When I left high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I studied Psychology at university in Melbourne for six months and dropped out because it was so boring. I decided to work in the nursing home that my mum worked in and that my grandma worked in, because I love being around people and I come from a family of nurses. I just loved being in that industry, caring for people, but it was difficult because I just felt so emotionally attached to the people there. To me they were somebody’s grandma, somebody’s mother, and I had really beautiful connections with them so when they passed away it was really difficult for me. So I decided that I still wanted to help people but it had to be in a bigger way and it had to be in a different way. I had to build up my skills and actually work my way towards working within a charity or not-for-profit that helped people. I started with a traineeship within an accounting firm because I didn’t have a uni degree or any contacts. I didn’t know much about traineeships or business administration but I knew it was for me so I got the job and spent seven years with them and I learnt business building skills and business administration skills. And I learnt what it was like to be down the bottom. It’s interesting the way people treat you when you’re the lowest rung of the ladder. You know a person’s true character by the way they treat you when you’re ‘no-one’.
When I felt ready and capable and when I had enough skills I left there and started working with entrepreneurs . I love working with people who have big ideas and take big risks and just go for their dreams. I had always done charity work in the background, doing fundraising or working part-time with not-for-profit, and I fell in love with one particular charity – and decided to apply for a grant that pays for you to work full-time in your chosen charity. About five to eight people are awarded the grant each year – and I got a place. So all of a sudden I was the General Manager for a not-for-profit, and it was one of the best experiences of my life, hands down. I was on my own, alot, and we started from scratch. We had no office and a minimal profile, so we had to go national and get a head office, and reach out to members. We specifically looked after 18 – 40 year olds with cancer, for their psychosocial needs – providing emotional support and helping them feel pampered and human. It was so confronting, because there were people my age, dying. It hit so hard. It was my mission to build up the profile as much as I could so these people didn’t just focus on their treatment, they had beautiful things to look forward to – getaways, beautiful events, or just going to the movies.
And then I fell pregnant with Cerise, who is three years old now. Life became crazy! She totally changed our world – you have an idea of what parenting will be like and then there’s the reality which is completely different. It is amazing, but it was easily the biggest stretch of my life. The biggest challenge was the not knowing, and I’m so used to being in control. I’ve got all this experience and all these skills in life and travel and adventures, but when it comes to a newborn baby you’re just thrown in the deep end and you don’t know what you’re doing!
I was on maternity from the charity, but I knew I couldn’t go back because emotionally it was very tough and the hours were just so long that it wasn’t feasible to carry on. So it was a question of getting a new job or starting a business. Just like I knew I would get that grant for the charity, I knew that I would build a business of my own and it would grow as my baby grew. I had so much faith in that, and it was just a process. As Cerise grew and I got to
know her and her personality, I gained more confidence as a mum – there were parts of me that were awakening with creativity and passion and I just wanted to do bigger and better things. I wanted to build something that my daughter could grow with and be a part of, and that could be an example to her in her life – whether she chooses to do it or not I want her to see that you don’t just have to get a job. There are other ways. I didn’t have that growing up.
So Eventhead isn’t a hobby. It’s our future. It’s my empire. I work with heart-centred businesses that have a message to share and I help them put on events. If they have no money, I have my blog and my resources that they can use to do their events themselves, or if they have money I coach them in how to do events, or I do the events for them if they really need to outsource it. So I work with entrepreneurs and business owners of all levels, and I help to bring their vision to life. I know what it’s like if you have a dream but you get stuck in the logistics. I want them to see their passion come to life and be able to stand up on stage and shine and say ‘this is who I am, this is the message I have and this is how I want to change the world.’ I want to be a part of that and I want to let them do that easily and confidently. I’m so passionate about it!
I’ve always, always been a workaholic. If working full time I’d be doing charity work and have a part time job. Working on my business came easily to me – so starting a business and having a little one wasn’t a stress. We’ve had our challenges with Cerise but she’s such an amazing baby. She had reflux and she wasn’t settling easily for a while, but she’s the happiest little girl. She loves being in day care and she has her best friends. People who see her just love her. She makes friends everywhere she goes. If we’re on a train in Paris, she will make friends. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world – she is just this bright spark, so loving and full of joy. And to see her so happy makes me feel okay about working on the things that I love too. It’s just about time management. She has a nap for three hours during the day, and I can get a lot done in three hours. And when she goes to bed I can work too. It was a juggle at the start but I have a beautiful family and friends to support me. And my husband is just incredible. He knows that when I have a dream there’s no stopping me.
All of my experience really helped me to build my business. I’ve had so much experience in business development, and one of my roles was as Business Development Manager and I actually really enjoy building businesses. I look at businesses and can see immediately a list of things that can be done to help them move forward, and I know exactly how they can do it and exactly how it will help the business to grow. So I haven’t struggled in that way. I know what I need to do, it’s just about taking the action. I do a lot of coaching and public speaking. It’s funny I’ve done so much public speaking in my life, and when it was for a charity or for somebody else it was okay – but when it’s about me I get a bit nervous. After having Cerise my anxiety levels went up, and I think that’s true for many mums. There seems to be a lot to be anxious about. And some of that crept through into my work. So I do get anxious about public speaking but I don’t let that stop me.
There are so many mums out there who have a business dream, and I’d say just go for it. Setting up my own business was the best thing I’ve ever done for my family because I have a life that’s not only meaningful to me, but it positively impacts my family. We can go on holidays all the time, together, and that’s for my work. We can have amazing experiences that weren’t possible when I had a job. And I don’t have to think about a boss. I get to think about what I want to do and what I want to create and about the people that I would like to help. And that makes me feel fulfilled. So when I’m around my family, I’m happy. I have an amazing life with so much to be grateful for and together I feel like we can face anything. So I think that it’s such a wonderful thing, if you have a business dream, to involve your family and to go out there and do it. Experience life. Your children will be so grateful for it because imagine having a mum that just went out there and took life by the reins? How incredible! The things you can do!
Jade McKenzie is an event professional for heart-centred entrepreneurs and business owners who have a positive message to share through their events and workshops. Through her professional services, rock steady support and behind the scenes blog posts, she’s here to help you step into your spotlight and shine! Over the last decade her work has been enjoyed by thousands of people near and far and has been featured in The Herald Sun, The Age, MX, Channel’s 7, 9, 10 and The ABC, The Circle, The 7PM Project, Nova FM, Mix 101.1, Kara’s Party Ideas, Pop Sugar Moms, Mum’s Lounge, Inspired Coach, She Will Shine, Roooar Magazine, Raspberry Magazine, Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine and more.
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