Does that sentence ring a bell? It certainly does for me but I can promise you this: you won’t meet too many 29-year-olds like Amanda Johnstone.
As the Founder and CEO of Social Health Innovations, a healthcare technology company specialising in mental health, if you’re a woman in tech or any other sector, watch this space.
Often, as a 28-year-old running a business, I have felt out of my depth in the past and alone (most of my friends tend to be planning their next dinner outing or which pair of shoes they’ll buy). And in my darkest moments, like Amanda, this thought has popped into my mind: “I’ve given up everything to do this.”
In Amanda’s case, “everything” really means everything. These days, Amanda lives out of a suitcase as she travels the world for her work. She gave up her ocean view apartment in Sydney here in Australia, closed her successful brand management and innovation agency she’d run for 10 years, sold her car, her bike, her iPad… she sold everything so that she could afford to kick-start her new venture.
“… I am willing to give up everything. Including my ego.”
Now, I’m not sure about you, but when I first heard Amanda’s story, I was stunned and thought to myself: what could be worth such sacrifice for a woman who’s been building her empire since just 17 (Amanda was a retail entrepreneur back then)?
“My goal is to lower the suicide rate globally – using technology.”
It’s big. It’s bold and above all else, it’s inspiring.
So, from where Amanda is sitting, is there real potential for more women in tech?
“Absolutely. The technology sector craves more women… It’s exciting to see more and more women moving into tech.”
If you’re a woman sitting back reading this, maybe feeling overwhelmed, perhaps tossing up whether that tech or social enterprise idea is worth giving up everything you have, here’s a word of advice from Amanda.
“If you really believe in your dreams and want to make it happen and there is a true demand from the market, everything will conspire to make it happen.”
A key piece of advice for women entering into this sector according to Amanda is to get advisors. She goes on to reel off the support team she’s surrounded herself with: multiple legal teams, a patent/commercialisaton advisor, an accounting advisor, a design partner, multiple healthcare advisors, a technology advisor, a start-up advisor, business coach Lauren Hayes and Peak Performance Neuroscientist Roy Sugarman. Now that’s an impressive list!
Of course, it was only a matter of time before I asked Amanda that inevitable question:
Have you ever felt disadvantaged as a woman in this field?
Sadly, the answer that came back at me didn’t surprise me.
“The only disadvantage I’ve felt has been from the ridicule of other women. They can sometimes try to bring emotion into business…”
And then Amanda set an incredible scene for me as she recalled looking another woman dead in the eye and throwing this loaded question at her:
Would you be treating me the same way if I were a man?
For the record, the answer to that question was no. Despite all this, Amanda sees being a female as an advantage.
“We are in a time when Michelle Obama is as powerful and influential as Barak. Angelina is as powerful as Brad… The most disruption can happen right now.
Use anything people see as a disadvantage as an advantage. If you are truly comfortable with who you are, you can own your story – now that is powerful and compelling.”
To me, as a 28-year-old female 6 months into driving her own business, Amanda’s story proves that with determination and belief in what you’re doing, anything is possible.
What does Amanda’s story say to you? Feel free to share and comment below.
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