Your Brilliant Career Podcast

The go-to resource for getting the most out of your career

This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.

One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.

Your Brilliant Career is a podcast that aims to help more women rise and reach new heights in their career.



Elevate. It’s a terrific word Elevate, isn’t it! If you’ve attended my programs, you will hear me say things such as ‘that style of conversation will elevate you”, and “You will feel more elevated if you…”. I use it because I love the idea of elevating the women I work with.

In this podcast, I am joined by two incredible women, Shannah Kennedy and Colleen Callander, who have taken that thought to a whole new level. In fact, they have written a book called Elevate, their word of the year is elevate and elevating others is their mission.

Together, Shannah and Colleen bring a natural synergy. In this episode, you'll discover more about their mission, and insights on what it means to elevate yourself. We’ll chat about their new book, Elevate and more.

They both exude incredible energy, making our conversation a delightful one. 

✨ Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss an episode! 


Links we talked about on the podcast include:

RISE Accelerate program:

Episode 18 - The YOU in your career:

Shannah Kennedy

Colleen Callander

Human Elevation:

Elevate - Unlock your extraordinary potential:

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Your transcript

[00:00:00] Gillian: Hello everyone and welcome back. The weeks are zooming by right now and Christmas is getting closer, but far more exciting than that. I'm heading to Mexico in a few days for a friend's wedding and it's going to be a girl's trip. I'll be boarding the plane solo, embarking on my own little adventure.
[00:00:20] So there you have it. That's my exciting news. But now let's shift gears to today's exciting topic. Elevate. Now it's a terrific word elevate and I use it because I love the idea of elevating the women that I work with.
[00:00:35] But I have two incredible women joining me today on the podcast who have taken that thought to a whole new level. In fact, they have written a book called Elevate their word of the year is elevate and elevating others, well it's their mission. So my guests are two extraordinary women, Shannah Kennedy. She is a legendary life coach who joined me on the podcast last year. It was an awesome episode because there is something super special about Shannah. And in that episode, we talked about everything from 20 year life plans, vision boards, building resilience, how to refuel. I will leave a link to it in the show notes today.
[00:01:21] Now, since doing that podcast together, Shannah has collaborated with a fantastic leader, Colleen Callendar. And let me tell you a little bit about Colleen. So, Colleen has been among the 19 percent of female CEOs in the Australian business sector. Now I try not to go on about the disappointing data and representation of senior women, but 19 percent isn't much.
[00:01:45] So huge kudos to Colleen. And in fact, she was a CEO for 13 years, leading two iconic Australian fashion brands, Sports Girl and Suzanne. So together, Shannah and Colleen, they just have this natural synergy. They are such a dynamic duo and their business, well, it is called Human Elevation.
[00:02:07] In this episode today, you'll discover more about their mission and insights on what it means to elevate yourself. We'll chat about their new book, Elevate, and so much more. They both exude an incredible energy.
So let's dive in right now and meet these wonderful ladies.
[00:02:25] Well, welcome Shannah and Colleen. It is such a pleasure to have the two of you to the podcast today.
[00:03:20] Shannah: Thanks for having us, Gillian. We're, we're delighted to be here and have some fun today with you.
[00:03:34]So Shannah, tell us, what's different in your world as a life coach and what attracted you to the collaboration that you have here.
[00:03:46] Shannah: Well, as you know, and as the listeners know, I've been a life coach for 20 years and I absolutely love my job. I love doing life plans for people, really getting them clear with some clarity and direction and purpose on how to move forward with a great 10, 20 year plan, with a great foundation of wellbeing.
[00:04:06] Colleen was one of my clients that I actually coached and she can tell her story herself, but I coached her and her leadership team for 10 years. And when she finished, it was like, we always knew we would do something together.
[00:04:21] And like, let's play, like, let's go into the playground. Let's collaborate. Let's be women who celebrate other women. Let's be women who uplift other women. Uh, there's no competition. It's really about combining all of our amazing skills because she, with her CEO background, is leadership and culture and brand and building big teams and having great success.
[00:04:44] And for me, it's all about the vision and the values and making sure people have great habits and goals and fulfillment and, and have a great plan. So... We think that two people are better than one and a dynamic female duo is what's needed. It's fresh. It's exciting. And we've got our business Human Elevation, which is two women with one mission to elevate humans.
