Mental Health Training

#49 Founder of The Women’s Resilience Centre – Simone Allan, Founder & Director, Mondo Search (s03ep5)

May 19, 2023

Simone Allan and Graeme worked together at Morgan and Banks (now Hudson). After leaving Morgan and Banks, Simone went on to establish her own company Mondo Search. She grew that company into one of the top 40 search firms worldwide. Having experienced the benefits of mentoring herself, she then went on to establish Mondo Mentoring. After suffering a career crisis at the age of 43 which left her burnt out and overwhelmed, Simone took some time to undertake deep self-flection. With the covid pandemic devastating the recruitment industry so completely, Simone used her new found sense of purpose to establish the Women's Resilience Centre, a haven for women and children that were experiencing domestic violence.
"A caring workplace is a workplace where the leaders walk alongside and are "servant leaders" really, that demonstrate really deep what I call respectful fearlessness and deep curiosity."
- Simone Allan


  • How growing up in country NSW has influenced her life ever since.
  • Simone is very authentic and has no hesitations discussing the highs and lows of a successful career.
  • How a career crisis in her 40’s led to a new sense of purpose and the creation of the Women’s Resilience Centre – a haven for women and children that were experiencing domestic violence.
  • Simone has always valued mentoring and after experiencing the value of it personally went on to establish Mondo Mentoring.


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Transcript from the interview

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Graeme Cowan, Simone Allan

Graeme Cowan 0:10 

It’s a real pleasure to welcome Simone Allen to The Caring CEO. Welcome, Simone.

Simone Allan 0:17 

Thank you, Graeme, really grateful to be here.

Graeme Cowan 0:21 

What does a caring workplace mean to you?

Simone Allan 0:25 

Wow, well, that’s the only workplace that should be there. To me a caring workplace is a place where people feel safe. I think psychological safety and feel that they can trust those around them is number one. I also think a caring workplace is a workplace where the leaders walk alongside, and are “servant leaders” really, that demonstrate really deep what I call respectful fearlessness and deep curiosity. And when I talk respectful fearlessness, that word fearlessness be not afraid to say what you’re not afraid to think so I, I think I love authentic, really honest feedback, but done with deep, deep respect for someone, and I often say it myself, look, I, I’m saying this because I actually love you. And I want you to be the best human you can be. And, and I’ve made the same mistakes. So it’s sort of kind of walking alongside someone before, before you ever give them feedback that may not be the way that they want to hear it. But certainly, feedback that they need that will help their growth.

Graeme Cowan 1:53 

I really love you know how you express that. I think it’s it sort of breaks down barriers doesn’t when you put it that way, and also that you’ve made the mistakes. And so, you know, you’ve had to learn the hard way. And I think any employee hopefully wants to learn from others who have trod their path. So, they don’t have to make all the same mistakes again, hopefully that situation. Why do you think it’s important to learn from our elders?

Simone Allan 2:39 

Graeme, it’s so important. My yoga teacher has said that really succinctly and I love what he says. And that is that the purpose in life is to listen to wise elders, our wise elders tread softly and, and then pass on our learning. That’s, that’s what life is all about. And, and I think, to me, that just nuts that really summarizes really what life’s about to me, I, I often feel so sad when I go to funerals, and I see very wise people that have passed, and I think, Oh, I wish I could have put all their knowledge in my head. My father was an avid reader, and I and he knew that, you know, the history of every culture around the world. And I used to think, when, you know, when he passed, I thought, Gosh, we’ve lost all of that, you know. So, trying to tap into our elders, we live in societies, which are often nuclear families, we’re not living with old uncles or aunts are often putting old people in old homes, you know, so it’s just yeah, in an organization, there’s an opportunity to really learn from, from people that that that have, you know, been on the planet a little bit longer.

Graeme Cowan 4:14

Yeah, for sure. And I think one of the real tragedies is how early in terms of age people leave the workforce, particularly men that I know of that want to work, but they’re considered too old.

Simone Allan 4:30

I know in this country is ridiculous for it, you know, like, I remember Coca Cola. I was as like, how I first knew, you know, whatever. 30 years ago in headhunting and, and one of the Coca Cola Australia we’re launching distribution channels in convenience all around. So they flew across Chuck, he was 84. Chuck from America came over to teach Australians how to open convenience outlets for Coca Cola. Would you imagine us Australian sending an 83-year-old? You know what I mean? We just don’t have respect, like some countries and particularly the Asian cultures have beautiful respect for their elders.

