That Lightbulb Moment

From functional design to family dinners, we talk defining decisions with women at the top of their game

Sometimes inspiration builds up over time – experience upon experience, thought upon thought – and other times, inspired ideas arrive in a magical lightbulb moment.

We’ve caught up with four leading ladies across the world to find out what their greatest breakthroughs have been.




I was in Germany in 2012, working on a policy paper about the creative economy and cities. I’m passionate about making imagination and innovation the driving force of our economy, and I see a connection between how our cities are designed and the opportunities that are open to us as individuals to explore creative enterprises, social experiences and careers. So I was thinking about place and creativity when my friend Emily and I decided to explore Documenta, an incredible art festival that takes over the sleepy town of Kassel once every five years. Documenta is basically the Olympics of the art world: the most adventurous artists from all over the world, presenting experiences and works that go beyond the museum setting. Experiencing a city transformed by art with whole buildings, streets and parks turned into a canvas for experimentation, it dawned on me that public art can be the trigger for conversation about place – thoughtful interventions in public spaces can invite us to imagine the future we want for our cities, and by extension, for our communities and ourselves. Amazingly, the opportunity came up a few weeks later to curate a public art project for the first time, and I leapt at it: three years later I’m curating my fourth public art project in Sydney. It can be a complex process of negotiation, particularly when trying to move clients away from the ‘plonk art’ norm of putting objects into spaces and towards a more participatory approach. But I’m loving the challenge.




When my business was in the early days – quite one-dimensional – I’d only have a lightbulb moment every six months; now it’s more like every six minutes. But there are certainly defining moments and three, which are all interlinked, include being invited to a meeting with Vogue’s Anna Wintour, visiting Richard Branson’s private island and sitting in the front page editorial meeting of the New York Times. They were all different, but the lightbulb moment from them was undeniably the same, which is: we are all equal, the only difference is attitude and mindset. While the initial ‘wow moments’ might be that I am sitting with these people, the real wow moments are walking away thinking, ‘they are just normal people like me, doing the best they can in their chosen field and in life to make a difference in the world.’ The only thing holding us back is ourselves and our belief in what we can achieve.



My husband and I had actual ‘family dinners’ with my parents and siblings every week, and one night we realised so many of our colleagues and friends didn’t have that. We made the decision to create that sense of ‘family’ in our home for colleagues, friends and friends of friends, so Wednesday Night Family Dinner was born. Everyone knew RSVPs had to be in the night before (though no one ever complied…). Cooking was a rushed affair that started at around 5.45pm, traffic willing. Our guests started off as guests, but then they became family and that means you can help yourself to the fridge, get to peel potatoes, set the table and buy the wine. Strangers became friends and friends became family. There were stories like the time someone once used an entire bottle of dish soap to do the dishes, that one time we ran out of knives and had to do a run for plastic ones, or the (many) times we had 12 RSVPs and 24 people showed up. It’s amazing what you can do with potatoes and pasta to stretch a meal. At the end of the day, no one remembers the menu or the conversation specifics, I just remember sitting around the table and being really proud of the community we’d created and the new friendships that had started. And that dinner? We’re still doing it today here in Philadelphia and after a big day in the office, it’s a choice, but one that’s worth it to me.




Emma: My biggest lightbulb moment was when we were designing our first collection of The Beach People products. Victoria and I started designing the round towel and our other sea essentials, and we came to the conclusion that we wanted our brand to be ‘beautiful and functional’. If the product we were designing wasn’t these two things then it wasn’t for The Beach People. Now it’s something we stand by. Such a simple statement, ‘beautiful and functional’, but it keeps our heads clear and paths straight.




Volunteering in a new city opens your mind to different ways of thinking. Prior to spending time in India volunteering, I was known to be a stickler for details and held the belief that having and following a plan was a sure-fire way to success. In reality, there were so many unexpected turns and twists of events while living in India that I was unable to steer towards a desired outcome. I was incredibly frustrated in the beginning, and started to feel negative about the situations I found myself in. It was the people of India who helped me change how I understood the world. Watching how the local community faced adverse scenarios head on and turned challenging circumstances into sources of happiness and joy was a humbling experience. One can choose to embrace uncertainty as a source of strength and to relish change and unexpected events in a positive light, as the start of new opportunities.


