by Neometro

Lucy Richards: Young Australian Powerhouse

People - by Open Journal

Lucy Richards has achieved more in the last 10 years than most will a lifetime. Recently selected as a Victorian finalist for Young Australian of the Year for her advocacy for mental health, Lucy has held a variety of board positions in the not for profit sector as well as being the Managing Director of Smiling Mind. All before the age of 30. We ask her how she got started and how she keeps herself balanced around a very busy schedule.

How did you get involved with Smiling Mind?
I was introduced to Smiling Mind Co-Founders Janey and James through a mutual friend. The moment I met them, I knew they were special and I wanted to work with them. I hadn’t ‘formally’ meditated before, however I had unknowingly practiced mindfulness throughout my life in various ways. I LOVED that there was a scientifically proven method to the informal tricks I had learnt to focus my mind and calm my body, and that Smiling Mind was working with the education system to teach these to young people!

Being a state finalist for the Young Australian of the Year Award is a significant achievement, how do think you’d be a positive role model to other young Australians?
It’s been an absolute honour to be a state finalist and I am so grateful for all of the people who have supported me along the way. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. Many people have said to me “You deserve it Luce” which I take as testament to how hard I have worked. So, in terms of being a positive role model, I see myself as an example of giving things a go, backing yourself and working your butt off.

You’ve achieved a lot in your professional career, have you ever had to overcome any stigma for your youth or being female?
I am grateful that on the whole, I can answer ‘no’ to this question. There have been times where people have initially doubted me because of my age or appearance, but my philosophy is that if I can enter a room, conversation or negotiation with as little self-doubt as possible, it doesn’t give them any room to put any doubt me.

You’ve built a remarkable career from an Arts Degree, would you have any advice to young students and graduates who struggle to find professional employment post BA?
I deeply believe in the value and importance of education, and I also believe that real world experience is equally as important. After school, I did one year of full time study, and then finished my degree online whilst I worked 4 days a week in a communications agency. It took me a few years longer to finish my degree but it meant that I had exposure to the business world early on. I learn best by doing, so that method worked for me, and it built my confidence in managing clients, working with budgets and I developed everyday skills like email etiquette and talking to strangers on the phone!

What would be your advice to young professionals aspiring to leadership positions and joining a board?
Say yes to most things. I have read quotes before about “great leaders know when to say no” and “to maximise achievement you have to be selective”… but they don’t resonate with me…yet. It can be a personal downfall and I sometimes exhaust myself saying yes too often, but in these early stages of my life when I have energy and so much to learn, I believe in building a foundation of full, diverse, rich and beautiful experiences and people that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Help! I never know how to answer this question. One of my favourite facts is that when I was in Year 12 picking Uni courses, Smartphones and apps weren’t even invented yet. I never could’ve dreamed up working at Smiling Mind and the journey I’ve been on!

So in terms of the next ten years, I find myself working towards specific feelings and values rather than activities. My three criterion are:

1) The work I do has a positive impact on people in some way.

2) I am always learning.

3) I am working with amazing people.


Smiling Mind promotes a balanced life, what do you to let relax and wind down outside of work?  
I have really had to work on this over the last few years, and I have learnt (/ still learning!) how to manage my life balance. Walking is a big one for me, I love walking for hours – no music, no people, just me. Reading is also great for wind-down moments, as well as being around my favourite people that give me energy.

And yes, I still use and love Smiling Mind! I have two meditations (the 12-15 year old daily mindfulness guide and the 20 minute extended meditation) that I listen to all the time! They are life savers 🙂


Lucy’s Young Australian of the Year profile can be found here.


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