Generation Y has a reputation of being impatient and unwilling to “pay their dues.” So if you’re a millenial, ready to advance, and eager to prove you deserve it, how can you ask for a promotion without appearing “entitled” or “pushy”? Our three experts weigh in.Continue reading
Generation Y has a reputation of being impatient and unwilling to “pay their dues.” So if you’re a millenial, ready to advance, and eager to prove you deserve it, how can you ask for a promotion without appearing “entitled” or “pushy”? Our three experts weigh in.Continue reading
by Elizabeth Dulberger
My journey to becoming a successful executive coach, speaker, and author was not easy. Like most, I started my career in the corporate world as an Executive Assistant, a role that offers a very unique view into an organization: you are constantly in the same room as the most powerful and influential people, but you also gain insight into all the other employees roles, thoughts, and feelings. I saw firsthand how things like political agendas play out, and how great teams, and not-so-great teams, are built.
I was eventually promoted to a team leadership role. Over time, I began to understand the women who worked for me and their struggles to be heard, seen, empowered, and understood. After having managed a large team of mainly female employees, I now understand why motivated, ambitious, talented and strong women often leave companies, and why they may leave your company.
Reason Number One
Sometimes leaders have fought so hard to get into positions of power, that they are very careful not to lose their status. As a result, they tend to guard their accomplishments so tightly that their responses may seem defensive and unsupportive to women who are motivated and determined to get ahead. Whether this stems from envy, insecurity or something else is irrelevant — what is relevant is that talented women rely on their leaders to recognize and support their potential and advancement. This requires women and men in positions of power to remain open to mentoring and guiding their teams, without coming across as defensive or territorial.
How to prevent it:
As leaders, it’s important to remember that when we empower and encourage our teams, we not only positively impact their future careers, but we build our own professional networks, too. If you sense that someone at your organization is not receiving the support they need, feel free to offer whatever support is appropriate for you to provide. Any bit of guidance can help!
Reason Number Two
A woman may leave your company if she feels she MUST choose between the job and her home and/or family life. A woman who is repeatedly pressured to make that choice will eventually look for a culture where she doesn’t have to choose. Examples of this pressure may mean instilling a fear of speaking up about personal matters that need tending to, or requiring that she frequently stay and work long hours, leading to stress and exhaustion. A woman, or any employee, under constant stress will either end up burning out, or leaving.
How to prevent it:
Ensure that women at your organization have the ability to openly navigate the balance between their work and home lives, and the freedom to make professional compromises when necessary. Feeling supported and understood is crucial for any employee’s workplace satisfaction, particularly for women who often play double-duty as professionals and caregivers.
“It’s important to remember that when we empower and encourage our teams, we not only positively impact their future careers, but we build our own professional networks.”
Reason Number Three
Women tend to process things externally, while most men are internal processors. What does this mean? As women, we typically want to talk things out before solving a problem. We like to weigh out the pros and the cons, and solve problems by comparing them to previous experiences. On the other hand, men will typically think things through internally, and often move forward with a solution without feeling the need to verbally express their ideas first. The challenge here is that some leaders will view a woman’s “processing time” as her “conclusion/final direction.” Women need time to process their plans so that they can reflect and make changes if necessary. If a female employee at your organization is not given a chance to process important decisions, she may avoid decision-making roles that feel hasty and uncomfortable, and could start searching for a new job where she is given time and freedom to think.
How to prevent it:
Instead, try keeping the conversation open throughout the decision-making process. Provide time and space for feedback and revisions, and set clear deadlines your employees can work within, at their own pace. Giving her that room to process will lead not only to successful problem solving, but it will give her the confidence to take her time assessing a problem, and come up with the best solution possible.
Reason Number Four
Women are often CEOs of households, organizing and anticipating what’s coming and what to prepare for. Companies that emphasize and practice the virtues of openness, contingency planning, ethical decision-making, and planning for the future will attract female employees because these often reflect their own strengths and values, making them environments women shine in.
How to prevent it:
As a leader, make sure your culture and values are not only defined, but also practiced. Ensure that the women within your organization are well informed of who you are, what you value, and why they are assets within the culture you have built.
Generation Y has a reputation of being impatient and unwilling to “pay their dues.” So if you’re a millenial, ready to advance, and eager to prove you deserve it, how can you ask for a promotion without appearing “entitled” or “pushy”? Our three experts weigh in.Continue reading
by Phuong Uyen Tran
It is uplifting to see so many movements like #TimesUp, #StandTaller and #MeToo gaining traction in the fight to end gender bias, discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond. But as long as the discrimination and harassment continue, there is room for more initiatives. More ideas.
That’s why I want to share a tactic I’ve developed during my career in a high-powered environment in Asia — a region that generally lags sorely behind the west in terms of gender equality. It involves stating one simple, five-word phrase that reminds men of their role as our partners in the battle against discrimination and harassment, and invites them to shift from being passive observers, or enablers, in situations where they could make a difference, to actively becoming part of the change.
The words are: “Do I have your support?”
Though conceptually simple, these five words can have an extremely powerful effect.
Asking, “do I have your support?” gives voice to a reality that’s all too easy to ignore: women cannot eliminate sexism on their own. We need men to help us dismantle it. Doing so also engages men explicitly, and directly. When we ask, “do I have your support?” men must consider what this means. Perhaps there are many who must consider this question and its implications for the very first time; thus hearing it is an eye-opening experience for them. If the answer is ‘yes’ — as we would fully hope and expect — they might then realize they need to revise their behavior so that their actions match their words.
As a woman living and working primarily in Vietnam, I have encountered countless situations when I’ve needed to use this phrase, and even more when I wished I had used it. Even though 73% of women in Vietnam are engaged in the workforce according to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), male dominance remains well entrenched in Vietnamese society today.
Time and again I have been in situations that taught me things such as: don’t offer tea or coffee to other people in a meeting unless you have reached a senior enough position for this to be viewed as a gesture of goodwill rather than a given. Or: don’t offer to take notes in a meeting, for it is always women who are asked to take notes. Instead, say ‘no’ and add, “In my experience, it’s always women who are asked to take notes, and until we start refusing, it will stay that way. Do I have your support?” I discuss all of this in more detail in my new book, Competing With Giants.
“Do I have your support?” can be a very powerful tool for enlisting men who are not perpetrators but who are aware of harassment to speak up, speak out, or rise to your defense in situations such as:
- When difficult negotiations are given to your male colleagues because people assume men are tougher negotiators.
- A male colleague keeps complimenting you on your looks and you would like him to stop.
- You need to make it clear that you must leave the office by 5:30 several times a week to make it to your children’s’ daycare on time — and that this does not impact your productivity.
The good news as I have discovered is that more and more men are eager to help dismantle sexism.
My own father — who also happens to be my boss — is a glowing example. Even though he hails from a generation when conversations about sexism, #MeToo, #StandTaller and #TimesUp were nonexistent, he has never discriminated between men and women. He just wants the right person for the job. He likes to use the analogy about a block of wood: it does not matter what kind of wood it is, because it can be carved according to need.
