women speakers

Perfectionism is a curse - especially when it comes to taking the stage

My first ever speaking gig absolutely bombed.

I was nervous

Amanda Blesing - speaking at Melbourne networking event #WomenOfImpact

Amanda Blesing - speaking at Melbourne networking event #WomenOfImpact

My new business depended on me being good

Plus I had hugely unrealistic standards & expectations.

After all, I had booked and briefed more speakers than most people have had hot dinners!

I felt like I needed to be better than best.

Spring forward 4 years and I’m speaking like a champion - more confident, more relaxed - and with much better results.

Perfectionism is a curse.

While we imagine it drives better performance, it can have the opposite effect.

It gets in the way of us tackling stretch opportunities.

And the stress can undermine your performance anyway

So what happened?

I learned to take it easier on myself - have some compassion and respect for both myself and my audience

I also learned that we don’t have to feel like we’re proving ourselves all the time

Life’s a journey not a destination

And it takes time to create a diamond.

9 times out of 10, you’ll get a better result when you let go of perfect.

So next time you put yourself out there into a stretch situation

Remember ....

No more ABBA “take a chance on me”

And far more of Kylie “[you] should be so lucky”!!


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Three incredibly powerful speaking tips I learned from Jane Caro

When my coach first said to me I'd need to take to the stage and speak I said -

"No way!" "Not me!" "Talk to the hand!".

Three steps to be a kick-ass female speaker -  1. kick some ass, 2. be female & 3. speak!

Three steps to be a kick-ass female speaker -

1. kick some ass, 2. be female & 3. speak!

While I'd booked and briefed more speakers than most people have had hot dinners, the thought of doing it myself was terrifying.

Spring forward a few years and that initial resistance is beginning to dissipate. While I still get incredibly nervous, it's now more manageable - and I know I can make a bigger difference speaking one to many.

AIM Great Debate

Recently I shared the AIM Great Debate stage in Canberra with high profile, advertising and media personality, Jane Caro. Jane is well known for her dry sense of humour, her unique perspective and her ability to get the room comfortable really fast.  She was also the adjudicator for the debate.

Speaking While Female

So we started to chat about some of the challenges women speakers face including:

  1. The audience will critique what you look like, no matter what. And frequently, other women are the harshest critics.
  2. Some of us try and pack our talks full of content to prove we know what we're talking about and give extra value - when the principle of less is more might work better.
  3. Women speakers are still far more prevalent in the female empowerment space than hard data business topics, so finding ways to establish credibility is critical.

Just prior to going on stage Jane gave me three great pieces of advice which I now share with you.

  • #1 - be authentic because the audience will warm to you more. Not the let it all hang out type of authenticity, but the type that connects with real life language, experience and examples. 
  • #2 - don't be afraid to use humour. Humour is the thing that unites us. So smile at the audience, use your regular jokes that you would with peers and colleagues, and win them over with humour.
  • #3 - be confident and own the room. It will help you boost credibility if you look and sound like you know what you are talking about. 

So What Happened Next?

Given my competitive nature, in that moment I mentally dropped the page of stats from my script and stuck to the things that I was far more comfortable with (my skewed way of looking at the world and my irreverent sense of humour). I'd done the preparation, it just helped me to speak from a more authentic place. And the best bit? I rocked the stage for the first time ever. I nailed it. Wish I could bottle it. Looking forward to doing it again.  (Thanks Jane!)

  • I won points for the dubious honour of being the first person to swear on stage (mum would be so proud),
  • I got points for getting the audience to try manspreading and extrapolating to corridors of power in Canberra,
  • I got points for sucking up to the adjudicator by closing the argument with one of Jane's frequently quoted statements on gender equity, 
  • I even got points for working Trump into my argument on the cost of hair care products for women, and
  • Our team won! 
Gender equality will be achieved when we have as many incompetent women leading as we do incompetent men
— Jane Caro

So why is this important to you?

When we're in the realm of feeling like we're not quite good enough, or that we need to prove our worth, we tend to over prepare, over analyse or run the risk of being overwhelmed. It triggers socialised responses of conscientiousness, compliance and competence. 

In some scenarios, conscientiousness, compliance and being competent are suitable. But when you are in speak out mode - making a point, pitching to win, creating compelling arguments, then channelling your confident and more competitive self will be far better.

So get out there and invite yourself onto a speaker panel or something - and rock the stage with your own authentic compelling and confident style.

