Powerplayers Tour Recap

Our managing partner, Michelle Sneesby recently returned from a week long intensive Knowledge and Study Tour hosted at Californias’ UCLA. On November 25th, Michelle flew to LA to commence the PowerPlayers tour, alongside 19 other Australian entrepreneurs.

After initial hesitation and nerves, Michelle settled in, met the other entrepreneurs invited to the tour and the Founder and CEO of Business Chicks, Emma Isaacs. After a brief meeting, Michelle and the other guests headed back to their rooms to rest up before beginning the tour.


On the first day of the tour, Michelle explored the UCLA campus and did some networking with other like minded Australian business women. Michelle was blown away by the beauty of the UCLA campus, and so are we! Check out the pictures below.

Official Tour Day 1: Ian Larkin & ‘Growing Your Business’

Day one of the tour and Michelle was lucky enough to be sat next to successful Sydney lawyer Jennifer Bicknell.

Next up was speaker Ian Larkin who discussed growing a business using the Netflix success story as a springboard. Ian challenged the group and gave Michelle a lot of take home points to share with the empire teams.

Day 2: Leading a culture of service excellence

On day 2 Michelle and the team had an exciting day at Disneyland, taking the time to learn what makes each member of the tour special – what are their differences, and what sets them apart? Michelle also learnt about what makes Disneyland so unique. The attention to detail at Disneyland is unparalleled and it’s part of what makes the Disneyland experience so special.

Day 3: Dermalogica & Iris Furstenberg

The third day of the tour was a key day for Michelle. Beginning with a Q&A session with Dermalogica founder and CEO, Jane Wurwand, the morning was informative and thought provoking – but for Michelle, the best was yet to come.

Next up was speaker Dr. Iris Furstenberg. Iris is a professor of psychology and specialises in creative problem speaking and innovative thinking. She spoke about bringing the future to the present, the importance of being present and the psychology of being present. Iris was absolutely a highlight for Michelle and her favourite speaker.


After a week of learning at UCLA, Michelle and the rest of the team graduated.

The Knowledge and Study Tour was a challenging, exhausting, rewarding and an absolutely incredible experience.

Michelle was pushed out of her comfort zone, she made new connections, learnt new skills and developed both professionally and personally. Michelle is returning home with a new outlook on life and plenty of information and exciting new strategies to implement at empire.



There is a well-known Chinese proverb that goes ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now”.

So often I hear candidates talk about wanting a career change – some of them in their 50s – but they are hesitant to do so because what they have been doing is all they have ever known.

Everyone wants security. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and security are second only to the physical needs of food and water, and breath.

In our careers, we can often take the ‘safe’ road because it is exactly that – safe. We do things the same way, accept the status quo, work in the same profession or industry. Opportunities might present themselves and we either take them, if they feel familiar and low risk, or refuse them, if our sense of security or safety is challenged. We imagine all of the things that could go wrong, and assume they will ALL happen, instead of focusing on the possibilities.

I spoke with a client recently who is contemplating a change in direction. She is not really sure what she wants, but knows that what she is doing now is not fulfilling her. She has had this feeling for a while, but she kept shaking it off because she wasn’t ‘qualified’ to do anything else. On top of that, she was successful in her chosen field – receiving constant positive feedback from supervisors and clients.

I recalled an article I read called The Elegant Secret to Self-Discipline by David Cain. In it, he says that If we are currently experiencing the result of decisions of our past selves; then the decisions we make today contribute to our future selves. Let’s go back to that Chinese proverb – the decision to plant a tree twenty years ago resulted in a flourishing, big tree. If you plant a new tree today, in twenty years there will be another flourishing tree.

Her ‘safe place’ was the familiar career she had had for the previous 10 years — and even though she didn’t quite know what she wanted to do, I encouraged her to think about the skills she had that were completely transferable – for example, her communication skills, ability to engage with people and expert level networking skills. The more we talked about it the clearer it became. Decisions she made about her career in the past put her where she was now; so too, would decisions made TODAY, affect her future self.

The other aspect to this is that if you start thinking differently, you start to notice things in a different way. Once she started thinking of herself differently, and the skills she had, she knew that she would start to notice other opportunities that would come along, which would give her the opportunity to explore them further.

I am looking forward to seeing where she is in six months’ time!

Have you had a career change? What did you do to make that happen?


If you are lucky enough to have a mentoring program in your workplace, you should take advantage of this as mentoring has been proved to be integral to the career success. As a mentee you are not a ‘passenger’ in the relationship and you have to manage the relationship collaboratively with your mentor.

Here are our tips for making the most of mentors:

Know what you want out of a mentoring relationship

Be clear about what you need for your career and how you think the mentor can help you. What skills do you need to develop, both personally and professionally? Make sure your mentor is someone who can help you in those areas.

Set some goalsMentors

You mustn’t go into a mentoring relationship without some career goals – having said that, your mentor can help you clarify your goals and refine and define them with you.

Agree on structure of meetings and timings

Plan and set meeting times; bearing in mind that your mentor is no doubt a very busy person, and you will need to build some flexibility into set schedules, to take account of busy times and last minute urgent matters.

Be Prepared

Don’t waste your mentor’s time by going to meetings unprepared and making the mentor do all the hard work! Review your notes from the last meeting, and make notes of things you want to talk about, especially what you have achieved since the previous meeting.

Listen and Follow through

Active listening is a vital skill to learn – ask questions to clarify, look at body language to clarify the message being given. Follow through on suggestions made by your mentor – if you continually fail to follow through, you are not only letting your mentor down, you are letting yourself down.

Being proactive, willing to listen, acting on advice and not wasting your mentor’s time will ensure a successful mentoring relationship.

Career Motivating Quotes – Part 1

Here at empire careers we love an inspiring or motivational quote.