My father has also been extremely supportive of my own decisions to focus on my career rather than on family life, which is quite rare in Vietnamese culture, and to help women play substantive roles at THP. When men support their wives, their daughters and their female employees and colleagues on their path to success they ultimately find that it benefits everybody, men and women alike.
My greatest hope is that if enough of us stand up and ask “Do I have your support,” one day, everywhere, this will become to be the norm.
Phuong Uyen Tran is Deputy CEO of Tan Hiep Phat (THP) group, Vietnam’s leading independent beverage company. In addition to running Number 1 Chu Lai Plant, she is responsible for THP’s procurement, domestic and international marketing, public relations, and corporate social responsibility programs. Phuong is an executive of the Beverage Association of Vietnam and also sits on the executive committee of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Vietnam chapter. After being asked by Harvard Business Review to write a case study on how her family owned business walked away from a $2.5 billion offer from Coca-Cola, Tran decided to write the book, Competing With Giants: How One Family-Owned Company Took on the Multinationals and Won, that would teach people exactly how to do it in their own business.
By Rebecca Heaton
Being assertive in a professional setting isn’t always easy, and you’re not alone if you feel like you’re often not being heard. This is especially true for women who may find themselves to be silent observers — in other words, wallflowers. To them, I would ask: Are you using muscular language (active words and authoritative statements) or are you downplaying your authority? Are you being a discussion leader? If not, it’s time to embrace your inner boss lady, whether the world is ready for her or not.
Come to the table, and have something to say when you do
As a young woman starting out in her career, I began where many of us begin: at an internship. I was lucky enough to land an internship at Women of Influence, where I could develop my skills and personal communication goals in an environment where I was committed to the cause and loved the people. It’s a place where I felt valued and confident. It was a place where I could be loud. While I am happy more women are going to university and coming to the table, I can’t help but notice that young women don’t feel very confident verbally asserting themselves. What’s the point of being at the table if you’re going to be a silent observer? There are many ways women can advance themselves. Why not start by speaking up? Even if you get shot down, at least people know you’re in the room.
Don’t be afraid to take up space
Once you’re at the table, it can feel like you’re not supposed to be there. Myself and other women suffer from imposter syndrome, a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, and has a persistent, internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud” despite external evidence of their competence. I often find myself trying to fake it ‘til I make it. However, by being a presence in the room and reaching out to other influential women, I have accessed mentorship and opportunity, and I now have people in my corner. It has been uncomfortable and scary, but I gained much more than I lost. I made mistakes along the way and might have embarrassed myself a few times, but I have my foot in the door and that’s what matters.
Fill the gaps and be of use
It’s important to remember that being at the table is a privilege, one we should not take for granted. So, be of use when you occupy a seat. Prepare yourself before you walk in the door. If you’re going to speak, say something smart and remind your boss why they hired you. If you see a gap in the process, offer to address it. Taking initiative and being engaged are some of the ways competence is judged, and the bar is unfortunately much higher for women. We have to constantly prove ourselves to be taken seriously. We have to show up over and over again. We have to go the extra mile. We have to work harder and work smarter because of the double burden we face. And it will do wonders for career advancement, but maybe not always for likability. But you’re not in the business of people pleasing, are you?
Take pride in your accomplishments
Success and likability are often in opposition for women. We worry about being disliked, appearing unattractive, outshining others, or grabbing too much attention. A study done at Cornell University found that men overestimate their abilities and performance, while women underestimate both. Obviously, men are not exempt from doubting themselves, but they do not let their doubts stop them as often as women do. Think of this when you’re applying for your next job. Maybe you don’t meet all the requirements, but please understand that no one knows everything. Most of us just pretend we do, and some of us are better at pretending than others. Some of us are better at sticking out our noses and asking, “why not me?” I have come to understand that you must know what you have to offer and only accept what you are deserving of. No one is going to advocate for you but you.
In celebration of Mothers’ Day, the Canadian Franchise Association connected us with four ‘mompreneurs’ who’ve discovered the secret to balancing business ownership and running a family (their secret? There’s no such thing as balance). From a mobile spray-tanning business with celebrity clients, to a paint-your-own pottery studio and a franchise built on taking the embarrassment out of dealing with head lice, these moms have grown their small businesses into award-winning franchise concepts that have expanded across the country, helping other women find autonomy and control over their own working lives.
Dawn Mucci, CEO of LiceSquad.com
Nicole Hyatt, Founder of Tan on the Run
Annette Brennan, Founder of Crock A Doodle
Ruthie Burd, Founder of The Lunch Lady
I became an entrepreneur because…
I wanted to create a lifestyle for myself and family while providing opportunities for others to live the great Canadian dream of business ownership. I have a keen eye for opportunity and have always been creative and a bit of a risk taker. By walking the walk I have inspired other women and mothers to take the risk themselves and become entrepreneurs through the franchise model, which provides the support and leadership of the franchisor and the franchise system to help them succeed.
I never wanted to go to work dreading the day. I love waking up with excitement as I never know what a day in the life of the mobile tanning business will bring me. Every day is different, and although I probably work double over time, it doesn’t actually feel like work as I love what I do. As a franchisor, it’s my passion to help other women/mothers start and grow a business that they never imagined possible.
I wanted to create success on my own terms. I wanted to build a remarkable brand and bring it to life in a meaningful way.
I had a personal challenge that was the spark that ignited a business idea. When one of our 3 sons was diagnosed with autism 24 years ago, my need to work around his needs led me to self-employment and food service, even though I was not much of a cook at the time. It was the only thing that fit!
The most rewarding part of being a working mother is…
The opportunity to create my own schedule and have the freedom to put my family first. I also draw a great deal of inspiration and drive from my children knowing the hard work I do now is building a solid future for them. In the beginning I used to feel torn and guilty about having to choose time away in order to grow my businesses. I wish someone had told me back then there is no use in feeling this way. As long as you are having quality time together and are present when they need you, they totally understand and love you no matter what.
Having my son be proud of me. He actually gets involved when I talk business, he gives me his opinion and creative thoughts. I can see a mini entrepreneur in the making. He’s 12 and just finished his first business plan!
Showing your kids what is possible when you follow your heart and commit to making things happen.
That I have been able to grow personally while raising our family. My father taught me that caring for the well-being of the greater community is one of the best legacies we can leave our children and I sincerely believe this. I have been so fortunate to be a wife and mom, to have helped others to build viable businesses through franchising and to have created a valuable service that helps other busy working moms.
I balance work life with family life by…
Giving up the dream of trying to balance either. I used to think there was such a thing, but the longer I am in business the more I realize its not about balance, it is about self awareness and self care. Knowing when your getting close to being overwhelmed. Making sure you are not overloaded, saying no, delegating more and taking good care of your personal health in all areas is critical to having the ability to pivot and navigate change. Each day is a new adventure and you simply must put one foot in front of the other to get to the destination. My good friend once said it this way. “Life is a a series of adjustments.” Learn to be flexible.