[00:05:06] Gillian: Colleen, tell us from your perspective, cause it is a big deal, right? Stepping out of a C suite role in corporate to doing something like this. And also tell us what's the experience been like for you?
[00:05:19] Colleen: Yes, I had 30 years, a little bit different to Shannah, but our paths crossed. I had 30 years in the fashion industry and 20 of those were at the Sports Girl Suzanne Group, with 13 as CEO across Sports Girl and Suzanne. So that's a long time in the fashion world and I started in the retail industry at the age of 16.
[00:05:39] And for me, Gillian, the big defining moments in my life and not the ones that people think, uh, the big defining moments of meeting incredible women and empowering and inspiring women to show up as the best version of themselves, whether that be in the organization, in their homes, wherever it may be. And I love the fashion industry, but, you know, 30 years in there's a long time. And as Shannah said, we always decided or always talked about doing something together, and we're both very passionate about the women's space. So when I hung up those Sports Girl boots March, 2020 we collaborated and, uh, what started out as let's have a bit of fun and do a couple of keynotes has turned into this incredibly huge and successful business. But we're still having fun. And, you know, I think that's really the main thing is, you know, we're in our fifties now.
[00:06:26] And for us, it's really about sharing our knowledge, our experience, our frustrations, our failures, our successes, and really lifting other women up. So this is a really exciting part. We talk about our life in decades, our twenties, our thirties, our forties. Now we're women in our fifties and we're writing our next chapter. And literally, we have written chapters. We just wrote our book, which comes out in December, which I'm sure we'll get to shortly. But, uh, yeah, we're having a lot of fun and wonderful to, to be on a podcast like yours and sharing our message.
[00:06:58] Gillian: Well, I think you're in good company, right? Because I love the idea of elevating women as well. And why not? Right. And I think why not tackle it in a joyful way? You know, forget the hustle. Like there is an opportunity for each of us to be able to do that. And I feel like you guys are such wonderful role models in, in that way, emulating exactly that. Shannah, let me jump to the trip. The trip. Because I have to tell you, the Instagram scroll at 5pm was fabulous, thanks to you, while you're in Japan.
[00:07:30] And I could see your beautiful faces with the matching tops, trekking through some incredible terrain. So, so tell us about that. Tell us what, what that project and experience was all about.
[00:07:43] Shannah: Colleen and I have always walked and when we came together, we thought let's make walking a part of the business you know, when you walk and you talk, you have incredible ideas, you get creative, you think outside the box and the conversations are very different than if you're sitting in a room together or at a cafe together. So they were always big and bold and amazing.
[00:08:04] We said, oh, let's just walk the world. I said, well, you know, I've got this big bucket list I need to tick off. And let's walk and coach women while we're walking where, you know, every day we can do a lecture every morning over breakfast. They get given a journal at the beginning of a trip. Every morning we give them journal prompters for them to think about during the day.
[00:08:24] And then at night, they write their journals. So, when you walk off the track, you should have a full journal about yourself, your vision, what's important to you, and all of the ideas that you have for your own future. So we started a program called Walk the World With Us, and we've done the Camino in Spain.
[00:08:41] We just did Japan and the forest bathing, which was just sensational. In 2024, in April, we will always do the Camino in April because it's a big bucket list item for women, where we do 130 kilometres of it. And then next October, we'll be Italy in Tuscany, walking the hills. So for those that love wine and food, that's going to be amazing.
[00:09:03] So it's really about women coming together. Women collaborating, learning, evolving, writing, lifting each other up, and networking, and helping each other, and just to do that out in big nature we think is just superb, and we love to host it, we love to facilitate it and we just find that women go to a whole new level in those environments.
[00:09:26] Gillian: Well, we should talk about this book, right? So Colleen, maybe, maybe you can tell us a little bit about it and congratulations by the way, to, to the both of you. I know a lot of work goes into producing a book and in the book, you have these three pillars; life, leadership and longevity.
[00:09:58] And you talk about the stop start and continue. Tell us a little bit about that because I thought that was really interesting and they're great pillars. Life, leadership and longevity.
[00:10:09] Colleen: They're three fantastic pillars and you know, Gillian, we need all of them and we need them all in balance. I think one of the really beautiful things about Shannah's and my collaboration is that we definitely know our wheelhouse. And, you know, Shannah's amazing in that life coaching, life strategist, values, vision, self care and my wheelhouse is leadership and brand and culture and people. So we very much decided that we wanted to write this book that brought our skills and talents together, which is that life and that leadership piece. And then as we were walking one of these sort of moments came and went, but what about longevity?
