01 December 2016

The Blue Mountains

At the Three Sisters
With one day off this weekend, LB and I headed to the Blue Mountains. I've never been to the Blue Mountains before. We left Dulwich Hill around 11am, down Parramatta Road and straight onto the M4. We took the Katoomba turn-off and just followed the signs to 'The Blue Mountains'. We ended up at Echo Point and it was incredible. Everything I imagined it to be. We had lunch at the closest cafe - a little pub with a lovely sunny verandah outside.

It was just after 2.30pm by the time we finished lunch and had one more look from the look-out. I know it's not captured in any images, but to me the colour of the range had changed since we saw it just a few hours earlier.

Deciding it was too early to head back to Sydney, we headed off in the direction of Leura and then followed signs for more 'lookouts'. We found our way to Gordon Falls Look-out. I looked in the Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks Guide and read that it was a good view.

Once we got to the parking area, we couldn't find any signs for 'Lookout', so we headed off in the direction of the one sign we could see.

Unfortunately, what this sign doesn't tell you is that it's 900 metres D.O.W.N. We kept doing 'we've come this far we may as well keep going'. Not a great attitude when you're really not familiar with the place. It was mostly steps. And steps that were clearly made for bloody giants.

Down we go ... 
Down, down, down ... 
As we got closer to the bottom, we crossed a few natural springs. 

We got to the almost bottom and there was a cute little rock pool. 

This would be a perfect spot to spend a few hours on a hot day. 

Unfortunately there's been very little rain so it's wasn't super spectacular. But it would definitely be a great place to spend a few hours on a hot day.

Then we had to go all the way back up again .... *tears*

On the way back I didn't quite nearly die, but bloody hell. With no handrails, my legs did all the work. While the walks was classified as medium, I guess it's all relative. For someone of my current fitness, it should have been labelled hard. As we were on our way back up I was reminded of all those mornings after the nights before when I thought 'one more drink won't hurt'. One more staircase won't hurt. Bloody oath it did.

The stupid faces when you make when you're red-faced from walking 900 metres back up a gorge. 

When we finally got back to the top, we eventually found the proper Gordon Falls look out and it was definitely worth the view.

Part of the view from Gordon Falls Lookout. 

I really do enjoy walking tracks and I do so love a good 'lookout, so I think I'm going to create a blog category for them. Maybe this will be my first post in a  long list of bushwalking and lookout posts. Let's see hey.

Do I recommend a trip to the Blue Mountains? Absolutely! I can't wait to go back again and hopefully take a few more walks around the place. What an incredible country.

24 November 2016

Blogging and Mangoes

I was going to blog but I ate a mango instead. Then I blogged about that. 


I miss blogging, not that I was ever a huge blogger anyway. And I feel guilty for posting on Facebook when I should post here. I hate Facebook sometimes - they make it so difficult to be creative - the 'real estate' is so limited. Search on Facebook is terrible, and finding your own posts from a few years ago is almost impossible. 

But still I go back. For the instant hit. Despite the algorithm. Despite it constantly changing. I go back. And then I feel guilty for it. 

I think I'm making excuses. Google took the Blogger mobile app away. Why would they do that? It makes no sense apart from them deciding Blogger isn't worth it. 


October was a crazy month and now November is almost over. So much has happened. Not all of it I can share here. But it has made me think hard about the next 40. We only get one go. I'm going to try to stay focused. 


I've finally got my own office. If you follow me on Insta or Facebook you'll already know that. I can't stop talking about. I arrived at 9am and left at 11pm. I enjoy my work. I love it really. I'm not as effective as I'd like to be or (now that I have an office I have to pay for) need to be. But I'm gradually getting better. 


I've decided to spend a little more time developing some social media clients. I've always resisted it - for years I've told people I'd be happy to show them how to do social media marketing, rather than do it for them. It's not going to be easy delivering a social media service to clients, nor is it going to be cheap. I imagine it will be a combination of creating structures and then showing clients how to do it for themselves. 

I'm looking forward to the new challenge. Am busy practicing (sadly not on my own brand spaces just yet) and am calculating how long different activities take. I need to spend a little less time looking at the Insights though - well, I need to look at them but probably not as obsessively as I am right now. 


I'm going to Sydney on Friday. It's a work trip (of course), but hopefully I'm going to fit in a trip to the Blue Mountains. I've never been there but I've seen them on tv and in the movies forever. Anyone remember that scene when Sigrid Thornton falls down the mountain in Man from Snowy River. I think that might be the Blue Mountains. I've always imagined it is. I can't wait. 


I bought a FitBit last weekend. I can't afford it, but I figured I have to exercise so maybe I can't afford not to get it. Anyway, I was so busy in front of my computer that I took the damn thing off because it kept beeping me to "Time to Move". Yeah okay. So maybe that wasn't the solution I was hoping for. 


Till next time. 

17 October 2016

If you build it, they don't always come: when does having a Facebook page not really work for your client?

Image: Picture from our hand-written notes tonight. On the top left there is the word Facebook. Underneath on the left there is a circle with the word Profile and a human figure. Underneath it says "friends". There are three lines coming from the circle on the left to three smaller circles on the right saying Pages. Above one of the lines it says "Admin", underneath the three circles there is the word "likes" and the word Advertising. 
For the past month I've been negotiating undertaking training for some Gold Coast/South Brisbane Indigenous business owners in the construction industry. With the upcoming Commonwealth Games, governments are trying to ensure that there's room for Indigenous business owners to take advantage of any opportunities. Most of the blokes (at this stage they're exclusively men) are small owner-operators. Tonight I had my first one-on-one training session. He was a good hard-working guy who is strong in his trade but isn't confident using the computer nor social media.

My brief: 'general' IT, create a Facebook page and teach our to post to it. Sounds fair enough right?

