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Kylee Stone: Using the Power of Personal Stories to Create Meaningful Connections

Kylee Stone is a descendant of the Wakka Wakka and Kulluli First Nations with 25 years in the business of storytelling. She has an intrinsic talent in the power of personal stories to create meaningful connections. Certified in the neuroscience of resilience, Kylee’s mission is to disrupt the status quo on the traditional view of leadership and enable people with the courage to take action in direct accordance with their vision, values, passion and purpose.

Listen to our complete interview here.


[00:00:49] On what she’s most passionate about

[00:03:46] On her heritage — her great-grandmother, mother and mother’s experiences and being a descendant of the Wakka Wakka, and Kalali First Nations

[00:10:00] On her mother’s strength

[00:15:43] On how her ancestor’s experience shapes her life

[00:15:43] On her career in media in Australia

[00:33:26] On leadership transformation

[00:38:48] On the Unchartered Leaders Podcast




Passionistas: Hi, and welcome to the Passionistas Project Podcast, where we talk with women who are following their passions to inspire you to do the same. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and today we're talking with Kylee Stone, a descendant of the Wakka Wakka, and Kalali First Nations with 25 years in the business of storytelling and an intrinsic talent in the power of personal stories to create meaningful connections certified in the neuroscience of results.

Kylee's mission is to disrupt the status quo on the traditional view of leadership and enable people with the courage to take action and direct accordance with their visions, values, passion, and purpose. So please welcome to the show Kylee Stone.

Kylee: Thank you. So good to be here with the two of you.

Passionistas: We're so happy to have you here. What are you most passionate about?

Kylee: I am passionate about the relationship between design and storytelling — so the design of storytelling and its ability to influence the way that we lead specifically, and more importantly, women’s ability to do that. And when I say that, because I do believe that as an indigenous person and I'll, and I'll reference that… our cultural background is fundamentally historic.

And what we know about storytelling is very different from a cultural perspective to what we know in the world today. But when we do look at that, fundamentally, the whole purpose of that really is, if you imagine sitting around a fireplace, for example, which, you know, from an indigenous cultural point of view is more around fire, where you would have people.

You know, there was no language for it as what we've created today, but certainly it was all about people connecting. It was just about the connection of people. And so when we look at that lens and we put that over the world today, you know, if we even dissect, I suppose, the entertainment industry — movies, you know, I love drama, right? I love a good story. But great drama is based on a great story. And when we look about our relationship to the story, I think there's always a real connection where, you know, if you go to a great film and you cry, there's definitely a great story in that. You know, there's an immediate connection with us as a human being. So for me, I like to be able to take that, in terms of its architecture, and apply it to.

Each of us has an individual understanding how that works for us at the level of human being, and then how that influences our strength, our character, our courage, and fundamentally the way we communicate so that we have the experience of being able to pursue what it is that is important.

And for me, what that means is being able for a woman to express and experience her own self-expression. In terms of leadership for me, that's very different from what I've been raised in. I say this whole thing about a new paradigm of leadership because in my generation, I was raised pretty much in a model where you've got companies that are designed basically out of the industrial revolution, right, where it's very much a command and control method. But I think for me, I'm not saying it's not about change, so I'm very clear, it's not about change now. I'm not here to change. I'm here to create something new. And when we create something new, we're not changing the old we're actually just at work on crafting a new future.

And that for me is really designed around women leading the way on that because I do think women are natural nurturers. They're natural storytellers. And I think that's where we can get a real transformation.

Passionistas: Let's take let's step back. Tell us about your heritage and particularly your grandmother and mother.

Kylee: Well, I'll start with my grandmother. So. My grandmother was, uh, born and raised at a controlled country. So I'm a descendant of the, a couple of nations. One is the Wakka Wakka nations, which is where my grandmother was born and her mother. So my great grandmother was a tree, was originally from a place called Kalali, which is when we talk about our nations.

It's really the air in the region as an Aboriginal person. And. Um, some, a descendant of what what's called the stolen generation, which was a group of indigenous people who, children who were removed from their family because they were considered half. So the Wakka Wakka area was, was where a lot of the indigenous.