Graeme Cowan 5:14 

Yeah, the only group that have heard do really good work in that area is Bunnings. They see their oldest worker is 90, love being on the floor, they have many older men work in their store. But get this they also have a policy that when people retire, and they want to become green nomads, if they’ve worked in Bunnings, before they could stop along the way. So stop at a Bunning store, you know, 500 K’s away and work two months there.

Simone Allan 5:50 

I didn’t know that. That’s really why I get warm and fuzzy when I pop into a Bunnings. Because I feel like there’s some older people around me and I, you know, sadly moved from the country to the city and, you know, I’ve never had I get teary about it. You know, grandparents and grand uncles around me and I crave it, I crave it so yeah, I actually I will say a core to I believe they’re doing more and more with older. You know, they’re really trying that and ex-military people because they’re so good at systems and operations. They’ve got some fabulous programs for a bit more of age diversity, which I think’s Awesome. Yeah, cuz the older people know what services don’t they?

Graeme Cowan 6:34 

They do. I know that. You grew up in the country, New South Wales, you spent time in Armadale, Walgett and Blaney. How did that shape who you are now?

Simone Allan 6:46 

Oh, wow. I think it shaped me big time. I think, you know, I, It’s so funny with country girls, and you get together. I think that we’re good problem solvers. I think I it was a diverse upbringing and living in Walgett, particularly, and Blaney. And there were times where I wasn’t that, you know, I don’t feel I feel I was always that safe at times, in some ways, and I think–  So it taught me how to scan a room quickly. It taught me adaptability, being able to try and strike up a conversation with speed and ease. And country people I don’t know, I just, I just love more simple things. You know, I’m not I don’t really, you know, I actually don’t like the big ballroom evenings and things like that all the fluff and bubble I just love my version of a great day is sitting in the sunshine.

Graeme Cowan 7:45 

I share that– I share that passion. My father had a accountancy practice in Tari country town in New South Wales. And he, he always would prefer to hire people that worked on farms. And the reason he said that was case is they just sort stuff out. Stuff happens on farms all the time. It can’t cause somebody’s got to sort it out. And we found them to have a real can-do attitude in sorting through issues and stuff, which I thought.

Simone Allan 8:16 

Yeah, well, I could drive at 12. And I had to at 13. I was– my father moved up to Mornington Island in the Gulf and indigenous Island, and I ended up having to kind of drag him home and drive him home one night. He wasn’t in such a good state. And my, yeah, with my two other brothers, but I could drive as you. Actually, it wasn’t quite 13 I could ride motorbikes. And yeah, heads. Yeah, all of that easy, easy. It’s good fun growing up on a farm.

Graeme Cowan 8:46 

Why did you choose to study psychology?

Simone Allan 8:48 

Because I’m deeply curious about human behavior. And I want to study criminology down the track, because– No, I don’t believe any babies born a criminal either. And it’s always usually about early trauma. I think I discovered I think I’m an HSP a highly sensitive person. So I, you know, I think probably overthink a lot. And therefore I think about my behavior a lot. I think about the impact of others behavior on me. It’s sometimes drives me bonkers, that mad flat made up in my head. But I really, I’m really interested in human behavior and learning how to be the best human that I can be. And I like yeah, so I just really, I love learning about human behavior. I really do. I couldn’t never I’m never bored learning about it.

Graeme Cowan 9:49 

Yeah, you know, I share that passion. I think one of the things about recruitment, and, you know, that’s where we first met. Recruitment working with Morgana and Banks, which is now Hudson. Is that I was also always fascinated about the choices people made and why they made those choices. And I think having that curiosity is very good for that area. You started off in, I think sales and business development roles. What attracted you to recruitment?

Simone Allan 10:21 

I was fortunate because I went in for a job interview with Morgan and Banks and, and the lady that was interviewing me said, Hang on, you’ve got a, you’ve got it. You’ve studied psychology, human resources, and you can sell. She’s like, right, we need you in here. So, six months later, initially to Jeff Morgan’s. He was like, no, your site profile doesn’t quite fit. He said, Give me one good reason why I should hire you. And I said, because my birthday is the same day as yours?