As it was our first session we spent a good three hours looking a few immediate concerns - a specific WordDoc formatting, signing up for a membership and then we started on Facebook. 

We talked about what Facebook is, how it works (Profiles create and administer Pages), and how to make it work for your business. We talked through the types of posts he could make, including - 
  • personal stuff - hi, I'm  up early, and heading off to my site now, 
  • networky posts - great to meet x, 
  • industry posts - x is an important regulation, etc. etc.
But after talking with my new client for 2 and 1/2 hours, I'm not 100% convinced a Facebook page is the way to go. The real questions are:
  • Who are his clients? 
  • Where do they get what they need to make decisions? 
  • Does the customer make their construction industry purchasing decisions based on Facebook?
We have a few more allocated hours left together and while I think it could be possible that we could practice enough that he might take to Facebook like a duck to water, I'm concerned it's going to be a whole lot of investment for very little return. 

When I do my social media training one of the first things I say is: You don't need to be on Facebook! (or Twitter, or Snapchat, or Pinterest). What you need will completely depend on your business, your product, your market, their behaviour and their decision making process. 

Before our next meeting I'm going to have a look around and see what alternatives there might be. If the intention behind the Facebook page was to create an inexpensive option for a homebase (with 25 likes he could claim his unique URL), then I suspect there may be non-Facebook options that are very reasonably priced. 

And yes, before you ask, he should have a website, but his income doesn't yet warrant that. I was thinking we could mash a domain + an About Me page together, or alternatively, go for a Wordpress site structured as a static site rather than a blog. And before you also ask, I hate Wix, so I won't be recommending that platform. 

There are in-direct benefits of having a Facebook page though. You get to generate community if your posts are engaging, as well as build up your own reputation. There's a strong, engaged and growing Indigenous business community on Facebook. Never underestimate the strength of the black business grapevine in getting more work. In addition spending time developing a strong Facebook page is also surely an asset that an owner can use to increase their valuation should they wish to sell up. 

If we build the Facebook page will my poor tired tradie client be able to turn into the engaging content generating machine he needs to be? Hmm ... much to consider before our next meeting. 

I think my question though still stands - When is Facebook a complete waste of time for your client? 

16 October 2016

I spent the day in the kitchen

Image: Close up image of a 15kg of onions. The bag is a plastic woven bag, you can see the onions through the holes in the bag. At the top of the image, the label on the bag says "ONION" in all capital letters, with the words "Product of Australia" and other packaging details. 
By 8.30pm tonight it finally occurred to me that I'd spent pretty much the entire day upstairs and in the kitchen. Despite sounding a bit sad, it was actually a very productive day.

M sister and family stayed for the past couple of weeks, and as I'm universally known as being the worst cook in the family, I handed over control of the kitchen to our guests. I don't get territorial about my kitchen.

Unfortunately handing over sovereignty of the kitchen to someone else, meant that everything was kind of all over the place. Space is a challenge at our place (too many people + small house + too much stuff) so it's very easy for it to become chaotic. Add in the fact that I'm mostly disorganised about house stuff and it's completely nuts. Turns out I have 10 bottles of pasta sauce! Well today the cupboards are now organised, the fridge is respectful and all the saucepans have their right lids.

One of my other achievements today was creating a Menu Plan for the next three weeks. I really struggle with the day-in-day-out of preparing meals - mostly because I'm just not focused on it and I don't find it a priority. The problem is I can't afford - financially or mentally - the cost of not having a plan anymore. Feeding six adults is bloody expensive stuff and when I'm doing it on the run I often make choices that work against me. So I've made a three week plan. I'll be printing it out in the morning and making sure it's there for the whole family to see (and hopefully stick to).

But I wasn't in the kitchen the entire day. I managed to go shopping and get the bulk of the Menu Plan ingredients today. I've also bitten the budget bullet and gone to Aldi instead of Coles. I've not bothered with Aldi mostly because it's a few suburbs away unlike Coles which is super close. But because I had time, ie. wasn't rushing home hoping to have everything cooked in 15 minutes, I could do it. And yes, Aldi is a bit cheaper than Coles on a few of our essential items. The meat is much cheaper (yeah sorry we're a family of carnivores) so I bought up enough for the next three weeks.

When I'm buying in bulk, I only ever head to Charlie's for fruit and vegetables. Because the health brigade people go there, there are heaps of bags ready for juicing. We don't juice, I just use them as normal. Today I bought a whole box of tomatoes, zucchini and bananas. I got Son1 to chop the zucchini into small stir fry pieces ready for the week. I also bought a 15kg bag of onions. I'm not 100% sure that was particularly sensible. We eat a lot of onion, but 15kg is a lot. Over the next few days I'll get the kids to chop up as many as they can, and put them into zip-lock bags and throw them in the freezer. Anything we can't eat, I'll give to family.

I'm keen to check out the possibility of getting a whole cow. I was listening to Mel Kettle's podcast interview with Shirley Harring from Hand Sourced and they made it sound like something quite affordable. I'm pretty sure I'd have to get a new freezer if I decide to do it.

Anyway, I'm hoping that we will stick to our meal plan at least for the next 7 days. I'm hoping that the little bit of organising I did today will free me up to get more work done over the next month.

I'll let you know how we go.

05 October 2016

Google withdraws support for the Blogger App on iOS

So last night when I tried to write on my phone while laying in bed, the app kept closing down within seconds of me opening it. I like posting in bed. I don't post as often as I should want to. It's probably because I have too many blogs and sometimes I can't work out where to put a post and by the time I decide the issue is past. I like Blogger because it's easy. There were less options that Wordpress but that made it simpler. It meant that all I had to do was write.

