Phyllis .

Tanya Targett began her career as one of Australia’s most successful investigative journalists. After she lost everything at the hands of an abusive husband, she used her background to build a successful publicity business within months of achieving her independence. Now, Tanya shares her story to empower other women to take charge of their lives.

Watch the video, read the shortened transcript below or click here to listen to the Spotlight on eWomenNetwork Podcast interview at



(Partial Transcript with some edits from Interview below) 

I really, really love eWomen. I feel like I've found my Tribe and I'm not just saying that. I've been a part of the Product Launch Formula community for the past three years but I feel a new calling now, and it's eWomen.  ~Tanya Targett, eWomenNetwork Orange County Chapter

Reaching the Boiling Point

PHYLLIS SMITH: On Spotlight we introduce you to some amazing members from eWomenNetwork who have overcome tremendous odds to achieve success. One such women is Tonya Targett. She is a solo parent and an entrepreneur. She used the power of her profile to build a 6-figure business within in just months of fleeing an abusive domestic relationship. She is an award winning investigative journalist, international speaker, and has graced the stage with some of the top thought leaders in the world. Tonya, thank you for joining us!

TANYA TARGETT: Oh, my total pleasure and honor. Thank you so much Phyllis for having me.

PHYLLIS SMITH: Let’s get back to what happened. You’re going to tell us a story and it’s so brave and thank you for sharing what you’re about to share with us, especially, in these times of the #MeToo movement. 

How Entrepreneurship Liberated One Woman From Abuse

My Awakening

We’re just starting to see so many women come forward who have been abused. We’re going to hear your story and thank you for the courage to share and letting other people hear it as well. Take us back to the beginning. Where were you, what happened, and when did you wake up out of it?

TANYA TARGETT: It was a long process. I often talk about a frog in a pot being boiled alive. Are you familiar with that analogy Phyllis, about the frog and the pot?

PHYLLIS SMITH: I’m not familiar with it at all, but I can visualize it. I feel the pain.

TANYA TARGETT: I thought I’d ask because I may need to explain the analogy. If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out, but to cook a frog you want to have warm water and then slowly turn up the heat. That was my life. The heat was slowly turned up and then I woke up one day and I discovered that I had been one of the women that I used to write stories about. 

Here I was a university educated woman, very successful, had a great career and I even was blessed and had a little girl by that stage. Then somehow, I signed over all my assets, all my ownership, all my control over to the man in my life and it was so bad that I was only allowed to drive within a certain distance of my house. I was not allowed to shop in certain stores and my bank account, which was a joint account, was audited at the end of each month and then I was required to account for any missing funds. This process happened over years and what I found myself was in these relationships what is typical is that I was slowly isolated, and I was slowly cut off from all my friends.

He had given me 6 weeks to get a job at the local supermarket and I was not allowed to work in publicity or journalism anymore. I was told that I was not to be a smart ass, I was to do as I was told, and this is how it was going to go down. My daughter burst into tears, she was about 9 at the time, and she looked at me and she’s crying, and she said to me, “Mommy, if we don’t stand up to bullies they’ll rule the world.” She was talking about her father and I thought to myself, “Oh my god, I should’ve already gotten out.”

Mommy, if we don’t stand up to bullies, they’ll rule the world

I still didn’t tell what I thought to myself. Thank goodness I had made this decision and in 2 weeks we were out, and I was only out because a girlfriend of mine who watched this happen, who witnessed this happen and said to me, “Tanya, you are virtually unrecognizable and do you want to be a bad role model to your daughter, Olivia?” it was the smack across the face that I needed. She put her name on a townhouse for me to get out because I was a woman isolated. I was a woman with none of her own funds, I earned money but none of them were mine, my car wasn’t even in my own name, none of my assets where in my own name – I walked into the relationship with $200,000 in the bank and I walked out with the clothes in my wardrobe.

PHYLLIS SMITH: It’s hard to even listen to. I’m looking at this beautiful creature, you’re gorgeous and you have this light in your eyes and it’s hard to even imagine that darkness that was in your life. That at one time you were living in this cage chained to a rock. It sounds horrible.