Graeme Cowan 10:57 

What a great response.

Simone Allan 10:58 

And he laughed and said, well, you know how to do your research. I liked that about you. So that got me in the door, luckily, but that was after about eight interviews. So yeah, I was lucky and I remember when I got into recruitment, it was like, I was like, in a lolly shop going. This is just exactly what I love to do. You know, it’s like, it’s like working with two parties to get to make a life decision. That’s that, you know, I can help be a part of then. And yeah, I’ve really enjoyed interviews, and I enjoyed the diversity of the people I met. Yeah, I think I think I worked out recently with my consultancy, which is 25 years old. My mother search, we’ve placed 2800 leaders in business, and interviewed over 30,000 I think it’s 25, 28,000. But certainly ticked over that was about five years ago, we’ve been I’ve interviewed a lot of people. And yeah, people have shared me stories that I, you know, it’s interesting, there’s stories that that someone once said to me, I hope you’ll never share this story with anyone. And I said, Don’t worry, my children call me Dory. Why remember the story? So, you’re safe with me.

Graeme Cowan 12:29 

Was there anything you didn’t enjoy about recruitment?

Simone Allan 12:33 

Um, I think the sad thing about recruitment is the way it’s been built, often by people who think short term in the industry that have, and I won’t say, a particular country, but there, there are, there are recruiters that walk in and really are just there to make money. That’s it. And I think the model of how it’s priced is incorrect, as I do believe that with lawyers as well. And I think that it, it doesn’t serve the outcomes, you know, for, for the future of so the industry upsets me about that. And I think, you know, modeling around hours for service is a far more sensible model, and outcomes and long term outcomes, you know, if the if the organization for five years, you know, that would that’s, you know, that’s making impact, if it’s 10, that’s even more impact, you know, so I just think the, the pricing, the modeling system doesn’t support the, the, the reputation of recruitment. But aside from that, Graeme, the human beings that work in recruitment, I’ve just met so many awesome people, you know, awesome, awesome humans that, that do care about seeing successful appointments and long term longevity good for good. Yeah.

Graeme Cowan 14:12 

You made the decision to start your own search firm Mondo Search. Why?

Simone Allan 14:18 

Ultimately, because the fabulous business that you and I were both in I could see was changing rapidly. Maybe there’s sort of recruiters that didn’t align with my, you know, the style of where it was going. I could see it was.– It was up for sale. And the culture was in a different place. The leaders were, yeah, not the is not as maybe inspirational at the time. And it was just that time it was right before. It was 1998. And it was right before the Olympics. What an incredibly fun period in Sydney it was, you know. It was just optimistic. And that about, you know, a Sydney and the Olympics. And, you know, everyone was starting their own business. And it was just a quite an exciting period, in some ways a little bit like that after COVID. You know, like, there’s a little bit of, you know, green shoots– Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Graeme Cowan 15:22 

I remember, I was still at Morgan and banks, when it was announced. And I remember going into circular key with about 200,000 other people. And they had a big screen up here. And that Antonio Semoran said, and the winner is Saturday. But crazy, extraordinary time. It really was it was, as you say, you will real euphoric. You’ve recruited many, many leaders, both yourself and the people that work for your organization. And I saw that you were nominated as one of the top 40 search firms worldwide, which is a massive achievement. What do you think was the reason behind that?

