Inspired by… Zara D’Cotta

Zara D'Cotta, Author & Keynote Speaker

1. Tell us what this quote means to you and how it inspires you on a daily basis
Different quotes resonate with me at different times, but this is one I often find myself going back to when I lose perspective. We can become so consumed by situations at work, in our businesses and personal lives, that in the grand scheme of life, don’t really matter. Sometimes I have to give myself a bit of a nudge and remember to grateful that I am here, and re-focus my energy on the bigger picture. Gratitude has been an incredibly powerful tool for helping me overcome the challenges that have come my way.

2. Miss Collective is all about helping women Level Up. Who's helped you Level Up in your
I was incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful manager when I first started out in my communications career (as an intern at CUB), Felicity Watson. We worked together for five years and she played a pivotal role not only in guiding me and supporting me through my early career progression, but also became a great friend. Fifteen years on, she continues be a great mentor and I am eternally grateful, she is a pretty amazing person to have in your corner. She’s been so generous with her time as I’ve built my own business and brand. She’s been my cheer squad, a shoulder to cry on, and so much more. She’ll even take the time to read my keynotes and give me very honest feedback. She’s a very good listener and knows how to ask the right questions, which have helped me make some pretty big decisions in both my business and personal life, always from the angle of not just what’s best for my business, but for me personally. It can be hard to balance what’s right for your business / career with what is right for you, which is something that I’ve found really challenging, as I’ve been through significant health challenges throughout my entrepreneurial journey and it can be really hard to separate the two. I think having someone that can look at your situation through a professional and personal lens is really invaluable.

3. How do you keep the balance between work, life and play?
I think balance is something we are continually striving for and I don’t think there’s a perfect formula. Different things work for me at different times, so it is a constantly evolving process, but something that is non-negotiable for me is creating space between the beginning and end of my work day for exercise or down time – so a walk, swim, or meditation in the morning before I start working, always a break at lunch time, even if it’s only for 20 mins, and I don’t work late – the computer is generally always shut down by 8pm. My health is my number 1 priority, I am no good to my business without it, and when I work late if affects my sleep, and everything else becomes unstuck. I try to make sure I’ve got at least 1 day of the week for relaxation and play.

4. We know you’re in the midst of writing a new book at the moment! Can you tell us a little about it and what drove you to write it?
I sure am. I’m writing a book about healthy homes. Not many people understand the link between the health of their homes and their own health, and I’m on a mission to change that. It’s come about as a result of my own health challenges. After going through breast cancer at age 29 and being diagnosed with a melanoma at age 31, I learned first-hand the vital role our home has to play in supporting our health and wellbeing. The impact of my cancer treatments and surgeries took an immense toll on my body and made me extremely sensitive to a number of things in our home environments, that I subsequently learned can trigger a whole range of health issues, both in the short and long-term. I’m really passionate about sharing my experience, and the things I wish I’d known when I was younger, that could have prevented the illnesses I have been through. I think the biggest challenge of our time is how can we live peacefully in the modern world while making our health a priority. There are lots of simple changes we can make in our daily lives
that can make a huge difference. I’ll be sharing these in the book, and will be launching a podcast this year too.
5. What's playing on your Spotify playlist at the moment? Anything you write to playing in the background?
I like to have a distraction free zone when I’m writing – which means wi-fi off and phone on aeroplane mode, which sadly means no Spotify! I do like to have music going though, and I try to mix it up to get my creative juices flowing – at the moment it’s Pavarotti, I haven’t listened to him in years, and he brings back fond memories of time spent with my Grandmother when I was a young girl.
6. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
That it’s never too late to change direction in pursuit of your dreams. I was working in a global role in the oil and gas industry when I was diagnosed with cancer – it was what I had always thought would be my dream role, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I thought at 29 it was too late to change career. Looking back, I can’t help but feel annoyed at myself that it took a cancer diagnosis for me to commit to finding a fulfilling career. It has certainly been a more difficult path – the challenges are never ending, I’ve stumbled and fallen many times, but I wouldn’t change it for a thing. The energy and sense of fulfilment I get from what I do now is second to nothing. And I know that no challenge I face in my business can be as hard as dealing with the prospect of not being here. It is my firm belief that you are never too old to change direction. I met a very inspiring women who went back to school in her forties to do her HSC, so she could go to medical school and graduated to become a doctor in her fifties. Pretty amazing, hey?
7. Our three go to pieces of Tech at the moment are Canva, UMUN and Slack. What
piece of tech are you loving that helps you work smarter not harder.
Audio recordings on my phone – the best ideas come to me when I’m walking. When I’ve got a speech that’s often how I’ll do it, go for a walk and record all my thoughts into my phone, then type it up later.