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I saw the movie ‘The Intern’ with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro in the cinema when it came out late in 2015. It brought tears to my eyes…

Then my mother, returning on a Qantas flight, watched the same movie a few weeks ago and she called me to ask (tongue in cheek) if I had been ‘writing screen plays’ in my spare time because there was similarities to my own life in the film.

Then a fellow female founder from the EY Global Women’s Program #EWW wrote a message on her Facebook page tagging her other female founders including me – saying, ‘hey women have you seen The Intern – Hollywood seems to know we are not alone and face different challenges as we grow our businesses.’

And then when listed The Intern as one of the must see movies for 2015, I thought finally I should say why I think this movie spoke to me….

It was so not about the mature intern Robert De Niro’s character (he played a guardian angel role really), though perhaps retirees might think differently… for me, it was the journey of a woman to create an amazing enterprise – completely focused on the customer.

To me the movie brought up a number of issues faced by female founders that may or may not be experienced by our male counterparts…. But I know for women these issues are amplified.

One question I have explored for myself is: why do more women not grow larger businesses… and as I am involved in Heads Over Heels, Scale Investing, EY Winning Women, Telstra Business Women’s Awards, CBA Women in Focus – I do all these things to support other female founders – but also because I am trying to answer the question of why do we not have more large female founded enterprises? I am no closer to answering that question.

Perhaps the answer might be hidden in this Hollywood movie:

  1. It can be lonely at the top – who have you got to confide in who has experience and insight but gives it without judgement
  2. Who do you have in your ‘corner’ to barrack for you, celebrate with you, and see you as the winner you need to be to drive continual growth
  3. How can you learn to give up the ‘detail’ but never give up the passion and understanding of ‘customer experience’ – being able to trust and inspire others to care as much as you do about the customer journey
  4. How can you keep your investors (partners) aligned and informed to ensure that just because you do it ‘differently’ does not mean that it is wrong or won’t work.

There are many other areas of the movie that held the mirror up to my own life. Especially about the great divide between being a business person as well as being a wife, mother, daughter and friend. The expectations we place on ourselves to ensure that we excel at every role we play.

I have just finished the manuscript for my next book – and if there is one thing that I wanted to come through loud and clear – it is that there is no perfect….. but choosing carefully who you surround yourself with will make the world of difference to your experience of life – particularly as a female founder.

I rewatched the moving on a Qantas flight last week – it still brought a tear to my eye… but I do wonder if the subtleties of why it has this effect on me would be lost on my fellow directors or the leaders around me – after all each entrepreneurial journey is a long and personal one… we can never distinguish between our work and home life – we have just one life…

Reader Interactions


  1. While I haven’t seen this film (yet), this post really hit home as to why I created a village for female business owners. It’s only their fellow female founders who truly understand them, personally and professionally. Those who can genuinely support them through the highs as well as the lows, and can congratulate them fully on any achievement big or small. Supportive friends and family are always welcome, but it’s not until you’ve lived the experience that you can help in a way others cannot. And yes, it’s now on my “to watch” list. Thanks Naomi.

  2. Whilst the movie wasn’t that great the message of choices we make as business founders and risk takers is strong

    So many are alone , anything male or female that assists those to be great is of great value to all

  3. Ooh I loved how you could put on paper the reasons why we do not have more female entrepreneurs in large businesses.
    This movie resonated with me in the exact same way. Being a dentist owning my practice( small business) my specific reasons to not grow big were:
    – you have delicate one in one customer service .. Which can never be like yours. And I could not let go of that.
    – your working hours have no limits. Although I’d take every moment I could to think about work , I still physically chose to balance home and work . The guilt factor still remained.
    – it is lonely at the top. The male ego is very much a factor. Something you may be talking about matter of faculty is interpreted by male colleagues and at home very offensively. At one point you get tired of explaining yourself.
    Every entrepreneur needs a Robert do Nero intern … And then watch her soar high.
    Kiteon my friend!

  4. Hello Naomi

    I too loved this movie and can understand your perspectives. I thought Ann Hathaway did a wonderful job reflecting the many challenges of the entrepreneurial woman. I appreciated DeNiro’s character. His role reflected a growing need in our world. The older executive who is deemed unemployable by the market because of his age. We have a growing number of such in Australia who can contribute so much to business but business doesn’t want to employ them for a variety of reasons. One that is much misunderstood is that one can continue to have ambition & drive without having a desire to continue to be promoted or wanting the next big thing. The desire to have an impact on the customer experience and the younger employees is as strong a one as that drive for rise up the ladder.

    Unfortunately, if one doesn’t wish to start their own business, nor own a franchise or drive an Uber, the career options can be limited for the 50+ ex-executive who still has such much to give the business world.

  5. I am founder and CEO of Dressed for Sale which started on March 4 2014. Franchises are currently for sale and I plan on selling at least 50 franchises in Australia and also global master franchises. I also have 4 children under 11. Whilst I am surrounded by amazing advisors…what has been killing me has been all the administration attached to being a family. I have silently wished I had a “wife” or Alice from the Brady bunch …especially as I will be travelling at least 3 – 5 months of this year. Cleaners and nannies were not cutting it anymore. So this year I have employed a full time “wife/Alice” who my children husband and I love….I feel like the world has lifted off my shoulders and I am free to fly…something often male CEO’s take for granted. Nothing matters to me more than my children…so we didn’t get a cheap solution of an au pair, we value our privacy so Lisa only lives in when we are away….I see it as an investment in my children to know that their care and well being doesn’t suffer this is an expensive option right now…but my kids are worth it!

  6. That’s so true it does make a huge difference when you surround yourself with the right people! Can’t wait to read your next book! xx Jodie

  7. Absolutely agree! Love your point about giving up the detail. It is so hard when you are trying lots of different things to push the boundaries. Sometimes it is hard when delegate to encourage the risk taking to try different things and not to accept the status quo. Nice to know I am not unique.

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