Dominique Bergel-Grant

Tall Poppy Woman

We all start somewhere

I went from overworked employee to starting my own financial advice practice back in 2011. If often got asked why financial advice? For me, this became an incredibly personal question. To understand why here is my story...

My mother was an amazing woman, a Doctor with a very busy practice in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Born in 1940 being a doctor was not the norm and I always admired her for pushing through. I am also incredibly grateful to my grandparents that they held my Mother to the same education standards as her older brother, who by that time was a qualified Doctor.

She had started to build a lifestyle that she defined success by. She had a farm, her home in Sydney along with a range of different investment properties. She was without doubt doing well for herself.

Just before she turned 40 she got married and I was born shortly afterward. The reality of marriage, however, was not one of a fairy-tail, instead, it was one of deception and lies. 

During the marriage, my Mother continued to try to build a lifestyle purchasing a property in London, Los Angeles, and Barcelona. Her dream was to be able to travel freely and benefit from the years of hardwork.

Two years after I was born, my Father disappeared back to Argentina. However, he kept in contact to ask for money. As often is the case with love, she not only helped him with money but went on to set him up in a gemstone business to encourage him back to Australia. He took up the option, perhaps all too eagerly. 

To support this new fledgling business she went on to sell all of her investment properties around Sydney's inner suburb of Glebe. This money was used to by gemstones in the business. Less than two years later he left the country, never to return again along with all the gemstones. At the time Australia did not have an extradition treaty with Spain which was his new chosen home.

So then started a long and lengthy family law court case. My Father however was not willing to wait for the result. He went on to strip the house in Barcelona of all its furniture, illegally sold the property in Los Angeles; his new partner signed the sale documents pretending to be my Mother. A few years later he then went on to sell the Barcelona property again illegally. The one property that remained was the London house.

The years and years of fighting a ghost in the family law court took a toll on my Mother. My Father was unable to be contacted for over 10 years putting a total pause on formal legal actions. In the meantime my Mother had made the decision to keep fighting him with all that she had. She gave up her medical practice and put all her energy into the fight.

She protected me by sending me to boarding school in the United Kingdom, which gave me safety and regularity. However, the downside of this is that it also gave her more time to focus on the fight.

For me as a child there was little I could do. However, having witnessed this it just makes me wish there was someone there to tell my mother to stop the fight. In the end the court case finished in 2003, having started in 1986. The property settlement was confirmed in my mother's favour. However, by this time there was only the London property left. The delay in years had left the London property in a state of disrepair after vandalisation it became a fire sale.

For my Mother, she had put every financial resource and emotional energy she had into fighting my Father. She had nothing left. Within two years of the court case finally finishing she was diagnosed with dementia and passed away six years later. No one knows if the two are linked, but the mental toll the fight took on her I have no doubt possibly contributed to her end diagnosis. 

The legacy I care about

The legacy I inherited from my childhood was a strong sense of independence. As a woman I have always wanted to ensure that I have a lifestyle that I have designed. Now I am the first to say things don't always go to plan. However having a big picture of where I want to be, and the person I want to show up as gives me clarity. It also provides me a measure that I can use to help make key decisions in my life.

This independence has also provided me a clear sense of worth and value and not just in financial terms. Personal growth is something I am always investing and relishing in. During my career, in my own failed marriage, and in other relationships I have found that despite the clear independence streak instilled in me, I have also been impacted by people who try to tear me down. 

From male work colleagues being paid more for doing less work, to female work colleagues seeming to fight it out to be 'Queen Bee', and not the Beyonce kind. I have also witnessed as my personal success has grown some long-term friends starting to question me, doubt me and creating a seed of doubt in my own mind. Friends after all you expect to support you, however this isn't always the case. 

In Australia, New Zealand, UK and other Commonwealth countries the Tall Poppy Syndrome squashes success. Creates a culture where people are not comfortable to stand out, and certainly will hide their success and value to the world for fear of being torn down by those in society, and even by those that are meant to love and support them.

Even in the United States in a country where success is celebrated more than in most other countries there are moments that many have faced where others opinions of them, or perhaps simply a fear of others opinions stops women from taking the steps to achieve success and own the word ambition. 

Some of this is mindset, a fear of standing out, or simply our upbringing and community. 

For me it is important that all women know the steps they need to take to have the confidence to be a Tall Poppy Woman.

Steps To Become A Tall Poppy Woman

This is my legacy and want I want to help all women achieve.

Own The Word Ambition

As women we should be able to define our own definition of success and have the ambition and internal drive to achieve this without fear. 

Legacy

Creating a legacy is the key to being able to keep focus on what is really important to you. We should all be striving to have an impact, big or small, on the world and the people around us.

Self Love

We all need to learn that to be our best self for others we need to start with ourselves. We need to feel like they have the permission to put ourselves first, press pause and occasionally be a little bit selfish. 

Be A Tall Poppy Woman

We all have our one thing that make us unique. The thing we love to do and can lead in. It is time to have the confidence to stand out as you achieve success your way.

Money Story

For many of us we need to re-write our story with money. Money doesn't make the world go around, but it does help to provide you and your family peace of mind. For this reason a good relationship and respect for money is critical to success.

Celebrate Success

It is vital that as women we share our stories of success with each other. This is not only about taking time to reflect and be grateful but is also about helping ensure we not only smash the glass ceiling, but raise the floor.

Learn to Stop and Say No

This last key is vital, and is very personal to me as I wish there had been someone there to tell my Mother to stop her fight and start living her life. This is about allowing yourself a reset button.

More about Dominique

Named by Financial Standard as one of the Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers

Winner of the 2014 Business Transformation Series on Sky Business

Financial Expert on Channel Nine Investment Series

Multi-Award Winner as Both a Financial Planner & Mortgage Broker

Can't Get Enough Of The Real Housewives

Can Be Found Skiing Down The Nearest Slopes

Most Grateful For My Passport

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