So when the British came, they moved all the indigenous people out of their, their, their communities. And they put them into, I'm not sure what the technical term that you would call it, but they'd put them into areas. And one of those areas was called Wakka Wakka. So Wakka Wakka was not an original nations.

It was. Multiple nations. And so my grandmother was removed from Kalali and taken to Wakka Wakka when she was discovered to be pregnant. And she was pregnant to the men who she was on a farm with. So she was already moved originally to a place where she was at which at two years old. So at two years old, she was taken from her family, put into a, essentially with the local school teacher and his family.

So, you know, whilst on the one hand, you know, we look from the view called, oh my goodness. She was, she was removed from her family, how awful she wasn't put into an environment where she was not taken care of from the other way. When we look, you know, she was with a school teacher and his wife and their family.

So she was there till she was 20. In her late twenties and then fell pregnant. And we have paperwork that actually says she wrote a letter basically to the police department, letting them know that she had fallen pregnant to the, to the gentlemen who was the, the owner of the property. But of course he denied.

So that was when she was moved. So then she was moved to Wakka Wakka and, you know, within, I think six months later, she had gave birth to my grandmother in the Wakka Wakka region. And then all the women who were single and had children, there were homes for them on this property. So there was a home where there was the kids, there was a home where there was the mothers.

Children. And then there was the rest of the community. And so she might, my grandmother was born and then in this particular part of the village. And so when she was three that the government had come in with buses, from what school here, the salvation army and the buses came in to take all the children who were half cast.

So if they looked like they were white, they were taken and removed. To a salvation army residence where they were believed to be being raised for a bit of a better education and a better future that will given that we're given education, basically. So again, you know, uh, my grandmother was three taken from her mother.

So you know that there is trauma and there's, uh, you know, horrifying kind of, you never want your daughter to be taken from your mother, you know, and nor do to your right. And at the same time, you know, if we look from the other view, you know, she's, she was given education education and she was given these other opportunities.

So that was, that was my grandmothers, my grandmother, and right. My grandmother's story. So my grandmother had married a British man and they had children. There was some dysfunction in that relationship, you know, as for whether I can speak the truth to that. I really, I can't, I can't because sadly my grandmother's no longer here, but my, it was my grandma.

It was a situation where my grandmother felt like she needed to leave. So she left and left my grandfather with all the. So there was my mother, my mother's dead. My mother was five twin sisters. She had twin sisters who were two years old. They had a brother and an older brother, so there was four of them.

So he moved them into a home salvation army home, bizarrely enough. So at five years old mum was taken from a family and put into there with her sisters. And she, she lived there till she was 15, basically. So for 10 years, from five to 15, She stayed there on this property and then came out and one year later, after coming out, she fell pregnant with, with me.

And so technically, uh, when I, when I started to, uh, understand the story, I discovered, you know, it was in the seventies. So I discovered that actually I was technically the first woman out of four generations to not have been taken away from or removed from my mother and in some respects. So yeah, it's.

Uh, I think in the wa you know, it made me question actually, because I think when I looked back at the timing of that, you know, the seventies where the, the, the, the civil rights movement, there was a big push around women's liberation. And, you know, my mother was only 16 at the time. And at that time, she was told that if she gave birth to.

She would not be welcome home because any woman who had a child out of wedlock, they would take the children from them. Now they didn't go to take the children from her, but they said to her, if you have this child, you're not coming home, you know, it's like disown the family, which is very common, you know, it wasn't, it's like, you know, we look at that now.

Oh my God, that's just atrocious. But it was very common back then for a lot of women. In fact, it was only until 2012 that the government here actually did a national apology to all the women who gave. To children in the seventies and had their children's take taken away from them. So there was a generation of children who are now my age, who were raised without their biological parents, because they were out of wedlock.

So it's kind of serendipitous too, in terms of my mother, she just clearly decided to be some kind of rebel and decided, no, that's not, that's not how it's going to go.

Passionistas: She must have been incredibly strong to make that decision in the midst of that.

Kylee: I think to myself, imagine being 16 years old in a hospital by yourself, isolated, having your family say, we don't want to part of it.

And now you're stuck here. They did. I was in a waiting room for four weeks. They'd actually filled out all the adoption papers and she'd had four weeks to make the decision. And it was, she said it was the last day. She said it got to the last day. And she said, I just could not, I couldn't do it. I just could not bring myself to think about what it would look like if I had to try and find you.

