Tanya Meessmann is the founder of Girl Shaped Flames and CEO of UNIQ You. After a career travelling the globe and mentoring young professional women for over two decades along the way, she returned to her home state with a commitment to developing the most confident, courageous and self-assured generations of girls Australia has ever seen. Through her original social enterprise, Girl Shaped Flames, she’s worked with over 4,000 teenage girls, their parents and educators, facilitating powerful mentoring, inspiring events and transforming courses, specialising in confidence development for high school girls and courageous parenting.
2:04 Considering how varied Tanya’s professional background is, Lauren is curious to learn what key moments set her up for a life of giving back.
- Despite Tanya now being prominent in the non-for-profit space, she’s already made her mark in other sectors, with a decade in media and marketing, before moving into film production for a further twelve years.
- Much like Lauren, Tanya is a big fan of building doors, with one of her most memorable being the desire to attend Bond University as a teenager. While her single parent family couldn’t afford the fees, she got in via a scholarship thanks to guidance from a teacher.
4:42 In line with her work conducted through Girl Shaped Flames and her latest non-for-profit venture UNIQ You, Tanya shares the story behind her motivation to empower girls.
- While Tanya admits that sometimes she doesn’t understand the ferocity of her passion, she suspects it comes from a fondness for pragmatic coaching instilled in her from her own mother during her high school years.
- Upon entering the film and production space, Tanya found herself working directly with many young women in mentor style roles. After becoming a parent herself, she made the connection between how young women feel about themselves and how they behave.
9:28 One of Tanya’s key topics that she regularly talks about is the concept of ‘courageous parenting’, and she unpacks the theory behind its power.
- Developed with neuroscientist and counsellor Dr Diane Harner, ‘Courageous Parenting’ is a resource offered to help build the confidence of teenage girls, commonly between the ages of eleven to seventeen.
- Tanya acknowledges that the teenage years can be difficult for both parents and children, and the program is designed to give parents the confidence and the courage to ride out that rollercoaster of a journey with tools backed by science.
14:49 While we all know how potentially damaging social media can be for all of us, Tanya unpacks how it uniquely affects teenage girls.
- Without minimising how social media can influence teenage boys, Tanya states that the data has proven that girls are much more likely to make negative comparisons about themselves to what they see online.
- Although societal expectations of what a woman should look like and how we should behave have always been present, social media has amplified this exposure into a twenty four seven live stream, and parents simply don’t know how to navigate it.
17:27 Although Tanya has long worked directly with teenage girls in schools, Lauren also points out that she’s now partnering with a number of businesses as well.
- As a part of her advocacy for empowering women, Girl Shaped Flames helps facilitate girls in Year 9 to 12 to book video calls with working women, and encourages them to explore options in fields that traditionally have poor gender representation.
- Tanya has over ten industries that the career advisory platform partners with, including businesses in construction, mining, energy, water and agriculture – all of which want to see more women sign up to work in their sector.
21:00 As a response to pandemic related shutdowns, Tanya explains that the need to go virtual is what inspired her latest venture, UNIQ You.
- It’s Tanya’s belief that high school is the perfect time to help shape young women, particularly as it’s at this time where perceived barriers can influence decisions that have lifelong consequences.
- To address some of those barriers, UNIQ You is a virtual platform that expands on previous mentorship programs to help scale the service, particularly in rural areas. Today, UNIQ You now has over one hundred companies and partners with fifty schools.
26:20 Lauren and Tanya discuss how they overcome self doubt, and debunk the misconception that people need to be ‘ready’ in order to seize an opportunity.
- Despite never having run a non-for-profit before and self admittedly not being a ‘natural entrepreneur’, Tanya identifies her strengths as being stubborn and solving problems. Instead of focusing on her shortcomings, she concentrates on making things happen.
- Lauren points out that Tanya also possesses an incredible amount of resilience, and the two discuss how a healthy dose of pragmatism can help combat issues with facts instead of letting things fall apart.
32:19 While Tanya is a big advocate for reaching out and making connections as a female in business, she also reflects on how this has influenced how she approaches mentorship.
- Being a self professed overachiever, Tanya admits that she never paid much attention to gender inequality during her early days in the advertising industry in the United Kingdom. Although a boys’ club, she soon paid attention to how her female managers worked.
- The example that they displayed for Tanya was the importance of ensuring that your ideas and thoughts are heard, and that they made sure that nobody attempted to override their decisions.
36:50 Lauren is curious to get Tanya’s take on what workplaces in male dominated industries should be doing to encourage more gender diversity.
- Through her work with Girl Shaped Flames, Tanya admits that there’s not a lot that can be done that hasn’t already been tried. In her experience, the key difference is companies that talk about making changes, and those that actually do.
- Tanya also makes a point of stating that getting more women into these industries is not just up to girls, but that it’s also the responsibility of men to do everything in their power to create female friendly workplaces that are flexible and welcoming.
41:40 Lauren and Tanya get into the nitty gritty of the ‘Building Doors’ Rocket Round, such as why she’s done with White Christmas and how she’s joined the true crime movement.
Successful people build doors while unsuccessful people wait for one to be built for them. To say hello or express interest in a guest appearance on the ‘Building Doors Podcast’ get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org