Mulhall Creates a New ‘Normal’
18 November 2013 at 9:51 am
With the promise to never go back to a “normal” job, Avis Mulhall’s passion to “change the world” steered her in creating the changemaker community called Think Act Change in Sydney and social enterprise Looloo Paper – a toilet paper business that uses its profits to improve sanitation conditions in developing countries. Mulhall is this week’s Changemaker.
She came from a corporate background, however “ditched her successful corporate career to live in a rainforest in Africa”.
“In 2009 I left Ireland and worked with a charity in the Usambara mountains in Tanzania – you could say it was my first flirtation with the NFP world,” she said.
“I promised myself in Africa that I would never go back to a ‘normal’ job, and I never have.”
Mulhall has represented Australia at the G20 YES Summit and was named in Sydney Magazine’s Top 100 People of Influence for 2012.
What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?
In 2009 I left Ireland and worked with a charity in the Usambara mountains in Tanzania – you could say it was my first flirtation with the Not for Profit world. I promised myself in Africa that I would never go back to a “normal” job, and I never have.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The people and community I get to be a part of. I feel so lucky and privileged to be surrounded by such absolute legends all the time. It’s really heartening to be around such inspirational people, all of whom are working from the heart and making a huge difference. And all of whom make the best bunch of friends a gal could hope for.
What has been the most challenging part of your work?
Finding balance and not becoming overwhelmed. Meditation helps – a lot. It’s so important to find time for yourself, even on those days when you’re super busy, actually especially on those days when you’re super busy. It’s easier said than done, and it’s something that I constantly try to remind myself of.
I consider my greatest achievement to be … Managing to stay alive this long…I’m pretty damn accident prone. But seriously, I guess if I were to look at my life I would say my greatest achievement has been finding my own path in life. Figuring out who I am and what I want to do has been the greatest adventure of all. It’s hard as hell sometimes, but always worth it.
Favourite saying … Well it’s not really a saying, just something I tend to say a lot. And that’s – “if people think you’re crazy, then you’re probably half way to awesome already”. Pretty much sums up how I feel about life. Do crazy things. Be wild. Be yourself. Life will become a whole lot more interesting if you do.
I’m always being asked … what is that accent, where are you from?! Apparently my Irish accent is softening….
What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?
“David & Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell – it’s all about underdogs, I was really interested in reading this as I want to learn more about people-led movements and I think in our current political climate, this is something that’s going to (and needs to) happen a whole lot more.
My greatest challenge is … Isn’t life just one big challenge?! I think life is less about the challenges you face and more about how you choose to deal with them. There always seems to be something challenging that I’m facing, but I’ve found if you face them with optimism and a bunch of good friends behind you, nothing can stop you.
School taught me … I would say school itself didn’t teach me a whole lot. That said, my art and photography teachers were without doubt the two greatest influences of my teenage years. They taught me the power and beauty of being unique, of seeing the world in a different way, of looking at the negative spaces people don’t often see, of analysing and seeing beauty in the small, simple everyday things, of learning to believe in myself and my abilities. They saw something in me that a lot of others didn’t. They believed in me.
What does a typical day for you involve?
Sounds cheesy, but this is nigh on impossible for me to describe as every day is so different. But one thing that is constant is how my day starts – and that’s in the ocean, even through winter. I absolutely must get a swim in or I just don’t feel like myself.
What (or who) inspires you?
Nature. It never ceases to amaze me. I’m grateful for it every day. When you look at how beautiful and amazing the world is, you can’t help but be awestruck.