Friday, October 29, 2010


“Forget China, India and the Internet, economic growth is driven by women” The Economist.

I love this quote. It was one shared by a speaker from Portugal at the recent TIAW Global Summit. I learned so much at this two-day event, including the following inspiring story.

It is hard enough here to get a loan for your business, but imagine what it is like in other countries, where women have no rights, no property and no access to money.

That’s how it used to be in India, but thanks to the efforts of Selima Ahmad
and women like her, that situation is changing. A successful business owner herself, she could see that women were not able to get ahead without the support and finances to build a business.

So she lobbied to have a Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh. At first she was turned down, but she would not give up and found a loop-hole clause that meant that the government had to do something. They agreed to her request, provided she made it to the government buildings by a certain time to sign the documents. She lived 45 minutes from that location, and there was no way she could make their deadline.

Being a creative and determined woman, she decided to find alternative, fast transportation to get her there on time. So she called for an ambulance! You can just imagine the officials’ faces when she stepped out, pen in hand all ready to sign the necessary paperwork.

But she didn’t stop there, using the same lobby tactics and persistence, in 2006 she persuaded the banks to set aside $13 million to provide loans to women-owned businesses.

Oh that I wish she could do that here!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I knew early on this fall that this past week would be a marathon. And I wasn’t wrong.

Last week started with the early Small Business Breakfast on the Monday. Tuesday saw another early start with the Small Business Trade Show in Toronto where we had a busy booth, which was followed that evening with our Oakville dinner.

That alone would be enough excitement for the week, but no, we had the launch in Pickering on the Wednesday night and Thursday was spent interviewing for our social media intern. The week came to a welcome close with the launch of our breakfast meetings in Kitchener.

But what I hadn’t calculated or allowed for – was this stubborn cold that is infiltrating offices and homes across Canada, and all three of us in the office are at varying stages of battling the bug.

When you have school-age children, it goes with the territory that you catch some of the germs they generously bring home. So Vesna was the first to fall foul of the cold.

Travelling on a plane, left me a sitting target and it didn’t help that a man actually sneezed all over me. Clearly he’d never watched the commercials of sneezing and coughing into his arm. So fresh and relaxed from my holiday, I brought home some extra unwanted baggage – a doozy of a cold which seems to have a life of its own. It has been two weeks now and it’s showing no signs of going away.

And inevitably, Megan succumbed and she’s been off all week.

So it was a struggle this week to pull off all the events, be professional and welcoming, while all the time we just wanted to be at home, cozy in our PJs, sipping hot lemon.

But that’s what we do as women, mothers and wives, isn’t it. We carry on.

Monday, October 18, 2010


No phone. No emails. No interruptions. Sounds like heaven doesn’t it. Where was I? On my annual trek to the Isle of Man, which is a tiny island between England, Scotland and Ireland.

It’s my little piece of heaven and a step back in time. We even had good weather – with the sun shining, the water glistening and lashing to the shores, and the sheep grazing on the hills, the scenery is breathtaking and pretty hard to beat.

Unfortunately it is quite a distance to go, but well worth it once you get there. We walked, read books and just enjoyed the peace and quiet. We were even there to celebrate a friend’s 80th birthday.

As business owners we need to give ourselves permission to take a break, to refuel and recharge our energy for the months ahead. How many hours a week do you work? By my calculations, I can easily put in 60 hours/week.

After just a week away, I realize that is crazy and so I have resolved to take myself in hand and take more time for myself – just to read, write or reflect on life.

So next time you see me and I look all harried – remind me – to stop and take a breath.

PS – Back two days, and I get THE cold that is going around – that’s one of the negatives of being on a plane – you literally are a sitting target for those germs 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I recently attended the President’s Dinner – a homecoming alumni event at Sheridan College. It was a lovely evening and a great idea. I got to meet some interesting people and as a result felt a renewed investment in and connection to Sheridan.

Have you ever brought your customers together? Had them in the same room to meet, network and get to know one another? You know it might work well, and create a strong community of people who believe in what you do. It is also a way to thank them and show your appreciation for their business.

With the holiday season fast approaching, this could be the time to execute this strategy. If you do, let me know what happens. My guess, is it will strengthen your relationship with your customer base.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


I have a toothache. It’s been niggling away at me for weeks, actually months. I know I need to do something about it, but I’ve been trying to ignore it, in the hope it will just go away. I also know that it is going to be expensive to fix, so I hang in there, delaying what in the end is the inevitable.

Why do we do that? It’s the same in business. So often we don’t listen to our intuition and keep trying to fix something that is broken – be it an employee that is not working out, a client who isn’t a good fit, a process that doesn’t really generate the results we need or on the personal front, hanging in with a marriage that is beyond repair.

Always the optimist, I try to see the best in everyone and every opportunity, but sometimes I likely need to remove my rose-coloured glasses and face reality. Not everyone comes to the table with the same perspective. Not everyone is motivated to make a deal a win-win situation for all involved and more to the point, we don’t have to “get into bed” with everyone, just because they make what sounds like an attractive offer.

Listen to your gut. Let it guide you and don’t be afraid to take that tough decision. Deal with it. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen. Sometimes, it is not as bad as you think. And you end up feeling more confident because you’ve done what you knew deep down had to be done.

And I know… I will call the dentist this week. I promise.