On the surface, Sian seems like your typical high flying millennial, often referenced in the business pages as one of New Zealand’s top young entrepreneurs, and one of the next generation business leaders to watch. She’s travelled to over 45+ countries, and lives what we know to be the ‘suitcase’ lifestyle, working what to her is a traditional ‘portfolio career’ with clients across the globe. The main one of these - is heading up the Kiwi Landing Pad as the global community director working with kiwi startups and technology companies that dream of exporting and have global aspirations.
Underneath all of this Sian caries a personal story that most would describe the definition of going to hell and back, sitting on the dark side of suicide, depression, severe anxiety, bullying, and a joke at the age of 8 about being the angel of death, one starts to add colour to her zest for life.
Sian has had three immediate family suicides including her dad and two uncles, one family murder, and a 4th best friend who she sadly lost to suicide as well.
After decades of being at the hands of tragedy, Sian turned her life around realising at 21 that everything that made her confident was on her, and not in her. She set out to change this by starting again, stripping everything back and building herself up. Quoting that she was unhealthy and numb inside, and has spent the last six years focusing on her ‘mental and emotional hygiene’ which she describes as being an ongoing journey but mostly successful, and something that people don’t do enough off which we are starting to see the impacts of today.
The world we live in is intense, and we often forget to learn about who we are, and what makes us tick. Society gives us a definition of what success looks like, and we compare ourselves and never hear that we are enough. Simpson after living in the enigmatic Silicon Valley for many years realised that the best investment you’ll ever make is in understanding yourself. She learnt that you have to define your success, and decide what being enough is for you - thus removing yourself from the neverending rat wheel of climbing the ladder in life - leading to pending life crisis (which she has seen too many times!).
For the geeks out there, Sian adopts language and sentiments suggesting that life is a series of S curves and that we have thrived and plateau and reach new levels, often at the foot of naivety before we grow again. She is someone who has worked hard to master the mind, through techniques such as neuro-linguistic programming, and mastering her self-talk cycle. And has been known to create safe space in rooms of thousands of people when looking at themes of judgement, capacity for dealing and understanding problems and is fierce of the belief that we need to be teaching and learning compassion, empathy and understanding as our world gets more and more complicated.
Through her personal life Sian has traversed the globe and held the belief that we can learn something from everyone, it is upon us as individuals to find the lesson and learning - an active listener - which was a skill she picked up when she was a mute (didn’t speak) during some of her teenage years.
Sian understands that life is hard, but also beautiful; she teaches, talks and humbly shares with people how she has created fulfilment in her life from a young age and encouraged people to do it for themselves. She also understands the peaks and valleys that come with the entrepreneurial trajectory and lifestyle, having worked with and interviewed many globally renowned founders and CEOs it’d be safe to say she has enough data points to know what ‘makes people tick’, and, struggle. She’s comfortable with vulnerability and has an openness that would make most people’s skin crawl, thinks that platitudes should die and can actively share with people how to be a supportive friend, colleague and lover.
With a background in social media, marketing, storytelling and all things digital, Simpson has been through the vicious cycle that is seeking external-validation and those famous dopamine hits that are making us more insecure. She’s worried about the future and the pressures that usually healthy people are facing because of a more complex and connected world, the impact that is technology, addiction and screen time which we aren’t reconciling as much as we need to, with more people reaching the breaking point, faster.
Whether your 10 or 85, most people would enjoy having a conversation with Sian. Through her trial and error, years of therapy (which she highly recommends) and self-created frameworks for being holistically well rounded and healthy; she’s a millennial voice that can carry a lot of personal insight into the world that we are all trying to navigate and across a full spectrum of topics. She’s a self-professed lifelong learner, is extremely curious and holds other values such as loyalty, achievement and health.
She takes mental health seriously, is an advocate for youth, entrepreneurs and women. She believes we need to do more in the preventive care space by teaching people the mental models to be able to cope in today’s society, and thinks that this should take place not only in our personal lives but in our workplaces and schools, places where we spend a lot of time.
If she were to leave you with one thing that she says helped her to save her life and continues to do: