On International Women Day last week, we wanted to meet women who inspire us. Women who are blazing the trail in their industries and building the way for the generations to come.
On March 8 we sat down with Jacqui Hocking, the founder of VSStory, to talk to her about her journey as a female entrepreneur and filmmaker. We talk about the challenges she has faced, her motivations and how she manages to maintain balance.
We met with Jacqui in her shophouse office amongst rolled out yoga mats and cute sushi pillows. When the interview ended, we joined the VSStory team for their daily 2-minute plank challenge. And we’ve got to say - they’ve got a pretty fit team.
What is VSStory?VSStory stands for Vision Strategy and Story Telling. VSStory is a storytelling company based in Singapore that works all around the world to help visionaries get more visibility. The idea is that all the solutions to the problems in the world already exist.
So you've been in Singapore for some years now, why is this region so important to you and to the industry?In my mind, it’s not just the region – it’s that Singapore is the best place to be, especially for doing anything in terms of the future of the planet.
Singapore is so connected to everywhere in Asia and the world. I’m just a complete Singapore fan and I love Singapore. It’s my home. It’s an inspiring place to be and every day I meet incredible people. I’ve already been living here for seven years and I still feel like I have barely touched the surface of how much there is to learn here. It’s such a beautiful mix of science, art, technology and innovation.
As an entrepreneur, did you face a lot of challenges starting out?
Everything! All of the challenges, all of them.
I think the biggest challenge has always been the mental challenge. It’s fear. If you can overcome fear, then you can do anything. It’s always insecurity and fear that hold you back. The worst decisions are made when you are insecure and fearful.
You just have to believe in yourself and trust that everything will work out. If you have confidence, then everything will work out. But if you are coming from a place of fear, then nothing will. I speak from experience!
How about your experience as a woman in business, do you think you faced even more challenges and obstacles because of your gender?
Yes, all the time. And again, all of the challenges!
It’s much better than it used to be. I can’t speak for other industries, but as a filmmaker, there were definitely limitations. I only really realized it when I was older. I was paid less and was always working more. I didn’t get a lot of respect and I was hardly taken seriously.
I think that the biggest realization for me was of my own prejudice. Having grown up in that culture, it never even occurred to me that I could be a director. From day one, I was always going to be behind the scenes as an editor. I think that it was a self-imposed sexism from a society that didn’t really see women as producers, cinematographers or directors. I just never thought of it as an option and the fact that I didn’t even think of it was a possibility just goes to show how bad the sexism really was. That is why I’m so passionate now about female empowerment and showing young girls that they can not only become a director, but also a business owner and whatever else they want to be.
How important is it that we address the inequalities in the gender gap?
It is so important that we talk about the gender gap! We need to hire more women and invite them onto panels. We need more female role models! It still makes me so mad that I can’t find a female role model for myself. I mean you have people like Elon Musk and David Attenborough, two people who are huge role models in my life. But I don’t have any female role models to look up to! Oh except for Beyonce. She’s my one and only.
So I’m hoping that we can create more role models in our generation and the generations to come. I hope that we can create them in the company that we are building.
So you must lead a very busy life - how do you keep the balance? Why is leading a healthy lifestyle important to you?
You need to be physically and mentally healthy to function as a business woman. If you are not, you won’t be able to achieve your goals. To me, physical wellness goes hand in hand with mental wellness. Mental wellness dictates everything in your life. It dictates your personality and even your perspective. You have to take care of yourself. It’s the number one priority in life.
How do I keep the balance? I know that my priority is my health and wellness. If I’m not healthy, it has consequences on everything else in my life. I make it my priority. My health is my number one and everything else is secondary.
What advice do you have for aspiring business women out there?
My advice is to look after your mental health. Learn about how your brain works. It’s really fascinating and will help you discover potential that you never even knew you had. Focus on growing as a person before you grow a business.
Get used to failure. See failure as an opportunity and get excited when things fail. Look at it and go “Oh, awesome, that failed! That means I can now explore the next idea and do the next thing!”.
I’ve got this giant tattoo that says “Always Possible”. It’s never really a question of if you’re going to continue or not. You have to remove Plan B. There is just one thing, and you’re going to do it. There are going to be so many questions to figure out – how you get there, how long it takes, how much you pay yourself etc. All those things are valid questions, but never make the question about whether you’re going to do it or not. Have confidence.
And the last thing is to surround yourself with people you love. When you surround yourself with people you love and you are full of love every day, everything comes from a place of love. And when that happens, everything works out.