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Why Embracing Your Brilliance is Key to Serving Others with Kelly Slessor
Episode 15929th February 2024 • Unleashing Brilliance • Janine Garner
00:00:00 00:35:28

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If you’re a woman in business, there’s no doubt you’ll have faced some unfair challenges when seeking investment from others. And the stats don’t lie: women, particularly those of colour, are the lowest common denominator when it comes to securing funding to grow their business. 

So how do disadvantaged women or those in underrepresented groups rise up in business? Our guest today is passionate about finding the solution to just that, and is unleashing her own brilliance in her field of expertise to make a meaningful impact in serving others.

Kelly Slessor has mastered the digital landscape for over the last two decades, and was recently crowned a Woman to Watch in Retail Disruption. She’s all about crafting what it is that she knows, embodying that spirit of your own brilliance and using those skills to uplift others.

Join me today as we hear all about Kelly’s incredible passion to support underrepresented minority groups in the e-commerce space, and the lessons she’s learnt on her journey towards uplifting others in business. 


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Janine: Today, we're going to delve into the story of a woman who understands the power of leveraging her expertise to drive meaningful change. Today's guest is Kelly Slessor. She has mastered the digital landscape for over the last two decades. She's the founder. Of shop you and was [00:01:00] recently crowned a woman to watch in retail disruption.

What I love about Kelly is that she's all about crafting what it is that she knows, embodying that spirit of your own brilliance and using those skills to uplift. Others as she shares in this podcast, every single setback is an opportunity to learn, and every single thing that you do has an opportunity to uplift other people.

Enjoy this episode of unleashing brilliance.

Welcome, Kelly. It's so fabulous to have you on today's podcast. How are you?

Kelly: I'm good, I'm really well.

d digital, and we've got you [:

where did that passion come from? If you could sort of track back to. where that passion came from for the work that you do, why technology, why small business, why retail?

omputer engineers back in the:

And he was one of those lifelong learners. So even when he stopped [00:03:00] working and he hurt his back, he brought a computer, he brought a big BBC computer, a massive one, and he used to sit at home and teach himself how to code. And this was just in his spare time. So I used to sit and Watch him do this. I'd sit on his knee and I'd watch the green dot and he'd talk to DOS back then, MS DOS, and he'd talk in a particular language and he'd tell it to do something.

And then he'd go, wow, Kelly, look at the little green dot moving across the screen. I've just taught it to do that. Which now seems crazy and so far away from where we are today. But I remember being fascinated by technology then. I naturally went into technology in uni and college and, and then my first job out of uni was working for a big telco and I'll never forget.

markets all over the UK, and [:

How are they going to use it? And what are they going to do with it? And how can we make their life actually easier? Because a lot of the big tech then and actually, same situation now, a lot of the big tech that is used is a great idea that someone comes up with, whether it be video conferencing or, holographs, it's a great idea, but actually is it enriching our lives?

ucts or art, whatever it may [:

Janine: And you mentioned there that you used to work in a big corporate, much like myself. How many years were you in corporate

Kelly: Oh, I would have been in corporate for about, uh, I left uni. So maybe about 10 years, I ended up as the CEO of a, of an organization. And then I left there to start my own


Janine: And so what made you leave and start your own company? Cause there'll be many people listening to this podcast that are either running their own business or even thinking about that shift. Can you remember what did it for you? What made you jump and set up on your own?

Kelly: Yeah, I think I was, burnt by the lack of. I suppose responsibility and accountability to customers that I was very burnt by the profit making organization, the profit making board and the lack of connection to customer, which is actually what I do in technology as well. and I got to the point where I was.

as having my first child and [:

S. Times, seven o'clock in the morning on the UK times and then, midday on, Australia times. So it got to the point where I had to make a choice. And that choice for me was to, move into my own business and start my own business and work on my own terms.

Janine: And how's that been for you? It

Kelly: they say that it's all champagne, starting your own business and being the life of an entrepreneur. It's all champagne and razor blades. I'm

not sure how many champagne bottles I've had yet. but it's been a rollercoaster. working in, your own business is, you know, every day.

e your hi hi moments and you [:


Janine: you've evolved quite a bit in your journey of being self employed and in your own business. I think when we first met, you were essentially digital agency. you then started up, The app ShopU, which you were pitching around looking for investment. And, you've spoken, you've been an advisor or consultant, and now we'll come on to it shortly.

