This is the unlikely story of Lizanne Falsetto, a basketball-loving ex-model who became a Femme Fatale Wellness Queen. 

You gotta hand it to some people.  They know how to dance to the beat of their own drum, and in following their own unique passions and talents, they’ve made a life and a career of it.  Meet Lizanne Falsetto, a former model turned entrepreneur, who combined her love of fitness and food and created thinkThin, a high-protein food brand offering delicious treats all while keeping you trim.  She did this without tertiary education or a business mentor.  Here’s how Lizanne followed her passion down the path to profession, and how she maintains it.

I followed my intuition

My career started organically through my personal need to find food I could take with me on the go. I had the chance to take a college basketball scholarship or pursue modelling, and I followed my intuition, which led me to an international modelling career at a very young age. It was then that the idea for thinkThin was created.  I needed high protein, delicious food that was easy to eat on the go without being unhealthy – choices were limited, and I knew it was a void I could fill.

I decided not to take on debt

I knew there were several ways to finance a business, but I decided not to take on debt or a partner due to expense and stock value.  I was very creative with rotating payables with receivables and not over spending cost. Lean and mean.

Choices were limited, and I knew it was a void I could fill

It took 20 years to build the brand – the journey was a long one. A defining career highlight has been to see thinkThin become a household name and brand. Seeing my brand on thousands of retail shelves worldwide is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments. Now I enjoy the freedom of running my own business.

I manage my time around the kid’s calendar

I spend each morning fixing breakfast and taking my kids to school, then off to the office for long days, then picking the kids up after school and working from home while they are doing homework. I manage my time around the kid’s calendar. My priorities today have changed as my kids are teenagers and need more of my time.

I choose to work hard and play hard. It’s more about work and personal life integration, which works best for me!

My leadership style is to motivate employees and inspire better performance

At the same time, I also believe in mandatory procedures, quotas and other controls to encourage employees to work harder to improve production. I encourage career development and support activities that endorse the employees to benefit from their commitment to the company.

My mission is to support women who support women

I love what I do and thrive in every aspect. The best part of my job is watching my brand turn into a household name. Since growing in my business and in life, it’s now part of my mission to support women who support women, spreading the message of kindness and optimism in the workplace. We’re all trying to get ahead. That’s the best part since achieving success – sharing my woman wisdom with other women who want to grow and do it positively.

Lizanne Falsetto, Founder of thinkThin

Lizanne Falsetto, Founder of thinkThin

Trust your gut

In business and life, we are faced with many decisions, personal, customer, product etc., and many factors affect judgment and what we decide.  You know that professional decisions don’t always have to be based upon facts.  Trust your gut.  And when the gut and head are aligned, these decisions will feel right.

That’s the best part since achieving success – sharing my woman wisdom with other women

Create and build up a good team

I believe hiring good employees is the most important part of business and the biggest challenge. From hiring your first to 50th employee – it is a significant milestone. Solidifying your culture and branding message is key. Small business owners often feel the pressure to hire the right employees. Small businesses cannot always afford the most competitive salaries or other perks of larger businesses. But, it’s financially risky to hire the wrong candidates, as the cost of losing employees is also expensive.

Lizanne’s top 10 tips for staying healthy – even when you’re busy!

1. Start Your Day Off Right, Eat Breakfast: Eating breakfast is important for sustaining energy levels and aiding in blood sugar management.  I go for thinkThin Oatmeal, 10 grams Protein, 5 grams fiber – it’s both delicious and fills me up.

2. Don’t Rely On Coffee: Coffee can make you hungrier.

3. Stay Hydrated: I drink a lot of water and Aloe Vera juice

4. Try not to eat packaged or refined foods

5. Eat local, whole foods

6. Try to bring food with you to work and dine out the smart way

7. Choose healthy protein rich food: My trainer tells me, “breakfast is for Kings, Lunch is for Queens and late dinners are for your enemies”.

8. Avoid Anything White: White Flour foods are all processed. Instead, enjoy whole grain breads

9. Carry portable snacks that are tasty and good for you: Small meals everyday. Try to work in Almonds or protein bars throughout the day to keep your energy strong!