With Google now giving up on the Blogger App, maybe it's time I finally moved on. I've been thinking about setting up a self-hosted leesawatego.com.au blog. But oh god the effort!!!

I don't know if I'll stay here. I'm disappointed. I feel like it's the end of an era. And it makes me slack.

Happy Birthday October Babies!

What do you do when there are too many people with birthdays in one month? You have one party for all of them at the one time. So last weekend on Grand Final night we celebrated the birthdays of Uncle D, Aunty K, Aunty G, Annie, Andrea, Pop, and Nathaniel. The end of "Happy Birthday dear ... " was a bit messy, but talk about time saving. 

hashtag black families

18 September 2016

8 Days A Week

A still from the Shea Stadium concert film

We've just got home from from seeing 8 Days A Week at Chermside. I wanted to write a quick post because I thoroughly recommend it to everyone. 

It will probably have only a short run in cinemas, so you will only have a brief window to see it. 

I don't think the following could be described as spoilers because we all know the Beatles story, but I noted the  following: 

I was so taken with the beautiful youth of these four young men. Their energy, passion, exhuberance and genuine affection for each other. You get no sense that anything was contrived. There was no concern for brand or reputation. Nothing was rehearsed. They were talented and hardworking musicians who in the early life of the Beatles mania just 'went for it'. There's no polish and it's so refreshing. 

When I was born in 1969 their last concert had only been three years beforehand and their music was always a part of my life. It was always played in the Brisbane radio stations my parents listened to. While I grew up listening to their music, I'm definitely no music history buff so I had no concept of their role in history and popular culture, how Beatles Mania was indeed a historical first, nor the way in which their reception fit within the historical context (post-war, mid-social-change) of the time. 

If you do manage to get to the cinema to see the film, you'll also see a 30-minute cinema release only film of their concert at Shea Stadium in New York (historically significant as the first of the stadium concerts). I thoroughly recommend you don't miss it. Not just for the footage of fans literally fainting and 'losing it' - they're a classic!! - but for the joy and affection each of these young men have for each other playing their set. You can't help but laugh along with John as he has and George are playing the last song of the set. 

8 Days A Week is the story of the touring history of The Beatles. I don't know how long it's in cinemas for, but do yourself a favour. 

14 September 2016

Snap with me

Last year I joined Snapchat. When I started I thought it was completely nuts as a platform as it's counter-intuitive to everything else around - nothing stored, lots of swiping left and right and up and down. From a business perspective, there are some who play on Snapchat but I suspect the folks who get the most success are already well-known and Snapchat is an addition to their digital presence rather than making your name on Snapchat. 

However with the growth in numbers of users it's probably a platform you should consider using. There have been updates in the messaging features and so I've found myself increasingly using it as a messaging platform, in some cases replacing SMS. The geofilters feature is a real opportunity for events. Sadly my only submission for a geofilter was rejected. I shall try again though next time. 

I won't do a how-to as Mel Kettle wrote a how-to Snapchat guide for folks that is easy to read. I recommend you head there for a few tips. 

Overall, Snapchat is fun and silly - perfect for a Friday night during a bottle of wine, but it's also growing in its reach so perhaps perfect for the digital marketers of the now/future. 

11 September 2016

On being local

Sadly a rainy day for the 2016 fete, but a good day nonetheless. 

Yesterday I headed up to the local fete. While I was there also to babysit my niece while her mum volunteered for a stall, I was mostly there because it's something I love to do. I enjoy walking to the school on a weekend, watching the children eat too much fairy floss, seeing the volunteers try to maintain calm in the face of excited children. 

Being local is very important to me. I believe in the notion that it takes a community to raise a child. Last week I shared this story of Japanese children walking to school and taking public transport alone. For me it reinforced the idea that each of us must work/live towards being part of our communities. That means speaking to people in our streets, and participating in the organisations in our area. We shouldn't have to be afraid to speak the people around us. 

The 2nd North West Business Network event in full swing. 
At the newly formed North West Business Network there was quite a discussion about how we, as business owners, can support the community in which we live and work. Being in business and engaging with the community was a big theme of the morning. This month I have two catch-ups with fellow local business owners and while I don't think I'll have much in common with them with regards to business, it will be useful to find connections.

I believe that being local is just as important as having a national focus.

One of the things I'm keen to work on developing is a portal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources and communication that we can use for our children in our local schools and more broadly. I have made a bit of a start on creating an online portal. While I'm just beginning, I hope that it's one thing that I can leave behind or pass on to someone in the future. Gathering resources now so that that job is done for people in the future will hopefully be a worthwhile contribution. 

04 September 2016

A weekend off ...

For the first time in nearly a month I ended up having the weekend off. I didn't answer emails (though I confess I did read them). I didn't do at project work, nor study, nor teaching preparation. I spent one morning in discussions with a builder, three hours at the park for a birthday party and rather unglamourously climbing on top of climbing frames and a few other obstacles much to the amusement of my kids and their cuzzies, went to the movies to see The Shallows, and watched the entirety of season 5 of Downton Abbey. 

It was kind of cute when Son 3 was a little puzzled when I declared on Saturday evening that I'd had the "day off", cause I'd also folded three baskets of washing, cooked dinners, did a general clean, etc. I had to explain that when I say "had the day off", I mean from paid work not from household chores. 

My 2016 New Years resolution had been to have weekends. Like most NY resolutions, I've failed miserably. Don't get me wrong. I'm not addicted to being busy. It's just that I think "weekends" are a privilege that belong to some folks. The unencumbered perhaps? But weekends especially are not guaranteed for those who are self-employed. 

On Friday afternoon I spoke to one business owner (a Murri sistah) who regularly works 65 hour weeks just to keep afloat. One of her survival strategies is to religiously give herself Sunday off and to have no computer or internet connection at home. 

