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Louise M Empowerment series with Louise Matson and Dr Paula Smith -Episode 17

Posted on June 09 2022

Louise M Empowerment with Louise Matson and Paula Smith

Becoming Empowered Through Speaking

Louise Matson, Founder of Louise M shoes, a luxury footwear brand for airline cabin crew and corporate women, speaks with women about their empowerment journey from childhood to adulthood. Louise is intrigued as to where business women have found their confidence and self belief to become empowered and successful in life and business.

“When you feel empowered, you're unstoppable. And when you feel empowered, you tend to take more risks, live life to the fullest, be the best version of yourself that you can be. And I guess if I had to sum up, if I feel empowered, I feel free, totally free.” Dr Paula Smith

Louise Matson:
I'm delighted today to have Dr. Paula Smith on the Louise M Empowerment series. Dynamic inspiring, passionate, and commercially savvy are all words that are used to describe Paula as a trusted advisor, professional speaker, three times author and business leadership coach. Paula has enjoyed more than 30 years on an entrepreneurial journey, which have included being the Founder of Australia's largest personal development school, franchisor, hotel owner, professional speaker, business coach and is currently the CEO of the Global Institute of Training and Presenting, a training company specializing in workplace and leadership communication. Paula's decades of research in presentation intelligence and human behavior have earned her the reputation as a leading expert in the world of powerful presenting and leadership communication. Paula is also a proud mother of three, wife of one, and friend to a few more. She's been seen attempting the occasional triathlon and enjoys hanging out on her Perth property with a whole bunch of adorable alpacas. Welcome Paula. Thank you so much for being with me today.

Paula Smith:
Hello, Louise. It's pretty exciting to be here and congratulations on such a wonderful podcast series. I've been listening to it all week.

Louise Matson:
Oh, fantastic. Thank you so much, Paula. I'm really intrigued because I've met so many amazing women through business over my nine years of business journey and I'm always inspired and wonder where they get that sense of, I can do that confidence to actually, you know, start a business and grow the business. I want to know where it starts, cause we hear so much about the business journey where that started, but I want to go right back to childhood and see if that actual sense of empowerment started as a child. And whether that helped you through, as an adult transition into an adult. I'd love to ask you what your definition of empowerment is.

Paula Smith:
Such a big question right off the bat!

Paula Smith:
I think empower or empowerment is one of those words that's open to interpretation. It's a bit like one of those words, like, you know, motivational or transformation or even thought leadership, people can interpret it in a number of ways. But I guess for me to empower someone is more like a process. So to empower somebody is sometimes maybe to, to give them authority, to empower them to make a decision. So to empower somebody I think is a process where you can give them all the resources that they need, but to feel empowered, definitely comes from inside. It's a bit like motivation. You can't motivate anyone, but you can certainly inspire them, but no one can motivate you. It has to come from within. So I think when you feel empowered, you are unstoppable and when you feel empowered, you, you tend to take more risks, live life to the full, be the best version of yourself that you can be. And I guess if I had to sum up, if I feel empowered, I feel free. Totally free. Yeah, I guess. Does that make sense?

Louise Matson:
I love that. Yeah. Just you and conquer the world. A lot of it is a feeling for you, but do you actually think you present differently physically?

Paula Smith:
Oh, definitely. I think when you feel confident, you walk with your head held high, your strides are bigger. So I think when you feel confident, people can feel that energy can see that energy and they can feel that energy that comes from within you. It's like when somebody is feeling shame their whole body or their physicality, their shoulders will go down. Their head will go down. But when they're feeling empowered, I think they look empowered.

Louise Matson:
Yeah. Fantastic. Well, you are the walking, talking, empowerment person. I've known you for several years now and seen you present. Where Paula, where did your sense of empowerment, your feeling of empowerment, I believe it started for you in childhood, but is that correct?

