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  • Writer's pictureDr Maike Neuhaus

Who Run The World? Girls: 10 Women Who Embody Epic Self-Leadership (Part 2)

[If you have clicked upon this entry first, make sure you check out Part 1 of this blog article for the first five women who captured our minds and hearts with their epic self-leadership, and the impact they have had on the world around them.]

Who Run The World? Girls: 10 Women Who Embody Epic Self-Leadership (Part 2)
Who Run The World? Girls: 10 Women Who Embody Epic Self-Leadership (Part 2)

And without further ado, here are another 5 incredible women with some epic self-leadership going on:

6. Melanie Perkins – Canva Co-Founder and CEO

Melanie, Cliff Obrecht (her now husband), and Cameron Adams are the Co-Founders of Canva, the disruptive online design and publishing tool (if you haven’t yet used it, I encourage you to give it a go!).

It all started with an idea, and since its launch in 2013 has grown rapidly – the company now being valued at a staggering $40 billion. This has made Melanie the second richest woman in Australia, and the richest self-made female billionaire under 40. What is impressive about Melanie though, is not the state of her bank balance, but the values that underlie her vision and actions, which she remains completely authentic to.

In a statement she said “It has felt strange when people refer to us as billionaires as it has never felt like our money…We’ve always felt that we’re purely custodians of it. It’s long been our intention to give the wealth away.” She and her husband plan to donate the vast majority of their Canva equity via the Canva Foundation and non-profit GiveDirectly, distributing $10 million to the poor in Southern Africa.

7. Jessica Watson (OAM) – Young Australian of the Year, Youngest Person to Sail Solo around the World, and Motivational Speaker

I can’t recall exactly what I was doing at age 16, but it definitely wasn’t sailing around the world, ALONE, like Jessica Watson. It took her exactly 210 days of isolation across remote oceans, and she was the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted around the world – and she reported she never felt lonely.

This can only come from someone living in line with their truest self and values, and the persistence and grit required to achieve such a huge goal is the embodiment of self-leadership. I mean, can you imagine how many people told her she couldn’t/ shouldn’t/ wouldn’t do it?! In response to the Australian Prime Minister calling her an Australian Hero as she returned home, she said she was an ‘ordinary person, who had a dream, worked hard at it and proved that anything really is possible’.

She showed this again by becoming a published author of two books – overcoming her struggles with dyslexia to do so. She was named Young Australian of the Year (2011) and has gone on to compete in the youngest team in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race (being awarded for the first female skipper). She has used her platform for global good – she is a Youth Representative for The United Nations World Food Programme, and continues to work inspiring people through her speaking and management consulting (yeah, she also got an MBA!) with Deloitte.

A quote I love from her blog, though, is this which offers up a new perspective on motivation and starting on the path for what we really want in life – “Having a dream is all you need to achieve the impossible. Preparation can always circumvent danger. Doing nothing is also a risk.”

8. Victoria Devine – Financial Advisor, Author and Podcaster

I first heard the word ‘boujee’ and snorted through my nose laughing when listening to her podcast, “She’s on the Money” – the crew’s banter is top-notch. If you want to become more financially literate and be motivated by diverse stories of women who are overcoming adversity and smashing goals (without a judgemental or preachy tone of voice) then this community is for you.

Victoria advocates for ‘values-based spending’ – read: if that morning coffee is worth the $5 because it aligns with your values and brings you joy and is within your spending plan then do it – and don’t feel a tad guilty about it. It is real-life advice like this that encourages women to be mindful and responsible in their decision making and spending – balancing looking out for ‘future you’ as much as living in the present.

Victoria’s authenticity and vulnerability in sharing her own stories and history have attracted her a huge fan base, and she is a multi-award-winning financial adviser co-founding and directing her own firm, Zella. She is a driven, influential entrepreneur who is passionate about educating and empowering millennial women to make smart money decisions. Someone who is passionate about their beliefs, purpose and will shout it from the rooftops? Sounds like epic self-leadership to me.

9. Greta Thunberg – Climate Activist

Greta first started making waves at the tender age of 15 (in 2018), when she began protesting outside Swedish Parliament. Her grassroots campaigning for climate change has since swept the world – her #FridaysforFuture Climate Strikes occur in many countries as she keeps the conversation around climate change in the forefront of the media, politicians and general society.

She has been so influential that she has received multiple nominations for a Nobel Peace Prize for Climate Activism, and was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in December 2019. What I love, though, aside from her impactful work that encourages everyone to question their own values, is that Greta’s Asperger’s Syndrome is not the focus of the media – and she has embraced her uniqueness and doubled down on her strengths, calling it her ‘superpower’.

In 2019 Greta sailed across the Atlantic on a yacht to attend a UN climate conference in New York. It was here she delivered possibly her most famous speech condemning world leaders - "You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," she said.

10. Dr. Brené Brown – Research Professor, Bestselling Author, Podcast Host

If I could hold all of Brené’s books in my head constantly to be able to draw upon their wisdom and collective humanness on a daily basis, I would. Brené is a phenomenal thought leader in the area of shame, self-doubt and courage, empathy, and leaning into your authentic and vulnerable self. She has authored five (yes, five!) #1 New York Times bestsellers, and her TED Talk – The Power of Vulnerability – has had over 50 million views, and her lecture – The Call to Courage – debuted on Netflix in 2019.

She embodies following your interests and taking the mask off to be ourselves – embracing her own vulnerability in what she shares on stage – and highlighting the sameness of experiences the world over and thereby bridging the gap between people, focusing on developing courage to share vulnerably in order to overcome shame and embrace our truest selves. From her website: “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”

You can look at these women and the incredible things they have done in the world and part of you may feel, well, a little inadequate. BUT - you could choose to feel like that and stay hidden, never feeling quite good enough, or you could choose to reflect on the qualities these women possess and how they overlap with your own strengths to be inspired to live your best life. No one is saying to live a good life you have to be a star/ social media influencer/ billionaire. What is important is to follow your passions and your heart to your purpose – that is the start of self-leadership.

It feels apt to end this series with a quote from Brené Brown, from her Book Braving the Wilderness: “I search for inspiration from the brave innovators and disrupters whose courage feels contagious… I summon up men and women who have shaped the world with their courage and creativity. And who have, at least on occasion, pissed people off. They are a varied bunch.”

If you are a bit confused about how to activate and harness your own self-leadership (we have all been there, trust me!) to create a life you love, join the waitlist to our next FRESH START group – due to open in January 2022 – to access comprehensive evidence-based information, coaching and a wonderfully supportive community online.

And, if you are looking for more tools and tips RIGHT NOW to help you towards your health and happiness goals and want a cheer squad along the way (who doesn’t!?), join our beautiful community on our socials – we’d love to have you. Don’t forget to sign up to my monthly newsletter too, and get free access to our most recent free self-leadership resource.



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