Narelle Hooper

Narelle Hooper – Look out for Landmines

This week Jeffery Wang speaks with Narelle Hooper one of Australia's leading journalists. Narelle discusses her valuable insight that she has gleaned over her career. Listen to hear why you should "Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others" , "Everyone needs to feel like they belong" and why you should "Look out for landmines"  and more.

About Narelle Hooper

Narelle is Editor-in Chief at the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Company Director magazine and is a non-executive director of The Ethics Centre. A former editor of the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS Magazine, Narelle has long been an advocate of sustainable leadership. She has worked across print, broadcast and digital media, including with BRW, the AFR, ABC Radio News and Current Affairs, SBS TV and Medium Rare Content Agency. She is co-author of New Women New Men, New Economy on how sustainable leadership drives performance and innovation and was founding co-chair of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence awards. She has previously been a non-executive director of the Tasmanian Development Board and Documentary Australia Foundation.

  1. Don’t Open First 01:45
  2. Everyone needs to feel like they belong 05:05
  3. Take the road less travelled 11:53
  4. You have the power to influence 15:34
  5. Look out for landmines 19:03
  6. Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others 22:37
  7. Respect those who came before you 26:40.
  8. Try to do no harm 28:42.
  9. Don’t lose your connection with nature 32:21.
  10. Always have good hair … and shoes! 34:43

Narelle Hooper – 10Lessons50Years

Jeffery Wang: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the podcast. 10 lessons that took me 50 years to learn where we dispense wisdom to an international audience of rising leaders. In other words, in this podcast, you’ll hear valuable insights that you cannot learn from a textbook, because it took us 50 years to learn this stuff.

My name is Jeffery Wang, the founder of professional development forum and your host. This podcast is sponsored by the professional development forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age, to find fulfillment in the modern workplace. We’re excited to be joined by Narelle Hooper.

Narelle is editor in chief at the Australian Institute of company directors magazine and is a non-executive director of the ethics centre, formerly the editor of AFR boss. Australia’s premier leadership and management magazine.

She has worked across print broadcast and digital media for the biggest media companies in Australia, including AFR BRW, ABC radio news and current affairs, SBS TV, and medium rare content agency. In 2015, she co-authored “New Women, New Men, New Economy” on how sustainable leadership drives performance and innovation.

And she also co-founded AFR’s 100 women of influence awards. Welcome Narelle.

Narelle Hooper: [00:01:20] Thank you very much Jeffery. And thanks for taking the time to interview me. I’m fascinated to see how it’s going to emerge.

Jeffery Wang: [00:01:29] Well, now we’re very excited to have you Narelle, to call you a trailblazer would be an understatement.

Narelle Hooper: [00:01:35] I’m blushing already. Thank you.

Jeffery Wang: [00:01:38] Let’s just jump right into it. Then that start with the very first business lesson that you’ve learned.

Narelle Hooper: [00:01:46] My very first business lesson was a painful lesson. I had a background as a cadet journalist and I’d just been appointed to a new role, which meant jumping a couple of pay grades to a technology magazine in Sydney.

And went up, put my best clothes on, went off for the interview in Sydney and sat down and they were going to hire me. And then we got to talking about pay and they said, right. So, what were you expecting when it comes to your pay? And I, of course immediately blabbed I wanted to be a grade up from where I was. So, it was something like a B grade, for example at the time. And they went right. Sounds fair enough.  Got the job and I got the pay, and I did manage to work in a three-month transition and review period. But I found out later that they were prepared to pay me two pay grades above what I had nominated.

So, I had immediately done myself out of probably 20, 25 grand. And it was an enduring lesson about just keep your mouth shut. When someone asks you to name a dollar figure in a negotiation or in the parlance of negotiating language, “don’t open first”. And I’m really lucky. I got the three months review in because at that point I’d realized my mistake and I managed to get the increase, but three months, whatever the lack of money was, I paid for it over time.

Jeffery Wang: [00:03:16] Don’t open first. There you go. All right. Let’s jump into something that you have unlearned. So what have you unlearned? What I mean by that is something that you believe absolutely to be true when you started your career, but you have found out later that’s not the case.

Narelle Hooper: [00:03:32] Oh, wow. There’s a number of lessons. There’s one in particular that was a big lesson. And that is when you set out on your career and you’ve got aspirations and you’ve got the stars in your eyes and you’ve got your aim, you’ve got your goals that you set.

