Simone Allan is the Co-founder and CEO of The Mentor Evolution, a global mentoring platform & program that supports communities to build engagement, growth & great mental health. We delve into why Simone became the professional she is today, and all the fun stuff in-between!
Charlie Ellis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to The Mentor Evolution podcast. I’m Charlie Ellis, your host, and I’m here to uncover the stories behind Australia’s great industry minds. So you the listener can know their story.
Charlie Ellis 0:27
This is our first ever podcast, something new we’re starting. And our first guest is Simone Allen, CEO and co founder of The Mentor Evolution. How you going, Simone?
Simone Allan 0:50
Hi, Charlie. Yeah, I’m really well, you didn’t mention your name.
Charlie Ellis 0:55
I’m Charlie Ellis. Newby at the mental evolution. And I’m here to interview some of the team. Some different people and pretty much just find out about different stories and how people got from A to B, how they got from where they was a little girl little boy to who influenced them on the way and made them the person that they are today. And so, to get the podcast rolling, we’re gonna get a few little questions, people mundane questions, similar to I don’t know if you know the inside the Actor’s Studio hosted by James Lipton. Just a few mundane questions to understand the person get the juices flow pretty much. So Simone, we’re just gonna start with what’s your favourite word?
Simone Allan 1:42
Charlie Ellis 1:45
Simone Allan 1:46
Charlie Ellis 1:46
What? What’s your least favorite word?
Simone Allan 1:49
Charlie Ellis 1:51
Probably works works well. And what what’s your most favorite noise?
Simone Allan 2:00
Well, probably a baby girdling is pretty cute. Yeah.
Charlie Ellis 2:05
And then you can probably guess the next one. What’s your least favorite noise?
Simone Allan 2:09
Oh, gee.That’s a great question, Charlie. So I’m stalling because I’m trying to think what’s my least favorite noise? Our car crashing? Probably a screech, a squeal? A screech, screech of a person knowing to collective noises together and that that horrible kind of shriek that humans make is probably my worst noise. Yeah,
Charlie Ellis 2:33
yeah. I could imagine that. Yeah. 100%. Then I would say the last question for this little segment to start us off is if you weren’t pursuing the profession you are today, what would you be doing?
Simone Allan 2:47
Ah, that’s without question. I’d love to be a singer. Die was Stevie Nicks. Yeah, love songs.I used to always stand up at school and stand on stage and pretend I was an Abba impersonator.
Charlie Ellis 3:05
I think I was a Arctic Monkeys fan myself, I thought I was Alex Turner. But moving on to some more, some more questions about your professional life? What’s your most fun professional memory?
Simone Allan 3:20
Wow, I’ve been blessed with lots of great professional memories, actually. And I constantly get them now in the mentor revolution. But I think one was when I was quite young 23. And my, he was became a great mentor, one of my first bosses who was a mentor to me. He went to present to David Jones, the buyers. And I really didn’t know what I was doing because I was straight fresh out of uni. And he basically looked at me and said, you’re going to do the presentation today. And I just remember thinking, but I don’t know how to do it. Because you don’t know how to do it. Just you’ll do it. And to me, that was just someone really interested me that they thought I was capable enough to pitch your presentation at such a young age. Well, yeah. So that was probably one of one of my highlights. Yeah.
Charlie Ellis 4:18
And what what were some of the emotions you felt during that time? If you can remember the moment? He sort of said to you, this is on you, this is your job.
