Sarah Godfrey is an author, podcast host, business owner, blogger, speaker, coach and psychologist. MAPS. AHPRA. PBA. CCOUN. Certified Chair and Advisor (ABC), Member of ACID, Femeconomy, Career.Life.Money and Women On Boards. Director of Moving Mindsets Psychology Clinic and Co Founder of Aware Group, The Business Hangover with Nicky and Sarah Podcast and Aware Podcast.
Sarah is the President and Co-Chair of NFP GriefLine Australia and adviser to Sarz Sanctuary.
Sarah has built a highly successful large clinic and along the way developed and mentored over 32 consultancy businesses bouncing forward from her business model and infrastructure, into their own successful careers. She supports businesses with her EAP programs, coaching and mediation.
Working with the dreamers, schemers, and story-time weavers, moviemakers, money-chasers, the musically minded, entrepreneurs, entertainers and self-engaged individuals CEOs, start-uppers, sole traders and C-suiters, businesses, broadcasters, and busy people, has been an amazing journey into human behavior and what drives us to be our best.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Sarah Godfrey: Thank you for having me Jerome. I am best described as having a divergent mindsets starting my career over 20 years ago as a psychologist and expanding into coaching, business and leadership. Prior to becoming a psychologist my skill was taking floundering businesses and making them profitable for a retail chain. I think that is what drove me to set up my own business as soon as I could. I am driven by success and the challenge of creating something from an idea into a career or venture. Along the way I have sat on boards, run professional development groups and dipped into a few entrepreneurial adventures, created a family and learned to fish….. badly.
To get us started, Can you tell our readers what does your company solve differently in the crowded marketplace? Give an example or share a story.
Sarah Godfrey: Aware Leadership is a unique digital program bringing together psychology and business for executives. What our thirst for research showed us, is that our own level of self awareness, or as we call it introspection and extrospection, will determine the longevity of our legacy as a leader. The executives of the post pandemic business landscape have been forced to reassess their individual capacity for self awareness in managing the discord and disharmony that infiltrated every aspect of leadership. AWARE’s purpose is to harness your potential and reset your blind spots through our 8 Leader Mindsets. One brilliant story was where an organisation hired me to work with a senior executive. There was a personality clash that had been left to fester for over a year and had damaged the departments involved and the esteem of the executive who was to be my client.
Instead of problem solving from the start, using our leadership techniques we built their introspection, digging in deep from a psychological edge and filtered through the business lens. We uncovered blind spots and trigger beliefs and owned them to enhance cognitive empowerment and stabilise the emotional intelligence that was impacted. From their leadership growth guides, we hit the mark on building extrospection- how they were really seen by others, tough love and challenges to address the personal paradigm that guided every action and reaction. The end game was they stayed in their lane, demonstrating true authenticity and exposing emotional forgeries by others, as the feedback said; “helped me identify my natural talents, and reinforced that I am a highly professional, and passionate person. You identified areas that I could adjust in my communication style which helped me maintain my own anxieties, subsequently, be the best professional version of myself in my workplace.’ This executive wanted a seat at the ‘table’ and achieved it through building awareness.
While your company is growing, what are some of the challenges you face? Hiring? Tech development? Raising capital? Branding? Tell us more about the journey.
Sarah Godfrey: Our biggest hurdle is our own success. The co founder and myself have had highly successful business that required no advertising or heavy marketing. We are both quiet achievers which is useless when you are launching a new business on a global scale. We have had to find a comfort zone in the discomfort of a public profile which challenges our own esteem and value at times. The foundation of AWARE is based on self awareness, that despite research showing 85% of us think we are self aware when in actuality we are not, isn’t a skill people think they need (yet do), so it has taken some hits and misses to discover the pulse point for the message.
Learning the tech for an online platform has been confronting, including getting ripped off for funnel marketing schemes. Our business growth model is to build by reputation and delivery outcome. To reach out to our connections to soft launch the products and program. To seek feedback from people who will challenge and poke holes in the concept. Although the investment needs significant outlay, we have a strategic plan and time frame that drives each decision. We both love the human skills we bring to the table and are excited to share 40 combined years of experience, the skill will be in cutting through the noise in the leadership arena, to make AWARE thrive .
Everyone has a different story, what influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur, what would you have done differently?
Sarah Godfrey: I do have a divergent mindset which means I love innovation and creativity, which also means like most entrepreneurs I crave the new and novel. Generally I have been able to meet this need combining it in the human skills professional that has been my career. There is no bigger thrill than seeing someone ‘get it’, that knowledge, insight, realisation and then take off in life. I think I spent too long supporting and managing other people’s careers and forgot to invest in shaping and driving mine. I found a business coach who shook my world view up and challenged me. I should have sought a coach years ago, it was a game changer and that is definitely something I wish I did differently. ,
All the content of AWARE is from the over 75,000 hours working, helping and changing people which means I could have taken the leap into a new business venture earlier. Meeting the co founder, Nicky Mackie was the spark that ignited AWARE. She comes from a business model and I from a psychological model. Together we saw something new and innovative. We both laugh a lot, enjoy the process and are realistic about the business world. At the end of the day, a new venture needs to be fun and inspiring otherwise why do it? What else could I have done differently? Nothing, AWARE is decades of knowledge, wisdom, failure and success in leadership and only time can give you that skill.