Making sure I have family time, whether it’s vacation, sports or just hanging out watching a movie. In busy season if there isn’t much extra time I bring the family to work!
Involving my kids in my business so they appreciate the value of what I do. I’m still working on the balance part.
Not keeping a balance sheet. Working and playing is all living to me. I simply do my best and accept that everyone will not be satisfied with my choices each day…. and I extend the same courtesy to my family. A good dose of laughter, a shared kind word, this seems to balance the scales for me, no matter what else is going on…. and chocolate.
Sandra Longo was young when she became committed and passionate about disabled individuals who live their lives wheelchair-bound — when she was only 9 years old, her mother became a complete Paraplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury. With encouragement from family, friends and neighbours, Sandra started Navy Street Charity for Persons with Disabilities in 2016, a charity which donates portable wheelchair ramps to individuals in need. Learn more about what inspired her current endeavour, and how she stays motivated for the future.
My first job ever was… At a large Garden Center/Craft and Hobby Store. This job began to open my young and narrow views of the world. I enjoyed the idea that people were all different, and each individual who came into the store, came because they had different crafts and or hobbies that they were working on.
I started my venture because… I wanted to help people who were disabled and who used wheelchairs. When I was a young child my mother became a paraplegic and suddenly had to live life from a wheelchair. I learned first-hand what the consequences were when an individual was not free to live how they wanted to, especially when they were not included due to limited accessibility options. It creates an emotional scar that never goes away. I wanted to help stop the emotional pain for these individuals.
My proudest accomplishment is… My very first Race, a 10 kilometer race. That was easily one of the best moments of my life, because I never thought of myself as a trail blazer and this race was my very first personal achievement. When I crossed the finish line at that race, I cried like I had never cried before. You know the moment — that moment when you just realized that you exceeded your own expectations! That race changed who I told myself I was.
My boldest move to date was… Deciding that I was going to start a charity, when I didn’t have the slightest clue of how I was going to it but doing it anyway because it’s what I believe I was born to do.
I surprise people when I tell them… The experience my family has had with a slew of family tragedies, including when my mother became paralyzed in 1984, while giving birth to my youngest sister. In the decades that followed, it was these experiences that created my empathy for others, and inspired me to give back in some way. These events enabled me to gain a better understanding and to identify with with people who live with disabilities.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… Promise yourself that you’re never going to settle for less than you can be, do, give, give or create.
My best advice from a mentor was… Success leaves clues. Go figure out what someone who was successful did, and model it. Improve upon it, but learn their steps. They have knowledge, then it’s up to you to become resourceful and to take massive action.
“Promise yourself that you’re never going to settle for less than you can be, do, give, give or create.”
My biggest setback was… Breaking my own limitations of what I thought was possible for me to achieve. These thoughts were based on old restrictive beliefs, and the boundaries of what others thought I could achieve.
I overcame it by… Changing my focus. I realized that there is a powerful strength inside of me and every other human being, and I decided to focus on that instead.
Work/life balance is… Getting up early. I have realized how to maximize my day by making the most of the hours I have in a day.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I love green smoothies, for their ability to be so nutrient dense. They help fuel my body with nutrients, they help my skin glow, my eyes to be brighter, and they give me continuous resilient energy.
I stay inspired by… Being mindful of what I focus on.
The future excites me because… I am so excited about the future of Navy Street Charity for Persons with Disabilities.
My next step is… Growing awareness for Navy Street Charity, donating portable wheelchair ramps to individuals who are disabled and wheelchair bound throughout Ontario; and on a personal endeavour, a book is in the pipeline…stay tuned.
With over 20 years of industry experience in B2B marketing and a degree in Communications and an MBA in Marketing, Phoebe Yong, Principal and Founder at Magnolia Marketing Communications has led marketing campaigns with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Dell, HP, and Microsoft. She’s known in the industry for her tenacity, work ethic and passion, and in her day to day life? For being one of the Dallas Cowboy’s biggest fans.
My first job ever was… When I was 17 years old and I was the cashier at Woolco (now Walmart). I always loved playing with toy cash registers when I was a kid, so at the time, that was my dream job.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted the flexibility to create my own schedule. Having 2 and 4 year olds in the family, I wanted a schedule that could accommodate a young family lifestyle. Second, my passion is being creative. As an entrepreneur, I would have the opportunity to create stories, ideas, and campaigns and explore never ending possibilities with my creativity.
My proudest accomplishment is… My children and family life that I’ve created with my husband are my personal pride and joy. Related to work, it would be building a business that’s successfully sustained itself in a highly competitive and crowded space. Every day I get to go to work and love what I do.
My boldest move to date was… Early in my career, I left a comfortable government position to join a high-technology company to start a new career in marketing. I gained the necessary experience in sales and marketing to get a job of a lifetime in a leading-edge company specializing in wireless data.
I surprise people when I tell them… I’m a sports fanatic. A dream day is being at a Vegas hotel and betting on sports book in the NFL.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… Develop a passion to never give up and be obsessive about creating the right customer experience. There will be hard days to go along with the good days. Also, get a really good accountant to help you plan cash flow, taxes and keeping your books up to date. I learned the hard way and paid the price for not having good bookkeeping when I started my business.
My best advice from a mentor was… Have clarity in what you want to achieve. Be as clear as you can on what type of customers you want, what you want to offer them and what markets you want to serve. Having clarity will serve you and your team well.
Mentorship matters because… It’s a wonderful way to pass on your experience to another person. To give them advice that that they might not have otherwise known and help them immediately. I can’t imagine my career without my mentors.
Work/life balance is… Hard to achieve. When you have your own business, it’s hard to turn things off. I try my best to find time for my women friends who fill my soul with stories of similar challenges and opportunities. Journaling also helps me reflect and keep life into perspective. Golfing with my husband allows us to laugh at life and being parents.
“I try my best to find time for my women friends who fill my soul”
I love my job because… It fills me with pride and joy when I get to work with an amazing group of talented women, and we do amazing work for our great clients. Mostly, I love my job because every day I get to do what I love – be creative in telling people’s stories.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That my dream job would be working for the Dallas Cowboys marketing team. Or that I drove on the Charlotte Motor Speedway (NASCAR racetrack).
I stay inspired by… The pace of today’s technology and society’s insatiable need for the best and coolest thing. The yearning for excellence at a breakneck speed creates societies with boundless opportunities. I get inspired by Elon Musk, Sergey Brin and Larry Page in their pursuit of new frontiers.
The future excites me because… I work with many millennials and I appreciate their longing for humanity, community and yet there is a strong appreciation for self-worth. This makes for a future generation with self-confidence to make a difference.
My next step is… To shoot a round of golf under 85, and if I’m lucky, to continue to build a sustainable business where I help influence the young talents that have the drive to move the goal post every day and make a difference.