And very often are things like, my first car or my first house, or I’d like this handbag or, whatever the. Nice piece of equipment and shiny stuff is that you set your gaze on and that’s all very fine, but I’ve come to realize over time you forget about that pretty quickly.

You might have some short-term satisfaction in that, but it doesn’t add up over time and those deeper investments that you save up for and make they stand you in really good stead, but don’t fuss about the shiny stuff and the brand name watch, or the brand name shoes, or the brand-named handbags or clothes, or, the best kind of stuff on the street or whatever.

You’ll save yourself some money about that, but it also, you come to realize it’s a projection. It’s not a reflection of your inner self. Fundamentally it’s much more important to have an internal sense of satisfaction and your relationships with other people.

So that was a really important one. There was a secondary lesson around that which is to learn to listen. Very often, once you’ve got the gift of communication, it’s really tempting to fill the spaces and to talk a lot, but the art of listening and I mean like really listening is gold.

Jeffery Wang: [00:05:08] Absolutely.  Okay. So, don’t chase the shiny stuff and learn to listen. I like where this is heading already. So, on your list, you’ve mentioned everyone needs to feel like they belong. Now we all know that, but what do you really mean by that?

Narelle Hooper: [00:05:25] So a sense of belonging comes at an individual level and an organizational level and national and international level. But I just want to back up a bit and just talk a bit about how I learned that and how it came to be an important value for me. I grew up in country New South Wales out near Millthorpe and Orange.

And it’s on Wirardjuri country for first nations people. My family had not had a lot, but they’d just grown up on a farm and we had a dairy farm and my mom and dad worked really hard. My mom actually worked as a maternity sister at the local hospital, and she did night shift for like, I dunno, 12 or 15 years, the poor thing.

And by dad who was a very gregarious and curious person, who’d been brought home to run the farm. When he probably would have been preferred to be an electronics engineer or something, he wound up buying a pub. So, in addition to running a dairy farm, we ran a pub. And so, for many, many years, I always remember that there was always a spare bed if anyone needed it. Very often we’d have people staying who were, whatever life circumstances they were going with. And there was always a sense of being made to be welcome and food on the table, and it didn’t have to be a lot of food. It was just a generous sharing of what you had.

And that, to me. It’s become a core value.  I was the first one in my family to go to university and then went on to study journalism and in a roundabout way, eventually that brought me to BOSS magazine and the focus on management leadership.

And we’d often have events. Where I got to meet you, in fact, in the professional development forum. And it was really important to me when we were bringing these older executives together with the younger executives. And there’s a lovely energy in that space, but to make people feel welcomed and that they’d be recognized and acknowledged and included.

I still find that this a good feeling. And if you think about yourself as an individual, when you. Often you going to an event. We used to in the day is pre pandemic, right?

Jeffery Wang: [00:07:37] It felt like a lifetime ago.

Narelle Hooper: [00:07:39] It does, and you’d walk into the room and you might be on your own and you might be feeling a bit awkward and not that confident and so forth.

And one little lesson out of that I think I’ll learned this from some other senior executive was if you’re on your own and you see someone else on their own. Just take the time to go up to some other person and just get talking and you can just make them feel a bit welcome.

You feel better. And then, and just include people. It’s a spirit of generosity underpinning that I’d like us to have that at a national level. You’ve got to secure it and look after people, but you equally want to be welcoming to those people, that you’ve allowed to come into your country and into your home.

Jeffery Wang: [00:08:23] As a former migrant, going into a country that was new to me and not being able to speak much English, I could still remember the way I was made to feel welcomed by the people who I met at the time. Now I was a kid migrating to New Zealand as a 10-year-old.

Now you can just imagine, new language, new environment. And yet that generosity just transcends all sorts of barriers, which is just incredible. And you mentioned that when you were younger, you had people sleeping over and staying over and, surely that exposure to so many different types of people with their varying stories and background that would have really opened your eyes up to exactly what the world has to offer. Isn’t it?

As someone who’s had to leave their country and go somewhere else. You’ve had to take your courage and your hope for a better future.

