@msPartner, facebook.com/mspartner, linkedin.com/company/microsoft-partner-network


Welcome back to the MPN Thought Leader Podcast series. In this podcast, we speak with industry leaders about their perspective on doing business in the technology industry. Episodes feature interviews with inspiring speakers David Meerman Scott, Jo Burston, Dux Raymond Sy and Mario Carvajal, Carol Roth, Tim Hurson, Kris Plachy, and Mike Harvath and Reed Warren, covering topics from marketing to management to the future of the Intelligent Cloud.

In today’s episode, we hear from author Jo Burston as she speaks about achieving success as a female entrepreneur while providing advice on how others can do the same. As one of Australia’s best-known female entrepreneurs, Jo and her organization, Rare Birds, are working towards helping 1 million more women become entrepreneurs globally by 2020. Her session on using a personal brand to drive success was a true inspiration at last year’s partner conference, Microsoft Inspire.

In part one of Jo’s podcast, she details how in developing markets, women reinvest 90 cents of every dollar back into their family. In comparison, men reinvest 30 to 40 cents of every dollar earned. By empowering women, we boost global per capita income and GDP growth. As more women are currently starting businesses, there is plenty the technology industry can do to support and capitalize on that momentum. Jo shares her insight into becoming more purpose driven and allowing yourself to be pulled by your ambition rather than letting it push you as an entrepreneur.

In part two, Jo speaks about what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. She suggests that rather than asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, we should ask them who they want to become as they grow older. From that, we can uncover passion and allow that passion to guide kids through their career. 50% of the jobs we have now will not be available in the future. We must ask ourselves how will we use technology to define a new professional path for ourselves and our children.

Listen on iTunes: Part 1 & Part 2

Subscribe on iTunes

This podcast is available for download on iTunes, SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music, and LibSync. For a full transcript of today’s podcast, please read below.

For a full transcript of today’s podcast, please read below or download a copy here.

[VOICEOVER]:  Welcome to the Microsoft Partner Network Thought Leader Podcast Series. Today, we’re talking with Jo Burston, the CEO and Founder of Rare Birds, a company that seeks to give a million women globally the opportunity to become entrepreneurs by 2020. She is also the author of three books, Brilliant BusinessKids, Australia’s 50 Influential Women Entrepreneurs, and #IFSHECANICAN, has advised the Prime Minister of Australia, and serves as a global ambassador for Microsoft. In part 1 of this 2-part episode, Jo looks at the dynamics of developing markets.

INTERVIEWER:  If we could start just by that goal of a million more women entrepreneurs by 2020, what are some of the barriers that are unique to women?

JO:  I think I want to talk about the stats before the barriers because what I love to do is if we start with the barriers then that’s what we’re going to remember.  And what I remember is the information that’s important and then what we’re doing to actually help women to get to those numbers in a really progressive and modern way.

Think not so much about the challenges but think about what are the tools and resources that we actually have to get there.  So I’m going to read a little bit of this first and then you can take what you need from it.  So at a national level governments and agencies know that if we can bring more women into the workforce we’ll boost per capita income and GDP growth.  And they also know it has a massive ripple effect in community as well as corporate.

And an example for emerging markets, women invest and reinvest 90 cents of every dollar of their income earned back into their families.  And that’s into their health, their wellbeing, their education and nutrition.  So by empowering more women to become financially secure and they can reinvest in a really positive way, then this does create a global economic ripple effect.

In comparison, men only invest or reinvest 30 to 40 cents in every dollar, so it’s a huge gap there.  And I think if we were to see some of these ratios in the developed world they’re even higher.  Goldman Saks report, giving credit where credit is due, investing in women and girls is one of the highest return opportunities available in the developing world.

But what I want to talk about really is beyond women in the workforce or beyond women as a B2C opportunity, but women entrepreneurs in particular.  And they are starting businesses at twice the rate of men in the US alone, and at a rate of four times as many women-led entrepreneurs as male led entrepreneurs are being formed currently.

And that’s both in the developing and non-developing world.  So really what I’d like to talk about is where are these women, how do you find them and how do we encourage them to really grow themselves and their businesses.  And so what that comes down to for me is that there is a lot of money to be made taking women entrepreneurs seriously.