And now, we want to hear yours! Share your ‘lightbulb moment’ – be it in business or life – in the comments section below for a chance to win 1 of 50 new Clinique Smart Eye Treatments (RRP $65) and have your words of wisdom published in September’s issue of The Collective.

To be in the running…

1) Tell us your ‘Lightbulb Moment’ in the comment section below OR

2) Simply comment on @collectivehub’s post about the competition across our social media channels with your personal lightbulb moment


Doing both doubles your chances : )

Please download and read full terms & conditions here.


Ashley May

My lightbulb moment: Always remembering to give a stranger a smile as it might be the only sunshine they see all day

Lisa Day

‘My Lightbulb moment was when I was stressing on a train for a meeting I was late for. Me stressing didn’t make that train go faster, just expelled energy unnecessairly. I could run when I got off the train, that i was in control of. So I relaxed on the train and ran when I got off. Its completely changed how I deal with stress, I am very calm in a crisis now. Short answer: Don’t stress about something you cant change, work out how you can change what you can control. Use that energy wisely.


My lightbulb moment came from my recent holiday. I struggle staying offline while running an online business and had the crazy false belief that the harder I worked, the more helpful and successful I would be. Taking 6 weeks off and only checking my email occasionally while still having one of my best sales months was the wake up call I needed. It’s more important to be present, authentic and helpful in short bursts online than to be chained to your desk and lose the joy for it completely.


Hi Kimberly, thanks for your comment, and congrats on winning a Clinique Smart Serum! Please email with your postal address so we can arrange delivery.

Team Collective x

Rebecca Kerswell

My lightbulb moment came when I put the sign on the door! My first business … The secret was out for all to see and I was now responsible for making it succeed! It was probably my most poignant moment a since I have been too busy ensuring it to succeed! So put that sign on the door and go for it! Rebecca Coco Chocolate

Renee Fowler-Tasker

My lightbulb moment. At 27 years old sitting with my unconscious grandfather late into the night as he passed away from a stroke Whilst my younger siblings found the situation of his death uncomfortable and uneasy I realised that I had become emotional capable adult – where I could cope with this situation and support my grieving and orphaned mother. I knew then I had grown enough to cope with any of life’s stresses. Fully capable.

Kylie May Illustration

My lightbulb moment was discovering my mantra – “Don’t Blink”. Focus on your goal, chase it hard and don’t let anything slow you down for a second, don’t even stop to blink – you’ll soon discover that amazing things happen quickly!

Peggy Jones

My lightbulb moment. Having spent the last 2 years chopping and changing degrees at uni that I thought would get me good, stable jobs when I finish study, I finally realised that I should be doing something that sparks me & gets me excited. So, I’m starting from scratch and I’ve found a degree that helps to bring out my creative side and is more ‘me’ than anything I’ve come across over the years. No matter how long it takes me, I want to do something that I enjoy. Something that’ll help me to express myself and something that helps me follow my true passions.

Lucy O'Connor

My lightbulb moment was being offered an opportunity at my old 9-5 in sales.. When I went away and thought about it, not only did I realize that the opportunity wasn’t for me, I realized I didn’t want to be working in that area any more at all! So I resigned and am now living the hustle networking and trying to forge my own opportunities in areas I love, rather than playing the waiting game in a job I don’t!

Belinda Maher

My first lightbulb moment came when I got expelled from school.  Suddenly and without warning, my entire life had been disrupted.  I was forced to reevaluate my decisions, or more aptly, I was forced to evaluate my decisions for the first time. For the first time, I realized how every action I take has both direct consequences It’s easy to recognize the direct consequences- they present themselves to you quite readily. 

Lesley Morris

My lightbulb moment came when I was talking to a psychologist. I told her about my ritual of rating my work performance out of 10 at the end of each day (thinking she’d be impressed) but she was horrified. She said to me “You need to learn to forgive yourself.” That one piece of advice – or permission – was life-changing for me.


One of the most life-changing light-bulb moments was when I was finishing up at work one day and the last thing I read before I left was the Holstee Manifesto ( I had it printed and pinned at my work desk.