[00:10:49] You know, we can have a great life and we can have this great leadership and lead people and lead ourselves, but we actually need to do that without burnout. You know, Shannah’s had chronic fatigue. I had burnout in 2007. And you know, we've now had the last 10, 12 years without burnout. We are just, like machines and we, we, we feel fantastic.
[00:11:10] We're in our fifties and we're ready for this next decade. I think it's going to be the best, right? Because we've worked on that longevity pillar. So we really want to share our book, Elevate. Not everyone can walk the world. Not everyone can come to one of our programs, but we want to elevate every single human on the planet and we want to give them the life skills, the leadership skills, but most importantly, we want to give them those longevity skills to be able to do all of those wonderful things, have incredible careers, have this incredible success, but do it for the long term.
[00:11:41] Gillian: How do you define the longevity? Like you're talking about building a healthy life that gives you the endurance, you talking about career, like how do you define longevity?
[00:11:52] Colleen: It comes in so many different shapes and sizes, right? Longevity is doing what we love and getting up every day and being able to do that without feeling burnt out, without feeling that we can't get up and do it again tomorrow. So it's really about building in you know, that self care, setting really strong boundaries for ourselves, making sure that we have those disciplines in our own lives that allow us to show up as the best version of ourselves, keeping our own tanks full, making ourselves the asset because we want to be doing this in another 10 and 15 years, just as energetically as we're doing it today. You know, we want to be able to get up and walk do these wonderful walks around the world in another 10 years. So we've got to put in the work now.
[00:12:36] And, you know, Shannah and I always talk about our 10 years self. You know, how do we want to feel? How do we want our bodies to be, our minds to be, our spirit to be, our energy to be in 10 years time? We've got to put the work in today. It's no point looking at ourselves when we're 62 and 63 going, wow, we didn't get that so right did we? Let's do the hard yards now. Let’s put a little bit every day. Let's elevate our lives a little bit every single day in those buckets. And we will be doing this with just the same energy and passion that we are doing it today.
[00:13:07] Gillian: So in the book, you, you do talk about this idea of self care and setting boundaries, which I know you're very good at doing and thinking about our audience, which are very career driven women, balancing multiple responsibilities in their life. Like what advice would you offer to them to help them maintain their energy and focus as Colleen was saying, while pursuing their professional goals?
[00:13:56] Shannah: Treating ourself like an athlete, you know, and I think what happens with women is we forget to set boundaries. We forget to protect the asset. We think self care may be a little bit selfish. If a man goes and plays golf for five hours, it's totally fine.
[00:14:11] But if, uh, if we allow ourself five hours to go to yoga, have a massage and a facial and take ourself out for lunch for five hours. We think it's indulgent and selfish. So we're just programmed really differently, I think. And we just need to think about what works best for us. Cause we're all in different ages and stages and seasons.
[00:14:32] And one of them is to really respect self care and investing in the refuel, honouring that just as much as performance. So with an athlete, we know that they're always investing in icing their legs and their hydration and their nutrition and their sleep in order to perform. Well, we're exactly the same.
[00:14:52] So all of the small rituals that we have. You know, the breath work when you wash your hands, making sure you have a glass of water next to your computer, making sure you have some a. m. and p. m. great habits of starting the day with a walk, finishing the day with some stretching, all of these small habits are actually you turning yourself into a high performing human that doesn't burn out that can juggle all of the different roles. So self care, how we recharge, how we refue, how we re-energise through how we sleep, how we eat, and how we move are really important things. And in the book, we ask everybody at the end of every single chapter, what can you start doing that would work for you?
