What I Learnt About Leadership & Life From a Special Effects Makeup Class

What I Learnt About Leadership From a Special Effects Makeup Class by Tarran Deane Speaker, Mentor, Executive Coach, Commentator on Life & Leadership. Visit www.tarrandeane.com

What I Learnt About Leadership from a Special Effects Makeup Class

Working remotely is part of my professional life. I catch lessons from the most interesting environments and observations.

Recently I had the opportunity to support our daughter during one of her assessments in her Special Effects Makeup Class in Brisbane. Ellie was studying the anthropology of Egyptian Makeup: it’s use and significance in the culture of the day.

I knew I had the capacity to be flexible with my work and support Elle, so we headed off to Brisbane with my laptop, all set for her class and me to work in the Student Lounge until I was needed. I was helping her (and soaking up my time with her, let’s face it!) and still getting traction on my focus areas. It got me thinking as I was surrounded by all these creative Millennials…

Leadership, Makeup Artists and the Makeup of Ancient Egyptians have a lot in common:

  1. Head First:

    We all need to be aware of why we are doing what we are doing AND the company we’re keeping when we set about our tasks. We all have ‘mini-empires’ set up between our ears, with thoughts threatening to rule and have dominion over moods and moments.

    Get your head in the game and be fully present in your role. Serve one another, see through myths (and there were a few of those in the prosthetics class next door) and pursue truth. Oh and just because you think Leadership should look or behave a certain way, think again. I’m always delightfully surprised when stereotypes are challenged.

  2. Be Aware of the Environment:

    Political, Spiritual & Economic: It matters and if it’s not influencing you, it will be influencing members of your team and your client base. Don’t be naive. Research it.

    The ancient Egyptians, male and female, believed the eye makeup they wore gave them healing powers and protected them.The same can be said about other peoples beliefs and their faith. Do a bit of reading on the different faiths; not to judge, but to learn. Be curious and seek to understand. Be prepared to confront your own bias – conscious or unconscious and reflect on what has influenced your opinions to date. Are they consciously yours or a lazy mirror of someone else’s?

  3. Skin in the Game:

    Be invested. Be prepared for people to get to know you. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the makeup chair, sitting on the high cushioned seat with the bandanna holding my long blonde hair back. My face was being examined. Skin tone, variations, patterns. It’s the same in leadership if you are prepared to be helped and supported you must be willing to take the scrutiny and feedback.People will typically look at your appearance. Your face, your eyes, your mouth. Your gestures, your movements, your hair. Are you attentive, kind, considered?

    Perceptions are being formed in nano seconds like that looping sound track in that retail store right near the food court at the local shopping centre.

  4. Raw Materials:

    Know your tools. Ellie had her range of brushes and palettes, mixing trays, combs, sponges and equipment that put her at ease so she could work through the project at hand. The Ancient Egyptians used a range of local supplies to support their efforts including malachite and galena. While the ingredients formed the khol that lined the eyes, many substances were derived from lead and provided resistance to eye infections cause from local bacteria.Where are you getting your materials from? Are they healthy for you and your team to be working with? Do you have the latest MDSS – Material Data Safety Sheets?

    by @tarrandeane #leadership #speaker

  5. Study to be Your Best:

    You can be better or be mediocre. As I worked on my laptop at the National Academy of Beauty, the students were all in prepping for the practical session by researching and confirming their knowledge of the history of the Egyptian makeup, its’ history and application.In your workplace, make a point of discovering and documenting the history. You can download the Pinterest App, scroll through Snapchat and Instagram threads, but if all you are doing is glancing and NOT studying, your skill set won’t be enhanced.

    Organisational story-telling AND the real facts – warts and all, empower individuals to deal with the real truth and carry out their work with full transparency.

    Decide: Look at the methodology of people you admire. What do you see about their character and capability, their talent and their regard for others by @tarrandeane #leadership #speaker

  6. Practice Your Skills with Different Models:

    No two workplaces or people will be the same. Be gracious, study the individuals, ask questions, build rapport, know what is shaping appearances and behaviours.As an educator of more than 20 years I know how deceptive and risky it can be to find your delivery-style groove, a treat every audience the same way, without taking into account the different learning styles people have.

