Founder and Global CEO of Business Chicks, mother to six young children, and international keynote speaker; “How does she do it all” comes to mind when you meet Emma Isaacs.
Now with her debut book, Winging It, hitting the bookshelves today in the United States, I chatted with Emma to learn more about her passion for inspiring and creating community for women worldwide to live bold lives both professionally and personally.
Kate Talbot: Tell me why you love being an entrepreneur?
Emma Isaacs: I’m a career entrepreneur. Running my own businesses has meant that I’ve always had to hustle and be creative. When you are only reliant on yourself, it forces you into innovation and makes you work that little bit harder to make sure you’re paying all your bills.
I had no experience at the start of my entrepreneurial journey. This was also a gift, because I had a beginner’s mind and was able to simplify business, get clear on my objectives, and focus with a huge amount of intent. My first company was a recruitment agency that I started at the age of 18. I built that business before exiting seven years later.
Talbot: Then you became CEO of Business Chicks. What got you involved with the organization?
Isaacs: A friend invited me to a Business Chicks event, and at first, I refused because I hated the name. I thought it was insulting and derogatory to women. I relented, though, and went along. It was the most uplifting event I’d ever experienced — which is saying something as I was addicted to networking in my early career and had been to them all. There was something very special and unique about the offering. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
A few months later, I heard it was for sale. At 25 years old, I bought the business. I’ve spent the past 15 years building it into the powerful organization it is today. We started at 200 members and now reach well over 500,000 women globally.
Talbot: Your book is titled “Winging It.” What does that mean to you?
Isaacs: A common theme in my life has been that I’ve never had a set plan for how it was all going to turn out. I kept showing up, doing the work, and open to possibility.
When we overthink and overanalyze, it can stop us from really taking action. We get fearful and scared and tell ourselves a million excuses as to why something won’t work or why we’re not qualified to try.
We are in the perfect storm for winging it right now. We do not know how the next six months will pan out (or even the next two years!). People who are going to thrive through the pandemic are the ones who can be uncomfortable in uncertainty and be okay when things don’t go to plan.
Talbot: Sir Richard Branson, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Kate Hudson sing your praises. How do you have the confidence to connect with so many celebrities and entrepreneurs across various industries and backgrounds?
Isaacs: One of the important lessons my parents taught me was to treat everyone the same: with kindness and respect. It doesn’t matter who the person is – whether they’re the janitor or a billionaire – you give good eye contact, a big smile, a warm greeting, and be genuine, always. People can smell BS a mile away, but successful people are even more in tune with who is genuine than who wants something from them.
Talbot: You are a mother of six, with ages ranging from three months to eleven years old, and even live-streamed your last home birth. How is it juggling career and motherhood?
Isaacs: I had my latest baby at home in our living room and shared it live on Instagram. We had over 60,000 people tune in. It was a little piece of joy in an otherwise pretty dark time. Of course, I had no idea how many people were watching during the birth (I was kind of focused!) Afterward, hundreds of pregnant women who’d been scared of childbirth wrote to me to say they were now excitedly anticipating theirs. Others said they’d had difficult and traumatic births and that the experience of watching ours strangely healed them a little.
As for the juggle of running a global business, writing books, speaking, and managing my busy household – it’s exactly as you’d imagine. We try to enjoy the chaos as best we can and keep a sense of humor. Recently, it’s been more challenging with virtual schooling, but not being able to travel has meant I’ve been around far more, which I’ve really enjoyed.
Talbot: When you were starting on your entrepreneurial journey, what was the best advice you received? How have you taken that with you throughout your career.
Isaacs: The best advice I ever received was to stay close to the numbers to understand how your business makes and spends money. As a result, I check my business’ cash position daily. I have an expert team around me to guide our financial strategy and encourage our leadership team to run the business as leanly as possible. I have no doubt that this acumen is why we’re still so strong 15 years later and weathered storms such as the global financial crisis and the current pandemic.
Talbot: Lastly, what advice do you have for young women with big dreams and ready to make a mark in this world?
Isaacs: Get really good people around you and take advice only from those who have been in the entrepreneurial trenches themselves. Everyone is quick to give counsel, from your aunt through to your hairdresser, but it’s important to tune into what you feel is right and then build a team of people around you who support your ideas.