On this particular day – something really resonated. The following lines stood out:

“This is your life. Do what you love and do it often. If you don’t like your job, quit. Travel often. Live your dream and share your passion.”.

I was in an amazing job, with an amazing team, with amazing pay… and I wasn’t fulfilled. It wasn’t the job, it wasn’t the team, it wasn’t the company. I knew that it was me. My heart wasn’t singing everyday. I didn’t feel I was living my potential. I was hiding behind something I knew I could do well and it was safe.

As I’m walking to the train station to head home, I kept smiling and looking up to the sky. Everything was magical. The glorious sunset, the buildings shimmering, and the gorgeous summer breeze. I asked myself; “If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with this great job with great pay, and always thinking ‘what if?’ OR is it time that I start the design company I have always wanted to start and even if it failed, I gave it a go?”.

The answer was really clear. It was the latter.

After discussing this “moment” with my boyfriend (now husband), the next week I handed in my resignation. We decided to use our house deposit to go on a trip around the world for three months and invest the rest towards the design business I was committed to building.

It has been just under 3.5 years and next month, I’m taking my label to New York. I was an IT Project Manager turned designer. Self-taught.

The last 3.5 years has been mentally challenging as I learn to ‘become’ the person I’ve always wanted to be. This journey has given me clarity and most importantly, taught me the practice of love, wonderment, and courage. I will never forget that day…

We have the Holstee Manifesto in a letterpress print framed on our wall 🙂


Hey beautiful Sam! 🙂 Thank-you for reading and for being you… Likewise, I LOVE following your journey.. Your words evoke worlds like no other. Here’s to both our creative journey’s and the passionate discovery of being human 🙂 xx

Renee Fowler-Tasker

After spending years exercising to ‘lose weight’ I changed
tact and starting exercising to better myself. Become faster, stronger more
flexible etc. The moment I changed my approach I found exercise no longer a
chore but an absolute favourite pastime. The light bulb moment in which I began
to understand doing things from a ‘positive place’ yield far better results
than when you approach things from a ‘negative place.

Soar Collective

Reading my first business notebook from 2004 and realising all of the things I wanted to be doing and opportunities for others I wanted to be creating within my first business idea, I was actually doing in the business I have right now. Knowing I’ve come a full circle in 10 years right to the business I wanted from the very beginning of my journey. It was destined to happen when it was the right time, which was last year.

Jess May

I was the queen of the door slam, the ultimatum and the guilty cry. I was always wondering why the hell he just didn’t ever freaking get it! I loved him unbelievably but couldn’t see how we could keep going for another fifty years missing the mark with making each other feel loved.
I knew I either had to leave or change how we worked. We’d been together for four years at that point, and with too much to lose I stepped back and watched everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Where was he throwing his time? What interactions with me lit him up? What pissed him off? What did he even look like when he was pissed off? Where was he investing his energy?
I changed how we interacted with each other and in turn, changed our entire connection completely – all because I understood what he needed and how to communicate my needs in a way he would understand.
Now I wear a diamond ring and am blown away every day by the love we have.
I want everyone else to have that too.

Emma Digerud-Waring

I was on a hen party in Cornwall (England) and woke after a night of partying feeling like I needed to make the most of my beautiful surroundings, not lie in bed feeling hungover. I found my way to the nearest beach, not really knowing where it was, and decided the moment I stepped on to the sand ‘I need to live here’ – I knew I needed that feeling of seeing the sea and the beach for more than just a few days a year and I wouldn’t feel fulfilled without it. I felt like I needed to let go and follow my heart, this also involved a special person whom I felt I had not given a proper chance. I went back to London with a 6 month plan to save and move there but it all went out the window the first day back in the office – I handed my notice in there and then. I gave that special person a proper chance and we moved to Cornwall 4 weeks later. I decided I’d denied myself of really using and accessing my creative side for far too long so I learnt graphic design from scratch and started my own greetings card company. From that one lightbulb moment it feels as if everything has followed – love, creativity, happiness and a true sense of fulfilment. I have my own business, I do something creative everyday, I live near the beach, I married the special someone and we’re expecting our first baby. There have been and still are some tough financial times but the richness of my life blows it all into insignificance.