    Take the images below of me with the black wig on. Some of you absolutely love it; others loathe it. Some see the eye-makeup and totally miss the deeper story or possibly think this is REALLY how I dress up for work.


  7. Review the Results and Leverage Them:

    When Ellie finished my special effects makeup she was content but not satisfied, always ready to improve. I like that in my team – that sense of continuous quality improvement, without being paralysed by perfection. Ellie’s teacher assessed, thought the eyes were brilliant, base blending was good and the photograph was taken with the accompanying black wig a’la Cleopatra-esque.

    I liked what I saw in my daughter, this creative Millennial that is forging her own path.

    The culture of their workplace was abuzz with banter over in one corner, quiet concentration in another. The natural light streaming in from a Brisbane winter 23 floors above ground was calming and gorgeous. This team of young professional makeup artists were given the opportunity to serve, nurture, lead, hone their craft, work with others and be enterprising. It felt good to be amongst them, this cohort. I am excited for them.

    Here’s How I Leveraged the Makeup, the Artistry and the History of the Egyptians and you can too in your workplace
  • Applied various filters directly in the photo gallery. Reality can be harsh, that’s a fact. Stark highshadow is just that – stark!
  • Used various photo editing apps on my iPhone including: Canva, AdobeSpark and RIPL
  • Once back in the office, I turned on the tripod lighting and took a range of stills and video that I can now splice away and insert to my hearts content
  • Created thumbnail templates, website images, quotes, and Social posts.
  • Wrote this Blog
  • And, spent time with my daughter. Now that was priceless.


And Now with a little text on the image courtesy of RIPL Pro by Tarran Deane BLOG What I Learnt About Leadership From a Special Effects Makeup Class by Tarran Deane Speaker, Mentor, Executive Coach, Commentator on Life & Leadership. Visit www.tarrandeane.com











So, next time you’re working remotely, take a look around and consider:

  1. Go in Head First
  2. Be Aware of the Environment
  3. Put Some Skin in the Game
  4. Check Out the Raw Materials
  5. Study to Be Your Best
  6. Practice Your Skills With Different Models
  7. Review the Results and Leverage Them

Now, all you have to do is Decide and Execute!




Tarran Deane is the CEO of Corporate Cinderella Leadership Development Company. Wife, Mum and Step Mum to four daughters, Tarran is a regular Commentator on life and leadership.

Consulting across diverse industries and speaking in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Auckland, Phoenix and Orlando, Tarran has presented to more than 36,000 audience members and been featured in numerous articles, blogs, podcasts and magazines

From fleeing Victoria Bus Station in London as a 17 year old, at the height of the IRA bomb raids, to walking the runway as a National Finalist in the Face of Australis, to stepping up into key influential roles in Australia’s Not for Profit sector, and now running alongside leaders from diverse industries including finance, engineering, mining, health, ministry, associations, government, private enterprise, retail, hospitality and tourism, this woman is adept at braking under speed, cornering safely and doing what she can to help others live life by design, on purpose and full throttle, so no one gets left behind.

Contact Tarran Direct on +61 417 654305 for

  • Media Enquiries or email
  • Speaking Enquiries or email
  • Mentoring Enquiries or email
  • Consulting Enquiries or email





BOOM  Thack Thack: When Your Leadership Gets Stopped Mid Journey

How do you react when your plans get blind-sided? 

Do you ever have one of those days where you delight in everything and almost miss the significance of the hazards you encounter? Like pheww – that was lucky! 

I did. 

It got me wondering… Would you open up your house to a stranger at the door? Hand over a tool? Share your story? Go the extra mile and offer the last slice of home made chocolate cake?
Last Saturday I was dressed inmy  kevlar, camo bike pants. An extra bike vest to guard against the light chill. It was a beautiful, crisp Autumn morning when I left home on my Ducati. My husband Dave was on his Aprilla and we set off to meet our friend Steve at the nearby service station.


