Guest: Melinda Fisher aka Midja
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Segment Overview: Melinda “Midja” Fisher joins Talkers.FM to promote her self-named practice and the various programs she offers ranging from corporate leadership to her signature Women With Confidence program.
Guest Bio: Melinda Fisher, known as ‘Midja’ is an engaging speaker, author, mentor,
facilitator and lawyer specialising in the areas of leadership, development and women’s mentoring. She has over 20 years’ experience in the corporate world as a partner of a national law firm and a learning and development specialist. During her career, she has developed and facilitated a range of learning programs, from webinar series and induction programs to 6-day residential leadership programs.
She started her weekly vlog ‘Mondays with Midja’ over 18 months ago, to share
her insights and tips on leadership and building self-belief. She has been nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s award in 2017 and has published her book ‘Confidence – How To Be Your Most Authentic, Courageous and Unshakeable Self.’
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today, I’m joined by Melinda Fisher. Now Melinda is much more often known as “Midja” and she’s the Founder of Midja and she’s here to tell us what she does and who she does it for. Midja, welcome to the show.
Melinda Fisher: Thank you so much Wayne.
Wayne: Now sometimes Midja, I interview people whose company name is a dead giveaway. It’s blogs, blogs and Beagle Briefcase Lawyers, or Bob’s Used Cars or Fred’s Real Estate and the name absolutely gives it away and I know what they do. But your company is listed as “Midja” and I have to ask what is it Midja does?
Melinda: Sure and often Wayne even when people, I introduce myself as Midja, people go, “what sort of name is that and where did it come from?” and exactly what you’ve asked, what do I do. So a little bit of around where Midja came from, so I started my career as a lawyer and spent 20 years as a senior partner of a national law firm here in Australia. And when I started my legal career, my initials were MJA so Melinda Jill at that time and the admin cart that would bring the mail around every day and we have folders with our initials on the mail folder would sing out “Mail for Midja, mail for Midja” and that was about just 21 years ago and the name just stuck. And certainly when I started my consultancy business two years ago, I was using the formal name Melinda Fisher and people said, “Oh my goodness, no you’re Midja” and that’s how people know you. So I did my first video blog and just went on with Midja and that’s the name of the company. So what I do is I offer a number of personal and professional development programs and I run those programs for both private individual clients, leadership development programs or team building programs inside of their organization. And I suppose Wayne, my two signature programs so one is called “The Women with Confidence Leadership Program” which is the corporate women wanting to increase their confidence and their leadership skills. And the other program I run is “From Great Lawyer to Great Leader” and that’s a program I run in house with law firms to develop their exceptional lawyers with great technical skills and expertise into being able to get into a much different role of leading other lawyers and support staff in their law firms as well.
Wayne: Because there is this problem with professionals be they doctors, or lawyers, or accountants or anyone else, maybe not so much accountants but doctors and lawyers. In that all of that education that they do, it’s all specialized. So I talk with lots of doctors who basically after 17 or 20 years of formal education, have never actually seen a balance sheet or a profit loss and have never actually had to worry about leading a team or getting along with people. And so I guess with lawyers, it’s the same thing if you want to go from being a lawyer to a leader, someone needs to hold a lamp for you and show you the way.
Melinda: Yes, certainly and I often will start asking a group of lawyers and I do a lot of work for a Law Society and their practice management course. So they ask, “How long have you spent perfecting your legal skills?” And for a lot of lawyers, stepping into that partnership level, it’s been 10, 20 years from law school through your practice, management courses through your legal training, through the rank of junior lawyer, to associate, it’s a long time and it needs to be a long time to get great at what you do. But certainly then, it’s a different ballgame stepping into the leadership space and lawyers carry with them some certain characteristics and I think being a lawyer for so long myself, I can kind of relate to some of them and talk to them a bit around that autonomy, and that skepticism and that advice giving and just wanting to give the right answers. That’s what lawyers are trained to do whereas in the course, we speak about just the changing mindset that you need from the right answers to knowing the right questions and moving into the coaching space and it’s a very different space to govern the way we are is used to being in.
Wayne: Yes. And I was going to ask you about those characteristics of lawyers whether they present it as a group with particular issues when they move into leadership roles. Do you find that there’s a commonality there about what they really need to master to move into that leadership role in a big firm?
Melinda: Yes, it certainly seeing their role differently and seeing themselves differently and being curious I think, just being curious and being inquisitive and knowing that their value now doesn’t come from having the right answers. And so you spend a lot of time with a lawyer giving advice to your clients sometimes 20, 30 pages saying, “This is what the law is, this is how I see it and this is what you should do.” But then moving on to leading others whether that be paralegals, other admin support staff, of course your junior lawyers and the lawyers come into the ranks in your team, it’s a little bit around about being the expert of course and you need to keep up with that legal knowledge but most of your space has to be in that coaching space and letting them find the answers and creating that space for them to learn and grow. And particularly as a lawyer, it’s a lot around that autonomy as I said and your own work and so your own billing. So you’re timing the course, you’ve got your own figures, your own billings, your own new clients to bring in and it’s about you and that’s how you progress in the law firm is to get the numbers right. But then, it’s then of course about the team and I think it’s absolutely scary, I think it’s absolutely frightening after so long to kind of go, “Well now, the goalposts have changed.” That’s not fun for anyone in their 40s to kind of go, “Hang on a minute, I was really great at that and now, you’re telling me I need to step it up and I need to learn new stuff?” and so I kind of try and say, “Well, isn’t this fantastic? Isn’t this great that now you get to build this wonderful career as a lawyer and all of your skills and now you’re going to build a whole lot of different skills and combine the two of them? An absolute magic”
Wayne: Now Midja, how do you deliver your advice? Do you do individual consultations or do you run groups, or training programs or conferences? What’s your service delivery mechanism for you?
Midja: Well I like to work with my clients, I will do one off and I have done one offs but I think it’s more about developing a program. And so certainly, if it’s an intensive period and if time is a factor, we’ll do a 90-day program and the 90-day program includes one-on-one workshops, I think there’s a lot of value in bringing people together and that face-to-face training and I know a lot of training now is online and certainly, I’ve been an specialist in my law firm for many years and I know the value of that. But I also see the value of bringing people together for face-to-face workshops and learning from each other. A webinar series is also just a check in and an online check-ins about particular leadership topics and a chance to reflect on those. And what I also think is important is the one-on-one sessions within that program as well. So that can either be delivered in a 90-day program for the participants or it can be done over an annual program of stretching that over a year. And so it depends on the client certainly and it depends on the kind of program that they’re looking at. So yes, 90-day, one year and they both include face-to-face workshops the webinar series and also, the one-on-one mentoring and coaching.
Wayne: Now we’ll have some people listening to us who have been listening to you saying, “She’s pretty clever, that lady. We need some more of her.” Midja, how can people reach out to you?
Melinda: Well certainly I’ve got my website. So my website is www.midja.com.au and certainly if you look on LinkedIn, I’ve got my profile and details there and happy for people also to email me or to reach out and give me a call, happy to have a chat. So my number Wayne is 0408 718 445 and a very simple email which is [email protected].
Wayne: Melinda, Midja Fisher, thank you for being with us today, I do appreciate your time.
Melinda: Thank you so much Wayne. Thanks for today, bye.
Wayne: Now if you’ve just missed my chat with Midja, you can find a transcript on our station website. You can also find the audio archives on iTunes, SoundCloud and YouTube and you can access all of that from Talkers.FM or if you’re interested in what Midja had to say, you can track her down at midja.com.au. This is Business Radio Talkers.FM.