With experience in several industries and over 25 years in financial services, Marni Johnson provides overall leadership and strategic direction in the areas of human resources and corporate and internal communications at BlueShore Financial. Her passion for human resources developed after a bold career switch, and since then she has fully embraced her role, becoming a Trustee of the BC Credit Union Employees’ Pension and Benefits plans, and serving on the boards of the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. With a background in math and marketing, Marni is the perfect example of what a woman can achieve when she realizes that boundaries are in fact merely suggestions, and forges her own path.
My first job out of school…At a financial institution in Toronto in a back office role. In my role I identified a gap in processes, which I raised to my manager. It was dismissed. I decided to trust my instinct and explored this further to realize that in fact there was a gap, which had financial implications for the company. I learned a very valuable lesson from this first job and that is to trust your instincts even if you are a junior in your role. Each person can bring a great deal of value to the table no matter their place in the org chart.
I decided to enter the world of HR because…I was given an incredible opportunity for a career change from marketing to HR by the CEO of BlueShore Financial (back then the name was North Shore Credit Union). She offered me the role of VP HR because she believed I had the right leadership attributes and could learn the technical aspects of HR. The switch was the best career decision I ever made.
“Trust your instincts even if you are a junior in your role. Each person can bring a great deal of value to the table no matter their place in the org chart.”
My proudest accomplishment is…Having worked with my teams to create and maintain a very positive culture and a great place to work that is client-focused, results-driven and nurtures diversity and inclusiveness, since research shows a clear link between a strong culture and organizational business performance.
My boldest move to date was…Making a career change from Marketing to HR at the executive level. I faced some skepticism because my formal experience was not in the HR function. I persevered, achieved my CPHR designation, and over time established my credibility as an HR leader. I learned a lot about empowering and trusting my team, as they had more technical expertise than I did. I believe as women, we need to allow ourselves to reach for stretch goals and pursue them with confidence in our abilities to learn and grow.
I surprise people when I tell them…That I have an undergraduate degree in math, because often they don’t see that math and HR go together. To be successful in HR, you need to understand and be able to speak the language of business, which is usually numbers and money. Having strong math skills has been an enormous benefit throughout my career.
“As women, we need to allow ourselves to reach for stretch goals and pursue them with confidence in our abilities to learn and grow.”
My best advice to people starting their career is…Take responsibility for your own career by seeking opportunities to gain experience and transferable skills. Ask for “stretch” assignments even though they will take you out of your comfort zone — you’ll be amazed at the skills and lessons you’ll learn that you can take with you as you build your career.
My best advice from a mentor was…Don’t expect anyone else to care as much as you do, or to look after your best interests. This advice instilled in me a strong sense of accountability for results. It’s equally applicable to managing your personal life and career; you must take ownership for getting what you want and not abdicate that responsibility to someone else.
My biggest setback was…In my early 30s I accepted a job with a company that enabled me to move from Toronto to Vancouver, but it required that I take a 10% pay cut. That was a big deal, not just because of the reduction in income but because of my perception that career success meant making more money with each job change. I almost didn’t take the job because of what I saw as a step backward.
I overcame it by…Taking a longer term view of my career and the potential the new job represented. It was the right decision — if I hadn’t taken that job, my career would have taken a very different direction and I wouldn’t have ended up at BlueShore Financial. I learned through that experience that a great career move doesn’t always have to be a move “up”.
Work/life balance is…Different from person to person, both in terms of how much of each feels right, and how that balance is achieved. For me, it’s more of a “blend” vs. a strict delineation. I frequently check my work emails in the evenings and on weekends; but also have flexibility in my days where I can attend a meeting if needed for a not-for-profit board that I serve on.
“A great career move doesn’t always have to be a move “up”.”
I feel successful when…I can see the impact I’ve had on my team’s or the organization’s results. One of my favourite things is coaching my team and seeing them develop their abilities and confidence as an outcome.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know…That I am a hobby chocolatier. I’ve taken several courses over the past 25 years, continually learning new techniques and creating recipes. I take a week of vacation from work in early December and make more than 2,000 chocolates. Not surprisingly, my colleagues are incredibly supportive of “Chocolate Week” and the product of my time off!
I stay inspired by…Connecting with people who have a positive outlook and a passion for what they do. That kind of enthusiasm and commitment is infectious, and a source of energy for me.
The future excites me because…As an organization we have a very strong vision and an aligned and engaged team to execute on that vision. That’s a magic combination, and there’s no end to what we can achieve.
My next step is…To be determined. I’m loving my role at BlueShore and am continually looking for ways I can make an even greater contribution. What that will look like, who knows, but I’m open to the opportunities!
Want to hear more from seasoned HR professionals? Purchase your ticket to our April 26 Luncheon, Untapped Resources: How to Hire, Advance, and Retain Women.
Yana Barankin is the female lead of TAMGA Designs, a clothing line with integrity at its center. Before embarking on this journey, Yana and her business partner asked themselves two simple questions — is it too expensive to produce a socially and environmentally responsible piece of clothing? Does style have to be sacrificed for accountability? The obvious answer was no — so they set out on a mission to prove it. Here’s her story.
My first job ever was… sales clerk at a clothing store!
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I realized that I can have much more of a positive social and environmental impact by pursuing my passion rather than sitting at a 9-5 desk job.
My proudest accomplishment is… Getting my Masters in International Development from Kent University.
My boldest move to date was… Taking a leap of faith and buying a one-way ticket to Indonesia with my fiancee to set-up a responsible and transparent supply for the company.
I surprise people when I tell them… I lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh for 2.5 years working in international aid.
My best advice to people trying to get an idea off the ground is… Surround yourself with creative and like-minded people! Know what your weaknesses are and don’t be afraid to ask for help and inspiration!
My best advice from a mentor was… It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“Know what your weaknesses are and don’t be afraid to ask for help and inspiration”
My biggest setback was… My personal biggest challenge was moving to Canada at the age of 12 and what felt like at the time adapting to a whole new world.
I overcame it by… Giving it time.
Work/life balance is… Knowing when to a call it a night (laptop and cellphones OFF) and enjoying the weekend with family and friends.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’m a self taught photographer.
I stay inspired by… Being outdoors.
The future excites me because… There are endless possibilities! We’re starting to see a shift where businesses can’t just take away from people and the planet — to get customer loyalty they have to show how they’re giving back. Combining profit and purpose is the challenge of our generation, and there are so many amazing entrepreneurs and companies working on it.
“Combining profit and purpose is the challenge of our generation”
My next step is… My next steps are all about TAMGA at the moment! We’re developing some amazing new pieces and prints with our team in Indonesia, and will be introducing some awesome new eco materials to our line. This summer we will be doing lots of in-person festivals, pop-ups and markets in the Toronto area. And we can’t wait for lots of sunshine, TAMGA clothing, and meeting all our amazing customers.
As the founder and Chief Community Cultivator of Shecosystem, a co-working space that nurtures the personal and professional well-being of women, Emily Rose Antflick is a champion of working with integrity and fostering a positive sense of community. And this has served her well — while walking away from both an ill-fitting career and relationship simultaneously was a challenge, she has since emerged energized, hopeful, and fueled by a true sense of work-life integration, which she believes beats the mythical “work-life balance” any day. Here’s how she does it.
