Catherine Moolenschot had her first book published at age 13. She became a TEDx speaker at only 17.
Now, in her mid-twenties, she mentors CEOs and professionals regularly, focusing on the process of helping them writing their own book in under 6 months.
“I’ve found that because I don’t doubt or worry about whether I will be taken seriously, I am taken seriously by some incredibly successful people,” she told Women’s Agenda.
Moolenschot says the key to her success as an author, keynote speaker and ghostwriter stems from a belief in her own capability and developing her communication skills.
“Once you are confident in what you have to say, and are good at saying it, people listen.”
She is the author of the new biography of Jim Penman, the founder of iconic Jim’s Group of Jim’s Mowing fame. The book reveals the story behind his tumultuous business journey and how he became Australia’s accidental backyard millionaire.
Below, Catherine tells Women’s Agenda how she got her first book published, about her writing process and what it’s like mentoring CEOs.
Your first book was published when you were very young at just 13 years old. What initially sparked your interest in becoming a writer and what motivated you to get that first book published?
My interest in writing was sparked by an advanced English class at school, which was where I wrote my first short story and realised how much I loved it!
Writing my first book was prompted by a Year 8 Project at school, and I was determined to have it published somehow. I reached out to a manuscript assessor who kindly assessed my novel and boosted my confidence by saying my manuscript was better than some manuscripts written by adults she had assessed. I asked her for publishing advice and given my short timeline she recommended I publish through Lulu in the United States.
You’ve recently written a new biography on Jim Penman, founder of the iconic Jim’s Group. What was the process like of uncovering the details of his complex character and putting it into writing?
The experience of writing Jim’s Book was fascinating. There are so many pieces of the puzzle to Jim’s personal life and business story, and every time I interviewed someone I would learn new things or have aspects of his character and story confirmed. Jim is a complex, interesting character, at times contradictory, and at times surprisingly consistent. Some people love him, others don’t. It was interesting hearing all sides and then writing it into a narrative that I hoped would be fascinating, informative, and show his odd and inspiring traits.
What is it like mentoring CEOs and earning their respect while you are in your mid-twenties?
I love mentoring CEO’s and professionals or ghostwriting their books for them. It’s very rewarding work and they have so much knowledge to share.
I don’t go into meetings worried about earning their respect, in fact, the question of whether or not they will respect me doesn’t cross my mind. I love book writing and I know how to do it, and that’s what they want to see me for. My confidence comes from my capability, and I’m honest about what I am good at and not good at. I believe they respect that and appreciate the quality of my work. That isn’t to say I would impress everyone. But I do work full-time, so enough people are impressed to want to work with me.
Can you offer any tips to anyone who want to be taken seriously by executives in the workplace?
I think confidence stems from capability plus the ability to communicate. For anyone struggling to be taken seriously, I recommend having a good think about whether you may be falling short in your knowledge or skills, or in your ability to communicate your ideas and opinions confidently.
Once you are confident in what you have to say, and are good at saying it, people listen. But it can be a tough journey to get there. I was lucky that in Year 11 and 12 I attended many business trainings and public speaking trainings outside of school (and sometimes I took time off school to attend those courses), and it meant that I graduated from high school with more commercial skills. (I still had, and have, a lot to learn but it was a good foundation).
Believing in your ability is crucial. I’ve found that because I don’t doubt or worry about whether I will be taken seriously, I simply take the other person seriously and expect the same, and I am taken seriously by some incredibly successful people.