Simone Allan 16:15 

So yeah, we’re a part of the MC group, which is a– Yeah, their top rated search group now. Alliance. So we’ve got partners all over the world, which is great. The real truth, I think, was a meeting of the minds with values with the president of EMSA, to be completely frank, because there’s plenty of search firms in Australia. And I think they like the fact the other things that I was doing, and yeah, my interest in mental health, and our interest in mental health, with our placements of people we really care about, we really, really care about the work that we do. And we’ve moved more into appointments in the not for profit space and in other areas, but we work closely with people really closely. He said that there’s a very good decision made. So by the time it gets to a decision for hiring, you know, like I say, look for the dirt and all the references, like come on, there’s got to be weaknesses, what are the weaknesses, we’ve all got them. So let’s get the weaknesses up front, on the front of the page. Let’s go through them. Let’s do some rigorous testing strengths finders I love let’s look at their commercial capabilities. Yeah, let’s look at them holistically as a human find out about them and their backgrounds talked, I don’t want to do two references. I like to do 4, 5, 6, 7 references, you know, I get surprised when people don’t have previous bosses to talk to. It’s like, really? Oh, no, well, that was 10 years ago, or 10 years ago. It’s fine. I’ll call them there. Or they Dubai. That’s fine. We’ve got WhatsApp, haven’t we? It’s just putting the people haven’t burned their bridges. I think, you know, you don’t have to burn your bridges. You don’t you don’t have to burn your bridges. You it’s respectful communication. And bosses get a bit upset when you leave. But if you know later in life, stay in touch with them. They’re worth it. Aren’t they, Graeme? Yeah.

Graeme Cowan 18:43 

Definitely.  So you’ve been involved for quite a while now in recruitment? Has it changed in terms of what type of leader people are looking for now compared to when you started your search firm?

Simone Allan 19:14 

Yes. Maybe as I’ve got older, I’ve got less he just– looked at number one. In fact, I was last couple of nights to go to a big mentoring networking event. And it was, it was evident that you know, the number one trait that that organizations are looking for, is that resilience and agility to adapt to change and, and show that capacity for change and openness to learning. And they’re now calling the human scale. That was the power skill.

Graeme Cowan 20:01 

I love that. I love it. I really saw that. That is perfect. Because that’s what it’s become. It’s become, you know.

Simone Allan 20:10 

The power skills. So yeah, you see it in the younger generation coming through that you just know the ones that are a shining. And I’m really excited by this generation at the moment that are coming through post, the COVID period, the pandemic. They’ve had a lot on their plates, really. But they’re, they’re really quite a really resilient, curious group and hard working. Yeah, I’m very excited about her working but you know, that they get tasks done. They’re very task focused. And they’re so good at curating information. And, yeah, I’m super excited about this generation that is flowing through at the moment, you know, we all complained about Gen Y. And I think, I won’t say we don’t know why there was. It was a funny, it was a funny period for that crowd. But that crowd didn’t see a lot of tough stuff. They didn’t they kind of, and then this new generation have been through a lot, haven’t they? And I think they’re, yeah, I think they’re really breath of fresh– breath of fresh air. Yeah, as a gigantic. So, I think. Yeah.

Graeme Cowan 21:32 

And you mentioned mentoring before, and I know you started a division called Mondo mentoring. Yeah. Why did you choose to launch that?

Simone Allan 21:44 

Thing One was, I was asked to hire a chair of a big not for profit. And I interviewed all these really amazing human beings and high profile people and realized that every single one of them had one thing in common and that was they all said they had good mentors. And I was like, she, there’s a lot of mentoring isn’t there. And then when I reflected on my own life, Graeme, I was like, that’s really my life. But I didn’t have you know, my, my father disappeared when I was eight. And my Mum and you know, he was, he was challenged by addictions, a lot of things in his life and amazing man, philosopher and incredible human being but, but, but I didn’t have a role model really, as a father in so and yeah, my Mum was a single Mum. And you know, she went to work full time at a law firm. She, she, and then there was no family because we’ve moved to the city. So I didn’t have a lot of mentors, role models at that point. And then I suddenly realized, I’ve got to find mentors. Because they’re not around me. And I did I look for them all the time. It started with babysitter’s who taught me how to dance with the Beatles. And then I learned how to dance. I love dancing. But it was and I just forever would try to cling to people. I’m sure I came and click tried to cling to you a few times. Greg, give me some advice on this. And it’s I just constantly, that’s what I’ve done. And, and I’m in touch with all my own bosses, ironically, you know, they, they’ve all had an important part to help me grow. And I’ve got mentors all around me. spiritual mentors, health, fitness mentors and business mentors. Yeah, so parenting mentors. So yeah, so it’s, they’re all really, really important. So because of that, and I see it in organizations, Graeme. And you would, too, that organizations where there’s intergenerational sharing, it’s more caring, isn’t it? It’s, it’s so much more caring. And I’m a big believer that Kedo Caring organization is one where mentoring is a big part of the service. It’s there for an organization. Yeah. And that actually

Graeme Cowan 24:18 

is so much more attractive to new recruits doesn’t have to know that they’re going to learn they’re going to be encouraged and they’re going to grow it just does create a pretty amazing culture.

