The Story of Hanging Rock

Why start a services company when so many already exist? For this entrepreneur, no other option existed—from an early age, I always knew I’d want to write and help others communicate, too. As an adult living in Asia and the US, I found many professionals (though gifted in finance, operations, and strategy) sought that help. And yet my dreams of building a venture around this gap started while growing up in my New Zealand motherland.

My most memorable year was 1973, the year my mother (with my older sister and me in tote) took over a nearby South Island cottage. Local friends helped us clear out the space (where sheep had occasionally sheltered) so we could make the structure our home.

We weren’t wealthy; but, as a girl, I remember feeling happy—and rich. How could we not? The land around us resembled Middle Earth with its rolling hills, orchards, and a rippling stream separating our property from the gravel road. (The narrow wooden bridge buckled and wobbled as we drove our Morris mini over it.)

The nearby river (called ‘Hanging Rock’) became a pristine watering hole and where we children learned to swim. In summer, we jumped off the big ‘hanging’ rock and swam across the water to an elder on shore. (If you didn’t need rescuing, you passed your ‘swimming test.’) And as wilderness kids, we could keep any stray pets. Our wildest cat, Tomasina, ran into our cottage one summer, lounged around a while, and by winter, she’d left.

With the nearest store a solid drive away, we all became self sufficient. We bartered for meat and clothing. And round the land we gathered orchard (and wild) fruits along with portabella mushrooms (stacking them upside down in buckets as not to bruise). In spring, mum made feasts from fried mushrooms, eggs, garden peas, and buttered toast.

As a homemaker and gardener, my mum also transformed the humble cottage. She and a farming friend joined gardening societies in the U.S., UK, and Scotland and (with the free seed packets these societies sent to them) grew beautiful plants from exotic places. The area (with the ongoing help of subsequent owners) became a stunning rock garden worthy of becoming (many years after we moved away) a ‘show’ garden on the South Canterbury garden visit circuit.

I launched this business (Hanging Rock Media and Consulting) in the spirit of my pioneering mother and the enterprising people I remember from this land. They’ve shown me it takes courage to launch a business, talent to tell a story well, and creativity to stand out. As a trainer and instructor, I encourage teams to embrace discomfort and take risks—just as we children did by jumping off Hanging Rock into the river.

Whether I write for you or improve how you communicate, I hope to remain true, ambitious, and determined with every task. I’ll ask you the right questions (and listen well) to help you tell your story and ideas in a memorable, endearing way.  All of this remains possible because I believe: No matter how noisy and crowded the market place, an audience always makes time for a meaningful message.

– Debbi Gardiner McCullough