Episode 38: Playing Your Best Role with Lily Fontana - AskShivani Podcast 

Shivani Gupta (00:16)

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Shivani Gupta (00:38)

Hi, and welcome to the Ask Shivani a podcast. I am so excited today to have Lily Fontana here. I had the opportunity to meet Lily through a common friend slash colleague of ours. And let me tell you a little bit about her before she joins us. She has been in a very creative career spanning over two and a half decades in makeup here fashion styling set design in film, stage TV, editorial fashion as well as corporate culture. And trust me, for those of you that are watching it on YouTube, you would not think how could she have spent 25 years doing that because she looks pretty fab. And for those of you that are listening, you'll just have to look her up now in terms of her details. Her work, Lily's work is really about helping people confidently step into their own spotlight. She always knew that the whole point of having her clients was to feel great on the outside, as well as on the inside. She's got a bunch of qualifications. She is got an NLP qualification. She's got a TAFE qualification. She's got Advanced Diploma in fashion design. And she uses a lot of the knowledge and experience to really facilitate work online, as well as with corporates around a personal image training workshops. Welcome, Lily.

Lily Fontana (02:05)

Thank you Shivani. Thank you so much for having me.

Shivani Gupta (02:10)

Honestly, your CV, spanning 25 years, while I could have just kept speaking about your CV, so I wanted to dive in and start asking you questions. So Lily, tell us firstly, a bit about your journey in terms of what's got you here. And often they include trials and tribulations, good, bad and the ugly. Tell us some pivotal moments in your in your life that have formed you into who you are today and share that with the audience.

Lily Fontana (02:57)

Thank you Shivani. Well, I think I have to start with coming to Australia at the age of just under two. So my parents migrated from then Yugoslavia. Now Serbia. And I really have realized now that I'm older how much that really did shape me. You're my own perception of myself, of how I looked. The language I spoke, I didn't know English when I go went to grade one. So I had a real migrant experience. It's very common in any kind of developing country or developed country, I should say, where you know, lots of migrants come and call these countries home like Australia, and so, so blessed to be here.

So, perception of myself was a big thing. And I think I had a real aha moment when I went to my school reunion. And just how everyone spoke about me at that time, like I had in my head, you know, big googly eyes, being called a wall, especially in the early days, and just wanted to fit in and be an Aussie, I just wanted to be an Aussie. And I thought I was the only European in the whole school. And of course, a friend of mine who was there with me in grade 1 once said, Oh my gosh, remember, this brother and sister from the Ukraine. Remember these Greek, you know, brothers and Italian Sri Lankan, you name it, and what I perceived in my head was different. So that, yeah, has really taken me on a journey. I can see how everything connects as you get older and how it shapes you.

So that was I did, that was a big deal. And then it really did shape me. Another thing is that I did was I I've always been a bit of a risk taker when it comes to career. And I've just had so many sort of started finishing school and always had to study something while I was working. I could never just be, and I seem to still be like that. And I think one of the biggest things I did was I was in the corporate world and I quit that. First, I went part time, I should have at that time. I temped because I didn't want to be perceived as a clock watcher because I really wanted to do the training that I was doing after hours and get there on time. So that was fashion design. I started to do fashion pattern making and then I decided to go full time three years with a little mortgage. But still, it was a big risk, and especially going from one extreme to another, into quite an unknown world, but I kind of had a lot of drive. And once I set my mind to something, I did it so I did that worked as a stylist, and when maybe that's also not it, there's something more I went to New York, when I was working in a modeling agency, one of my clients in styling sent me to work at Delhi or sent my resume because I think I need to find a full time job, I'm getting older. And I went to New York right after September 11, pregnant with my first child, so um, yeah, a little bit of a risk in it was the safest place to be. But anyway, you know, for my family and friends were all go, they thought I was crazy.