And we’re in the business now of capturing that new business opportunity.  And organizations like Microsoft and large scale companies announced to identify this market as something that’s valuable to them.  We know that in the next three years, we think more than 50 percent of businesses will be started by women.

And if that’s the case, there’s now 37 million SMB owners across the US.  And just by moving the needle this tiny little bit, there’s an opportunity there for another thirteen and a half million-led women entrepreneur businesses in the next three years.  These women are really incredibly capable.

They’re sassy and they’re capable and they’re smart.  And they want to grow businesses, they want to scale them, they want to use technology to do that.  They’re either building technology or enabled by it.  But mostly they’re doing it because they want flexibility and they want financial freedom and they don’t want the guy to be the financial plan in the future.

And they’re setting themselves up so that when they do get older, they’re secure and they’re safe, no matter what happens in that journey in their life.  And we see that entrepreneurship, particularly for women, is sometimes a forced issue because it is the only way that they can create that flexibility in their life.

When they’ve got families and children, the nine to five doesn’t always work, or the seven to ten of what companies sometimes require them to do doesn’t always work.  So they do want to be able to work at 2:00 in the morning.  It doesn’t mean that they work any less hard or they don’t have access to as many resources.  It just means they want to choose when it suits them to make their own money.

What we also see at the moment is that 41 percent of enterprises in the US are currently run by women.  And, like I said, we think that over 50 percent will be the next three years.  I think the staggering statistics around that are really an indication of opportunity and not of problem because I don’t think it is a problem; I think it’s an opportunity.

And it’s an opportunity for women as well.  I want to tell you a couple of stories, and one of them is my story.  And it’ll give you a bit of an indication or highlight about how there is such deep wealth and deep reward for taking this market really seriously in the future.  As long as 2005, I was running a company as a CEO and I was at the top of my game.

And I had no previous formal education.  I left high school, I didn’t go to university.  My father is a fireman; my mother was working class bank teller.  She rose through the ranks.  There was no business people in my family whatsoever.  And that was immediate and uncles, aunties, cousins as well.

So I never saw that being in business was an opportunity.  And it wasn’t until in 2005 I met a serial entrepreneur.  And I met with him to pitch the services of the business I was currently working for and running.  And I was late for the meeting ‘cause my plane was late flying from Sydney into Melbourne, and I missed my meeting.

I rang his PA and I said to her I’m really sorry about being late.  I’m here in Melbourne; I’ll meet with him any time of the day or night.  If it was 3:00 in the morning I’ll meet, I’m here.  And I said I’m at your mercy on this one.  So she rang me back about 2:00 that day and she said please come in; he’s got another fifteen minutes.

And I walked into his room into his office and he at the time 2005 it’s pre-GFC.  He was day trading, commodities trading, equities trading and had lots of screens around his office.  He had a really big beautiful wooden desk and he was standing up in front of one of these screens.  And he said to me take a seat anywhere you want.

And I knew he was a serial entrepreneur but that’s all I knew.  And I walked around to his side of the desk and I actually sat in his chair.  And I said to him I’m going to sit here one day anyway so I’m going to start now.  And that was a true story.  And I backed myself; I really backed myself.  I didn’t know why I did it, I didn’t know what I was expecting.

But I knew it was the right person and it was this right energy.  I remember meeting him and thinking that’s who I want to be as I grow, not what I want to become or what I want to do as I get older.  And I think that was a question that was never asked of me when I was younger, and that is who do you want to become as you grow versus what do you want to do when you get older.

And I think one’s a job title and I think the other one is a passion and a cause or a purpose.  So I sat down in the chair and the fifteen minutes turned into three hours.  And six weeks later I had my first investor, my first mentor and my journey started as an entrepreneur.  And that was now eleven years ago.

So he’s still my mentor, he’s still the non-exec chairman of my company.  And now I’m five technology companies down the track.  I’ve sold a couple, I’ve almost have broken a couple and one’s broken me.  But what I learned to do was see the world through new lenses and that was as an entrepreneur, and allow my creativity and my thirst for knowledge and my sense of curiosity to really flourish again.

