How many identities do you have?
I am first and foremost a woman to myself who lives life my way. My biggest role is to be a leader in both my personal and professional life – a sister to my siblings and a mentor to the team who work with me at Elite Property Campaigns. I am also the author of Perthspectives, a series of interviews that profiles Perth entrepreneurs who are quietly reshaping our dynamic city. Being an openly gay woman in the workplace, I am also a role model to the professional world that you don’t have to hide your identity to excel.
How did you start your career in the property industry?
I was working between 60-70 hours per week in finance and insurance which was starting to fatigue me so I went to see a life coach about changing my circumstances but didn’t know where to start. We actually went through a significant journey of 8 months before I gathered the courage to resign and decide to pursue a career in real estate because I thought my skills would be perfect for selling property. Stepping from a structured workplace in the corporate sector into an environment where I was solely responsible for my own productivity and time management really motivated me to succeed.
What made you start your own digital media agency?
This led me to spot a niche in the market when I sold 20 homes in my first year of real estate by adopting a digital first strategy. What a lot of people didn’t know was that I actually studied Marketing in University but never applied it! This is similar to how many of us end up in life circumstances by chance and never take a moment to reassess if the outcome is congruent to their vision. As my digital profile grew, I started to ponder how I could monetise my knowledge and one morning, I told my colleague about my business idea and by that afternoon, she had secured 2 paying clients for me! It took me 8 months to resign from a high income finance career, but it took me less than an hour to decide to start my own business after I was paid $200 to run 2 campaigns. I felt I had nothing to lose but I would regret not taking this leap of faith.
Just over 12 months later, we have moved from the front of my house as a sole trader to now a 112sqm office in Subiaco with a team of 8.
What inspires you to do what you do every day?
I believe we are making a difference to an industry which is currently being disrupted by multiple converging forces. I know there is a lot of fear surrounding digital platforms/privacy/profile management but if you collaborate with the right partners, it will add significant value to your business.
I take a lot of pride in giving young marketers an opportunity to gain experience with us because I understand how competitive the workplace is for marketing roles. Giving young interns an opportunity, helps us create a workforce who will eventually become our leaders of tomorrow.
How do you balance all your identities? What’s your secret?
There are days and weeks where I still struggle but the key is to be kind to yourself. When you love every inch of yourself, the world will also embrace your flaws.
I used to think there was a line between my professional and personal identity so I would be cautious not to talk about my personal issues at work due to the masculine culture of “toughen up princess” – which creates so much inner conflict within yourself.
Being a role model or leader means people need to see that you are human and there is beauty in vulnerability. So in summary, my secret is to simply live all your identities at once, don’t put them into silos because the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
What’s next for Gia Le?
On a personal level, I love traveling and collecting new experience so you’ll definitely see more of my adventures on Facebook! I’ve resigned to the fact that I’m on a continuous journey of self-discovery so if anything in this world makes my heart race, I’m likely to do it.
Professionally, my vision is to expand into the east coast and form alliances with other businesses in South East Asia as Perth is so aligned to these tiger economies and there is so many synergies we can leverage off digitally.
What advice would you give to other women out there who want to start a business but don’t know how?
Start saving now because when an opportunity strikes, being capitalised is essential to help springboard an “idea” into “action”. When you are capitalised, you can make decisions quickly and move forward with clarity.
I am a huge believer that your network is your net worth so surround yourself and reach out to people you aspire to be. You may not know how to start a business right now, but when you put aside your ego and listen to those who have done it, they will give you the gold nuggets you’re looking for. If a friend or family member tries to dissuade you, don’t take it personally – it’s just their fears projecting onto you. Fear and silence won’t help you achieve the dream life you want. Courage and a vision so great that it scares you - will.