And the last, the biggest thing, I think, is navigating divorce. So I divorced, separated three and a half years ago, that's been the biggest challenge, navigating that just my being more mature, and understanding, it's been the worst and best years of my life, I have to say, so lots of reading lots of research. So that's kind of my background. And now after doing makeup for 20 years, I've really, it's such a privilege to be in people's personal space, and listening to their stories. And it really did become my favorite thing. I love doing makeup. I love being creative. But that's taken me on the path to working in the corporate world again, full circle, helping people make a better first impression, understanding the trust that's, that is connected to how you look, but also coming from a place of compassion and understanding self-compassion. So really working at that inner and outer beauty is a really exciting for me. So, there you go.

Shivani Gupta (7:06)

Wow, that's great. And the bit that I really loved what you just said, there, Lily is, there probably been the best and the worst years of my life. And there's this balance isn't that there's always this duality and everything that we do, but not a lot of people speak about, they even talk about the good and the bad. But you can see both in the same moments, both in the same experience.

Lily Fontana (7:28)

It's priceless. feeling the pain and allowing yourself to do it. And that's where we always try and run away. And we've all I do it, you know? So yeah, it's been it's been huge. But yeah, good. You just got to keep going.

Shivani Gupta (7:36)

At challenges when they come your way? Do you have a particular process or a way of dealing with it or a mindset? Tell us a little bit about how do you go about when challenges come your way? Whether you use the same methodology every time or whether you do it differently? How do you approach it?

Lily Fontana (07:42)

One of the things because I have chopped and changed and taken risks, it's not falling into the habit, or the pitfall of regret. So as soon as I would go, gosh, I've just spent three years doing fashion design, I'm not a fashion designer. I would, I really did started to realize, I would remember all those years in the corporate world of typing, learning how to touch type, you know, in high school as good old days, and understanding how I used that. And I was able to type up my assignments so easily.

I had these little moments of like - Ah, that's why I did that, because it got me to here. And it helped me with that. And I think that's what, I always come back to that I go. Well, the reason why I did that was I was able to do this. And so everything. Regret is a wasted emotion. I and that's one thing. That's how I always think about it. I always remember those little moments in my life that have helped me things that I've done in the past. And another thing that I do and just through so much research and on behavioral science and Eastern philosophy and just I can't get enough of it. It's really following my instincts in what I read and when I listened to and but I use this technique called the rain technique, and I don't yeah, I'm sure you've heard of it. Normal people that listen to you that, oh you haven't. Okay, so it was I think a lady called Michelle McDonald created it. And then Tyra Brack, she's a psychologist in the states and she's also meditation, she's gone more into meditation. So she's, she's modified it and expanded it. So, what I tend to when I have that somewhat uneasy feeling, and a lot of us don't even know we're having it, okay, so it's in the body.

So, it's an uneasy feeling that are in it, you recognize it. And the more you do it, the more easy you’ll recognize it, so you recognize the feeling. You then “A” for allow, so you allow it to happen. And you eyes… I’m sorry, allow it to happen, but also kind of name it. So actually, say the words give it a name either anxiety, it's usually fear, anxiety, sadness, you know? And then investigate. “I” for investigate where is it in your body, find that you can either put your place your hand, that's usually your stomach, usually feel it in your stomach, you know, your second brain or your heart, sometimes in your arm like some random neck. And then you the “N” is for nurture. So she's changed that one, it was something else. So it is for nurture, where you and she has a really good look, I wrote it down. You send what your say words, nurturing words to that area. So she's… I listened to her. And she's as if the most wise and loving part of your being could offer a tend to touch, letting energy start flowing into that place of vulnerability. I mean, how beautiful is that, it is that nurturing.

And then you get this shift. So you're not squashing it. Because I really love breathing techniques there, you know, I've done a lot of investigating and that I use them in my workshops. But breathing, you can, you know, lower your heart rate and calm you, but it's still a cover up. Like it's still not dealing with and sitting with what you're feeling. And then she has this thing after the rain. And it really is, it's like facing your enemy. And then that enemy backs down. So you're just facing it, and you're giving it love and you're trying to understand it and it's part of you. And then it just goes away, honestly. And the more you do it, I must be creating some stronger neural pathways. Because the more I do it, the less often I have to do it. And the quicker I get that, and then you just feel like wow, that was cool like that, after the rain, you just have this little bit of serenity for a few seconds. Anyway, I do that that's really really helped me. Yeah, get through stuff.

