My Shanghai, an Urban Family series where we ask a Shanghai-based somebody to tell us about their life.
Founder of BOSS LADY and crusader of supporting women in business, Rachel Barac shares her thoughts on saying ‘Yes’, becoming involved in TEDxPuxi and her plans to empower women to reach their potential.
What is your career background and what brought you to Shanghai?
My background is in psychology, recruitment and human resources. I graduated with a Masters of Psychology and worked in recruitment and human resources in various industries for 10 years in Sydney, Australia before moving to Shanghai. My husband received a job offer in Shanghai and I was ready for a change from the work I had been doing, so we decided moving would be a good opportunity for the both of us professionally. Plus we were excited for a new adventure!
How did you become involved in TEDxPuxi?
I was introduced to one of the TEDxPuxi committee members through a mutual friend. I thought she’d be a fantastic person to speak at a monthly event I host called BOSS LADY breakfast. From there, we got chatting and she let me know about an opportunity that had come up to join the TEDxPuxi committee. I jumped at the chance because I’ve always found TED and TEDx so inspiring. I attended the TEDxShanghai women event held in Shanghai last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.
How did TEDxPuxi decide on this year’s theme?
This year’s theme is "YES! and…" The theme is derived from principles used in improv where you’re required to build upon previous input and allow yourself to be open to new possibilities.
This year’s theme encourages people to ask themselves what would happen if they said “Yes, and…” instead of “No, but” in their everyday lives. Embracing this more open approach tends to allow for better conversations and solutions that explore more territory. It acknowledges where things currently stand and then dares to take it further.
Tell us why you started BOSS LADY breakfast
I have always felt passionate about supporting women in business. I want to make a contribution to achieving equal opportunities for women and helping women to realize their potential.
When I moved to Shanghai, I was struck by the entrepreneurial spirit of this city. I met so many inspiring, creative and innovative women living here.
BOSS LADY grew from a desire to create a fun and relaxed way for these kindred spirits to connect, swap stories, share ideas and support each other; with the aim of helping people to improve their business and lives.
Can you explain what it is?
BOSS LADY is a conduit for helping women to achieve their goals, and to meet other ‘kickass’ women along the way. It’s about building a community of support and opportunity where people can tap into each other’s expertise and experience.
We host a monthly breakfast where a high profile guest speaker will share their insights with the group on a specific topic. The get-together is held at one of Shanghai’s boutique cafes, giving the event a relaxed vibe and also allow attendees to have a yummy breakfast before they tackle the day. There is also a WeChat group where members are encouraged to ask questions, seek advice and celebrate their wins.
Can anyone join the meetups?
Absolutely! Anyone with a desire to meet new and interesting people and the motivation to move themselves forward either professionally or personally should join up. The group started out focusing primarily on connecting entrepreneurial women in Shanghai. However, as our membership has grown and become more diverse, so too has the range of topics we are covering.
Can you tell us about a standout meeting?
It’s difficult to think of just one standout meeting because I have learned something new from each of the breakfasts; every speaker has shared a unique perspective on their specific topic.
However, one guest speaker whose talk really resonated with me was a Psychologist named Elise Zhu. Her passion for neuroscience and how we can apply principles of neuroscience to our everyday lives really appealed to my interest in Psychology.
You have a networking event coming up on October 30?
Yes! I’m excited to be hosting our first BOSS LADY Speed Networking Night. We are taking the concept of speed dating and applying it to a networking event.
One of the main benefits of being a member of the BOSS LADY community is the access you have to other brilliant women. You can really expedite the process of getting your business idea or project started by tapping into this awesome network. It’s also a great way to meet other interesting people and to open yourself up to new opportunities.
Networking events can be daunting. By helping facilitate the networking process through a series of quick and organized conversations, you take away a lot of the awkwardness usually experienced at regular networking events.
The BOSS LADY Speed Networking Night involves a dozen, 6 minute one-on-one chats. Once the 6 minutes is up, you move on to the next person. Knowing you only have 3 minutes each to chat, means you focus on what is really important to both of you rather than just small talk. All are welcome to attend but there are limited places.
What do you see as the future for BOSS LADY breakfast?
I see the BOSS LADY community expanding with more and more women coming together to get inspired, to support each other and to build a real community of empowerment. Events will expand well beyond the monthly breakfasts, but we will always maintain our commitment to inspiring people both professionally and personally.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by seeing positive change in people, and helping facilitate that change.
I’m inspired by people who have created the type of life they want for themselves on their own terms and who are driven to give something back to the community.
You have a young son and another child on the way, how do you balance it all?
Having a partner who is very supportive of new projects I want to undertake is especially helpful. Also having an Ayi for four hours during the weekdays is a massive bonus! It allows me to go to any morning meetings and focus on getting some work done. I know once baby number two comes along my time will be stretched even more. If there is one thing I have learned from the amazing women at BOSS LADY, however, it’s to face challenges head on. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Feeling inspired to join a BOSS LADY breakfast or the upcoming Speed Networking Night? Scan the QR codes to become involved with Rachel Barac and an empowering group of women.
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