I didn't mean to have this weekend off. I have a long list of jobs that I need to get done. My coming week would be much more relaxed if had done them. But as the weekend wore on, my need to just be at home got stronger. 

I'll be up early in the morning and will attack the to-do list with gusto. All the while I'll work hard to not feel bad about having a slow weekend. 

Have a great week! 

25 August 2016

We are surrounded

Seen today (5.15pm at top of South Pine Road, Everton Park) on a bumper sticker: 

"If you're not behind our troops feel free to stand in front of them". A nasty and violent sentiment wrapped up as flag-waving patriotism.

(The sticker had the same look as the "If you don't love it leave" version) 


To the racism-isn't-that-bad-anymore - just because we're vigilant doesn't mean we see things that aren't there.  

09 August 2016

A week of breakfasts

Last week I spoke at two breakfasts. The first was for the Wilston Grange Business Community's annual Year 11 Leadership Breakfast, and the other was for the annual Small Business Connections Everton Park Business Breakfast hosted by Everton Park State High School.

At the WGBC's event, our MC and organiser Paul Hudson, asked us to address the question:

What is leadership and what does it mean to me? 

I don't think I directly addressed the question, but I hope that I gave some value. Here's what I said:
Good morning. I would like to begin by first acknowledging that we are on Aboriginal land. Here in this place we are on the land of the Turrubal and Jagera.  
I acknowledge the unceded sovereignty of Aboriginal communities here in Brisbane and across the continent. And I acknowledge Aboriginal peoples in the room.  
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all this morning. When I’m working with emerging business owners I often say to them to take every opportunity you can to talk about you business and how you go about it.  
Most business owners I know however are very hesitant to do so. If you’re a really great maker or creator, you’re more likely to want to just focus on making and creating. Not talking. However like writing and teaching, the act of planning a speech gives you an opportunity to engage with your work. You’re forced to think about why and how you work. You see taking pause, having a break, stepping outside of the job, allows you an opportunity to articulate your reason for being.  
 When I created Deadly Bloggers, I just went about the business of building the first directory of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bloggers. I was passionate about it. I built it one step at a time with little forward thinking and no strategy. I didn’t make any money from it, really I still haven’t. But I knew in my gut that it was a good idea. It wasn’t until later, much later that I came to understand why I was doing it. And it was through writing and speaking about Deadly Bloggers at conferences and lectures that I came to understand its importance, and to articulate it. For me, Deadly Bloggers is about supporting the writing and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a country that routinely ignores us. 
As emerging leaders in a variety of fields and endeavours, many of you may not know yet why you’re going down a particular route or a particular path. You know in your gut that it’s the right thing to do, or the right thing for you, but you can’t necessarily say why. I would encourage each of you to consider taking up writing as a way to develop your understanding of your own practice in whatever field that may be. Now, as I’m a passionate advocate of digital media and the opportunities that it can bring, I thoroughly encourage you to use blogging as a means of documenting your journey.  
Now you don’t have to just write words when you’re ‘writing’. A piece of ‘text’, can be a video-blog, an audio post, or an image post, a series of images like a photographic essay. Don’t think that you’re just constrained to writing ‘words’, sentences and paragraphs. As you get ready to head off into the world, image documenting that journey along the way.
Documenting the twists and turns that you will take over the next 8 or maybe even 9 decades of your life. Imagine the archive that you would leave - an archive that documented the journey of a leader. Many of us, probably most of us, conflate leadership and authority. 
There are positions of authority - positions that by their very nature command authority and power - I’m thinking here Prime Ministers, Judges, CEOs of large companies etc. And of course, the people are leaders, they’re definitely leaders. But leadership is much bigger than that, much broader than that.  
Leaders are in every facet of our world - there are people who are leaders in their fields of research, people who do their jobs well in all industries, who have the most knowledge, who commit more than the rest. They’re teachers, nurses, GPs, lawyers, gardeners, artists, musicians. Most leaders in our community aren’t known, they won’t appear in the National Biography, but they’re leaders nonetheless.  
Documenting the journey of these types of leaders is more important than ever. The world that you will grow into is very different from the one that I grew up in. Less jobs due to increased automation, increased globalisation. Now, more than ever, we need leaders in every part of the world and across all industries, at all levels who, through reason and thought, can guide their communities through the changes that will come. Writing and documenting the journey of your leadership will provide an archive that generations after you will be able to learn from. 
 Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today. It’s given me an chance to think about what leadership means and a chance to be present to why I do the work that I do. I wish you all the best of luck. Thank you.

On Friday I introduced the guest speaker to the Everton Park event, Ms Carol Vale. I know Carol as she is also a graduate of the Murra Indigenous Business Masterclass at Melbourne Business School. She's also a 'north-sider'

Good morning. I would like to begin by first acknowledging that we are on Aboriginal land. Here in this place we are on the land of the Turrubal and Jagera. I acknowledge the unceded sovereignty of Aboriginal communities here in Brisbane and across the continent. And I acknowledge Aboriginal peoples in the room. 
When choosing a keynote speaker for this year’s breakfast there are any number of topics or themes I could have chosen. However, one morning at my desk, I noticed the cover of the latest edition of Harvard Business Review asks the question Why Diversity Programs Fail?  
The article pointed to many different reasons why programs in corporations of different sizes fail. In Australia, diversity has been given some attention in the public sector in recent decades, but only recently has the private sector begun to take notice of the importance of using diverse suppliers and diverse employees. 
Our guest speaker today, Ms Carol Vale has been working with employeers and employees to create programs that both increase and sustain diversity within the workplace. Carol Vale is a Dhunghutti woman from NSW and brings to her work, personal and professional insights into working effectively with the complexities of Aboriginal people and communities. Carol draws on her experience to enable participation in conversations that lead to change. She is committed to facilitating opportunities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to come together to tackle the tough issues confronting Indigenous people in all communities. 
In 2013 Carol co-founded Murawin Pty Ltd and is the company’s Managing Director and Principal Consultant. She continues to working across the breadth of Aboriginal affairs with a key focus on working with others to enhance leadership and management capabilities and cultural competencies.
Carol has a Bachelor of Arts, a Masters of Indigenous Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Public Sector Leadership, a Diploma of Counselling, and will be Doctoral Candidate in 2017 in leadership and public policy. Carol is a faculty member of the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales. She also completed the Sydney Leadership Program in 2012 and the Murra Indigenous Business Master Class Program through the Melbourne Business School-University of Melbourne in 2014.
I have to say, I'm completely inspired by Carol's work and her achievements. It's definitely got me thinking about returning to further study next year.