Remember - smart and savvy truly is the name of this game! 

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution #executivebrand

Book in for a free 45 min phone call if you want help with that.  Limited times available in the link.



Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Key learnings from the Women World Changer event in Sydney 12 Oct 2016

I'm a self confessed conference junkie. I've attended hundreds of them, and run more than most people have had hot dinners.   I enjoy the networking, I enjoy the opportunity to down tools and reflect on best practice, brash new ideas and challenging concepts. I also appreciate being in a room with like minded individuals and reflecting that;

"Gee, what I'm doing on the money.  Keep on going. This stuff makes a difference."

Last week I attended the Women World Changers one day event in Sydney.

The speaker lineup was a who's who in gender and broader diversity discussions from Australia and beyond including the following: Wendy McCarthy AO, Holly Ransom, Avril Henry, Ming Long, Mai Chen, Pat Milligan, Dr Simon Longstaff AO FCPA, Ainslie van Onselen, Giam Swiegers, Libby Lyons, Jenny Leong, Christine Bartlett, Veena Sahajwalla, Amy Mullins, John Lydon, Hala Gorani, Jennifer Dalitz, Melissa Browne, Kim-Louise Liddell, Gen George, Karen Beattie.

And "girl" did I have a great day!  It felt pretty fabulous to be in a room full of men and women committed to gender equity - and the benefits for business and society more broadly.  Thanks to both Carla Wall and Deborah Harrigan who joined me at the event. It was great to share and compare highlights afterwards.

Significant moments for me?

Wendy McCarthy AO as the opening keynote drawing attention to:

  • "the gap between well intentioned programs and programs that deliver real outcomes"
  • "the face of poverty in the future is an older woman with no super"

Patricia Milligan - on the data

  • "Companies who measure the progress and publish the results get better results"
  • "One of the biggest issues cited by women for leaving the workforce is health and well being issues"

Ming Long on encouraging men into the conversation

  • "Slavery didn’t end because black people thought it was a good idea. It disappeared because white people thought it was a good idea. Let’s get men into the discussion about gender equity"
  • "For the men in the room understand gender equity in the workplace is a smart business move, not just a nice to have because you have daughters"
  • "Some of the male champions don’t quite get it, but they’re on the journey and most importantly in positions of power to do something about gender equality"

Mae Chen on Super Diversity

  • "Cultural capability (CQ) is the new currency of success for business and individuals"
  • "I came to this conference because the title is Women World Changers - we need to change the world for humans, not just women"

Holly Ransom on the future of work

  • "The nature of work is changing and becoming portfolio in nature with consulting, freelancing and flexibility options seen as more and more attractive"
  • "6 degrees of separation is out the window - with impact of a social media it's estimated to be more like 3.8 degrees"

Avril Henry with a rousing close on how women can make a bigger difference for themselves

  • "No-one is more interested in your career than you. Put up your hand and manage it!"
  • "Winning women don't play nice, they play fair"

Please enjoy (and share) the Twitter highlights below!

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

If you enjoyed this please spread the word! Let's inspire women everywhere to keep their eye on the prize

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy
  • I mentor busy professional women to ensure they remain smart, strategic and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but are struggling to do so.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Why getting out of your own way is good for business

Over the last few months I've been stewing on the importance of getting out of your own way. Then it all came a head last week as I was feeling the excruciating discomfort of nominating myself for an Award (and yes, it's important to me that I ask the same of myself as I ask of my clients). 

I was collecting evidence for the nomination when I stumbled across the unopened feedback from the 2015 APAC Women in Leadership & Management Summit ... from 9 months ago.

  • Unopened you ask? Yes, unopened. 
  • Why? Because when it arrived my ego and small self got in the way.
  • And why is this a problem? Because said feedback could have either helped me improve far faster, or made me feel far more confident far sooner.
  • And why is this an issue? Because I've been downplaying and underestimating my ability to make a difference via speaking until I felt as though I was perfect already.

While my example is specific to me, we all do it. We all play small when we should be playing big with only ourselves to blame. So here are some signs that you might be getting in your own way. 

  • You hold yourself to higher standards than you hold your staff to
  • You criticise others with subjective perceptions about appearance or behaviours
  • You're procrastinating, hesitating or feeling bottle-necked
  • You're really good at making excuses and they're always legitimate
  • You're 'too busy' to do the very thing that you need to do to get ahead
  • You handball an opportunity to gain visibility to a peer or colleague 
  • You haven't updated CV for years and it's stopping you going for opportunities 
  • You don't build network outside of the business because you are loyal
  • You've rationalised your way out of nominating for an Award
  • You say yes to things that undermine your own best attempts

In this crazy and exciting world of women leaning in - underestimating, second guessing and self doubting may feel like the best bet - even when it's not.

