Melbourne Darling is shining a ‘Spotlight On’* Sarah Liu for her dedication to not only inspire, but encourage and motivate young business women to dream big and take action to follow their dreams.
Sarah Liu is the founder and director of Little Girl Big Dream, a community offering networking and professional development events and programs designed to empower, support and develop young professional women into becoming the next generation of professional leaders. Sarah Liu has also published a book called ‘500 Words of Wisdom’ a collection of candid reflections and encouraging words of advice from a selection of Australia’s most successful female business leaders, including Pip Marlow, MD of Microsoft, Kate Burleigh, MD of Intel, Catriona Noble, CEO of McDonalds, Kristina Karlsson, Founder & Creative Director Kikki K, Maryanne Shearer, Founder of T2, Janine Allis, Founder and Managing Director of Boost Juice and Lorna Jane Clarkson, just to name a few.
I have read a number of books featuring collections of interviews or profiles on female entrepreneurs and business women but I found that ‘500 Words of Wisdom’ was a real standout. It is such a beautifully presented, uplifting read where each of the women featured came across as though they could express themselves freely and contribute what they believed to be most important and most worthy of sharing.
Instead of being a collection of interviews of successful women recounting a typical day in their lives or how they struck lucky, what I really found of value in the book was the genuine and heart felt responses that the women shared. The book read in an open and thoughtful way as though the women were passing on their words of advice to their own daughters or their sisters. I think this greatly captured the sense of sisterhood that I admire and that I believe the Little Girl, Big Dream association and its supporters (namely the high profile female business leader contributors of this book) strive to achieve.
In addition to this exciting read, Sarah has also just launched the Little Girl Big Dream Membership program – The Dream Collective. Specifically designed to support young and ambitious, professional women in Australia, The Dream Collective membership allows individuals access to valuable learning, development and network opportunities designed to assist individuals to achieve career advancement and the steps to fulfill their aspirations of leadership roles. The Dream Collective membership includes access to the upcoming Little Girl Big Dream Think Tank Series, exclusive business and career coaching with high profile female business leaders. Starting from just $1 a day, see the Little Girl Big Dream website for more information on membership options and inclusions.
Before Sarah embarks on what is to be a very busy and exciting year ahead for Little Girl Big Dream, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Sarah some questions about her own journey and words of wisdom for young women chasing their dreams:
What inspired you to start up the Little Girl Big Dream?
I have always been passionate and ambitious, always searching for opportunities to develop and grow professionally as soon as I entered the corporate world. However,I was confronted by the lack of resources and support networks available to young professional women. That’s when I decided to take it upon myself to create such platforms and founded Little Girl Big Dream, a community where like minded young women can connect in a professional forum and be empowered and equipped to pursue our dreams. Where we can support, encourage and collaborate to achieve success and where we can be mentored and guided by high calibre leaders in Australia to realise our potential.
Did you always aspire to be a successful leader in Business or was it something that became of interest later in life?
I have always had a clear vision and aspiration to be a career woman – no matter what industry or sector it may be. I knew I wanted to be in a position of leadership and wanted to develop professional excellence and achieve career success.
My interest in Business was developed later as I gained more experience and exposure in the corporate world. I have a Marketing and Branding background and it has been pivotal in informing and influencing the direction of my career thus far.
Who have been your personal and/or professional mentors along the way?
Oh where do I start?! Too many of them! I have had formal mentors as well as informal mentors whose generous sharing and guidance have shaped the way I think. In addition, learning about the work they do has inspired and motivated me to stay determined in achieving what I am passionate about. These have included all speakers, contributors to our program, in particular Ghazaleh Lyari (Founder of Ghermez Cupcakes), Catriona Watson Lamb (Marketing Director, Bendon Lingerie) and Megan Dalla Camina (former Director of Strategy at IBM and author of Getting Real About Having It All) just to name a few.
Having said that, there’s one mentor who played a pivotal role in helping me navigate the way through my career and business and that’s my boyfriend Glen. Successful in his own right, he never seizes to inspire and open my eyes and thinking to new realms. He not only provides practical guidance, experience, sharing and know-how to the challenges I face, but most importantly, he always challenges me to stretch beyond my comfort zone, to dream the audacious and to achieve the unthinkable. One thing Sheryl Sandberg said in her book “Lean In” was that the best career decision a girl can ever make is the partner she chooses – and I honestly cannot agree more with that.
Can you share a hardship or challenge you faced and were able to overcome during your career?
The reality is that challenges are never ending. The one day I don’t see a challenge ahead is the day I tell myself to step up the game. Many people see challenge and hardship as difficulties to get through, but I would encourage everyone to view it as an opportunity to grow and stretch beyond your comfort zone.
I run into road blocks that most people would also face, including limited resources to grow my business quickly as an entrepreneur, or having to deal with terrible bosses who put me through hell on earth. I have learnt that the only way forward is to calm down, rationalise the situation/problem at hand and decide whether it is a battle worth fighting, because sometimes it actually isn’t!
Life is too short, so focus your energy on what’s worth fighting for! Once this issue is decided on, believe in your decision and tackle the problem head on, but don’t get overly emotional. My advice is to see every challenge as an opportunity to grow. I know it sounds easier said than done, but trust me, it will make the journey so much easier and that’s the only way you will be able to come out of it stronger than ever.
What are your words of wisdom for the young women who aspire to become the future generation of female business leaders?
Believe in the power of your dreams! This really isn’t as cliche as it may sound. Successful people start on their venture and journey because first they had a dream. A dream of who they want to be, what they want to achieve, where they want to be and why they want to do it. Have a dream and make sure you commit to realising it too. Last but not least, giving up will always look like the best option because negativity requires no effort. Remember that, and that success is sheer hard work repeated day in and day out!
What has been the most memorable piece of advice or words of wisdom given to you?
“Go that extra mile – because it’s never crowded” – The road to career or business success is often a lonely and difficult journey but if you don’t challenge and stretch yourself to go that extra mile, you may never experience what that opportunity truly has to offer.
Where are your favourite places to go as a Melbourne Darling?
My favourite places in Melbourne would have to be Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie on Little Collins Street, Brother Baba Budan on Little Bourke Street, Nobu at Crown Southbank and Izakaya Den on Russell Street!
*The ‘Muse of the Month’ feature has been renamed as the ‘Spotlight On’ feature
Disclaimer: Melbourne Darling received a reading copy of 500 Words of Wisdom for review purposes. The opinions shared in this article are based completely on my own honest and personal views, thoughts and experiences.