I’m Head Human at Human Brands. We help professional services to pinpoint their ‘zone of genius’ and package it in a way that connects with their customers.
// What were you doing prior to your business and why did you get started?
Before setting up Human Brands I held strategic roles at some of the world’s largest advertising agencies, where I looked after big household names like Telstra, Wrigley’s Gum and Kids’ Helpline. It was an amazing time: I got to work all over the world with incredibly talented people who have become lifelong friends.
But by 2004 I was really starting to struggle ethically with the ‘push’ mentality of marketing, which I viewed as just trying to trick people into buying more crap that they didn’t need.
I felt certain that there had to be a way of helping businesses connect with the people they could help, without resorting to mind games or dodgy sales techniques: so I quit my job as head of strategy at a big Sydney agency, and set up Human Brands on my own.
// What do you love most about being in business?
Ha! So many things!
I think the thing I really love the most is helping business owners rediscover the magic of their work. I have a specific brand-building process which I take clients through to help them get an outside-in view of their work, and when I present it back to them it’s incredibly moving to see their faces light up as they get their ‘aha!’ moment. It’s actually quite transformative, on both a business and a personal level, and that feels really meaningful to me.
I also love seeing their businesses take off once they’ve nailed their niche and their zone of genius. I’ve always formed strong bonds with my clients and it’s so rewarding to see them really flying and getting that time and money freedom that they’d been looking for for so long.
// What has been your biggest hurdle?
This one’s actually a bit embarrassing. My biggest hurdle has been accurately defining what I do and how I help business owners. It’s embarrassing because this is my superpower with my clients: and it’s taken me nearly 25 years to ‘do the work’ on myself!
For years I was like the hairdresser with the really terrible hairdo! In the end it was my clients who gave me the answer, which makes it even more special to me.
// Let’s talk South Australia. What do you love most about doing business here?
I’m fairly new to South Australia, having only moved here eight years ago. What I’ve noticed is how helpful and supportive people are when you’re trying to grow your own business.
In the early days of Human Brands I reached out to a number of total strangers, who were so generous with their advice, time and contacts (if you’re reading this, you know who you are!) This was an absolute game-changer for me at the time.
I also notice that people in SA like to know who they’re dealing with. By this I don’t mean all the old “It’s who you know” stories that the other states like to tell you about SA. It’s more that people like to properly get to know you before talking business: where you live, your backstory, your family, what matters to you.
Having spent most of my working life in Sydney this took me aback at the start (I was like “What! Why do you want to know where my accent is from??”) but now I see it as genuine warmth and interest and I really value it.
// What advice would you give other women wanting to start a business?
Hmm. Good question.
Firstly, you don’t have to be all things to all people: most standout brands are built on bravery and single-mindedness.
Secondly, for goodness sake, build a business that allows you to be yourself: life is too short to have a work persona, and the quirks that make you uniquely ‘you’ will become part of your success if you claim them unashamedly and wholeheartedly.
// What is the best advice you have received that has stuck with you?
I’m a dreadful perfectionist and this can cause me to procrastinate over big decisions. I have that famous quote by Goethe stuck to my wall which reminds me to keep going even when it feels uncomfortable “Whatever you can do, or believe you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
It helps and I’m getting there!
Get in touch with Emily:
Facebook: Human Brands
LinkedIn: Emily Hilder