The work that you're doing in terms of the digital e commerce coach space, but also the work that you're doing in terms of giving back to community. But what I do want to talk briefly about Is, you know, I talk a lot about positioning, about, stepping into brilliance, about really owning your, your spotlight.

tlight, particularly in that [:

looking back in hindsight, how important it is to have that confidence and equally how hard it is to pursue your dreams in that space of seeking investment from other people.

Kelly: It was a really challenging time actually. I look back on it with mixed emotion. I never have regrets because I believe everything is meant to be and it's a learning lesson. But, putting yourself in an investment position, think especially for women, for women in tech, I think puts yourself often, a very vulnerable position because you're asking for help.

got from that is that well, [:

one of the challenges we have, especially as females in business. I think when we find people that we want to align with, sometimes we can force an alignment. for want of a goal. And actually deep down we know that the alignment isn't really there or it's only there for part time for a moment and therefore Things will start to unravel when you dig underneath that.

Janine: yeah. And what advice you've said there about finding someone that's aligned on values, do you think it's harder for women to get investment? Do you think it's harder for women in tech to get investment? And do you think it's harder for a woman in tech and a woman of colour to get investment?

Like is, is it a real thing? [:

Kelly: Oh, no the stats don't lie We are the lowest common denominator So as a female as a Black female in tech. I am the least likely to succeed. I am the least likely to get investment and funding, and I'm the least likely to go on to a profitable organisation

Janine: And how does that make you feel?

Kelly: That's, that's tough. Do you know what? It actually makes me feel, which probably leads into answering one of the next questions you're going to ask. It makes me feel. very passionate about empowering people that are the least likely.

It makes me feel very passionate about not having that story play out for others.

s they need in order to grow [:

Janine: let's talk more about that because what I see is, you as an individual that is incredibly skilled in your area of expertise. You spent decades mastering, the craft of what it is that you know. And also continuing to learn. So to continuing to invest, to make sure you're at the forefront of technological change.

ience to now make an impact. [:

But you've also recently started helping, underrepresented communities here in Australia, but also you've been doing some amazing work in the U. S. with the community over there. Can you share a little bit more about why that matters? to you, and the impact that you've seen of, that work that you've been doing so far.

Kelly: uh, why that matters to me is because of the story I just told you it matters to me because I know there are there is genius out there in some of these businesses, but they don't have. The support that they need, they don't have the skills that they need. They weren't fortunate enough to go to the best private school in Sydney.

had. And on top of that. If [:

So, that's my reason for being. That's my drive. That's my passion. And again, I think there's been a common thread of what I've done throughout the years. So, Shop You was all about that. It was about personalization. It was about responding to individuals. It was about making sure that, if you were not, you know, the standard fashion persona of size eight, you know, blonde model, then you could still have representation.

So that's kind of played out. some of the things I've been doing, Which I'm really loving is So one of the projects I've worked on recently is with Brookfield properties. It was with, GCS in the U S so essentially it was working on a.

elp black founders in retail [:

Making change, but actually it's not sustainable change. It's a one off commitment that is not going to create a sustainable ongoing change. the other project that I've worked on recently is a program with Make It Happen, which is in remote community. And it's all about teaching Aboriginal people in remote community how to develop their technology skills.

rkshop in a community centre [:

And the girl wasn't really sure, she was kind of there for her, I think it was her cousin or her brother. She was just there for her cousin or her brother and, was kind of like, Yeah, I'm just, I'm here to learn, I'm with him. After about two hours of working on his business and looking at how we kind of set up an e commerce store and, source fishing shirts, she started to share with me that she'd done some photography.

And she showed me some of her amazing pictures and they were just sensational. And these were taken across the Kimberley and they were just in the most beautiful spots and beautiful photos. And she shared with me that once a year, a photographer will come to the, to Fitzroy crossing in a van, get out and take some pictures.

And she was saying, I'd love [:

So she started off very quiet, quite shy, not really contributing. And by the end of it, we had. Got her a logo, a brand, a brand name. We designed it on Canva, we built out a website, we put together some products. We had put together an email address for her and we'd launched it. We'd launched a new business for her and she walked out of that just a little bit taller than when she walked in.

at will definitely be useful [:

Janine: And there's so much in that, isn't there, Kelly, in terms of, The opportunity that you've created for somebody else to unlock their brilliance, that opportunity for someone to share a passion and dream and for you to connect and then support that. But equally that piece around the impact that we are all capable of making if.

We can just get curious about what's going on around us. what did you learn about yourself throughout that process, when you think about impact, when you think about being a business woman that has skills and talent, that's running a commercial enterprise, but what else have you learned from that, for yourself from that experience?

ability organizations. I was [:

Kelly: And what I have realized and learned over the past couple of months, or past six months I would say, is that, It's going to take a village to really have impact. Like, I can have impact on individuals. And that's awesome. You know, that's good enough, if that's what you want. But I want to have bigger impact.

And in order to have impact, I've got to bring people on this journey with me. And I need to Build a village to deliver this. And so I've partnered with come LZN, who's actually OPPO, um, and been in the e commerce space for forever, and we've launched the digital inclusion project. We've now got 15 ambassadors on and just some phenomenal ambassadors that have built million dollar plus.

ust as passionate about this [:

And I've actually worked out that you good without t it impacting you financially. so that's been a massive learning point for me. what have I learned about myself? I think every time I touch this, every time I talk about this, every time I think about it or start doing, actually working on it, the passion grows. Like I'm just so passionate about it. I'm so excited about it.

stening to this, that have a [:

And I know you've experienced lots of those over the years of building your business, whether it be knock back. financially, whether it be knockbacks from people that don't believe in your vision or don't support your vision, or even, you know, some of this incredible work that you're now doing, in community, what advice would you give to people listening that may feel like they just keep hitting their head against a brick wall of, you know, not being able to achieve or get to where they want to go.

I'm imagining you've. You've probably seen lots of those stories in your travels as well from other people. What, what advice would you give to those listening that feel like they might be banging their head against a brick wall and just not moving forward?

know if I ever will, maybe I [:

I look at the investment as what did I learn from that? And I look at all of the learnings that came from that. And I know that I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't gone through that journey. That was part of it. And actually, some of the fundamental things that I will bring into this program going forward, I learned on that investment journey.

So it's all become part of the journey. And I think giving into that and just going. You know, sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm banging my head. I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall, but I felt like that 6 months ago, but that brick wall was actually a massive learning lesson.

and it just felt like we're [:

But I know, in doing that, I found out all of the things that I needed now to sort out, in order to make sure that I'm prepared next time. So it was a step. It wasn't a brick wall.

Kelly: It's just got me to the next stage. So I think Just thinking about it like that actually helps. I think the other thing is, leads into your, it's who you know.

I think it's surrounding yourself with the right people. And I think in those moments of, fragility, if that's even a word. Yeah, it is. Yeah, I'll take that. Fragility. I'll it's seeking out the people that are going to pick you up and give you that strength again and energy to keep you going.

he last couple of years, the [:

But what do you think if you could share some key learnings for our listeners about what they really should be focusing on when it comes to. Leveraging, using tech to grow their businesses. what sort of tips would you share?

Kelly: what problem are they trying to solve for the customer? So everything I do with technology is I'm thinking about an e commerce being exactly the same. What is it that customer is coming to that website or that piece of tech or that app for? What are they trying to solve and how can you help them by using that?

to show you how you can use that tech actually solve that problem, as opposed to how can I sell them a product? How can I sell them a service? How can I get them on this? How can I actually help them solve a problem? And if you just simplify it like that, the tech doesn't actually matter that much.

You know, you [:

And then I'll follow whatever Sam's doing. And I'll follow, you know, um, the various platforms. And I'll have a look at what, what the updates are. And every few days I sit there and go, Oh my God, that's crazy. It's insane. Like that's a game changer. then there comes another game change and another game changer.

photo into video. So it will [:

I don't need to do anything. Then I will type in what I want it to say. And in my voice, it will overlay my voice onto that. And exactly what I want to say. Then, I can go one step further. And have it translated in my voice to Chinese. Or to whatever language I want. And I can be talking like this to you in another language without actually ever having been there, without actually ever having made a video, by just using two minutes of my voice clone to do it.

Like, it's crazy the things we can do with this technology.

ness, and imagine the social [:

cause I see so many businesses that almost follow shiny stuff and then they wonder why nothing seems to be working. And it's really, as you said, keeping the client, the customer front and center of your decision making.

