Axons Unleashed E22: Women in Leadership: Tanya Abbey from Black Wolf Group

Welcome to another great episode of Axons Unleashed with special guest Tanya Abbey from Black Wolf Group

Tanya & Black Wolf have contributed so much to the fabric of Axon Property Group with the hiring of essential members of the team. In this episode, Tamara, Tanya and Robbie go in-depth as they talk about the importance of women in leadership, the challenges they face but also the benefits.

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Episode Transcription 

Intro:
Axons Unleashed.

Robbie:
Hi, my name's Robbie. Today, I'm joined here with Tamara and the lovely Tanya from Black Wolf Consulting. Today, we're going to be speaking about female entrepreneurship and females in leaders. How are you girls? Good?

Tamara:
Yeah, great.

Tanya:
Good.

Tamara:
I did feel like it was about time we had a bit of a female spin on the podcast. It's been a bit man-centric, I think. We do have quite a number of our female listeners there that might like to hear some more female spins.

Robbie:
And the good news is we've got heaps of awesome female guests coming up as well.

Tamara:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robbie:
Yeah. This is our first little roam into getting someone external to come in and talk to us, Tanya. How are you feeling today, mate?

Tanya:
I don't know. I think you should be worried. Number one, this was really an excuse for Tami and I just hang out more, two incredibly strong women in one room. It's scary, but exciting.

Robbie:
[inaudible 00:01:07] for those watching on YouTube. Yeah. Yo, I'm the winner here today, for sure.

Tamara:
Tanya, do you want to just start off with telling everyone about who is Tanya, who is Black Wolf and what you do?

Tanya:
Depending on the day, I don't know who I am. To keep it really brief, I'm a recruiter and I've been doing it for 14 years, so at this point I'm a generalist. Basically, recruitment is finding people roles and then helping clients find the best candidates for their business. I'm a mom of two, so I've got two little boys, five and three, and I'm married.

Tamara:
Absolutely gorgeous, by the way.

Tanya:
Very biased, but so gorgeous.

Robbie:
Once again, those people watching on YouTube will see what we mean there.

Tanya:
Pete and I started the business eight years ago because like every entrepreneur, we thought it'd be a really great idea until we realized that it was really difficult to do.

Robbie:
The same as us, right? A husband and wife team running a business.

Tamara:
Let's go into that in a little bit, yeah.

Robbie:
We'll talk about that.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah. These guys actually are very similar to us and super aligned in terms of, I think just moral code and how we actually operate, particularly Tami and I. Tami and I held similar roles in the business.

Tanya:
We recruit nationally and internationally, which is super exciting. Then we have offices in Brisbane Gold Coast. Prior to, depending on what time you're watching this, but prior to the recent outbreak in Sydney, I was opening an office in Sydney, which is just being delayed at this point.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
Yeah, lots of fun. I love helping people, it's super challenging though. I think being a female leader, you have to find that balance. I'm sure we'll talk about that a bit more.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Robbie:
Yeah, brilliant. I know you've been a great influence into Tamara's life, talking about leadership. Even the fact that she's got her own PA now, she's scared about doing that.

Tamara:
Well, Tanya was actually instrumental in, first of all, hiring Noah. Noah is our marketing manager, an absolute gun. We love Noah.

Tanya:
We love Noah.

Tamara:
She also helped me hire Amy, our executive assistant, and also Sophie, our marketing coordinator, now supporting Noah and Daniel, in our marketing division.

Robbie:
It's a no brainer really. As we went around the roundabout a few times going through that recruitment process. I'm sorry for anyone who's listening to the podcast that didn't get the job, recruiting is fucking painful because everyone is like, "Here's my resume. Here's all the stuff I'm really good at. Here's how good I am during an interview," and then fast forward a couple of months, it turns out that we just need to vote them off the island or they get themselves voted off the island, and then we're back to square one again. I guess from your perspective, you've really taken all that off of their hands, which has been great.

Tamara:
Well Tanya, you've actually really had a great insight into how we operate as a business, but also the underlying values, I guess, the family dynamics of, not only just Robbie and I, but we really embrace the whole Axon family dynamic. I think you really understood that, and you were really embracing ... You actually took on a lot of our recruitment because you understood what we were looking for more than anyone.

Tanya:
Yeah.

Robbie:
I've got a good reason as to why that's the case, it's that your dad was in the military. I think it's the reason why you and I immediately got on so well, because you knew where I was coming from, from a cultural perspective. Tell us about that.

Tanya:
Yeah. My mom is Spanish-Philo and Dad is English. He was in the Navy actually when he was 16, so he pretty much left England, went and did that traveled around the world, and had lots of fun doing that too. He joined the RAAF. I was born in Mackay. A Queensland supporter, so don't try and sway me any other way.

Robbie:
So a country girl at heart.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah.

Tamara:
Bleeds maroon.

Tanya:
Yeah, 100%. I was born in Mackay and left really, I think, very young. Then we went to Lake Katherine in the Northern territory. Dad was in the RAAF. My earliest memories are, and anyone that's been to Tindal base and Katherine 20 years ago, the only place that was fun to go with the base, because there was a pool, there was cinema.I still remember they had this bucket of lollies that was a dollar. We were the RAAF brats, running around, everyone celebrated Halloween.

Tanya:
We moved to Raymond Terrace, and came here to Queensland. It was just getting a little bit difficult to move when you're in school. Dad still makes his bed every morning. He eats in 20 minutes because you had to be, you know what I mean?

