THRIVHER INTERVIEW: MILLIE ZINNER

Updated: May 21, 2018


Thrivher Achievements:



Thrivher Dive

  • Can’t start the day without: A coffee. So clichéd, but so true.

  • Best read for growth: Tully by Paullina Simons. The book shows a great strength of character from a woman who went through a lot in her teenage years. By the end of it you just love her for being who she is.

  • Non-negotiable: Catching up with family and friends – close connections are so important.

  • Top music track of all time: “Sunny” by Marvin Gaye and "Hey Mama" by Kanye West - it's an amazing story about him and his Mum and how much she's inspired him to go on to be successful. Those two songs always make me happy.

  • Most random job: Being a nanny in a desert on the outskirts of L.A. for an extreme Mormon Family.

  • I’m most afraid of: I always think a shark's going to eat me and I love the Ocean, so it's a huge problem.

  • Go-to for fun: It has to be swimming in the Ocean. That is my number one… as long as there are no sharks.

  • I’m originally from: Sydney, Australia, and now live in: Sydney, Australia





THRIVHER MOVES:


Did you always know what you wanted to do career wise?

When I was five I either wanted to be a princess or an actress! I decided to go with actress because I knew that at least I could play a princess if I ended up getting that role.

My uncle had been an actor and studied at NIDA with Mel Gibson, along with some other fantastic actors. However at 32 he developed a brain tumour and passed away. I was five at the time and was very close to him - we had had a really strong connection. I remember feeling that I wanted to fulfil his dreams for him.



How did you start to pursue a career in acting?

I moved to the States in my early twenties because I wanted to work in film and television and thought I would have the best opportunities there.


I needed a way to get a visa, so I signed up with a nanny agency and was placed with a Mormon family who lived in the desert forty-five minutes outside of LA. I actually know lots of lovely Mormons, but this particular family were extremist – went to emergency meetings twice a week, kept a five year supply of food and didn’t let me leave the house at all for the first three months! It was a really bizarre experience.


I fell in love with the little girls, but then things became quite complicated so I decided it was time to go. The family became too reliant on me and didn’t know how they would cope without me! I managed to escape after seven months and was on the run for a little while.

I finally ended up joining an amazing Acting School in LA and was granted another Visa so my goal was coming together at last.



What were your first experiences of working in the Entertainment Industry in LA?

Everything's heightened over there and the energy is phenomenal, but if you're around the wrong people it can be incredibly lonely and tough. It’s similar in that sense to starting up in the business world – the people you surround yourself with can really make or break you.



What made you decide to move back to Australia?

My partner at the time got a job working for Sydney FC, plus there were several other issues at the time that were pulling me home. Initially I was really opposed to it, but when I finally made that decision to come back I felt like it was the best thing I could have ever done. Being close to family again made me realise just how important that is to me.



At what point did you realise you wanted a change of career?

I started working for a Production company in Australia and I did that for a long time. At one point, I was working almost twenty hours a day, which sadly can be quite common in that industry. One of my co-workers actually went to hospital because he passed out on the keyboard and that was a real wake-up call for me. I needed a healthier work-life balance. I'm happy to work hard, but not at the expense of my health - so I quit.


I'm happy to work hard, but not at the expense of my health


That's a really brave decision to make. How did you go about finding your inner strength again to find your next career, at a time of near burnout?

I’d never left a job before without having a new one waiting - I’m not a quitter. I really felt like I had hit rock bottom.


At the time, I had moved in with a childhood friend Alice (who is now my business partner) and about a fortnight after I had quit my job, she came home and announced that I had inspired her to go and quit her job too! I was horrified because I felt like such a terrible influence. She assured me that I wasn’t and said that I had made her realise that life is too short and that she needed to be doing something she felt passionate about and something which was going to make a difference in this world. It was then that we decided to start a business together and came up with the idea of Motherhood!


I had made her realise that life is too short and that she needed to be doing something she felt passionate about


It’s amazing how creating space in our lives, allows ideas to emerge. How did the Motherhood App idea come about?

At the same time as hitting rock bottom career wise, my eight-year relationship also ended. My partner told me that he didn’t want to have children and that completely broke my heart. Some of our friends had started having children and I think it was hearing about all the sacrifices they were having to make – financially, socially, career-wise – that made him decide it wasn’t for him. But it wasn’t only my partner, Alice was in a similar situation and her partner was also worried about the financial strain. It was when we were talking about these issues that we came up with the idea for Motherhood.


Historically, people believed it took a village to raise a child – but in modern society, everyone’s struggling to do it by themselves. Even though we are constantly connected via technology, we are feeling more isolated than ever – almost 70% of women in Australia have suffered with postnatal depression because they feel so alone on their journey. We decided that if we could connect like-minded, supportive women, then this could perhaps solve so many of the problems. So we came up with the idea of a marketplace where mothers can connect and help each other. We realised no one in the world was doing this and yet, it was something we did historically and in fact it still happens in the animal kingdom. We wanted to bring the communities together again.


