INTERVIEW 22:
SALLY BRANSON DALWOOD

  1. Tell us your story?

I’m Sally Branson Dalwood.  My background is in Public Affairs, Public Relations and Political Relations. My most recent former work, I was the state director of a political party in Victoria. I went to Canberra Parliament House, which I adored and I think was one of the greatest moments of my life. I spent around eight years doing Public Affairs and Public Relations for the US mission to Australia. And I think in the end, much to my surprise, I specialised in defence relations, which was the furthest thing from what I ever thought that I would do, but was one of the most enjoyable experience of my life.

Now I’m a founder of a small business called The Suite Set, and we specialise in taking the overwhelm away from new parents as they become a family.

  1. The Interpreters spend a lot of time trying to understand our clients’ customers and segments within the market. How do you get to know your customers?

Our target audience are people where we have been.  So I started off by doing my own market research, which couldn’t hold a candle to the market research that The Interpreters have done. But I targeted people like me and started having conversations with them.  I read an interesting article this week by Ashley Graham, who I think is an amazing super model, has a multi-billion dollar company and is a credible influencer and media personality. She’s pregnant, is really struggling around her body, the changes that her body is experiencing, and being pregnant. And she said, I’m sure there are other people who are feeling like this and a mom of four who lives in some little town in the States contacted her and said, I feel really bad about my body, I’ve had four babies under four so let’s have a conversation. So she opened up those channels to have a conversation with a typical mother. And she said the most simple thing was just sitting down and realising, let me have a conversation with my audience and learning who they were.  So that’s an approach I like to have as well.

  1. We do a lot of problem solving at The Interpreters so we’re interested in how other people solve problems. How do you approach problem solving?

At the risk of sounding like a former politician, I’ve always been a fixer, so I’ve always had a really practical approach to solving problems. But I’m also a very visual person, so I need to map problems out to be able to see them and to work out what the steps are. I try for problems not to be personal and to really take the personal away from a problem, even if it is deeply personal. And I just map it and try to be really practical. And when I’ve got the really practical map in place, I then put the emotion back into it, but not my emotion, the emotion of who it’s affecting and why it’s affecting them. And I think when dealing with problems, you always need to be really cognisant of the fact it’s that person’s perception and that has a lot of emotion to it.

I also think that there is no problem that can’t be solved.  There is always a solution to a problem. And it is about perception. And whether you switch your perception, you switch the language you’re using around it or the physicality around it, there is always a solution.

  1. Interpretation is subjective but a key part of our analysis. We’re always interested in the ways other people might interpret key trends or things of interest from their specialism. How do you interpret what’s happening in American politics?

There’s an excellent book called Hillbilly Elegy that’s been around for probably about seven or eight years now.  It really started around the movement about there being such a divisiveness in the U.S.  That things are literally black and white at the moment. A lot of people I know who have been to the States recently and who I’m still very deeply connected with and have some really big conversations, say that this is palpable. And from a political perspective, it’s because people feel like they’re not being listened to and people feel like there is a class of elites who are making decisions and then they’re not involved in their decision making. As such, they are looking for and responding to a very simple message.  It’s not that they’re simple, but they feel like they’re listening to a simple message and someone speaking to them.

It’s interesting. I was talking to someone the other day who’s involved in a community group that is really divisive. She feels very strongly one way and her community feels very strongly the other way. And she kept saying to me, but they don’t get it. “They’re so simple”. “They don’t get the ideas”. “They’re so behind”.

But this is part of the problem and the language being used and when it doesn’t connect, your audience are turning off straight away and they can’t see that there’s anything that you’ve got in common with them, there’s no shared care or interest or empathy. So while there’s divisiveness, there’s also a disconnection.

  1. Because we firmly believe that Information is Beautiful, we would like to give you a copy of Information is Beautiful, ‘a stunning visual journey through the most revealing trends, fascinating facts and vital statistics of the modern world’. Because first impressions matter, have a scan through and tell us which visualisation caught your attention and why?

It’s so hard, there’s so many amazing visualisations but if I have to choose, I’m going Life Times: How will you spend 77.8 years because it is so clean and the beautiful colours.  That was hard!