So what can you do about it?

  • Get out of your own way
  • Let go of your need to be in control
  • Put systems and mechanisms in place that take you out of the equation
  • Delegate more
  • Ask someone (or some system) to manage your calendar so you can't accept meetings after hours or at lunchtime unless you really have to
  • Appoint a marketing expert to update your bio, draft your thought leadership articles or email newsletters
  • Ask the communications team to help you write your industry Award nomination

Your comfort zone is called your comfort zone for reason. We're creatures of habit and become efficient at new realities far too easily. By ditching the dreaded 'c' zone and heading out into magic territory more quickly, you'll be far more likely to get out of your own way and achieve your leadership aspirations more easily. After all, research proves that women in the C-suite is great for business, and it's good for you as well.

Remember those two questions?

  • What's the worst thing that could happen if you do lean in?
  • Or worse - what's the worst thing that might happen if you don't?

My goal is to help you win the feminine ambition trifecta - where you make great money, you feel like your opinion is valued plus you are making an even bigger difference.

Vive la révolution!

#feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #ambitionrevolution

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

16 Quotes by Women to Inspire Women

Some of you might remember an article I wrote some months back about the importance of Balanced Voice.  What's this?  The representing of both men AND women in literature, art, entertainment etc.  The reality is that most of the quotes about success, achievement and endeavour are by men!

I promised to make a start to redress the balance with a quote bank of inspirational quotes by women for humanity.  In the next few months I'd like to see this become the go to place for students, bloggers and anyone looking for a little inspiration to source quotes by women that inspire. 

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.   These particular quotes inspired and fueled this mission. Starting here - 16 quotes by women, to inspire women - these are the messages that fired up my own journey back in 2014.




“You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do.”  - Eleanor Roosavelt








“It is confidence in our bodies, minds & spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures” - Oprah Winfrey









“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.” - Golda Meir






“If you're presenting yourself with confidence, you can pull off pretty much anything.”  - Katy Perry








“I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.”  - Elizabeth Gilbert 







“Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.” - Gail Blanke







And anyway, who wears a tiara on a jungle gym?" Sheryl Sandberg





Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile.” - Mary Beard






“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” - Amelia Earhart



“Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” - Sheryl Sandberg


“Motivation comes from working on things we care about & working with people we care about” - Sheryl Sandberg


“Success correlates more closely with confidence than with competence, but confidence is something you can rewire your brain to activate.” - Claire Shipman & - Katty Kay





“Every thing changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you.”  - Barbara Marciniak


“Men look in the mirror and see a senator, and women look in and see somebody who needs more experience.” Anne E Korblut






“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” - Roseanne Barr 






“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” - Carol Dweck

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Amanda white background cropped.png
  •  I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Why Conference Planning Committees need to Consider Gender Diversity

In recent weeks I’ve been vaguely horrified by a range of industry conference speaker programs that were so heavily dominated by those of the middle aged masculine persuasion, that the programs could have been something from the 1950’s.  “In this modern era when gender diversity seems to be the flavour of the month?” I hear you ask. Yes, in 2015.  So why should those in the association world care about gender diversity?

Professional associations are often seen as the peak body for industry and are supposed to lead the way when it comes to demonstrating best practice.  While I’m currently not privy to current Australian statistics in the association world in terms of percentages of women in leadership roles, or on association boards, the sector has a reputation for demonstrating better rates of gender diversity than industry and business itself.  However in saying that there is definitely room for improvement as demonstrated by a recent report from the USA on non profits in general:

“ Men still hold 79% of the CEO positions for organizations with $25 million in assets or greater. A 2014 GuideStar report found that a gender pay gap exists in this industry as well. The sector is not perfect, but it is a place where women have a greater opportunity to lead.”
— Why Female CEOs Thrive In Nonprofits, Kim Williams, CEO, Interfaith Housing Coalition, Forbes

How else associations can help

Associations and industry bodies run industry conferences. These events are supposed to present cutting edge ideas, case studies worthy of emulating or avoiding as the case may be, present a pool of credible experts on the speaker program and provide opportunities for members to develop and grow.  Another way that associations can lead the way is by establishing benchmarks or guiding principles for the conference planning committees around gender diversity.

