In conversation with Danielle Gescheit
Dani is by far the most motivated and determined person I know. And I know her very well, because she is my womb mate aka my identical twin. But don’t let that fool you, because Dani is like no other, and it’s not just my bias opinion that thinks that. You see, Dani is the Head of Professional Tennis Operations at Tennis Australia, as well as the Federation Cup manager, simply put- Dani plays a huge part in the day to day operations of Australian professional tennis (Go team Barty!). Oh and she also just finished her Phd whilst doing this! She has ran marathons, done triathlons, trekked to Everest Base Camp and drank whiskey chilled with glacial ice. Let’s meet Dani…
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Personally, I’m a lover of F45, black coffee, naps, activewear, maths, all sports, margaritas, boxing, pizza, dogs and yoga.
Professionally, I am the Head of Professional Tennis Operations at Tennis Australia where I have worked for over 9 years. I am grateful to be able to work with some truly inspiring people whilst also granted the opportunity to travel the world with my job. The journey to get to where I am professionally stemmed from an academic pathway and a passion for tennis. I used to play a lot of tennis growing up and was also a tennis coach throughout my 4-year undergraduate double degree. In my last year of undergrad, I was accepted to undertake a student placement in the Athlete Development team at Tennis Australia…the rest is history. However, given elite sport is a very competitive industry to work in, I knew I needed to continue to up skill myself in order to expand my horizons. So I went on to complete an Honours year and subsequently completed my PhD in Sport Science near the end of 2018. So, in short, I’m a ‘very close to thirty’ sporty nerd.
You are incredibly driven and motivated in your day to day life. How do you manage to maintain this? And what tips would you provide those who are wanting to increase their drive and motivation?
If your passionate about what you do, the drive and motivation comes easy. I love F45 so the daily 4:45am alarm to get to class seems a little less painful. I love tennis so the grind at work becomes enjoyable. I love to learn so the commitment of time and brain power is a ‘no-brainer’ (pun intended), I love the continual reflection and development of self so the constructive feedback and tough lessons are welcomed.
So to those who need a drive and motivation boost, I would suggest to see things in a different light. Having a growth mindset can mean the difference between wallowing in a failed relationship, business decision or even pasta sauce to seeing the opportunities and the learnings in a new found freedom, a ‘what not do to’ business outcome or a delicious tomato soup. Perspective is a glorious thing and can unlock a depth of drive and motivation.
What advice would you give women who are also working in male dominant industries?
Diversity in the workplace is more critical now than ever before. So being a woman in a male dominated industry is a fundamental strength. To be able to provide a diversity of thought, experiences, emotions and ideas as a female ensures professional decisions and outcomes are considered and considerate. So if you’re a woman working in a male dominated industry, I hope you see this as a grand opportunity for you personally as well as your business/organisation.
What has been your biggest learning curve throughout your professional career to date?
My biggest professional learning to date is that anyone can be a leader. You don’t have to have the title, the experience or the salary to be defined as a leader. With passion, determination, relationships and empathy, anyone can start a movement, build a strong culture or drive positive change…and that is leadership. The learning has made me feel far more empowered to make a difference in my workplace and contribute more broadly to the goals we are trying to reach as a collective.
What relationships have been integral to your journey?
The most integral relationship throughout my whole journey has to be with my beautiful twin sister, Jazz. From the womb until now she has been by my side as my guiding light, voice of reason and sometimes punching bag. If I am in doubt on a work decision, I call Jazz. If I am going through a tough time, I call Jazz. If I am on top of the world, I call Jazz. If I’m hungry, I call Jazz 😉 She is my go-to for everything and she always manages to give me the exact thing I need to move forward. It may be harsh advice, it may be a shoulder to cry on, it may be a quote or even just a bottle of wine and pizza. I have absolutely no doubt that I would not beg anywhere near as happy and successful and confident without her in my life.
Do you ever experience self-doubt? If so, how does it manifest for you and how do you combat it?
Of course! Are you even human if you don’t experience self-doubt? 😉 For me, self-doubt can arise when my knowledge and/or skills are questioned by someone I deeply respect. However, I have become far better at owning both the breadth and limitations of my abilities. I am far more comfortable now admitting I don’t know or asking for help. Yet, I am also far more confident to back myself when I have the facts and belief that something is right or wrong
If you could tell your 15-year-old self anything, what would it be?
The biggest lesson I would teach my 15-year-old self is that it doesn’t matter what others think of you. I used to really struggle with the opinion others had of me physically, emotionally and intelligently. However, with age and experience I have come to learn that if you’re comfortable and happy with yourself in every aspect, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. This has allowed me to live more confidently and express who I am without fear or anxiety of what others perceptions. I wasted years and tears stressing about the thoughts of others when I was young and wish I could go back and slap my 15-year-old self in the face and tell her the wake up and enjoy being you!
What is your favourite life lesson?
When I’m having a tough time personally or professionally, I always think of the saying ‘this too shall pass’. Time, and the perception of the time, has a wonderful way of changing the meaning of something. In a moment of struggle, I always try to consider how I will feel about the situation tomorrow, in a week, in a month and in a year. In most cases, I come to the conclusion that things will only get better with time and this can substantially change how I feel about the tough situation in that moment.
Our ethos at Jasmine Alexa is encouraging women to set their own pace. How do you slow it down and set your own pace?
My days are typically jam packed from the second my alarm goes off in the wee hours of the morning until my head hits my pillow at night. Me, like most people, are swept up in the fast lane of life. Therefore, in order to set my own pace and slow down I typically turn to family, friends and yoga. There is no better way to be present and focused in the moment then in deep discussion with a loved one, belly-laughs over a glass of wine with friends or in the midst of a down-ward dog and meditation. The trick is to prioritise and schedule these items in to your busy calendar. Therefore, they are tangible moments in time to stop, slow down, breath and be present.
Nadal or Federer: 100% Federer
Coffee or Tea: Coffee…but I’m not a coffee snob. I secretly don’t even mind instant coffee
Morning or Night: Mornings…especially early; I feel like I have the whole world to myself whilst others are asleep
Books or Podcasts: Books. There is something special in touching the pages and reading a book from cover to cover that a podcast can’t provide
Beach Holiday or Adventure Holiday: Adventure holiday…followed by some beach-time
Summer or Winter: Summer…although I do love a cold winter’s day when I am cozied up on the couch