Narelle Hooper: [00:09:15] And you take all of that in your hands and you’re exposed to whatever life brings to you, but you’ve taken that step. And that’s that kind of migrant mentality is actually a really important one for entrepreneurship and so forth. And you’ve sparked a memory. When I went to school, this little country place in Millthorpe, there were kids from Poland, because there were a lot of post-war migrants. we used to share our lunches. They liked my lunch, which was a bit dull, and I love theirs. And we had Italian kids and some Greek kids as well. And that was a good kind of feeling. When I went to primary and high school in Blayney, and I remembered that there were other kids who were from migrant families and they were not quite in a good position. And some of those kids got shunned in the class. At the time, I didn’t know any better about what to do about that, but to this day, I reflect about how hard must that have been for those kids to get up and go to school and to know that they were going to be treated that way.  I would never want that to happen to anyone that I’ve dealt with. That’s just something I just don’t think is a good value, but the time you see this behaviour that I’m helping kids to understand that you can make someone feel welcomed. I think it would be a good counter to that. It was the kids that were included in the kids that were excluded and that would have been a really scarring memory for some people. And I wouldn’t want that to happen,

Jeffery Wang: [00:10:41] but I like to look at the silver lining and all this, because of how you were able to connect with, and across these cultural barriers and the likes, I’d like to think that because of your ability to have these relationships with people who are so different to yourself that would have helped you somewhere in your career.

Narelle Hooper: [00:10:59] That sense of curiosity. And it’s a journalist quality in many respects, but I think that came from my dad because even though he was brought back and had to work the farm, he was a people person. He had to end up working with lots of cows. And would have preferred to work with people, but he was always reading widely and always questioning and that curiosity about other people, other places and other ways of thinking that I really like, and it does make for a very busy mind.

In terms of your life, you join lots of dots and I think there’s a real strategic benefit around that. And increasingly as the world’s moved on it’s a way of network thinking it builds its own momentum in terms of business development and your own career opportunities.

Jeffery Wang: [00:11:42] Absolutely.

Narelle Hooper: [00:11:43] I heard a former SAS major general speak the other day on an interview. And he was saying, we often talk about the difference, whether I’m male, female, my racial background, your sexual preferences and so forth, but he said, fundamentally, we’re all human.

And that’s the common element. And that’s the thing that really should bring us together. As opposed to what, what makes us different. I think that’s pretty good.

Jeffery Wang: [00:12:08] I absolutely agree with that. So, lesson number three, you mentioned take the road less travelled.

Narelle Hooper: [00:12:15] Ah, the old time who was that?

Scott Peck. Was it? The road less travelled. after I went to university in what’s now Canterbury university and love journalism and wound up eventually back in the press gallery in Canberra. Political correspondent for Business Review Weekly magazine. It was the days of mobiles, but pre social media and you’re operating in parliament house. You’d hear a story would be in the wind and everybody be charging after that particular story.

To do my job properly on a weekly magazine, when everyone was charging, I had to go “why?” Question that. And very often I’d find that the real stories were either in the other direction or in a little dark corner that not everybody else was looking at. And you go and explore something. You just stop that question, like what’s going on? Why is everyone doing that? And what else is happening? So that kind of questioning. I got some really great stories out of that, which ended up being cover stories for the magazine. I was nominated as a Walkley finalist for a story, which goes back a long way, but that was the kind of questioning.

And the other thing that goes with that is just observing. this actually operates in investment bubbles so, everyone’s piling in on the share market. You’re kind of going, hang on a minute, there’s a point you want to maintain and it’s risky to be out of the market, but equally you go, what’s really going on here? And is there something else I should be looking at? 

Jeffery Wang: [00:13:41] I was just thinking about that, in the age of Twitter and, social media and information overload. Does it still hold true?  is the groupthink that was happening back then, in the mobile, but pre social media days, is the groupthink worse back then? Or is it in going to hyper-drive right now?

Narelle Hooper: [00:13:59] Oh yeah. Good question. I think it still applies. I think social media has been great for airing perspectives that we might not have heard previously. And sometimes you can see an issue that escalates when people get onto a fact.

Mind you that’s a whole other conversation, right? Because of the infodemic, what real versus imagined facts. There is the social media pile-on like the pile -on Twitter.  I really value Twitter for bringing ideas and research reports and perspectives to my attention that I might not have got through my other sources, but equally it can be brutal and it can be, I think it was David Penberthy, a columnist I read recently and he said, it can cultivate the mindset, which is “I’m right. And everyone else is an asshole.” Excuse the French.

