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Sarah HawleySarah Hawley is the Founder and CEO of Growmotely, the world’s first platform that helps companies engage with worldwide professionals and hire them into long-term remote roles. Sarah is a serial entrepreneur and an investor in startups and has founded eight companies since 2009, including three successful exits exceeding $2 million each.

She is the author of Conscious Leadership: A Journey from Ego to Heart. Sarah is the Co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Women, a community that supports women’s entrepreneurship. She is also the host of the Conscious Culture podcast.

Sarah is fueled by a passion for changing the status quo of how people work, conscious culture and leadership, community, gender equality, and living life on one’s own terms.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Sarah Hawley talks about the period of time when she suddenly lost her father and how she dealt with losing him as her business partner and mentor
  • Leadership styles Sarah’s father had that made her fall in love with business and fueled her entrepreneurial nature
  • Other businesses Sarah launched and what they offered to clients
  • Sarah talks about Wealth Enhancers, Australia’s first millennial-focused financial advisory firm, and how she turned people at the house parties she hosted into clients
  • How remote work has evolved over time, especially in the last decade
  • Sarah’s recommendations on forming an effective remote team
  • The process Growmotely currently uses to match a company with a professional from the global workforce
  • Sarah shares how becoming a new mom fits into her entrepreneurial journey

In this episode…

Working remotely has become the norm due to the pandemic. As an entrepreneur, how can you stretch your thinking and understanding to have conscious leadership with a remote team?

Culture is not your office — it’s not your physical presence. Culture is the way you communicate with each other each day and how you show up. It’s whether you have a lot of systems and processes, whether you’re more fluid or structured. It’s who you are as a business. Sarah Hawley explains how having a cultural fit between your company and your remote team is essential.

In this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, John Corcoran is joined by Sarah Hawley, the Founder and CEO of Growmotely, to talk about entrepreneurship, remote work, and conscious leadership. Sarah discusses her father’s leadership style and how his death affected her as an entrepreneur, how remote work has changed over time, and her recommendations on how to form a great remote team built for success.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04 

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show, powered by Rise25 Media. We feature top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.

John Corcoran  0:20 

Welcome everyone, John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. Every week I talk with interesting CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of different companies ranging from Netflix to Kinkos, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, Lending Tree Open Table many more I’m also the Co-founder Rise25, where we help tech b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. Quick shout out and thank you to Kelly Campbell past guests. Go check out to learn more about her. She introduced today’s guests which is Sarah Hawley, she is a serial entrepreneur. She started and sold multiple companies for over seven figures. She’s currently the founder and CEO of Growmotely, which connects conscious companies and professionals into long-term remote jobs, which is incredibly relevant given the economy today. 2021 her latest book Conscious Leadership: A Journey From Ego to Heart was released. Sarah is the co-founder of The League of Extraordinary Women, a community that supports women entrepreneurship, such a cool course. And if that’s not enough, she also actively invests in heart-led companies with a focus on positive impact for people and the planet and also the host of the Conscious Culture Podcast. Of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcast and content marketing, go to, to learn more about that. All right, Sarah, pleasure to have you here. And you’ve had such a varied career, you’ve started all these different companies, but I want to start at a very challenging time for you, if that’s okay, about eight years ago now, you had worked in this family business alongside your father, and he suddenly had an accident, and he ends up passing away. And you’d actually started other companies where you’re running, you had to step back in your father’s business and wrap that up, resolve that. Take us back to that period of time especially as an entrepreneur, entrepreneurs go through such difficult times. But that just seems like an incredibly hard period to get through. So how did you cope? How did you get through it all?