10. Think Positive!

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0


With additional reporting by Alan Smith of Digivizer.

robyn-foyster[1]Robyn Foyster’s career straddles the established heritage media and its upstart disruptor, social media.

Moving from a successful career in mainstream media that embraced Australia, the United Kingdom and the US, she founded Foyster Media and its primary outlet, TheCarousel.com, in early 2013 as a mobile lifestyle destination for women offering expert news and advice across fashion, beauty, health, food, home, parenting and bridal.

Since then, she has grown Foyster Media and TheCarousel.com to offer production and content management services to commercial clients. And she’s done so by tapping mainstream media talent and bringing it into the social media world.

“The digital media landscape is moving at an incredible pace,” Robyn, also a Telstra Influencer, says. “I’ve had a steep learning curve particularly because I wanted to apply best in class practice across everything from SEO to innovative content creation particularly skewed towards high mobile video traffic. We’ve tried various formats across both the advertising platforms we use to the mobile interface and types of content we create. We’re always trying new things and have learned by our mistakes and our successes. “

Beginnings

Robyn’s early career was in mainstream broadcast and print media, and was at the start of many innovations that we now take for granted. She was part of the team that conceived the ‘Kochie’s Angels’ segment on Channel 7’s Sunrise program in the early 2000s here in Australia, now a familiar segment and one much copied by the station’s rivals. As she points out, “to have a regular segment composed of mainly women, talking about topics of direct relevance to women, using panellists of the stature of Ita Buttrose, the late Charlotte Dawson and Sarah Wilson, simply hadn’t been done before.” It’s a concept she’s adapted as The Moral Maze on Thecarousel.com with TV psychologist Jo Lamble as the host.

…to have a regular segment composed of mainly women, talking about topics of direct relevance to women, using panellists of the stature of Ita Buttrose, the late Charlotte Dawson and Sarah Wilson, simply hadn’t been done before.

She started her media career, though, in newspapers. She was a copy girl on The Australian, and was one of just three graduates to join AAP Reuters on graduating from Sydney University. During these early stages in her career, she covered, she says, “everything from horse racing to the police round!”

She moved to London’s Fleet Street (when Fleet Street was still the national media hub for print newspapers in Britain) in 1988, and later became the Women’s Editor on the UK’s Daily Express and On Today Newspaper – Britain’s first full-colour daily newspaper. She was a Consumer Columnist and then Environment Writer, all unusual postings in their time. “The Today newspaper broke many moulds. It’s best-remembered as being Britain’s first full-colour newspaper, but it also led with the topics and stories it was prepared to consider and run that other papers wouldn’t,” explains Robyn. “We were the first newspaper to name and shame government ministers for not using catalytic convertors, we produced the first green shopping guide in the newspaper, and we were one of the first to campaign against the use of aerosols and campaign against racism. These ideas seem almost quaint nowadays, but at the time they were ground-breaking. It was wonderful to be part of this new media thinking, at the heart of Fleet Street.”

Expanding horizons

robyn-foyster-wwFrom Fleet Street, Robyn moved to Los Angeles, and wrote columns for Today, the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday in Britain, and The Australian Women’s Weekly. Los Angeles also saw her first foray into broadcast media, delivering reports on-camera for the UK’s Big Breakfast television show. This ultimately led to her return to the UK to join GMTV, which had won the contract to broadcast the breakfast program on British commercial television in the early 1990s.  She was responsible for driving the profile of the program to the point that it became the natural choice for show business stars of the calibre and popularity of the Spice Girls, BoysZone, and Diana Ross when on tour. The appearance of the Spice Girls on GMTV was their first television appearance.

“It was wonderful being part of the so-called Australian media invasion,” says Robyn. “Rupert Murdoch had broken the power of Britain’s print unions at Wapping in the mid-eighties, which in turn led to newspapers such as Today being able to open. This new competition in turn changed the broadcast landscape, particularly in the breakfast segment. It was a wonderful experience being part of this evolving landscape.”

