Director’s Circle: Karla Steen, The Life Approach and Approach Adventure

Co-founder of the Life Approach and Approach Adventure, Karla Steen is an inspirational advocate for women recognising their potential and rising to the top. As a mentor for me personally, Karla has been a huge support in helping me to realise how to turn crazy ideas into real life craziness. I'm not sure if that's a good reference or not - but there's no doubt that Karla is making a positive difference in our region.

What was the biggest surprise for you about starting a new business?

The support we received and the people offering to help us. Mackay really has an amazing community of people wanting to see small business succeed and we have been able to tap into the expertise and experiences of many others. It also shows it’s worth taking a gamble on an idea you may have always had because, for the most part, others want us to succeed and are willing to share their own learnings. I’m grateful to the many people who have linked us up with help, given us ideas or advice or used our services.

What’s your favourite part about being a business owner?

The ability to be really creative and to choose my own hours. I am always on the lookout for new ideas and having my own business allows me to experiment. It is really important to me that I can work flexibly around my 7-year-old daughter and my other commitments (I’m on the Mackay Hospital Board and undertaking a postgraduate research degree), which means I can work on the business any hour of the day or night.

What do you consider the key to success?

Having a very clear vision of what you want for your life, first and foremost. If you know how you want to live day to day, that often drives how you manage your work or business roles. In my experience, the people who are the most successful have a good balance between health, family/friends and work. I definitely didn’t have this balance right in my early career days. My life vision changed dramatically when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, it made me question what I do and what is important. Success for me personally is being able to balance life while making a positive contribution to the world in some way.

What is your top tip for keeping organised?

I wish I was more organised as I always have at least four or five projects on the go at once, I make a lot of lists… but I think for me that is just who I am. I move in between projects, roles and clients all day. I have started working with a mentor to help me be more disciplined with my time and learn where I should allocate my time more effectively and what I should say ‘no’ to.

Explain yourself in one word.


What are your non-work habits that help with your life-work balance?

I try to not work between 3pm and 7pm (weekdays) so I can spend quality time with my daughter which means I do a lot of work very early in the morning to have that time off. Being around my friends is very important as well and helps me keep calm and happy, so I do make time for coffees or exercise with my friends. Now that we (business partners Jarrah Steen and Claire Christensen and I) have started Approach Adventure, I will be spending more time outdoors which will be awesome for my health and well-being.

Give a shout out to three local businesses.

There are so many amazing businesses I would like to give a shout out to, but here are some that I’m loving at the moment, who have brought new and innovative services to our region:

Split Spaces (co-working space) – I have been working out of there for a couple of weeks and am so inspired and excited about what I have learned from the other people working from there. Jarryd Townson, the driving force behind this space, is constantly arranging opportunities to learn from experts and connect with amazingly successful and knowledgeable people. I think Mackay is very lucky to have this space so if you haven’t had a look at what they have to offer, in terms of workspaces, mentoring and workshops, it’s worth checking them out.

Kadence Group – I’ve known the founder Kristy Gostelow for a few years and she is a multi-passionate business woman with an amazing range of talents who is offering the community a great service through Kadance. After years of managing her successful musician daughter Tia, she is passing on her extensive knowledge of the music industry to young people in the region and their parents in order to connect local talent with opportunities they would not otherwise receive in regional areas. She also has a number of other initiatives on the go in the music industry, again aimed at supporting local talent, including Timberfest. If you know a young person with a musical talent who wants to take it to the next level, Kristy is the woman to speak to.

For the Love of Hair – Not only is the amazingly creative Christine Moohin a masterful hairdresser, she is the creator of Mooz Gluten free biscuits. Everything Christine touches is perfection and her sense of style and design makes me very happy when I walk into her new salon on Sydney Street. Another multi-passionate business person, Christine is one of those people you walk away from feeling calm and totally inspired… with a great haircut… oh and her biscuits are sensational!

Check out Karla and the work she does online at The Life Approach and Approach Adventure