[00:15:37] What do you want to stop doing that no longer serves you? And what do you want to keep doing that's already working? So we end up at the end of the book with a whole list of all the things that you could stop doing for 2024. All the wonderful things you could start implementing into your next chapter and age and stage, and really keeping doing what's working for you and setting boundaries to take control emotionally, physically, energetically with your technology, you know, really thinking about I need to set boundaries. That's nobody else's job, but your own. So, thinking about what your non-negotiables are that would really work for you in the future, I think is really important. And also the power of the written word is, the brain needs a map. And so if we don't see the written word anywhere, if our values aren't on the wall, or our goals aren't somewhere where we can see them, or our little habit plan isn't somewhere where we can see it, so that we remind the brain of the habits, we just get lost. We just exist. We just survive the day. But when the brain's got inspiration around it and a vision board and some great lists and some great little reminders as screensavers or sticky notes. We actually tend to thrive because it's a little game that we're playing with ourselves.
[00:16:53] So, I think some of those tools and tips are really easy to do and really easy not to do. But for people like us, it's actually a game. It's a high performance game that we actually play with ourselves and love it. Like, what can I put on my sticky note to habit stack here? Oh, when I wash my hands, I'll then look in the mirror, then I'll high five, then I'll have a glass of water, and it becomes like a little mini challenge.
[00:17:17] But all of that is actually propping up your fuel tank. It is energizing you. It is making you know who you are without your job. It is building the asset, which is the human being and doing it for yourself. And nobody does that for you. So the minute that we really make the decision to love who we are and to care for who we are and want the longevity, which means not just achievement, but also fulfillment in our day.
[00:17:46] Imagine enjoying the journey as well as achieving and not just being so addicted to the achievement but maybe celebrating some of the wins we can all elevate, we can all every year make a small tweak on how we're operating and what our habits are.
[00:18:02] Gillian: Most definitely. That future self, isn't it? All that habit stacking is helping us to evolve into who we want to be in the next chapter of our life, and I love the analogy of, it's a game and that's a great way of looking at it, actually. It kind of brings lightness to it, doesn't it?
[00:18:18] Shannah: As you know, we want lightness and joy and that's why doing vision boards and bringing things into colour and putting things up in your office or on your mirror, it does become a game, it becomes fun, it doesn't become, oh, that's another habit I have to do. It's like, I get to do this, I get to play this game and I think that's exciting, and you know, you think of your 10 year older self and you know why you're doing it, that's your purpose.
[00:18:44] Gillian: But Colleen, you might be able to answer this one because you guys believe in the power of having a word for the year and maybe just talk us through that and maybe even share what your word is if you're open to doing that.
[00:18:57] Colleen: It's something that I did pretty much my entire CEO sort of life and at the end of every year, we think about what's my new year's resolution. We're going on holidays and we know that most people by a few days into the new year, that resolution's gone out the window, right? So for me, it was always, I would stand up at the Christmas party at Sports Girl and say to the team, I want you to think about your word for the next year.
[00:19:24] And people would go on their break and they'd think about it. Then they'd come back, they'd share it. They'd put it on their board. They'd come in my office and tell me what their word was. And it became this really huge thing over a long period of time. And... It was really joyful watching everyone live out this word, you know, it could be bold, or it could be play a big game, or it could be compassion, or it could be career, or whatever it might be.
[00:19:46] So, one of the things that we thought about when we were writing our book and building our business is what is that word? What's the word that can change someone's life? What are the small things we can do every day that can have a huge impact? And that word is elevate. no matter where you are, as Shannah said, your age, your stage, your ability, your skills, your wealth, we all, every single human on this planet has the ability to elevate.
[00:20:11] Even if it's 1 percent every day. I can elevate my leadership. I can elevate in the way I show up as a mum. I can elevate in the way I think about my self care, we can elevate every day. So for us, our word, there is only one word for 2024, and that word is elevate, and we're so excited to share it and in fact, we're getting so much traction with it, Gillian, that people and organisations are building their whole year around it.
[00:20:38] They're buying a book for their team. They're building their conference around it. It's called Elevate. So, already we're having a huge impact. You know, I talk about three words, influence, impact, and inspire. And that's what we want to do with our book. We want to make a huge impact. We want to inspire people to elevate, and we really want to influence positive change in people's lives so they can have incredible longevity.
[00:21:01] It’s amazing and I think it's a great word because who doesn't want to elevate, right?