Tamara:
So does Robbie.

Tanya:
That's the whole thing, but there's structure in that, and you have appreciation for habits. We look at things now and as a leader, we're relearning all these habits and things like that. But if you look at the foundation and who you're drawn to, and the people that you guys have met that are close to me in my tribe, they're really similar. They're a Robbie or a Tami. They're a Tan or a Pete, because you attract what you're around to.

Tamara:
Was your dad really strict?

Tanya:
Impatient, I think, but I wouldn't say strict. Probably back then, I would've. I don't know. When you're of our generation, it's, "Do it because I'm telling you."

Robbie:
Now you're a mom, too.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah. But now, I'm really strict, but it's more around, "Do it. I'm telling you to do it. It's important and these are the reasons why." I think without that discipline or the strictness, you become complacent, right? People, in the military or whatever it is, you feel comfort by control of your own environment and you feel success. When you wake up in the morning, make your bed, because you're starting the day off right already. If you didn't win all day, you still won and you come home to a made bed. You would know.

Robbie:
I do, yep.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
I loved it. Oh, I had the most inappropriate dress up parties, RAAF parties. You're a part a brotherhood or a sisterhood.

Robbie:
Yeah. That defense family.

Tanya:
It's great.

Robbie:
I know that you love when you got to learn our business model a bit more, that we are specifically helping the whole defense community, current serving members, veterans, and their families use the property asset class to secure their financial future. I'm putting words in your mouth, but from what you told me, it really resonated with you.

Tanya:
But it's a genuine thing because there's genuine care and there's genuine guidance. I spent a lot of my time talking to companies about why they started the business at whatever level, what was the purpose behind that? Because that's how I vet my clients. If it was to make money, money's what as is a result of what we do, not why we do it and it shouldn't be.

Tamara:
Yes.

Tanya:
Because you were in a position at some point where you probably needed similar help and you maybe didn't get it or you half got it, so then you've created the solution.

Tamara:
Yeah, "How can I do it better to help others?"

Tanya:
Yeah. Alliance.

Tamara:
Yeah, absolutely. We touched on in the intro there that you do work with your beautiful husband, Pete.

Tanya:
He is actually beautiful, yeah.

Tamara:
Yeah, I guess I wanted to chat to you and Robbie, you might want to block your ears or take your headphones off for this one, but let's talk about the challenges of working with your partner. I have spoken before, I guess, especially in the beginning, we used to clash heads like nothing else. Robbie actually sacked me from the business. We explored that on our third episode of the podcast, so if you have missed that, go back.

Tanya:
Go back.

Tamara:
There's a plug.

Robbie:
There was tears that day, there was tears in the car. There was tantrums in the car, driving to the podcast studio about the recollection of what actually happened back then, such was the emotion. It was heavy.

Tamara:
We were clashing because we were both so passionate about the end result, we just wanted the best. We were stepping on each other's toes by not realizing each other's strengths and keeping in each other's lanes. Robbie kept sticking his nose into the marketing stuff, and I'm like, "Does he not believe in my ability to do this? Why is he stepping on my toes with this?"

Tamara:
I guess I wanted to explore with you, how were your early days working with Pete and what sort of solutions did you find worked well? You guys work really well now, right?

Tanya:
You still have arguments. You take the pain of having a business together because you love it. I was actually going to say, the reason why you argue is because you are passionate and you're both strong personalities. Pete and I are both salespeople, and we're stubborn and that's why we have all survived this long. That's why we chase success. You have to have that. My background, you have to be passionate about what you do.

Tanya:
I think it's all about, and not to go into relationship counseling, it's all about the foundations. When we first got together, it was very Bonnie and Clyde against the world kind of thing. But then we had unfortunate things happen. We had Pete's mom passed in the first year, which was really difficult, and I know he wouldn't mind me talking about it, but that brought on a lot of strain. Our second year, we had first baby and I went back to work really quickly because you're in a business, right. Don't gasp out there, people. It's perfectly okay. My children are loved and very well looked after.

Tamara:
They are.

Robbie:
Now, just quickly, as a business owner, you can't go to your boss and go, "Can I go on maternity leave," because there is no fucking maternity leave.

Tanya:
Exactly, exactly. When we did start the business, the foundation was that we were there for each other and we had this parallel of issues that we had to deal with. Right? It should never really be toward each other anyway. Everyone's like, "Oh, you guys work together, it's so great." It's still difficult.

Tanya:
The thing is, I actually think if you are in business with your partner, it's even better because you have to solve the problem that morning, hopefully the argument, because you can't walk into your business and see your team and then still be fighting with him. That's a control. Of course, some days I'll be like, "Piss off," in a message or whatever it might be.

Tamara:
You've had some of those, Robbie.

Robbie:
Oh yeah. There is a library of messages, of which I do not ever respond to any of them because I know she's just venting. I'm like, "Whoa."

Tanya:
Yeah.

Robbie:
You don't ball back to the baller. Run.

Tanya:
I think too, if we take it right back, the husband's role is to look after us to make sure that we're okay. When it's meddling, which Pete does, oh my God, he does every day, his communication method, because you guys communicate similarly, is, "I just want to see that you're all good. I'm here to help." And you're like, "I've got it. I'm trying to be an independent woman and I want to prove something to you, my partner, who we grew with, that I can do it and I've got it."

Tanya:
That's really hard because you have two people that have come from different cultures or upbringings to be the same person. You can't be like that. Even twins are not the same. It's interesting.