Simone Allan 24:30 

Oh, it helps diversity. It breaks down barriers of cultures. When one person starts mentoring another they start to see who they are into you see me intimacy, you know, and a little people maybe that are more quiet, introverted. They get seen, and there’s opportunities for the introverts to be to heard and listened to and are been put into more leadership roles. And yeah, so there’s, it’s there’s such an mentoring it should be if you’re not doing mentoring in an organization, you know, you’re really missing out on building huge potential if your people.

Graeme Cowan 25:15 

Yeah. So you’ve had at this stage, you know, really great success, you started your own firm, and that’s gone really well. And making a great contribution. But you shared with me that when you were 43, you really burnt out and just felt overwhelmed. What do you think contributed to that? And how did you recover from it?

Simone Allan 25:43 

Graeme, I put an F in the middle of 43. So, I won’t say that word on here. But it was. And I interestingly, heard Sarah Wilson say that most people, most women had a real moment in their early 40s. And I did big time, and I think I do things like that. I don’t do things little– I you know, I, I really felt like I wasn’t functioning. And it wasn’t. I walked with my neighbor in the mornings and just said, I’m not me. I’m just not me. I don’t know who I am. I’m not functioning, I can’t make decisions. At that time, I had 14 staff. Yeah, and it was I call it overwhelm. I didn’t actually feel depressed. That sounds weird. I had, I even had a very important CEO role a job to do. And I was like, Oh, I’m still managing it, but I wasn’t and really, and what I, what I knew was I needed help. And, and I got help, I got really good help. And I took myself away for three weeks. And that experience turned changed my world. It was like I really discovered who I was, and how important, really good recovery services are. Yeah, and what I realized was, I experienced stuff as a little kid that wasn’t okay. And you certainly understand, are you okay? It wasn’t okay. And, and I, it was absolutely wrong, what happened. And I kind of covered it up and kept going on. And, you know, my version of trying to deal with the wound, the, the trauma wound was to just keep trying to work and perform and, you know, hard work is everything is my mother would say, so. And it just didn’t work at 43. It was like, I’ve got to deal with this stuff. And I think trauma is not something you can, you know, just you have to, you have to deal with trauma, you can’t just sugarcoat it and keep going on. And I don’t think just like, I think there’s a role for therapists, but deep recovery to me is when you’re sharing with other lived experience, people that have experienced trauma as well together is very, very powerful. And it was for me, it changed my world. I’m now an act. I’m very, very involved on the Care Consumer committee of South Pacific private hospital and have been for eight years. And I believe if you do not repair, you will repeat and when I talk those words, it may not be you repeat the same trauma, but you’ll create other trauma, because you can’t, you have to deal with it. It’s like a, you know, a boil, you’ve got to lance it unfortunately. And, and, and clean it out and deal with it. And then the body will heal, will heal but otherwise, the body will hold it and then you’ve got to constantly still it doesn’t just suddenly all disappear either things like you know, yoga and all of that is a daily practice in my life.

Graeme Cowan 29:14 

Yeah. You mentioned also that it was a relatively quick period of time that you went from not knowing who you were to knowing who you are knowing your authentic self. What were the things that happened that help you with that transition?

Simone Allan 29:33 

I did a– I did a– It’s like unpeeling the onion. I did a session that was called a changes program. It was Milan I tell you padded walls stuff. It really was and yeah, stuff in here and it was just like oh my gosh that was a very, very that has cut that cathartic transformational. For me, it was symbolic and a good process of letting go. So that was to me something amazing. It was. And then another thing that I did with a group of 37 individuals with lived experience, and it was really powerful. It’s called I Am Session. And I was put in the middle of the room after being with these, these people for three weeks. And they were like, all sorts of people with different journeys, you know, there were CEOs had run out agencies, there was all sorts know, famous sports people to it, all sorts of people, all people with very different life with very different journeys. one thing in common that we’d all experienced terrible trauma. And the I Am Session, they all had to say one thing about you, and they’d all been there. And you had to just say I am. I can’t tell you how amazing that was. And I do that now. I did that for my father, just before he passed, I got a group of us together and it was almost like having his wake before he passed. It’s very, very powerful to have people who know you deeply. And it’s like 1%, deeply not, you know, they know me a little bit. They really know you. Yeah, it so they were probably the two things alongside really incredible lived experience mentors for me that have got behind me and held my back and walked alongside me that are just so important in my who I am today. Yeah, so yeah, I did I say I found myself I did, I found myself, I really discovered some who are keeping was. Yeah, taking up all the layers.