08 August 2016


Yes. My first life-drawing class. What on earth am I doing here?
So this weekend was interesting.

We spent most of Saturday (time out for me in the afternoon taking Ms15 to her life-drawing class - reinforced how much I can't draw), Saturday night and all day Sunday, re-arranging the office space. Today (Monday) sees the office still in a shambles, but it gradually taking on a new configuration.

Our house was built in the 1950s and is virtually unchanged since then (but no, it's not a retro-hipsters dream by any stretch. It's more your run-down-can-just-afford-to-pay-the-mortgage-chic). It's three bedrooms upstairs, and was always designed to be a single story, but the 'old guy' who used to own the house dug out underneath and created an unofficial ground floor (the neighbours say it took him months which doesn't surprised me). Our ground floor is wrapped in lovely a lovely grey/white fibro paneling and the floor is partially sealed concrete of various levels and heights. It's not flash, but it's our home/office.

Over the past twenty years of our occupancy, we've had probably ten or so different home/office configurations. When the kids were little, they took up more space - legos EVERYWHERE! - but as they've gotten older, they're much less the space hogs than in their youth. It's interesting to think about how our lifestyle has changed over the years.

In this re-fit, we've removed all our 'personal' stuff from one part of the space to make way for a rows and rows of old computers and a serious workbench. With our business gently easing into the hardware game, Mr21 needed more space to do serious projects.

We've also made three more specific work-stations. One for Mr19 who is currently engaged in writing a blockbuster. The serious writer must have his own space.

The weekend ended with us feeling tired but productive after a complete re-fit, including new desks, 1 trip to the dump and 1 trip to the LifeLife bin.

Am looking forward to filling out this space and making it a hive of productivity.

02 August 2016

Mid-Walk Metaphors-Keeping us all together.

The scene
Today we did a lunchtime walk. It's 4-ish kilometre route. I took my daughter who, while used to walking that distance to and from school, generally does it in what I might can best be described as leisurely (and usually in leather school shoes). She doesn't do sport or anything exercise-y. However, when I'm doing this walk, it's for exercise - to get the heart rate going - not to look at the view. So once we headed out, she was definitely lagging behind me.

How to keep pace
To get Ms15 walking beside me and not behind me, I called her to me and said come on, walk with my steps, match my steps. Let's pretend we're marching. Now that she was focused on 'keeping time', I was gently about to increase our pace without her really noticing it too much. When I needed to slow down, I could ease back, and she eased right along with me.

What does it mean?
As we were walking along together, I wondered if this wasn't a metaphor for society. Perhaps for the bulk of humans, we're happy to keep in step. As a group we move gently into new directions (I'm thinking about language, race relations, and gender discrimination). If we move too fast, there's chaos and backlash.

I know it sounds corny - but what if the core component of human society is about critical mass or working as a group. There are always those who will keep their own time - they're the artists, or the renegades. What if, as humans, the bulk of the us, the critical mass in the middle, remain within it. It would explain general apathy as well as atrocities.

I should probably get my hands on some Orwell. 

If I'm completely on the wrong track, here's some lovely Brisbane purple to make up for it ... 

01 August 2016

Abuse, oppression and Royal Commissions

Like millions of other Australians I watch the Four Corners episode and was disgusted. That night I wrote - 

"This is what you get when you have a complete lack of transparency and zero accountability (how is that the Minister has not resigned already?), ongoing entrenched systemic racism, a total failed to implement the findings of rbr RCADIC from 25 years ago, combine with a racist, hyper-masculinity at the coal-face."

Since then of course the Prime Minieree appointed a Royal Commissioner who has since stepped down, another has been appointed, along with an associate Commissioner Mick Gooda. 

It's my belief that we don't need a Royal Commisson - it's a good way to keep people quiet while at the same time do nothing meaningful. And unless it's going to actually look at the criminal justice system to one that is not solely about punishment and retribution, then it's a waste of time and money. 

04 July 2016


It's a big week - NAIDOC - as I have a Business Breekfast on Wednesday, possibly a Gala Dinner on Thursday, and then up early at Musgrave Park all day Friday. 

Sorry for the short post, but I gotta get up and finish off a bunch of work (and marking!!) 

03 July 2016

2nd July 2016

We go to bed not knowing who our Prime Minister will be this time tomorrow. We do however know that history was made today with the election of Linda Burney as the member for Barton. She becomes the first Aboriginal woman in the House of Representatives. 

Like Neville Bonner, Ken Wyatt, and Nova Peris, as well men and women from the states and territories, including our own Leeanne Enoch, Linda Burney makes history today. 

I've written in the past about the difficulty facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected officials. In a country not known for its positive and meaningful response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, means being Aboriginal in parliament is always tricky. Are you your party? Your electorate? Your family or mob? 

I wish Linda all the best with her journey in parliament. I hope she gets some much needed rest in the coming days before being sworn in and the whole Canberra adventure begins. 

