something like that. 

I wanted to be a police woman until I saw the training regime. 

I wanted to travel. Everywhere and all the time. 

I wanted to be a writer. Really only for the fame and overseas book tours - review point above.

I wanted to be a designer. A successful one who only ever wears my own designs. After all, Barbie looked great in them. She also didn't have an opinion. 

I wanted to work in an office. As the CEO.  

So now I find myself in a cross roads of my career - and I have been given the most amazing opportunity of being anything I want to be. As an adult, I have the luxury of life experience and skills behind me. As a redundee and wife with a supportive husband, I also have the financial backing to grasp at a dream. Or two. 

It's a really tough choice, but after careful elimination of strenuous or dangerous professions, I think I might combine a few of my passions and dreams and become a high end fashion travel writer who only ever goes to remote and exotic lands. Wearing my own designs of course! 

This is my dad. The driver.