Lucy Perry: How to tap into your courage
We are so excited to welcome Lucy on stage at Fearless on the 2nd of December as one of our speakers. In the mean time, we asked Lucy a few questions around courage, her career and what she wants you to bring to Fearless this year.
Before that, for anyone who has not heard of Lucy Perry, we can only describe her as a rule breaker and trailblazer. She ran a successful creative services firm for 20 years before she took on a start-up challenge as founding CEO and director of a brand new women’s health charity. Lucy uses her super-powers for writing and speaking about leadership, communication, changing the world and creative thinking. She’s recently accepted her next world-changing challenge as CEO in Australia of Sunrise Cambodia to fund the work of Australian humanitarian legend Geraldine Cox AM.
Lucy, were you born courageous or is it an attitude you’ve developed over time? What’s your attitude to courage?
“I think you’re born with a certain attitude – I saw it in my three babies who had spunk from the time they started smiling – but courage is also something you develop over time based on your experiences. I had a rough time in primary school so I started high school by asserting my place very firmly. That was my first big ballsy step into the world.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. I think Oprah said that before me but let’s pretend it’s a Lucy Original. Honestly, courage is just the willingness to push through fear and everything you hope for is on the other side of that fear. At it’s most raw, fear is a feeling in your belly. Just pushing through that feeling is courageous.
Let me be straight, I have never had to call on the kind of courage shown by people who face a firing squad or jump out of a plane into a war zone or walk out of a violent relationship. I’ve only ever been bold in the corporate sense. And maybe in the hair department!
The last time I had to put on my brave face was during a gruelling three-hour panel interview with the board of directors who would go on to appoint me to the role of CEO (Australia), for Sunrise Cambodia. My greatest source of strength is knowing my truth, knowing my story and knowing my heart. During that interview there was not one question I could not answer truthfully and confidently.
I read this recently in an email from entrepreneur Chris Brogan. He’s the author of The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.
“Fear without knowledge is amplified. Fear without a plan is debilitating. Fear without a goal is endless.”
Read that again and know that it just takes everyday courage to push through the fear.”
What have been the three most defining moments of your career?
“In my first year out of high school I had a massive motorcycle accident that left me with no choice but to create my own income. I couldn’t work for a year and had 14 reconstructive operations to put me back together. I was forced to think differently, to make different choices so when I came out of hospital I launched my creative services agency. I started as a freelancer but built the business over time to a tidy $1M gross income at its peak.
When I was 38, I was plucked from the ranks of volunteers and appointed CEO for a brand new women’s health charity in Australia. In less than three years we raised $7million for a network of hospitals and midwifery school in Ethiopia. It could be seen as a lucky break but I think luck is simply a combination of preparedness and good timing. Up to that point I had developed all the skills required for the role so that when the opportunity came my way I could make the most of it. I threw everything I had at that role.
When Geraldine Cox AM, from Sunrise Cambodia, asked to meet me I knew she was looking for an heir to continue her work in Cambodia. I was interested in the role but taking it was going to be a big turning point for me. In the past I had always created my own thing so this would be the first time I inherited something that I had to turbo-charge. One of the things that keeps me going is that work has to be fun and I could see that Geraldine was going to be such fun so I jumped at the chance to work with her.”
Do you have a personal mantra to get you through the tough and scary times?
“Fortune favours the brave” – I think of this often when I hold back. I say to myself on a day like today when I am holding off making two very big phone calls with seriously high-powered women. “Just make the call Lucy!”
“Cynicism is the death of awesome” – this is my mantra for dealing with others and building a killer team. My team is critical to the success of any project and I will do what it takes to ensure our team is pulled together and not pulled down. I will fire volunteers to protect the culture of my team. I back my team to the end.
What’s your hope for women attending Fearless?
My hope for the rocking women who attend Fearless is that they leave feeling pumped, fearless and on top of the world. What they hear will apply to life, work and their future, it will keep them looking forward and moving forward. We should only use so much time to reflect, then it’s time to act.
What are you bringing to Fearless?
I am bringing the experience of my career trajectory. As I often say, “if I can’t be an inspiration then I can at least be a horrible warning”.
What would you like guests to consider before walking through the doors of Fearless 2015?
OK ladies! Consider the fears that have held you back in the past 12 months as the starting point for conquering the year ahead.
With that, we can confirm that Lucy truly is a woman after our own hearts.