Tamara:
That's such a great point, what you're saying because that's really resonating with me because you're so right. That was what I was trying to prove to myself that I can do this probably moreso to myself as well as to Robbie, but also he was coming from, "I just want to help you. I'm just trying to help. I'm just trying to help."

Tanya:
At any point in any day, and Robbie and I have chatted before and stuff just generally, he's super honest, we have to be, it's always pro-Tami. This is not because we're on camera, genuinely, and Pete would be the same. Even a day that I annoyed him, if someone rang him and said, "Hey, what do you think of Tan," he would revert back to that protection mode.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
That's where it gets confusing in business because you're trying to protect, but you're trying to run a business. When we hit the door, no more talk about family, it's impossible because you wouldn't have this family style business, same as ours, if you didn't feel that way and that connection.

Tamara:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robbie:
One of the little steps we've actually implemented was yeah, certainly, there'd be a bonny that might've even been spilling over from the night before. We'd still be at each other's throats, metaphorically, when we walk out the door and knocking at each other in the car on the way to work and sure as shit, still in the lift on the way up-

Tamara:
And then the doors open.

Robbie:
... As soon as we walk in that door, "Hi guys, how are you doing," and you're back to square one again.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Robbie:
But now she drives her own car to work, I either ride my push bike or drive my car to work and we don't have that issue anymore because we don't come to work. We're already setting that boundary preemptively that we don't just need to walk in the door and just shake it off and put on an act in front of everyone. We've actually given ourselves half an hour of space before we walk in the door.

Tanya:
Look, if you worked in a different business, you could actually do that. Just calm down. You're going to see him in a half an hour and everything he does that day is going to annoy you.

Robbie:
It's really funny. I've had so many people ask us, "What's it like running a business with your other half?" I'm like, "It's frustrating, it's hard, it's exhilarating. It's so fulfilling. Even as hard as it is, now that it's the only way that we've been doing it, I couldn't imagine it any other way." I love coming to work and working on problems and arguing. We have our little same page meeting in there, and I'm pointing next door to my office there, to the other office. We go in there and there are fucking robust conversations, "What about this? What about this? You haven't done this," and you'd be like, boom-boom-boom-boom, but we all walk out of there and it's done in a respectful and adult manner.

Robbie:
I love that there is so much passionate in those conversations because we all fucking care. If we're all trying to continuously improve the business and strive for that will to win and almost bring those military values back into the business again, which have made us all so successful, that's ultimately going to be the difference about whether we can be buoyant and not just survive COVID but we're all better for it. Tell us about how your business is going.

Tamara:
Well, I was going to say, I think when you mentioned that we're stubborn, stubborn for achieving success, is one of the big things that I think has gotten our businesses through COVID because it was like, "We are not going to fail."

Tanya:
No.

Tamara:
"We are not going to let our teams down, we're not going to let our clients down." We dug our bloody heels in. "This is not happening. We are going to strive forward. We're going to put our confidence in what we do and who we do it for and in our team and we're going to move forward."

Tanya:
It's hard. I think when we talk about, and I will answer your question, Robbie, but it's hard when we talk about trying to hide that from the team, obviously don't throw a flower vase at him at work, but sometimes I think just a bit of human approach or them seeing that can probably help. I think in the last 12 months as leader, I've really had to open up and not pretend that everything is okay, but everything is not bad as well. It's just being really honest with each other.

Tanya:
Even just general things, like when you get home, don't talk about work. It's so hard and you will, but try and maintain that rule or something. You guys are so similar to Pete and I, we socialize outside of work together, and I think more recently, a birthday. I was dragging you out because we're still Tan and Tami, we still need to be ourselves. We want to come back and tell our partners stories because they weren't there.

Robbie:
Oh, I had to go pick her up, more to the point. Yeah, we won't talk about that. That was a cracker. Yeah, you're right. Separation is good.

Tanya:
Yeah. I think when you have your partner that you work with, they have your back. During COVID, when COVID happened last year, there were so many recruiters that lost their role. We're in the business of finding people work. Right? But then Pete and I also started off the back of a GFC and we had all those horrible things that happened in the beginning with less knowledge.

Tamara:
Yes.

Tanya:
I was like, "Let's go, let's just do it," and I have one path which is probably bad, but the only way is that way and I will make changes and things like that, but the only path is to get out and achieve success. It's really a stubborn mindset. [crosstalk 00:17:29].

Tamara:
It's the North Star.

Tanya:
Yeah, exactly.

Robbie:
Success leaves trails there, right? You've trodden that path many, many times and it's been successful, so go do that again. If every circumstance has got its variables that you're going to be able to navigate your way around, but you've got confidence in the fact that you can go get it done and just follow your own systems and processes.

Tanya:
Yeah. Well, you're both in sales, but more specifically sales. You need a pipeline. When you were talking to people last year, a lot of the people last year, I'm talking to now are starting to become my clients. All I did was pick up the phone and talk to business owners. I didn't do anything different because I genuinely wanted to know what they were going through. They remember, and it's a genuine thing. They remember that we were chatting last year.

Tanya:
I think surviving through that, I think everyone had to acknowledge that collectively, because I have clients overseas, as in the world, everyone was going through the same thing, which is not amazing in like, "Oh my God, that's so cool," it's awesome in that everyone was going through the same thing at the same time, absolutely insane.

Tamara:
Mass levels of support, mass levels of government support. If you were going through that on your own as an isolated business, you wouldn't have that kind of support.