Now for the main focus of this interview: what qualities or characteristics do women entrepreneurs have that make them great leaders? Please share some examples.
Sarah Godfrey: The strongest qualities of women entrepreneurs is to turn emotion into empowerment. We fear emotions as women in business because we think it makes us look weak. And so we overcompensate and become unemotional. That is because we are judged against traditional models of workplace conduct. Our emotions, when we are aware of the triggers, can reset the direction and tone of our decisions. They are a superpower if we know how to utilise them. Jacinda Ardern the NZ prime minister showed the world how strong female leaders can feel and express emotions without loosing integrity or respect. A C suite client of ours was consistently told she was too emotional, we reframed her emotion into passion, trimming the excess energy so her intent was clear and now she corrects others if they call her emotional, “I am passionate,’ is her answer, “Why are you not?”
Women in leadership need to communicate with clarity and be fearless to challenge and have tough conversations. Anchoring our purpose in trust and authenticity helps navigate those hard talks that are part of the job. We cannot be everyone’s’ friend but we can be a compassionate colleague.
The best leaders I have met are aware of the corrupted ego that can divert us from allowing disruptors and outliers from expressing opposing ideas. The ego that is in business for power and profit and not people and purpose. Another client had been promoted above a colleague who was making their life unbearable. Unknowingly the client had walked into a battle for power and without thinking picked up the mental sword ready to go to war. Stabilising her corrupted ego allowed her to make new choices on how to react and respond. Showed her pathways to move beyond the bruised ego of her colleague and manage the fall out for a successful outcome.
What are some of the biggest challenges you still see women face while conducting business, compared to their male counterparts? What would you like to see change, and how would you make it happen?
Sarah Godfrey: The biggest challenge remains in perception and value. Many women in business or leadership feel they need to go the extra mile, on the extra mile. to demonstrate their worthiness to have the position they deserve. This added pressure to prove value as a leader is often based in gender inequity in salaries that undermine worth comparative to a male in the same position. women are still working towards a male model of workplace success and this acts as a restraint and misdirection for the skills women bring to leadership. Equalises pay gaps would change this perception and demonstrate value to females in leadership roles.
Our AWARE leadership recognises this gap and balances emotional intelligence and cognitive empowerment, so all leaders have a unified skill set.
With all of your experience as a business leader, what is the most important thing you can tell fellow entrepreneurs that you’d like to share with aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Sarah Godfrey: Be a gladiator. Get ready to get dirty and dusty as you craft the skill to be successful. Create a kick ass tribe of inspiring mentors to keep you balanced and challenged. When you think you have mastered your professional development, time to start again. Be ready to sacrifice-time and keep your eye on the horizon, it gets better and easier once you learn how to ‘do you’ and not mimic what you think you need to be. Learn from getting it wrong and sit back when you get it right and applaud yourself. Be kind and compassionate on the days you wonder why you are doing this. Define your purpose as the anchor to your success. And of course enjoy the wild ride of being an entrepreneur.
What do you plan on tackling during 2022? Share your goals and battles you expect to face.
Sarah Godfrey: The main goal is to make AWARE a globally successful company and our AWARE podcast just as successful. To do this we are going to have to amp our public persona and be very visible. There are still long hours ahead building the content to keep ahead of the game and then hiring a team to support the growth.
How do you keep learning? Podcast? Books? Audiobooks? Videos? Share some of your greatest sources of inspiration? Share an impactful story.
Sarah Godfrey: I am a mad podcast listener, learning from other podcasts and the guests we have on our own podcast. Lived experience is inspiring and comes with so much wisdom. Books and research are my next go to and I always have a pile of books to get through. One of the most powerful books I have read still is The Courage To Be Disliked by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi. Not for the faint hearted or those who avoid personal responsibility (which is why I love it!). Of course Brene Brown leads the charge in emotional intelligence, Dr Susan Davis with her Emotional Agility and I am enjoying a re-read of Principles by Ray Dalio. Research and content wise beyond psychological research, McKinsey and Company have sound bite information that is always current along with the Harvard Review. I like to draw my inspiration not from who, but from what is being said and I have a shocking memory for the vast amounts of information that has given me wisdom over 20 years.
A few years ago, a friend asked me to go and see Brene Brown touring with her Dare to Lead book. I will be honest that although saw her skill and talent, as a psychologist I wasn’t all that sure what she could add to my knowledge pool. However as expensive as the tickets were, I went along for the experience. What I learnt wasn’t so much from the content, which was excellent and delivered in such a clever and accessible format, or the activities, which were fun and thought provoking. What I took away was how important it was to be unashamedly who you are in the public arena. At this time I and been struggling with entering the social media rabbit hole for promoting your business. I felt ill at ease with the the whole shebang of Instagram and Linked In and all that ‘look at me’ marketing style. Brene’s ease with her ill -ease at being a public figure was refreshing. She was funny, open, raw and self conscious. She talked about her struggles without oversharing and self victimising. She lived and breathed her own journey to find authenticity and that was more inspiring than anything else for me. It allowed me to get over my own self consciousness and let me be comfortable with who I am right now. Her balance in being who she is and who the public want her to be, continues to guide my own path forward.
I’m sure our readers will be very thankful for the insights you have shared. Where can our readers follow up with you?
Sarah Godfrey: https://sarahgodfrey.com.au/about-sarah-godfrey/
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Sarah Godfrey for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Sarah Godfrey or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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