What I Learned From Mia Freedman

Mia Freedman was guest speaker at Business Women Albury Wodonga's Gala night. Photo credit: Mia Freedman Facebook Page

There may be some sighs from my female friends and colleagues, but I must confess until I attended the Business Women Albury Wodonga Gala Dinner, I had never checked out ‘Australia’s largest independent women’s website’ mamamia.com.au.

Of course I admire and respect the achievements of Mia Freedman. I remember when Mamamia won Media Brand of the Year at the MUmBRELLA Awards in 2013. (mumbrella.com.au is a media, marketing online publication that I regularly read).

It was only recently I read a blog written by a work colleague that was published on Mia’s site (which she shared via social media). I was proud of her article, a personal story about bravely ditching plans for her wedding reception a month before the big day.

Photo credit: Mia Freedman Facebook Page

I assumed that the Mamamia online publication probably wasn’t for me. Perhaps my background as a sports journalist has something to do with it.  I am more likely to browse sports, media/marketing industry and local news websites.

I’m the woman who even turns up to the hair salon, armed with a novel to read (a murder mystery or thriller, not the soppy stuff) – because flicking through glossy women’s fashion and national celebrity magazines is not my thing, even if there are some inspirational stories dotted in there somewhere (just ask Kate and the team at The Last Tangle).

But I knew that guest speaker for the Gala Dinner, Mia Freedman would be worth listening to, especially since I recently launched a digital publication of my own (thanks for reading by the way!)

Her journey with Mamamia which went from blogging alone in her lounge room in 2007 to running a multi-million-dollar digital media empire today is truly inspiring.

Watching her take to the stage and keep a room full of 350 women captivated and silent throughout her presentation was a feat in itself. Her ability to be so open about her personal and business journey, and speak with such freedom, ease and confidence was captivating.

Mia with good friend Lisa Wilkinson and Lisa’s daughter Billi. Photo credit: Mia Freedman Facebook Page

Although there were many words of wisdom that I took from the night, I was really struck by what she had to say about one of her closest friends, Lisa Wilkinson (thank you to the audience member who bravely asked ‘what’s the goss?’ regarding Lisa’s departure from the Today show)

It’s well documented that Mia persuaded Lisa, then editor of Cleo magazine, to give her a fortnight’s unpaid work experience, which eventually turned into a paid job. Lisa quickly became Mia’s mentor, and now valued friend.

Mia explained that she thought Lisa was ‘at the top of her game’ in her 20’s as the youngest editor of magazine Dolly, then International Editor-in-Chief of Cleo magazine.

She then thought Lisa was ‘at the top of her game’ in her 30’s when she dabbled in television as a regular panellist on various shows, then again thought she was ‘at the top of her game’ in her 40’s when she became co-host of Today.

Now at 57, Lisa is about to embark on another exciting career journey as part of Network Ten’s The Project (and apparently becoming one of television highest money earners along the way!) – clearly she is again ‘at the top of her game’, declared Mia.

This story made me reflect on my own career journey, and no doubt other women can relate. I often considered that ‘time is against me’ in the rush to make an impact in my career, and lately, ‘perhaps my best years are behind me.’

A Prime News publicity photo with Steve Block and myself in 1994.

When I left Prime News Albury in 1998 to take up a role as a sports journalist with Network Ten in Melbourne, I was 28 years old and thought I’d probably left it a little late to make any real impact in metropolitan television. I was still disappointed at narrowly missing out on what I considered my ‘dream job’ working with Bruce McAvaney on Sportsworld several years earlier.

I figured it was a younger woman’s world and surely I’d only have a few years before the next generation would be coming through.

In my 30’s, there was an opportunity to become part of Network Ten’s sports production team, working as a reporter on live broadcasts of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, Moto GP, V8 Supercars, Australian Rally Championship and write feature stories for motorsport program RPM – it was a fantastic time in my career.

My internal dialogue said, ‘enjoy it while it lasts, because you’re not getting any younger’ – again, assuming I’d soon have to make way for a younger generation.

Now in my mid (or late) 40’s (how do you describe 47?  – surely you round it down? I’ll go with mid 40’s) I am proud to still be involved in the media, as part of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship broadcast team.

While I’m not one of the high profile presenters – I mainly cover the supports categories and do some behind-the scenes producing, I continue to enjoy being part of a world class television sports broadcast team.

Interviewing John Bowe, racing in the Touring Car Masters.

I even embarked on a new skill this year, helping out in the commentary box for Supercars TV, broadcasting the action for fans trackside. I even helped call the Porsche Carrera Cup races at Bathurst – it was a great view of the racing action above pit lane, but ‘commentating’ rather than ‘reporting’ well and truly takes me out of my comfort zone!

In the Supercars TV trackside commentary box at Bathurst 2017.

This year I also created this online publication because I enjoy writing and telling stories and highlighting the amazing, inspiring, wonderful things happening in the region I call home. I’m excited by what the next stages of bordercafe.com.au might be.

I’m not Lisa Wilkinson, but reflecting on her journey, I feel that although I’m no longer in the early stages of my career, perhaps I’m also ‘at the top of my game.’

I know I’m still energised and excited about what lies ahead and still have so much to learn (should I hashtag that?), I hope you feel the same way too. Let’s not put an early ‘best before’ date on our career journeys. Let us all bring out our inner Lisa Wilkinson!

A big thanks to Business Women Albury Wodonga and to the SS&A for hosting the event, and the wonderful local businesses that supported the night. A particular ‘well done’ to Go Local Magazine for sponsoring Mia as guest speaker.

For more information on Business Women Albury Wodonga visit: https://businesswomenaw.com.au/