Sarah Hawley  2:30 

Yeah, it was very difficult time. I mean, losing a parent, losing anyone is never easy, I think. And it was hard for me because my dad, not only was he my dad, he also was my business mentor. And he represented so much of my career at that time. I’d been in business with him since I was 19. And then started my own financial planning company. And we were both very active in the financial planning industry in Australia, and had both served on the board of association of financial advisors and won multiple awards. And we were just very ingrained together in that industry. And so it was a hard time for me because everything in my life reminded me of him and of it all. So I couldn’t escape through work, if that makes sense, because he actually was so intertwined in my work life. But it was also difficult from the perspective of having so much on my plate and I think I had the private client business we private wealth enhances, which was Australia’s first millennial financial planning business, and then also had the League of Extraordinary Women at the time. And overnight, inherited my dad’s wealth map, the financial planning business that I had previously worked with him in. And that business actually had quite a bit of debt. It was strategic debt, we’ve made like five or so acquisitions, if I remember correct correctly over the past few years, but that was a plan that was not didn’t get executed very well, when the founder of the business is no longer around. So there was a lot of debt that I needed to figure out. And I couldn’t really possibly keep going with this business while I had all these other things. Also, I had left that business for a reason. It wasn’t where my heart and passion lay anymore in terms of the buyer clients who worked with them the type of business it was, I was interested in doing something different. So there was that as well. So I spent about a year getting that as tidy as I could and selling it which ended up being okay, but at the same time, my dad had another business, which was much bigger. I think goes around 60 million in revenue at the time. And he had two business partners who by then spent two and a half years, unfortunately in like a legal battle with because I was the executor of the estate and their intention made pretty clear pretty early was to pay the estate $0 for our share of this $60 million revenue business that had no debt, and had been operating for 20 some years that my dad had actually founded. So that was a really hard thing to reconcile as well. So while I was dealing with all of my own business stuff, I was dealing the grief of my dad, the two men who I thought might have stepped in as father figures kind of thing for me at that time actually were pinned as my adversaries. So that was a difficult thing to reconcile with. And honestly, I think there is probably still some disappointment that that happened. I think I’ve grieved a lot of it and reconciled a lot of it, but it doesn’t just go away, it’s still an experience that I had. And it was very, very difficult.

John Corcoran  5:58 

Reflecting back on your dad, you’ve written that you fell in love with business and entrepreneurship, from your time at Wealth Map. Was it his work ethic? What was it that he did that led you to fall in love with business and entrepreneurship.

Sarah Hawley  6:14 

I think I loved just being in control of my own destiny, and I was watching my dad do that in terms of creating your life. No one was telling him what to do or when to do it, or how to do it, he was deciding for himself, and he gave me that freedom from day one. So he never treated me like, I didn’t know what I was doing or as an employee, really, he always treated me as a business partner. He wanted me to eventually take over that business. That was his original plan. And he just always treated me that way as though even when I was 19 years old, he treated me as someone who was competent and capable. And so I was able to because of him explore and step into my power and what I was capable of. So that was really cool. And I think that really inspired me about my dad’s leadership style and the way that he treated not only me, but other people that worked with him. He was someone who everybody got along well with. And I think, looking back, honestly, some of that was my dad didn’t like to have conflict. And that’s something that I’m a lot more comfortable with. And I think it is important. But largely, what I saw also was a man with a really kind heart. And he would give people opportunities and allow them to step in and be the best they can be. And that was really cool to witness. And it’s something that I love about business and leadership now is that one; we get to create every single day. And I’ve become the kind of leader that allows other people to have that freedom to create every single day. And that feels so cool.

John Corcoran  8:02 

Which relates to and I want to get to it, Growmotely, your current business. Before we get to that, you founded a couple of different businesses. So you were juggling a couple different businesses and also the League of Extraordinary Women, which I want to touch on as well. But what were the other businesses? We Love Numbers and WE Private. What were those other businesses that you launched after the stint working with your father?

Sarah Hawley  8:28 

Yeah, so WE Private was the first business I launched which was a private client business, private wealth management type stuff. Then we launched Wealth Enhancers and I was with my ex-husband. Wealth Enhancers was Australia’s first millennial financial planning business. I launched the League of Extraordinary Women, which is a community for female entrepreneurs, with three other female co-founders, then launched We Love Numbers, which we subsequently failed, because of found a burnout, essentially. I had been through so much with my dad, and then my ex-husband was approaching burnout. And we just realized we had too much on our plate, which is probably obvious. But at the time, we felt invincible for a little while and then realized we weren’t. And then along the way, in 2014, which is when we founded Grow My Team, there was four of us who founded that, and that was a global recruitment company essentially helping us find talent anywhere in the world to work remotely for our businesses. So there was four of us who found that we use that recruitment company as kind of our HR department for each of our individual businesses. And that was what started me into this remote workspace. Well, I should say, I went into remote work and then I started Grow My Team, but that was the start of this remote work journey. And I didn’t know at the time that I would end up where I am now actually very passionate and very much working in this space. But that was a side business for about six or so years, that just acted as a recruitment business for all of my other companies, because I turned them all remote.