Passionistas: So how, how did those experiences impact your childhood and did they impact your life to this day?

Absolutely as a kid, I would say no way. You know, I, I, I, my nickname as a kid was Smiley Kylee. I was a joyful kid. You know, my mother was 16, so she had lots of great friends around her and her friend's parents actually.

So she had a lot of support that way. So I none, the wiser, you know, you don't know what you don't know, you don't know. So as. I don't know, except definitely subconsciously The, there was a, like, one of the things that I'm now dealing with is the, you know, the there's the whole theory around attachment theory.

And you know, one of the things that, you know, because I was not raised in a very stable, traditional household, I was moved around a lot. So I'm not very attached to people. And that has been really difficult. You know, I've, I've lost my grandfather just recently. And it was really challenging because it was the first time I'd had, you know, I've only ever really lost grandparents.

I've not had the experience. Well, we've had close friends, very young to pass. It's just a very different experience. Cause it's a tragedy, but people relatively close to. You know, I, I, I had this experience called God. I felt like a real cold beach, you know, because I just, I wasn't emotional, you know, I wasn't this really torn upset person.

And I really, it challenged me because I thought, oh my God, what is wrong with you? You know, that was my immediate, what is wrong with you? I spoke to some friends of mine. One of whom is just got a background psychology, and she's just an extraordinary human in terms of what she knows. And she said, you know, she explained the whole thing about grief and this attachment theory.

And I went, God, that explains everything. You know, the, the way I was raised, the knot I learned to not be attached, I was the kid that you could stick in the middle of the room and she'd be happy with anybody, you know? And so if I look at it from that perspective, it was like, well, of course. She, she expects people.

I gotta leave, you know, and it wasn't a problem for me as a kid. In fact, it's one of my greatest skills, even as an adult, you know, I've mobilized, you know, I'm my, my whole strength. In fact, it's very aligned even to my cultural background. I'm all about community. I'm all about others. I'm all about, you know, being of service to everybody else.

And you know, I, you can stick me in the middle of anywhere and I'll blend with anybody. And I think I've always fought for that. I've always fought for, for diversity and equality and injustice and, you know, enhance why it's no accident. I'm fighting against some hierarchical view of leadership. Like what the heck are you serious?

Like, just because you've got a title and you're sitting on some top pain, half a million bucks a year for your salary doesn't mean I need to treat you any different to the person who's cleaning the goddamn bathroom, you know, and I respect that you've got experience and talent. I listen and respect that because that's fundamental to who we are in our culture is all respect.

You don't need a title, have respect. You just have respect period. So that, that definitely shaped, had a massive impact in who I've become in life and how I've surrounded myself with creating communities and building communities. And, and what I'm doing in the area of women is, you know, even five years ago, I started a women's group called team women, Australia, and it was all about story to.

And I called a team for the purpose of team. I D I didn't want this hierarchical view. Of course, it's taken me seven years to mobilize the damn thing, because I was stuck in the existing paradigm myself and say how we were trying to build it was inside that paradigm. And all it was it's like, why is this not working?

It was like, oh my God, why didn't you just stop doing it? I know, finally, here we are, you know, post pandemic and it's mobilizing, you know, we took the lid off and off the boundary itself and just went, you know, actually the whole purpose is team and collaboration and community and create, you know, it's not about having some organizational structure and I just want to, if I can implement it there in terms of how I see what's possible in the world, then I'll, I'll I'll know I've kind of achieved what I'm here to, which.

Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and you're listening to the Passionistas Project podcast and our interview with Kylee Stone. To discover the power of storytelling to ignite your passion, grow your influence and amplify the impact you have in business leadership and life, visit

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Now here's more of our interview with Kylee.

You also had the straightforward traditional career, and that certainly has impacted where you are today and you're thinking about structure, so tell us about that career.

Kylee: I've had such a great career. I feel so blessed, you know, I really do. And I feel blessed because I was in a time when media, in my opinion, feet here in Australia was really thriving.