28 June 2016

Two nights in Sydney

I've been to Kings Cross once or twice. I was kinda disappointed because I grew up thinking it was a 'square' ala King George Square in Brisbane. After spending two nights here, I'm still not sure where the cross actually is. Apparently it's a street (I think?) or maybe it's a suburb?

When I come to Sydney - always for work (this time for Viscopy) - I'm mostly found in the Dulwich Hill / Marrickville area, which I LOVE. But I have to say I don't mind Kings Cross / Woolloomooloo. I certainly couldn't afford to live here, but ooh I like it. 

We arrived Monday for Vernon to speak at the NAVA Let's Talk Futures Town Hall gathering (I tagged along as I had a Viscopy meeting today). The gathering was to discuss the systemic raiding of arts infrastructure in Australia, as well as actions we can take for the election on Saturday.

I was inspired enough from that evening to volunteer for the Arts Party on Saturday. I'll let you know how I go. 

We're staying at Regent's Court here on Springfield Avenue at Potts Point. It's a lovely little hotel. It's got some wonderful qualities though it's a little oddly run, leading me to consider leaving a Trip Advisor review. You certainly can't beat the Garden Rooftop and the view. I'd definitely stay here again. 

I love visiting Sydney, and am determined to gradually expand my experiences a little with each visit. 

What's your favourite Sydney spot? 

09 June 2016

Thinking about Indigenous Design (Queensland Design Summit)

Today I'm speaking at the Queensland Design Summit at QUT. Wearing my SEQICC hat, I'm interested in exploring further, the way in which design thinking can stimulate Indigenous businesses participation in the economy.  

One of the other questions I'm interested in is, is there an Indigenous design methodology? Is there a way that design is conducted by Murri people that is different from White Australia? My initial response is that it is quite possible that a methodology exists but we're not at a point where we can articulate it in an explicit sense. The number of Mob working (I'm thinking here of graphic design, interior, architecture, urban design etc) in design is quite small, and the number of those folks engaged in the academy (or more importantly in the area of comment and critique) is even smaller. 

There is big picture work being done however in the Indigenous architecture space. Separately both Kevin O'Brien and Linda Kennedy continue to ask important questions around practice. 

With so much buzz around innovation, startups and big ideas!! I'm always reminded that the Australian playing field is not equal. The gaps in all the social indicators are too wide, and in some cases getting wider. 

It's imperative that for all our work in this area, we remind ourselves that the focus also has to be in making sure that all our people have the opportunity to play in the space. If not this generation then the next. 

06 June 2016

The Not Quite Cooked Digital Champion: What a mad ride!

What is a cure for overwhelm and stress? One cure is drop everything, quit your responsibility, just stop and walk away. Another option is to pull in the reins, take one step at a time, one foot after the other. A third option is to be asked to step up even further, to be called-to-action, and to be reminded of the long game. 

I've done the first only a few times, the second is more my style and is what I'm used to. Taking deep breaths along the way. And the third comes along occasionally. It's what I experienced this morning. 

A month or so ago I was approached by Michelle Hollywood from InfoExchange, the social enterprise, about the Year of Digital Inclusion and the Digital Champions programme. In addition to finally working out what 'Advance Queensland' was all about, we had a good yarn and she told me about the amazing work of InfoExchange. She was interested in the work I was doing, I particular with the SEQICC, and spoke about the various projects I'd done in a digital space - Deadly Bloggers, WhichWay for Social Media, as well as the informal work I do every day in helping folks with digital tools. She suggested I would be a candidate as a Champion. Skeptical, I approached the SEQICC to nominate me, a few weeks later my application was accepted. 

However, it's not that simple is it. Not in my head it isn't. Over the past two weeks I've had the worst bout of Imposter Syndrome. It's been energy sapping, mind-bending even. It's impacted on my productivity so incredibly over the past fortnight that it's going to take me a month to catch up. My imposter syndrome looks a bit like: What if you all find out about me? And you finally realise I have no friggin idea what the hell I'm doing? 

In this past month, I've been nominated as a Digital Champion, been invited to sit on two conference panels and  asked to be a referee for a Promotion round for a Senior Academic at a university because I'm 'a leader in the field'. Are you all f--king kidding me? I know this reads like a really crap humble brag, but it's not. I'm serious. Two nights ago, I'm standing in my kitchen, balling my eyes out. "What the f--k am I doing? They're all going to find out I don't know anythjng. I didn't ask for this!!! Why can't I say no!?!?!?" (It wasn't a pretty sight I can tell you) 

Finally after two weeks of panic, I feel like my head is clearing today. And it's been helped from a couple of things. 

The first was a tweet by Anil Dash two days ago:

The moment I read it, it punched me in the gut. I had a physical reaction to it. What if? What if I could really love myself - ALL of me?  What if I could own the fact that I have no idea most of the time? And 'own it' not just on my 'good' days? I think part of my strength is that I never profess to know the answers. I'm rarely 100% sure of anything. I'm always asking questions, always trying to fit the puzzle together. 

The second thing that's helped to clear my head happened this morning. Minister Leeanne Enoch called us - the Round 3 Digital Champions - to action. She asked for our help - help to do our bit -  that we're working to try to ensure that all Queenslanders have access to digital tools and have digital literacy skills. Helen Milner from the Tinder Foundation provided us with detailed evidence about what digital literacy can bring individuals and communities, and how the costs of providing these support structures are far outweighed by the economic and social benefits that it brings. 

I was/am inspired to get out of my head and get into action. So much of the work I do fits into this bigger vision, it's just that it's not clear nor delivered strategically. 

