Lori Milner is an engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. She saw a gap that needed to be filled when it came to acknowledging the ever-changing role, lifestyle and challenges of the modern woman and her multiple roles: “The Professional”, “The Individual”, “The Home-Maker” or “The Wife”. At Beyond the Dress, they understand how personal and professional roles are no longer interchangeable and that a well-balanced woman is a better employee, boss, spouse and caregiver. With this in mind, Beyond the Dress aims to facilitate ones company’s connection to their female employees through tailored programs that address the unique challenges and needs facing this new modern corporate woman.
My Highlights | In life, my highlight is having married by best friend and equal. My proudest achievements are my children. I have a son, Aiden who is 3 and a little girl, Noa who is 1. They are my greatest lessons and have taught me what is really important in life. My children have given me a new perspective on work/life integration and the importance of saying no as I realise the impact it has on them when I don’t. They have also provided me with a new sense of self awareness and how important my actions are as they mirror everything I do.
In my career, it is the imminent book launch for ‘OWN Your Space’: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in March. This is a collaboration with CNN Editorial Producer, Nadia Bilchik. It is a culmination of our knowledge from training workshops and our career experience and has allowed us to touch more women than we ever could and shared more in any training session or workshop. I am proud that this book has been a platform to enable us to tell the South African story. We have had the privilege to interview some of South Africa’s leading business women from CEO’s to High Court Judges and include their insights and stories. OWN Your Space has allowed us to showcase the amazing talent we have in this country and how these pioneers are leading the way for the next generations.
The Difference Between Good And Great | Passion. If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. If what you do gives you a purpose and meaning, then you will dedicate everything you can to it. A passion of your craft will naturally lead you to want to master it and that means equipping yourself with knowledge, staying up to date on the latest trends and putting in the time.
A Key Talent | My biggest strength is project management. I am an A-type personality so I naturally have an acute attention to detail on everything that I do. I am exceptionally organized and plan what tasks need to happen and when. If I need to manage other people, I provide detailed instructions on their requirements and set deadlines to ensure we complete a project on time. For example, the biggest project to date has been the book which took one year from start to completion. Nadia and I are in different countries as she lives in Atlanta, USA. I had to plan meticulously to ensure we had enough time to write, review and edit each chapter to send to the publisher in order to meet their time lines. If you have a big project or proposal due for example, think about the end deadline & result and work backwards to ensure you meet it. Remember to always build in some extra days as life happens and things inevitably will get in the way. Consider things like sending it to a third party for review, do you need to reply on external factors like pricing before you can proceed? Once you have all the bigger picture elements, break down your project into the smaller tasks and schedule them on your calendar and respect the deadlines set. When you know exactly what needs to happen and when, it gives you the control and confidence to succeed.
How I Use My Mind | My father instilled in me 2 great lessons: life is choice in everything that we do and to live by positive thinking. I am a big believer in the power of thought. Your thoughts create your reality and there is great power in that. You have the choice to either view something positively or negatively. You are responsible for the rhetoric you tell yourself, you can choose one of self-belief and self-confidence or you can choose on self-defeat; it all begins with your thinking.
I also meditate and visualize daily. Meditation allows me to quiet my mind as well as energise me. With 2 small kids, I don’t have the luxury of rest when I always need it. However, 20 minutes of focused meditation gives me tremendous energy. I visualise the end result of what I would like to achieve, in other words, it allows me to imagine what success looks like for me. When you have a clear idea of what you want, it allows you to focus on the tasks that matter most and what will assist in allowing you to reach those goals.
Lessons I Have Learnt | People do business with people – aim to establish relationships first. Ask yourself where you can provide value before you ask for something. We call it being a ‘go giver’, not a ‘go getter’. Have integrity in everything you do – your reputation is all you have at the end of the day. Make sure you are finance savvy; you don’t have to become an accountant but make sure you understand the numbers in your business. There is no such thing as work/life balance – no company or person can give that to you. It is not possible to separate yourself into 2 worlds of personal and work. It is about work/life integration. Find what works best for you and never compare yourself to others. There is no substitute for preparation. This includes meetings, interviews and public speaking. Preparation provides you with the confidence that you can add value to those around you. With confidence, you can achieve anything.
Dealing With Doubt | I had great self-doubt in the early stages of my business, Beyond the Dress. I do believe I was slightly ahead of my time in terms of providing corporates with self-development programs aimed specifically at women. I had great doubt if people would buy into the concept. In the book, we share a tool called your Positive Emotional Memory database. In times of self-doubt, I play a mental ‘reel’ of all the past successes I have achieved. This is anything from my kids, to great training workshop or an event I ran. The point is to remind me I am where I am today because of who I am and that success is a culmination of my all achievements. This was the driving force to pursue my passion and I haven’t looked back.
I deal with negativity through gratitude. If I experience a negative thought about myself, I use the tool of gratitude. I write down the things in my life I have to be grateful for and this provides great perspective for me. It is difficult to remain with a negative thought when there is so much positivity to focus on,
Performing At My Peak | I take time out for me through exercise. This allows me to focus, re-energise, de-stress and often my best ideas happen on the treadmill. I am a very healthy eater and make sure I am getting the right food throughout the day to keep me energised. I also listen to my body and rest when I need to.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I make sure I read a balance of books to grow me both business wise and spiritually as a person. I love Jack Canfield, Napoleon Hill, Timothy Ferriss, Anne Lamott and Derek Sivers. I also watch a lot of TED talks as I find these very inspiring.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | In her interview for the book, Judy Dlamini, Executive Chairman of the Mbekani Group said ‘Be kind to yourself and just move on when you make a mistake. Don’t take yourself too seriously’. My advice to someone wanting to start their own business would be ‘You never have to know what the end looks like in order to start something’.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would like to leave a legacy that every person I touched either through a training workshop or the book, understands that the gap between where they are and where they want to be is completely within their control. My legacy is to arm women with tools to create self- confidence and enable them to become the best version of themselves. Nothing would make me prouder than knowing someone reached their goals because I gave them the permission to do what they inherently could always achieve.