Delving into the new media world

Thecarousel.com is a blog that differs from others on a number of levels. Robyn says, “From its inception we wanted it to invoke memories of childhood in our audience, to make it easy to find and absorb content, and do all of this on mobile formats from the beginning. And we wanted to create something that was fun and informative, that served the changing ways people consume content. We’re all consuming more, in more ways, using multiple channels, with more interaction. That’s what attracted me from the mainstream media, which was successful but safe. I wanted to test the limits of the new media world, and be part of those changes!”

What, then, was the scariest part of shifting from mainstream media to the new media world?

“I’d always had a strong involvement in digital,” Robyn replies. “For instance, I oversaw the first redesign of The Australian Women’s Weekly website since it’s launch ten years earlier. And, as the publisher of Harper’s BAZAAR, Cosmopolitan, madison and Grazia and Woman’s Day, I had overall responsibility for both the print and digital assets of the business. But setting up my own digital site meant I was actually a small niche publisher taking on the bigger media companies. While it feels like David and Goliath at times, I love the sheer challenge of it. The fact is we are very much holding our own in a competitive market and that’s because we have the ability to be nimble and quick. We don’t have the legacy of a traditional media and can make decisions that allow us to innovate quickly and we invest heavily in that and original content including video which is our core strength.”

robyn-foyster-thecarousel

“Also, I learned at the outset that it was important to have your ducks in a row. When I was first starting my business, I caught up with Joe Cross from Reboot With Joe . He became famous for his juicing documentaries and videos. He loved my idea about starting up TheCarousel.com and, sharing some of his own experiences, said: “Startup companies and entrepreneurs need three things – a great idea, money, and balls of steel.” He then quickly added: “There’s one more thing – and that’s luck”.  He was right.”

Startup companies and entrepreneurs need three things – a great idea, money, and balls of steel.” He then quickly added: “There’s one more thing – and that’s luck”.  He was right.

Start-up stumbles

We asked Robyn if there was anything she wished she could do over when starting up TheCarousel.com. After all, starting up any new business always comes with challenges; some that can seem insurmountable until they’ve been surmounted.

Looking back, I would have gone to market earlier with less functionality and added to it later.

“Building a website can involve a huge amount of money,” she says. “I wanted all the bells and whistles and looked at some of the top websites such as Mashable. Looking back, I would have gone to market earlier with less functionality and added to it later. The fact is you need to constantly update and refresh the site anyway and it’s best to do that once you’ve got learnings about what works best. Within ten months I was already redesigning the site with new innovations like a toggle on mobiles to switch from a straight feed of videos to a mix of videos and article. It’s an innovation I’m proud of because it’s unique in the market!”

Staying motivated

For Robyn, her motivation comes from a continuing passion for journalism. “Being a journalist is all I’ve ever wanted to be,” she explains. “Today’s social media, and the opportunities provided by the Internet and today’s connected world, are the latest incarnation of journalism. It’s new, and different, and exciting. Everything is changing at such a rapid pace, and it’s fabulous being able to talk about technology and to create new audiences.”

Thecarousel.com reflects the interests of its readers, but also leads its readers into new areas of interest. “We report, but we also stimulate,” comments Robyn. She and her team always have one overriding objective, though: “to follow the eyeballs. There’s no point missing our audience or our clients’. Which means we have to be experts at content – its identification, its production, and its presentation. And that’s where, I think, heritage and social media skills combine and overlap.”

Future plans

Robyn plans to take thecarousel.com to new markets in other parts of the world. “Content is global and we need to be global to.” So Asia, the US and the UK beckon.

What of the near-future? What are the topics and trends Robyn and her team will be looking at in early 2015? “Health, and the role technology can play in staying healthy, is a real interest to our audience,” explains Robyn, “and this fits alongside wearable technology very closely. And women have a different interest and perspective on technology from men, one that still isn’t catered for as much as it should be. We aim to change that, and do so by talking about technology in their language.”

Technology has been at the centre of Robyn Foyster’s professional life for her entire career, and it’s changed markedly over the past 20 years or so. “I started by dictating breaking stories on the phone to a copydesk,” she explains. “In many cases, I’d have just the basic facts, and the rest had to be filled in from expert, background knowledge, to fill space in print, or a segment live to air. So we would also maintain vast libraries of press cuttings. If a story broke in a suburb of Los Angeles for example, we’d be able to research what else had happened there in the previous six months, who lived there, and so on. There was, of course, no Internet, no Google, and no cloud!”