Tanya:
No. When I was talking to people in the US or people in Singapore, everyone was going through it. When you have a problem, it's, "What is the solution," or, "What can we do to get over it or through it or under it, as long as we do that?" Right? That's the conversations or the thoughts that we had last year.

Tanya:
Unfortunately, some people left. I didn't let anyone go, but some people did leave and that's just natural. That's just natural for things to happen like that. But without them leaving, we didn't get really great people that we do have now.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
We have that. I'm an optimist, if you guys can't pick it up. I always look at the half glass full mentality. I go everything is a blessing or it's something to be grateful for. If you have that mindset, you'll see everything as an opportunity.

Tamara:
We had to let a couple of people go, was it the year before last?

Robbie:
No, due to business growth, they just weren't the right fit.

Tamara:
They weren't the right fit. It was really hard. It's never a nice thing to do, but you can also see that if it's not a fit and if they're not values aligned, and if they aren't loving their job, then set them free so they can go and be who they're meant to be and live their purpose. Now, absolutely the same thing. I just look at who we have in our team now, and the space we made for those people. Now, we have absolute guns and that's because the room was cleared from the people that weren't a fit.

Tanya:
Look, the reality is the people you have in your team now, they might not be there forever or something might happen where they change their mind or what they want to do. I say to people, "Go out and do what will make you happy, but also don't stand in the way of people who are asking me to work for me or people that want to work for you guys when there are people there that won't love it as much." Don't stand in the way of someone else's career growth as well. People, once they realize that they could be happier doing something else, it's a relief. It is difficult to let people go, but you also have to look after the team too.

Tamara:
I wanted to switch gears a little bit. Being the mama of your two gorgeous boys, I want to know how you bloody do it all.

Tanya:
I don't.

Tamara:
You seem to always be on the go, always have a million things on, but you just seem to handle it with a whole lot of grace. I'd love to know how you manage that. I struggle to keep my husband and two dogs alive, joking. Yeah, just a family life, mom life, as a business owner, as a career driven woman, getting the balance, is it even called a balance? I guess it's never really balanced.

Tanya:
You try and find it. You don't ever achieve it, even as a leader. You try every day. Depending on how you look at it, you can fail every day. I think one really basic is getting up earlier, and being prepared. Two, if you do have extra help in family, or if you need to get nanny or babysitter to help you, and I know it's an unpopular thing, but not a lot of women talk about getting that extra help. They whisper it only was people that they can trust. Right?

Tanya:
You have to go, "Okay, these are the things that are important. This is what I need to do." Everything is important. Family comes first, always. Right? But the things that I do outside of that also impact my family. You've got to have that drive, but you also need to know when it's family time.

Tanya:
In the morning, unless I'm in Sydney or something else, I'm there every night for story time. I'm there when they wake up in the morning, but during the day they're at daycare or they're at school, like Manny's at prep now. Also, Peter's really great. My mom's like, "You've trained him so well." He is. He is one of those people that can do the mom role as well as me or the dad role. He changes every nappy. If the boys are unwell, he's the first to go, not me.

Tanya:
There is that respect that you have, and you need that in a partner to have that kind of success. Success is about a team, whether it's at work or with family. I think there is this perception that I get everything done. It is just getting up early. I have lots of coffee, late nights and stuff, but it's the motivation, and just loving it and having that support around me.

Tamara:
I love that he takes on that role because I think that's where a lot of women do struggle. The men's role in life, even in their jobs and things like that, often comes before a woman's job. That can be where a bit of the inequality is. I love that. I think that's really forward thinking.

Tanya:
If we're trying to be these strong women, when we should also ask. This is purely my opinion guys, but do we put ourselves in the situation where we go, "Oh, maybe we shouldn't ask because it isn't my role to," genuinely. I've probably noticed that in myself, Pete's like, "Just ask me." I'm like, "I don't want to bother him," and then people do that with me, "I don't want to bother you, Tan." I hate when they do that and he hates when I do that.

Tanya:
Are we being true to ourselves and going, "Simply if I asked you for help, 'Hey, Robbie, do you mind helping me,'" I know he'd be like, "Yeah." But we're trying to do everything and be this wonder woman and it's unsustainable long term.

Tamara:
Yeah. I love that.

Robbie:
What about some leadership, give us a couple of leadership tips. How many people have you got on your team?

Tanya:
I think it's about 17 at the moment.

Robbie:
Okay, so similar to us. What's the mixture of guys and girls on the team?

Tanya:
It's pretty evenly spread now.

Robbie:
Yeah, the same as us.

Tanya:
Yeah.

Robbie:
Okay, no worries. I was going to say any military people, but there isn't, you guys are all civilians there. Are there any unique backgrounds and cultures in your business then that you, as a leader, need to be aware of and make adjustments to?

Tanya:
We have a lot of English people, more recently.

Robbie:
People from England.

Tanya:
Yeah. I laugh because the recruitment joke is there are lots of English people in Sydney. They're really good because they want to be here in this beautiful country that some people take advantage of. Recruitment is on that list to get into Australia. They're really good at it. Right? We have probably a blend, it's starting to even out in terms of ages, but yeah, just very much that mix.

Tanya:
It's interesting because we talk a lot about assumptions. I think when you're, first a leader, you assume that people know what they're doing, or you've given them the PD and they'll just go do it. As a leader, you always need to check. You can't be self-serving, you serve others as a leader, which is really difficult.