Shivani Gupta (11:47)

I love it. I also know what it feels like after the rain has been everything feels like it's been washed away.

Lily Fontana (11:53)


Shivani Gupta (11:54)

There actually took a couple of notes down saying I'm absolutely going to look that out. Those future aspirations in terms of whether you look at it a year out three years out, 10 years out, what are some of the things you go, oh my god, I have to do that and that might be a business that may be personal. What are some of the things that you're wanting to do or action in the next few years ahead of you?

Lily Fontana (12:15)

I would really love to grow the workshop side of my business. So, help as many people as I can. And I think that's, that's my major goal is to and even, you know, speak about I love to love to be able to go to a conference and, and speak to women and men because I work with a lot of men too. There's grooming involved, you know, we have to look our best in front of the camera and, and just for people to recognize that it's a role they're playing, when they do get a job. And it doesn't mean that they have to sell their soul to dress a certain way or look a certain way. And I really come from that compassion place. And for them to have self-compassion. It's not about strict if you've got to be perfect, I'm so I love this quote, you know, definitely - you'll have no one to relate to.

I think Peter Crane said that. So I would love to really build my business in that way, and then just see where the next kind of third of my life is going to take me and you know, hopefully a new partner would be beautiful. Not hopefully, that's what I would love. And I'm putting it out there. And so, I'm just watching my children grow. I have a 19-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter, and I love being there for them. This is I think I'm a far better parent, just being a bit more, a lot more self-aware. And just really enjoying every moment with them that I yeah, till they decide. They don't want to be you know, they're already at that stage. So yeah.

Shivani Gupta (13:42)

All about that. And just speaking about that. What about from a leadership perspective? Do you have a philosophy or a quote or something that you love that you really just go? Yeah, that's who I am. That's what I abide by. And I guess try and live by not that we do that all the time, but obviously, is around leadership.

Lily Fontana (14:02)

Absolutely. And I think again, it comes down to compassion, I really think that is the basis of everything self-compassion, but what if you love yourself, be the love you want to attract. If you love yourself, then you can love others. And I love this quote by this evolutionary psychologist. And he said, it's not survival of the fittest. It's survival of the nurtured and that is so profound to me because we always think we have to be bigger, better, stronger, smarter.

So I just think the nurture you see that people have suffer when they when they're younger, if they haven't had that love, how harder it is for them, and then the people that have to have to really find it. They have to nurture that compassion, cultivate it, and how much it really goes hand in hand with again, my what I done bit my business of you know, making people look good and how I always knew that wasn't enough. It's not enough the face, the face paint, the hairspray, it definitely helps, and it makes you feel good, but it isn't the full picture. So, I think compassion and humor, I just think we just need to take ourselves not as seriously. I just think a little bit of fun. And you know, we've just like a short, so we just have to have fun with it within reason. But yeah, just a sense of humor and a sense of compassion for everyone makes it easier.

Shivani Gupta (15:32)

And Lily, you talked a little bit about this earlier, in terms of, you know, coming to Australia, you talked about the rain methodology. So, when it comes to your own wellness, and some of your wellness might be things you do daily, or sometimes people have like a yearly ritual in terms of what they do. What are some of your rituals and practices when it comes to your wellness?

Lily Fontana (15:52)

Well, these have been absolutely lifesaving my little rituals I have, and they have just been developed over the last three and a half years, like I've always exercised. But I've always pushed myself to lose weight, you know, it's always the struggle. So, I do yoga nearly every day, that's been and I've tried to do it for 20 years. And you know, it's not, it's not fast enough. It's not. But it's amazing life brings you these, you know, opportunities to really see it, and I absolutely love yoga, I try and do it almost every day. I walk almost every day pretty much every day. So, I do it at some form of exercise every single day I walk my dog, and the dog walking is so much more than just walking. It's meeting people, the dogs sniffing each other, which is hilarious as dogs do. And it just the conversations they have. And it's just fun and lovely. And that's really makes me excited. So, and it also is fantastic for the soul.

