In the battle to have it all, women put everyone else ahead of themselves. But, DIAL-AN-ANGEL CEO Danielle Robertson wants women to realise that by focusing on themselves first, they can give and achieve a whole lot more.
The successful career, the expensive house, the devoted husband, the complete family, the gourmet cook, the raging social life and the perfect body; women today are expected to be able to do and have it all. But with trying to achieve the “all”, women often forget about the most important person of all – themselves. This is exactly what happened to Danielle Robertson, CEO of DIAL-AN-ANGEL, Australia’s leader in home and family care, until she asked herself what she really wanted in life.
Danielle started working for the family-run business in 1986, and in 2003 she took over as CEO from her mother, Dena Blackman, who stepped down to become Chairman of the Board. Like so many women, Danielle worked hard to provide everything her family wanted, but in the process, forgot to take care of herself.
“For 28 years it was like ground-hog day. I got up, went to work, worked long hours, came home, ate dinner with the family, spent time with the kids and then got back into work to get ready for the next day.” Danielle worked days, nights and weekends.
In 2012, things started to get complicated. As a result of workers compensation, the tax office, superannuation requirements and payroll, DIAL-AN-ANGEL was obliged by various Government Bodies to change their business model. “We were advised to employ all our Angels when previously we used contractors. It significantly affected our business as our rates had to increase by 30% to cover all on-costs. My mother and I discussed exiting the business,” reflects Danielle.
Once the decision to exit was made, Danielle and her mother looked for a possible merger or to be acquired. “There was a lot of interest in the space of aged care, disability care and childcare, but we knew it had to be a right fit culturally, as well as for the future of the brand,” Danielle explains. After a lot of hard work and stress, on 8th September 2014 the merger with Nextt went through.
This wasn’t the only big event to take place in Danielle’s life in 2014 however. Her marriage also ended. “I had been married for 25 years and with my husband for 28 years. It was only when my marriage failed that I took a good look at my life and realised I had forgotten about ‘me’.” On New Year’s Eve 2013, Danielle made the decision to make 2014 the year to focus on herself.
Danielle made herself top priority. Not her work or her family. She stopped drinking wine, started to exercise and lost 16kg. While she felt selfish for putting herself first (as so many women can relate), she knew it was essential for her at this stage in her life. With her husband leaving the family home at the end of January, Danielle knew she needed to develop coping strategies and took the brave step to seek counseling. Only a few very close family members and friends knew what she was going through. “No one at work was aware that my marriage had failed and yet, I knew I had to focus on getting the business through the merger. My team at work were amazing.”
Despite 2014 being the toughest year for Danielle both personally and professionally, it was putting herself first that gave her the strength, determination and energy to get through. She uses the analogy of an aeroplane emergency, where you put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then assist others, to describe the motto she now lives by. “Looking back, I think I am actually more productive and more focused by looking after myself first. I’ve been able to help so many other people now that I am a more focused person,“ Danielle says proudly.
For the many other women trying to do it all, Danielle has this advice. “Even though many women believe they can do it all, no one really can, well, not for a long-term period. Something has to give. Naturally, women are givers but most importantly we need to stop, think about ourselves and ask ourselves “what is it that we want in our life”. Danielle advises to set a goal, make a plan, and go for it. Be open, honest and transparent, but most of all look after ‘you’ first. You’ll then be more equipped to give more of yourself without losing yourself in the process.
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.