Monday, June 28, 2010

Read Why Now is the Time to Crush It! Cash in On Your Passion this weekend. As recommended by author, have signed up for Ping

Saturday, June 26, 2010

WE DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALL

Like many women, I like to keep people happy. Although I have learned through my seven years of running Company of Women that this is impossible. You can’t please everyone – I just look at the diverse range of evaluations we receive after an event, to wonder if the respondents were actually at the same event! And as for those who complain about too much balsamic vinegar in the dressing – they need to get a life.

So I really thought I had got over this need to please. Wrong. On Tuesday, our new team at Company of Women, eight of us in total, went off for a retreat. We wanted to spend the day together, getting to know one another and forming a shared vision for the future.

It was exciting for me to see others so enthusiastic about Company of Women and what we can do to help women grow, both professionally and personally. As one person observed, as a group we were pretty diverse in our backgrounds and experiences, but then so is our membership, and there was mutual respect for what we could accomplish together.

In our recent survey, women had raised several ideas of how Company of Women could support them. We were using those results to brainstorm ways in which we could address those needs. As ever keen to meet those expectations, I had all sorts of ideas of what we could do, but the team was quick to remind me that we can’t be all things to all people and perhaps the women had to take responsibility for helping themselves achieve their goals.

It was a timely reminder that I need to keep my focus laser-sharp or we run the risk of diluting what we do and spreading our limited resources too thin. Left to my own devices, I likely would have just leapt in, which speaks to the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will give honest feedback and tell you when you are moving in the wrong direction.

And it is not that we are going to ignore the survey results, but more we will look at what we currently offer and make sure people are aware of the opportunities available to them and will form strategic alliances where appropriate, rather than relying and delivering all the programs and services ourselves.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

WE FOUND OUR BEAT

I must confess I was bit like a little kid organizing a surprise party. Only a handful of people knew what we were planning at the end of our Journey to Success conference. We called the session Finding Your Beat – an interactive activity – which actually accurately described what we would be doing – but I suspect no one really imagined that it would be drumming.

We led the women into the room, table by table, as the drummers drummed them in. Without a word being said, the women picked a drum, sat down and started drumming. It was fascinating to watch as women joined in. There they were, many in their finest, with an African drum between their legs, pounding and following the rhythm in the room.

Most people, myself included, really got into it and when we finished our first “performance” there was a loud howl as we congratulated ourselves on the music we’d made.

Now ending the conference on this “note” was a risk, and to be honest not everyone participated, some people left and that is fair enough, but for those who stayed (around 150 women) it was an empowering way to end an inspiring day and my sense was that the women left feeling they could tackle anything.

And Terri – who led us through the activity, landed another contract from someone who participated. Now that is what it is all about.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oh The Places You will Go

It’s done. I shared my pearls of wisdom with the 2010 graduating class from Sheridan College on Wednesday. It was quite the gathering with over 300 students graduating from the ECE program, plus their family and friends.

I can’t tell you how many times I wrote and re-wrote that speech. I would write it, rehearse it in my head as I went to sleep and then when I woke in the morning, decide, no, it still needed some fine-tuning.

I also asked around to find out what Convocation speeches usually cover. The main feedback was that they are boring. Definitely didn’t want to go there.

In the end I used a combination of previous versions, and added as I went along at the actual event. I narrowed it down to four pieces of advice – any more than that and I thought I would lose their attention, and being menopausal I didn’t want to stretch my memory either!

What did I say?

1. Take risks – stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s a lesson learned, not a mistake.

2. Volunteer – you gain as much as you give, if not more

3. Your attitude determines your altitude. Life happens and while you can’t control everything, you can control how you react.

4. Believe in yourself. Surround yourself with positive people who will support you. Make sure to take time for yourself.

I ended by reading a few verses from Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

My thanks to those of you who sent in tips and advice to share with the students. I tried to incorporate them where I could.

And the response – I got a lot of positive feedback from teachers, parents and students, including one young man who has attended all the convocations so far this year and thought my speech was by far the best. So all in all – a worthwhile experience for everyone.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

WORDS OF WISDOM

What advice would you give to graduating students about to embark on their career?

I have been pondering this for a few weeks now since I was asked to speak at the Convocation for students graduating from the Early Childhood Education program at Sheridan College.

Suddenly clich├ęd phrases like “find your passion” seem overused and what does that mean anyway? In a recent blog, Seth Godin brought up the whole art of speaking simply instead of trying to impress or confuse the listener with a stream of words that frankly amount to nothing. And I agree. But then I have always been of the ilk that what you see, is what you get.

I have ten minutes to share the wisdom I have learned in over 40 years of working. Hmm. Where to start? I’ve decided to focus on taking risks and being open to new opportunities. Perhaps that’s my entrepreneurial spirit speaking out, but I would hate to see young people stuck, although with the way they seem to skip from one job to the next, this may not be a concern for them.

But it’s not so much about the job jumping, it’s about being open to changing careers. I find that young people sometimes think that once they have settled on a career, that’s it, whether they like it or not. I don’t know about you, but I have had a very eclectic career working in different sectors, although admittedly always focusing on women or children.

When I think of all the lessons I have learned, it has always been when I have stretched myself or made an error in judgement. Note I don’t say mistake, because I don’t think they are mistakes – they are lessons I had to learn, and sometimes the hard way.

Truth of the matter is, no matter what I say on Wednesday, these young people will go forward and learn their own lessons. You just want them to do so with their self-esteem in tact and surrounded by people who care for them.

It takes me back to my early days of teaching a program called Your Child’s Self Esteem, where the two key ingredients to having high self-esteem are believing “I am lovable” and “I am worthwhile.” Seems to me the same applies to us as adults.