And I wasn’t set in the confines of a building or a corporate hierarchy that I was before.  And so really over the next five to six years I knew that anything was possible.  And in 2009 my first business, Job Capital, which is still running today, was named the fastest starting company in Australia.

And then by 2012 it was named the most successful business in Australia that was privately owned turning under 100 million.  And by that stage we were getting close to the 50 million turnover and that was only in five years.  So I dedicated all of these immediate resources that I had, even though I really didn’t know much about building a business.

But what I did was I thought what is around me that I had?  What am I already capable of doing?  What are the resources that I have access to?  And if I don’t have access to them, how can I find them?  Who can I ask the right questions to?  What do I need to try, then what do I need to do to see if it works?  And then how do I reflect on the results of what I’ve done?

I use that theory and principle all throughout all the companies that I’ve built.  And I call that the “ask, try, do, reflect” principle.  And it’s really how entrepreneurs learn and it’s learning in action.

So I was standing on a stage in 2012 and I was acknowledged for my contribution to technology mid career.  Previous to that I’d been to China and I self organized a trip of entrepreneurs to go to China.  And that was to do a bit of discovery because Australia is 26 million people.  Only 800,000 female-led companies today which is a very small number globally.

But I wanted to look at technology and I wanted to see what big markets were doing with technology.  So I flew to Shanghai and I crammed in about 34 meetings in five days.  And I wanted to look at all different industries.  I wanted to look at manufacturing and export and the legal system and how they marketed; what they were doing with digital, what they were doing with FMCG.

And then I discovered a company that was using cloud services and cloud data that was provided by a German run company.  And I had this really huge “ah ha” moment.  And I thought this is the next thing.  This is what’s going to happen next and I want to be on the early stage of that.  So I had a good conversation about delivering services to big markets because it’s a big population.

And I wanted to take the learnings that I had from China and bring them to Australia.  And I did that and I started to develop SaaS products and I started to develop SaaS businesses and marketplaces where I could solve problems for a minute amount of the cost that it would take for humans to solve those problems in businesses and really use technology to disrupt current business delivery models; removing pieces of paper in hands and replacing that with technology.

So I built another company called Big Data and it’s crazy to actually call it that back then.  How did I ever get the URLs?  But I was reading about Big Data and I thought this is what I’m doing.  I’m collecting information and I’m doing something meaningful with this data.

And I built this contingent workforce platform which takes an independent or freelance worker or ABN holder all the way from starting a contract, time-sheeting, managing their datas, doing their invoicing in a horizontal platform.  So no one had done that before in Australia, particularly no one that I knew globally had done that in a SaaS way that was a marketplace where the customer was paying cents per transaction, not millions of dollars for an enterprise model.

And so I was standing on this stage in 2012 and accepting some acknowledgement for my contribution to technology.  And by way of context of never learning how to code but I can basic code now.  I didn’t study technology at any institution but I really have a knack for understanding business problems and working out how to solve them with technology now.

And I looked out to the sea of people and what was remarkable was there was really very few women in the room.  And it had happened to me a lot over the years where I was really the only chick at the table.  And at the time my head was down and I was chasing the hungry ghost of ambition.

And I really wasn’t putting my head up to see where the women were.  I suffered sexism at work from time to time.  I would go to board meetings and sit down at the boardroom table.  My middle aged, balding, grey-suited CFO was always acknowledged first in the room, or he was addressed first as well when there was questions asked by the other party.

And that happened quite a few times.  I might have packed with him and said next time that happens you need to turn to that person and say I think Jo, the CEO and founder of the company, might be the best person to answer the question.  So he had my back which was great, and he always had my back.  And then I went to Melbourne and I was acknowledged for another award for my contribution to technology in Australia.

And I was at a table with twelve people and I was the only female entrepreneur at the table.  They were all male entrepreneurs and people that are really respected and I think have done amazing things.  But it just left me really unhappy.  I thought I’ve got to work out what’s going on here.

So I took a film crew to my old high school and my old primary school.  And I thought I’m just going to find out from a grassroots level what these young women and girls think about their ambitions and if they can tell me who they want to become as they grow.  And we had a really lovely conversation.  They were between the ages of eight and seventeen.