So I got to work with some really just extraordinary, extraordinary people. And in fact, whenever I reflect on any of the jobs I've had, I like there's been people that have stuck with me my entire life since then, you know? So it was actually an accident that I landed in media. I did not want to leave home when it came to university.

And at the time I was living on the gold coast, which there was, there was no university on the gold coast, which meant for me, if I was going to go do a university, I would have had to travel away from. Of course I did not have enough. My prefrontal cortex wasn't developed enough to have enough emotional intelligence to know what was going on, so I didn't go beyond it.

Right. So I didn't go straight to university, but what it meant was I ended up going to, uh, you know, uh, did a full-time intensive college. On the gold coast in business and marketing and advertising. And, and I excelled, I mean, I'm, I'm very smart. And I, I taught, you know, I think I did three first-class honors, uh, in business management, sales management, and marketing itself.

And then over the college, they had different areas of industry worked within the unit within the college. And I had came through his class on, was over the entire college. So I so. And it was on the graduation evening that, you know, typical graduation, you have sponsors tables, et cetera. And as I was coming off the stage with the awards, the guy who was the marketing director at the time at the media company, pulled me over and gave him his business card and said, listen, I've got a job for you.

Just give me a call on Monday. And I was like, you beauty, you know, graduated college. The last thing you want to do is try and find a job. So that was, that was literally how much my study. I rocked up on his doorstep. No kidding. On the Monday morning, without an appointment, not knowing, I mean, I had no idea how, what was protocol and best way to do that.

And anyway, he was in meetings. So I sat there for half the time until he was ready to say me. And that was the beginning of my career. You know, he actually did not have a job to be honest. He was like, I just want this person in here and made a job for me. So of course, the first six months of my job, my career was born.

Boring on one aspect from a technical point of view, because I was in this marketing and promotions team and I had to pay stuff. In those days, newspapers, you had to paste up the content inside the paper. So that was part of my job, needless to say it was also fun because we had the very first Indy grand Prix here on the gold coast.

And we were, you know, we were the major sponsors. So, you know, we got to go to these big fabulous events and stuff like that. But I was invited by the head of the research, uh, team to come in and say easy. Do you know anything about computers? I had done a bit of. A bit of what do you call it? Uh, just data stuff in college.

Like nothing really learning how to talk. I was like, yeah, sure. I know how to use computers. He so great. He said, but because at the time his department with the exception of editorial that had one was the only department that had a computer. So he sees a great, can you come in and do you want to help me just do some data crunching?

And he asked me, yeah, sure. Next night, I'm home that night with the manuals, you know, the old Microsoft Excel, Microsoft, I would manually. Teaching myself how to use a camera, as I say, he's a computer, but I went back and, uh, anyway, I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the data we had. Basically our job was to interpret the data, to help the sales teams, you know, sell and commercialize the business and help the editorial teams understand the readers of the paper and blah, blah, blah.

And that's what I did for the next 20 years. I, I just, I loved it. I, I loved the connection between the data and being able to convert that into. You know, sales presentations for the sales teams and when they would sell, they would sadly they'd get all the bonus. And I didn't, but I was paid pittance at that stage as a 19 year old, but, but that's, I just loved it.

I loved what I did and I just kept doing that. I did that for four years and he was a real supporter of mine and just, he was like, you got to get to Sydney, you know, get, get, take the next level. And I went for a job. I didn't get it initially because I didn't have a degree and I'd only just started doing a part time.

And, but three months later they rang me back. Oh, the person with the degree didn't work out. Can you take the job still? Yeah. So that got me the big. Um, I moved down to Sydney at the time and, uh, worked for, uh, you know, our, our major metropolitan papers here, the Australian and the Telegraph. And this is the main ones and that's kind of what set me off.

I just, then I, I, it, and it really was a methodical journey from there. It really was. I worked hard. I loved what I did. I got a promotion and then I got a pay rise. And then, you know, there was a bit of dysfunction in that team. I went and looked at our trade press and went, oh, I want to go work in the Marie Claire, you know, they're going to launch Marie Claire, I'd love to do that.

And I got the job and that's how it unfolded. It really was like, no kidding. It's like the traditional, here's a letter. Here's the steps you take to get to the top. Here's what you need to do that. And you work hard. You do a good job next year, you'll get a 2.5% pay increase or whatever the CPI rate is at the time.