Paula Smith:
Look, probably, I grew up in a typical Australian household, if you can even think what that even looks like nowadays. And when I say Australia, my parents were actually English. We came out to Australia when I was only three years old, but it was mum, dad, my sister, you know, probably the mortgage and the station wagon. We just didn't have a Labrador we had a Collie and my mum didn't have maybe all the opportunities that she wanted me to have and whether that was just the era or circumstance, she was a really smart and clever lady, but just missed out on so many opportunities herself. So she was a stay at home mum and she did that job remarkably well. So I think from a very early age, she gave me that, that self belief, she told me from a very early age, you could do anything you want if you put your mind to it, you know, if only she would've used all those pep talks for herself, I think she could also have done amazing things and she certainly didn't want to live vicariously through her children, but it was a wonderful gift that she gave us. And anytime I wanted to try something new, whether it was drama, piano, dancing, debating, she always made the resources available for me to try new things.

Louise Matson:
It's interesting because you said, if only she gave herself the pep talk and when you said she always encouraged you and, and said, you could do whatever you want to do. It sounds like you actually believed that because sometimes because you don't see your mother necessarily as empowered, you may not actually believe what she's saying. Do you understand what I mean? Like you can say for them, but not actually really feel that what they're saying is truth.

Paula Smith:
Absolutely. I think I was very lucky if look, I went with state school, but I had a beautiful set of friends who were also very supportive. So I think your peer group, as well as your family and the, although we didn't have family around us or our extended family was, was in England, the network that I had around me at that time, I think plays a huge role in how you feel about yourself.

Louise Matson:
Yeah. Did teachers help you with that as well?

Paula Smith:
Oh, absolutely. So my, one of my favorite at people and the world was my school principal and I don't think many people say that <laugh>. I moved high schools when I was 13 and that's a very big move. Yeah. And my school principal and was just this amazing supportive man. And I was fortunate enough to become Head Girl at that school eventually. And he was like my mentor and my role model. And he certainly made me feel empowered. He never told me what to do, but he had this amazing way of asking the most amazing question. So I came up with all the answers myself. Yeah. He was such a remarkable man.

Louise Matson:
I believe that you volunteered well, you applied to be the speaker at school assemblies.

Paula Smith:
<laugh>

Louise Matson:
And you believe that so many people wanted to do that, but <laugh> found out later, in years to come you were the only one that applied.

Paula Smith:
Yes. Yes. And I do share this story in some of my keynotes as well. When we talk about that, that power of the visible through speaking. So yes, when I started the school, there was a competition of who would like to MC all the school assemblies. Now I was 15 and I was confident. I grew up in an amateur theatre family. That's one of those other gifts that my parents gave to me. I started in the amateur theatre when I was only nine years old. So I'm thinking what a wonderful opportunity that he, it was to MC all this school assemblies. So of course I put up my hand and the principal called me into the office and said, congratulations, Paula, the gigs, all yours. And I thought it was amazing cause there was no auditions and I just happened to get the gig and he confessed to me at the end of the year. I was the only person in the entire school who actually put their up to do it.

Louise Matson:
It would've been my, my nightmare at 15.

Paula Smith:
But because though I put my hand up and I was on that stage every single week in front of the entire school community, everyone got to know me like me, trust me. So hence that began my journey on being captain of the sport sports team and I wasn't particularly a sporty child. Then I eventually became Head Girl purely because of that opportunity and to be empowered I guess, and to feel empowered, to stand up and take that opportunity when it was presented to me.

Louise Matson:
So what happened after school? So did you continue that speaking opportunities after school, what, where did you go? Did you go to uni or did you go work? What did do do?

Paula Smith:
Yeah, so when I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was a straight A student, so my parents thought the natural pathway for me was to go to university but I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I left school and just started working, part-time obviously while I was still at school, but my first full-time job was working at an accountant of all things. <laugh>, I wasn't really a personality type for there.

Louise Matson:
How did you keep quiet there.

Paula Smith:
I didn't last very long. One of my favorite hobbies at that time was going for job interviews. I loved going for job interviews and, but then I I'd get the jon and I wasn't that excited really about doing the job while staying at the job. I just loved the process of the interviews. Now that should have given me a bit of leading indication of what a good career match was for me. But I had about 14 different full-time jobs from working in retail stores to working at a newspaper, I even worked in a shoe store. I don't think I told you that Louise we'll talk about that.

Louise Matson:
Well you can work for Louise M one day.