And when I asked them about their ambition and I described to them what an entrepreneur was, and I started to ask them really what they thought an entrepreneur was, every single one of them responded that they thought it was a man.


JO:  And that was seventeen kilometers from the center of Sydney in southwest working class school background.

And I was horrified; I was really horrified.  So I went home that evening and I actually cried; I was sad.  I’ve got two nieces, and I thought if this is the script in their heads and this is what they think the future is, then that’s really sad because we’re not enabling opportunity to 50 percent of our population.

So I thought I’m going to change this.  This is my duty to change it.  And that was really another big “ah ha” moment for me.  And what happened was that my ambition changed, and it changed from chasing the hungry ghost, which is very unfulfilling and you always need to give it more and fuel it more, to being purpose driven.

And so my ambition started to pull me and guide me versus push me, which is a really big change in how I perceived the business world.

[VOICEOVER]:  Jo concludes her discussion in part 2 of this episode. Check out the other podcast episodes in this series to learn more from Microsoft Partner Network Thought Leaders. Keep in touch with us via LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube by searching for the Microsoft Partner Network, and be sure to follow us on Twitter with the handle @mspartner. And if you like the podcast, don’t forget to rate and review it.


 [VOICEOVER]:  Welcome back to the Microsoft Partner Network Thought Leader Podcast Series. In part 2 of this 2-part interview, we continue our talk with Jo Burston about the importance of encouraging women to become entrepreneurs, and how society should do that.

JO:  So I went and I sat down with a dear friend of mine who’s an entrepreneur and I said, “Will you help me?” and she said of course I will.  I said well, I would like you to become the chair of my advisory board and I’ll create an advisory board and I’m going to start a business that addresses all of these issues:  Diversity, inclusion, access to technology; the opportunity of entrepreneurship is a career choice.

And I gathered 50 Australian influential women entrepreneurs together, and I wrote our first title which is called “Australia’s 50 Influential Entrepreneurs.”  And I wanted the world to see that there are these role models everywhere and you just need to find them.  And when you find them, you need to elevate them and illuminate them and celebrate them and share the stories of their own journeys and enable them to be these role models.  And I thought a lot about the fact that you can’t be what you can’t see.

And because these young women and girls at the school have not seen entrepreneurs, they didn’t know it existed.  So it wasn’t a right or wrong; that was just a script they had in their heads.  And through the voices of these 50 women I became this conduit of this message, so I could stand between corporate and government and academia and other entrepreneurs and really put a loud speaker around the stories of these women.

And it was really well received.  So the business model was formed and the four pillars of our model include mentor programs, so we match mentorees with entrepreneurs and there’s a platform that does it.  We’ve got technology that’s built that does that.

We give women access to funding and help them understand how to become investable and if they do really need investing in and get them more financial literature around their businesses.  But also getting them to see that capital raise is not always necessary.  Sometimes you just need to understand the business model and the fundamentals of the financial side of it to work out whether you really need to be funded or you just need to be more cautious about it.

So we just need to be more aggressive with sales or you just need to be more mindful that it’s your job as the CEO and founder to look after the financials of the business, not your accountants.  We also provide education, so I’ve just finished building another business which is a SaaS company.  It’s an ed tech company and it teaches in a blended learning environment the mindset of entrepreneurship in curriculum schools.

So we’re going into schools at the end of this year, and that will be targeting twelve to seventeen year old girls and boys to learn entrepreneurship.  We also provide that education outside of schools, and anyone that wants to learn it can also learn it.  It’s a blended learning environment.

The genesis for that was driven by my business partner, Dr. Richard Seymour.  He’s the head of entrepreneurship and innovation at Sydney University.  And he’s been teaching grassroots entrepreneurship right through Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma, and parts of India for the last ten years.  And this year alone 10,000 women will go through his school, which is incredibly impressive.

And when I met him a few years ago he told me what he was working on, and I thought wow, this is someone who really is making a difference and I want to work with someone like that.  So I’ve taken all of his methodology and learning and built that into a technical blended learning environment and gamified it and socialized it.  So it becomes really engaging for kids and adults.

