Fast Five: Jane Huxley

Written by Liz Derks on the 11th of April, 2018

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Our SheStarts founders had the rare treat of a private workshop with Australian business leader Jane Huxley this month! A tech industry guru, Jane has spent her career leading national teams in some of the country’s (and the world’s) biggest tech companies, including Microsoft, Vodaphone, Fairfax Digital, Pandora and now Spotify!

Here are five pearls of wisdom we scored from Jane on leadership, disruption and success…

Courage without conviction is completely ineffective

In the fast paced world of startups, our founders are always encouraged to be brave.

It takes a lot of guts and grit to experiment with new ideas, try something that hasn’t been done before, and break through the barriers for women in the male-dominated world of tech.

But Jane reminded the founders that “courage is a difficult place to live” and without conviction to execute on ideas, courage will only get you so far.

Take time to learn from your mistakes

We all know about the importance of failure in startups – that every failure is a chance to learn how to do things better.

Jane described her experience with failure as a critical factor in driving her success.

“I have such a raft of failures it keeps me afloat! Because all of those experiences keep me buoyant.”

As far as sailing analogies go, we think this one is right on point.

When shaping the future, have respect for the past

When people talk about tech and startups, the word disruption is often overused. But Jane provided a vital lesson about the importance of respect for the past when you’re trying to create an alternative future.

“You represent change and that can instill fear… so you need to stop and ask ‘what does respect look like in my industry’ and who are the giants upon whose shoulders you will be standing.”

As we move into a digital world, it’s essential to understand and respect the people who have built the existing industries that are now being disrupted – to ensure their knowledge and passion is not lost as you cross the chasm into a new era.

Beware of the bubble

When you’re building your business, it’s easy to get stuck in your own world, where the only articles you read and people you meet are those directly linked to your startup!

To make sure you don’t lose touch – or worse, miss something important that sits outside your sphere of influence – Jane suggested curating a list of three sources you can use “to keep your head up and out of the bubble”.

Top suggestions from Jane which we love include The Squiz, Fast Company, and Business Insider’s Chart of the Day.

Balance optimism with being realistic

Startups life is never easy, so it’s important to stay positive and maintain your passion and optimism! But when you’re talking about your business – let alone planning for how to grow it – Jane shared with the founders the need to be sure you’re ‘keeping it real’.

While you can be optimistic when sharing your vision and the opportunity you’re going after, be realistic about what you can actually achieve and the realities of your serviceable addressable market.

“Don’t mistake a pitch for a plan. The pitch is marketing, the plan is what you can actually sell and deliver.”

Brilliant advice on keepin’ it real to ensure you’re set up for long term startup success.