And if you do that well, then you'll move up and then you'll move up and then you'll move up. And so I did that until 2006. Uh, and, uh, and in that time I've got to do some extraordinary work, launching some incredible brands and was then the marketing and strategy director for News Corp, which I know being global.

Everyone knows that. So it's easy to say that, but, uh, I did that for six years and I just loved it. You know, I really, really loved my job. I had a T I, you know, worked on the expansion of this team and. Transformed the way that we worked at just hi, my commitment to delivering great products was at the heart of everything.

And having people really enjoy what they do. I just really loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. And then of course, three kids had got to really suck on my God, how do I do this? So it was, that was, that was really the first turning point of like, oh my gosh, how do I get to, how do I get to still make a difference and be a leader?

Do what I really love now that I've got three kids in my kids. You know, this was when I, when I'd had the third one. So the first. I navigated, like I went back to work after three, you know, three months. Cause my child, God bless him would sleep 12 hours a night. So I'd be up during the day and I'm like, oh my God, I can't handle this.

Child's just to alert. I need to go back to. So I'm sleeping 12 hours and night. I feel really quite, except you're just running around crazy. I can't cope with this. I went back to work. So I went back to work two times, you know, with the first child and the second child went back to work. Full-time on both occasions and on both occasions, just, I think this is a story I think is really important for women to hear, because not all the stories about.

You know, I know we hear a lot of bad stories about women who return to work and they get treated badly and they, you know, like that. And sometimes I think we do do ourselves a disservice by not being able to hear stories that actually go really well because when we hear stories that go really well, we've got an access into what could I have done differently to, to do that.

And on both occasions, I got the biggest pay rise I've ever had in my career. And I got the biggest promotion I've ever head whilst I was on maternity leave. So it was an extraordinary time for me. And it wasn't until the day I had my third child and I went back to work that I, that it all fell apart. I was like, okay, three kids in three years, Colleen, who the hell, even kidding, like really, you can't keep doing this.

You're going to burn out. You're going to kill your family. You know, something's got to shift and that's when everything started to change. Really. So what happened. Uh, huh, I call it the, I call it the dirty dancing story. So I'm w I'm walking. Literally my third child is 10 months old Harrison, so it was 2010.

And, uh, I'm walking back into the office, thinking to myself, I am so desperate just to get a hot cup of coffee and be able to go to the toilet and piece, you know, three kids under three. And it was like, oh, I need to, I want to go. I want to go back part time. And I wanted to go back into my job because I just come up the back of three years of working on this major rebranding project and strategy, and is keen to get back into that project with the team.

So I'm walking into the office and literally as I'm walking through the corridor, I think to myself, You are crazy. You can't do this. You can't, you cannot go back know to a full-time job or a big job, or you've got three kids. And so I sat into the, uh, sat down with him and said, look, I want to come back.

And so I immediately decided for myself, I need to ask for part-time, that's the only way to do that. So I said, you know, can I part time he didn't want me in the job? He wanted somebody in that particular role full-time and he said, and I, and so I negotiated to split it. So I had marketing and strategy director and I said, well, what if I take the strategy?

Part of all that work and the guy that's doing my MetLife, you know, he can kick the operational aspect. So he agreed. So I came back and did three days a week just doing strategy and. Showing up. It was really grateful. I'm really grateful to just be able to get away from having three kids and really the stress of that coming into work.

And I was in an office and so right outside. So where are my, so I've been put into an office that was in the executive area and I don't know, you know, Certainly in Australia, you know, traditional corporate stolen environments, usually executive suites are either on a particular floor or certainly NewsCorp all over the world.

It's like this, right? Either it's the Taj Mahal, which is what we would call it that sits at the top. Or there's a floor, a dedicated floor. That's all for the executive suites and it's luxurious. Right? So I'm in the. Area. So when I was marketing director, I was in the marketing area with all the staff. And so now here I am in the executive area, in an office, outside the executive boardroom.

By myself and, you know, I should be grateful because I've got my own office and it's peaceful and it's quiet and blah, blah, blah. I can do my own thing. Yeah. Great. But then all of a sudden there was a day when my old executive team, so we're in the boardroom. They start walking in the boardroom and I'm sitting there on the outside.