Simone Allan 4:27
Great Charlie question. Um, I just think, oh, huge exhilaration and, but just to feel that someone backed me that someone really believed in me. So I had a sense of belonging and acceptance and appreciation. Yeah, there was sort of, yeah, it was. It’s really important. I have written to him years later and thanked him for the opportunity. Yeah,
Charlie Ellis 4:55
well, it’s, you know, I found as well it’s so it’s so important to have Have people who’ve got your back in the workplace, especially people who are more experienced, more knowledgeable, bit older, it really does feel you with a lot of confidence as you go forward. And if you’ve got the backing of someone, and they push you into a direction that you’re not necessarily comfortable with, you know that that will is something that will live with you forever, because you’ll take that kind of trust into every job you do. That’s right. That’s right. Every situation you’re in. Yeah,
Simone Allan 5:31
they say that people are 85% more engaged in the workplace if they feel someone’s got their back, you know, so that that’s, that’s your powerful statistic. That’s right. I’ve used which was quite a long time for a young girl, you know, it was Yeah, I really loved it at the time best companies. were selling vacuum cleaners of all things to David Jones and Harvey Norman and Myer Grace Brothers. So you know, it wasn’t a glamorous job and everyone used to say to me, oh, you went to Sydney Uni and you completed a psych degree and what are you doing selling vacume cleaners? That it was actually one of the best jobs I had, I let you had to travel all around the countryside or wherever. Harvey Norman’s Meyer, David Jones were all around Australia. So it was, yeah, it was great fun
Charlie Ellis 6:15
Stuff and never forget. And was there a moment you realize what you wanted to do with your life? Is there one specific time you can think, Okay, this is what I want to do? Or is it been such an evolved? It’s been like an evolving concept as you’ve been going through your professional career?
Simone Allan 6:31
No, there’s there was a one moment and that was when I got into recruiting and headhunting. I joined an organization because I went for an interview with a lady that asked me to come in for an interview. I think she head hunted me for a job. Actually, it was moving from vacuum cleaners to to Fisher and Paykel, actually. And I didn’t really decide I wanted that job. But I said, No thanks. And then she said, Well, but hang on looking at background, you’ve got a psych degree and post grad in human resources you do really good as a recruiter. Anyway, stepping into that career was my moment, when I went Wow, I kind of combining skills that I’m passionate about I’m, I’m interested in humans and human behavior. I like selling. I like to get out and about and, and meet different people. And all of that was for me in that that sort of started my career in executive search. So it was, yeah, and I was all 28 I think at the time, so
Charlie Ellis 7:30
yeah, well, and were there people in that job that influenced you and push you in that direction?
Simone Allan 7:36
Definitely, you know, the founders, it was Morgan and bank. So Jeff Morgan was a key mentor to me. And then he made a big effort to support me, we shared the same birthday, so he’d always make sure. That was a birthday card on my desk. And there was appreciation. And yeah, in fact, the lady who hired me is still a great friend today that that, yeah, saw that I could do saw it in me. Saw the light in me, that’s one of the things that mentors do don’t they? They shine the light on things that you maybe don’t know, see in your own, in your own self, they kind of notice, right? So and there were others there were there were lots of, they were just older, experienced, wiser people around me and I learned so much. Yeah, I was very fortunate,
Charlie Ellis 8:26
Particularly staying in contact with those people over such a long period of time. Do you think that’s a really important element of that mentor mentee relationship?
Simone Allan 8:36
Ah, without doubt, I think Australians tend to think that life is you know, we live we sort of sit in little channels of, you know, moments in time, but I I really hang on to every single actually all my bosses I’m still in touch with, seriously, as you grow through the decades, you you learn more about each other. And it’s it’s really valuable to to not burn your bridges and stay in touch with people,
Charlie Ellis 9:03
Thats right. Well, I’m a I’m a young person at this moment in time. And, you know, I’m sort of connecting with people and, you know, even with family and things, and I’ve got family overseas back in the UK. And so, you know, sometimes life just gets in the way, and you can’t, you know, you can’t catch up with people you can’t contact with people all the time. Yeah. Do you think as you move later in your career, the importance of keeping in touch with people became a bit stronger?
Simone Allan 9:31
Yeah, Charlie, I think that’s a really good question. Really good question. I interviewed a fellow few years ago who who said that he had been made redundant three times. And it wasn’t until the third time that he’d actually gained skills in connection. So he said that he learned by his first time he was made redundant, he had no one to call upon because he hadn’t kept in touch with anyone. He hadn’t made any effort. He was so absorbed in his job that he didn’t stay in touch with others. And so he had no one to call when he was trying to find and scout out a new new role. And it was a tough time it was a recession, and so forth. So he made it his vow and his second redundancy to start to stay in touch. And by his 30 said he had a system and he articulated his connection systems. But he would regularly every month make a diary time, just to reach out to people that he used to stay in touch with, and just whether it be a quick SMS or an email, but he just keep up his connections with these people, it might just be a funny joke, or a shared quote, an article, it doesn’t have to be, you know, a two hour conversation, but he shared how important it was to stay in touch with those layers of contacts.
