Words of Wisdom


Kasey Chambers
The Country Girl
June Dally-Watkins OAM
The Lady
Tania Hayes OAM
The Unexpected
Tara Moss
The Maestro
Maggie Beer
The Creator
Emma Nicholas
The Adventurer
Karen Phillips
The author behind Women's Words of Wisdom, Power & Passion
Karen Phillips

How it began …
Over the past 18 years as a professional trainer and speaker, I've had the fortune to speak to tens of thousands of women from Cairns to Hobart to Perth and everywhere in between at a variety of events and leadership forums – as well as through the Early Risers women's network group I run on the Gold Coast (one of Australia’s longest running businesswomen’s clubs) and through meeting women from all walks of life around Australia there are several things you glean.

One is that women of all ages hunger for wisdom, mentors, and new opportunities to learn.Nothing changes through the decades … we are always looking for mentors, looking to better ourselves, always looking to feel like we are not the only ones on this journey, to feel like we are in this all together.

As part of my career I've also had the opportunity to meet many of these amazing women who I feature in the book. I have been able to interview them and sometimes work alongside them, and see for myself what their wisdom does for other women when it's passed to other women – I've seen what differences it can create.

When you have the opportunity of hearing from these women, their treasure troves of wisdom, insights, lessons, journeys, words of understanding, of sadness, their sorrows and triumph, it all comes together in creating this book – my idea behind it was to share these pearls of wisdom with everyday Australians.

The journey …
I've lived and breathed this project for so many months and in my head for many, many years, but it all started with one woman, Christine Fortelny, who's featured in the book and who, by many accounts would be an considered an everyday regular Australian.

Her story of inspiration and courage and to live through breast cancer not once, but three times – she's now lost the use of her arm – and now about to go in for her fourth operation She's the first person featured in the book who I showed the book to when it was finally printed because that's where the journey really began. I have known Christine for 20 years and she has been a wonderful charity supporter on the Gold Coast and I have followed her cancer journey and supported her along the way in whichever way I could.

She was the first woman I asked to answer 20 questions on the day before one of the biggest operations of her life where she had been advised she could possibly die, so that if the unthinkable happened, at her funeral I could share with people the person Christine really was and her story of hope and inspiration.

At that stage I didn't know that we'd be interviewing Olivia Newton-John and the Prime Minister and Carla Zampatti – I didn't know that's where it would organically go to, but that's really the heart of the book: being able to share real stories of real women. While Christine is still on her journey back to health, she has been empowering other women going through their own journey, helping them see that there is a future and there is a life and it's not taking that away from you – although it's a physical change for your body, she's showing women that you are still the person you are inside. From that point of view, it's wonderful to now see Christine who is so deserving, being invited to Government House on International Women's Day actually celebrating the launch of this book with the Governor-General.

I suppose also my 18 years of speaking to and meeting so many women around Australia culminated in this project – this book and the launch of the ‘Women’s Words’ website which is now the platform for Australian women to be able to share their stories and to learn and be inspired. It has all culminated in this, in the questions I've asked, questions based on 'what if I could have an hour with any woman – what would I ask them to glean the most to learn?'
We could have asked them 1,000 questions and spent 20 hours with them each because they've all got such an amazing foray of information and wisdom to impart but this book is to capture the essence of their lives and to pass it on to others so they can be inspired and have a great life. Working on this project has taken two years but it took just on seven months to actually create this level of book and to find the 50 women, to research who they would be and what areas of Australia they were from because I wanted to include women of all sectors and ages – and we have eight decades of women featured – from our youngest Miranda Kerr to our eldest, Paula Stafford in her 90s – and I also wanted women who had a true heart and had something to share.
Olivia Newton-John became involved after I was working with her last year and her wonderful team from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre on her fundraising events here in Queensland. I always wanted this book to be associated with a worthy charity that would support all Australians and particularly women, and in meeting Olivia as you do, you fall in love with her for the personality that she is – she is just an incredibly warm and giving person. So I asked if she would like to be part of this book and if she would like her charity to be associated with this book and if she would write the foreword for me.
I told her my concept and she said 'yes'!

With this featuring iconic Australians, Olivia really sits on the top of that tree so it certainly helped  in having someone as amazing as Olivia become involved in the book and that she loved the concept. Olivia wants to share the light, she wants to share the love, she wants to share the journey and also through this book we are able to express that about her as well.

The gift …
I think the combination of women represented in this book is what Australia is really about. I mean, it's big, it's bold, it's bright, it's shiny, but it’s also quiet, understated and is also about forging forth no matter what. I think the variety of women we have in here depict what and who Australia is – we have leaders in here, we have conservationists, corporate queens, people who sit on boards, people quietly working away in the background who are leading some of our biggest industries like mining, then we have the faces we all know and love.
But even those familiar faces like Miranda Kerr are seen in a new way in this book.

For instance, who would have known Miranda was quite so passionate about the environment? Unless you've seen every interview and watched every television show and read every article on her she may not have answered these questions in that light before, because we wanted to look into their hearts to see who they really are. With someone like Miranda Kerr, from the outside we see her as this amazing woman who has this incredible life and yet for someone so young, she has the wisdom of someone many times her years.

You talk to someone like Terri Irwin and the passion that she has for conservation and many of us know that and have seen stories, but to really be able to feel her heartfelt messages, now you can. So this book is really to give everyone the opportunity of hearing from Australia's greatest leaders, most iconic celebrities and women who they may have never even heard of, but who are making incredible life-changing impacts on others.

For instance, take just a sample of what Alana Johnson has to say. She's a fifth-generation farmer from Victoria who is recognised nationally and internationally for her leadership training for rural women and her work with farming families, yet many people may have never heard her name before because she is not a celebrity. When I asked her what she wished she knew earlier in life, her answer was so profound and bound to touch many. She said, “When I was younger I wanted to understand how some people could survive the horror of war and genocide and death of a child and still be able to find goodness and joy in life. I now realise it is not the events but the meaning we attach to the events that shapes who we are and who we will become tomorrow. 'How I think so I become'.”
This book is for every day women who might just find a message in there that helps change their life, or maybe simply brightens their day, or gives them hope. If they are going through a difficult time this may help them realise that other people who have achieved greatness have also managed to get through challenges.

We all need hope. In uncertain times, like we are going through at the moment with natural disasters and economic climate change etc, we all need to grasp onto the idea of hope. Also, I think modern day women do it tough on a variety of levels. Most work very hard, they’ve got full plates, there are some women just trying to balance so many balls at once and by reading some of the words of wisdom in the book it may help them see a ray of sunshine.

The importance of sharing ...
Last year, I had a terrible accident in Bali falling almost 3 metres down a ravine fracturing my back and ribs as well as incurring internal injuries, facial bruising and nerve damage to my arm. While it was horrendous at the time, and I am still receiving treatment, it was one of those moments in life – when everything flashes before you and you realise there are important things in life that you should not wait to say!

We all tend to put things off and on that day I could have just as easily died, or been severely disabled from the fall, and left some very important things unsaid. It certainly gave me some perspective on what is important. When I returned from Bali I picked up the phone and started work on the book, because I really felt that with everything going on the world, all the financial uncertainty, the natural disasters, that it was so important to seek out worthy, inspiring women and get them to come together and share their wisdom when we need it most.