Modern-day challenges

Today’s interconnected world makes life a lot easier, but speed also leads to inaccuracy, and sub-editing is now often done overseas, which can also lead to misinterpretations and missed subtleties.

“Today’s media is about content,” says Robyn. “Companies as varied as Telstra and K-Mart are creating their own original content because they are now publishers is their own right. There is also a wealth of bloggers creating their own content. The onus on those of us who produce, curate and publish content is to uphold the best standards of traditional journalism while providing value in new ways. If we fail, we lose the trust of our readers. Without that, we cease to exist. I love the challenge!”

The onus on those of us who produce, curate and publish content is to uphold the best standards of traditional journalism while providing value in new ways.

Robyn’s tips for budding journalists and entrepreneurs

  1. You need to be able to say no. It’s really tempting to try to cover too much ground. What’s important is to focus on the main goals and you can only achieve those objectives by being clear and directional.  You also need to back yourself and surround yourself with a strong team who share your vision.
  2. (About breaking into the new media industry) There is no more exciting time to break into the digital landscape than now. Make new technologies your friend. Be disruptive. Think out of the box. You will see more opportunities opening up because the cost of starting up website businesses are less than ever and yet the power of technology is growing. The key trends are connectivity, cloud computing, devices and funding. All four trends are helping to make it easier to startup. This means there will be more jobs particularly for early adopters and those who embrace the new.

Find out more about Robyn and read some fantastic lifestyle articles at http://thecarousel.com/!


In an ideal world, what you do for a living should reflect who you are, i.e. what you’re interested in, what you’re good at, what you want to do on a day-to-day basis.  “Choose a job you love”, the old saying goes, “and you never have to work a day in your life”.

But your work life shouldn’t just be about the fact that you’re “good with numbers”, “love to write” or that you’re a “people person”.  It should also be about supporting your belief system and what’s important to you. Who you are shouldn’t stop existing once you step out of your front door.  What’s important in life should be important at work, right?  The Executive Creative Director of branding/activations agency 31ST:SECOND, Rachael Egan, talks about how she built a business based on her principles. 

Why did you decide to start your own business?

We worked together at a previous agency where we were not only integral members of the senior management team but also the three of us were good mates that forged a great working relationship. Like all great adventures, the idea for our business was conceived one night over drinks. Ultimately, we wanted to have an awesome agency that we would be proud of by doing it our way, working with great people, creating standout work and enjoying ourselves along the way.

What are some company values that are important to you?

We believe that as an agency we are “Better Together”.  Our values are to be Real, Curious and Effective, underpinned by being “Better Together”.

How have you created your company culture?

Rachael-Egan-Leaders-in-Heels

Executive Creative Director of 31ST:SECOND, Rachael Egan

Our culture is a very important part of who we are. We encourage all our staff to live our company culture and philosophy: to embrace and create new ideas, challenge convention, be noticed (in a good way), enjoy ourselves, be respectful and respected, open, have fair, courteous relationships with clients, staff and suppliers, be grounded, encouraging, hands on and caring.

We attract and retain the best talent with these staff engagement strategies:

  • We have a “family comes first” policy (flexible hours for parents to pick up their kids or for non-parents to get to doctors appointments)
  • We give our staff bonus days off (no-one works on their birthday / Xmas to New Year days off)
  • We have an Employee of the Year award (which promotes personal growth within the team)
  • We invest a substantial amount into staff training including an annual off-site conference
  • We share and celebrate at the end of each big campaign

We wanted to have an awesome agency that we would be proud of by doing it our way, working with great people, creating standout work and enjoying ourselves along the way

What do you look for in employees? Do you have a particular hiring process in place?

We look for employees who are a great cultural fit, can add value to us and our team and people who are better than us!

Is there a philosophy that the business is based on?

To embrace and create new ideas, challenge convention, be noticed (in a good way), enjoy ourselves, be respectful and respected, open, have fair, courteous relationships with clients, staff and suppliers, be grounded, encouraging, hands on and caring.