Paula Smith:
Like I know, who knows? so it wasn't until I was about 18 and that I thought, you know, should I go to uni? What should I do? And an opportunity came my way to be the very first female and the youngest to this particular small business entrepreneurial course that was funded by the government. So I accepted the opportunity. I did a full-time business management course and that started my own business. So I was 19 years of age when I came home and said, mum, dad to appease my long suffering parents who said come on, settle down. Are you going to uni? What are you going to do? I said no, I actually want to start my own business. My parents weren't in business. In fact, I didn't even know anyone who had a business at this stage, but I just had this deep desire to make my own way in life to make my own money. And just to see where it led me. I guess my whole attitude was, well, how hard can it be? <laugh>

Louise Matson:
A littiel bit. At 19 you sort of have that attitude, don't you, but to start your own business, it's just amazing. I always overthought everything and, it's stopped me from doing a lot, so it's amazing to hear how you just have that gungho I can do it.

Paula Smith:
You know, I definitely did not overthink anything at that time but in hindsight, if I look back and think about that, you know that confidence and ignorance all at the same time, I sometimes wish I could bottle all that up and to sell it because sometimes we, my ignorance and the, the rule breaking, cause I didn't really know how to run a business. So I was breaking all the rules and that was probably my greatest gift at the time. And sometimes when we get to our age, we sort of know all the rules and we go, we better not do that and we shouldn't do this. It's getting that balance, Isn't it of rule breakimg and risk taking. And that of course equals innovation sometimes success.

Louise Matson:
Yes. It's a pity as an adult. We learn the rules and, and tend to abide by them. I'm looking at my two and a half year old grand daughter and she's just free, just loving life and I just hope she maintains that. Although I, I know we do have to, follow some rules at some point. So as an adult, what else do you do to feel empowered? I know you are a member of Business Women Australia. Is that something you use for that, networking and, building confidence and more knowledge and relationships, and what else have you used to feel empowered as an adult?

Paula Smith:
I think it's a journey and I think you need to keep on that journey. You don't just feel powered one day and it's a magic pill that you've got forever. <laugh>, it's that journey that you go through. And we all have days where we have this imposter syndrome day, or the days that we're not feeling our best. And, but it's all those days that we have to focus on what we can do. Obviously not what we can't do, but I think being part of amazing networks, especially when you're self-employed is, is really important for that human connection. We are wired to connect with other people. So when we're sometimes, you know, self-employed, or we're spending a lot of time working from home, we need that connection through our networks. So whether it's networks like Business Women Australia, and I've been part of a professional speaker tribe for many, many years. I think one of my membership, I, I was a, for 28 years, which was a training organization, as well. So I think that connection with your tribe is very important to keep empowered, to stay empowered and to have really supportive colleagues and peers and clients and family around you.

Louise Matson:
Yeah. Now I recently did a course of yours a one day called Present with Impact, which was just incredible. So is that how you are mostly helping people now feel empowered in their life and work?

Paula Smith:
That's definitely one part of it. And I love delivering those one day workshops, cause it's a really diverse group and you would see when you were in the room. So a lot of my work is in house and I love my corporate work. So I get to work with some of Australia's largest companies and government departments, which I absolutely adore, but I have such a long history in business that I also get to work with small business owners and entrepreneurs. So when I run either business coaching masterminds or business coaching, you know, private sessions or if I run my public programs one day, I tend to get a really diverse audience filled with, you know, business owners and sometimes there's you know the corporates, if somebody was away, when delivered in house, they might send that person to the public course, but it's always such a diverse group. And uh, I just love to do it. And it's at home. I have the studio at home. So obviously I feel empowered because I'm at home, I'm in my environment and I get to share it with my clients. And just that one day everyone gets to leave their mobile phones, come to the hills, they forget the world and just concentrate on themselves and building that confidence through speaking,

Louise Matson:
I thought you were going to say, you're in your pyjamas.

Paula Smith:
Some days! You only have to get dressed from the waist up now for some of these calls.

Louise Matson:
So it's just amazing. I've loved interviewing women and everyone's story is different and everyone's definition of empowerment is different. I really thank you for sharing your story today. What I want to finish off with though is what's your relationship with shoes? You said you worked in shoe retail for a little bit there, so is it a good relationship or not so good relationship with you?

Paula Smith:
My relationship with shoes has changed. So in the early days, I think it was, I don't know job number 13 that I, I worked for easy walking shoes. Do you remember easy walking shoes? It was in the middle of the, I'm showing my age now.

