Business Ninja of the Week: Zoe Lamont of 10thousandgirl

This week we are proud to interview Zoe Lamont of 10thousandgirl fame. Make sure you take time to read Zoe’s story, especially if you are a) a girl and b) wanting to be like Beyonce and be an ‘independent woman’. In fact, Ruby Slipper have a client giveaway to join Zoe when she’s in your town for a Life Planning Workshop. The perfect way to get your 2011 off to a cracking start. Here’s the G-O on 10thousandgirl.

The 10thousandgirl Campaign is a social program bringing finance to life for 10,000 young women around Australia and setting a ripple effect in motion to raise $1million towards a microfinance program to help women globally. Young women in their 20’s-30’s are invited to come along to Life Planning Workshops and join GIGs (Girl Investment Groups), getting their own life plans and finances on track and at the same time helping others. The campaign is traveling to 100 metropolitan and regional towns across Australia and will be in Melbourne on 18th–21st February 2011.

Email girl@10thousandgirl.com to be sent a special Ruby Slippers promo code for the February Melbourne Life Planning Workshop event. Read more on www.10thousandgirl.com and email now! Don’t let any of your girlfriends, daughters, sisters or work friends miss out!

Here’s Zoe’s Business Ninja Interview

1. What makes your business magical, setting you apart from other competitors?

Apart from 10thousandgirl offering something that hasn’t really been done before (we’re a bit of a social business hybrid J), I think the real magic comes from the fact it’s run by girls, for girls and run largely by volunteers. This means the organisation’s veins are fuelled with love, inner commitment and fiery creative passion and I think because of this the magic comes from seeing it growing every day.

 2. What are your maddest ‘ninja skillz’?  

Haha. I would say my ninja skillz are being able to inspire. From people living on the street to high powered execs in board rooms with cool views, I love leaving people seeing that the future is bright and that right now the world is a very good place to live in. I really know in my heart it’s an exciting time to be alive.    

3. How did your lightbulb moment in creating your business come about?

There’s been a few lightbulbs but the first one was when I had my business coaching hat on and visited a woman at a hair salon in south Canberra. She was around 62 years old and you could tell in her hay day she ran a smart looking busy small business and played a central role in her community. Within 20 minutes we were both in tears (it was when I had just started coaching and hadn’t learnt not to cry with clients…). At some point along the way she had burnt out and for the last 15-20 years had been pouring her savings back into propping up her business. The business was not in its current state saleable, posters were peeling off the walls and the staff were narky and disengaged. Now she was wanting to retire and looking at a dying business, no super or savings and a life ahead with her husband in a caravan. This broke my heart and bewildered me at how this can possibly happen to smart educated people in a resource-filled country such as Australia. I went straight to my other clients and girlfriends and was on a mission from that day to ensure everyone across Australia (and the world) has a plan and has thought about their long term future, and indeed that of the world. And 5 or 10 years isn’t long term! If we want to retire at the age of 60, nowadays we’re looking at a good 25 years ahead where we have to support ourselves! That’s pretty hardcore. So this experience added to the growing realization that not that many people have a plan, coupled with my time as a humanitarian worker overseas led me to where we are now – helping young people make plans for their future, learn about basic financial principles to back their plans and along the way contribute to our long term global economic wellbeing through contributing to an initiative providing women with microfinance.         

4. What is your earliest memory?

Ever? I’m not sure if this is a memory or something I’ve been told, but I was born on a farm in country NSW and when I was small there was a big mouse plague and I’d sit and watch the mousetraps. My first words were ‘mouse-bang mummy’.

5. What would your last meal be?

Mmm I had some pretty good dhal from one of my friend’s mum’s last week but I think I’d have to say a lambchop. I am considering cutting my meat eating down though and can often be found chomping into a plate of raw veggies.

6. What is your best tip for recruiting staff or choosing business partners?

At 10thousandgirl we have no rules apart from respecting each other and staying focused on our objectives. Volunteers, contractors and FT team members alike are asked to draw up their role and submit how they see themselves being able to contribute and what they’d like to receive, learn or experience in return. It’s a philosophy I’ve been playing around with for a bit over a year now and although I have learnt some lessons and need to apply some more structure and rigor in some areas, when you give people total ownership and they have created their ideal framework to work within, you can’t really go wrong. As an organization we are out there encouraging people to follow their heart and live their dreams so by putting it out there that we are open to creating opportunities with people for them to work the hours they want, learn the skills they would like and get the experience they’re interested in, as long as it’s forwarding the organizational goals, people tend to err on the side of generous when they are happy so it has benefits that flow both ways. We’ve had two people quit their previous jobs before telling us they are coming to work for us so it’s pretty funny what tends to happen. Our Campaign Manger volunteered for a year before she came on board fulltime, that’s commitment! Sometimes we have to get a bit creative to facilitate people but we always find a way to make things work.    

7. What is your favourite sound?

Wow, I’ve never been asked that question but the first thing that came to mind was fire! I have a lot of good memories of sitting around the fire in winter at home or with friends around a camp or bonfire.

8. Who would you like to invite to dinner?

A nice boy at the moment, this year I’m on the lookout for a strapping young lad! Otherwise Aung San Suu Kyi, Muhammad Yunas and my friends Tina and Vetty.

9. Who has inspired you to be a better ‘Business Ninja’?

So many people. I have a lot of amazing mentors and friends and believe having good people around you is key to everything. A couple of the first people to believe in me were my old boyfriend Will and a guy called Luke Harvey-Palmer. Glenn Dickins bought out some goodness and confidence in me and more recently, a man by the name of Ted Kerr really gave me some time and changed my perspective on what was possible for our 10thousandgirl plan. I don’t see my aunty Pen as regularly as I used to and would like but she’s always believed in me and was the first person to ask me to go jointly into business. My friend Sammy P (who’s mum makes the good dhal) and my SSE friends are super cool business ninjas so they inspire me and my uni and girlfriends are a constant cheer squad. The real people that inspire me to be better though are those who I lived with over my time volunteering in Burma, Africa and India. Every day they’re in my mind and their resilience and humility inspires me even through the tough times to work toward every individual in the world being able to have basic food, shelter, love and access to education.

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