It was my birthday this week and it is always a good time to reflect. I have taken a break (everyone at RedBalloon gets their birthday off, but I have taken 11 days for this birthday, justifying that as this is my 11th year at RedBalloon) to travel back to the place where my career began.
My first job after finishing my undergraduate degree was with IBM in New York. I had my 21st birthday at the restaurant ‘Windows of the World’ at the top of the World Trade Tower.
As I go back to places that I went to 25 years ago, I marvel at how the city has changed – I reflect on what I have achieved in the past quarter of a century. But more importantly I think what am I yet to do.
I was given a book “The Gospel According to Coco Chanel – life lessons from the world’s most elegant woman” for my birthday and as I began to devour it I was completely in awe of a woman totally committed to style and beauty. She did not rest, she was tireless in her pursuit of excellence – in her 88 years on the planet she changed the way women dressed forever.
Well beyond her death the brand that she created in business partnership with the Wertheimer family, Chanel, is still privately held by the family. As Lagerfeld took over design and while many areas of the business were modernised, the simplicity of this woman’s vision continues on.
Gabrielle Chanel, known as Coco, knew implicitly what she stood for: style, self-invention; survival; with a passion; drive; and spirit that meant she never considered anything else. Single minded in her pursuit created the legend and the legacy we now have.
Twenty-five years ago as a young graduate I did not know what I stood for: I simply worked hard and believed in what I was doing. It took years for me to learn how I could make a difference. As human beings all we really want to do is to do something worthwhile – something that does make the planet a better place for others.
I visited the Cindy Sherman exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art yesterday – here is another woman that from a young age at university in Boulder NY had already begun to explore what has become her life’s work. Her commitment to truth and discovery has been her passion and as a result her photographs are some of the most expensive ever sold.
These women remind me that true greatness is not created in a few days – it takes years of commitment, and single mindedness to really do something worthwhile. My legacy is not yet determined but I am driven to continue to create a truly great Australian business.
Naomi Simson is considered one of Australia’s ‘Best Bosses’. She is an employee engagement advocate and practices what she preaches in her own business. RedBalloon has been named as one of only six Hewitt Best Employers in Australia and New Zealand for 2009 and awarded an engagement scorecard of over 90% two years in a row – the average in Australian businesses is 55%. RedBalloon has also been nominated by BRW as being in the top 10 Best Places to Work in Australia behind the likes of Google. One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker inspiring people on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blog and is a published author – and has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded – RedBalloon.com.au.