Paula Smith:
the Hay Street mall. And I think I stayed there for about three or four months and I was totally obsessed with shoes. And only because of course that I was surrounded by these beautiful fashion shoes every day. So for many years it was always about fashion and what looked good. And as long as it looked good, didn't matter if it was comfortable or not. It was all about the fashion and it's a little bit, as we get older, we get a bit wiser don't we <laugh>. Sod then I realized that I'm on my feet all day and it doesn't really matter how amazing, you know, they look as long as they're comfortable because they have to see me through the day.

Louise Matson:
Terrible we change as adults.

Paula Smith:
Yeah. So then there was the search, it's gotta look good and it's gotta be comfortable. But about five years I had a skiing accident and I fractured my back. So then the, I didn't care what they looked like at all. It was, they had to give me support they had to give me support, so I wasn't in pain if I was on my feet all day. So that was a completely different relationship yet again, but I think I'm back to they've got to be comfortable all day, but they've got to look great as well. So I I'm back there today. So ask me in two years time, it could be different, but I'm definitely back. I like to sort of follow a bit of fashion, but definitely comfort has to be number one.

Louise Matson:
Yes. Well Louise M shoes like to empower women with that style and comfort. So I know exactly what you're talking about. So thank you, Paula. Thank you so much for sharing your empowerment journey with us today. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on the series. How can people get in contact with you and do some of your courses or just have a chat with you about things?

Paula Smith:
Yeah, absolutely. So I have two websites, I've got my paulasmith.com.au and that's all of my, that's my website for my speaking, my personal niche market, which is in that presentation intelligence. then I have my training company, we deliver over 30 master classes in a range of all people skills and that is gitp.com.au. So either of those websites, there is an email that gets directly to my inbox. And I'm also one of those people who has my phone number on my websites as well. So I actually welcome people to pick up the phone and have a chat to me. They don't always have to send me an email, so I'm very contactable and I always promise my customer service promises. I'll always return a call or an email within 24 hours.

Louise Matson:
Fantastic. I know it's great having that personalised. I just was speaking to a client this morning and it, you just get so much more information and a feel of the person you're speaking with, uh, so much more with a phone call, so, and things happen more efficiently that way as well. So thank you so much, Paula. It's been and congratulations on getting a doctorate as well. That's very impressive as well recently.

Paula Smith:
Oh no. I've been introduced a couple of times this week as Dr. Paula Smith and

Louise Matson:
It's absolutely

Paula Smith:
And that's interesting when you're talking about, you know, what else empowers you? I think as you get older, there's many different things, isn't it? And I think one of the questions you asked me earlier on is how do I feel empowered as an adult, but I think it's age, is experience, and for me, education is always played a, a really big part in it as well. Uh, and that's purely for me. So I think that that age experience and education, and the people around me it's, those are my four things to, I guess, stay, stay, feeling empowered as I go about my life.

Louise Matson:
Yeah. Fantastic. I will warn you though. Now that you're Dr. Paula Smith, on the flight list when you travel, you'll have doctor and a flight attendant might just tap on your shoulder and ask for some medical assistance, but you don't have any medical experience.

Paula Smith:
Oh, I'll feel empowered to give it a crack. You know, I think it was you who told me that. So, I'm off to the UK, I'm off to London in about four weeks time. And when I had to put my details in, I left the doctor out. It's just,

Louise Matson:
<laugh>

Paula Smith:
Just playing Paula for that flight <laugh>

Louise Matson:
Oh, you could have put princess or something like that

Paula Smith:
That works for me as well. It's been an absolute delight chatting to you, Louise and best of luck with the rest of your podcast series. I know I'm a fan and I'll keep on listening in.

Louise Matson:
Thank you so much, Paula. See you soon.

 

To be empowered in shoes you love to wear visit louisemshoes.com

To learn more about Dr Paula Smith and connect with her:

Website: https://www.paulasmith.com.au/

Website: https://presentationacademy.mykajabi.com/powerful-presentation-principles

LinkedIn:   https://www.linkedin.com/in/presentationskillsexpertpaulasmith/

Books Mentioned:

Speaking in the Shower
Powerful Presentation Principles
Sell Your Story
The Leadership Conversation

 

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