But the main thing is we know from the data from the education business that he’s been running is that there’s a very high percentage of people that go through the course that start a business.  A very, very high percentage of that; in fact, 87 percent that still have a business two years later.

And there’s a really high percentage of women that are then reinvesting that 90 cents in every dollar back into their own families and communities.  So it becomes a perpetual and self-sustainable learning environment.  And we know that people don’t want to be taught; they actually want to learn.

And by learning through passion versus learning through right and wrong or pass and fail or yes and no, and learning through us trying to reflect, we’re seeing the results through his work come to fruition in the southeast Asian countries already.  And then the last pillar for us is community and resources and tools.  So this global community now is just over 30,000 women and their supporters.

And we started this twenty months ago which means we’ve addressed something pretty real and hot and important.  But it’s about how they communicate with each other and how they help each other solve problems and how they are in it together and how they are supporting as a tribe.  And I think what we’ve done very, very successfully and very well is encourage diversity and inclusion.

And in the community at the moment, we’ve got mentors who are guys.  We’ve named 25 of our first 100 ambassadors globally.  50 percent of those are men.  My advisory board is 50 percent male.  All of our events are open to both men and women attending.  And as a result of that, globally 54 percent of our readership is male.

So the message was really clear for me day one, and that was we’re not a women’s organization.  It’s an organization that supports women entrepreneurs and that support comes from all diversities.  So I did get very frightened when I walk into a room or an event where it’s only women ‘cause I do think that we’ve got to have everybody in the room; all cultures, all ages, both genders, all sexual orientation, because everyone matters and because all of the views of everyone matter to me when we’re growing this community.

So we’re twenty months down the line.  I’ve built the business, the Ed Tech company.  And then I met a guy called Steven Fielding who’s one of the heads of US SMB Microsoft marketing and communications.  And he invited me to Microsoft to a VIP dinner in New York last November.  And he put a table together of I think about twenty really influential female entrepreneurs and SMB experts and women of great wisdom.

And he talked to us about what those challenges were.  And at this particular table topic they wanted to talk about capital raising.  And there were some people there that talked about that was really difficult for women.  I think it is.  There’s still a lot of men making decisions in that space.

But I also think that there’s really good money for any good business if the entrepreneur at the front believes and backs herself and has a tribe that will back her equally.  So I met Steve and I shared my vision and story with him.  And we immediately could see that Microsoft would be a great channel and a partner to take what we’re doing all over the world, but particularly into the US.

So we’ve been working on that together for the last six months, and I’m pleased to say it will be rolling out in the US later this year.  And really with a lot of the support of both the male and female executives of the business, which I think is incredibly encouraging.

So going back to I guess why there’s a lot of money to be made taking women entrepreneurs seriously:  We know in the US just alone that out of the 30 odd thousand in the community, fourteen percent of that’s US based and it’s totally organic growth.  We haven’t done any marketing there whatsoever yet.  And that represents around three and a half thousand businesses.  And they’re high caliber, high growth companies.

Some of them are 100 million dollar companies.  Most of them are over two million revenue.  And I think there’s always been this perception that sometimes women led companies are market store businesses or they’re lifestyle companies or they’re just businesses to replace salaries.  But the next generation of women are not seeing things that way.

They’re seeing two things: they’ve either got really stellar careers and the great industry experts and they’ve got incredible professional talent and skill.  They’re going to have a family and they’re deciding they’re not going to go back to the hungry ghost.  And they’re deciding then to start something that fits around their flexibility and their need for flexibility.

And the other thing is the next generation, which I’ll share with you what we do there, this Gen Y is seeing the world differently.  They are technology enabled, they’re technology creators.  They’re seeing the world as a global marketplace.  They know that if they have a mobile phone and a connection to the internet they can do business anywhere in the world and they can talk to anyone in the world.  And they’re not frightened of making mistakes.

So this second title I probably was on the 19th of November last year.  And it’s called “If She Can, I Can.”  And it’s the story of 29 Gen Y women entrepreneurs around next generation.  I’ve written that in the first person so it enables the reader to really go on the journey with them.

Some of them are social enterprises, some of them are not for profit, some of them are highly commercial.  But we take you through the journey of the ideation.  The first website, the first customer, their first mistakes; what they had to try to do to overcome the challenges.