Tanya:
The blend is interesting. Then you have different personalities that, not clash, but they debate. Then you have to think too about, it's exhausting. You have to think, "Why are they acting that way? Did they have something that happened at home?" Guys, your bosses are exhausted.

Tamara:
We're tired.

Tanya:
It's really rewarding too. If you get everyone on the team collectively for one goal, it's ideal. But as you scale, it's hard because you're running and going, "Okay, I'm going to look after this new person, but is this person okay? Are you all right?" You assume that they're going to tell you, but they're not because they're like, "You're busy."

Tanya:
I think leadership is really about trying to be there for people, but also checking in on yourself, you know what I mean? I think being kind to yourself too, again, that whole female thing. We feel bad letting people go. Robbie's like, "Hey, we just had to do that because they were doing a shit job," and that's it but we instantly go nurturing, we feel bad. Sometimes we have to stand up, we probably deserve more.

Tamara:
It's funny you say that because when I think of this, it reminds me of how last year, I was thinking to myself that I was looking after everyone else, but I was actually not looking after everyone because I was putting myself last. I was trying to get my calendar to work, and this was before I had the amazing Amy looking after me, and trying to fit everything in. I was coming to work with Robbie every day.

Tamara:
The reason behind that was I had got everyone else, all of my team leaders and everyone, I had gotten them all car spots, but I didn't get myself one. Looking back, this sounds so freaking ridiculous, but I was like, "Oh, I don't need one. It's fine. We don't have enough. That's okay, I'll go without."

Tamara:
I wasn't managing my calendar for that. Then I was trying to do it all. It's not until you start putting yourself first a little bit and really looking after yourself that you can start looking after others. What it did for me was once I was able to get in control of my calendar, I was mapping out all the jobs that I was doing and that's when I was like, "Oh wow, I need a marketing manager." It wasn't until I had that clarity and I was able to see that this is where all my time is going, into marketing.

Tamara:
I spoke to you. I'm like, "Wow, I think I need somebody," and you're like, "Yes, you need someone that this is their full-time job." You did the same to me with Amy. You sat there with me and you wrote down that list. Do you remember? Yeah. You sat there and you wrote this list. You're like, "Who's doing this, who's doing this? Who's buying birthday cakes? Who's organizing birthday cards," just the most, not menial.

Robbie:
Getting coffee beans?

Tamara:
Getting the coffee beans for the coffee machine, organizing the water cooler coffee. I was doing it all.

Robbie:
I'm pointing at her. She was doing it all.

Tamara:
It wasn't until you started writing all this down and you sent it to me as this list, and you're like, "Tamara, you need an admin assistant. I don't know what that looks like, but we need to map this out because you should not be as a general manager and a co-founder of this business. I'm sorry, but this is not the best use of your time." I was like, "Oh shit, she's right."

Tanya:
I do the same. One of my awesome marketing guys here, he's probably, "Tan still does that. She's telling people to stop doing it and I know she's doing it." I'm going to get a lecture in the car on the way back.

Robbie:
Shit, he knows that you know what good coffee to buy.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We want to take this ownership, because we go, "If we set a good example, then everyone else will follow," but all they see is us running around like insane people and going, "I don't want to be like that," or, "Will she have time for me, because she is getting the coffee beans?" Do you know what I mean?

Tamara:
I'm mostly like, "Oh well, everyone else is busy, so it'll just take me two seconds to do it," and then another two seconds to do this and another two seconds to do that. Then suddenly you're doing all this extra stuff. Plus I was doing the finance, I was doing the marketing, as I said, all the admin, plus trying to just run the business, recruiting. Yeah, it was a mess.

Robbie:
You've been a great mentor for Tam, along that way, Tanya, and you've really, really helped her explore her own capabilities there. Now, she couldn't imagine it any other way either. No doubt. Who was your mentor back in the day? Who taught you to be a great female leader? Who gave you a couple of kicks up the bum in the name of trying to inspire and educate you that you don't have to do it all yourself either?

Tamara:
Were you good in school?

Tanya:
No.

Tamara:
Oh.

Tanya:
I'm a sales person. I'm terrible at [inaudible 00:31:46]. I will say, "Ditto," Tami has been quite integral in my life, and I'll go into the reasons why, too. When we look at female mentors, we work in a man's world essentially because men worked before women, traditionally, in business. I'm trying to say this properly.

Robbie:
There's no PC on this show. Tell us what you want.

Tamara:
I felt the same before when I was trying to say, about balancing the motherhood stuff. I'm like, "Oh, this is coming out wrong."

Tanya:
Oh, no.

Robbie:
Don't worry about it. People who have been listening to Axons Unleashed long enough, they know there's no PC here. This is a no bullshit show.

Tanya:
Well, we operate in a man's world. When we look to male leaders, and this is the whole balancing out equality and everything else, you only have male leaders. I respect that in the family home. My mom is, sorry dad, but my mom is the boss. She runs the house, but dad is the overall family boss.

Tanya:
Really, she was a really great mentor in that. She came from the Philippines, a third world country. She worked regardless, and despite everything, and worked through having kids and took a role so she could be there at home for us when we got home from school. That was important to her. She's also really kind as well and she's very devoted to family. She always wants the best thing from her family and for her family. I think in a female mentor, she's probably the one the only one that stands out and that's really how to act a certain way in life. Her and I are very similar.