When associations don’t ensure gender balance on conference programs it sends a message to those who work in industry that expert status is reserved for men.  This may be the case in terms of consultants finding it easier (and more beneficial) to create time in their day to speak on conference programs but if recent reports are correct many industries are seeing a steady rise in the number of female industry consultants who could do the job equally as well. And we know from the multiple sources of research into this space that organisations with women in the leadership team perform better on range of measures including profitability, productivity, risk management, staff and customer satisfaction - so surely it's their expertise contributing.

When association and industry conference planners do manage to provide gender balance, they are sending a message to younger generations of professionals that speaking, thought leadership and industry wide expertise are not merely the purview of men but also women – changing the state of play and challenging the status quo at the industry level.

There’s an old saying:

“If we keep on doing what we’ve always done we'll always get what we’ve always got”

By providing opportunity, challenging and encouraging women to step up in this thought leadership arena and expert status, industry is more likely to find new ways to solve old problems that have potentially been dogging it for years.

Introducing the Male Champions of Change

Conference programs that don’t have gender balance are starting to look out of step with the times.  There is growing recognition of this as an issue from large corporates and government departments, whose leaders have signed the Male Champions of Change Pledge. This group have identified that gender bias on conference programs and panel discussions is not appropriate:

“it was simply unacceptable in this day and age that many high profile conferences, events and taskforces lack gender balance, despite there being no shortage of senior, qualified women to participate. Aside from the unhelpful gender norms reinforced by the current practice, the lack of diversity clearly limits the span of conversation. Perspectives considered, insights shared and conclusions drawn will be naturally skewed towards more masculine views and restricted as a direct consequence.”

So why should conference planners and associations care about this pledge?

Signing up to become a Male Champion of Change is not an empty gesture because members of this program have committed to asking organisers whether they have secured women leaders to participate in public forums, panels and conference programs.  If not, then the male leader has also committed to decline to speak until the issue has been rectified or will recommend a senior female leader to speak in his stead.

Many of the male champions may then create organisation wide policies that discourage the rest of the leadership team from participating and prohibit staff from attending events such as panels, forums and conferences where there is an obvious gender bias and lack of diversity.

There is the potential for this to become an issue for conference organisers wishing to both engage high profile speakers from big name organisations for programs and maximise attendance of delegates, unless gender diversity is addressed up front and centre. I'm sure this will soon cascade into the sponsorship dollar and event supporter values as well.  Given that many in the association sector rely heavily on conference and sponsorship revenues, this could represent a problem unless addressed.

It’s not always easy unfortunately

As someone who has programmed more conferences that you can poke the proverbial stick at I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, if you read my “back story” on The Ambition Revolution you will see what I mean and I know that my own track record has not been perfect in the past.

  • For every call for papers nine men would respond and only one woman.
  • I’d tap a woman on the shoulder to ask her to speak (pre identified by a committee as someone doing interesting work in her organisation) and she would handball me to a male colleague, manager or ambitious young male staff member.
  • For every second woman who did say yes, it was as though they needed to be reassured that they were indeed the right person for the opportunity and people would indeed want to hear what she had to say.  

It’s definitely a Catch 22 unfortunately and unless we do something about it soon, we’ll be caught in a loop and won’t be able to escape.

Ideas for the conference team and planning committee

I understand the pressure on conference planning teams to get the program finalised and out to market in time and on budget. Associations are frequently resource poor and also rely heavily on volunteer conference planning committees.  So let’s make it easy for everyone and help educate the conference planning committee along the way by having a few practical strategies in place:

  • Set a 50:50 gender diversity target for your next conference speaker program – particularly relevant if your audience is mixed.
  • Have this target front and centre for your volunteer conference planning committee to talk about and measure themselves against during and after the event, along with evaluations and financial measures.
  • Position it as an exciting challenge (rather than more work) - encourage a problem solving approach.
  • Feature an article in your industry publication or e-newsletter on the importance or benefit of gender diversity to your particular industry.
  • Run programs that support and encourage women to speak throughout the year – not just about how they got to where they are now, but also to share expertise and technical knowledge to mixed gender audiences.
  • And yes, for the first year or so it might take a bit more work, but as the years progress it will become easier, and the norm.

Why diversity matters

The issue is much bigger than simply gender diversity. As a society we benefit from diverse ways of thinking on every issue. So don’t just stop with gender diversity.