And we’ve made it into a playbook so at the end of every one of the 29 chapters you can listen through her voice what her lessons and what her learnings were to take with you to your business.  And then I’ve laid that in with Dr. Richard Seymour’s notes as an academic and giving me the business perspective of what the real lessons are there as well.

Then at the end of that there’s a space where you can write your own notes and you can start to jot down what you would do or change or think about if you had your own business or in the current business you own.  So it’s a really practical insight into the reality of business.  The smallest companies sort of just starting out, the largest is a 250 million dollar company.

And I chose this spectrum because I wanted people to see that success is self defined and the impact and the measurement of success can be done in all different ways.  And that could be how you affect a community, how you affect the rawness of your investors and stakeholders and their back pockets.  Or it could just be because you need to impact the family in your community that you’re living in.

And it’s often that I use the word influence over wealth because I think influence is a greater commodity, and it’s a currency that I think everyone should be measured on in some format or another.  So that book has been incredibly successful.  And again, I’ve credited this new generation of role models.  And the mission was to get into every school that I could get into.

And we’ve used those women and that book then to be the case studies for the online learning environment as well.  So hearing from real people, reading real stories and they can continue to follow the journeys.  We then went one step further again, and before we realized I do things quick.

But I wanted to then revisit and do this 360 and revisit the school again and really change that script.  So I found twelve kids from all over the world who are now running companies.  And again, some of them are social enterprises and some of them are for profit businesses.  The biggest one is about a half a million dollar company.

They all started their businesses when they were between the ages of eight and seventeen.  And we call them brilliant business kids.  And that title has just published and we’ll formally launch it on the 6th of August this year.  In Australia, along with that learning environment which is called “startup.business”.

So blended real stories with technology that can scale and fueled by purpose and passion to get entrepreneurship as soon as a career choice; not just in Australia but all over the world.  And we know that my great wish is if walked down the street anywhere in the world, even in five years’ time and say to someone who’s small and growing who do you want to become as you grow, I’m not surprised if they answer and say to me, “Jo, I want to change the world, I want to solve a big problem, I want to do that thing as an entrepreneur.”  And that’s when I know my job’s done.

INTERVIEWER:  So for our primarily partner audience, what would be the go do’s that you would tell them?  What are the steps you’d want them to take after having listened to this?

JO:  I think the first thing is to activate what we’re doing and be mindful that it’s your children.  It’s your next generation.  They’re under your roof.  They’re your sister’s children, your brother’s children, your grandchildren.  They’re the children of CEOs.  They’re the children of people who collect garbage.  They’re the next generation that want to see the world through a different lens.

These kids are not seeing race or gender as barriers unless we teach them that they are barriers.  So I think the call to action is that the first thing is when you speak to a little person, don’t ask them what they want to be when they grow up.  Ask them who they want to become as they get older, because by asking who they want to become, you can uncover their passion.

And if you uncover their passion that can be guided into any career that they want to be guided into.  The jobs of today will not be around in the future.  50 percent of the jobs created now and the titles that we have will not be in existence.

And if we can move our minds away from that towards what will be in the future, and what will technology create in the future, then if you look at your own businesses as partners, you’ll be able to see inside them and see where your skill shortages of the future are going to be and start thinking about that today because this next generation again will become what they see.

And so we’ve got to show them what they can be.  I don’t think it’s going through an hour of career choice at school or university.  I think it’s actually opening up your businesses and inviting people that are studying at high school age to come and look at a working business, to come and talk to the CEO, come and talk to the chief marketing officer, come and talk to all levels of the business so that young people can see what you do every day and how you do it and what the challenges are that you’re faced in that position; what you did to get there, what you love about what you do and what you don’t love about what you do and how it makes you feel doing it.

And I think that’s the real experiences that they’re seeking.  Obviously activating through Inspiringrarebirds.com and getting as many young people as we can globally to learn entrepreneurship.  And I don’t think it matters whether they’re going to work in a technology company in the future, whether they become a nurse or a doctor or pilot.  I think the skill and the mindset of that is just so valuable because it’s the creation of thinking around problem solving, logic, and creativity.