John Corcoran  10:07 

Yeah, kind of a classic entrepreneurial thing, scratch your own itch and then figure out you can help others with it as well. I want to touch more on Grow My Team, but first Wealth Enhancers. So is that Australia’s first millennial-focused financial advisory firm? I’d love companies that kind of zig when everyone else is zagging to go and kind of a different direction. And some people might say, especially like, 12, 10 years ago now 2012, and you were founding that there’s some people might say, why are you going after millennials? That’s not where the money is at. The most, but a lot of people have said that to you.

Sarah Hawley  10:43 

Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I think that’s my numerology is the number one, which is a pioneer. So I’m always doing stuff that most people don’t really get, why am I doing it? And what am I doing? But essentially, that came out of our own need as well. We were working with older, wealthy, retired or pre-retirees. And I was thinking, well, how did these people get wealthy? They didn’t just get wealthy overnight, they didn’t just become financially free accidentally. They’ve worked long and hard at it. And they’ve probably had advice and people helping them for a long time. But in 2012, nobody’s looking at our generation. And my friends started coming and saying, “Can you help me? Can you help me?” And we were like, well, not really, because we’re not set up to help you. And then we decided, well, let’s do it. Let’s set up Australia’s first millennial-focused financial advisory firm. And we did and it was so much fun, because we grew that business through community. So we had an office that was a house in Melbourne, not rather than being in like an office building, it was a house and we would throw it was in South Melbourne, which if anyone’s familiar with that area, it’s kind of like one, very close to the city, like an inner-city suburb, we would say, in Australia. And we would throw these huge house parties, because we were like, nobody has house parties anymore. Let’s have house parties, and we would get kegs. And we would play beer pong, and all sorts of fun things and not talk about anything, not make any speeches, we just built community. And that’s one of the ways we built our business. So it was a lot of fun just connecting with other young people who were wanting to set themselves up for the future. So we would call them like high performing or high achieving, or whatever words you want to use to wrap around it. But essentially, younger people who were like, yeah, we want to take charge of our future. And we want to know that we’re looking after ourselves, and we want to have fun at the same time. Like doesn’t mean we have to be all stuffy.

John Corcoran  12:38 

So let me press on this a little bit. Because I went to a bit of a party college, I went to my fair share of house parties. I don’t remember ever. I mean, I had a lot of fun and every but I don’t remember going to whoever organized house party afterward and saying, “Can you help me with my investments?” So how did you turn the house party into clients? It was a good source of clients then?

Sarah Hawley  13:00 

Oh, it was great. I mean, that’s how we build up community. I mean, the difference is I knew that it was Wealth Enhancers throwing the party, that office just happened to be a house. So yeah, it was just a way that we built community and everybody in our team were millennials, which was a point of difference as well, because the financial planning industry, and I don’t know how it is anymore, but back then it was very stuffy. And all of the older financial planners were not giving any young financial planners a chance, they would say, well, you need to do your time, you need to work as a paraplanner or as someone else in the office client services for 20 years before, we’re going to let you sit in front of clients. And we went out and we handpicked the absolute best, youngest, smartest, brightest, passionate millennial financial planners and built an incredible community of really just wonderful people who shared an ethos and a spirit for living life to the fullest and knowing that getting financial freedom would give them that. So yeah, we just did it differently, I think.

John Corcoran  14:01 

And now we’re at the tail end of 2021 here. Of course, the pandemic happened 2020 and 2021. And then you start Grow My Team around 2014, which now in the world of like, outsource remote work, feels a little bit like ancient history or feels like you are like a first mover. What was it like then compared to what the world of remote work is like now?