My first job ever was… Working at a vintage store/art gallery in Kensington Market, my soul’s home in this city and the neighbourhood where my ancestors first settled in Toronto in the early 20th Century.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I had creative energy that needed to be released, and after bouncing around different education institutions for over a decade, I still hadn’t found a workplace place where I would want to show up every day. Everywhere I worked I felt like I had to compartmentalize or present a certain way, and I wanted to truly show up authentically at work.
My proudest accomplishment is… Taking Shecosystem from a dream to a bricks and mortar business in just over a year. I worked hard to build community and to shape the business around that community’s needs, and as a result I opened the doors with twice my target number of Founding Members.
My boldest move to date was… Walking away from my teaching job and ending my engagement in the same week. I had gotten to a point of such acute energetic depletion that only a bold move would give me the opportunity to reshape my life from the ashes.
My best advice to people trying to get an idea off the ground is… To get it out of your head first — write it down and talk it over. And then let it exist in the world in its perfectly imperfect state, because if you wait until it’s perfect to launch, it won’t happen.
My best advice from a mentor was… To stop playing small out of fear, but instead to listen to what that fear might be telling me. Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
My biggest setback was… Not having all of the operating policies and procedures firmly in place when I opened Shecosystem. There were lots of uncomfortable conversations and lost opportunities in the early days, but in the end it meant that these policies arose from a more organic place. They took shape around real learnings rather than being imposed based on some hypothetical idea of how things “should” work.
I overcame it by… Cultivating a healthy trust in the unknown, asking for help and input from stakeholders to develop these policies cooperatively, and as one of the members put it, continuing to move forward “bravely and tentatively.”
A sense of community is important to your career because… Working for yourself shouldn’t ever mean working alone. I see my challenges and my successes mirrored in the women who work at Shecosystem. Knowing that I am supported, seen, and celebrated by this sisterhood gives me the courage to move forward with my business.
Work/life balance is… A myth. I prefer to talk about work-life integration. If we are going to cultivate sustainable businesses and abundant lives, self-care needs to be a part of our business strategy.
“If we are going to cultivate sustainable businesses and abundant lives, self-care needs to be a part of our business strategy.”
My past experience helps me today by… Reminding me that I am resilient and resourceful. Also my background in curriculum design, teaching and facilitation means I have a toolkit that can be applied to lots of different contexts because, after all, I’ve always believed that real learning happens outside of the classroom.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… My bank account number, but that’s about it. If you go back far enough you’ll uncover my travel blog, old teaching resources, even the story of my first menstrual period.
I stay inspired by… Dancing and getting into nature as often as possible.
The future excites me because… The feminine is rising and more people are waking up to our potential to discard broken systems and return to more human scale, soul-centric and eco-centric ways of situating ourselves in the world.
My next step is… Simply taking time to observe how Shecosystem works — then refining, modifying, and preparing to scale based on the insight drawn from these observations.
We met Emily Rose Antflick, the founder of Shecosystem, at the 2017 Feminist Art Conference held at OCAD, where she sat on a panel of feminist entrepreneurs, alongside Petra Kassun-Mutch and Valerie Fox. Check back to meet more of the incredible woman entrepreneurs that attended.
Meet Valerie Fox, the woman who’s been at the center of innovation since the 80s as a designer for IBM. Since then she co-founded the Ryerson DMZ, North America’s number 1 university business incubator, and started a new venture which helps build successful incubation models with corporations, academic institutions and regions, and brings communities of diverse skills together to collaborate, design and deliver impactful innovation, world-wide. With over 30 years in the creative digital industry, Valerie has been recognized for multiple awards, including the 2016 Canada Innovation Leaders team, and the Sara Kirke Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, CNE Woman of Distinction. Get to know her here.
My first job ever was… As a printing press operator, graphic artist and camera room operator in a print shop. Up to that point, I had gone to university and college for art and design, and wanted to illustrate children’s books.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… In the 80s I could see that tech was changing the landscape of design, communication and education. I wanted to be on the bleeding edge of what I knew was going to be the future of everything. I had an incredible career at IBM as an intrapreneur. From there I was asked to join Ryerson University by the then President, Sheldon Levy to help in its transition to become a leader in entrepreneurship and innovation.
My proudest accomplishment is… My family, and meeting the many professional experiences I’ve had, like being the creative director of the Sydney Olympics web experience and co-founding and growing the Ryerson DMZ business incubator to be recognized as number 1 in North America and number 3 in the world. 18 months ago, started a company to help develop incubators and entrepreneurial ecosystems in towns, cities, academic institutions and corporations in Canada, the U.S., and Internationally.
My boldest move to date was… Getting the gig for the Sydney Olympics for our Canadian IBM team. We had a week to prove to the executive producer in Australia that we had what it took to design and deliver an exceptional online experience to the world. We super-stretched the capability of the internet in the year 2000 to create an incredible interactive and immersive experience. It showed what happens when design and technology work closely together.
I surprise people when I tell them… I’m 63 and a grandma.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… To hold on tight. It’s filled with the most incredible high’s and lows. The best things you can do is to stay in perpetual motion, learn, iterate, team, share, and create long lasting relationships.
Mentorship is important because… It’s a beautiful way to learn and build mutually beneficial relationships.
“The best things you can do is to stay in perpetual motion, learn, iterate, team, share, and create long lasting relationships.”
My best advice from a mentor was… Not to worry about what others think, but listen, learn, apply, while continually holding on to core values.
My biggest setback was… Health related. My back went out and I was house-bound for 3 months. It stopped me cold. I realized how important health is, to do anything.
I overcame it by… Changing my perspective. It’s okay to take time to eat, sleep, take care of oneself and enjoy that too.
Work/life balance is… I don’t believe it’s a balance. For me it’s integrated. I love my work, it’s a part of my life. But it’s not the only thing in my life.
Something you can’t learn in a classroom is… So many things. Life is learning. Experience gives perspective, relevance, and application. But I would add that it depends on the classroom. There are some amazing classes out there that encourage team and project building, and knowledge sharing.
To me, innovation means… Change that makes a difference.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’m a pretty open book.
I stay inspired by… Hanging out with people I love and learn from and meeting new people to learn from. Also reading, walking, traveling…never standing still.
The future excites me because… It’s filled with possibility.
My next step is… Continuing to help build connections and learning opportunities that will shape our world to be a better place.
We met Valerie, the founder of The Pivotal Point, at the 2017 Feminist Art Conference held at OCAD, where she sat on a panel of feminist entrepreneurs, alongside Petra Kassun-Mutch. Check back to meet more of the incredible woman entrepreneurs that attended.
Petra Kassun-Mutch wants to revolutionize the way entrepreneurs do business, bringing social consciousness and a feminist mind-set to a space that is all too often profit-centric and male-dominated. A former executive turned serial entrepreneur, Petra is determined to demonstrate how a business can be both responsible and profitable, widening the definition of innovation to be more inclusive and altogether more exciting.