There's a glass window on my side, outside the office. And I think to myself, what the heck. What the, this is not, this is not the picture I imagined. So, so, and I had this like all of a sudden for myself. Okay. So I've just climbed 20 years to get to this role now, just because I'm doing three days a week and I was actually in the executive team, but now I'm sitting here no longer part of the conversation or not, not only am I no longer part of the conversation, I don't have any staff anymore.

So I'm alone and. I don't have any accountability. I'm not accountable for a budget line. I'm just on the sideline. And I kid you not. That's like, you know, you know, that scene in dirty dancing where baby Houseman sitting in the corner, waiting for Patrick Swayze to, you know, he walks in the door, my Patrick Swayze didn't walk in the door, sadly.

I thought, no, this is not okay. I am not okay with this. And I just, at that moment decided I needed to do something about it. I I'm not, I just need to do something about it. So I decided to go back to true style, made tomb, to turn things around. Went and sorted out the fact that I had completed my undergrad degree, I decided at that then I had a conversation actually with one of the guys at work.

And I said, look, I said, what what's next for me? And honestly, what immediately Curt is the only thing I could do is I, well, if I'm going to compete here, I need to go get myself an MBA. That was immediately what I thought. But really that's what I thought. I thought, if you're going to compete there to get what you need to get you going to have an MBA.

So I got to the guy who was CFO at the time, I said, right, I'm going to have to. And he said, well, you do realize you don't need to given your experience. You actually don't need to complete your undergrad. You could actually make an application to have it authorized and you could go and do your postgrad.

Guess what I did. I submitted through to the university. I got my undergrad approved and they approved me to go into post-grad studies so that I could start doing an MBA and, or specializing in change management. Right. All the meanwhile still doing three days at work, still juggling the three children.

Oh. And let's just say added a coach in there into the mix as well, because it was just like, ah, I don't know what the heck I'm doing. Right. And so I just, everything. And so that was what I decided to do. I was like, you know what? I got to turn this around. This is I'm not going to get stuck because in marketing, one of the big problems in marketing is everybody in the company always thinks they know better as a marketer.

Somehow that's just one of those. It was a, everybody can do. And I thought I'm not going to get stuck with this future. So when I did make the decision to change, that's when I changed direction and went, okay, what is the future for me? If I looked out there somewhere in the future, and rather than looking at a step change, I was like, what could I imagine for myself?

And I, and that was when I got present to the opportunity of transformation and actually dealing more directly with people as opposed to customer. And that was why I chose to do the change management certification. And then of course I did two subjects of that. Very proud, got two high distinctions in both subjects, but was sitting down there while I was submitting my final paper.

It was a school holiday period when we were on holidays with the kids and on aided to submit this piece of work. And I, as I sat there doing it, the kids were at my fate and I, and I hadn't had another one of those moments. I looked down at them and I thought, is this what you want your life to be about?

Do you want your kids. To grow up thinking that you and you, that you're going to look back not having had these moments because you're too busy attending to what you technically think is getting ahead in your career. Let's just so at that point I quit. I quit the study. I said, this is not the right time.

I spoke to my boss at the time at work and they were doing a lot of transformation work and I made a request. I said, I can do that job. And I know I can do that job. I don't need to get a piece of paper to tell you I can do that job. And quite frankly, I've seen people doing that job who had the paper and they're actually not delivering results.

And so he pointed me the hate of change and strategy planning at the point at that time, that new school and was put on a project. What that adjust again? I just loved, I loved to work with the people and literally that was my last gig at new school, but I did that for a few years. And at the same time was, became so passionate about, you know, other women who were dealing with the same stuff.

And I remember walking in the office one particular day and I've got to the coffee shop, which is clearly the first step for any mother, get to the coffee first. And I'm standing in line with the coffee, having coffee. And there was a lady who was, I'd worked with maybe four or five years previously. She was standing in the queue behind me.

And you tapped me on the shoulder, says, Hey, don't worry. I say, most of the time when I get to the front of the coffee shop, I'm like, don't talk to me. I just want to not talk to anyone. Just, you know, just nod and say, yes, good. Except the turnaround. I saw who it was. And I just said saving really, but you really want to know and very pissed off.