Julie Williams

My lightbulb moment is everything happens for a reason!
Life is mysterious and the way things have occurred over the years serves as a purpose or lesson. I believe I’ve been preparing for what was to come ever since I was born.
My parents and extended family (Grandparents, Aunty + Uncle) raised my siblings, cousins and I in a family owned and operated business; a caravan park on the coast of NSW for over 20 years.
We learnt their work ethics and applied them to our own.
This in turn made me ready to now work in Melbourne with my husband and his parents in several business ventures. We even built our house so they were based with us and our children, which has been our living situation for over 4 years. Not every woman would be comfortable with this but I’m positive this was always my destiny. Our businesses would never have been as successful if our dynamic wasn’t this strong!

Nat M

After bub number 2 I started to loose my happy. I struggled for a year slowly slipping away from myself. My family was close to the end my life seemed not worth anything. After travelling across the country my dad arrived for a visit. He gave me the big dad hug at age 37 and I just felt. I had not felt an emotion in a long time and I just remember there was a feeling of being safe. By the time he left 2 weeks later I was well on my way to healing. My light bulb moment was the realisation that no matter what had happened or how I felt people still loved me and I needed to do the same.

Suzie Elo

My lightbulb moment came at an unfortunate time when a very dear friend of mine passed away a few years ago, when I went to say goodbye to her as I knew she only had a few days left of life in her she said to me, Suzie do not worry about the little things in life, only worry unless you really have to. That stuck by me and since then I try to worry if there really is a problem that is hard to fix. Life is too short, we all have to make the most out of it while we are on this beautiful Earth.

Claire F

My lightbulb moment was whenever I find myself in a difficult or stressful situation, I remember the saying …”this too shall pass” it always helps me through a tough event, knowing that I will cope and emerge at the other end stronger and more determined.


My lightbulb moment was when I realised we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Nina Rivers

Realising that I had achieved my childhood dream of being a professional model gave me that extra push to keep working hard and pursuing it even harder. I like to think my 8yr old self would be proud!

Alice Coulthard

My moment… realising there is no limit on the light bulb moments you can have..

Susan Germein

I had lots of lightbulb moments while looking after my ancient 92 year old mother for two weeks recently (ancient is her term – we have a good laugh about her age).

Here are my top 3…

1) I am so like my mother. I share many of her traits, for better or worse (and she is a darling, woo hoo!)

2) one of the final lessons you learn in life is to let go and let other people take over

3) this lightbulb moment involved a brainwave (well same thing really I guess). I found a 1960’s ball gown in her cupboard. I remember my mother getting dressed in it to go to a country ball when I was about 6 years old. Looking at it now, I realised how small it was – Size 8. I had the brainwave to smuggle it home to Sydney, and get my daughter, who at 19 is a size 8 model, to do a photo shoot in the dress. Then we’ll send Nanna the photos (and of course the dress). She’ll love it.

Natasha Andrews

My light bulb moment was when I finally understood while I might be able to do ANYTHING I cannot do EVERYTHING!! My life is a great deal happier now I understand this!

Jill Wilson

Nactiluca Scintialans yes that’s correct you read it, Nactiluca Scintialans. A voracious micro sized plankton killer ‘light bulbed’ a moment of mine while ocean sailing on a black clouded night. Intriguingly it emanates an enchanting spark of light when disturbed, so every splash, swirl or churn yields jewel like fairy twinkles in the dark sea. A diminutive glint evident only by the contrast of the ebony ocean.
I liken this phenomenon to life in the darkest saddest days where there is yet to be revealed a glimmer or shimmer of life breaking through in an unexpected way, but for those who manage to peer in the direction of possibility.