Charlie Ellis 10:46
Yeah, just to let people know, you’re thinking of them.
Simone Allan 10:50
Yeah, cuz he said, I don’t like it when people never call me. And then the day they need something they ring. And you know, they’re because they need something. So he realized that it’s, you have to be reciprocal about giving and taking. And it’s important to just show a little bit of giving to all those connections.
Charlie Ellis 11:07
That’s right. And I think that the fact you’ve stayed in contact with a lot of people, and then how, you know, you still talk to all your bosses, I think you’ve shown that what you’re saying, it does take a village to raise a child. And although you do have those moments in your life, where one person has said something to you that maybe rings true or you know, really hits home to you and stays with you forever, but it’s the it’s the moments all in between that really build your character and build your person that you are today. But what I’d say from that is, other than the time you got thrown in the deep end, has there been one single sort of, quote, one single line or a word that has stayed with you forever? Whether it’s something that you’ve seen on TV or something that you anything that you sort of bring with you everywhere? Maybe when you?
Simone Allan 11:59
Yeah, I think the big one for me, is probably a quote that Andrew bank said to me at Morgan banks, which is be careful who you let near your mind. It’s a quote that I share with my kids, I share with others who people in my business have heard me say, Be careful who you let near your mind. And links with you know, who you who you connect and stay in touch with it links with, you know, the the many books have been written about you are what the five closest people around you think, you know, and it’s it’s about surrounding yourself with positive, engaged, curious kind people that challenge you, that actually challenge you and give you fearless feedback when you need it.
Charlie Ellis 12:45
And how important is it to have those people who just bring you back down to earth? And they’ve got no bias? No? Anything? Yeah, that’s it. Yeah, such an important part of your life, you know, even if that’s family, even if it’s friends, having those kinds of people that they are very important.
Simone Allan 13:02
I think that’s the beauty of the mentors, you know, like, they are people that are offering time, without any by any kind of agenda want to share of their own lived experience with someone else. And when they do that, it leads to so much value both for the mentee and the mentor, but so often the mentor gains more, but just by reliving the experience just like you made me do, then surely thinking back, I need to ring Gary Mackey and thank him again for pushing me to do that with David Jones. So it’s really one of the great benefits of having a mentor that can you can share from their experience.
Charlie Ellis 13:43
Regardless of the industry experience that someone has, regardless of, you know, the actual wealth of knowledge that someone might have, even have, you know, whether you’re doing such a mundane tasks for that, whether you’re presenting to a board, whether you’re you’re trying to construct an idea about strategies and things like that, just having that person there that can level you out and can if you say it often, let’s say you’re ready to go, he’s getting ready to go on a night out. And you try and on all these different clothes and things like that. And you keep looking at yourself in the mirror and about half an hour later. You know, you’re like, Oh my god, nothing works. I hate. I don’t just look yourself with my two sons. Yes. So you kind of like having that person there. Who’s fresh who’s not in your life all the time. They can come along, go bang, not that’s wrong. Sorry. This is right. desperate. And I think that’s to me, when I first learned about this world of mentoring, which, you know, I wasn’t I was quite fresh, too. I think to me, that was something that really spoke with true value that externalness and that’s that’s the really important part as well.
Simone Allan 14:49
Yeah. And someone that’s not in your own zone or community or that you know, it’s great if you can get someone who’s objective that doesn’t know you’re you five minutes earlier. That’s pretty special too, because, as I don’t know, I’m sure you found it Charlie coming to Australia is that often the friendships I’ve built the really some really great, really long term friendships have been with people that I, I met overseas because they we didn’t have any agendas. We didn’t know each other’s histories. And there was this immediate kind of sense of sharing with each other because we didn’t think we had anything to lose by sharing deep secrets and in humorous situations or stories and that intimacy, that connection and that, yeah, so I think having mentors that, in your, you know, that are brought to you through either the workplace or through a community of some sort is really, really clever.
Charlie Ellis 15:50
That’s right. And you’d almost tell you tell those people anything because of that non agenda. But But no, you know, nothing to lose. So what what I would ask you is, what’s your favorite failure? The best failure you’ve ever had something that’s taught you the most?
