How to self-learn from role models to strengthen your network

How to self-learn from role models

role model
It doesn’t matter that you can’t pick up the phone and call an internationally renowned trailblazer if their advice is waiting for you in easily available videos, podcasts, blogs and books. So there’s never been a better time to self-learn from role models. Here’s how.

This is part six of the the Women’s Agenda Mentee’s Manifesto, supported by Charles Sturt University

In a world connected by social media and the internet, the opportunities to self-learn from role models are continuously evolving.

This is especially helpful if you aren’t surrounded by inspiring peers or are the odd one out in your industry.

Red Gum BBQ managing director and co-owner Melissa Goffin has relied on role models around the world to learn, grow and overcome challenges her entire professional life.

“I haven’t had people that I’ve been surrounded by in the professional world,” she says.

Before opening a successful restaurant, Goffin started her career in media and then moved into teaching.

She thanks role models like Oprah Winfrey for helping her find her true calling.

According to Goffin, Winfrey inspired her to trust herself and find her own path.

“It allowed me to get into this space and realise it was the right space for me,” she says. “Then began the job of figuring out this work.”


Pause for a moment and think about the leaders, trailblazers and game changers around the world who have said, done or taught something that changed your perception of life.

Now, if you could pick any five people from this group to mentor or coach you, who would you choose?

This is a good place to start when looking for role models.

“What are the leaders I want to be like?” says Goffin.

It’s also important to be open-minded and look beyond your industry.

“It’s not necessarily the person that’s made lots of money or got lots of awards,” says Goffin. “These people that inspire you can be from anywhere.”

She looks up to role models like LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Wholefoods CEO John Mackey.

“[Weiner] talks a lot about leading with compassion and being an empathetic leader and what that looks like,” she says.

Learning about these role models’ approaches to staff management has empowered Goffin to handle particularly difficult situations in her own business.

“Without that advice I probably would’ve been stuck,” she says. “It really resonated with me and I put it into action.”


Zendesk managing director for Australia and New Zealand Amy Foo says you can transform your social media feed into a self-learning library by following people with skills and capabilities you’d like to develop.

“You need to make sure you follow the right people in your social media and all the other channels and then that you read books that are related to topics that you’re into,” says Foo.

Her role models are people like Tony Robbins and Michelle Obama.

Foo looks up to Obama so much, she gifted a copy of her memoir Becoming to all the women in her office for International Women’s Day.

“There is never lack of learning opportunities,” says Foo. “Very intentionally explore people you’d like to be mentored by.”


To effectively self-learn from role models, you need to consider what type of leader, business and team you wish to create.

Bec Brideson is a globally renowned pioneer in gender intelligence innovation.

She says that following your role models “feverishly” is a powerful way to level up your skills, expertise and experience.

“Reach out to them, sign up to their newsletters, read their books, absorb their work and become a very good student who continuously learns,” says Brideson.

The next time you come across a role model’s idea or message that resonates, really try to understand why it’s resonating with you and think about how you can apply it.

Goffin suggests even sharing and discussing the idea with your team or peers.

“It’s about trusting yourself when you’ve got an idea, when you’ve heard something that you love,” Goffin says.

The rest of this series can be found here:

Introduction: ‘The Mentee’s Manifesto 2019

Part one of the Women’s Agenda Mentee’s Manifesto: How to build a support network of mentors, sponsors, coaches, personal cheerleaders and more

Part two of the Women’s Agenda Mentee’s Manifesto: How leading women at the top of their game have worked with mentors and sponsors to get there

Part three of the Women’s Agenda Mentee’s Manifesto: How to land a mentor and work with one effectively

Part four of the Women’s Agenda Mentee’s Manifesto: How to benefit from and get started on mentoring others

Part five of the Women’s Agenda Mentee’s Manifesto: Why a sponsor could make a difference to your career

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