Kelly: Yeah. Oh, and don't get me wrong. I love shiny stuff. It's how I've built my career. I love, love, love shiny stuff. But I think if you're not a natural technologist, you can get very caught up in shiny stuff. And, you know, for me, I've got the history of seeing what shiny stuff works and what doesn't work, but I've also got the skillset to be able to play with something quite quickly, get it up and working, test it, and then go, no, that doesn't work and move on, which is part of my training.

omer problem is that they're [:

That piece of million dollar technology or weeks that they're spending is never going to fix anything.

Janine: And I guess much like technology is evolving, business is evolving continuously too. It's, you know, change is never not there. It's, it's part of being an entrepreneur or a business owner to continually keep looking at how You can stay ahead of the curve and you can start serving your clients and customers.

I'm really curious as we wrap up this conversation, given the breadth of your experience of, corporate global organizations, businesses, and then the work that you're doing with underrepresented communities. what message do you think they would have for us as business owners? And what message do you have for us to support?

rk that we can do to support [:

Kelly: So the, there was a study in the U S companies that have more diversity are more profitable. The more diverse thinking you can bring to the table, and that doesn't just mean diverse in gender, it doesn't just mean diverse in color, it doesn't just mean diverse in disability, it doesn't just mean diverse in, age, it's everything.

The more diversity you can bring into your organizations. will increase your profitability. If that isn't enough of a stat, you know, it's 20 percent more profitable. If that isn't enough of a stat, I don't know what is. I think the other thing is as we move down this AI journey, AI is so much more accessible than any technology we've ever had in front of us.

got this, AI technology that [:

Very cost effective algorithms and actually, you know, you pair that with human genius, which exists in all of these places, the ability to actually create something that is a game changer becomes accessible to all. So, if companies don't involve minority groups and diverse groups, they will develop their own thing and potentially displace companies.

ows these minority groups to [:

Janine: Yeah, love that. can you just share with our audience, the program that you currently run in that space where you're inviting this more collaborative partnership approach to get, minorities working together and more, I suppose, more visibility in, space of what you do.

Kelly: So I've obviously got the e commerce training company, which helps retailers grow. We're, Basically working with Pete. I'm using some of the funds from that organization to put into the digital inclusion project. And also a lot of the people that I've worked with in that organization. they're now helping on the digital inclusion project.

rrepresented minority groups [:

in retail space, so whether it be, you know, someone down in the Kimberley who wants to sell photos or someone in the U. S. selling sunglasses, we will help grow that business and help them get to a point of sustainability. So, in terms of organizations working, there's two ways I think that organizations are really going to benefit from that.

One is, some of those won't go on to start an e commerce business. But they will have the skills. So actually, it will become a recruitment channel for some of those businesses because you will have highly skilled, underrepresented minority groups that you can tap into to recruit. The other is, some of them will go on to develop products and start to work with partners.

rs in the retail, e commerce [:

Janine: I love it. As she says, it takes a village. Isn't it interesting how even in our short conversation, we circle back to that, passion that you have around it taking a village to drive change. And I wonder what your dad would say if you were sat next to him right now and he was Busy, but he'd been programming, what was it?

MS DOS and he's seeing the green thing. And now look at the work that you're doing. yeah. What do you, what do you think he'd say about everything that you're, you're trying to do to drive change?

Kelly: Oh, he would, yeah, he'd say you need to work harder.

He'd say you need to

get everyone around,

Janine: those barriers.

Kelly: get everyone around, cook them soup, make them bread, and convince them that they should be part of this journey. he'd be complete champion


f our lives and in business, [:

as we wrap up, what is your big vision? Why are you doing what it is that you're doing? What's the big vision?

Kelly: Big vision is to impact one million underrepresented, and minority groups. Why am I doing what I'm doing? God, it just fills my soul with joy. I don't want people to go through some of the, brick walls that I've had to run through or step over. yeah, that's the big vision.

One million by:

Janine: Excellent. doing an awesome job and I hope anyone listening here, I'll put the details in the show notes of how to contact you. thank you, Kelly, for being the ripple of change that you are, for doing the work that you do and for [00:34:00] being the impact on so many others that you already are.

It's been an absolute pleasure to have you here today.

Kelly: Thank you for having me.

Thanks. Bye.




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