Arriving at the Caltex first I noticed a fuel spill ahead at one of the bowsers. As a motorcyclist, diesel or oil spills are a dangerous risk for riders.

No problem. Dave went into pay for our fuel, and offerred to access the spill kit and clean up the fuel at the empty bowser, which he did. Love that about him.

Got a question for you…. Is your business seeing safety as an expression of customer service vs straight out compliance issue? As a Leader are you dealing with ‘spills’? It could be time to clean house and be clear who’s on the team with their eyes wide open.

LEAN IN. Like You Mean It. 

Continuing on our adventure, cornering through the hills of northern New South Wales, everything was going fabulous!

I was leaning in like nobody’s business! I love left-handers, my hip slides back on the seat, slightly off centre, the throttle opens up and I was chasing Dave through the mountains with a huge grin.

Lesson: Find your leadership groove and enjoy the ride! 

I let Steve pass me and I’m tailing the boys. We slow down, entering the small town of Burringbar, passing the Burringbar Service Station as we’d done so many times before. 2 kms further down the tar and just short of another left hander Dave and Steve cornered from view when my rear tyre went BOOM!! Thack Thack Thack!! 

Yep, BOOM Thack Thack Thack!! 

Lesson: when you know something is wrong, stop! Pause and evaluate

Pulling up outside a small house I checked out the rear wheel. No sound when I got off the bike. I called the boys knowing they would have almost stopped at the Moo Moo Cafe at Mooball, ready to order the coffee’s.

Lesson: know your Leadership routine, where to find help and ask for it when you need it

Gosh I love travelling with my own pit crew. Hightailing it back to me, without their coffee orders, they arrived to see me standing with a rear wheel now hissing out air.

The three of us moved the bike forward half a rotation when the source of the BOOM was identified.

The scar lines along the tyre showed where the steel had scraped, before flicking up on its’ end, puncturing the thick wall and embedding ao hard that only pliers from the nearby stranger could extract it.

Lesson: Some issues we encounter at work are bigger than we realize. Investigate and pull out all the facts

Dave had an idea to head back to Burringbar Service Station for a can of Pyrol Pump Inflator, and they came through.

Lesson: Be prepared to be surprised by country stores. They almost always have something you need! 

Unfortunately I was pretty much stopped in my tracks, able only to limp back to the Burringbar Service Station and Cafe with the temporary repair. The puncture too deep and wide for the pyrol to fix.

Our solution, pull-up chairs next to the Indooroopilly Bike Riders in their lycra inside and allow ourselves to be loved on and spoilt by new friends Cheryl and Lindsay, owners of Burringbar Service Station and cafe. Great coffee and home made chocolate cake.

Here’s how I was blessed by these turn of events, while Dave and Steve rode back to the Gold Coast to pickup the motor bike trailer and come to my rescue a second time, and I prepared to sip on my second Latte.

  • Spouses and friends are to be honoured and never taken for granted
  • A good coffee opens up conversation. Find out their signature dishes. Cheryl and Lindsay are renowned for their Prawn Cutlets!
  • Remind yourself people are inherently good
  • Accept hospitality when offerred and be gracious
  • Relax and do something different. Take off your boots and your safety jacket and let tour hair down
  • If you have data, wifi and battery on your smartphone, redeem the time. Write a blog. Checkin on Facebook. Lodge a TripAdvisor review.
  • Honour privacy
  • Give thanks

That’s a BOOM Ta Dah Award for great customer service by Cheryl and Lindsay of Burringbar Service Station and Cafe, and a huge nod to the warmth of humanity that seeks to serve others by what they have in their hands.

Who can you thank today?

  * Look at the size if the piece of steel! Grateful it didn’t flick up and hit anyone. A day of surprises! 


Keywords: Adversity, Leadership, Resilience, Customer Service, Opportunity, Value-Add, Loyalty