Oh my God. Well, And I told her, I said, listen, I just really fed up with this whole, I've spent all these years to get where I've gotten. And I said, I just seriously just feel like my, somehow my intelligence just seems to be dissipated. You know, it's not relevant anymore. Or I should just be part time. And because I'm doing part-time, I'm not contributing at the level.

Even though I had this really great trainers role, there was a lot of the aspects of the role that it wasn't getting. And when she said me too, I was like, really. And I'll tell you at that point, I honestly did not see that it was more than just me and I want to aspects, I go, that's very insolent. Right.

But, but I didn't get at that point, the degree to which, because I hadn't, you know, there hadn't really been a huge awareness at that point around the issues of working women in senior leadership positions and the challenge. It was very early days. But when she said that, I said, that's awful. And I said to her, what are you doing?

She said, well, what came up. I was like, really? And that was, as you, you know, as I was saying, I had gone and started taking a number actions. I'd got myself into a UGA gig. And so I said that basically, people, listen, I'm happy to share with you, you know what I've done. And to kind of start to carve out a new future for yourself.

And we went and had lunch at the pub, sat down and started sharing with her about what I was doing. She said some amazing. And I said, oh, you know what I said, well, here's a few things to get you started. I've got to start it. And. Long story short, next minute, I'm running a weekly mentoring. Well, I call it a mentoring, but it was really a weekly chat with a group of women that went for, went up to 55 women who were all technically dealing with similar staff attempting to really carve out a future for themselves as a leader.

And it went outside of new school. So we had women in news Corp, but then women in news Corp had friends who were in other companies and it just kind of went from there. And then. That's what turned into team women, Australia. Like we just like, oh, we did this event. And then that went like that and it just kind of organically just took off.

Passionistas: What is leadership transformation?

Kylee: Leadership transformation is two things. To firstly acknowledge it. So transformation is a new view. So if you think about a butterfly that was a caterpillar, it's still the same animal. It's actually still the same, right? In many aspects, it comes from the same core.

What once was a caterpillar, has a new view, becomes this butterfly. So transformation is a process of seeing a new view that opens up a new world. And so leadership transformation is about acknowledging what we already know about leadership and our own view. So one of the things too, to have a transformation in the area of leadership, you’ve first got to get out of the way. What do I already know? And how do I already relate to leadership that's constraining myself.

So for me, it was really confronting, I have lived inside of this paradigm where leadership is something that you do and you progress to, and you get some academic qualifications along the way. And then when you get those qualifications, you get into a position. And once you've got that position and you're accountable for people, you're released. Right? So I first had to get that my behaviors and how I was showing up was conditional on that, that's design.

And so when I got that, I noticed that actually I have to separate myself from that perspective and to acknowledge that I'm not a leader because of my credentials. I'm not a leader because I have the title. I'm not only a leader if I get into a position where I have accountability of people. I'm not that, not that, not that, not that. Okay. Well, if I'm not that, then where does it exist? Does my leadership in being a leader exist and that's this whole new world.

That’s the leadership transformation. It is the transformed view of who I am and what's possible as a leader in the world. And that's the part where I say, you know, using the storytelling stuff, it's really by design. It's by design. Who you are as a leader is by design. And I've interviewed hundreds of people in various leadership roles, not just in a I'm a CEO or I'm a founder, or I've spoken to people who are in leadership development. And I've spoken to people who've exuberated leadership as an athlete. And I can tell you, you ask them what their definition of a leader is and not one single person says the same thing. So, leadership transformation is about the individual acknowledgement of what's been constraining the view, and then by design designing what that looks like for you.

And so the design piece then is the same as story, you know, when you craft a story about how that new future is very similar. To brand story. And you know, this kind of brought in all of my background in building brands and media and storytelling was there very simply two things at the beginning level.

That is what is the future I see for myself. What is that vision? We call it a vision. And then what is the purpose for that vision? What is my why for doing that? And when you bring those two things together. Quite simply, if there is a universal view, it’s someone who has a vision for a future and is out to fulfill on it with purpose and connects people with purpose. They're not connected on anything other than the fulfillment of a vision with purpose. And how you do that is up to you. That's by design because what you want in the future you're committed to is going to be very different to the person beside you.