Simone Allan 16:06
Oh, I’ve had so many. You ask my husband, he’s like, oh no not another great idea. Oh, actually, I tell you what I think my biggest failure was is is for me, in business, I had a couple of outstanding people that came into my company, and I just couldn’t afford them on my own, I had to kind of bootstrap them. And I just didn’t have much money to bootstrap at all. And I should have gone and got external, external funding to, to keep those people because they would be, yeah, they would be leading this, one of my companies today, and I would be doing, I’d have a little bit more freedom. So yeah, that’s probably my biggest mistake. And also, not trusting my gut when I know, you know, hire, that it’s not right. And, you know, for my own do you see, as I can tell, when I’m finding people from my own organization, you got is so powerful, it’s bigger, they say, than your actual brain, and the more more brain cells in your belly. And, yeah, it’s your second brain. It really is, you just got to tap into it. And you’ll know straightaway, you can almost, you know, you have a feeling straightaway. And people that will when you can’t trust, you can pick it, you really should just go with it straightaway.
Charlie Ellis 17:41
Well, and when you’re going through that, that point in your career, making that decision. Did you ever confer? Did you ever talk to someone who’s maybe gone through that before? Some sort of mentor in your life?
Simone Allan 17:53
No. So that’s Yeah, I didn’t have the the wisdom around me to have someone to say you need to get external funding. Yeah, I didn’t have whereas now, if I was mentoring a startup business, that would be my first thing, I’d be saying, We’ve got to, you got to this person is really, really good. You’ve got to work out how you can afford them if you can’t find a way. So yeah. So it’s a last but not least I realized it.
Charlie Ellis 18:23
Yeah. Well, and sort of going from that if there was, there was ever one piece of advice or, you know, one, one thing you could ever teach someone that you had under your wing, what’s the thing that you’d want them to, to hold on to?
Simone Allan 18:39
Don’t take yourself too seriously, just try to lighten up? You know, I just because the end of the day, the most important thing is how you make people feel, it’s really not whether you’re going to sell 1 billion or $2 billion of products that it’s about, it’s about how you treat people. So have compassion. Look at people. Yeah, and I think the other thing is, so often we find that if we reserve judgment, and just find compassion, our sense of leadership will be more powerful. I think it’s the new future for leadership is Yeah, not looking at behaviors, but actually trying to understand the human behind the behavior.
Charlie Ellis 19:28
Yeah, 100% I get I get what you’re saying there, you know, and I think something like mentoring, you know, you’re providing such a personal relationship with that. If you’ve got a manager that manages 20 people in a company, they don’t have that, you know, they might want to develop those early relationships with people but they might just not have the time in the day, the capacity in their day to to learn about people’s lives. And if you’ve got something like a mentoring platform, system, whatever you’ve got at your disposal, that’s such a useful tool to, to bring personality to your team. You know, you know and bring, bring the people out in your in your workers say.
Simone Allan 20:16
Yeah, because we because the world’s changed so much with thumb, Tiger that so often people are sitting in different locations like we are today we’re all in different parts of the city. And yet we’re all here, chatting away with technology feeling, feeling intimate. And it’s great, you know. So having technologies that can allow you to build understanding and connection is, is the future for organizations.
Charlie Ellis 20:47
What I was also going to say is, if you take, say, someone that is in the workplace, part of the company, they’re very driven, but maybe they, maybe they want to do something more with their life, maybe they want to change it, maybe they don’t want to do something that earns more money, or, you know, what I’m saying is, is that if you’ve got someone that’s driven to change their life, what’s something that you would suggest to break the mold? In that way? What what’s a piece of advice that as a mentor you would give to change Maybe someone’s attitude in the way that they should go about their life to get what they want?
Simone Allan 21:27
Wow, that’s a big question, Charlie. Again, I probably go back to Yeah, look at the wise counsel around you. So see if you’ve got the right people that will give you unbiased direction and support and imput, and.
