Hi guys, welcome to the third instalment of The Ambition Series. My aim with this series is to pick the brains of some seriously successful and driven women to see what ambition means to them. I hope that overall it will show that we don’t have to be ashamed of our drive and ambition and that we can all encourage and support one another in this dog eat dog world. If you have missed the first two instalments be sure to check them out here and here.
Without further ado, this week I am so pleased to introduce Natasha Courtenay-Smith.
Natasha Courtenay-Smith is the author of The Million Dollar Blog and works as a digital strategist and publicist to a number of clients including celebrities, small business owners and charities. A former newspaper journalist, she started, grew and sold the online press agency Talk to the Press and now helps her clients achieve visibility online and through the mainstream media.
As a successful, well know journalist, author of The Million Dollar Blog and business woman, where do you think your drive and ambition has stemmed from? Have you always had the ambition to achieve or is it something that has grown over time?
That’s a very generous description of me, thankyou! I’ve definitely got more ambitious with time. At school, I was always happy to do pretty well but with minimum effort. I was constantly 3rd or 4th in the class, in terms of test results. During my 20s, I had the same attitude really! I wanted to do pretty well but not at the expense of having to stress myself out too much with hard work. I think it changed when I became a mum at 31. It made me more ambitious. I always had this hippish view that money didn’t matter but actually it does give you more flexibility and freedom. So for me, doing well is about earning great income for those reasons and for my children.
If I asked you to picture an ambitious woman, what type of person would come to mind?
The traditional stereotype is some sort of crazed lunatic putting her ambition before everything else. But then,I see myself as ambitious and I’m definitely not like that! I wish ambition wasn’t a dirty word. What is wrong with wanting to do your very best professionally and push yourself as far as you can go?
Have you ever experienced negativity from other women as you have become more and more successful in your career? If so, why do you think this is and how do you deal with it?
Erm, not outwardly. But I have experienced that passively, whereby people just don’t ask what you are doing and you end up just not having a conversation about it. Which then is odd when its a massive event such as selling a company or other things like that. Maybe that’s just me being too sensitive and they are not actually interested at all!!
I struggle with the lack of addressing big achievements to be honest but I suppose ultimately I hold the view that not all friendships can exist for a whole lifetime as people change for all sorts of reasons so its not worth getting stressed about.
As an ambitious and successful woman do you think that you are ever stereotyped by the media / society as being ruthless or pushy? If so, what do you think needs to happen in order to dispel the stereotype for women in general?
I think there are sections of the media that demonise them, for daring to think they can ‘have it all’ and who love to feature the stories of women who tried to do this but ended up checking into the priory with depression. But there are other sections of the media that celebrate successful women and they are to be celebrated. The bottom line though is some realism is needed. We live in a society in which much of our economy and house prices are propped up by dual income families in which both people need to work to afford the things they take for granted. So it’s not as though any woman is being that radical by trying to work and enhance her career and run her family!
What does “success” personally mean to you? At what point did you think “yes! I’ve made it!”
Does anyone ever think that!? Isn’t the whole idea of human nature to be constantly striving forward? Isn’t it that inherent drive in us that once kept us safe from predators that now makes it hard for us to sit back and think ‘yes I’ve made it?!’. I have goals, but each time I achieve them, my own goal posts move forward and then it becomes about trying to reach them again! So for me, any single success is short lived because I always look to what is next.
Which key attributes do you think women need in order to get ahead and fulfil their ambitions?
I think to just be calm and to believe that they can do what they want to do. At the moment, there’s a real push towards celebrating mums and women who talk on social media about how hard it all is, parenting, work, etc. And how hard the juggle is and what bad neglectful parents they are because the juggle is so hard and they just can’t cope. Yes it is hard, but at the same time there are legions of women just getting on with it and feeling perfectly happy – even if momentarily frazzled – as they do so. But they are not posting about it on social media and so those consuming social media don’t see those positive stories.
Which successful women inspire you and motivate you to follow your own dreams?
Any successful woman who does amazing things – particularly those who do so with kids and (seem) to do so in a calm and relatively stoic way! People like Victoria Beckham, Emily Blunt, those people who get on, do what they plan to do, deliver good work, seem to have it together and look great!
Thanks so much Natasha for taking part in The Ambition Series here on A Mum Track Mind and best of luck with your new book – The Million Dollar Blog.
I am reading The Million Dollar Blog at the moment and will have a full review up on here in the next few weeks. The Million Dollar Blog is a really interesting read though and has provided me with a lot of food for thought in terms of progressing this blog.
What did you think of Natasha’s answers and take on ambition? As always, I’d love to read your comments or questions.