  • Ensure you provide opportunities for young professionals – once again bringing fresh ideas, new ways of thinking and communicating as well as reinforcing the notion that fresh perspectives are worth hearing about. It also grows growing their confidence in this arena creating a “talent pipeline” for leadership development down the track helping both yourself for future conferences but also helping industry provide opportunities for young talent to shine and develop.
  • Consider also cultural diversity and opportunities for those with disabilities on conference programs as well.
  • Where are your mental blind spots when it comes to encouraging diversity on your program and how can you remedy this?

In summary

Gender diversity is a huge issue for our society and business world and it’s proving challenging to move forward with any speed. In fact Australian statistics demonstrate that the gender salary gap remains the same after 30 years and a heap of work on the issue.  The topic is heavily laden with bias at best along with sexism and active discrimination at worst.  It’s full of examples where turf protection wars are waged, boys clubs and “this is the way we’ve always done it” type notions abound, along with arguments such as “I only want the best person for the role” (meritocracy). It’s backed up by generations of socialisation that reinforce stereotypical gender roles for both men and women.  Let’s face it, I’m sure there are times when both men and women sometimes struggle to see the woods for the trees because bias (conscious and unconscious) is so insidious and difficult to identify.  While associations in general do a better job than some with their recruitment practices and encouraging female leaders, I think there is definitely room to improve when it comes to planning conferences and demonstrating best practice to industry.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution

  • Amanda Blesing is one of Australia's newest thinkers and speakers on ambition - how to spark it, tackle it, tame it and then channel it into producing a healthier, more inspired leadership talent pipeline.  
  • As the creator of The Ambition Revolution program helping women step up, speak out and take charge, she gets right to the heart of the issue with statistics, stories and insights as to what the problem is and what we can do about it. 
  • For the past 20 years Amanda has walked her own talk as she worked her own way through the ranks of the association world with her last role as Chief Executive Officer of SOCAP Australia (Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Australia)
  •  Amanda currently speaks with and mentors ambitious women and helps them make a bigger difference more easily.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Don’t let your "stuff" get in the way of doing big, important work



In February 2015 I had the privilege of attending the Heroic Public Speaking Immersion in Fort Lauderdale with Amy Cronise Mead and Michael Port.  Wow! Talk about a high powered event, and for those who know my professional event management background that’s saying something. Thank you to the entire team for creating this amazing event.

The main takeaway for me was around stepping into your own authority, perhaps more colloquially known as “owning that sh*t”.

“I want to show girls you don't have to ........ give up you dreams. You can conquer the world. You can play in front of a crowd of 20,000 people, and you can own that shit.”  Tegan Quin

Both the men and women on this course expressed fear of getting on stage, fear of being found not to be good enough and told stories of procrastination and self sabotage in the preparation for the course. So often we give our authority away to others thinking that perhaps our ideas couldn’t possibly be as good as others, or that other people have louder, deeper voices so they must be more right, or even that the other person looks so confident that they couldn’t possibly be feeling anything less.  

And for the women attending there was a whole heap more going on based on both brain biology and the way we've been socialised including: 

  • Perfectionism - yes there is a heap of science to show that this holds women back more than men,
  • Imposter syndrome - feeling like you are going to be caught out or are a fraud which also impacts women more than men - (the irony here is that true frauds don't feel like it!)
  • Office housework - taking on extra work at work (and at home) that wears you out, fills up your day and gets in the way of getting ahead or doing the big important work. You guessed it, women do this more than men.

So back to my course, the difference between those who rocked this event and those who were bystanders just coasting through (and no, it wasn't gender)? It was authority and owning their own “sh*t” (the fear, the doubts, the perfectionism, imposter syndrome and over busyness) and being prepared to get up on stage  and simply give it a crack anyway. For those men and women who took the risks the learnings and the shifts were immense, obvious to others and exponential, meaning that their star has definitely risen on their new chosen career path.

“Get out of your own way… stop the paralysis by analysis… decide what you want, create a simple plan, and get moving!”― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

So if you are wanting to step up, speak out, take charge of your career, your life, your tribe – don’t let your “stuff” get in the way of getting the big, important work done. Own that sh*t and do it anyway. Get out of your own way and get moving.  Transformative change and exponential shift may just be the result you are looking for  - plus you'll have achieved some big, important work along the way.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy. I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain smart, strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but are struggling to do so.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months