It’s a pretty harsh old world, the judgment is immediate and not a lot of reflection. And I think taking the time, not join the pile-on and to just stop and reflect and think, is more vital than ever.

Jeffery Wang: [00:15:03] So basically lesson number three, holds true then, “don’t join the pile-on” look the other way and see what we’re missing.

Narelle Hooper: [00:15:12] It’s good for life in the days when we travel. Hey! It’s good for Australia now when we’re forced to stay at home. So, you take the road less travelled in country New South Wales, or Queensland.

Jeffery Wang: [00:15:24] So many the levels to this lesson.

Narelle Hooper: [00:15:27] This goes on, but I did the trip in August. I took a week off and we did just that. And I’ve met some amazing, lovely local people. And thankfully it had rained a bit and they were in much better spirits than they were the last time I’d been out last year when the earth was baking, and the drought seemed to go forever.

Jeffery Wang: [00:15:50] Okay. So, lesson number four. Now this might be interesting. You have the power to influence.

Narelle Hooper: [00:15:58] It’s about and I learned this through a friend of mine. So, the story that she told me was that she was a young executive at a company.

And she’d been in a meeting with a really famous management researcher or something, and she’d been in the room and she’d not said a word for this entire meeting. And she got out of the meeting and afterwards, and just mentioned that she was too terrified to say anything, and he turned to her and he said, “do you know? You have an impact just by being in that room or at the table. whether you speak or whether you don’t speak. We often get so worried about what would happen if we actually spoke or if we talk too much or whatever, but it showed to me that contrast that if you’re in the room or you’re at the table, you will have an impact. Now whether you choose to speak up or to back someone else who’s spoken, which I think is a really important element of influencing or whether you’re so self-conscious that you don’t speak up. You’ve got the potential to influence that outcome and you can either take it and give it a go or you lose the opportunity. There’s an extension with that, by not speaking up, sometimes you become part of the problem – to use the cliche.

Jeffery Wang: [00:17:19] This is a very interesting lesson, I’m thinking in the context of someone who potentially is not used to speaking up, or they may be from a culture that speaking up is not a desirable trait or that they just haven’t been raised with the ability to speak up.

But what you’re saying here though, is that just by being around the table or being around to support those people that speak up on your behalf, you do have the power that a lot of us don’t often perceive that we have.

Narelle Hooper: [00:17:47] Well, if you’ve landed on a really important element of that, there’s cultural differences often and there’s also communication preferences and thinking differences.  If someone’s chairing the meeting or you’re the chair of a board or a leadership team. A really strong and under- appreciated element of leadership is to be aware of those potential differences and to make sure that you have genuinely included everyone in the conversation.

There’s that word again? Inclusion.

 I was talking about this just today with a colleague of mine. We were doing some communications learning from this. I’d had a good meeting with a guy on this team. He was an engineer is a bit more of an introvert. The idea was that one would tell a story and the other would listen, and then you’d ask questions and do the reverse. He was telling me his story and I was making eye contact going “right, this is really interesting” and very interested in the story. And I got feedback from him that he found that eye contact too confronting.  That was really interesting to me. So I then just started to observe a bit more and I realized that his way of communicating was actually to drop his eyes a little And then someone today talked about that, they said that there, in their community too much eye contact was being viewed as impolite.

And then there’s that more formal sense of what’s appropriate to take into consideration.

And then on top of that, you’ve got people who like to hear, some people are more kinaesthetic and feeling in their communication preferences, some people are visual and so forth,  that’s been helpful just to appreciate those differences and not rush to fill a space .

The quietest person in the room, will very often have the best input. And sometimes we miss that out because we don’t give them the time to reflect and then bring them into the conversation. So that’s the agility in terms of being aware of those elements of communications.

Jeffery Wang: [00:19:41] Absolutely.

All right. Lesson number five look out for landmines.

Narelle Hooper: [00:19:47] Ooh.

Jeffery Wang: [00:19:49] That sounds like a good story! 

Narelle Hooper: [00:19:51] they’re not actual real landmines. They’re political kind of power dynamic landmines that can make or break your influence.

And the story with that goes There was a time where I wasn’t aware of the politics in the organization. There’s always the politics that goes on. Sometimes they can be constructive and just knowing there’s a formal power structure, but then there’s how decisions are really made. I wish there was a lesson when you were in high school, they could just teach you all this stuff.

