We met with busy trailblazer Catherine O’Connell, an entrepreneur, lawyer and leader to one of Tokyo’s leading networking group for supporting and empowering women, Women In Law Japan. In Part 1, we dove into her success becoming a “Lawpreneur” and learn what it takes to step up as a leader in the female community in Tokyo. Today, we get more personal and hear about the people and books which inspire Catherine and her points to dressing for business.
A role model in New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern
I got to meet her in person in Tokyo in September 2019 and also got to sit with her and talk all manner of things during a business luncheon meeting. How down to earth, smart and funny she is. I’ve loved seeing her be a role model for global leaders, for women, and for men.
I especially loved it when she said “One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or not assertive enough, or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”
This is the essence of true leadership. She said that following the terror attack in Christchurch in March 2019 and it has resonated with me ever since. If only I can be half the leader she is, I will double my current leadership energy in the community.
Finding inspiration in memoirs and women who challenge the status quo
I have just finished three amazing books. One is a New York Times Bestseller “Lead from the Outside” by Stacy Abrams and the other is a memoir by Karen Hill Anton called “The View from Breast Pocket Mountain”. I also just finished reading another incredibly amazing book called “More than Enough” by Elaine Welteroth, from which an inspiration for driving my “Lawyer on Air” Podcast comes.
She said: “there is so much wisdom locked up in the stories women never tell”. I’m doing what I can to tell those stories and amplify women’s voices in Japan.
Know your rhythm to make your schedule
A day in the life of Catherine O’Connell:
7:30 AM: I’m an early riser so I’m typically at my desk doing creative work for my business and always 20-30 minutes reading for pleasure or a chapter of a business-success book.
8:30 AM: I am on calls and in mastermind groups working on self-development. Usually around mid-morning, if it is a day that I am recording a podcast episode with one of my guests, I would jump online and do the recording, and work on the show notes and social media content with my podcast producer after that.
10:00 AM: By this time, I’ll be on my second coffee of the day (only 2 coffees/day) and I will be right into client calls or client work.
12:00PM: At this time, I turn off lights in my office and take a break including a walk outside. I prep all my lunches on a Sunday so lunches working @home are a breeze. There is nothing like preparation to set you up well for the week.
From 13:00PM: I tend to devote the afternoon to networking, introductions, pitch type calls with clients and potential clients and people I may build long term relationships with. Usually in the evening I have online meetings with organizations I’m involved in such as FEW Japan (a network of women empowering women in Tokyo) and some of the Chambers of Commerce. Before COVID-19 I was consistently out in the evenings networking, but I now (secretly!) relish being at home in the evenings and connecting with people online for fun or building relationships for business.
From January 2021, I adopted a “healthfirst, immunity-first” approach and intermittent fasting is part of my lifestyle now, so I will finish eating by 7:00 PM in the evening through around 1:00 PM next day. To me fasting is not a diet but a lifestyle and it provides me with great liberation, and freedom around having only two meals and the rest of the day for exercise, working, self-time and enjoyment.
Dressing as a sign of respect
I always aim to look stylish and put together for the day from the first call to the last.
How we dress is a mark of respect not only to ourselves but to the person we are meeting with or the event we are attending.
Nowadays, the shift to on-line has allowed people to be more casual in dress style. That is not wrong but it is not the style for me. I like to wear outfits that inspire confidence and professionalism with whomever I am engaging with.
Tip 1: Make it “Stylish”
When I say “stylish”, it isn’t something over the top or the latest fashion trend, but more of a preference for classic designs. I tend to go for separates and love dresses to emit my feminine personality. I usually choose one or two bold colors (blue, red, yellow, orange, pink, green, silver, gold or rose gold) to set off a traditional black and navy core garment.
Tip 2: Accessories make the perfect conversation starter
On my travels overseas I have always looked for interesting jewelry to incorporate in my outfits. I make a point of dressing with one special eye-catching item that is a talking piece like a brooch, or a ring I have made (yes, I make accessories) or a statement necklace. You can style-up any outfit with accessories and keeping an eye out for interesting and novel pieces is a curious activity I adopt.
Tip 3: Don’t let your game down for online meetings.
When I need to work online, from top to ankle I am dressed as I would if I were in an office setting. From left and right of my iMac screen, I have excellent soft yellow lighting prepared and I always have my lips colored and ready for action.
Impressions wearing kay me
kay me clothing is so versatile and really fits my image.
I moved away from suits as a lawyer some years ago, and prefer the dress and jacket look now. I also really love prints and so kay me is easy to fit into the image of professionalism x femininity that I want to portray to my clients and business stakeholders.
A lot of thought has gone into the design and the selection of the stretchy materials of kay me dresses so that they flatter women’s different sizes, and heights and are truly easy to co-ordinate.
I loved the playfulness of the Tiny Dot pattern, and this can easily take me from daywear any season, through to evening if I slip on a jacket. It was such a breathtaking moment to put on the Tiny Dot dress and I squealed with delight when the zip went right up! It cinched me nicely at the waist and glided over my lower body and it felt really nice to wear. I loved the pockets in this design especially.
I am a big fan wearing color as well, and my eyes were drawn into the Japanese design of the Takeyabu Green Wrap dress that I wore in Part 1. I loved that this was a wrap dress and how easy it was to wear. It would be simple to take in an overnight bag or in-flight and arrive fresh and ready for business meetings. There is no way anyone would not see you and remember you in this Japanese print. It’s a signature piece of clothing and I felt elevated wearing this design.
What I noticed wearing the pumps was how they gave the illusion of longer looking legs, which was a new discovery for me. I had such a great time trying on the perfectly made dresses and look forward to seeing further designs in the various ranges they have.