You don’t have to spend long with Ash McInnes from Papermill Media to realise she has got what you might call ‘Chutzpah’. Smart, funny and full of sage advice, she’s not only someone we truly admire Naked Ambition she’s also the kind of chick you want share a few glasses of red with on a Friday night.
Introducing, from the class of Melbourne University 2007, Ashleigh McInnes (insert wildy enthusiastic applause here) . . .
So Ash, a commencement speech typically begins with a joke…have you heard a good joke recently?
Yes! I heard that Tony Abbott is the Minister for Women, does that count?
They then move onto something self-deprecating... Like why are you the wrong person to be giving advice to people about careers?
Probably because in my mind I haven’t aged a day since I worked at Red Bull driving those little cars around, swapping Red Bull cans for free stuff and entry into concerts. And because until I landed my first job in Public Relations (by chance, by the way) I didn’t even know what the word meant.
Then get a little serious and give some background why we want to hear from you…
I run a Public Relations agency called Papermill Media, and we specialise in PR for property, lifestyle, consumer products, the Arts and design industries. Basically we are reputation managers – we shape how consumers perceive our clients and build their reputation through media engagement, activations and events.
And a little on your struggle...
So my struggle was actually wrapped up in pretty cellophane, masquerading as a gift….
It all started when I was basically given the keys to my agency by my old boss. I was 24 years old and started working out of my kitchen bench at home.
Before I knew it, I had built up an impressive client base and things were going wonderfully..
Until I realised that I felt like a fraud.
Before starting Papermill I had only been in one PR job previously – who was I to give advice on public relations and shape campaigns using tens of thousands of dollars of our clients’ money?
Soon I was petrified that someone would discover my secret and it started to hinder my ability to make decisions and move forward with the agency.
And the turning point…
The turning point for me was when I found my voice, and realised that I had earned my place at the table. My clients respected my opinions and I found my confidence.
It took a while, but I got to this point once I started trusting my intuition and realised that deep down I had been right all along, and everything fell into place from there. Now we operate out of an office in Prahran and I’ve hired a great team of staff to help grow the business even further.
In your career - how do you tell the difference between a 'gut instinct' that you shouldn't do something and what is actually just a 'fear of failure'?
That’s easy. Gut instinct is kind of like your subconscious whispering something in your ear, saying ‘I don’t know about this’, ‘I have a bad feeling about this’, whereas fear of failure hits you in the face like a freight train, rendering you completely unable to move or act.
Also known as ‘acute procrastination’ fear of failure often takes the form of procrastination because you become so afraid of being unsuccessful, you can’t even start! Pushing through it is like pulling your legs out of sinking quick sand –you have to push through the fear barrier and gather momentum to push it aside.
Was there a time you got a chance to stick it to all the naysayers..
I think it was probably when I started pitching for new business against agencies which had been in the game for 10 or 20 years and winning the work…
So much of business, and indeed life, is about being in the right place at the right time. How do you prepare yourself so you are ready to capitalise on those 'lucky' moments?
I am a huge believer in the power of the universe – if you believe in anything strongly enough, the universe will deliver one way or another.
While it may look like ‘luck’, I think it is those who work hard enough who reap the rewards. Never stop believing in yourself and working towards your goals – the rest will fall into place.
Finally, can you finish these sentences….
When I was at school, I wish I knew… more about careers and what options were out there. Instead of volunteering at the local elderly person’s home for a week in year 10 for work experience I wish I had explored the corporate world and opened my eyes to the myriad career options available.
The most powerful person in the world is… not one person but a collective movement of people who can make a change. All huge moments of time have occurred via a tipping point of public opinion which forced governments into action, and there’s nothing more powerful than that.
In a battle of ‘attitude’who wins. You today, or 15 year old you?
In a battle of slamming doors I would say me at 15 years old! But perhaps attitude I would say me now. I’ve learnt so much and trust my intuition to the point that I’ll happily back myself out of any corner.
WRITTEN BY: Gen Liston
If you’re interested in learning more about Papermill Media and what they’re up to, check out their website or look out for them on social media: