Anna Speer, COO of AACo took to social media last week sharing her insights from People Stuff. She said, “My devil is the water bomber! Zoë was a key part of my journey in 2010 with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and always manages to remind me why it is important to serve and have a clear purpose as well as to be brave for the people xx ?”.

I love her comment, “being brave for the people.”

It reminds me of when I was a first year summer camp counsellor at the ripe old age of 17. It was day 1 and I had Senior Girls (13-15 year olds). These creatures are well-known for their cynicism and reluctance to appear un-cool.

I knew I had to win these girls over and set the tone for the two week camp, otherwise they would shy away from everything for fear of not looking ‘cool’.

Immediately after lunch on the very first day, it was bucketing rain. Perfect timing for “Body Beautiful”. This is an exercise where participants don bathing suits, roll in mud, and generally get dirty. The objective? Ice breaker, taking risks, and encouraging positive body image. A clear winner for 15 year old girls! I could see the long faces and crossed arms already.

This was it. I had to bring my A-game if this was going to fly. I had to appear fearless, bold, and utterly committed. Let me assure you, I was wondering if I could overcome my own inner qualms about appearing foolish while also worrying about my wobbly bits being exposed in a bathing suit

So I summoned my inner hard core rock star and leaned in: “Screw it, let’s do it!”

I rallied, I enthused, I strutted. In ten minutes I had those girls in bathing suits, covered in mud, and howling like demons running across the campus! I’ll never forget the faces of astonished onlookers! That group went on to try anything and everything those two weeks and had an absolute ball. It is one of my favourite memories.

Not all leadership challenges have a fun payoff. “Being brave for the people” though stands in good times and in bad. Sometimes we need to do things we don’t want to do, with conviction and fierce determinism, totally committed.

Where can you lean in, strip back facades, and roar?


Related Articles:

How to avoid the Water Bomber – one of the Four Devils of People Stuff

Why restlessness is your leadership edge

How to be a warrior leader – and why not to be one


P.S. And when you’re ready, here are three ways I can help:

1. Grab a free copy of our People Stuff Toolkit

It’s the roadmap to better teams and culture and includes an e-copy of my latest book, Loyalty, as well as checklists and templates.

2. Get equipped at our next event

Meet other adventurous leaders seeking to be, think, and do more. Leadership training and tribe meetings are listedhere.

3. Join me and other renegade pathfinders in AMPLIFIERS to get your deep work done.

AMPLIFIERS is an implementation community for big thinkers. If you’d like to amplify your message, motivation and results, send me an email with AMPLIFIERS in the subject line and let me know a little about your work and what big impact you’re striving for.



  • Zoë Routh

    Australia's Leadership Expert, Author of Book of the Year "People Stuff" l Speaker l Mentor l Strategist

    Zoë Routh is one of Australia’s leading experts on people stuff - the stuff that gets in our way of producing results, and the stuff that lights us up. She works with the growers, makers, builders to make people stuff fun and practical.

    Zoë is the author of four books: Composure - How centered leaders make the biggest impact,  Moments - Leadership when it matters most, Loyalty - Stop unwanted staff turnover, boost engagement, and build lifelong advocates, and People Stuff - Beyond Personalities: An advanced handbook for leadership. People Stuff was awarded Book of the Year 2020 by the Smart WFM Australian Business Book Awards.

    Zoë is also the producer of The Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast.