Yesterday, I was speaking to ten Executives – all Chief People Officers.

Nice. Smart. Thoughtful. Good people.

I presented. We debated. Some challenging smart questions. Some nice comments.

We drank coffee and agreed on catching up.

I took a quick turn around the room. Shook hands to say farewell.

Then, one woman said to me “Can we speak for a moment? Privately?”

“Of course”, I said not really sure where this was going.

We walked to the corner of the room, and she stared at me, and said “I met you in 2010 when you spoke to Telstra’s HR team. You said something so profound, that I carry with me every single day. In my handbag”.

I remember 2010

The year after I won the State and National Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

The year after I lost Hugo.

A million invitations to speak and be at important places.

A million shattered pieces of my heart trying to come together and function for my family.

A thousand opportunities.

Not one skerrick of headspace to take them. 

But amongst all that I still said the things I say.

“You spoke to 100 of us”, this woman said, “and you said something I wrote down and I carry it in my handbag every single day”.

I wondered what on earth I’d said.

I say just a few things that matter

I come from a long line of people who quote small things that matter.

It’s a long line of farmers and working class people.
We don’t rabbit on, but we each have a few little life mottos.

My one I live by is from my Nanna – “If you can make a difference, you have to make it”.

And there’s one or two others, that my kids quote back to me all the time.

I wondered what I had said that day to a bunch of Telstra business people, way back in 2010.

In the fog that was my life that year. I held my breath and hoped it was something not too silly.

She pulled out a crumpled little note

Just a few pages. One staple.

She opened page 1.

A pause. I broke first.

“What did I say?”, I asked nervously.

“You said, ‘Every time you walk into the room, you change it. You get to decide what that change is”.

I do say that. I do do that. It’s one of the great gifts of life, that you can have as positive impact on others as you choose to, and you get to choose to do that every single day.

Wow, someone was listening to it in 2010, and it made a difference.

I’ve no illusions

I describe myself as a ‘common and garden type Australian”. I have no illusions of being anything more. Its enough and I’m doing the best I can at it.

But yesterday, a woman I’ve never met, made my day.

13 years ago, in one of the very worst years of my life, I made a difference to her.

With a simple sentence.

Yesterday, she walked into the same room as me, and she deliberately and generously chose to change it, or at least change it for me.

So, maybe, its true.

That each and every one of us does get to walk into the room, and change it.
With a sentence. A silly quote. A smile. A scribbled 13 year old note from the pocket of our handbags.

Imagine if we all did that. Every single day.