So I'm putting the Imposter Syndrome in the cupboard for now (it will be back later I'm sure), and I'm announcing that I've got plans for at least three Digital Inclusion activities before the end of the year. One major event in October for Indigenous Business Month, and two minor events on either side. 

I know I haven't cured my overwhelm and stress by adding extra commitments to my calendar. But I have no time to let that self-doubt in right now. It's to put my skills to the test. 

I have to be here for something bigger than me.

23 May 2016

So is 47 mid- or late- forties?

I was scrolling through old posts this morning, and noticed that in one from last month I referred to myself as mid-forties. 

Last month I was 46, and this month I'm 47. So it's just occurred to me as I eat my decidedly unglamorous but definitely cholesterol lowering breakie, that maybe I'm now technically "late-40s". 

Oh crap. 

And if my primary school 'rounding-up/down' mathematics hasn't completely  left me, I've been late-forties for over twelve months? 

Bloody hell. 

Staying focused in the un-routine

Am up earlier than normal this morning, now with two little people in the kitchen watching cartoons on my iPad. Cartoons have changed a lot since my four were that age. I guess every generation has their favourites. 

The week and month ahead are looking just as busy as last month was. It's busy just with work, but now I have essay marking on top of that so I've added another layer of work to my normal day. I knew this was coming so while it's no surprise, I'm daunted by it. 

Today will be a day of refocus - creating a master list of writing and thinking work - giving my brain and day time to mark, as well as to prepare a few marketing and communication strategies. This morning it feels like I'm standing at the start of the race, getting ready to run a long marathon. 

As I posted yesterday, I deleted the Facebook app off my phone. Facebook, and it's mind-numbing Tasty, cat, and puppy videos as well as insightful articles my good friends post, are an excellent distraction throughout the day. Especially when you work alone, sometimes social media channels feels like you're talking to your colleague in the next cubicle in between tasks. To others I probably look like I'm Facebook a lot - what on earth does she do all day? - when really I just pop my head in for a minute at a time. However, Facebook on my phone can tend to eat more hours than I'd like. Hence the deletion.  

My other goal this week is to add some physical activity to the day (I was about to add to "my daily routine", but I don't feel like I have a routine. Maybe it's an un-routine?). I have no exercise routine at all. And at the age of 47 that's completely unacceptable. 

Anyway, here's to a big week - a trip to Sydney, 120 assignments to mark, sundry client work in between, family appointments, and on-the-business commitments. I am working hard this week centring my brain to limit the debilitating sense of overwhelm I often get. Small steps Leesa. One job at a time. 

And thanks to these two little blokes for getting me up earlier to see the rising sun. 

20 May 2016

My number 7 tip to help you blog more ...

My Tip: Delete the Facebook app off your phone.

I know blogging should be more about quality than quantity. That's completely true. But sometimes, for me, the quality improves the more I do it. It becomes a habit again. 

Notice April? I posted nine times in April - when I had deleted the Facebook app off my phone. When I put it back on in May, see how many I have? Until this post, 2 in almost one month! To be a truly valid study, I'd need a number of subjects and do some kind of longitudinal study. But that's not going to happen. So I'm using my two month sample as my evidence. 

So I'm going to delete the app of my phone again so that I only look at Facebook when I'm at my desk. Let's see if I can get my blogging mojo back.  

Hanging with Indigenous Business in Townsville

This week I was invited to hang out with the Townsville and Region Indigenous Business Network (TRIBN) at their first networking event for 2016. 

Of course, as always I forgot that May in Townsville and May in Brisbane are completely different. So I ended up wearing one layer too many (note to self: ditch the all black when you head north Leesa!). Thankfully the venue - the Crown on Palmer - had just enough of a gentle breeze to keep me going. 

I met some wonderful business people include Alannah who runs a cosmetic franchise business, Dawn who has made the leep into the cultural awareness space, Sam, a fantastic MC who travels the nation doing motivational speaking, and many more. 

I was one of four speakers. The others included representatives from Qld State Development, IBA, and TAFE North. 

With Sam's facilitation I was able to share  my business journey story, including how I got started, some of the the challenges and a few words of caution for the newbies, as well as a few marketing tips (what's your 'story', who is your market, and where do they hang out). 

I hope I was able to make a contribution to folks and their own business journey. 

This week is Small Business Week in Queensland. Ensuring that Indigenous business networks have a voice during these events is fundamental. Thanks to the Qld Govt for supporting this event. 

Thanks TRIBN. Love your weather Townsville. Hope to catch up again soon. 

But for now back to the office. 

01 May 2016

In Flight Mode. Indigenous business supplying the nation

One quick post (literally) from the plane at Brisbane airport. I'm on my way to Sydney for Connect 2016 - the annual Supply Nation Trade Show and Awards Event. 

It's important for all of us to talk about Indigenous business and the diversity of industries that people are working in. 

It's still so normal for me to meet Australians for whom the concept of an Indigenous business is completely foreign. Never mind an entire trade every devoted to Indigenous procurement. 

Posting my upcoming trip on Twitter, deadly sistah Dr Sandra Phillips wished me well in "supplying the nation". 

How apt is that "Indigenous businesses supplying the nation"? So true, on so many levels. And definitely not a recent phenomenon. 

It's a bit rainy out there today so am hoping for a smooth ride. 

Gotta go. Flight mode engaged. 

25 April 2016

This week in Sydney and Canberra

Late yesterday afternoon I finally landed back in Brisbane after 8 days away in both Sydney and Canberra. It's so great to be home. I don't think I do 'away from the kids' very well.

Appin Massacre

I turned up early a few days early in Sydney to attend the 200th Anniversary of the Appin Massacre. It was a great turn out - I'm pretty sure there were over 1000 people present.

We also just made it over to Campbelltown Arts Centre for the exhibition With Secrecy and Dispatch. It's an amazing exhibition and should be required attendance by school children across the Sydney region.