But when we do that individually and we do it collectively, it is very powerful. It mobilizes, it really aligns people on what's really at the heart of who we are, which is our purpose. Each one of us has a purpose. People mistake often that my why is about my why? Well now actually that's, it's your why, but your why speaks about others.

So my purpose is to create meaningful connections. It's about what happens out there in the world. It's not what happens in here. So in that aspect, it's a leader in the sense that you, you are clearly here in the service of others. And yet your view of others is not independent of you. It includes you. So there is no you and me, there's just who I am and who I am is who you are. There's no me and you there's just you and me, me and you.

Passionistas: Tell us a little bit about the Unchartered Leaders Podcast, why you started that and what you hope people take away from it.

Kylee: Starting a podcast was actually one of the, one of the most challenging things I've done actually to do the first one.

I was really nervous, but I, the thing that got me off the ground was a commitment to one thing in particular. And this is right. Goes right to the heart of my concern and my passion for creating a new paradigm of leadership and leadership transformation in particular. And I, and I, and I, because when I look at what happens in an organization, so in the current structure, in a hierarchy, what tends to happen, and I did this myself, you know, when things are not going well in a company, right.

We all blame the boss. We blame the company, you know, it's definitely the people sitting at the top who are not doing this, who are doing that and data day to day. Right. So except when things go really well, we don't say, oh, it's because of the box. Right. We go, oh, that's because of us. It's because of what we did.

We're so fabulous. Oh, give me a pay rise. Oh. But the bosses want to pay themselves more money. We have, but what about us? And it's because of the team and what we did. So what what's really, if we're really Frank, there is no freedom inside of it inside of bank. As someone who actually eats in that seat while that's all going on, that leader has no freedom to thrive and be successful.

That I, that is not okay for me. I'm like, that's not okay, because if we want to be a leader, what are we doing to our leaders? What, who, who are we that we are not embracing a leader's decision? You know? And so for me, the uncharted leader podcast was to, to achieve things. One, I want it to be able to tell the stories of those who are in leadership.

So people could get an insight into actually what it's really like. That they are human beings with a commitment to make a difference. They were you, they were at some point climbing someplace to get somewhere and are now being courageous enough to step into a role where they know everyone else is going to shoot them down.

Fundament. You know, now it happens more at Australia here. I think then what it does potentially in Australia, because in the, at least in the states, you know, you don't have this tall poppy thing where you want to, people are really great about being, being okay to be celebrated. Whereas here it's, it's less.

So I wanted a chance for people to, I want it to deal with that illusion called those people. You know, they've got beautiful stories to be told, so that's the first thing. And then the second thing is in sharing their stories. I wanted people who were aspiring leaders to get that being a leader is a great, is great.

It's a great opportunity. See, in, in, in the world that we live in today, being a leader is a bad idea. Being a leader is a really bad idea because it's, you, you're going to get shot down. And, you know, people are going to have a whole stack of opinions about you. It's exhausting. It's a burnout, it's hard work.

And so I'm like, yeah, Yana. What if being a leader was a really great idea because being a leader has more to do with how you choose to show up yourself and to operate from being accountable, rather than judge someone else. You know, we sit in our lounge rooms, complaining about our political leaders. We all do.

And yet we complain sitting on our couch, never having, ever set in a role as being a prime minister or a president ever. Uh, so we're very good at sitting back and judging others and, and, and, and I'm saying, no, the uncharted leader is someone who's saying, okay, I'm going to step back and take a look over here for me.

What is, what is it for me to express myself as a leader and to embrace that and to chart out a future that is completely uncharted. It is uncharted, no matter where you're at really, it's the way we think all of a sudden, because it's a pandemic it's uncertain. Are you kidding me? The world is, it's never been certain.

I mean, we live in like with some certainly, I'm sorry. You walk out the front door. You've got no clue about what's going to happen. You know, this is an uncharted life. Being a leader is uncharted and let's embrace that because actually everything that we need in order to be the best leader we can possibly be is all over here within us.

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project Podcast in our interview with Kylee Stone. To discover the power of storytelling to a night, your passion grow your influence and amplify the impact you have in business leadership and life visit

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