So, exercising every day, I meditate every day, sometimes twice a day. And if I miss a day, I don't beat myself up about it. So, I've really learnt to understand what meditation is about. It's not about turning off your thoughts. How are we all think that I was the first person who said there's no way I can meditate. And I found it really hard in the beginning. Sometimes I couldn't even breathe. I couldn't even find breath. And so now I just really just cut yourself some slack and just sitting in the chair, just sitting there and making an effort is enough sometimes. So, I meditate every day. I have a cold shower every day. I started that beginning of COVID. I know. So that's been to stimulate your vagus nerve, which is the nerve that connects your brain and your organs. And it really does. There's something about you know, when you go to the beach in summer, and you go swimming all day, then you go and have that shower outside to get the salt off. And it's a bit cold even though it's summer you feel cold having that shower. And then when you put your warm clothes on, do you know that feeling? There's that? I don't know. 

That's it's like a delayed gratification. And I read it in what the yoga studio where I went, had a newsletter and I that was the beginning of COVID I had lost all my livelihood at that point. So I was absolutely beside myself. So I was doing anything that I could. That was healthy. That to help me so that I just started doing it. And it was winter. I mean, I think COVID happened in March. By the time I read that it was May. And boy oh boy, but it's like I just can't I mean, it's a bit corny, but I understand like, you're like I stand under a waterfall. That's what I picture and I just go for it. Sometimes I even jumped out of bed if I had an early morning shoot, because I still work as a makeup artist. I'll jump into a cold shower. I can't even believe it. But it's quite it's kind of addictive. It's a bit strange, but it's exhilarating and gets you breathing. You really breathing. And then as soon as you dry off, you're just flooded with these warm. I don't know. It's just this delayed gratification I think and you feel proud of yourself. So, in a little bit.

Shivani Gupta (19:10)

Winter you do it as well?

Lily Fontana (19:12)

Our winters better than summer, because in summer is you don't even notice. I know, I'm crazy.

Shivani Gupta (19:21)

I'm like I have to because otherwise if I looked at my shower, and I should be able to turn it on to warm water.

Lily Fontana (19:31)

I know. It's crazy. It's crazy. So, what else do I do… yeah, I think... I listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts. I mean, that's what I've been really I feed my brain every day. I love it. And one thing leads me to another I listened to on all our podcasts, talks about a book, I then get that audio book. I you know, I drive for work, drive to all areas of the city. And so, I listened to it then and on my walk. So I love that that's yeah, it's and it's helped me really understand myself and really bring a lot to these workshops, more than just a bit of lipstick in, which is fun, which is fun. It's exciting. I love products, I love color, that’s what I do.

Shivani Gupta (20:18)

I’ve been following what you do in social. And I can see some of your workshops are starting to get some really amazing feedback. And so really tell us if people want to follow you find out about your workshops find out about you, where are the best places to find you?

Lily Fontana (20:29)

Well, my website is probably the best to really explain everything. So that's https://www.lilyfontana.com.au/ and LinkedIn, I've got a profile there, of course, so that there's quite a bit of information there, and Instagram, I’m a bit slack with Instagram, but I will, that's my next avenue 

to really build up that social media, or just be more consistent with it. I think everybody's battle to be a bit more consistent with it. But the website really does explain all my workshops and about me and what I've done and what I can offer.

Shivani Gupta (21:03)

That's awesome. It's been such a delight having you, thank you for making the time.

Lily Fontanna (21:09)

Thank you, Shivani.

Shivani Gupta (21:11)

Yeah, thank you so much

Shivani Gupta (21:20)

I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.