I have just spent over a week in regional and rural North Queensland. In the past few years, I have travelled north for a couple of reasons, but namely for work and for a charity I set up in the rural township of Charters Towers.

It's been humbling and a great reminder of what is important in life.
More than money can buy

When I first started travelling up there, I was still wearing my Jimmy Choo shoes and Armani dresses. People could not relate. They saw me as a foreigner. 

Then I had a chat with an old friend and they reminded me of how tough people are doing it up there, and while I don't have labels written on the outside of my clothes, it's easy to tell that what I was wearing was different. I was different. 

On my last trip, I travelled with a little bit more thought behind how I dressed. Everyone treated me differently. While they still don't feel 100 percent like I am one of them, they certainly found me more relatable. 

My last trip, I tapered it down even further and guess what? They could relate. They saw that I did come from the same town as them. The only foreign thing about me was perhaps my accent and lack of "hey" at the end of every sentence, and of course my little pooch.

What this trip has taught me is more than money can buy:

How to be humble

Not everyone is dealt the same cards in life. There are some people right here in Australia doing it very tough. While I know that I try to always be kind, being humble is a little different and particularly if you do public speaking and people are looking to be inspired, yet you cannot throw your success in their faces. There is a fine line. 

Not everyone wants what  you want

It's ok to be different. It's more than ok to want "stuff" in life. But never try and tell someone else how they should live their life or think about life in general. Not everyone has to be ambitious. Some of the nicest people in the world who do the most for the community are not ambitious - they are just kind and generous.

If someone offers you a cup of tea - take it

When someone in the country offers you a cup of tea no matter what time of day it is, show your good manners and say yes. A cup of tea is more than a cup of tea. It's their way of offering you a chance to come into their world and "share" with them an experience, a conversation or the option of gaining their trust.

It's not acceptable to cheat

I know I am going to ruffle a few feathers with this one, but as I sat on the porch of one of the locals and the neighbour popped in, they discussed how appauled they were that someone in a political office cheated. It was completely and utterly against everything they stand for. If you promise to be faithful to your wife or husband, then that is your word. If you cannot stand by your word, then you are nothing. Marriages break up and so do relationships, but cheating is not acceptable and there is nothing kind, good or respectful about thinking that you are entitled to sleep with other people outside of your relationship. I love this country value because it speaks volumes.

Trolls are everywhere

Social media brings out the best and worse in people. Be mindful of what you say on social media and how it impacts others. I posted a job on behalf of a large corporate on social media for an Indigenous Australian Internship. A Doctor posted that a job that is only for indigenous people is racist. I was mortified. An educated person wrote that. But what was sad is the fact that young kids that are indigenous read that, and were really upset by the trolling of a couple of people who are not representative of what people think.

Community is owned by every person in it

Regional and rural communities are proud of their heritage and only want the best for their community. They are passionate about doing the right thing and that their rates are not being put to causes that they don't beleive in. As such, if you are sponsored in any way that relates back to their rates, you need to communicate every single thing you do clearly to the whole community. Now, that's hard because not everyone is on social media and given the power that Facebook has, even if they were, you cannot promise that they will see your post. You have to be respectful of that. I love the fact that people care about their community and want what's best.

Change is a challenge

Change is needed in dying communities where unemployment is high, but even for me, change is hard, so you can expect when you are doing something different, not everyone is going to understand it and appreciate it from the get-go. Don't ever be discouraged by this, but instead take it up as a challenge and work hard to succeed.






Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

2 comments

  • Bridget Barrie
    Bridget Barrie
    19/05/16

    I am interested to see how you were dressed when you were finally able to relate to us poor country folk. Did you go for the hat with corks hanging off the brim to keep the flies away? Or maybe you coloured one of your front teeth in black? Or did you just wear a flanel shirt?
    Oops, I have run out of stereotypes.

  • Fabian
    Fabian
    18/04/16

    Great post. I'm from the country myself and when I head home to see my parents, and I will always call it home even though I've been in Sydney for 5 years, I do notice my accent changes. You've made me a little homesick with this one, might be time to make a pot of tea and call my mum.

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