Why do you think it’s important for a business owner to run their business based on their own unique principles?

It’s important for a business owner to lead with the same values as what they expect their staff to which in our case is working “better together”.

Featured photo credit: Rachael Egan

 

EricaEnriquezPhotoErica Enriquez
Erica is a Sydney-based writer and digital marketer, and can often be found pounding away on a keyboard, writing about everything from travel, lifestyle, well-being and anything in between. When she is not writing, she is STILL writing, developing copy and content for websites and marketing collateral. Erica is passionate about film, literature and culture (high brow and low brow), as well as pro-social causes supporting cultural engagement (counting travelling as one of them). In her spare time, she loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book, go for a nice dinner with friends or spend time with her partner.

 


In the lead-up to Red Heel Day, we’re interviewing our speakers to find out more about what inspires them, and what drives them to be such an inspiration to others! If you haven’t yet, check out our interviews with Anne-Marie Elias and Alexandra Mills!

Next up to the plate is Kirsten Galliott. Kirsten is a senior media executive with more than 20 years’ experience in newspapers, magazines, television and radio. Her impressive career includes three years as Editor for much-loved fashion magazine InStyle fashion, 10 years at Fairfax, editing everything from Sunday Life magazine to the(sydney)magazine media group and a presenting stint on Channel 7’s Sunrise. In May, Kirsten was appointed Editor-in-Chief for the prestigious Qantas magazine and all of its digital assets, which she re-launched internationally.

Kirsten-Galliott-portrait

Describe your typical week?

It’s very varied (which is why I love it so much). I might be working with my features team on an upcoming issue to determine what destinations are hot and how we can cover them in a fresh and surprising way. I might be at a cover shoot with an international celebrity. I might be reworking our app and reviewing what new content can go up on it. There could be meetings with Qantas, lunches with clients, events at night. It never stops.

What inspires you to get out of bed every day?

Quite simply, I love what I do. I love creating content that will have an impact on people’s lives. That impact can be small – in the case of the Qantas magazine, it could be about entertaining for someone during descent – or it can be more dramatic, such as inspiring someone to book a holiday that they will remember forever. And I love creating content with a team of passionate, creative people who feel just as I do.

Which key characteristics do you see a female leader having?

Well, I don’t know that I would qualify it with female. I think any leader has to have the same attributes. I have a note near my desk that espouses the 10 Qualities of Creative Leaders. Those qualities range from having “high standards of personal ethics” to “having the courage to make tough decisions”. And another I love: “Guts under pressure; resilience in defeat.” One quality it doesn’t include is something that I think is very important in a leader and that’s empathy.

What is the greatest learning you have had?

My sister, who is a human resources manager, once told me not to sit on a staff issue in the hope it will magically get better. She said it was much smarter to act on it quickly and decisively before it escalates. I’ve really held true to that and I’ve found by having conversations early, it can either diffuse the issue or bring something to a head.

Why are you excited about Red Heel Day?

Women need to step up and take on more leadership roles. Any initiative that encourages and promotes this – and inspires women to say “I can” instead of “I can’t” – is vital.


Andrea Landis is a trained journalist and as she describes herself, “a natural-born creative writer”. Growing up, she was always creating fictional stories about her friends, which eventually evolved into real stories about real women and their struggles and triumphs. It was this same skill that she leveraged to tell her own story when interviewing for jobs and seeking career progression.

Here, Andrea shares how she’s used storytelling in her life, and how you can also use the power of storytelling to advance your own career.

Between ages 20 to 25, you increased your professional responsibility level, title and salary every year using personal storytelling. What is the importance of storytelling?

Effective storytelling can draw powerful connections between young women and employers that serve to illustrate a woman’s ideal fit for a particular role within an organization and incredible (potential or existing) value to them, which then compel an employer to take action in the form of hiring or promoting her at a competitive level. The same general principal holds true for entrepreneurs seeking to gain the attention and business of their ideal clients.

The ability to confidently position your passions, experiences and skills in a way that clearly resonates with the mission and needs of an employer (or client) will make their hiring or promoting you instinctively easy and move you ahead in your career and/or business again and again.

