Armed with a hand-me-down computer, Tory Archbold set out to achieve the unachievable from a studio apartment – to create a global communications agency.
As the first Australian PR company to launch international high-street retailers including Zara, Topshop and Victoria’s Secret as well as launching US brands including Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty and Steve Madden, TORSTAR has soared to successful heights.
Developing iconic campaigns for the world’s leading brands is what Tory revels in, but it’s her newest business, empowerment and mentoring platform Powerful Steps, that truly inspires the PR maven.
“I was always responsible for the storytelling of brands or personalities or CEOs, and using language to create and tell a story for their journey,” she explains to The CEO Magazine. “When the lights go off, you talk about real life and you learn a lot about the people you work with that you don’t usually talk about. I was privy to a lot of game-changing conversations that were intensely private.
“I reached out to some of the people I’d met along my professional journey. Before I knew it, I had a roll call of these extraordinary women with these powerful stories to share.”
Through sharing the untold, authentic and raw stories of women at the height of their careers, Tory hopes to empower others with her newly launched podcast, Powerful Stories with Tory Archbold.
“Every single interview that I’ve done I have a personal connection with them. Do I know their stories? I’ve lived it with them,” Tory shares. “I really love that authenticity.”
Within the first 24 hours of launching the insightful podcast series through her Powerful Steps platform, it soared to the top 20 business podcasts.
Just weeks since the launch, The CEO Magazine can exclusively reveal NOVA Entertainment has partnered with Tory to share the intriguing stories with the leading digital audio network’s podcast audience.
“Everyone has this amazing inner power and incredibly strong mindset to know they can transform that challenge into a possibility.” – Tory Archbold
NOVA Entertainment’s Chief Digital Officer, Fayad Tohme, explained the company is continuing to invest in high-quality content that provides compelling commercial opportunities for clients – and Powerful Steps is an ideal fit.
“We invest in successful leaders, personalities and content creators with great stories to tell,” he said. “We are looking forward to working with Tory to provide compelling content and endorsement opportunities for our clients, allowing them to tap into Tory’s audience and influence spanning across business, entrepreneurism and self-improvement.”
“Tory is an incredible woman with an amazing story to tell, and this experience allows her interview change makers and influential business identities to unpack their personal path to success. We are proud to represent Powerful Stories as part of our podcast network, and look forward to working with her in providing unique integration opportunities for brands,” added Kane Reiken, NOVA Entertainment’s Digital Commercial Director.
Sharing raw stories
One of most downloaded podcasts of the series is Tory’s touching conversation with Jo Gaines, Salesforce Area Vice President Sales, APAC.
“She shared this story of how she was in a big corporate role [before Salesforce], she was pregnant with her second child and her husband left her two weeks before she gave birth,” Tory says. “She went back to work because she was the sole provider for her family – she got retrenched and thought her life was over.”
It was then that Jo took up cage fighting, not letting a cut lip or black eye stop her from attending board meetings.
“Through rediscovering her inner power, she became bold, she became courageous and through those experiences, she’s in a position to mentor other people,” the podcast host reveals. “I’ve learned that everyone has this amazing inner power and incredibly strong mindset to know they can transform that challenge into a possibility.”
Inspired to launch the podcast after discovering one of her peers had shared a photo of himself covered in scars to LinkedIn – an image usually reserved for private Instagram accounts – Tory recalls how fascinated she was with the photo. When she dived deeper into his cancer story, she watched the momentum of support unfold, realising people want to hear the raw truth and vulnerabilities faced by others rather than glossy versions seen online.
“A lot of the women I’m interviewing work in top corporate roles or run multimillion-dollar businesses, except now they’re removing the mask,” Tory says. “They did hit rock bottom, but this is how they survived, how they got back into the game of life.”
Chelsea Pottenger (Managing Director EQ Minds), Sally Obermeder (television presenter and SWIISH Co-Founder), Candice Warner (retired Australian Ironwoman), Elka Graham (Australian Olympic swimmer) and Nicky Briger (Marie Claire editor) are among the influential leaders featured on Powerful Stories.
“A lot of people in life cruise along and have these incredible lives and nothing game-changing happens to them,” Tory shares. “They keep going on their trajectory forward but what you will find, most leaders and entrepreneurs have had a game-changing moment.
“They had something defining happen to them that has enabled them to propel forward in unexpected ways.
“They could have taken one path, but they chose to take another.”
The reality of being faced with a life-changing moment is something that also rings true for Tory.
In 2013 the businesswoman was faced with a series of life-threatening health struggles; her appendix ruptured, she caught septicaemia, was put on life support, endured a six-hour operation and lost 8kg in just five days.
“I was juggling two masks and running on adrenaline. For the first time, I had to step up and fight for my life,” she shared in her podcast.
Describing the traumatic time as something she felt too ashamed to talk about, Tory hopes her bravery and that of others will inspire people struggling to see challenges as possibilities.
“Mine is just a drop in the ocean, but I hope I can make a difference and give a platform for others to have a voice,” she tells The CEO Magazine.
Power of networks
Striving to make a difference isn’t a new value for the marketing expert.
From landing Australian model Megan Gale as one of David Jones’s most successful brand ambassadors to launching Zara into Australia in 2011 – which saw more than 22,000 people through the doors on the first day, resulting in A$1 million in sales – Tory has made waves with the brands she’s worked with throughout her influential career.
The secret to continuing to secure such phenomenal partnerships?
The TORSTAR founder says it lays in the three core values she’s followed for the past two decades – passion, integrity and delivery.
“I’ve always believed like attracts like,” Tory says. “I knew if delivery was one of my values it would actually translate into a very valuable referral network.
“When you look at how I built my business, it was built on referrals.”
When Zara launched, it was the photographs of the lengthy lines wrapping around the block catching the attention of other multibillion-dollar overseas brands.
“I remember being told before the Zara launch; ‘You watch, everyone will start knocking on your door after this,’” she recalls. “I got Steve Madden as a client because they saw the iconic image of Zara launching with all these people out the front.
“That’s what my business was based on, working with brands that shared the same value sets.”
An important aspect of Tory’s global success is her dedication to networking. No matter where she is in the world, she commits to having three coffee meetings a week – one with someone she knows, one with someone she wants to partner with and one with someone outside her comfort zone.
“The thing is you never know where you are in the world, what the conversation is going to be or what the outcome is going to be, but if you have these conversations with people in alignment with your values, that’s where the magic of your business growth unfolds,” she explains. “That’s how Powerful Steps has been built as well.
“If people want to work with you, they’ll find you. What I’ve found in business, people will always want to work with you if you’re in alignment with their values.”
For those in the C-suite struggling to find their true purpose, it could be the very thing holding them back from climbing the ladder.
“Be raw, be authentic with your team, show them your human side.” – Tory Archbold
The businesswoman, who also mentors entrepreneurs and corporates, believes executives can become powerful leaders by tapping into their raw selves and sharing it with their teams.
“When you work in corporate, whether you’re a man or a woman, there’s this polished, professional side to you and not very often do people hear when they hit rock bottom,” Tory shares. “But now corporates are cracking open these conversations, it’s really inspiring and empowering.”
It’s this ability to share vulnerabilities through the podcasts that Tory hopes will inspire people around the globe.
“Be raw, be authentic with your team, show them your human side,” she says. “Get down in the trenches. You’ve got to be there for other people because that’s what people remember. Then take them on that journey with you – they’ll be committed, they’ll be loyal, they’ll overperform.
“When you do that, they’ll do anything for you and will see you as a true leader.”