TANYA TARGETT: I must take ownership for allowing it to happen to me and I know that some people are going to be very infuriated at that comment, but the truth is I could have left at any point in time. The truth is I did attract that kind of person into my life. The truth is I chose to ignore the warning signs. The truth is I chose to make excuses for that person and his behavior because I lacked confidence in myself and I bought into what was being played. He would say things like, “you’ll never survive without me, you’ll never make it on your own, no man is ever going to want you." I grew up in a household where I was the smart one and my sister was the pretty one, so he was pressing a part of me that was already sensitive and they know this.

Did I ask for this? No. Would I like to have avoided this? Absolutely. I do take responsibility and ownership that I was a contributor to make sure that it does not happen again. 

How Entrepreneurship Liberated One Woman From Abuse

Doing it for her Daughter

PHYLLIS SMITH: Yes, it’s us looking ourselves in the mirror and seeing our children, and what would you tell your child? What would you tell your best friend? Being able to do what you did and step out and say if my daughter came to me in the same situation I would say to her you have to leave. Wow. How long did that last?

TANYA TARGETT: I had this 6-week period to make things happen and I was so broken. I met with a girlfriend of mine who to this day is still my graphic designer. I met with my friend Katrina over a cup of coffee and I said to her, “What do I do?” And she said, “What do you mean what do you do?” And I said to her, “Well, how many chances as entrepreneurs do we get?” I’d already had a business and I had an inland tsunami come through and kill 28 people, wipe out my high 6-figure, 7-figure business in the period of an hour and then had a stroke from the stress of it and then I got to go again. I mean, how many chances do we get to go again? I said to her, “Is it time to go and get a day job?” And she said, “No. You have that spark in you. You have that thing in you and you’ve got to go again.” And I said to her, “You know what, I don’t even have the strength to make the decision. So, you’re making it for me. Okay, I’ll go again.”

Fortunately, I put my future in the hands of someone who made the right decision for me. Then I started reverse engineering and I started thinking, what is it that I want? I wanted to be online, but I heard that online was harder than live training, so I began learning about live training. 

 Then I started reverse engineering and I started thinking, what is it that I want?  

I left at the end of January and at the end of April when I was literally running out of money I stood in a room full of people doing my first selling from stage. I heard that little voice in the back of my head, in Australia we call it the little bitty shi*** committee, and I heard that in the back of my head saying, “You can’t do this on your own. You can’t survive without me.” And I burst into tears. I’m not talking about a little tear trickling down my chin; I’m talking about ugly faced tears in a room full of people as the keynote speaker.

Well, fortunately people felt sorry for me and they bought tickets into my workshop and that became a $12.5 thousand-dollar first sale and from there I kept going and expanded into other cities. I worked on my mindset and when I reached a point where I could no longer do anymore workshops because they sold out across Australia I pivoted online. I came to America to learn that and then made the top 10 in a global marketing competition and as a result of that I kept speaking and kept spending more time over here. 

Getting Back on Targett

PHYLLIS SMITH: Well you are something else and I have to believe that your dad’s military toughness that’s in you somewhere you know that you came with that and that’s part of what – you know we could be mad at our parents for something like that like, “Oh he’s so tough.” But that gave you something in your DNA that once you got out of there, you were non-stop, I’m going to make this happen.

TANYA TARGETT: Totally. The SIS motto is, "He who dares wins." And ever since a little girl as far as back as I can remember I was 4 or 5 years old I was already saying, "She who dares wins," so I have had that mantra in my head the whole time. It’s a mantra I share with my daughter. Yes, it allows me to be brave because she who dares wins.

How Entrepreneurship Liberated One Woman From Abuse

PHYLLIS SMITH: We all have a life long story to share and it’s interesting to see how we can narrow that down to a nugget for sharing with others. How do you help your clients find that nugget?                                                                                     

TANYA TARGETT: The first thing I share with people is isolate where are you going? Because where are you going dictates which aspects of your story that you are going to be sharing. Phyllis, when we were talking about this we talked about domestic violence, because if I was going to another outlet, and if domestic violence wasn’t suitable I would’ve pulled other aspects of my story. The big thing is to match the angle/hook of your story to the outlet that you’re going to.