Pics from the day are on The Critical Classroom's Facebook Page.

On the Train

On Tuesday evening after the Board meeting I jumped on a train to Canberra. Felt happy that I scored a window seat but then slack that it was actually too dark to get any good pics. Despite that I thoroughly recommend the trip down - very relaxing.

You can book the train via NSW TrainLink, with trains regularly departing from Central Station. Very convenient.

Enjoying Canberra

Canberra was a mix of personal and professional. Had a couple of excellent meetings with clients and got projects moving forwarding. I also spent a few days with my sister and her family. I babysat the kids for a few days - there was a trip to see Zootopia, movie night with The Force Awakens, a trip to Weston Park and a ride on the little train, a trip to Black Mountain and the Telstra Tower and a visit to to Mount Stromlo.

Canberra's an odd place. I enjoy visiting it, but I'm not sure I could ever live there. I've been thinking about why it's so different to what I'm used to. I think it's the lack of familiar green - it's more brown and that dull Eucalypt green rather than the tropical green I grew up with. I've also noticed that the architecture is much more standardised. I'm no architecture expert so I have no idea if it is all the same period but if feels as though Brisbane there is a greater diversity of styles across the city. In Brisbane there is also more colour from advertising and marketing. In Canberra, I wonder if there is a limitation on the amount of commercial signage that buildings are allowed to displayed.

Farewell Sweet Prince
Of course this week is devastating because the world lost Prince. I can't describe what it's like to know that he is no longer with us, but I'm incredibly grateful for the legacy he left. Since his passing I've been getting my Prince fix with videos, posts and music being shared on social media. What did we do before the Internet?

A fire lit for Tiga Bayles this weekend. 

19 April 2016

"It all goes so fast"

Do you wonder how life has gone by so quickly? How all of a sudden you're in your mid-forties, yet you remember the eighties like they were yesterday. 

I hear myself saying "It's all going so fast" more than ever these days. The kids were kids not that long ago and now they're in their late teens/early twenties. I look at old (often pre-digital) photos and sigh. I also remember when I thought 40 was SO OLD. Now, I'm thinking well 80 is pretty old isn't it? 

Tomight I'm on the train from Sydney to Canberra tonight, and I've just been yarning with a fellow passenger. She too, can't believe how fast it's all gone. A great-grandmother, with a husband with Dementia, she understands the value of every precious day. 

As we waited for our train to depart we shared the tales of our lives - the navigating family demands while still fitting in time to do "what we want". I think for most people - life is about the juggling act. 

We're all busy navigating work demands, schools awards ceremonies, family doctor appointments, extended family weddings and birthday parties. Plus there's the other stuff like volunteering - meetings, sausage sizzles and cake stalls, as well as our activism. 

Life isn't "out there", it's here and now. It's ordinary. And that's okay. 

Choosing Indigenous Education Resources - a work-in-progress.

Choosing Indigenous Education Resources for the Classroom

This week I popped in on a sistah's lecture for pre-service teachers. The end result is a quick post for the Critical Classroom on Choosing Indigenous Education Resources for the Classroom.

It's a work-in-progress post and is framed around ideas that we started thinking about around 15 years ago. I really want to continue writing this list up. Of course, it's not a cut-and-dry or black-and-white list - it's not a case of if it doesn't tick the criteria don't use it. But rather they're guidelines that one can use to assess the worth of a resource. They're more like questions to consider.

I'm looking forward to getting into this post a bit more and developing it further in coming months.

13 April 2016

Growing an ecosystem requires leadership with depth

Indigenous Business in South East Queensland with the SEQICC and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch.

It's the most satisfying feeling, when talking with a leader they understand exactly where you're coming from and what your issues are. There's no having to defend yourself, to over-explain, just state the issues and you move forward and talk big picture.

Well today, as part of a delegation from the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, I met with Queensland's Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Leeanne Enoch, and that's exactly what we got. 

Leeanne is a Quandamooka woman, raised in Logan. Her life and work is based here, in this place. Her work was with community. I've always remembered her as a staunch community and family focused person. And today, as a Minister, you can tell where she has come from. And it's good. 

It was a breath of fresh air, knowing that the person that you're talking to has knowledge and depth. 

I'm optimistic about what can be achieved for Indigenous business in Queensland now and into the future. As I've said many times before, being in business is bloody hard work with no guaranteed pay-offs. But I'm more hopeful now than I have been in a long time. 

I'm committed to working with the SEQICC for the foreseeable future, working to develop a state-wide representation. 

There's still so much to be done building and nurturing the Indigenous Business EcoSystem. And with Minister Enoch at the helm, anything is possible. 

11 April 2016

Giving the machine part of me

So after that mini-flurry of blog posts last week - honestly I think I was procrasti-blogging - anyone would think I was turning this space into a fatshion space. Nah. I don't have the capacity or will power to take pics of the clothes I'm wearing every day. I was so happy to have written those posts though. I feel like I've moved a mini-mountain for myself. Of course they're nothing compared to others, but for me it was a big deal. 

I spent my day neck deep in teaching and project management. That's my life these days. With the client list gradually growing, my ability to keep on track of projects is vital. I'm not sure I've nailed it yet though.

Today I remembered two tasks I was to complete for a client. The worst thing? I remembered them. What should have happened was that they should have been in our management tool with an alarm beside it. 

I'm very lucky there. But it reminded me that I can't let my brain to all that memory work. Those tasks need to be documented. I need to give the machine part of me - it can have those memories. But to do that I need to be consistent and disciplined. Something that definitely doesn't come naturally. 

Tomorrow is a full day of meetings. I'm looking forward to getting out of the office, albeit for one day. 

Onward and upward.