Every now and then one comes along that seems to be the perfect quote for the time and place. Here are some of our favourites in relation to career development:


“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” – Karim Seddiki

Failure is something we can all learn from, but not taking a risk means that we may never fail and never get that lesson.


It is not work that kills men, it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more on a man than he can bear. But worry is rust upon the blade. It is not movement that destroys the machinery, but friction.– Henry Ward Beecher

 Worrying unnecessarily is a waste of time. Working hard at a job you enjoy will not cause stress. But worrying will!


 “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Remember your personal brand and what you stand for – your values define who you are. Don’t mess that up.


 “There is no passion to be found in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

Do your best, and be the person you are capable of being. Don’t settle in terms of your career.


Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too can become great.” – Mark Twain

Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your ambitions. Mentors are invaluable.


“A team is not a group of people who work together.  A team is a group of people who trust each other” – Simon Sinek

Lack of trust can destroy workplaces – you don’t have to like the people you work with, but you have to work with them and trust each other to do the right thing.

The Supervisor as a Coach

Aristotle once said that good supervision is “the art of getting average people to do superior work”, but it is much more than that.

Supervisors have many responsibilities including the allocation of work, supervision of work, delegation of work as well as a myriad of other things not related to work including conflict resolution, team building as well as their own work and business development.leaders

One of the most important jobs of a supervisor is that of a coach.  Supervisors are in a perfect place to coach employees, whether that be for growth and development or correction of performance issues.  In relation to development, as a supervisor, you have primary responsibility for assisting your staff to grow and acquire new skills.  This will require the skills of a coach.

As a coach, your role is to give support, provide constructive and honest feedback, challenge your employees and give advice on career options and preparation for the next steps.

In order to coach effectively it is important to do and be some things.  Coaching is coaching, but in a work environment the coach is also the supervisor. There are some things that need to be done differently than they would be done with an external coach.  There is not the objectivity that there would be with an external coach, and the supervisor as coach has more than the usual interest in making the employee succeed.  It is much more personal for the supervisor.

It is very easy to try and ‘fix’ things for the employee by telling them what to do or rescuing them; a coach however has to have the skills to  help the employee work that out for themselves, by using questioning techniques and helping your employee to work it out for themselves.

For coaching to be effective:

  • ‘meet people where they are’ – not where you are in terms of career or skill, or others in the group
  • Genuinely want to see employees succeed
  • Communicate that this is a positive process not a punishment
  • Know what needs to change
  • Agree how often to meet and when you are going to review things
  • Listen – listen carefully and reframe what the employee is saying if needs be
  • Have a solutions focus – if there is a problem, what is the solution?
  • Leave the need to ‘fix’ and control things behind – the coach’s role is to guide, challenge, question and reflect – leaving the employee with the responsibility for changing to achieve results
  • Look for opportunities for the employee to be challenged
  • Be available and accept that there might be some things you can do to change

Coaching is incredibly powerful – both for the supervisor and the employee.

Your Career – Taking Stock

Before you can commence writing a career plan, it is important to look at where you are now, and what brought you to this place, as well as where you want to go. ‘Take Stock’ of your life and career to date before deciding where you want to go.

Taking stock involves:

  • Looking at where you are now
    • How did you get here?
    • What decisions led you to be here?
    • Do you have any regrets?
    • If you could do things differently, would you?
    • What has been a highlight for you?strengths 1
  • What are your values?
    • What do you value most about your role and yourself?
    • What is most important to you (choose three things)
    • Is the balance between your work and other interests about right?
    • Do your personal values align with the firm’s values?
  • What motivates you?
    • Does what you do provide you with fulfillment and enjoyment?
    • What work activities give you the greatest sense of achievement?
    • What do you want to learn?
    • What does the firm you work for do that provides you with a sense of satisfaction?
  • What are your strengths?
    • Do you know what you are good at?
    • Do you understand what lies in their shadows (
    • Do you have any unique skills or gifts?
    • What feedback have you had from others about your strengths?
  • How do others see you?
    • What is your perception of how colleagues and clients see you?
    • What is your relationship like with others?
    • Do you have good self-awareness?
    • Are you able to act on feedback given?
    • Do you need to have a personality profile done to understand your personal preferences in terms of behaviour?
  • Where do you want to go?
    • What are your career aspirations?
    • What do you want to do in your life other than career?
    • What does your preferred work culture look like and is it where you are now?
    • Do you have a fall back position if your career doesn’t give you what you are looking for?

Get the most out of a career planning conversation

If you’re lucky enough to work for someone who wants you to succeed and help you develop your career, then you will at some stage be asked to participate in a career planning conversation process. To get the most out of this process you will need to:Career 1

  • Be honest and open. Talk about your career aspirations in terms of what you want, rather than what you think the person wants to hear, or what someone else thinks they should be.
  • Be prepared to ask questions of your supervisor. This is particularly important if your aspirations include partnership. It is important to ask pertinent questions about the path to partnership so you have as much information as you can get.
  • Discuss your current work in terms of your career path – are there any projects or work types you need to have experience with? Are there any clients or other partners to whom you need exposure?
  • Document your agreed goals as a career plan and diarise to follow up and check on your progress. If necessary, arrange quarterly meetings with your supervisor to check on your progress and realign your goals if you have gone off track. Your first career plan can form the basis of your next performance review and an annual career planning discussion.
  • Allow for change – life is evolving and so are careers. You need to be prepared to be able to make changes to your plan as things change. This can include your interests – just because you think in one direction at the age of 27 doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with that for the next 30 years!
  • Accept that responsibility for your career is yours – even if your firm supports you and provides you with lots of development opportunities, it is your responsibility to take advantage of them and develop a sustainable career.