Being Brave, Showing up for you and your business


written by Sarah Colgate

Business Tips for 2024

September 16, 2021

Aquaduck has been on the Gold Coast for 26 years, as the ducks go around the streets of Surfers Paradise they have an imposing presence being 10 metres long and 3 m high so a lot of people see them. Then you add in all of our marketing, promotion and brand building the business is well known. 

At the beginning of COVID19 in March 2020, I had calls from a couple of local media outlets for a story on how my business would survive and how I was feeling as a business owner. Each one of them also wanted a photo or video to go with it. My first instinct when I got these calls was to run for the hills and hide under anything I could find in order not to be noticed and certainly not be photographed. 

I have always felt my strengths are one on one, where if I mess up when speaking I can fix it up instantly. Also one on one or in a small group of people you are safe, you can read the room. If you are taken out of context you can adjust and get feedback. Also I feel like in a small group people can read your body language, see your face and therefore nobody is judging or criticizing you, if they are, it’s not in a public forum. 

The thought of putting myself out there into the broader community, into the media with such a large audience made me feel sick. On TV and in televised interviews they just clip the bit that makes the headlines and delete the rest, therefore it’s easy to be taken out of context. It’s easy to be judged, it’s easy to come across in the wrong way. 

In addition to this, I have had an issue with my weight. (check out my other blogs). To do filming or having photos taken for the media is not only uncomfortable but extremely distressing.  I tried every possible way to get out of it, but the media guys here on the Gold Coast were so accommodating, understanding and unfortunately for me they would do anything to assist me in order to get the story or piece done. 

A friend who runs a very successful business that I look up to, does a lot of media to promote his business. He said “Media is good for your business and you have worked too hard not to share your story. Just go for it. You will be fine.” Mind you he looks great on camera. 

Deep down I knew I had to do it. We had an iconic business, iconic brand and I wanted to be able to stand up for my industry and vocalise the issues. But I just couldn’t push past these feelings I had. It was like a brick wall was stopping me moving forward. I felt so vulnerable, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The thought of me being on people’s TV screens was pretty much the worst thing I could ever imagine. It wasn’t till much later when I was watching a Brene Brown clip I realised I felt shame. I was ashamed of the way I look, I was ashamed of being such a wimp and not standing up and doing what needed to be done for my business. I was also ashamed of the fact I had to shut down my business, even though it was beyond my control.  

The more I looked at why I couldn’t do the media stuff the more I realised I was scared.  What if people don’t care, what if people don’t want to hear what I have to say? What if I sound like an egotistical idiot? What if the people closest to me are ashamed of what I do or what I say?  Worst of all, what if I damaged the business in some way that people would remember and never take an Aquaduck ride again? These were the thoughts going through my mind at the time. These were very real fears for me. The last thing I wanted to do was risk losing something because I put myself out there. All these thoughts went back and forth in my mind endlessly until I felt exhausted.

Often we get to a stage where we relinquish control, we cave in or we run away. COVID stories had been in the news for about 5 weeks and international borders had been closed for most of those weeks. A total closure was on the cards for us. On the final day of our business being opened for trade I gave in. I said yes to the reporter and yes to the photographer.  The story ended up being a double page spread in the Sunday Mail.  It was awful, truly awful. I looked awful, what I said was average at best and again I was ashamed of how I looked. But now there was nothing at all I could do to take it back or change it. I had to surrender. I had finally put myself out there. I was so far out there I had no control. I was completely and emotionally exposed. 

Being Brave
This is the picture from the newspaper. 

Is this what courage looks like or bravery feels like? I felt fearful, I felt vulnerable and once it was done I felt free of it. Whether it’s a win or a loss for me it was a barrier I had to push through. I felt a massive amount of relief. I surrendered all the feelings I had that prevented me from doing media. It was a good feeling. 

Since that first experience I have done 25 or so phone or in person interviews for print, live TV crosses, photos and on air interviews. I have also seen my friends who are in similar businesses do media. From the outside looking in they seem like media professionals to me. They come across well spoken, intelligent and it looks easy for them. I love to compare myself to others and after seeing them I started handing over media opportunities to them so I didn’t have to put myself out there.  I felt like I wasn’t good enough to contribute. 

A day or two later, on what I thought would be my last media appearance, one of the local reporters said to me once we had finished “We like talking to you because you are so well spoken, articulate, passionate and always willing to help us out. You are great at this.” Finally, I stopped and listened. 

I know I will never get used to doing media, but I have learned to quell my feelings enough to get through it. My right underarm is the centre of my nervous system. Everytime I get nervous my armpit sweats and I am pretty sure even if I do a hundred of these things it still will. I have decided my armpit is my point of vulnerability, it reminds me that in order to be brave and have courage I need to put myself out there. Step out of my comfort zone and open myself up to failure. In business and in life, I guess failure is never going to be off the table. There will always be a risk that you will fail but there will always be a risk you might succeed too. 

I am not a media person, I am a business owner who wants to share my experience with others so they can see there is an abundance of lessons to learn and we all do it differently. The only opinions that truly matter in my life are those of the people who love me and support me everyday. They are the people who know me and know what I want to achieve in life. 

Keep growing, keep pushing yourself and take opportunities when they come along that push you out of your comfort zone.

Being Brave

Key takeaways:

  • I believe you don’t grow and your mindset can not expand if you don’t climb over the hurdles, address the fears and take action. 
  • Brene Brown says “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
  • I believe what you put out you get back. If you show up for your business, your industry, your staff  and your community in the hard times they will show up for you. I felt that throughout this experience. 
  • Criticism and judgment comes from those who are not able to do what you do. If you are not putting yourself out there, you are never going to achieve your goals in business and in life. 
  • Believe in yourself. Back yourself every step of the way. If you back yourself others will back you too. 

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