Graeme Cowan 31:59 

And like a lot of other people who have emerged from that there’s often a real need to contribute and to share what you’ve learnt along the way. And you certainly do have a significant contribution, right from being a surf lifesaving volunteer to probably the thing that is your real focus now, which is the women’s resilience center. How did that happen? How did you come to decide? You want to start that? How did you get the energy to do something about it? And how did you make real progress?

Simone Allan 32:42 

Oh, Graeme. So about two years out of that experience, I just shared of having getting help myself. I was like, there’s not enough help after. Like, where do people go? And I was like, there’s not enough there’s not enough places where people can go and work on themselves, you know, like, there’s, there’s, there’s you know, gyms and there’s, you know, spas and, you know, there are groups and things but, but like it’s not and so I started researching and discovered in America, they have what you call clubhouses where people can go and join programs and do meditation and, and get a job. And it’s like, God, there’s such a need for that. And obviously, being a recruiter, like, wow, imaginative, because a lot of people that I knew that step out of South Pacific hospital and private and rehab, and, you know, crisis care centers, they don’t know, they don’t even have a job, you know, I was lucky enough, I could go back and still had a team and I was lucky, you know, I had my family still, they’re still there was still there, everything, you know, whereas, you know, a lot of people have nothing, nothing. And so I was like, wow, we need a centers of love, love and support and practical help, and getting jobs and programs to help people that are going to help them be practical in life. So I watched in 2018, A star is born that film and felt very, I couldn’t get out of my chair. I was like, you know, Phil, I went to rehab and what did you do after that? It wasn’t, you know, was a terrible story. I was like, no. So when the pandemic hit, and I’d been writing to the South Pacific private hospital, I have a writing saying there needs to be rehab post rehab centers. So I called it and I rang my mentor in business and said, That’s it. The pandemic, my search business is in a COVID coma, I need to do this. And so, I just worked like I really envy those who didn’t jigsaws and because I worked 12 hours a day on zooms and getting a charity registered and getting forming a board and getting the whole thing off the ground. And I didn’t stop doing I was doing online zooms for charity raising, and we raised $340,000 through COVID. Because I was like, no, no, we can still charity raise, we’ll just have to do it online. And that it was I was like, This is my, this is our time to get this off the ground. And it really was evident to me with what was going on with domestic violence. One woman dies between every seven and eight days is various statistics, but in Australia for that, you know, crisis care. Women can go there. And it’s such an incredible service. It’s like an emergency department service. But it’s, they can only go there for 12 weeks. So, then what happens? Where’s the support? You know, where’s the support of rehab? So, yeah, so it was it just all came together. And it’s, it’s way bigger than me, there’s just so many people who are involved. And this, it’s, it’s really going, it’s really kicking along, it’s really started to happen. We’ve opened our first center, and we’d love to replicate the model, prove it and start replicating and definitely build one in Walgett, in the country, yeah.

Graeme Cowan 36:17 

And, you know, I gather that this was also a personal experience with you as well, having you experienced domestic violence growing up.

Simone Allan 36:27 

I started in a lot of, you know, I sorted part of my life. And I observed it and something that I read, it was in my own family, and then I’ve, I’ve got other family members, it’s yeah, it’s been all around me. And I, I realized that, you know, so often people don’t go and get help. They it’s swept under the carpet. And the impact that it has is goes on to generations. And my brothers, if they didn’t go and do the things I did, once recently passed, his life was a tragic life. And, and the other yeah, they’ve not led the lives possibly they could have led, because of what happened. Breaks my heart. I’m doing this for my brothers. And we work very, very closely with men’s groups. And yeah, very, very close to supporting men, as I’m doing this for my brothers.