For a period of time, I’ve been at the ABC, then I’d moved over to a role at SBS TV. And there was a particular event that happened. With the journalist at the organization wound up in the industrial relations as an issue. So, there’s a bit of public scrutiny on this.

Our little team, of the people who had been involved and had been affected by this, we were quite upset about things. So, we had a form of communicating what our views were and. I found out later, we’d actually really embarrassed the management and there could have been a better way to handle that.

We were just so blindly concerned with what we felt about it, we didn’t think about how to best influence the situation. So I, I learned my cost in that situation, we weren’t a team any longer.  It was a really good lesson in terms of just really being aware that the politics not necessarily buying into them, but there’s a way of influencing, and very often you can quietly influence things behind the scenes and doing the work to understand that as opposed to being so passionately caught up in the rightness of your issue, that you’re not aware of what other potential concerns there are.

Jeffery Wang: [00:21:36] So, what would you have done instead? If you had to do that again, what would you have done?

Narelle Hooper: [00:21:41] I wouldn’t have written a letter to the editor of a national newspaper. A lot of co-workers, I would have handled that in a much quieter internal way and exhausted that I would have attempted to resolve the issue that way. And before I’d taken it.

What did they tell you? You go from four to ten straight away as opposed to working your way up through the various, exhausting the various options of influencing. But like I survived, I’ve got a few scars. It was a really valuable lesson and I’ve just kept that in mind.

Sometimes you can just not be alert to what’s going on. Like the power dynamics of every organization, that’s how things get done or not done. And learning and understanding the influence that’s really helpful. Like you often hear people say, I don’t like the politics and everything, and I’m not talking about being overly political. It’s about influence.

Jeffery Wang: [00:22:35] But I wonder if there’s a way to learn such ways without really incurring a few scars on the way.

Narelle Hooper: [00:22:44] Yeah. I think you’re right about the scars, but I think that’s why having an older mentor, people who have war stories or, they’ve knocked a bit of bark off along the way and those kind of older heads, it’s always good to have someone like that around, and you can test your thinking.

When growing up we didn’t really talk about the mentors or having that kind of support and you either lucked on it or you didn’t. And for a long time, I really didn’t luck on it. And then I realized I had a couple of quiet mentors and just people with who could give you a really hard-headed view of what’s really going on here and asking a couple of tough questions. Just realize that you can actually tap into those people, and it’s like having a personal board of advisors, informal people to help guide you on the way.

Jeffery Wang: [00:23:27] Failing that you’ve always got this podcast!

Narelle Hooper: [00:23:34] Absolutely.

Jeffery Wang: [00:23:34] Number six. Now I love this one. This sounds like you travel a lot, “put on your oxygen mask before helping others.”

Narelle Hooper: [00:23:45] So that advice was in the days when we’re flying more frequently. It’s a good one, it’s all about putting yourself first.

I care passionately and I’ve got a strong sense of social justice. A strong sense of wanting to leave the world in a slightly better shape than I’d found it and so forth.

But I think sometimes we can be so caught up in those matters that we lose sight of the fact that it all starts at home. It starts with you. You can be off saving the world when, maybe you need to also pay a bit of attention to your neighbours and those in your family.

And I think you start with that circle. If someone’s trying to save the world and having really dysfunctional personal relationships or, if you’re not sleeping right at night, then it’s telling you that something’s not quite right.

During the lockdown period, I live in an apartment block near a park. We’ve always known our neighbours very reasonably well, but we got a lot closer to our neighbours. The people in the street we’d see them every day. All walking out, trying to get their exercise.  We started saying “hello!”. Whereas we might not have we were so busy going from A to B previously that we didn’t even offer both to say hello.  Just dropping off some food for someone, or just checking in on someone or leaving a sign, just saying if anyone needs anything.

I think over the last 30 or 40 years, we’ve succeeded a lot. There’s been a lot of economic development, but very often it’s hollowed out the local communities.

Jeffery Wang: [00:25:12] Yeah. Yeah. I’ve noticed that, like we’re talking about global issues, like climate change, but yet, charity starts at home and I think we miss a bit of the local community. Even if it’s just, a local Christmas hamper drive or even, local carwash, a sausage sizzle and all that, I do think that there is a bit of that being lost.

But I like to just touch on another point that you mentioned about sleeping. So how much of that is also self-care as well? The thing is you can only help others when you’re in a position to, I could only imagine if a person’s exhausted and tired and sick, you’re not in a position to help anyone else.

