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Spotlight on Mayrah Sonter

POWERHOUSE BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY LEADER, MAYRAH SONTER IS A PROUD WIRADJURI WOMAN, TV HOST AND MEDIA SPECIALIST. IN ADDITION TO CO-FOUNDING HER BUSINESS 33 CREATIVE, MAYRAH HOSTS THE REAL PODCAST, A COLLECTION OF FIRST PEOPLES VOICES, SHARING THEIR EXPERIENCES, DREAMS, HOPES AND BELIEFS. 

FOLLOW @33CREATIVEAUS AND @THEREAL.AU TO LEARN MORE. 

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If we look back at your time at school, when did you attend PLC Sydney and what did you plan to do/what did you study after Year 12?

I attended PLC Sydney from Years 7-12 (1996-2001). After Year 12, I had a gap year in England at Farlington School in Sussex, where I worked in the boarding house, before starting a BA Communication (Public Communication) at UTS.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a career exactly, but I knew my strengths were in communications, so undertook study and started to take opportunities from there.

What was the "spark" or idea that started your business? 

I am a co-founder and Director of 33 Creative, a proudly Aboriginal owned media, communications and events agency who specialise in providing content to engage, inspire and empower communities through storytelling and effective communications.

We creative communications and media products ranging from strategies and campaigns through to graphic design, film and podcasts. We also produce events from launches through to large scale national events such as the National NAIDOC Ball.

What does a typical 'work' day look like for you?

My answer today is very different to what I would have described at the beginning of this year, due to Coronavirus.  Prior to Coronavirus, my workday was always different; something I love about what I do - no one day is the same as the next. Some days I’m in the office taking meetings, emailing and making calls about our various projects; other days I could be travelling to various locations across the country to work with clients on their communication or events. Other days we could be in the studio recording a podcast, on an event site producing an event or shooting some content for clients. I love the variety and the challenge of making it all work.

Since Coronavirus, our team has mostly been working from home, taking meetings via zoom and trying to manage our new working life during a pandemic. Like everyone, we’re pivoting our business and adapting as best we can to delivering our services digitally.

What are the top three skills needed to be a successful business owner?  

Strategic thinking, people skills and the ability to trust your instincts.

Could you tell us about a mistake you have made and what did you learn from that mistake?

I believe making mistakes are just lessons to help us improve and grow as human beings. I am constantly learning how to be better and learn the greatest lessons from those experiences deemed a ‘mistake’.

Whatever the experience; fail quickly, face any mistakes head on and don’t take it personally.

What's your biggest piece of advice you'd share with someone looking at starting their own business?

Make sure you research your business well, gain experience where you can and surround yourself with great people.

What has been your proudest moment for your business?

There are so many! Most recently, it would have to include producing the National NAIDOC Ball in Canberra last July and hosting our self-produced podcast ‘The Real’.

What tools would you recommend to anyone trying to start her own business or that you go to for inspiration or productivity?  

Depending on your business, you will utilise different apps to assist in productivity- some we use include Asana (projects management), Xero (finances) and Slack (to keep the team connected).

Books - ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman, ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, ‘Difficult Conversations – How to discuss what matters most’ by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen and ‘Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself’ by Dr Joe Dispenza.

Podcasts - ‘How I built this’, ‘How I work’, ‘Lady Start-Up Stories’, ‘Unlocking Us with Brene Brown’ – I’m also looking forward to Michelle Obama’s new podcast which I haven’t listened to yet. Oh, and ‘The Real’ of course!

Audiobooks - business are great- some include: ‘Essentialism’ by Greg McKeown and  ‘Legacy’ by James Kerr

What role has your time at PLC Sydney played in your life?

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend PLC Sydney and to experience such a strong secondary education. My time at PLC Sydney exposed me to a wide variety of interests and opportunities that I may not have had if I didn’t attend PLC Sydney.

I learned a lot about myself during my time at PLC Sydney, where I was challenged but also supported within a safe environment to try new things and explore my abilities and interests. I am also most grateful for the friendships I made, which continue to this day.