Graeme Cowan 37:32 

And what have you discovered on this journey from when it first started at the start of COVID? You obviously had a good understanding or basic understanding? What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

Simone Allan 37:49 

Well, I was fortunate, because I did do a lot of research before I started. So I didn’t just jump in and start forming a board I, I tapped into lots of brights, like yourself, Graeme, I called. I called all the shelters, I called a lot of the universities and the research, we engaged UTS to do a full re scoping review on what services were out there. I got lots of mentors to you know, so I, so we did, we did a lot of research before we stepped forward. And I don’t think like government won’t back startup, because they weren’t. So. So you know, as much as we were not getting, and we were fortunate to get an infrastructure grant, which has been helpful with small one of 75,000. But we’re still very grateful for that, and a small $5,000 volunteer grant for volunteers, but the government doesn’t give anything, you know, generous to run the center or anything until you’ve really kick some goals. So what would have I done– What would I do differently? I tell you what I definitely do differently. Forming boards is interesting for not for profits, because you’ve got to make sure you get people with the right governance backgrounds, X and skill, a skills matrix that’s helpful. That I would certainly say after reading the book of the board, and being only in year three, I would definitely focus on what do they say with a not for profit board, you’ve got to either give get or go know how to give money or know how to get money? It’s I know, it’s really crude to say that but definitely, connectors to help with funding is just, it’s just so important for those for the early days. Yeah.

Graeme Cowan 39:51 

And if you had any interest from corporate Australia or the foundations?

Simone Allan 39:55 

Oh, Graham, we’ve been fortunate the ASX chose us as a charity of choice. So ASX Charities Foundation. And that’s been extraordinary. And they see us as a potential for, you know, replicating service in service that’s replicable, I should say. And that’s been really helpful. And so slowly, slowly, where we’ve got small amounts of corporate support, then least sort of supported us a little bit. And as such EMC Saatchi the ad agency group are incredible. They’ve backed us with a lot of really supportive material. Gilbert and Tobin and legal level which is fabulous. And HW accountants have done all work for us. So, there’s we’ve been getting accountancy work, and so we’ve got a lot of goods in kind, that’s for sure. That’s been very, very helpful.

Graeme Cowan 40:50 

And we’re going to get this episode published in lead up to a big fundraising luncheon coming up and that’s what dataset on? 16 to June and just to show what a networker that sim is they’ve got an amazing group, they’ve got Erin Molan, the TV presenter, Christine Holgate, CEO of Team Global Express, former CEO of Australia Post, Karen Holgate, the New South Wales Police Commissioner. Karen Webb, police commissioner, police commissioner and also a TEDx speaker, Stephanie Rodriguez, how did you get that group that’s a pretty impressive lineup.

Simone Allan 41:44 

I know it’s the Ferrari panel. We need to unlock this diversity or so that will be available there in the event, we’ve got some we can’t share because we’re allowed to put them on social media. And it has been convened by mail, which is who’s got a lot of lived experience. I’m very grateful. I just wrote to them and said, This is what we’re doing. And they were like, we’re next to you, sister. We were and that really, I think the they are all people with examples have particularly also worked very closely around corporate world and know that there’s significant changes need to take place, that practical things that corporates can do to really help reduce the impact of trauma in the workplace. And you’re, you’re, you’ve started it, Graham, are you okay? And, and just the importance that this is, you know, recognizing first of all, when people not okay. So, so you’re, you’re a champion of everything that the panel came to talk about, as well.

Graeme Cowan 43:02 

That’s really kind of you, but they obviously, it obviously resonated with them. And I can understand you know, Karen, the swivel police commissioner, she be very experienced with that I actually want spoke at a conference, they had all the police that, that handle the domestic violence, side of things. And that was quite an experience just to hearing some of the things they sadly experienced and that sort of situations. But obviously these others really resonated with what you were trying to do to share about, you know, experiencing trauma in their personal life or also their home life or personal workload. Sorry.