Even though we are constantly connected via technology, we are feeling more isolated than ever – almost 70% of women in Australia have suffered with postnatal depression because they feel so alone on their journey.


What were the hardest challenges you faced when you decided to develop this idea?

On a personal note, I think my hardest challenge was believing I was capable of doing something like this. I had always had big visions, but I had no tech background and hadn’t been to university. I suppose I had a real imposter syndrome and was terrified that I just wasn’t good enough to do the idea justice. I then began imagining that I could really make a difference and became really excited. I truly believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way.


I had a real imposter syndrome and was terrified that I just wasn’t good enough to do the idea justice.

Hopefully my story can inspire other women who don’t feel adequately qualified, that anybody can make a difference in this world. You just need a passion and drive and you need to surround yourself with people who can teach you the ropes to get you to where you need to be.


Hopefully my story can inspire other women who don’t feel adequately qualified, that anybody can make a difference in this world.


We have some of Australia's best mentors and investors, guiding us and giving us expert strategic advice on how to effectively execute our idea. And now we’ve built up such an amazing community of people who just truly believe in the big vision of how we can really change the way people parent, giving parents more options for flexible childcare and reconnecting communities. The big thing that makes us so different is that we don't believe in just having one babysitter to look after the kids, we believe in having a whole network of support. So, at any given moment if you get stuck and you can't get to the daycare to pick up your child, you will know someone who can.


We don't believe in just having one babysitter to look after the kids, we believe in having a whole network of support.


Did you have any fears when you were first starting out?

We invested all of our money into this business. We bootstrapped it from day one, for a year and a half. It was terrifying to think that I was thirty, single and had no money because I had put it all into the App. All of my friends were starting to settle down, even my little sister had two children – that was very hard for me. All I had ever wanted was to have children and there I was trying to create a world where mothers have more opportunities, at a time I felt I didn’t have any. The thing that really kept me going when I hit these dark places was our phenomenal community and hearing such positive feedback from our customers.


It was terrifying to think that I was thirty, single and had no money because I had put it all into the App.


Have you had any pinch-me-now moments since you've launched Motherhood?

Every day since 2018! I was also nominated for Founder of the Year at Stockholm. I was up against some incredibly successful founders and I remember sitting in the audience thinking there was no way in the world I could win – but then they called my name out and I had won the award! In a year, I'd come a long way and I still didn't think that I'd made it, so to get that kind of recognition was just really lovely. I guess it really helped me to get my confidence back.


In a year, I'd come a long way and I still didn't think that I'd made it, so to get that kind of recognition was just really lovely.



THRIVING AND KICKING:



What three personality traits do you think have contributed to your success today?

First of all, being an absolute optimist. Secondly, I would say I am very much a people person and finally, I'm very quirky - definitely not your traditional start-up founder. I think that’s what it takes, you’ve got to be a little nuts!


I think that’s what it takes, you’ve got to be a little nuts!


So how do you feel now on a day-to-day basis compared to when you were working as an actor?

I feel so fulfilled every day. I literally wake up and just jump out of bed because I'm so excited at the prospect of what may happen each day. No two days are the same as the next and I love that. I love feeling so alive. I'm so present in every single moment that happens each day. Yes, there are hurdles, but I just tackle them as they come and I feel so excited about the future.



If there was one piece of advice you wish you'd been given in your twenties, what would it be?

I wish someone had told me to trust my instincts a lot more than I did. I think as females we question ourselves a lot more than we really have to and if we start trusting that first instinct that comes to mind, we would save a lot of time and become much more decisive. We have amazing intuition – that gut feeling – and can make great judgements if we listen to it. If I look back on everything I've had a gut feeling about, I feel like we dodged so many bullets as a result, so I just wish I had been a little bit more confident in my ability to make choices at a younger age.


As females we question ourselves a lot more than we really have to and if we start trusting that first instinct that comes to mind, we would save a lot of time and become much more decisive.


So for the women who are thinking about making a move but haven't yet, what advice would you give to them?

Do it! You won’t regret it. Even if it doesn't necessarily become successful, you learn so many skills that you can take on board in any other role in life. I think it takes a lot of guts to do your own project to put out to the world. In my opinion, it is so rewarding and you meet the most amazing people on your journey who are also going through what you're going through, so it’s great to know you are not alone. The majority of people fear the unknown and are too scared to do something drastic like make a major career change, but you don't want to look back and regret not trying. It’s far better to give it a go and if it doesn’t work out, at least you know that you tried.


It’s far better to give it a go and if it doesn’t work out, at least you know that you tried.

You can download the Motherhood App on iTunes App Store here (Australia only)




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