Sophie French

After leaving my corporate job to travel and work around the world, I realised that life doesn’t need to be so serious!! We get ourselves so worked up about small things: deadlines, opinions, money – we could drive ourselves to destruction (and many of us actually do). But really, the key is to put things into perspective. That deadline might be the most important thing in the world right now, but in a year’s time, will it really matter more than your health? Worrying about money won’t make you any more money, but being practical about your next steps will. The opinions of others might feel important, but actually they’re simply none of our business, and we just gotta do the best at ‘us’. And that’s all before I even stepped off the plane…hehe! xo

Kathy Gardiner

My lightbulb moment came at the height of my cancer diagnosis when I realised that even during my darkest days battling a terminal cancer in my thirties, that I still had so much gratitude in my life. It was at this time that I created “Thankful Thursdays” on my blog The Naked Gardiner ( I started to see a ripple effect of gratitude from my followers who too began to participate and share their thanks. I found that each Thursday my followers would wait patiently until I posted my TT and I would often get emails saying that they would wake up and realise “yes, today is Thankful Thursday”. It fills me with much happiness that even through my small personal project of thankfulness, I have created an awareness that everyone can take part in the act of positive thinking and perform thanks. It needn’t be big and showy, often it is the smallest things that bring us so much joy. Creating “Thankful Thursdays” is my personal mission to open everyones eyes to the possibility of living a joy fulfilled life! I think we often don’t realise just how powerful the act of positive thinking can be in our lives but also how our mindset affects the lives of those around us! I am grateful for my lightbulb moment and that I decided to share my thanks with the world.

Grace Cobb

I went from working as a fashion journalist to working as a rural journalist (500 miles from anywhere) in the search of something meaningful, my lightbulb moment was realising it was ok to focus on the serious stuff; drought, issues facing indigenous Australians and export issues as well as love fashion and have a sense of style. Women can be who ever they want to be, and indeed many things all at once.

Loretta Honeychurch

my light bulb moment was when I realized that love is the key to the Kingdom. Have you heard the song – heaven is a place on earth. Well, I think it is. I think it exists as a state of being, not as a place. And to reach that state of being you have to resolve all your shit and connect to Love. And I don’t mean the emotion of Love. The Love I’m talking about is not an emotion, it is ego less. It’s hard to explain, I think the best way to put is it that Love is a stream of energy. It connects everyone. In my work, and a personal growth coach, I have seen what happens to people when they make this connection. And when it happens, for just a moment, I can see them as they really are – pure light. It’s an undeniable experience that changes everything. I have had this experience also and in the moment that it happened I felt pure love and peace like never before. And it stays with you. And your life changes because once you’re connected it’s almost impossible to violate your true values and beliefs ever again. It’s as if you have opened the door to truth. And that’s why I say Love is the Key to the kingdom. And in the kingdom everything is possible.

Olivia Falkiner


My light bulb moment came after years of doing what I thought
I should be doing. Attending the University I should have attended, studying
what I should have studied … and then I met someone who had abandoned the norm
or any shadow of expectation and were just doing what they wanted.

So, I looked through the job spec and highlighted some top
positions that caught my eye and that i could picture myself in in the long-term. I then set about planning a career pathway
that would give me the skills and experience to get where I wanted to go.
I picked a company that inspired me and I applied for an unpaid internship.
After not getting a reply for months and feeling dejected, I applied again. To
my surprise, I scored an interview and now three months later, am sitting in their
head office – learning more about an industry I am passionate about every day and
loving every minute.

My lightbulb moment … was choosing what I wanted to do and
going for it.

Olivia Falkiner

Being a creative person myself and having a Mum who told me that anything i touched was a masterpiece, I have always found it
difficult to understand how some of my friends truly believe they don’t have a
creative bone in their body. It has been one of my lifetime ambitions to
convince them that their worth as a source of creativity is not limited to any
traditional concept of artistry.

Instead, I told them that creative output can be in the form
of literally anything, as long as it was produced by them – a poem, an
arrangement of sticks or a particularly comprehensible articulation of how a
remote-control works. For this reason, I decided to start hosting dinners that
really promoted my friends’ worth as creators. I told them to, “BYO imagination”

So my friends came, albeit reluctantly – the only proviso
being that they had to bring something they had created. When they each presented
their output, I could see their reluctance but after receiving positive
feedback from the audience, I could see pride glowing from each and every
person that stood up.

To say these dinners were a success would be an

These dinners are now a monthly fixture we all look forward
to. It has been so fulfilling to me to see my friends feel so inspired.

My suggestion: grab some friends and host a dinner like

Mrs Porter

Since having my daughter I have realised you can’t do it all (despite
wanting to) and the power of out sourcing!


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