Simone Allan 43:45 

Yeah, we’ve got Ainsley Van Ansel and also turning up who’s been a commissioner for legal aid. So she’s coming in with a legal hat on what you can do to make change but yeah, they’re all resonate with the trauma impacts in the workplace and if people can be in a, in a caring organization, I say is love centered. And you know, I know a lot of people don’t think that’s a good word, but to me Love is a union of perceived differences, right? Union of perceived differences that’s love when you can be there with very different people and all be in union. And so that’s imagine that imagine more organizations that was love centered. And I think that that all of these women they didn’t there was no they were in the second I wrote to them they were like, I’m there. That topic is relevant.

Graeme Cowan 44:51 

Yeah, like and we had that as well with the start of “Are you okay” given like, and came up with a brilliant tagline that conversation could change your life. And we could all relate to that, you know, in some way, but we got people like Hugh Jackman doing a free plug, you know for “Are you okay”. And the first and second year and Simon Baker and yeah, all these extraordinary people because they related to the mission and the what was involved. And so I think that’s a really secret source for successful charities or people that want to be in a social enterprise is having that, that noble mission?

Simone Allan 45:41 

Yeah, well, there’s– Yeah, there seems to be some great support. We would love anyone to be there on the 16th of June, just go to the women’s resilience Center and the ticket to buy it is there you can jump in, we would love you there. There’s, it’s going to be you’re going to be there on my table. And it’s going, yeah, Graeme, we would love you all there. If you care about changing the community and corporations particularly becoming more caring, focused. And please come and hear this panel. Because it is yeah, it’s a Ferrari paddle. And it will be a lot of fun to there’ll be a lot of incredible humans there.

Graeme Cowan 46:19 

Yeah. So, people can find these tickets at women’ Today, you and I just be wonderful catching up. So we haven’t really talked about the we did actually work together for quite a while. And I’ve always had a high degree of respect for you and what you’ve done. And I think these last, you know, five years have been extraordinary, with all the worries, financial worries of downturn that happened in COVID. That wasn’t much recruited.

Simone Allan 46:55 

No, no.

Graeme Cowan 46:56 

But I just like to, I guess, finish with a question that I always ask at the end. You know, when you think of your 18 year old self, knowing what you know, now, and everything you’ve experienced, including, you know, not feeling in yourself to now feeling that you do know yourself. What advice would you give to that? 18-year-old self?

Simone Allan 47:20 

Ah, well, it’s, I think it’s, it’s definitely don’t take things personally, like, you know, go high. Don’t go low. Is that just, yeah, yeah, it’s, I think that’s, that’s the big one. Because I think you can overthink situations. And, you know, I’m very aware with myself, if I’m thinking 18 I’m thinking they’re doing social media. You know, they’re, they’re looking around to see what others think of them. Don’t worry what others think about you. Because just hang on to you and dig deep to find your little self with speed. You know, because that little self loves you. And you’re we’re also lucky how many one in 20,000 chances of being born we are or something with all those little eggs, one egg and 1000s of sperm. So, you know, it’s like, it’s frickin awesome that we’re, that we’re here, right? So, like, just don’t worry about the naysayers, because, you know, they just, just, and I watched a fabulous Michelle Obama interview recently on Netflix with Oprah Winfrey. And, you know, I just let him go, let him go. They’re not gonna serve you and they’re just gonna take space you don’t need and yeah, be careful who you let into your mind. Right?

Graeme Cowan 48:55 

Yeah, yeah. I love that advice from Brene Brown that, you know, don’t take advice for anyone who hasn’t been in the arena. I think it is irrelevant. It’s so easy to be a naysayer. But when you know, people that have been there, try that and have learned from things that’s when they’ve earned the right to be listened to.

Simone Allan 49:15 

Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s absolutely spot on. You know. And, yeah, it’s interesting that I’ve just recently to listen to, you know, tape on narcissism and the Brene talks about that, that the deepest cause of any narcissistic behavior is self-hatred. And you know, so if you look at someone that acts and is being in your mind a little bit not, you know, certainly not caring, the opposite of caring CEO, particularly in leadership, or in a family, just think we’ll, you know, have compassion for them because if self-hatred is then the really deep thing underneath at all. Yeah, it’s yeah. So, look deeply with compassionate yourself as you’re beautiful and special.

Graeme Cowan 50:06 

Right advice. Thanks for being part of The Caring CEO, Sim.

Simone Allan 50:10 

Thanks. I appreciate it so much, Graeme.

Graeme Cowan  50:12

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