The second thing is that while the same information is often put out there, the same tips, the same advice. What is unique to you is in fact your unique story. A lot of people that are concerned about sharing their story aren’t quite sure how to do that, but it is in fact your hero’s journey. I use that language because they’ll be a lot of eWomen and eMen on here who are in the online space that are familiar with that hero’s journey. That hero’s journey which is what we see in the movies, the Black Panther and the Avengers. That’s what people want to hear about and every single one of us has that hero’s journey story. 

  What is unique to you is in fact your unique story.  

Please don’t compare your hero’s journey with mine. If there was someone standing next to me and going, “Oh, Tanya’s standing right next to me with such a great story and mine’s not very good.” But to the other person standing next to you your story’s very good and they don’t have a great story. Just as they say the grass is always greener on the house next door. The story is always better for the person next to you.

PHYLLIS SMITH: Right, and for somebody who’s wanting to get publicity for their business, online for example and they’re not on stage telling a story, but they want to tell the story of their business. Do you agree, it’s also important to be personal and tell your story as well? For example, on your website "About" section. I don’t know what to tell. I’m not interesting. How do you find that interesting story to tell that will be relevant to the business and to people coming to your website?

TANYA TARGETT: The first step is; what brought you to this moment? My first questions would be, what brought you to this moment where you are at today? What made you decide to do this business that you are doing? Because in publicity even when you’re trying to get it for your business it is never about your business, it’s always about that back story. It’s the story behind the story. The story behind the business. Did you have a health scare? Did you have a family situation? Did you have a change in fortune? Did you go through a recession where you went in quite well and had all this property and then you came out the other side and you had nothing? So, you had to pivot and as a result of that pivot this is what you learned. Now it’s very important that you do that because number one no one else has your story and number two people buy from people they know, like, and trust. If you’re not sharing elements of your story, then they’re not going to know you and their going to be least likely to trust you.

 In publicity even when you’re trying to get it for your business it is never about your business, it’s always about that back story  

The other thing is that we are looking for a connection. Never before in such an age of connection have we ever been so disconnected. By sharing that element of your personal story you’re also giving people the ability to connect with you. The key thing is which parts of my story do I bring to my website. Well, you might have multiple websites and landing pages based on the different products that you have and therefore max the elements of the story with the product that you have there and the audience that is coming.

PHYLLIS SMITH: Also, in the news business and you know this is finding the sound bite. That 10 second piece of clip from a video that tells the story and honing that skill to find the story is very difficult. That’s why they hire people like you. So, you can help them find that story. I think it comes down to curiosity. I’ve seen people where, tell me if this is true, on the outside you look at them and say what’s special about them. They’re just sort of "Joe Anybody" and then you just start asking questions and you suddenly get their story. Where they were, what matters to them, their trials and tribulations. I do this all the time because I am generally a curious person. Would you agree that someone could do that with themselves? They must pull themselves out or have someone like you ask them questions, so that they can pull that story out of themselves.

TANYA TARGETT: Yeah, absolutely. It starts and comes down to 5 W’s and 1 H. Which many watching this would be familiar with. You’ve got who, what, why, when, where, and how. A great way to prep for media interviews or a great way for pulling your story out is to say, “Okay. Who am I? What happened? What brought me to this? When did that happen? Where was I when that happened? Where did that happen? And how?” And then you just keep diving into those.

Another key question I use with my students and to find those sound bites is we need to convey to our audience what we see because what we see they don’t see. We have this thing called the curse of genius, and when we dive behind that envelope of the curse of genius that’s when we get those great sound bites. That is where the gold is. 

Transcription services provided by our eWomenNetwork member, Rhonda’s Virtual Office.
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Podcast Host and Author, Phyllis Smith

Director, eWN Podcast Network
Content Manager, eWomenNetwork

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