Monday, June 23, 2008

Letting Go

After 23 years in our current home, we are moving. Now I am a bit of a pack rat. I have kept a copy of every report I have ever written since 1981, along with files on every board or committee I ever served on… all of which goes to say, we were knee-deep in paper. And then there’s my collection of books – on every subject known to man.

My daughter ordered a dumpster for me. Subtle eh. Suggesting that perhaps given the move is looming up, I might like to start sorting through my collection of files, reports and memorabilia.

At first I methodically opened up each file, checking its contents. Needless to say, as the day progressed, I got more brutal and literally tossed the lot. It was very freeing to chuck it all into the dumpster. I was saying goodbye to a life I don’t live any more.

I don’t need to keep these files as a reference point for future projects, because there aren’t going to be any. My days as a consultant are over. I have been running Company of Women for five years now – and this is my future, but I needed to let go of the past.

However, as I ploughed through all the paper, one fact struck me - I’ve done a lot in my life. I feel very fortunate to have worked on some exciting projects, and when I think about all the programs and services that have come to fruition, I feel a sense of pride.

They say that in order to make room for new things in your life, you first have to get rid of the baggage that is taking up space. But you know for now, I just want to enjoy my clutter-free zone.

Monday, June 16, 2008

We all need role models

Last week I had the distinct honour of having breakfast with Cora Tsouflidou, founder of Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch.

Now this is one busy lady, with over 95 franchises across Canada, and more on the way, yet she offered to meet a small group of women for breakfast We had a draw and ten lucky women won this opportunity to spend quality time with this successful woman entrepreneur. It was an eclectic group but that made it all the richer.

Each woman had to introduce herself and ask a question of Cora. Without fail, she intuitively got to the root of the issue for the person. She didn’t mince her words, but was always respectful with her advice. It was an emotional gathering, tears were shed and everyone left touched by the experience and in awe of Cora’s wisdom and generosity of spirit.

Cora has so much wisdom and insights into people, business and what is important in life. It was wonderful to see her in action, as she mentored the women in the group, always with humour and with a caring heart.

We all need role models in our life, Cora has become mine.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Trust your instincts

When you start something new, you never really know what you don’t know.

As novices to the publishing industry, Chris and I were excited to learn that there were a couple of magazine conferences being held in Toronto last week. Not knowing which was the best one to attend, we signed up for both – taking a few workshops at each.

And we learned a lot. I even picked up some of the jargon.

But I think the best lesson was realizing that whether we knew it or not, intuitively we’ve being doing all the right things. It’s kind of reassuring to discover you actually know more than you think, and that when you know your reader, you’re more than half way there.

So many of the presenters were encouraging the magazines to launch websites and hold events to support their publication. I guess we have done it the other way round – with our magazine being the latest addition to our menu of services.

The second thing I observed is that there is a dire need for training on how to present an interesting workshop. Most of the presenters really knew their stuff, but relied way too heavily on their power point – some even reading out loud what was on the screen before us! Boring. Clearly they had never heard about how adults learn. So all you trainers out there – take note – here’s a potential training gig.

Last but no means least, in being out of the office for three days, I discovered that Company of Women can run very well without me. Kudos to Meg and Leah.

So I guess the message is that we shouldn’t second-guess ourselves, we know more than we think, and we should trust our instincts.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Young, Savvy and Successful..

That pretty well sums up our panel of young women entrepreneurs.

Take the Lees twins who, with no knowledge of the cosmetic industry, have successfully launched Balmshell – a lipgloss - that was given out at the Oscars and is sold in North America and Europe. One of their biggest challenges was being taken seriously. Being blonde, attractive and young was not always a business asset. But no one can question their business acumen now. When asked what next … the world!

Even at 15, Michelle Planche had a business. She knew from the start that she was destined to be an entrepreneur. Today, she has a successful event planning business which she started while in university – organizing fashion shows, etc… One of her biggest challenges has been recruiting and retaining the right staff, and that’s important because she wants to expand from her current two offices to other locations.

At 25, Carisa Reiniger has an amazing track record, with four offices and sixteen staff. Her business Silver Lining has undergone rapid growth, and she’s had to step back and look at what she wanted out of it. She’d come to realize that her biggest problem was herself - that she was getting in her own way. She’s decided that whatever happens, she needs to get back to what she’s good at, and what she enjoys, because without the passion, it wasn’t going to work for her.

Three very different stories, but the common thread was their passion for what they are doing. We could all learn a lot from these young women because clearly they are on the right track.