Making Room for Role Models

Article by:

Naomi Simson
EO Sydney
Naomi Simson - EO Sydney

“We all need role models— someone to lead the way and drag others along with them.”

Back in 2011, I atten​ded an Ernst & Young “Young Women’s Entrepreneur Workshop,” and that quote from speaker Avril Henry still resonates with me. She explained that one of the entrepreneur’s traits is that “we are there for the long term.” We do not give up easily— we are fiercely opportunistic and are forever looking at the next success story. As business owners, success is in our blood. We are attracted to others who share this trait, and they often become our mentors.

I am not sure I fit the conventional mould when it comes to having “mentors” in my life. Instead, I think of those inspirational people from whom I’ve drawn wisdom, experience, knowledge and life purpose as role models. My mother, in particular, was a role model of mine growing up. She spent much of her
career as a systems analyst for Aspect Computing,
a business Lyndsey Cattermole founded and sold for
US$215 million. When I was at university, Mum said
to me: “If Lyndsey can do it, you can, too.” I guess
that’s where my entrepreneurial mantra came from,
which has evolved into: “If it is meant to be, it is up
to me.”

I am not alone in thinking Lyndsey is one of
Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs. At the
age of 25, she founded the largest software and
services business in the country, which went on to
become a major force in Australian information
and communication technology. My mother was
one of Lyndsey’s longest-serving employees, and
she would often invite me to company events. I
remember Lyndsey being larger than life— she was
always talking loudly and full of enthusiasm. Most of all, she was engaging. She would give me little gems of wisdom, such as: “study hard, work hard and follow your passions.”

Role models are people that you observe from a distance; you learn from them, read what they write and watch their behavior. They are different than mentors. Recently, I have been collecting gems of wisdom from hundreds of role models, most of whom I will never meet. But their words come to me when I need them most, which is especially helpful as an entrepreneur. These role models had an original thought, a vision or a desire to simply do things differently. They share my entrepreneurial spirit, and above all, they inspire me to be a role model for others.

There are hundreds of outstanding role models if we choose to look. If you’re seeking one, reach out to me, and I can share a few from my personal collection!

Naomi Simson is an EO Sydney member, as well as the founding director of RedBalloon and REDii. She is also a professional speaker, the author of “Live What You Love” and one of five “Sharks” on TEN’s reality television show, “Shark Tank.” Contact Naomi at [email protected].​​​​​

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