Narelle Hooper: [00:25:47] I went to a lunch a few years ago and the Dalai Lama was speaking. It was full of a lot of middle-class professionals like myself and, we’re all curious to hear what the Dalai Lama had to say. And someone asks about what’s the best advice kind of thing, he said, “so how is your sleeping?” And the woman said, “Oh, not very good.”

He said, “first you need a good sleep” and it went on the conversation. But he said, “if your sleep is disrupted, you’re not getting the rest that you need. In order for your brain and your body to function properly, you do need to get a reasonable amount. You need to rest.”

Understanding now more about neuroscience. We know we need to give our brains a good rest and if you’re not sleeping well, and if you’re not eating and just caring for yourself. And I don’t mean caring for yourself so much that you’re so obsessed that you’re not doing anything else, but just a level of self-care, like our physical bodies are what carries us around.

And just being careful to look after them and do basic maintenance and care, like you would for whatever vehicle you either drive around or, be it a scooter or a bike.

A little anecdote about that is that while I was working in parliament house and the press gallery and my dad died at that point and I did a lot of self-reflection. Someone had introduced me to yoga and so I end up studying to be a yoga teacher and that’s one of the best pieces of education I ever did because it teaches you about philosophy. It teaches you about there are times you just can’t control the world, and you’ve just got to submit to events, and also to be kind and gentle with people as well.

And I still do yoga to this day and it’s hard work, it’s my best friend and my harshest critic at times, but it’s kept me in good physical shape.

Jeffery Wang: [00:27:36] Beautiful. Number seven, “respect those who came before you”, this sounds pretty profound. Are we talking generations? Are we talking civilizations? What are we talking about?

Narelle Hooper: [00:27:51] So growing up in country New South Wales we knew a lot about the local history and the gold rush, and the farmers came out and everything.

We didn’t hear about very often the women’s stories, but more than that, the story of the people who lived in that area before the coming of European settlement was so rarely told. So I didn’t know a lot about Wiradjuri country and what went on there when it was settled in the 1830s and there about. I think we are the poorer for not knowing about that history and about the great traditions of the first nations people.

And then I went to the Garma Festival up in the in Arnhem Land about 10 years ago. People are incredibly welcoming, you come in, you sit in the dust you don’t say much for a while and you just be. But you understand that collective wisdom that travels together over generations is really quite deeply profound. And it’s a respect for land and people and the resources that it yields. That element I think is important.

And there’s your parents and your grandparents before that and that, so there’s that element that you’re walking this way for the period of time that you’re on the earth for however long that is. And then after that, after the job you’re doing, someone else might come along or after you’ve gone, and your kids someone else comes after that. So, it’s just a way of being really aware that your time is a limited.  Have awareness of that in terms of your actions and that something will come after you.

Jeffery Wang: [00:29:24] In ancient Chinese wisdom, it’s just knowing how small our timeframe reference is in the greater context of history and civilizations and the likes. So, I can certainly identify with that. But it sounds to me like this is related to number eight – “try to do no harm.”

Narelle Hooper: [00:29:40] Yeah.

Jeffery Wang: [00:29:42] I like that word “try.”

Narelle Hooper: [00:29:44] The doctors had that, “first do no harm” it’s a basic element of the Hippocratic oath. Growing up as a kid, I used to live in a slightly wild household, everyone had high spirits, high tempers, you get really angry.  You’re walking on eggshells sometimes because we were never quite sure what the mood our dad would be in.  There’s a level of issues around family violence that, it’s important for me that women and men speak up about these issues.

But the first is to do no harm in your family circumstances. But around that kind of thinking is to try to leave a positive wake. So, when I talk about wake, if you take the kind of metaphor to water.  We’d have these kind of big, loud arguments in the family and then it would all be forgotten, and then we just go on and whatever. When I got married, my husband’s family had a different way of dealing with things, they’d get upset, but they wouldn’t talk about it. So, people would be walking on eggshells because they weren’t quite sure what everybody was feeling, but no one would talk about it.

So, the idea of the wake you’re creating is you don’t want it to be so choppy. You want the excitement and fun and love and joy and so forth, but you don’t want to leave it so chopped up and crapped out behind you, really hard for some of them coming behind you.

