In April I had the privilege of meeting an amazing woman. Her name is Joanna Maxwell and she is a reformed lawyer cum career coach. Whilst she helps executives elegantly leave the rat race and find their passion, she also does some other wonderful work in the community. One that I had the pleasure of being exposed to is a local government funded project called the Migrant Micro-Business course. At a She Business function Joanna asked me to be a guest speaker at her course and teach her lovely class of local women in Canterbury, a part of Sydney known as the center of cultural diversity, a thing or two about Twitter for Business.
Joanna prepared me, informing me that there would be at least 7 different nationalities in my classroom and that English was likely to be a second language for everyone except the Kiwi mother of four who was likely to be breast feeding whilst I was presenting.
I've given a lot of presentations lately. I knew it would not be the same audience I entertained and educated recently in Singapore at my keynote on innovation and the digital opportunity at TFWA Asia Pacific.
This experience for me was very special. I prepared slides I thought would bear significance whilst being culturally appropriate. I made myself a pinky promise not to swear. I internally wrestled as to whether I should reveal to this very religious and conservative group that my Twitter handle was @DigitalGodess fearing immediate offense to my taking deity and owning a piece of it. I was asked to present after the group had lunch which is never the optimal time of the day as a speaker as full tummies in a warm room settle into a quiet disconnect.
I was greeted by a lovely woman who in a humble city owned "Cottage" vigilantly offered me tea, coffee or biscuits. I just wanted water. My first subway ride to Lakemba had been daunting for a girl who never took public transport moreover sojourned into a neighborhood where I was the only person I saw with blonde hair and blue eyes. I was in a part of Sydney where English was not the spoken language. My Arabic was conversational at best.
My "Ladies of Lakemba" warmed to me after Joanna gave me a complementary introduction. When she handed to room over to me, I decided I would give these fourteen women everything I had and make it my personal mission to impart on them every way I knew that they could use social media to help their small businesses. Whether it be it making baby clothes or gifts for ethnic weddings and christenings these fourteen fabulous women would have a significant competitive advantage over the woman in the craft stall next to them at the local markets. When I looked intensely into each woman's face and saw my own migrant self new and foreign in Australia wanting to own something of my own and create something I could be proud of. To the Lebanese, Malaysian, and Hindu in the room I honored their beauty and returned it with everything I had. I spent 45 minutes rifting and giving them real life case studies about Twitter and how to use the platform to find relevant audiences, build a community, and create a value relationship for which commerce would be a benefit. Whilst it was the Cottage in Canterbury, for me it was Carnegie Hall.
When I finished (and we ran overtime which I am told these women never allow!) I was graciously thanked and was humbled by these women. Their round of applause and hugs reminded me of the importance of returning to our roots and helping others by sharing knowledge. I gave each one of these woman my phone number, email address and access to my network to facilitate their personal goals and finished the day indebted to Joanna Maxwell for the opportunity to share in an afternoon basking in grace that is only created by unconditional giving.
What are your thoughts on mentoring? Is it a waste of time or an honor?