Meet Sue - Owner of DARE Group Australia

April 28, 2022 6 min read

Meet Sue - Owner of DARE Group Australia

Sue Parker, the owner of DARE Group Australia, is a personal branding, career communications and LinkedIn specialist.

Sue works with professional service businesses and career executives and brings more than 35 years of marketing, sales and media experience with her. Previous to DARE Group she owned a media recruitment agency for more than a decade. Sue is a well-regarded media contributor and columnist with bold opinions and witty musings. She is also Australia’s leading media commentator on LinkedIn updates, opinions and news.

We were thrilled to have a chat with Sue and find out more about her strategies for success.

Tell us about you and what makes you come alive?

I've had a really interesting and diverse life. I liken my life to a theme park roller coaster, having experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of the lows.

I have been married three times, finally meeting my soulmate on the 3rd crack at 51. I started working life in an engineering company as my father was a global engineer. I entered Advertising and Media when I was 21 as I always wanted to be in a world where you communicate with your voice, writing and fresh ideas.

The power to shift how people think and how they act is immense in the Media. For 11 years, I had a media and marketing recruitment agency and 7 years ago I changed direction to where I am today. Simple things energise me. It's not so much about success or money. Having rich conversations with people and connecting can be more rewarding than anything else.

Just the other day I was in Bunnings and I had a heartfelt chat with a lady at the register. We ended up hugging. Connecting with someone at a very real and authentic level energises me. I crave the realness of humanity and not the falseness and the pretense that is often enforced by society and social media. I think that's the holy grail.

What made you pivot the type of businesses you run?

I was very good at recruitment, but it’s a dog eat dog world. I started in the recruiting business with a very clear idea of the eco-system I wanted to build which wasn’t contingent on recruiters only getting paid when they placed people. That seemed a really stupid model.

I was probably too honest. I could never pretend something was pink if it was blue. I might make something shinier, but I don't believe in nonsense.

I had had enough after 11 years as I poured my heart and soul into everything I did. It became very demoralising when people act without integrity and gratitude, and often no fee if there wasn’t a successful placement. I tried very hard to change the recruitment business model. So combining an industry that is tough as nails with media, which is also as tough as nails, I just had enough. I actually wanted to make a more holistic difference and impact on people’s lives.

I had launched so many people's careers and had some incredible success stories, but my soul felt destroyed. I kept trying to change the industry from the inside out. So instead, I started offering sales and advertising training services which would give value to people for years to come. It was seven years ago that I transitioned out of recruitment.

Please tell us more about DARE Group?

I started off the business focusing on career executives. As LinkedIn really skyrocketed, it changed marketing and communications in both hiring and business generally.

With my marketing, advertising and communications backgrounds I realised that DARE could service two sides of the marketplace of career executives and small business owners. I help both stand out above the noise and the crowd. So whether you're a lawyer looking for the next, promotion or change in your career, or whether you're a small business that wants to attract more professional clients, the same elements apply.

Having your own business is not for everybody, not everyone does business in the same way or is cut from the same cloth. I'm generally an impatient person and like to get results fairly quickly for my clients. A slowly, slowly approach doesn't do it for me.

Do you have a goal? Let’s make a crack of it now, time is of the essence you could be dead tomorrow! I dare my clients to step up and do things differently, right now.

Did you always know that you wanted to get into marketing and careers in media?

I knew. I always wanted to communicate creatively and to raise awareness of important causes.

I had a pretty crappy young teenage life with pretty traumatic stuff in it. I was always a writer and a comedian when I was a kid. I knew I could use my communication and bravery in writing to affect positive change. My writing has shifted into media and communications rather than novels and plays, but the creative drive has never left me.

I had the privilege years ago to talk to parolee women at a prison... and I asked the girls, “okay, other than drugs, sex and rock and roll, what are you good at?”

These women had been generally incarcerated because of family, domestic violence or drugs. And I watched them reflect on their younger memories and be energised by them. Those threads and echoes of our younger selves are incredible to tap into and listen to if we give ourselves permission to do so.

Was there a big lesson for you from the pandemic?

In July 2019, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. You wake up one morning and everything has changed.

The pandemic did that to everyone. People woke up and lost so much. Things changed in a nanosecond.

I have always known in my heart through tragedies and different things in my life that things can change overnight in a nanosecond. So when my husband was in the hospital for three serious operations not sure if he would make it felt in reflection like the pandemic. We were not sure if there was going to be a future.

What I saw in people’s reactions to the pandemic was the same as what was felt that day I received the news about my husband’s cancer.

I wrote an article on what the World Health Organisation observed during the pandemic when it came to segregation of services and support to different age groups for Smart Company. It proved to me just how incredibly divided Australia and the world was. The pandemic highlighted how visible discrimination and inequality is.

Things can change in a heartbeat. If you have a problem, deal with it because you may not have an opportunity the next day. I get very frustrated that some people are so stuck in their own bubbles and myopic perceptions.

If your collective business experience was in a handbag, what key pieces of advice would you carry with you everywhere?

  • Always be curious - Take a journalistic approach and keep asking questions.
  • Have an open mind and a teachable spirit - No matter how scared you are.
  • Your vibe attracts your tribe - Don't expect everyone in the world to love you. Your vibe will attract your tribe positive or negative.
  • Expect shit - Because it's going to happen.
  • Action is the way through a lack of motivation and a lack of courage - As Brené Brown says, “you can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can't choose both.” That's one of my favourite sayings
  • Don't go down the comparison rabbit hole - Nobody will ever do exactly what you do in the exact same way that you do it.

When we compare ourselves with somebody else, we're setting ourselves up for failure. There's a difference between comparison and admiration. It sabotages our open heart and our open mind and our teachable spirit.

Many professional women are either not leveraging LinkedIn successfully or are hesitant in promoting themselves for fear of judgement.

These are Sue’s top tips for your LinkedIn branding:

  1. Your LinkedIn profile is not about you so much as your clients and networks. What are their issues, pain points and the important conversations?
  2. Share the “Who, What, Why, When” behind your career brand.
  3. No stock clichés which are vanilla and applicable to anyone. No weasel words like humbled, honoured, grateful. Stand tall.
  4. LinkedIn is a personal mini-website. Whether employed or self-employed use it to highlight your genius and fullness of value. Give colour and context in your profile.
  5. A clear headline, photo, creative banner and engaging About section is essential to inspire, build trust and credibility.
  6. Contributing your own content is a powerful way to impact brand value. Share your opinions and insights with full confidence.
  7. Have a committed ‘Commenting Strategy’ on other people's content. Never underestimate how many people read and observe your comments and the impact.

Thank you for your generosity of thought and incredible thought leadership Sue! You can connect with Sue on LinkedIn.

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