Tory Archbold rose to the top of the cut-throat PR industry. It taught her 5 important lessons.

At the peak of her career, Tory Archbold was a bona fide PR powerhouse. 

Starting her public relations agency Torstar at age 24, Tory went from writing press releases on a hand-me-down computer with no money or media contacts, to working with some of the world's biggest brands.

She won her first contract with David Jones to launch Megan Gale as the face of the department store, and from there she became responsible for launching Zara in Australia, turning Seafolly into a global brand, and bringing Drew Barrymore's beauty label, Flower Beauty, to our shores.

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These days, Tory has left PR behind and is now the CEO and founder of Powerful Steps, where she aims to help other women achieve success through her online masterclasses. She also hosts the podcast Powerful Stories, where she interviews other female entrepreneurs.

We sat down with Tory to hear about the five important lessons she's learnt from her career.


1. Stick to your values.

Tory was first exposed to the world of media when she moved to London on a working holiday visa in her early 20s. She landed a job at the media and entertainment conglomerate Viacom which sparked her passion for the industry.

Upon returning to Australia, she didn't find a job that felt like her. So she created her own.

From the moment Tory started her agency she learned her first and most important business lesson: never negotiate on your values.

"If you anchor your every move to your values, you will attract the right people, the right brands [and] the right opportunities into your life," Tory told Mamamia.

There are three she lives by: passion, integrity and delivery.

"Passion because I [want] to work with people that [are] equally passionate about leading [and] disrupting," she said.

"Integrity because I don't want to work with assholes, and delivery because you're only as good as the last phone call, Zoom call, interview [or] podcast chat."

Torstar launching Zara in Australia; a brand that aligned with Tory's values. Image: Supplied.


2. The "marinate in sh*t" rule.

It's easy to mull over a problem, or as Tory likes to call it, "marinate in sh*t". But when running your own business, Tory suggests only allowing yourself 45 seconds to do so.

"If you have a problem, you can choose to harbour that problem for 45 years, you can go 'oh my god' for 45 minutes, or you can marinate in it for 45 seconds," she said.

"Do you want to marinate in sh*t for 45 seconds, 45 minutes or 45 years? It's your choice.

"Me personally, I've got 45 seconds to find a solution and move on," Tory said. "But me 10 years ago, I might have had 45 minutes dwelling on it until I got the solution.


"And the ones who are 45 years, they're never going to have their own businesses or be able to step into their power, because they're not willing to forgive and let go. 

"So the best gift you can give yourself is to forgive a situation and move on," she said.

3. Connecting with people is your most powerful tool.

Within a few years of running the agency, Tory was working with some of Australia's top designers and making a name for herself overseas.

Soon international brands like Amazon, Neiman Marcus and Adidas came calling.

Tory made sure that she spent a lot of her time face to face with clients, whether that was in Australia or overseas.

"That's how you build a powerful business," she said. "That's how you build loyalty and advocacy, because probably 70 to 80 per cent of my business was based on referral."

"The power [of connection] was amazing."

Tory and her daughter with Drew Barrymore at the launch of Flower Beauty in Australia. Image: Supplied.


4. Make coffee dates. Often.

Never forget the power of a simple face-to-face with someone, Tory explains.

"My entire career, I've had three coffee dates a week. Because I was taught coffee's not lunch. [It's] a mutual exchange of energy and costs less than $10," she said.

There are three types of coffee dates Tory employs: one with someone in her tribe, one with someone she wants to partner with, and one with someone completely outside of her comfort zone.

"The biggest opportunities have always come through the one outside of my comfort zone," she said. 

"[Pick] up the phone, [introduce] yourself to someone that you may think is beyond your network or beyond your reach, but actually they're not."


5. Put yourself first.

We all know when running your own business it's hard to achieve work-life balance. It's something Tory didn't strike for a long time. 

But when she experienced a life-threatening illness while working 80 hours a week and being a single mum, she had to re-evaluate her priorities.

In 2013, Tory was due to fly to London when her appendix burst. She spent five days on life support after contracting septicemia and lost eight kilos in five days. 

The doctor told her she was lucky to be alive and gave her a six-month recovery period.

When receiving antibiotics she asked her doctor when this would all end, and he responded: "It's not going to end until you put yourself first."

"[So] I made a decision that I was going to live. And I made a decision that with that I had to have more balance in my life," she said.

It was then Tory cut her team in two, downsized, and got rid of toxic relationships and clients that were no longer in alignment with the new direction she wanted to take her life.

"I got my power back." 

What are the most important lessons you've learnt from your career? Share them in the comments below.

Feature image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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