Michelle Ray: Change Starts with You

March 15, 2016

Michelle Ray

Learn about SLC speaker Michelle Ray's most daring career moves!

Internationally renowned leadership expert Michelle Ray is CEO and founder of the Lead Yourself First Institute in Vancouver, Canada.

Which female leader do you most admire? In what way has she driven change?

Golda Meir, who was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969. She was the first woman to achieve this position anywhere in the world. And it wasn’t because she was a woman. Rather, it was due to the fact that she was a leader. She forged change by supporting diplomatic solutions to finding peace in the Middle East and unrestricted Jewish immigration. She aligned herself and Israel with individuals and countries once considered unlikely “friends” of the Jewish state, thus gaining tremendous respect as a leader. She was ahead of her time. She was confident, charismatic and highly principled.

What would you say is the most "daring" move you've made in your career?

These two are pretty equal:
  1. Dressing up as Catwoman and cold-calling on businesses to win new business for my employer in Australia in the midst of a major global recession. It was a highly successful financial adventure. 
  2. Emigrating from Australia to Canada 21 years ago and becoming self-employed approximately 15 months later.

What did you learn from that experience?

If you don’t take a risk and challenge the status quo, nothing will change. Change starts with you.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve gotten along the way?

Don’t burn bridges.

If you could change one way women support other women on their path to success, what would it be?

Women don’t always support one another; many people think they do. Therefore, women need to be advocates for their colleagues/peers, recommend them, speak well of them. Perhaps this is the reason for the persisting issue noted in my next response.

What major issue or current event do you think women should really focus on to effect change?

Unconscious bias, which is made worse when women continue to put themselves down and do not realize how or why they do so. We need greater diversity and leadership opportunities for women in business. Poor representation of women at the C-suite of many companies persists, despite initiatives taken to alter the balance.

Any tips for work/life integration?

Spend time with young children…yours or other people’s. It will teach you about being in the moment and prioritizing your life.

If you could dine with anyone, past or present, with whom would you dine and what would you like to ask him or her?

Again, Golda Meir. I would ask her why she thinks the U.S. hasn’t yet elected a woman as president and why was she able to become prime minister years before other countries had a female leader.

What was the last book you read? 

The Happiness Advantage.

Fill in the blank. People would be surprised to know ______

that I am a grandmother.