When do you use your stories? During interviews only or every day?

Stories are central to the application, interview, negotiation and promotion strategies I design and implement for myself and my clients in times of career transition. They are essentially a self-marketing tool that should be utilized whenever appropriate to iterate or re-iterate your deep connection and value to your employer or client audience.

[Stories] are essentially a self-marketing tool that should be utilized whenever appropriate to iterate or re-iterate your deep connection and value to your employer or client audience.

Telling your story to your employer or client every day—especially after a mutually beneficial partnership has been forged between the two of you—would likely be disruptive to getting the things you’ve been hired to accomplish done, but elaborating on the compelling narrative you have framed for them from the beginning of your relationship at key moments can ensure you continue developing as a professional and they continue valuing you at the level at which you deserve.

How women can find and develop their stories?

Women can identify their stories by reflecting on the “why” of their chosen career path and thinking through the recurring patterns and interests throughout their lives and careers that have led them to where they are now and where they seek to go next.

For example, I recently worked with a young female attorney seeking to transition from a specific type of firm to another that was opposite in many ways. By posing pointed questions about her reasons for becoming a lawyer in the first place and the parallels between those and the mission of the firm she was interested in, we were able to boil down the various elements of her passions, experiences and skills that made her an ideal fit for that firm—and they for her.

What is important in storytelling?

Knowing yourself and your audience and being honest with both. Trying to make your narrative fit within the framework of an opportunity that is not right for your authentic interests, level of experience or potential will only serve to waste the employer/client’s and your own time, energy and resources. Keeping it real is the best policy for all involved.

Keeping it real is the best policy for all involved

What are the common mistakes women make in communicating their career aspirations?

Unfortunately women often do not give themselves the credit they deserve when it comes to the types of career opportunities they choose to pursue. This makes communicating in support of those pursuits unchallenging and unexciting, and it shows in the professional portfolio materials they produce to go after opportunities they are overqualified for.

As was brought to light in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, research has found that—on average—men apply for positions they feel they are 60 percent qualified to fulfill, while women wait until they feel they are 100 percent qualified before applying. The most profound takeaway I glean from this finding is that (because of societal pressures and myriad other factors) women are not celebrating their accomplishments or honoring their potential to the extent that will consistently propel them forward in their careers.

Do you have many stories for different occasions and different audiences? If so, how do you keep track of the stories? How do you know which story to use?

Any audience worth my (or my clients’) reaching out to already has a clear connection to who I am and my passions, experiences, skills and career objectives at that moment in time. As multi-faceted, multi-talented and multi-interested individuals, we all have various big picture and small-detail narratives that illustrate different aspects of who we are, what we’ve achieved and what we’re capable of. Deciding which of these to use depends on which of them logically coincides with the objective of the audience in front of us. It is hard to go wrong with any story choice that says something authentic about you and is relevant to your audience. Again, effective storytelling is all about knowing yourself, knowing your audience and being honest with both.

As multi-faceted, multi-talented and multi-interested individuals, we all have various big picture and small-detail narratives that illustrate different aspects of who we are, what we’ve achieved and what we’re capable of.

What advice would you give to women starting their careers?

Trust your gut. Pursue what you really truly love—what brings butterflies to your stomach and possesses layers upon layers of mysteries and opportunities that you’re genuinely stoked to uncover and explore. Remember that even the highest of the higher-ups in your industry is human and connects with stories the way all the rest of us do. Finally, keep it real with yourself and everyone who crosses your path. Authenticity goes an extremely long way.

 

Andrea Landis Headshot 1Andrea Landris is a professional portfolio writer and career move coach and the self-proclaimed Carrie Bradshaw for Millennial power women in the corporate workplace. She is authentically storytelling her way to the top and determined to change the young professional game by helping Millennial women everywhere do the same.

She provides resume, cover letter, interview prep, promotion proposal, professional bio and personal brand writing, coaching and courses to young professional women ready to tap into the power of their stories to get the career, clients and compensation they deserve through her company A. Jayne Writes. Check out her site for weekly gems of advice and inspiration!