Working hard and smart gets results

In association with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, we are talking to leaders about what they have learned, who inspires them and their proudest moments. Today: Rachel Taulelei.

Rachel Taulelei is the CEO and founder of Yellow Brick Road.
Rachel Taulelei is the CEO and founder of Yellow Brick Road.

What does a typical day 'at the office' involve?
It often starts with a 4.30am phone call with the fish factory. If they're up then so am I. Breakfast is at one of Wellington's great cafes; it's also a chance to take a breath between the school drop-off and the office. Once I'm at work, there's another catch up with the factory to make sure everyone got their fish and that deliveries are on track, followed by a bit of admin and then on to new challenges, which could be new restaurants or looking at new suppliers.

How would your colleagues describe you?
After telling me some things not suitable for print, they were extraordinarily complimentary. Words like inspirational, motivational, witty, visionary, entrepreneurial and culturally proud came up. Busy was one that came up more than a couple of times! They also suggested I don't suffer fools gladly. The only word noticeable by its absence might have been patient.

Tell us about someone who has inspired or been a mentor to you?
My parents inspire me through their work ethic and Fran Wilde has been a great mentor to me.

Fran has shown me extraordinary support over the last 15 years and has motivated me to excel.

What is the best part about being a Blake Leader?
The best thing about being involved with the Sir Peter Blake Trust is that you find yourself in the most amazing places, displaying great feats of confidence. As a Blake Leader you've been given a tap on the shoulder, which is tantamount to, "we like what you have done so far, but we think you can do more", and with that faith, and a gentle nudge, you do.

As a leader, what's the secret to getting people to support and share your vision?
I'm a fan of leading by doing. It's nice to be admired for what you do, but invariably that doesn't result in forward motion. The key is to inspire. To support another's vision you have to genuinely believe in their purpose.

What has been a highlight of your leadership journey and how did you celebrate it?
Being inducted as a Blake Leader in 2012 has been a true highlight. Through subsequent appointments and engagements I feel like I have been celebrating non-stop! The trust does some incredible work with young leaders, which is an area that I am passionate about.

How do you deal with the low moments?
Having your own business means the highs are much higher and the lows can be more challenging, but when you overcome them it's that much more rewarding. I have the occasional low moment, when it feels a bit tough. But then I refocus and realise I'm in charge of my own, and others', destiny and that's a responsibility.

Who is a leader you admire and why?
I admire anyone who has achieved in his or her chosen field. I admire the chefs I work with, as they're among the most hospitable and talented people I've ever encountered. I admire the fishermen as they work phenomenally hard. I admire business people who are committed to being world-class and who are conscious of their place in the world. I admire kaumatua and kuia who hold the secrets of our past. And on it goes ...

What is a dream you have for the future of New Zealand?
I would love New Zealand to appreciate that we're of a size that we can genuinely care about each other. That in society there are the 'haves' and the 'have nots', and the former can profoundly effect the lives of the latter. That there is almost an obligation to do so, because what's good for the country is good for its people.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I ran the LA Marathon. And by "run" I mean I started and finished and undertook some sort of forward motion in between those two points!

What was an important lesson you learned on your way up?
If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. There are no shortcuts in life. If you work hard, and you work smart, results will follow.

Rachel Taulelei
Rachel Taulelei is the CEO and founder of Yellow Brick Road, a company invested in New Zealand's food culture. Now based in Wellington, Rachel established the company following eight years in the United States, with NZTE, as Trade Commissioner and North American regional manager, food and beverages. She is co-founder of the City Markets, chairs the Wellington on a Plate Advisory Board and is a director of Grow Wellington. Rachel is also on the panel of the Le Cordon Bleu NZ Advisory Board and Westpac's External Sustainable Business Panel. In 2009, Rachel received the New Zealand Restaurant Association's Innovator Award. In 2010, she was a finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards and the winner of Emerging Gold, Wellington Gold Awards. In 2012, Rachel was named as a Blake Leader at the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards.

- NZ Herald

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