Tanya:
I get mentored by people in my team, even though maybe they would feel that, because I'm not always present, that they don't feel that way. I learn from them. When I say like, "Tami's been a really good mentor in my life and quite integral," I learnt from her experience, things about myself. Growing up, we moved a lot in the RAAF, and it was mainly my brother and I, so I always just had guy friends. Even now, you guys know most of my friends, my best mates, are guys.

Tanya:
When I met Tami through one of our other friends, I got to see a really strong female that was so similar to me. That actually started this chain reaction of being more, probably dropping ignorance around my perception of women and business, and being really honest and seeing women that are like me. Now we have other friends that are really similar from your network and I'm starting to have more women in my life.

Tanya:
I think people around me mentor me, every day you're learning and it's so great. I think to pull it back is that men have probably shaped a lot, like my brother, he's a psychologist, he's older than me, and he's just my very best friend in life, but then even Pete, people that push you is probably what mentors me.

Tanya:
Leaders aren't male or female, they're just leaders. It's about who you are. I think there's also a need for women to probably support each other as well, because men, all my guy friends are like, "That's awesome. It's so great doing what you're doing."

Tamara:
They're great cheerleaders.

Tanya:
They are.

Tamara:
Men are great cheerleaders. Women need to do that more.

Tanya:
Exactly. I've spoken before, moms supporting moms and stuff. We need that. I couldn't say that I've never felt supported by my guy friends, but I have met women who don't know me that don't support going back to work and stuff. It's insane. I think we just probably need to be a bit mindful, but in terms of just mentors, it's everyone, everyone that I meet, everyone that I ask questions from my new staff members to, I don't know, the ladies that look after my baby at daycare.

Robbie:
Have you got some really good emerging leaders in your business? Do you love mentoring them as well?

Tanya:
Yeah.

Robbie:
Yeah?

Tanya:
I think we look at culture leaders. As we're growing and changing, we've been around for eight years and had staff for about four or five years, I think a leader traditionally used to be someone that grows a business, pushes a sales, blah, blah, blah. But I really look for people that actually care about the other person. They wait for them to, not necessarily drag them along, maybe, but wait for them to get to where they are or really support them.

Tamara:
And values.

Tanya:
Yeah.

Tamara:
Values are aligned.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah. We have emerging leaders, we have cultural leaders in the business, but since COVID, a lot of people left. It's not a fresh team, but it's probably 40% to 50% fresh. That's really good too. I don't want everyone to match our culture. I want everyone to bring some of themselves to create our in-sync culture.

Tamara:
I'd also love to talk to you about the female energy that comes from female leaders. Maybe it's isolated to our business because we do have a lot of military in it, but I do find that as a female leader, and I know Jane is another female leader, Noah is another female leader in our business, just the softness. I guess it's a balance because these women, they use their softness and they use this as their strength as well.

Tamara:
You don't have to use that masculine energy to be a leader. You can really utilize your female soft energy, your empathy, your care factor, your ability to dig a little bit deeper into what your staff and what their underlying drivers, what their values are, what their family is doing, all the rest of their life. I feel like as a female leader, that's something that I'm really strong at.

Tanya:
Yeah. Yep.

Tamara:
Would you say that's a female thing or would you say that more in my business because we're surrounded by ...?

Tanya:
One of our team leaders is female. Actually, she's a team leader on the Gold Coast. She's female. It can be counterproductive because I'm nurturing, but then what happens is I try and do everything for everyone and then I end up doing their work or they're calling me 20 times in a day because I just am trying to help them and they can't think without me helping them. It can be a bit counterproductive in that sense.

Tanya:
I think females offer a really nice blend, but sometimes we can be a bit too soft and that's where we need to bring, not even a different energy, but that's where it's good having Robbie or Pete in that, even if they're not saying it for us, but going, "Hey, come on. You deserve better than this," or whatever it may be, to bring that blend and that balance.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
I think female leaders, they're really tough and they're resilient and they have a point to prove, I think, in a really great way, and they do it with love and care genuinely. So many women I've met since you, I've been amazed. But I think probably because I bring that mothering suffocation, I think, sometimes it can be a bit like that too, but I certainly think, going back to leaders, it's good for, I guess, male leaders to understand how to build that EQ, or that emotional, the empathy, but it's also good for female leaders to have that backbone as well without being too direct.

Tamara:
I'll bring a backbone.

Robbie:
She looked sideways at me, and I'm like, "I've got to bus. I'm out of here."

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah. Stamping the foot under the table. But I think too, it's hard though, because we're so self-critical. The thing is too, it's about how people have been brought up. Anyone that's had a female boss in the last 20 years, they're like, "Oh, she's a bitch." But if Pete said it, it's just Pete. But if I say it I'm being a bitch, you know what I mean? There are those perceptions, right? When, if I literally had a different face and appendages, it would be taken a different way.

Tanya:
That's on other people, too. I was reading this thing the other day, "Someone said I was intimidating, but that's not my fault if they felt that way." That's probably a bit too direct. We need to be empathetic, but you can't be so empathetic to the point where you are putting yourself down.

Tamara:
Or you're a pushover.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah. That's the whole thing that you see strong women who are boss bitches, and you can't be that either.

Tamara:
I hate that actually.

Tanya:
Same, or mom boss; don't. I'm just Tan, trying to do my best. Y

Robbie:
Would you agree? When we see other leaders that were really attracted to, the thing we generally love about them, is that they're just themselves.

Tanya:
Yeah.

