Suzie Lightfoot is a mother, business owner, media personality and fashion identity. She’s also a personal brand and image expert, who understands the complexities of what it takes to make it to the top as a professional woman over 35.
“At 51, I’m driven to help other professional women over 35 walk into a room and just own it,” she says. “No apologies, no hiding, no holding back.
“Being a professional woman over 35 brings with it its own set of anxieties and insecurities when it comes to the desire to stand out in business. Unlike younger professionals, women often compete in their industry with age stereotypes and the pressure to keep up with contemporary workplace cultures. They fear being marginalised as soon as they get to 40, and by the time they’re 50 they’re getting pushed aside.
“And with women working longer and retiring later, the importance of having a refreshed and relevant personal brand becomes essential to your continued success. The more you advance in your career, the more your reputation matters, so it’s vital to create a personal image and professional reputation that gets you noticed in all the right ways.”
Suzie says that as women get older, they can begin to feel like they’re wearing a ‘cloak of invisibility’ in the workplace.
“You walk into a room, office or boardroom and feel invisible. You immediately melt into the surroundings, not making an impact. You feel out-of-touch with your own unique, sparkling individuality, which affects the overall impression you make. You’re also unsure about ‘dressing for success’, confused about how clothes and personal style can help you to sophisticatedly make a visual impact, define what you stand for, and influence how people see you.”
Suzie first learned about the importance of leadership, personal drive, focus and the power of self-confidence and visualisation as an elite athlete at the Australian Institute of Sport.
She then transitioned into a career as a model, learning firsthand how a simple piece of fabric can empower a person and alter people’s perceptions, and eventually became a longtime brand ambassador for Coles Myer in Queensland.
“This was where I really learned the value of image management and leveraging my own personal brand,” she says.
“Developing brand ‘Suzie’ enabled me to flourish as a presenter, fashion columnist, media personality and fashion commentator.”
After turning 50, Suzie decided it was time to take the plunge and start her own business, taking what she had learned over the course of her career and sharing it with other women as a personal brand coach and image consultant.
“As professional women, we often put our lives and careers on hold, waiting for a better time or mindset to make the changes we need to achieve the success we desire both in life and in business,” she says.
“So many of us wait for that perfect moment to start something new. But what a waste of NOW!
“Eight months ago, I was in this space! Although I had a great job as a digital marketing manager for a prestigious Queensland jewellery company, I felt boxed in and stuck in a rut. I knew I had so much more to offer, yet struggled with the thought of searching for a new job in a professional landscape that values youthful dewy complexions over mature age professionals!
“My daughter had also finished school and was going to university, and I felt I was ready to shake things up in my life. To live and breathe my passions and turn my visions for success into my reality. I also dreamed of waking up every day feeling energised and empowered, doing something I truly loved and would make a difference in other people’s lives.
“So, shortly after turning 50, I finally had my light bulb moment! I realised that if I wanted to make my dreams my reality, I had to take control of my life. I decided to quit my job and back myself in my own business helping other professional women, just like me, helping professional women develop strong personal brands that re-energise them and position them as leaders in both life and business, so they can have more choices, more opportunities and more financial security.”
Suzie also runs corporate branding programs and self-marketing masterclasses for organisations and women’s networks, and even has her own fashion collection designed for the corporate world.
“With my Suzie Lightfoot Fashion Collection, your team’s conduct, corporate style and communication can flow cohesively and be a credit to them and your organisation,” she says.
“The best leaders are always investing in their staff. How your staff show up and present themselves is everything. When they’re selling to customers and interacting with stakeholders, your staff are communicating your brand values. It’s not about having a uniform or telling people what to wear, it’s about boosting morale and empowering your team.”
Suzie has developed a three-step ‘Brand Fitness Program’ to help her clients achieve their goals.
Step 1: Get Ready. Take the Brand Strength Test.
“I initially invest time reviewing your current personal brand (if you have one) in order to understand what will set your new brand apart,” Suzie says.
“I assess the effectiveness of your current personal brand, identify your assets and decide how to leverage them in order to make you even more remarkable.
“In order to do this, I have developed an exclusive diagnostic tool called ‘The Brand Strength Test’. The brand strength test scorecard measures your personal brand performance and its ability to influence others, build business and maximise your life & career opportunities.”
Step 2: Get Set. Define your Brand.
“Many women look the part but wonder why they still aren’t achieving the success they desire and deserve,” Suzie explains.
“In this step, I show how to communicate, appear, interact, network and carry yourself to ensure your overall personal brand (not just the way you dress) is unique, memorable, impactful, inspiring and influential.”
Step 3: Let’s Go! Personal Brand Management.
“With all the crucial self-assessment and planning now in place, the only thing left to do is manage and grow your personal brand,” Suzie says.
“This is where energy and persistence comes into play because personal brand management ensures you leverage the exciting new ‘you’ to develop brand recognition, increase your presence, command more power, exercise more influence, create lasting impressions and keep creating a ‘wow’ wherever you go.”
Ultimately, Suzie says, the hardest part is getting started — but it’s worth putting yourself out there.
“One of the biggest challenges about making my dream happen was taking the first step to ‘just do it’,” she says.
“So often I talk with other professional women over 35 who feel they are ‘missing out’ on opportunities and desire more, but just lack the courage to ‘just do it’. It was the same for me!
“It’s like when you want to get fit and know that in order to do so, you have to go for a run or get to the gym first. Yet the hardest part for so many of us is getting up, putting on your gym gear and just getting out the door. The one thing that stands in the way of you getting started is… you! It’s so simple, yet so daunting. Then I cracked the code.
“Committing to doing one thing every day to help you take that first step will enable you to lay the foundations you need to bring you closer to your dream. You start to grow stronger and more powerful with each step. You become more creative, determined and focused to hold onto your dream. And soon, you are able to push through any barriers or challenges that come your way.
“And then, like me, you will be out that door!”
Suzie Lightfoot will speak at a Women Leading Business Masterclass at Blackbird Brisbane (123 Eagle Street, Brisbane) on Friday 21 April alongside Peta Credlin, Balveen Ajmal, Jade Collins and Sarina Russo. For more information, and to receive 30% off the full ticket price of her personal branding masterclass, visit suzielightfoot.com!