Monday, April 27, 2009


This weekend a group of people were taking a dry wall stone building course at our farm. They were a diverse crew –men and women - from across South-Western Ontario, all there to learn the dying art of building a dry stone wall. It was fascinating to watch (I was the chief cook and bottle washer) as a symmetrical stone wall emerged from the rubble of stones we had collected from across the property.

Over dinner, the teacher, John, was explaining that it takes a certain personality to build a wall. For the perfectionist, it can be an exercise in frustration as there isn’t a scientific formula to getting the wall right and sometimes you have to select the less-than-perfect stone. But he added, “for the cowboys” who just think they can stick a stone anywhere, there are lessons to be learned as they find they can’t be quite so casual about the whole process.

John also observed that people who get into wall-building are often musicians, writers and other creative types who see the wall as a work of art – something beautiful to be created out of stone.

Apparently he’s been approached about using wall-building as a team-building exercise and you could see how that could be very effective. People had to learn to work together, to listen to each other’s opinion, and not always be right.

Likewise, it struck me that there were some lessons for business owners too on the importance of being flexible. If you are hell-bent on being right all the time; on sticking to one course of action, it likely won’t always work to your favour. So an element of going with the flow makes sense. Now if you’re so laid- back that anything goes, like the cowboys, then you run the risk of losing your focus and offering a shoddy product or service.

The other lesson learned this weekend is the value of bartering; of forming strategic alliances. Sixteen people gathered at our place to build a wall, in return, all we had to do was feed and water them! Pretty good deal I would say and now we have a beautiful wall and some new friends.

Monday, April 20, 2009


With the great weather this weekend, I had no excuse about getting out in the garden. Now I have to confess, gardening is not my favourite pastime, but the spring clean up was calling me whether I wanted to do it or not.

And I have to say I did procrastinate a bit – you know - found other things to do that were suddenly pressing; called my cousin for a long chat, you name it – I tried to do it. But eventually I had to get out there and start raking those leaves we left in the fall with the theory that they would nourish the earth. Hmm right. There seemed to be an awful lot of them.

Now I don’t want this to get out.. but I quite enjoyed the physical labour of getting the garden in a bit more in order. Like your office or your wardrobe, there is something freeing about getting rid of clutter – be it paper, clothes or leaves. And if you are realistic on what you can achieve in the time allotted, there can be a sense of accomplishment.

Just as in life and business there are tasks we want to avoid, sometimes it is better to just parcel off small portions of time – the Swiss cheese approach – so you are not so overwhelmed and you are moving forward.

But let’s not get too carried away with my new-found enthusiasm for the great outdoors; otherwise who knows, I could get roped into weeding next. Heaven forbid.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Talk about extremes. I went from a relaxing break in Florida, soaking up the sun to hopping on a plane to attend the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence where it was announced that I had won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Now that sure gets your adrenalin going! I am still on a high.

Over the years I have been fortunate to receive several awards, but this one is different, and I've been reflecting on why it means so much to me. It reminds me of the time when Sally Fields won an Oscar and she said "you like me, you really like me"

Like many of us, I have my moments of self-doubt too, when I question what I am doing and whether I am just kidding myself with this business. Now a group of professionals and peers, that I admire, have recognized my work, my contribution and my leadership. I feel validated.

But there are other factors kicking in - this award goes beyond me. As a woman entrepreneur representing and supporting other women entrepreneurs, the award represents recognition of the vital role women play in today's economy. Women can, and do, run successful businesses. It's no longer the "old boys club" - in fact we have our own - and it's called Company of Women.

So let's celebrate.