My first job ever was… a fry girl at McDonald’s — I also had lobby duty.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted to be able to show up authentically, create opportunities for others, and design and launch innovative, values-led enterprises that helps transform institutions and systems.
My proudest accomplishment is… leaving my 18-year corporate career and role as President for a $46M division of a multinational publishing company to found, build and grow a Platinum LEED (first in the world), a mid size award winning artisan goat and sheep milk dairy in Prince Edward County — even though I had no experience in cheese, farming, or the food processing industry. I didn’t even know you could milk a sheep! But I do now! We won the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation two years after opening.
My boldest move to date was… Combining activism with scalable entrepreneurship.
I surprise people when I tell them… I was once a certified milk and cream grader, licensed HTST operator, and drove a milk truck.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… Everyone should start their career in sales. You will learn about markets, people, and learn how the world really works. For me personally it was transformational.
My best advice from a mentor was… Be the market you intend to serve. In other words, don’t try to sell something to people (or markets) you don’t truly love, respect or understand.
Women can support other women by… Leading with intersectional feminist values at the heart of all you do. Investing in women, including trans and gender non-binary female entrepreneurs.
My biggest setback was… Having to sell the business I loved and started because of an ill-timed divorce. In entrepreneurship, business is personal, and the personal is business.
I overcame it by… Taking a break, reflection, lots of self care, trying new things (not always successful), and surrounding myself with dynamic, diverse, creative kick ass women friends.
Something you can’t learn in a classroom is… How to cope with and recover from major loss.
To me, innovation means… A lot more than just high growth/extreme cheap scale tech. Today’s definition of innovation is too narrow and leads to a gender gap in innovation policy that goes under recognized. We need to support process innovation alongside product innovation.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I know how to macramé.
I stay inspired by… Watching The Walking Dead and working with entrepreneurs.
The future excites me because… I believe we can and will create a human-centric, values-led economy in the future, one that will promote individual, community and global wellness, a world without fossil fuels, a future where structural and cultural gender driven inequality for women, trans, queer-identified people (anyone experiencing discrimination based on gender) are a thing of the past.
My next step is… To pioneer what it means to design and operate an enterprise based on feminist business best practice.
We met Petra at the 2017 Feminist Art Conference held at OCAD, where she mediated a panel of feminist entrepreneurs. Check back to meet more of the incredible woman entrepreneurs that attended. Until then, hear more from Petra at liisbeth.com.
Bridget Russo joined Shinola in 2012, relocating from her native Tribeca to the company’s Detroit headquarters in 2014. As Chief Marketing Officer she oversees global marketing and communications, building the American design brand through storytelling and well-made products. By bringing skilled manufacturing jobs back to Detroit, Shinola is also having a positive social impact on the community — a key element of their brand. It’s a perfect fit for Bridget, who made a name for herself in the fashion industry by pursuing projects she found ethically compelling, including the establishment of her own consulting firm focused on fashion ventures with a philanthropic angle.
My first job ever was… At a store in New York, which is now closed, called FAO Schwarz. I worked in the doll department.
My proudest accomplishment is… Somehow impressing my mother, who is not impressed, ever.
My boldest move to date was… Moving to Detroit.
I surprise people when I tell them… That I moved to Detroit.
The biggest marketing challenge companies face today is… Considering how much information is getting thrown at consumers on a minute-to-minute basis, the ability to break through and capture their attention is increasingly more challenging.
My best marketing advice for companies today is… Be authentic. Go with your gut. Stay true to the brand.
My biggest setback was… Leaving a job that I really loved too quickly for silly reasons. I would have eventually left, but I probably had a good five years to go before I did that. I did it in haste. I was turning 30 and thought I needed to grow up.
Work/life balance is… Never checking your emails after work, unless absolutely necessary. Keep two separate phones: one personal, one work.
My best advice from a mentor was… Take time to congratulate even the little successes of your team.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I am socially awkward and shy.
I stay inspired by… The people I work with everyday.
The future excites me because… I have hope, despite everything that’s going on in the world today. Human beings are human beings, and we’ll continue to do great things.
Christine Laperriere is the Executive Director of the Women of Influence Advancement Centre. She is also an executive coach and seasoned expert focused on helping female leaders and teams reduce internal conflict, improve employee engagement, and more effectively engage with customers and prospects. Over the past eight years, she has taught hundreds of leaders through her Mastering Me and Leadership Through Conflict and Change courses. Her background includes undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, certifications in psychotherapy and executive coaching, along with years in management consulting with a focus on implementation of large change management and restructuring initiatives.
Here, she answers a common question so many mothers grapple with as they shift their focus from being a primary caregiver to their children back to cultivating an exciting and fulfilling career.
Q: After taking time away from my career to raise my family, I’m now looking for my next position—and a new challenge. I feel so intimidated and overwhelmed as I look to re-enter the workplace. What I used to want out of my career has changed dramatically, given that I’m at a different stage of life. Where do I begin?
This is a great question that many female professionals decide to get coaching on. Many women take a break from their career to raise their family, and when they decide it’s time to come back to work, everything has changed. Here are the steps I recommend to get yourself started on your new career journey:
1. Get Clear on Your Ideal Job Criteria
During a recent coaching call, I was working with a client who was interviewing for a position that would require an hour commute to and from the office. She is the mother of two small children and if she got this position, it would require her to add after-school supervision and nanny services to her budget just to ensure she had proper care for her children during her extended workday.
I noticed through the conversation that the idea of her getting this position was causing her a lot of stress. We needed to step back and get clear on her “Ideal Job Criteria.” We decided that for her to feel excited about a position while honoring her commitments at home she would need local work or a position that allowed her to work remotely. We also decided that it would be critical for her to have flexibility to stay home when her children were sick. Finally, her ideal job would allow her to work a 30 hour week as opposed to the standard 40 hour week so she could avoid having to pay for additional child care services. Once we got very clear on her needs, she was able to proactively discuss these criteria with potential employers rather than interview for positions that were not a good fit for her given her responsibilities.
2. List Your Transferable Skills
This client also felt very stuck given that her former job title was very specific to a niche industry. The more she looked for positions of the same title and industry, the more hopeless she felt. In another coaching conversation, we spent time diving into her transferrable skill set. It was interesting to see that in her former position, she had extensive business development experience, success in building relationships with key accounts, and she had demonstrated very strong project management skills.
When she realized how many employers are hunting for these skills, she could quickly see how she could confidently apply for more positions outside of her current industry and know she would be a great fit for them.
3. Know What You Love Doing
We spent some time talking about what she loves doing. This part is important and often overlooked. Because she was unemployed and looking for a new position, she felt at the mercy of employers. When we focused on what she loves doing, it helped us select a handful of positions for her to pursue that she was not only qualified for, but that she would also thoroughly enjoy doing.
4. Create Your “Best and Worst” List
Finally, I invited her to do a fun exercise. She created a list of every position she’d ever had (yes, including the babysitting job at age 12 and her days as a dairy maid). In columns, she captured the aspects of each position that she really enjoyed as well as the aspects that she really didn’t enjoy. When she reviewed these observations, she found that she had new items to add to her “What I love doing” and “Transferable Skills” lists, and she had new “Ideal Job Criteria,” based on all that she didn’t enjoy about her previous jobs.
