Our Kin: Cherie Clonan | Melbourne, Australia

Cherie Clonan is one of those people who simply makes you feel SO DAMN GOOD when you spend time in her presence (or, even, simply watch her stories on Instagram). Real, relatable and transparent, the way Cherie does life - both at home and in business - is something we really admire here at Kin.

As the founder of one of Australia’s most respected digital agencies, Cherie always pushes herself and her team to do what is not only good, but right. From championing monthly mental health days for her team, to creating sustainable internships for young Australian’s facing homelessness, Cherie is leading by example when it comes to living and breathing company values.

At home she raises two awesome young humans and fur baby, Rosie, and navigates the daily juggle of wearing ALL of the hats (founder, parent, wife, and more!) that so many of us can relate to, while also being a voice for neurodiverse humans. We’re big fans of Cherie and love having her as part of the Kin community. It was an absolute honour to explore these questions with her.



2020 was a hectic year for you and your business, The Digital Picnic. You went from having to let people go to being busier than ever, while needing to homeschool two young children for the majority of the year. What was the biggest lesson you learned personally during this time?

I know 2020 was such a hard year for so many [myself included], but I don’t think there’s ever been a year in my life where I’ve fallen in love with myself as much as I did in 2020 … and in doing so? I learnt that no matter what life throws at you if you love yourself [like, really love yourself], you can get through anything life delivers you.

In my 37 years of life, I’ve never known [a most unexpected] romance like the one 2020 delivered me: the one where I fell in love with myself [for the first time in my life].

How will this lesson shape the way you approach 2021? What is your vision for the way this year will feel/look? What will you do differently?

I’m sure I speak on behalf of anyone who’s been through a similar experience, but once you reach that point in your life where you really love yourself … you can never go back to what you had going on before then.

For me, self-love looks like a point in my life where I’ll never go back to the toxic things I used to do to myself, and the associated toxic people-pleasing, nor the autistic masking I spent 37 years doing [exhausting!].

What tools, rituals or outsourcing will support you to bring this vision of 2021 to life?

I now [finally] know my limits, and I also know why I’m a big candidate for trying to push beyond my limits [ADHD] … and so I’m trying to make understanding myself the priority for 2021 [which will bring with it brand new tools, rituals and outsourcing].

ADHD folx like me? Frequently hustle-shamed, but I can assure you … we don’t mean to perpetuate hustle-culture, and the people we hurt the most with our [sometimes] inability to recognise capacity? Well, it’s ourselves.

I’m working with an incredible ADHD coach at the moment, who is almost every tool, resource and outsource I currently need … because what I’m learning through my work with this person encompasses so much more [and a beautiful life overhaul, just from the learning + the knowing].

Tell me about your experience with Neurodiversity…

I was raised by an Autistic single Father, and gave birth to x2 charming, life enhancing and life expanding neurodivergent children … and we all lived in our little autistic bubble knowing we had our “quirks”, but never knowing we were autistic.

And then my son’s school principal made the suggestion that our son should be assessed for autism, and so he was.  At the time I remember thinking to myself, “unlikely.  He’s just quirky like me”.

He’s now been formally diagnosed, and to help him truly accept his autistic identity my Dad was diagnosed with him … and then I followed after that with a confirmed diagnosis for ASD and a [very surprising] diagnosis of ADHD.

I love my autistic identity, I just never knew that the particular way my brain is wired had a “name” … and growing up with an autistic Father [who didn’t know he was autistic] meant that all of the “quirks” were just so completely “normal” to me.   

What are some of the common misconceptions about Neurodiversity? 

For me, I think it’s the big one that comes up a lot around autistic people lacking empathy.

Bizarre really, because my husband and I had to crawl on our hands and knees on the way back home from walking our dog with our children.  Reason being? Our son saw snails crawling across the cement footpath and couldn’t bear to think of people walking on them and killing them.

45 minutes dropped on safely removing each and every snail from the footpath to the safety of the grass.  But sure, autistics lack empathy, yea? Ha!

As for me, I’d say what people comment on most about me in terms of my leadership style is my incredibly empathetic approach to organisational leadership.  But again, sure, autistics lack empathy, yea? 🤣

Many say that “work-life balance” is a misnomer. What does balance look like to you? Does your neurodiversity change the way you might approach this idea of balance?

It’s taken me so long to realise that work-life balance simply looks different to everyone.

For me this year, it’s going to look like dropping from 60 hour working weeks to 30 hour working weeks … but if I don’t enjoy that change? I’ll up the hours in little increments until I’m happy.

The gift of ADHD? I thoroughly enjoy laser focusing on work [and have created a really bloody successful company off the back of that profound enjoyment for my work].  The challenges with my ADHD? I walk a dangerous line between thoroughly enjoying what I am doing, and complete and utter burnout.

2021 for me will look like really recognising what happy, fulfilled and “at capacity” looks, feels and sounds like.

How do you press pause and remember your essence when you have…

2 minutes: listening to my favourite string quartet on Spotify.

15 minutes: putting on my Kin North Japanese incense, and taking 15 minutes to do big, deep breathwork [I’m obsessed with diaphragmatic breathing, and how good it feels!]

1 hour: reading a really good book

Currently reading: Atomic Habits

Currently watching: Nothing.  I struggle with TV and Netflix.

Currently listening to: An Indigenous Artists playlist on Spotify while I redesign TDP’s HR policies to ensure we no longer take the 26th of January off, but the 28th instead. #inspiredAF ❤️💛🖤

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