[00:21:08] It's still awesome, right? Like the cumulative impact of 1 percent doing anything is extraordinary. There's a great expression, I think it's by Tony Robbins. You'll probably know this, Shannah. And it, it's something like people give up on their goals in one year, but what you can accumulate in a decade is extraordinary. It’s the cumulative impact, isn't it? Of staying committed to things. And in your case, staying committed to elevating.
[00:21:33] Shannah: You know, we've been through COVID we've been through burnout because that was the result of COVID, but at some stage we need to reset. And at some stage we need to change our language in our mind about I'm so burnt out and you know, the whole story that we've had and the book Elevate is inviting you to go, okay, let's draw a line in the sand and let's reset and let's make the word elevate. Let’s be fresh and let's, let's just take a step up now and move on with our life and leave that chapter behind.
[00:22:03] Gillian: Colleen, I've got a question for you and it's around really drawing on your corporate career and observations of women as well succeeding in the business environment. Like what do you think helps or hinders the advancement of women and building the leadership pipeline for women in the corporate sector?
[00:22:20] Colleen: It’s a really great question, and it's a real challenge that we still have you know, when I was CEO, less than 20 percent of women in this country held a CEO position. And unfortunately, through those 13 years and the couple of years I've been out of that role that number hasn't changed very much. So we have a huge job to do and I always talk about, let's be the change that we want to see. Because we can all say, oh, that's not my problem or that's not my job to do. But if we all be the change that we want to see, little by little, we will start making an impact.
[00:22:52] And for me, I talk about my real superpower is leading with kindness. And I think about my whole entire CEO journey and the way I live my life every day, and that really is leading with kindness. And people would often say to me, but Col, how can you do that? How can you be a CEO run? Successful organisations be extremely profitable, remain as iconic as, as these brands have, have been and do that with kindness.
[00:23:19] And I say, it's really, really easy. Let me share with you how you do that, right? Because kindness doesn't mean that people can fly under the radar. Kindness doesn't mean we don't hold people accountable. Well, there are no rules or boundaries or guidelines. The way I lived my leadership life was to create clear expectations for people to hold people accountable, to set very clear boundaries and rules to build real human connections with people. That's what leading with kindness really means, and if we can do that as women and demonstrate that as women, which is why we need more women leaders, because it's our natural inclination to lead with humility and compassion and kindness.
[00:23:58] Then we will start to make that ripple effect change. So, as I said, we've got a long way to go, but if we can start to actually be that change, start talking that change, start supporting each other. And Shannah and I, you know, we don't race against anyone else. We are here collaboratively trying to make change for women of the future.
[00:24:19] We want to elevate women. because the more we do that, the more confidence we have, and when we're confident, we can do things that we never thought we could do.
[00:24:27] We can walk into that boardroom and kill it. We can put our hand up for that promotion. We can challenge the status quo, but we can only do that when we're leading with kindness and when we're leading with confidence. So, we really, really encourage everyone to be the game changer for the next generation and start leading with kindness.
[00:24:46] Gillian: Yeah, it's a lovely message and I think so many women do naturally want to lead with kindness. I think there's, you know, sometimes ambiguity that they need to be tougher, but this idea that you're talking about of the sisterhood and supporting each other, I mean, it's always made sense. It's never not made sense.
[00:25:01] And we can lift each other up. I think, you know, when I think about our RISE programs, you know, the collaboration and the energy that's in the room that is very much self facilitated by just having like-minded women in the room together it's powerful, and I love what you're both doing. So, congratulations and it is such a pleasure to have you both on the podcast, but we need to know where we can find you, Shannah, give us all the details and we'll put all the links of course, into the show notes.
[00:25:31] Shannah: Fantastic. Well, there is LinkedIn Human Elevation. Our website is and you can also follow us individually. Colleen Callander and Shannah Kennedy. And the book is available. Now, like you can do your pre-orders right now, yeah, we're super excited.
[00:25:48] We also have on the website our walks. So for people that are interested in, you know, going from these incredible walks, we've got Camino in Italy next year, that's all on the website as well.
[00:25:59] Gillian: Amazing. Thank you both. And, and we'll be watching you in 2024. It's going to be amazing for sure.
[00:26:05] Shannah: Thank you so much, Gillian. It's always awesome to talk to you. You've got the best energy. We love it.