Sarah Hawley  14:30 

Yeah, well, as I say, we built that company to solve our own needs. So we all always had a core group of clients, which was our companies. And then we had a few other clients from there. But to be honest, that business never really grew. It kind of grew in the first two years or something, and then it stayed about at that size. And it was partly I think, because it was a side project and there was no kind of found a leader in the business. But also just because most of the world didn’t really get it, like they didn’t really understand and while people were doing outsourcing, they were looking for BPOs. They weren’t necessarily I don’t know if people are familiar with that, that business process outsourcing. So they really wanted to give their work to another company and have it come back completed, they weren’t really looking to build a team that would be remote and working from home and all of that. I mean, we turned all of our companies remote in 2014. I’ve been fully remote, and nomadic and all sorts of things since then. And most of my entrepreneur friends, I think, didn’t really take me seriously, so they quit on us, because I don’t think many people really knew or understood, despite the fact that I sold two of my companies after becoming remote, and I still built companies and all of that. I think most people didn’t really understand how I was actually doing it or what it really look like. So this has been…

John Corcoran  14:50 

It was a bit of a stigma back then. People would pay, or they thought they weren’t taking seriously, also, there were fewer tools back then right, the slacks of the world and productivity tools and stuff.

Sarah Hawley  16:09 

Most of that has actually been around for a while. To be honest, we’ve probably been using slack and Basecamp nearly the whole time. But yeah, it’s definitely getting a lot better. And obviously, we’ve seen a huge surge in the last two years. But last few years, it’s been fun, because people are like, oh, you actually were like working the whole time and like doing stuff and make sense. I guess the challenge for me now is when a lot of people have come to me now saying how do I maintain culture? How do I do these things, and I have to like scratch my head and remember what it was like when we first worked remote, because it was a long time ago. And the other thing is, I know from my own experience, our culture got so much better after going remote, like remarkably better. And it’s hard to sometimes encapsulate that in a conversation with people that just trust me, it’s actually going to be way better. And it’s not going to be worse.

John Corcoran  17:02 

Let’s dig into that a little bit further. Because a lot of companies that haven’t done remote, they aren’t sure about that. Or maybe they are remote now, including my own and we want to know more about the act of things you can do to build culture, to build a great culture with a remote team. So talk a little bit about some of the different things you recommend that companies do when they have a remote team?

Sarah Hawley  17:27 

Well, I think the thing is to stretch your thinking and understand that culture exists whether you have an office or not. Your culture is not your office, it’s not your physical presence, your culture is how you talk to each other each day, how you show up whether you have a lot of systems and processes, whether you’re more fluid, like it’s kind of the who you are as a business. And what I would offer is that it’s actually easier to see that when you’re remote, than when you have an office, because when you have an office, there’s this kind of walking into a place and feeling like well, if the place is kind of nice, and it does this, then that’s our culture. And that’s what we’re doing for our people. When you’re remote, it comes a lot more down to like how we show up for each other. So it’s partly a shift in thinking and looking at things differently. So what’s important to us as an organization, what’s important to us about how we treat each other, how we treat our clients, and getting some of that stuff down? I think, really, for me, I think the values are the written words that represent or phrases that represent the culture of an organization. And I think what’s important is to be honest with ourselves about those values. Values, and culture shouldn’t be aspirational, it should be what you actually are. And it’s okay to be anything. It’s okay to be flexible. It’s okay to be structured, but be whichever you are like, if you say that you’re really structured, and you attract a bunch of people in who like all of that structure and hierarchy and process, and actually, you’re quite a fluid organization, you’re going to have a mismatch in the types of people. So I haven’t specifically answered your question there. But I did just want to offer that as a way to think a little bit differently. But the other thing I would suggest for companies who are transitioning who were in office and now are remote, look at the things that you did do that you think were enjoyable and valued, and know that there are ways to translate them into an online context. So if you always had lunches together on Wednesdays, for example, let’s say lunch was about Wednesday was like pizza lunch in the office design. You can do that online. You can all get on at 1pm or whatever for an hour and just hang out on Zoom and eat pizza together or something. I think you get the idea. But whatever those things were that you used to do. There are ways for them to translate online but also, can we as leaders take our hands off the wheel a little bit and like observe and trust the culture as it finds itself without having to control it. I think there’s been intentional, and then there’s trying to control it. Being intentional is good, it’s putting that good energy in to making a great place for people, but trying to control and force things that maybe people don’t even want is something to get away from.