I’m happy to report that this client has found a position that meets her criteria and truly leverages her skills. She’s very excited about this position and I am sure she’s aligned for success. Follow these four steps yourself and watch how quickly you start to see new opportunities opening up before your eyes!
To learn more about how you or your company can engage Christine as a coach or to help educate you within your organization, you can reach out to her directly at email@example.com.
“At this point, “having it all” is a balance of being reflective about the past and looking ahead at what’s possible with clear focus, determination and resilience.”
By Roberta Hague
Can we “have it all” in terms work and family? The answer to that question has changed throughout life as I’ve reconsidered what “all” means for me. Generally, it has been about living passionately, having fun, aspiring to more, and feeling satisfied at the end of each day that it was another good day.
What has been consistently clear is that life doesn’t unfold as planned — that we all hit the occasional bump and have opportunities to take an interesting turn. How we move forward in those moments is a big part of what shapes our definition of “all.” A few things have shaped mine. Here are some highlights from those moments.
Define your “all,” and then be flexible.
My current position is senior vice-president of Communications and Public Affairs, at OMERS, the defined benefit pension plan which invests and administers pensions for almost 500,000 members from municipalities, school boards, emergency services and local agencies across Ontario. I love this role and feel a deep sense of commitment to the members of this plan. But being here, in this role, was not part of a long-term career plan.
As a kid I was sure I wanted to be a lawyer. An understandable goal, for an 11-year-old who admired her father. But that goal changed. At university, I was exposed to so many interesting people and compelling ideas that I shifted my aspirations toward business.
An ancient Roman philosopher described luck as what happens when preparation meets opportunity, and I feel like I have been very lucky! While I had a clear plan at a young age, I was prepared for opportunities that shaped a very different outcome.
Throughout my career I have always had a plan, yet tried to be open-minded. An active curiosity has led me to live abroad, to take on a variety of roles, to take uncomfortable risks, to even co-author a book, and to always look forward to what’s possible. “Having it all” has been about being prepared for the opportunities.
Understand the resources you’ll need — including both financial resources and champions.
Early in my career, I saw first-hand that even the most well-established business can fail. And I learned that you need to manage your personal finances thoughtfully — have the resources lined up so that when the unexpected strikes, you can take the time you need to find the right next role.
“Having it all” has been about being prepared for the opportunities.
I also learned the value of having champions. Every great opportunity for me has come through someone who knows me. Champions can come from across a spectrum of our networks. These are the people who have seen how we perform in good, and not so good times. They have confidence in us. We often think they have to be senior, but they can be our peers or people who have been on our teams. Ultimately, they are someone who knows you and who is willing to vouch for you and sometimes even create opportunities for you.
Be bold — know yourself and overcome your fears.
Some of the bumps we hit are bigger than others. When I was 30, I awoke one December morning with an indescribable headache. It turns out a vein in my head had burst, and it wasn’t clear that everything was going to be ok.
Days passed in the hospital, mostly in a blur. Then, early on the morning of December 25, a Santa-suited neurologist doing rounds whispered in my ear that my prognosis for a full recovery was the miracle of that holiday season.
In spite of this good news, it was hard to be bold. It took a while to get back to being myself, but first I had to get past my fears. My confidence had hit a low point and I was anxious that people might see me differently. As it turns out, they did, but in a good way. They viewed my recovery as a reflection of strength and resilience.
The lesson here was about having capacity to reach deep inside myself to find strength. To never let self-doubt chip away at my spirit. I’ve had to relearn this lesson a few times over the years, but always know that I can!
At this point, “having it all” is a balance of being reflective about the past and looking ahead at what’s possible with clear focus, determination and resilience. It is enjoying a life that’s still in progress, with a sense of purpose, terrific colleagues, deep friendships and a great family — every day.
We’ve partnered with Ricoh in engaging our community in important discussions about the advancement of women, focusing on “having it all.” How you define it, what factors enable you to achieve it, and how you have worked differently to meet your goals. Ricoh is a global technology company specializing in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services.
Virginia Brailey, Vice-President, Marketing and Strategy at ADP Canada believes fully in reaching beyond your career comfort zone, and bringing others along for the climb. Her advice? You should too.
By Hailey Eisen
“It’s not the act of jumping out of an airplane; it’s what’s you learn before the chute opens that really matters,” Virginia Brailey says. Learning on the job (and while skydiving) has been her approach throughout her 25-year career as a marketing leader, and it’s advice she shares with anyone looking to take their career to the next level.
“Every time there was a chance to get involved in a new area or take on a new challenge I jumped at it,” she recalls. “I have always considered myself lucky to have these opportunities to learn, even though it can be a lot of pressure to learn quickly.”
The result is an impressive career trajectory through natural resources, telecommunications, technology and now, as Vice-President, Marketing and Strategy at ADP Canada, in the human capital management industry. Virginia has tackled a number of specialties including corporate communications, product management and strategic planning in organizations of all sizes.
“Getting out of your comfort zone is the key,” she explains. “Assuming you have strong basic skills, there is no reason to turn your back on a great opportunity just because you lack years of experience. This goes for everything from a new job to a big project in your current role.”
Just like skydiving, taking on new opportunities requires a little bit of nerve and a great deal of trust in other people. “I talk to so many educated, smart women who feel they need to have one-hundred per cent of the skills or experiences to put up their hand for a new project, and this keeps them on the sidelines,” Virginia explains. “The truth is, there are always lots of people out there who can help you learn and you may find support in the most unlikely places to help you on that journey — you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.”
As a volunteer mentor with the American Marketing Association, she encourages others to view learning itself as a goal, as is the chance to see things from a different point-of-view by rolling up your sleeves to work alongside colleagues or specialists with whom you might not normally engage.
“The truth is, there are always lots of people out there who can help you learn and you may find support in the most unlikely places to help you on that journey — you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.”
“Taking on opportunities beyond your existing role or department is good for career advancement, but more importantly it helps you understand and respect the work and expertise other people bring, and what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes,” Virginia explains. “That’s information you can bring back and pass along to the people you’re helping on their journey. I like the phrase, ‘lifting as you climb,’ because I think the most important thing each of us can do at work is to help other people grow and learn.”
Her own challenges and experiences early in her career have contributed to Virginia’s commitment to encourage others. Working in traditional male environments in the natural resources and telecommunication sectors, Virginia heard plenty of discouraging messages, but looked to role models and mentors for guidance. “Earlier in my career at a predominantly male mining company, it was the president who was always quick to encourage me to run with new opportunities and that alone made a huge difference,” she recalls.
“I like the phrase, ‘lifting as you climb,’ because I think the most important thing each of us can do at work is to help other people grow and learn.”
At ADP, Virginia continues her mission of learning and teaching. “Leadership is a privileged obligation — both to teach others and to continue learning yourself,” she observes. “We have a wonderfully diverse group of senior leaders and associates, and I learn constantly — that’s a big part of what energizes me.”