Even if it’s just an interaction with someone in the street and I know you’ve got to very often do work that’s not savory, or you’ve got to get an outcome that’s uncomfortable, but it’s still to make it a positive interaction. 

Jeffery Wang: [00:31:14] All right. Number nine, “don’t lose your connection with nature.”

Narelle Hooper: [00:31:18] Yes.

Jeffery Wang: [00:31:21] Now this must have been something because you grew up on the farm I’m guessing.

Narelle Hooper: [00:31:25] Yeah, we worked pretty hard on the farm. My job in the morning before I went to school was to get up really early and round up the cows. And so, it’d be really frosty in winter or beautiful in summer. 

Ever since then the morning is the best part of the day. And just getting out in nature, whether you’re going for a walk or, you can just see some plants or trees or sky or whatever. I’ve found it a very nurturing kind of element.

During the during the lockdown, some places they weren’t even allowed outside. in Sydney, we were at least allowed to go for a walk, and get some exercise in the day. And I was lucky enough to have a park nearby and then the botanical gardens. So just to go and be in that space we are, fundamentally from nature and that it’s a very healing space.

Sometimes when you’re feeling a bit tired, a bit irascible and like you’ve had not a very good week or year or whatever, just being in the park or going for a walk and getting some air. I think it’s a really healing thing.

We’ve had a period of time where very often nature has suffered. we’ve got the great work of capitalism, which has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but we’ve externalized the cost on that, and nature suffers, because very often we don’t put a value on it. There’s work afoot now to do that and value our natural capital, but in the meantime, we’ve got a bit of restoring work to do on that. And ostensibly, we know climate change is an issue, it’s a clear and present danger and we’ve got to deal with it.

Fundamentally by bringing more of nature into our lives and our world, it does make us better. And it doesn’t mean you’ve got to go out and what’s that show? “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”, where they will go out to the crazy jungle. I don’t mean that.

Jeffery Wang: [00:33:13] It’s living in harmony with nature. I think.

Narelle Hooper: [00:33:16] In the kind of the work I do. I do get to look at the larger trends that are driving society and the economy and that  responding to climate risk as a a fundamental, but that macro trend about nature is a really important one.

We’re starting to see buildings now where they’re being designed, where they’re drawing in more elements of nature into the, might be plants down the side of the building. Biomimicry is an element of that. We look to nature for inspiration in constructing materials and structures for the man-made world.

Jeffery Wang: [00:33:48] All right. The last lesson, probably my favourite lesson – “always have good hair and shoes.” Yeah. It makes sense to me, but I love to hear it from yourself.

Narelle Hooper: [00:34:03] All right. So, this is a bit tongue in cheek. Working in TV, very often doing the kind of public interviews that I’ve done.  You do learn that we’re all judged by our appearance. Rightly or wrongly, but we are judged. You’ve got about one to three seconds and you make up your mind about someone. And in TV in particular, women are judged very harshly on their image. And very often on tele I’d be doing a really interesting discussion panel, and then you’d get feedback from the audience. “So, what are those earrings she’s wearing?”  “Why did she wear that top?” Kind of thing. 

We need to move on from that and just accept people who are professional and well-crafted and communicate well and so forth. But it’s a tongue in cheek way of saying that I always thought if, whatever goes wrong, provided you’ve got good hair, people will forgive a lot. And I just mean being neat and well presented.  And the issue around shoes, if you’re fortunate enough to have feet to put your shoes on. It’s just nice, neat shoes. So being professionally well turned out, doesn’t have to be expensive, just good quality and neat.

It’s a really basic thing, but I always just used to say – “Oh well, whatever happened today, at least I had good hair.”

Jeffery Wang: [00:35:10] That’s right. That’s very good valuable advice. Thank you so much for taking your time out to speak with us today.

I’ve always admired how you treat those around you, from our interactions when we first met, when I was running professional development forum and when you’re at BOSS magazine. And I can certainly see a lot of the values that you’ve carried throughout your career that’s got you where it got you today. So really appreciate that, and the advice that you’ve given us.

Narelle Hooper: [00:35:39] Thank you, Jeffery. And I just so admire the work that you do with professional development forum, it’s great to know you over the years, and I want to thank you, it’s such a cool idea. So, thank you, and thanks to the people who are listening and watching, and I really appreciate it, and I hope it’s been some help and I’ve learned heaps.


Jeffery Wang: [00:36:00] Thank you. Bye-bye. 


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