“You know I’ve had bad jobs; I’ve had bad relationships, I’ve had really bad circumstances in my life but I’ve always been very, very driven to change them.” Mia Freedman.
What is it about Mia Freedman that drove her to forge a different path to almost all her peers and start ‘that blog’ from her lounge room in 2007 – when all the commentators were saying social media would never take off?
How does she handle the occasional personal attacks her high-profile attracts?
Who shaped her into the woman she is today?
A girl needs to know these things..
So I went straight to the source…
Martine Harte: Mia you think you motivate yourself, from a place of self-criticism or from self-love?
Mia Freedman: What a great question! I once had a man when I was in magazines who was really great, I loved him, his name is Nick Chan, and he said to me, “I’ve got a lot of different editors and I have to work out as publisher how to motivate them and they are all essentially motivated in different ways.”
He said, “the way you need to be motivated is with criticism. If I tell you you’re doing an amazing job that’s not what drives you, it’s saying this needs to be better, or this isn’t quite right.”
He identified that as being what motivated me and I think that’s still true to this day.
I also grew up working for Lisa Wilkinson who is one of the most talented editors I’ve ever worked with but also one of the most humble. Never did I ever see a magazine land on her desk that she’d edited and hear her say, “wow this is fantastic.”
Always – and the best editors always do this – she would look at it and say, “I wish I had have done a little better.”
And that’s not fishing for compliments or being hard on yourself; it’s just wanting to be better, wanting to improve, wanting to reach higher.
So what do you think life is too short to tolerate?
Mia Freedman: LIfe is too short to tolerate disappointment. I’ve always believed in the power of people to change their own lives. Whether it’s through therapy or changing jobs or changing a relationship.
You know I’ve had bad jobs; I’ve had bad relationships, I’ve had really bad circumstances in my life but I’ve always been very, very driven to change them.
It seems like we should be tweaking our lives all the time, and never stay the same?
Mia Freedman: Oh yeah absolutely. I think this idea of balance and juggling and stuff – people think you have to find a particular formula and once you find it everything will click into place. I’ve come to learn it’s not like that at all.
Your life is a living, breathing thing. What seems balanced now might not feel balanced by this afternoon. And you’ve just got to constantly be making those tweaks every day and those adjustments, every day of your life.
Mia what was the turning point where you decided, ‘that’s it! I’m launching a blog. I’m starting www.mamamia.com.au?
Mia Freedman: Oh look it came out of misery! Absolute abject misery at the job I was in at channel nine. It’s almost like being pushed to end a bad relationship because things were just so terrible. That really helps you to work out what you do want in your next relationship.
I remember all the commentators had a vested interest really in saying social media wouldn’t take off, so I’m curious about how you maintained the enthusiasm even though everyone else was saying it wouldn’t work?
Mia Freedman: I just loved it! I was inside that room, having a great time on social media and I could really see how women were using it; what women were using it for, why they were attached to it and why it was only going to grow. Because I was so typical of why social media was great.
I had two children and a new baby. I wasn’t working in an office environment anymore and I was wanting to work from home. I knew that via social media and via a website I was able to find that connection and that community.
You’ve reached a point of immense influence and society and the world dictates that’s when you inevitably attract the ‘haters’ how do you cope?
Mia Freedman: I’ve grown a very thick skin just through working online for 7 years and being in the public eye for 20. I can’t control what other people think about me, it’s literally none of my business what other people think of me.
I think it’s very, very important not to get confused between people who don’t know anything about you but who have opinions from the outside and what is real.
And I think if you don’t have that really strong sense of yourself it’s very easy to get destabilised by some of the commentary you read online. Having said that, I don’t read my twitter mentions anymore. I deleted that column last year and I’ve never been happier.
How big an influence do you think your mum Kathy has been?
Mia Freedman: Oh absolutely, she did!
She’s my ultimate feminist role model, in fact my role model full stop. Both my parents have been very much interested in social justice.
My father left South Africa because of apartheid and came to Australia when it was very difficult to do so – his family had a lovely life in South Africa that they left for reasons of social protest. You couldn’t protest politically in South Africa at that time because you’d be thrown in jail. The only way you could protest really was to leave and to leave all your assets behind.
So that idea of social justice and speaking your truth has always been very much drilled into me by both my parents.
Mum’s influence is just immeasurable, I mean everything I am as a woman is obviously because of her.
ABOUT: Mia Freedman
- You can find out more here www.mama.mia.com.au/