Robbie:
They're genuine. They're comfortable in their own skin. They're very competent on what they're doing from a job technical perspective. They love what they do and they care about others around them. When you bring all those three things together, I don't think, whether it's boss bitch, whether you're a hard boss or whether you're being a bitch or whatever it's going to be, at the end of the day, from my perspective, and I'm not giving you any advice here, but if I was a female in business, for instance, I guess, I don't know any other way, I'll just keep being myself. If you stick to truth, if you're genuine and you've got high levels of care and if you're more empathetic or more vulnerable or whatever else, that's just you. People will love you for you.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah. I think, when we're talking about, or thinking about, insecurities as a leadership, we actually have to step over our own first and then actually go, "What's really happening?"

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
It's really difficult. When you have all these movements as well, it doesn't help us when we're trying to grow a career and be this, and then you have one extreme to the other, like Instagram, where you're selling body lotion and they're making millions of dollars a year and then I'm just going to do this. Then you have the other part where it's women who are professors and they're really clever. There's no balance.

Tamara:
You're forcing the balance.

Tanya:
Yeah. You're forcing the balance and it's crazy and it's hard. I read this book, and it's really cool, it's by Sheryl Sandberg. She's the COO of Facebook, so Mark Zuckerberg's right. I avoided the book for so long because it's called Lean In and I was like, "Ugh, here we go." Actually when I read it, she was like, "We have over-corrected so much that men don't want to sit in a room one-on-one with a female junior because of what might happen if it's just those two in a room."

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
Of course, they're going to mentor males because it's the safer thing. We have done ourselves a disservice to go, "Well, we're not going to have access to those options now because of this severe overcorrection." It's a really interesting insight. She's all for the whole thing, leaning in at the table, asking for the opportunity. We sit back and expect it, whereas Robbie and Pete, they'll ask.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
But we're like, "Oh, I feel bad. What will they think? How will I feel?" It actually doesn't do us any favors being that way.

Robbie:
I've never actually thought about that before, being in a room with a female junior and it's just you two and then the conversation doesn't go very well. There are accusations that come from one or the other and it's guilty until proven innocent. Prove your innocence as opposed to the other way around.

Tanya:
When you think of everything right now, the whole men doing things at work, we would just accept it because that's what we've heard.

Tamara:
Political correctness sometimes is just a little bit too far.

Tanya:
Yeah.

Tamara:
Let's spin it back a little bit to recruitment because I would love some of your tips that you can pass on. Well, I was going to say to the ADF community, if they're leaving defense, what they could put in their resumes, how to get their foot first, best foot forward kind of thing, but I guess it's to anyone.

Robbie:
Yeah, because certainly one of the pillars of this podcast is veteran entrepreneurship. A lot of people want to get out of the military and go, "I'm fucking done with being told what to do by some other peanut. I'm now going to go and start my own business."

Tanya:
Yeah.

Robbie:
But just because they're a good chippy or a mechanic or a bloody whatever, it isn't necessarily that they know how to run a business properly from the ground up, including recruitment. As Tami explained in a couple of the opening salvos, it takes time, it takes money, it takes effort, it takes heartache. It's not easy.

Tanya:
Yeah.

Robbie:
I have mentioned Black Wolf Consulting to so many of my other more business friends and I'm like, "Bro, mate, chick, whatever, if you're struggling to find someone decent, reach out to this chick. Let her solve the problem for you because she's booked three great people into our business."

Tamara:
There's that politically correctness going. Robbie's there going, "Chick."

Tanya:
This is a thing, between a group of people where we all respect each other, we still have to tread. It's nuts. So I guess there's two questions there. One, I love when I see people from Army or RAAF, because I know that there's that commitment, right? It's just that commitment to the role and it's going to be succinct and I love that.

Tanya:
I try and do this a lot in my work, and I actually recently read an article about recruitment and how your hiring part needs to be around transferable skills. A lot of people say, "I hire for culture," which is great, but do you or are you just saying that? What does that mean?

Tanya:
When we look at transferable skills, there's an education piece, I need to do with clients and go, "Hey," unless it's a technical role that you need your RPQ to build a building or whatever it may be, "Can you transfer skills from what you're currently doing in your resume to our business?" You guys, it's amazing. You guys get people from the industry and you put them into roles and give them an opportunity to bring their skillset. Purely because you know where they're coming from, they're just going to absolutely kill it. That's amazing. I would see that with my new clients.

Tamara:
All of our team, especially the veterans, it's all on the job training. It's all base level and we're starting from scratch with them. It's a pretty full-on training module that we put them through to get them to where they need to be. There's a lot of processes, a lot of step-by-step training. That means that we don't need someone that has a huge amount of previous experience. We need someone with right mindset, with the right discipline, with the right culture, with the right attitude, they're connecting with our values. Those kinds of things are way more important to us.

Tanya:
Unfortunately though, you do get people in a business that they interview a certain way or they interview with me, and people can be a certain way for three to six months and you don't know. Everyone's had that experience. But I think it really starts with the hiring process to go, "Why do you actually want to be here? What drives you?" When you get people that are looking to transfer out of the Army, think about a time when you worked in a role that you really enjoyed, it could be anything, it could be anything, it could be MCAS when you first started, what did you enjoy about it? I loved those processes. I love that, as part of a team, I loved that there was free food. I liked that there was a process for everything and I felt success and there were certain points.