John Corcoran  20:26 

Yeah, there’s an increasing number of companies that provide, kind of recruitment and placement services, especially for recruiting from people all over the globe, some specialize in certain parts of the globe. Some have different models, you go to Growmotely, and it says long-term remote roles with conscious companies. Talk to me a little bit about how you decided what your lane was going to be when you started to focus 100% of your attention on Growmemotely.

Sarah Hawley  21:02 

I think it’s been a little bit of an evolution. So I really feel that Growmotely came to me. I don’t know if anybody else ever feels like that with their businesses or with ideas that it’s not like Sarah came up with the idea for Growmotely, I truly feel like I channeled this business and this business exists. So part of my role as the CEO currently, is to listen and understand who is Growmotely and who does it want to be, and who does it want to serve. And then obviously trusting that it chose me to come to so there’s value that I can bring as well in who I am. So that’s kind of how I experience business and entrepreneurship, especially with Growmotely. So I have become a much more conscious leader over the last six years. I think the level of inner work that I have done, the level of that kind of listening and understanding and observing has evolved me as a person. And I think I really look at this business and who has been attracted to it since we started. So when we first started, there was always an idea on culture matching, that was always that was something that we wanted to do. We wanted to help companies anywhere in the world find talent anywhere in the world, where there’s a really good fit. Because the way I see it is now that the entire world is open up, you can find as an employee, you can find the company that does the thing that you are most passionate about in a way that suits you the most with a bunch of people that you enjoy, because the entire world is open to you. And vice versa. As an entrepreneur, we no longer have to just hire people that live in the radius and hope to find good people that also love what we do and want to show up in the way that we do, we now get to open that up to the entire world. And that’s very exciting, because we find the people that really truly love what we do and how we do it and all of that. And so what I understood is, as we continue to journey with this kind of culture matching piece and everything that the way that I communicate and the way that our brand is communicating is attracting in people that are more kind of on this path of wanting to know self, wanting to take personal responsibility, wanting to grow, wanting to evolve, we’re attracting companies and people like that into our field. And so it’s just been a really fun journey. And it feels like that’s really our niche now is the companies that are actually setting up and saying, “Hey, like business can be fun, I can create an amazing environment for me and my team. And we can make money and we can love all of our customers and we can have a really good time doing it. And we can grow as individuals, we can see all the challenges as opportunities for transformation and growth. We are talking to those people. We’re saying we get you were here and we’re here to support that growth and that evolution for you and for your team. And it feels so amazing. I love working with those people and doing this.

John Corcoran  24:18 

That’s cool, but that idea of like matching a company and a person who could be anywhere in the globe, have a cultural fit, how do you do it? What’s the process like in order to try and make a better match?

Sarah Hawley  24:38 

So I mean, we are a technology platform, first and foremost, and then we are supporting what our technology can do through our kind of expertise. So it’s kind of like software and there is an element of service to it as well. So we’re at the moment offering free recruitment support to everyone. So if you post a role on the platform, we will get you connected with a recruiter who will get to know you and how you might want to work with them, you don’t have to. But if you do want that extra support, they’ll get to know the role and the company more, and help you kind of pre-screen and screen and schedule interviews and all that. So there is a little bit of human intervention right now.

John Corcoran  25:19 

You’re speaking my language, I’m like, ready to put this interview on pause and like, boy, hold on a second, I’m going to start putting in some jobs. Okay.

Sarah Hawley  25:27 

Yeah. And we’re doing that. And we may always do that. But we’re certainly doing that right now until we can get the AI part of our technology really out, because that’s going to require a lot of data. But there are some things we’re doing already with the Tech where the company puts out their values and their vision and the missions and candidates actually get to look at the company and say, do I like what these people are about? Do I want to apply to this organization? So we’re starting with what we can from a technology perspective and a matching, we have a matching algorithm that also matches based on some key criteria. That algorithm, as I say, is quite basic right now, because we are new, we’ve only been live for six months. But as we get more data on who people are and who companies are, we can start to match them more without AI. But we are supporting a lot of that matching right now through our actual recruiters doing that work.