And it’s a way to enable creativity to flourish versus getting into those four walls and being hammered into place and being suppressed in creativity and that allows big problems to be solved.  From a women’s entrepreneur perspective, for a partner it is revisit your client list and see how many female entrepreneurs you’re servicing and what you’re delivering to them.

And ask, if you’re not, why aren’t you, and start to engage with that tribe because they are making all the financial decisions in their businesses.  They are writing the checks, so to speak.  They are determining what delivery partners they work with.  They’re determining every single major decision that has a bottom line effect in their companies.

And if all of your clients, or the majority of your clients, are male-led companies or male-led decision makers, you’re doing yourself out of a lot of business.  That’s the bottom line there from a financial perspective.  But also you should practice diversity inclusion in your client base as well.

It should be that your services can be accessible to anyone, regardless of gender.  And I think you’re responsible for getting amongst that tribe and understanding how they think and seeing how they operate.  And that means going to things where women entrepreneurs are prevalent and going to Rare Birds events and being a part of it because if you’ve got a great service and a great business that enables them to grow themselves or their business to make more money or to increase margin or lower cost, then you’re going to make a lot of money doing it as well.

INTERVIEWER:  Absolutely.

JO:  So that’s my calls to action.  Probably the last thing is we’re always looking for amazing ambassadors all over the world.  We’ve only just announced that program, and I’m looking for people that are particularly Microsoft partners as well, either male or female led organizations who are entrepreneurial by nature, who believe in the vision of a million more women entrepreneurs by 2020 and the mission to give every woman globally the opportunity to be an entrepreneur by choice and who’s willing to walk the talk with us because I see a lot of companies who talk the talk really well where these things tend to be an add-on or a tack-on when I think it should be part of my instream business.

And so we’re looking for ambassadors that can share this message with us globally.  I think finally it’s a change of the script.  It’s starting to look at women as very capable financial makers, change makers, decision makers.  And when they do sit at the table with you, just don’t assume they’re the note-taker, and ask them for their story and get them to share your story.

And I think by understanding what’s under the bonnet, so to speak, you’ll find some remarkable women doing remarkable things.  And I think from a service perspective or delivery perspective, in the past — and I’ll give you this really short anecdotal story.  But when I thought about doing some capital raising very early on, six, seven years ago, I used to get emails from people all over the world, particularly from the US and the UK wanting to meet with me.  And the emails would start dear Mr. Burston.

And that was because my name is gender neutral, but the assumption was that I was a man.  And so there was an unconscious bias going on just in starting an email.  And I guess my call to action is get to know the person.  If you really want to do business with them, the relationship starts with a one-to-one connection.  It starts with a human connection.

If you become someone that I value or trust or respect then it’s not just my business you get.  You get the business of perhaps 30,000 other women around the world once I start to promote what you do.  So we’re getting a lot of approach now from Microsoft partners and other partners around the world who want to do business with this group and this demographic.

And I strongly encourage you to pursue that because women that have great experiences with suppliers tell other women.  And women that have bad experiences with suppliers tell other women.  But there’s a lot of opportunity there and I don’t think it’s been really fully tapped into.  So I guess working with Microsoft we want to try to bring our fourth child to life in the US and share 50 influential women entrepreneur stories from the US; bring the education to the US and roll that out as well as the mentoring program.

But really build the community to make it very inclusive and to make it open to government, academia, large corporate and entrepreneurs to be a part of.

INTERVIEWER:  Great. That’s a fantastic mission.

JO:  Thanks.

INTERVIEWER:  Really inspiring story.

JO:  I love what I do.

INTERVIEWER:  I can tell.  It’s really meaningful.  So thank you so much for joining us and doing the podcast with us; I really appreciate it.

JO:  It’s my great pleasure.  And just remember, “If she can, I can.”

INTERVIEWER:  Excellent, thank you.

[VOICEOVER]:  Check out the other podcast episodes in this series to learn more from Microsoft Partner Network thought leaders. Keep in touch with us via LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube by searching for the Microsoft Partner Network, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @mspartner. And if you like the podcast, don’t forget to rate and review it.

Share your thoughts on this latest episode in our Thought Leader Podcast series in the comments below.