Tanya:
Then we take that information and we transfer it to a role that they can really feel comfortable with, a role in state government or federal government. I do feel like there does need to be a bit more support for the guys that are coming out as well from defense and from the RAAF and stuff, because there isn't. I have to educate clients on why they would be good. That's part of my role. I have to give candidates, I guess, the empowerment and the confidence to go, "Well, you can do it." We create the internal narrative around, "Hey, you can do that," but also the narrative to go. "Hey, Robbie, this person is looking to come to your business. They've actually said they really want to work for you, and this is why I think it's a good fit."

Tanya:
Even some of the people I have placed in here haven't come from defense, but they have that family. When you meet them, you're like, "I knew it. I know Tan, what you're talking about." I think when you're looking to transfer your skills, it's probably good to talk to a recruiter. Certainly, of course, you can reach out to me and any of my guys, but it's also on the client too, to clearly define what they want and why. What do they see success in this role of being? What will they give the candidate and what will the candidate give?

Tanya:
There's this imbalance now where candidates are like, "Well, it's candidate rich market. I can just get any role I want." It's not. I'm telling you guys, it's not. My clients will wait a year for the right person.

Tamara:
Wow.

Tanya:
It's not like that. There's a lot of candidates around, but there's not many that are willing to work really hard. When you want a high performing team, you have to be high-performing and you have to also expect that. I think it was the last two ladies I've gotten, or girls, in my business, see I'm doing it, junior, both from hospo and I came from hospo so I know the structure, and I know it's also horrible depending on where you work. Amazing, some of our best performers and they're babies, they're 20, 21, one in Brisbane, one in the Gold Coast. I look at that.

Tamara:
I guess from your perspective, you're looking at them from a hospitality experience and you know, "Okay, they're going to have really good customer service. They're going to have good presentation skills. They're going to follow a process."

Tanya:
Be compliant.

Tamara:
That kind of thing that you can pull from their previous job.

Tanya:
They still have that. We have people sitting in offices and go, "I want a quiet space or a ping pong table." There are guys that they're out scaffolding or people that are working on their feet all day. My dad was a chef in the RAAF, all day, 14 hours. These guys are sitting in air-con and I'm like, "Hey guys, get on the phone." You know what I mean?

Tamara:
Yeah, yeah.

Tanya:
They know the perspective too, these girls could still be doing hospo and getting abused by customers, or they're here just trying to do their best work.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Tanya:
It's just perspective is a massive thing.

Tamara:
That's a definitely a time in the world now, and I was just talking about this with my team this morning actually, about even though there's a lot going on here in Australia, there's absolute atrocities going on around the world. It's so important to be grateful and appreciate what we've got. Natalie, in our office, she just finished reading, The Happiest Man on Earth, by Eddie Jaku. He's Jewish, and he survives the concentration camps. Yeah, it's a bloody sad story. This man, when you think he can't get any worse, just something else happens. But the best thing that she took from it was, "I am so grateful right now. I am so grateful to live here. I'm so grateful, even when we are in lockdowns and things like that, there's so much to be grateful for." I think sometimes it is about perspective.

Tanya:
Well, we're in lockdown with electricity and water in an environment where it's really clean.

Robbie:
Internet.

Tanya:
Oh, internet, everything.

Tamara:
Netflix.

Tanya:
Yeah, my mom can't understand fad diets because in the Philippines, you're lucky if you get food that day.

Robbie:
Let alone choosing which diet you want to be on.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah.

Tamara:
Starving yourself.

Tanya:
But how obnoxious, genuinely, even in Thailand, if anyone's been overseas, it's just not the way that they should live, but we take advantage of what we have.

Robbie:
Hey, let's wrap it up. I want to just give you an opportunity just to plug Black Wolf Consulting. It's got two perspectives, right? If you're a business owner out there right now and you're struggling to find the right next person to come into your business, or if you're a veteran this recently transitioned or if you're a defense member who's looking to get out, and if you're in the Southeast Queensland region here, where can people find you? How do they get in touch with you?

Tanya:
Yeah. Tanya.Abbey, I'm on Instagram and LinkedIn and then BlackWolfGroup.com.au

Robbie:
Abbey is A-B-B-E-Y?

Tanya:
E-Y, Tanya with a Y.

Robbie:
Yep. Then say again, Black Wolf Consulting?

Tanya:
No, BlackWolfGroup.com.au.

Robbie:
.com.au. Okay, amazing. Yeah.

Tanya:
Thanks, guys.

Robbie:
When we talk about skin in the game, ladies and gentlemen like Tami and I have now just explained, we've got three awesome people that we did not know before, and we struggled to find and wasted time and dollars and effort and emotion bind there, Tanya came along, waved her little magic wand, as far as recruiting goes, and hey, presto, we've got some awesome people working in our business.

Tanya:
Yeah, yeah.

Robbie:
Don't sell yourself short, if you're a veteran that you want to get out and try and find a job, reach out to a recruiter because as Tanya just explained, so much of your transferable skills can go straight into you being able to land on your feet, and you've actually got a job and a lot of that stress is then taken away.

Tanya:
And people are looking for people that will commit, that don't have a side hustle, that are loyal. I'm telling you, give me one of those any day of the week, honestly.

Robbie:
All right. If Tami sacks me one day, at least I can come to you and I'll go work with someone else.

Tanya:
Maybe you could go to Pete.

Tamara:
She's going to replace you for me.

Tanya:
See, perspective.

Robbie:
There we go. Thank you, Tanya from Black Wolf Consulting.

Tanya:
Thank you.

Robbie:
Thanks for coming on.

Tamara:
Thanks, guys. Bye.

Robbie:
See ya.

Tanya:
Bye.

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