While she is not planning to jump out of any more airplanes, Virginia explains she is still learning as she goes. “I actively surround myself with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures — because there is so much power in diversity.”
Wondering if it’s time to start your own business? If you are at that crossroad in your career, Joanna Track is here to help you get over to the other side. As a serial entrepreneur — she’s the founder of sweetspot.ca, eLuxe.ca, Good Eggs & Co., and The Bullet — Joanna has figured out how to judge if you’re ready for your next (or first) venture.
By Joanna Track
I love starting businesses. While some people find that less palatable than a root canal, for me, the inception is my sweet spot. And the recent launch of my latest brain child, a daily email news digest called The Bullet, makes it my fourth time at this particular rodeo.
But it’s not without angst. While I relish in the adrenaline rush I get from developing the idea, bringing my team together, and breathing life into the concept, I can admit that there are moments when the words “What was I thinking?” are raging through my head (usually at 3am).
Like you, I have a voice inside of me that rolls all of my fears and insecurities into one giant ball of anxiety. It sounds exactly like the voice of the skeptics and naysayers. And it asks why I want to put myself on the line again, take a chance, dance with potential failure, make more work for myself, and so on.
How do I get past it? By reminding myself of what I was thinking and feeling when I decided to give it another shot. And if these resonate with you, it might be your time for a new venture, too.
1. You need to play in the game.
While I’ve met some great people and done interesting work over the last three years at my consultancy firm, Good Eggs & Co., at times I felt like the overqualified water girl – very supportive, but not part of the action. If your current role has you feeling like a cog in the wheel rather than the captain of your ship, you might have just the personality needed for running your own business.
2. You want to practice what you preach.
I’ve spent over a decade building content platforms and strategies both for my own brands and for clients. I know it requires dedication, commitment and passion for a subject. The Bullet checks all those boxes for me. What ignites your passion?
3. You like to be uncomfortable.
My latest venture has me writing about the news. Why is this uncomfortable? Because I spent the early part of my life limiting my need to string a sentence together (that may seem like an odd reason to major in mathematics, but it’s true). Why do I love it? Because it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. If you love expanding your knowledge and expertise, there’s no school quite like entrepreneurship.
So, here I am. I get up at 5:45am to watch and read the news, edit copy, update HTML, and send the Daily Bullet into the world. Could it be a colossal failure? Possibly. Could your idea for a business be a big flop? Maybe. But we both have a chance for great success, and we get to do it on our terms.
After ten years as Co-Host of Breakfast Television, Dina Pugliese is accustomed to the spotlight—but it wasn’t always that way. We’ve partnered with Activia to share Dina’s story of how her experiences taught her to listen to her inner critic, trust her instincts, and find the balance that allows her to achieve her best.
By Hailey Eisen | Photography by Genevieve Charbonneau
Dina Pugliese spends her mornings in front of the camera, entertaining and informing Torontonians as they begin their days. Despite the rigid early morning schedule she keeps in order to work as Co-Host of City TV’s Breakfast Television (BT) Toronto, it seems as though she’s permanently in a good mood. And that’s not just an act. Unabashedly quirky, Dina remains committed to being her true self, or what she refers to as “that crazy Italian girl,” both on and off camera.
“In the age of YouTube, what’s resonating with people is authenticity and integrity, being yourself rather than the polished, perfect, robotic version of a person we’re used to seeing on TV,” she says. “What you see is what you get with us.” And that’s the way it always been, since Dina assumed the role of BT co-host in 2006. She writes all her own Tweets and tells her own jokes—and admits she’s no longer afraid of what others think of her. “Love it or leave it, I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not.”
But back in her 20s, Dina’s inner critic plagued her. An A+ student who graduated first from York and then from Humber College’s broadcast journalism program, Dina spent the early part of her career “doing her time” working behind the scenes, monitoring police scanners, making coffee, working the shifts no one wanted, and trying to build up the courage to apply for an on-air position. Like many women (according to a worldwide study conducted on behalf of Danone Activia, a full 62 per cent of women), she felt that her inner critic was holding her back more than most other things in her personal life.
When she finally did put together a demo tape and asked the news director at Global Television, her employer at the time, to take a look, he brushed her aside saying something along the lines of, “don’t get your hopes up, just keep doing what you’re doing.”
While she remembers feeling as though she might throw in the towel before really giving it a shot, she was lucky to have some incredible female role models rooting for her success. “I took the advice of Beverly Thomson and Mary Ito, both of whom I was working with at the time, and sent out my demo tape, which I happened to think was pretty terrible.”
Within three days she had two job offers.
Thankfully for viewers across the GTA who now rely on Dina’s uplifting spirit and natural on-air talent to kick start the day, the young reporter was able to work constructively with her inner critic, allowing it to guide her to her full potential. She pushed beyond her comfort zone in her first on-air job as entertainment reporter, writer, and producer of Toronto 1’s Morning Show, Toronto Today. “The truth is, if you work hard enough and really put yourself out there, you’ll get rewarded. I’m so grateful to be doing what I’m doing today,” she says.
“Love it or leave it, I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not.”
It’s this gratitude that guides Dina in her personal and professional life. “At 4 a.m. when I’m exhausted and people are Tweeting me to say good morning and wishing me a good show—that’s when I say to myself ‘let’s take on this day, let’s find the good, find the joy, and find the positive moments.’”
Feeling good about herself and overcoming her inner critic has allowed Dina’s positivity to flourish in all that she does. But working crazy hours and spending much of her life in the public eye means Dina needs to take time to find her balance, look after her own well-being and to connect with her husband, whose work hours don’t coincide with her own. “People used to say to me, ‘you have to get yourself out there and attend and host more events’,” she recalls. “Suddenly I found myself feeling burnt out. I didn’t want to disappoint people, but I had nothing left for me.”
Finding that balance was key to Dina’s success, and it has allowed her to maintain the same hectic schedule for 10 years as of this October. When she gets that gut feeling that she needs to rejuvenate, she says she goes into her “bubble” with her husband, spending a day or even a whole weekend in their PJs, watching movies, working on their backyard, or just doing nothing together. “It’s important that we make time for us to reconnect, just the two of us, and then schedule in other time to be with our families, our parents, nieces and nephews, and siblings.”
Family is extremely important to Dina, and a big part of the reason she’s never taken a job in the US (though she’s had the opportunity). “We didn’t try to have children until I was much older, and by then my body told me it was too late,” she recalls. “But I don’t have any regrets. Everything happens for a reason, and I’m so blessed to have so many things to be grateful for.”
Want to know more of Dina’s story? Watch her personal video as part of Activia’s Women InSync series, and see her in person on October 27, as she hosts an evening with Rocket Scientist and Explorer Natalie Panek. For even more inspiration, follow @activia_canada on Instagram and look out for the Live #InSync hashtag. You’ll see how exceptional women from across Canada are achieving that special state when body and mind are in harmony, and they are driven from within to achieve their full potential.
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