The entrepreneurial journey is a long and personal one

I saw the movie The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro in the cinema when it came out late in 2015. It brought tears to my eyes…


Then my mother, returning on a Qantas flight, watched the same movie a few weeks ago and she called me to ask (tongue in cheek) if I had been ‘writing screen plays’ in my spare time because there was similarities to my own life in the film.


Then a fellow female founder from the EY Global Women’s Program #EWW wrote a message on her Facebook page tagging her other female founders including me – saying, ‘hey women have you seen The Intern – Hollywood seems to know we are not alone and face different challenges as we grow our businesses.’


And then when listed The Intern as one of the must see movies for 2015, I thought finally I should say why I think this movie spoke to me…


It was so not about the mature intern Robert De Niro’s character (he played a guardian angel role really), though perhaps retirees might think differently… for me, it was the journey of a woman to create an amazing enterprise – completely focused on the customer.


To me the movie brought up a number of issues faced by female founders that may or may not be experienced by our male counterparts… but I know for women these issues are amplified.


One question I have explored for myself is: why do more women not grow larger businesses… and as I am involved in Heads Over Heels, Scale InvestingEY Winning WomenTelstra Business Women’s Awards, CBA Women in Focus – I do all these things to support other female founders – but also because I am trying to answer the question of why do we not have more large female founded enterprises? I am no closer to answering that question.


Perhaps the answer might be hidden in this Hollywood movie:


  1. It can be lonely at the top – who have you got to confide in who has experience and insight but gives it without judgment
  2. Who do you have in your ‘corner’ to barrack for you, celebrate with you, and see you as the winner you need to be to drive continual growth
  3. How can you learn to give up the ‘detail’ but never give up the passion and understanding of ‘customer experience’ – being able to trust and inspire others to care as much as you do about the customer journey
  4. How can you keep your investors (partners) aligned and informed to ensure that just because you do it ‘differently’ does not mean that it is wrong or won’t work.


There are many other areas of the movie that held the mirror up to my own life. Especially about the great divide between being a business person as well as being a wife, mother, daughter and friend. The expectations we place on ourselves to ensure that we excel at every role we play.


I have just finished the manuscript for my next book – and if there is one thing that I wanted to come through loud and clear – it is that there is no perfect… but choosing carefully who you surround yourself with will make the world of difference to your experience of life – particularly as a female founder.


I rewatched the movie on a Qantas flight last week – it still brought a tear to my eye… but I do wonder if the subtleties of why it has this effect on me would be lost on my fellow directors or the leaders around me – after all each entrepreneurial journey is a long and personal one… we can never distinguish between our work and home life – we have just one life…


Naomi Simson runs the fast-growing company RedBalloon. She had a long corporate career in marketing but has now been a boss for more than a decade. RedBalloon was named as one of only 13 BRW Best Employers in Australia in 2012 for four years in a row.

Article originally published by Women’s Agenda.


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