career

"Take risks, send emails, say yes to everything: What I say when people ask me about 'success'."

Through my five years in the entertainment industry, doing cool stuff and kicking my own personal goals, I get asked for advice a lot. 

In just a couple of orbits around the sun I’ve transformed myself into a highly sought-after DJ, TV presenter, author, podcaster, entrepreneur, beauty influencer, professional opinion-haver and media personality, who sometimes has a nice amount of disposable income (which my mum thinks I should use to buy a house). 

I’ve noticed that most people want to know the same thing about my career, over anything else: ‘How did you do it?’ 

At one point, I tried responding to each Instagram DM asking me to condense years of experience into a concise message, but it was literally not possible. 

It’s not that my silence was a weird attempt at gatekeeping, but the scope of success is so vast and unique to everyone, that I struggled to respond.

The thing is, I’m a two-time uni dropout with poor time-management skills and a serious sense of career FOMO, which means I’m always doing too much.

Burnout is a close mate of mine. I do a lot of stuff because I want to, but most importantly because I can. 

I grew up thinking that my quality of life would be perpetually limited by the fact that I wasn’t rich, white, sporty, a man or a genius.

I wasn’t born into a lineage that would automatically guarantee me the best of everything, so therefore I was limited by what I could actually achieve. 

Coming from an immigrant, working-class, single-parent home, and not being particularly ‘good’ at anything, I’d been conditioned by society to think that it wouldn’t be much. 

I’ve spent most of my working life agonising over being more successful, without ever considering what success actually is. 

Listen to Flex Mami on Mamamia's podcast, Lady Startup stories. Post continues below.


In the earlier stages of adulthood, it was having multiple jobs in an effort to increase my chances of making heaps of money. 

I had no idea about balance, and I found myself loving the idea of being a workhorse, finding gratification and validation in pushing myself to extremes. 

It wasn’t enough just to drive myself into the ground doing stuff, I also wanted to make sure there were witnesses to my efforts.

Now, I have accomplished things I honestly never thought I could: I prioritise my wants and needs, I have time to be creative, I’ve started multiple businesses, I can take time off work and, most importantly, I can nurture my mental health. 

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I’ve got more emotional space to invest in my close relationships and to work on myself. 

But my personal markers of success have changed with time, and now when I’m asked that question – ‘how did you do it?’ – I realise the answer isn’t as simple as people would like it to be.

If we take out the nuance, you could say I did it by: taking risks, bulldozing my way into spaces because my young adult hubris told me I should, sending emails, saying yes to everything, burning out monthly, sacrificing my social relationships, being extremely opportunistic, learning business strategies and how to leverage literally anything, upskilling so I could constantly offer more than the job required, building a personal profile, strategically adjusting my content output to suit the market, networking, carving out my own specific lane so my efforts wouldn’t be measured directly against my peers and having an abundant mindset. 

That’s not sexy, but it’s pretty spot on.

For me, success is ongoing, ever evolving, and it’s a subject I will spend my lifetime trying to truly understand. 

Every time I tick something off my to-do list and exceed my own expectations by actually getting what I wanted, I find I want more and more…and more. 

Doing cool stuff makes me happy but pining for more gives me an increasing awareness of what I don’t have, which then makes me dissatisfied with what I do, thus making me unhappy. It’s kind of human nature, right?

What I’ve learned is there will never be a time where you don’t need or want something. 

Your job is to make sure that while you’re barrelling down this path of progression, you don’t forget to look after yourself in the other moments. 

Make sure your cup is full and your mind is healthy and happy. 

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Self-development and self-betterment are inherently intertwined with scarcity and lack. 

After all, to be aware of all the ways you can improve is to know all the ways you could be better. Similarly, to think about all the things you can work towards is to realise all the ways you aren’t there yet. 

The word ‘success’ itself can be really limiting and vague, because we still default to conventional depictions of it. 

You know, suit and tie, marriage, kids and money. 

To me, it’s about having the vision to want something that is truly aligned with who I am, coupled with the combination of trying, doing, learning and then applying my knowledge to reach my goals. 

Knowing what success is to you is one piece of the pie, but ultimately it needs to be measured by who you are and what you want, not by anybody else’s arbitrary standards.

The main thing I’ve discovered is that success is mostly a feeling, a habit and/or a journey, made by me, for me. 

There have definitely been times when my idea of success was impacted by external factors – like the patriarchy, social status, and other structures – but the more important lesson was how much it fulfilled me depending on whether I created goals for internal satisfaction or external validation. 

I’ve learnt that success is absolutely not a destination because I will never ‘arrive’; it’s an inner knowing, and a certain level of contentment that comes with the ability to commit to and conquer all the things that have been barriers up until this point.

So, what do I tell people now when they ask, ‘how did you do it’? It’s all an experiment! 

An experiment in knowing myself, what I want, what I value, where I want to be, and why. And so far, it’s working out! 

You can buy The Success Experiment from all good bookstores, or online here.

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Image: Supplied. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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