John Corcoran  26:19 

That’s an exciting application of technologies to make better matches where happier workers, happier teams, matching them together. That’s really cool. We’re running a little short on time. Before we get my last question, we were chatting beforehand about a big change you had last year. You had a baby, Luka. And you even put it on your LinkedIn there as recognition acknowledgment to all the hard-working moms out there and mom entrepreneurs, and mom employees and workers, oftentimes who aren’t recognized for the double duty they do at home, also having to raise kids. So how’s that changed you? And what’s that experience been like for you becoming a mom?

Sarah Hawley  27:02 

It’s made me even more just incredibly passionate about the way the world is going and the future of work. And obviously, I feel so grateful that through Growmotely, I’m able to be such a big part of that, because my husband and I both work remotely, he’s also an entrepreneur has his own company, all of our teams are fully remote, fully global. And so we get to be at home every day with our baby. And I know that both in Grow My Team and with Growmotely, in Grow My Team, we are about 78% of our workforce were women. I think we’re a little more evenly distributed now with Growmotely, purely because of the pandemic and this shift where everybody’s remote now. But during the last 10 years, it was a lot of women because they wanted to stay home with their kids and keep going with their professional careers. And most companies didn’t make space for that. So what I’m so excited about is the future, there’s a lot more space for us to be fully integrated with what our lives are, and what our work is. And obviously, if part of your life is having children, that’s one of the things I’m referring to it goes transcends that as well. But yeah, I mean, it’s changed me so much. But I do feel just so fortunate that I get to spend all day with him every day. And obviously, I’m not with him. I’m working in my office and stuff. And he has a nanny at the house, which is awesome. But yeah, I mean, it’s crazy. And it’s crazy to think the way the world was and the only option was to take time out. And I think the sad thing about that, from before was that not taking time out, because that’s fine. If you want to take time out and stay at home as a parent, it’s incredible. And I fully support that. That’s why I put it on my LinkedIn because it is a job as well. But the way that anybody who did that usually would have to take a massive down step in their career when they did want to come back. And I think that’s total not cool.

John Corcoran  29:02 

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for sharing that. Well, I want to wrap things up with a question I always ask which is, I’m a big fan of gratitude. And if you look around at your peers and your contemporaries, others in your industry, however you want to define that because you’ve been in multiple different industries. But who do you respect? Who do you admire? Who are the people out there that you would want to acknowledge publicly?

Sarah Hawley  29:25 

It’s such a big question because I feel so grateful for so many people. And I also really surround myself with people that both inspire me and make me proud and so I feel very grateful for their energy and influence. There is someone that I feel grateful for almost every day and it might not be the answer you want, but it’s my marketing manager. My Chief Marketing Officer Theodara Gatin, she’s from Romania and she joined Wealth Enhances with me and then when I sold Wealth Enhancers, she came to Grow My Team. And then she came with me to Growmotely and she is a co-founder and an investor in the company. And I just feel incredibly blessed to have met her. We only have met in person once in Tel Aviv. And it was amazing. But she’s just such a phenomenal woman who is so talented and so connected to feel so connected to me and to what we’re building. I feel really grateful for that. That relationship, but I’m also grateful to EO and my entire forum EO has been, I’ve been a member for eight years. So EO gave me that community that I didn’t have back when I first started, a few years into starting a company. And I’m also grateful to a more recent organization that I joined in 2019 called Fit For Service, which has been truly incredible of people that I’ve met through that the level of deep inner work, I’ve been able to do. There’s so much gratitude. I’m sorry.

John Corcoran  31:04 

No, it’s great. Yeah, I’ve never heard of Fit For Service all to check it out. Thanks for bringing that to our attention. We’ll link it up in the show notes. Sarah, where can people go to connect with you and learn more about you and Growmotely?

Sarah Hawley  31:17 

You can find me on LinkedIn If you sign up for Rise, our newsletter, that’s the my direct thought leadership piece that I send out when I have something to say. And if you reply to that, I read and respond to all of them. That’s the best way to get me.

John Corcoran  31:31 

Awesome. All right, great. Thanks so much, Sarah.

Sarah Hawley  31:34 

Thank you.

Outro  31:35 

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