Charlie Ellis 21:50
Would you cut people out of your life as well, if they weren’t sort of in that category, would you cut people out of your life? Or would you
Simone Allan 21:58
I think it wouldn’t be an active cutting out, I would just be an active attraction, you know, like attracting those around you that you know, are going to help you in your path, maybe just not paying as much attention to the others, and not letting them get under your skin. Because sometimes that that can happen. I mean, one thing I’ve constantly been told how things won’t work like that. Whatever I’m venturing is not going to happen, or Yeah, I was taken. So it’s that nice air is big on this planet, and so it’s just really important just to keep keep the naysayers at bay. Yeah, and, and yes, surround yourself with people that have got great experience that you can learn and grow from, I suppose that’s the number one thing I would say there’s heaps of personal tricks, I would suggest to like, you know, really looking after yourself at a physical level. And in and journaling, because your mind is pretty, my mind, everybody’s mind does like to, again, tell yourself that you’re no good or tell yourself, you’re not good enough, or tell yourself that you can’t do something. And I call it that crazy flat made in the head. So it’s really important to journal out the flat mate, the flat map, you know, writing I find is really powerful. And there’s been so much written about how important it is just to acknowledge the crazy thoughts and put them on a piece of paper, and then then it kind of lets it go.
Charlie Ellis 23:28
And I think that’s, that’s a part of it. That’s part of human nature. That sort of, it’s almost a survival instinct for your brain to focus on the bad things so you can get better. Yeah, they want your brain wants to tell you what you’re bad at. So you can go out the next day and try and do better at that. But, you know, particularly in this COVID world, and I know, it might it’s a different lifestyle in every different country you’re in and how you’ve been affected, you know, the the areas of the world that you know, mental health and being trapped in, in this COVID environment. That’s that’s not it’s not good for mental health.
Simone Allan 24:00
No, no, it’s not,
Charlie Ellis 24:01
You know, your, go on.
Simone Allan 24:04
I don’t know if I should share this on the podcast, but my son the other day caught me talking to myself. But I was actually I was talking to the crazy mind. I was just going that crazy thoughts. You don’t need to think like that. And my son walked into the kitchen and said, Mommy, you’re talking to yourself? I said, Yes, I am. I’m telling my crazy mind that that that that thinking is not appropriate.
Charlie Ellis 24:27
It Happens sometimes you need to keep yourself in line. Yeah, that’s why that’s why you surround yourself with these people. You you’ve got to do to yourself sometimes. Yeah, that’s it’s a really good piece of advice to someone who’s, who’s trying to do better for themselves trying to, you know, make their life what they wanted to be. I’ll ask one more question through your whole childhood through your career. You’ve always had certain aims, use characteristics and beliefs and things that drive you, I would say, based on all of that, where do you think your self worth comes from?
Simone Allan 25:05
My father? Yeah, is it my father, my grandmother’s my two grandmother’s to a smaller extent my grandfather’s but um, yeah. Yeah, I have I had a very loving relationship with my my paternal grandmother. We, yeah, she said probably some of her deepest secrets with me. I felt like it was only me that she shared them with but who knows, but that makes a huge intimacy. And yeah, she was very. She was a wild woman, but she was fine. But that sort of level of intimacy and friendship that I had was, she really believed in me, she always Yeah, she’d always laugh and push me harder and ring up with such deep curiosity to see how I was going. And my father was very similar. My father was a little bit different to that. So that he still I knew deep down that he had my back. And, yeah, to a lesser degree, my grandfather’s and my mom, but they were all still important.
Charlie Ellis 26:16
So it was that support network and that, like you said, having people having your back. Yeah, trust that. You know, the love as your favorite word. Yes. That was the thing that pretty much made you the person that you are. Absolutely, jelly. Yeah, there we go. I think. Thank you for that, Simone. I think that was a good way to wrap up. Great. I just want to say thank you for doing this podcast is such a fantastic scheme, fantastic idea. And we can all talk and tell our stories and try and, you know, help all the listeners and maybe as they going about their day and doing whatever they need to do, they can listen to this and they might catch a little moment of
Simone Allan 27:01
one little diamond of thought one little golden nugget of inspiration. I hope that something out of this podcast will make a difference to somebody else.
Charlie Ellis 27:14
That’s right. That’s all right. So here starts the mentor evolution podcast. Thank you.
Simone Allan 27:16