Thursday, September 29, 2011

Be Real, Get a Life

For the past twenty-one years I have lived with cancer.  And I have done so privately. I haven’t been secretive about being a “cancer survivor” but I have chosen not to let cancer define who I am.  It is something that happened to me, but it is not me.  Yes, it has shaped who I have become and what I have chosen to do, but it is not me.

But recently I have decided to speak up more – not because I want sympathy or a pity party, but more because I recognize I have a message to convey.

I see too many people who do not realize or appreciate that we have one life to live and it could change on a dime.

I see too many people who do not realize their full potential out of fear, not stepping forward to shine.

I see too many people who sweat over the small stuff when it truly doesn’t matter in the scheme of things.  Get rid of the negativity in your life, you don’t need or deserve it.

That’s why I wrote my book.  And my message is – live life now. Surround yourself with people who believe, love and support you.  Do what you are meant to do…now and take that risk, swallow your fear and become who you are supposed to be.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another Four-Letter Word to Ban

Soon. As a child that seemed like a vague term given just to pacify you and make you believe that whatever you wanted would be happening…. well, soon. As an adult, it’s a cop-out. 

And in the six years since we bought the farm, that is what we’ve heard about high speed Internet. How does the ad go… Coming soon to a neighbourhood near you. Well high speed may have come to numerous neighbourhoods near us, but it ain’t here yet. 

Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is? Remember dial up? How s..l..o..w it was? After a couple of years of tying up the phone line and still not getting great service, we gave in and went to satellite. Now this is not an inexpensive option and while faster than dial-up, high-speed it is not. It is also very fickle – and very sensitive to the weather – so if we have had a storm, it has rained, or a bit of snow… forget it. 

Lately there has been a rumour that we are getting high-speed …soon. But I am somewhat cynical and it can’t come quick enough for me. 

Word of advice to advertisers – forget the word soon – be specific – you might get more buy-in then.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time Strapped? Revisit How You Spend Your Time

Like many women there are times when I feel time-strapped to fit everything in.  So I was interested to read an article on how to get an extra hour out of my day.   

There are several culprits that eat away at our time – too many face-to-face meetings when a decision could just be made without the meeting. For the perfectionist, procrastination was another time guzzler, as the strive to make something perfect stopped us starting in the first place. The article also touched on our inability to value and use free time without feeling guilty.  When you own a business, the day is never done and if you work from home, it is even harder to close that door and leave the work behind.  

Certainly in terms of meetings, I get a lot of requests for face-to-face meetings and much as I love to meet with people, I am finding it harder to do and have become stricter about with whom I meet.

One screening tool I have introduced of late is asking people to send me information in writing, so I can determine if it is worth our time getting together or whether we can just talk over the phone. I often then hear nothing and the request fades away.  That’s when I know it is not a win-win situation, but someone trying to sell me something or hook me into something I don’t want to do.

Another point that the article raises is that it is not just the meeting that eats into your schedule, but the time prior to the meeting when you don’t start anything important because you know you will have to leave it unfinished. And then there’s the time afterwards when you have to change gears and switch back to the work on hand. 

I remember years ago being on several committees with one woman who started to evaluate the use of her time.  We nicknamed her “The Terminator” as she would ask questions at the meeting like – Why are we meeting? Do we still need this committee?

And she was right.  Often we get locked into meeting or serving on a committee, because we’ve always done it, not because there is a need.  When the purpose of the meeting/committee has been achieved, maybe it is time to say “Congratulations, we’ve achieved what we set out to do.” and end it there. 

What’s the answer?  The article suggests we take an audit of our time and how we use it. By examining it more closely, we likely will find areas that we can change and curtail and more importantly, they say, reframe how we look at quality time and the value of taking a break.  

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Personal Touch

It has been over a year since I started our LinkedIn group for Company of Women and we have over 1,000 members from around the world. That’s pretty neat when I consider that I really just started it on a whim, thinking it would be a way to get us involved in the social media arena. 

Back then, women were quick to join and I must admit to a moment of panic as I fretted about what to do with the group. As I wrote in my book, I decided to ask the women involved what they wanted, and you know what that has worked. Often there are as many as 15-20 discussions going on at one time, and women are listening and giving each other good advice. 

But I am still old-fashioned – I like meeting people face-to-face. It’s a bit like dating online, there comes a time when you need to meet in order to deepen the relationship. 

Recently I have been running our Company of Women 101 sessions myself. In the past I had delegated them to staff, but you know what – I am excited to doing them again. It gives me an opportunity to meet new women business owners, to build relationships and to share my passion for Company of Women and what we have to offer. 

So yes, get involved in social media, but don’t forget the personal touch, that’s the icing on the relationship-building cake.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Jack’s Legacy

Like many Canadians I watched Jack Layton’s funeral. It was a moving tribute to a man who represented and crusaded for ordinary people from all walks of life. Like his inclusivity when he was alive, the people who spoke, sang and performed at the service were all speaking to his warmth, passion and interest in equality for all.

No matter what your political stripe, people admired and respected Jack. He represented a type of politician that we rarely, unfortunately, see – someone who was honest, treated everyone with respect and valued the opinions of others. He was authentic.

You just hope that his legacy will live on and that the politicians in the audience listened, reflected on his message and determined to change the way they do business. Like many, I am tired of the hostility, game-playing and manipulation that has become an integral part of politics today.

Too much time is spent trying to win a point, to score a slight against an opponent, instead of finding ways to work together, to improve Canada and to focus on what is important.

We need hope, optimism and love. We need Jack’s vision to live on. We need to be proud to be Canadians.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Getting Past Myself

This week I met with book coach Sabaina Malik to talk about how to literally get the word out about my new book – Day by Day - Tales of Business, Life and Everything In Between.

As she talked about what I could do to create a buzz about the book, I realized that what was holding me back, was me. “You’re too modest, Anne.” she observed. Like many women, I am uncomfortable about selling myself and given that the book is about my life and the lessons I have learned – it really is all about me.

Why do we do that? I’ve had a very successful career, have accomplished a lot and I believe I have made a difference in the lives of others; so it’s not that I lack confidence in myself, yet I still hold back from tooting my own horn. Maybe it is my British background, because growing up in the UK, it would be deemed highly inappropriate to brag about yourself.

Maybe we need to follow the example of our southern sisters because they don’t seem to have the same difficulty in selling themselves. But there is a fine line between being confident and being in someone’s face.

Or maybe I just need to take my own advice because in the book I talk about slaying dragons and facing fears head-on. My fears there concerned driving into the unknown, especially on highways and public speaking – and I am getting better on both fronts.

But I sometimes wonder if my fear in this instance is the fear of failing, that people won’t like my book, and because of its content, by extension won’t like me. There I said it. As Jane Fonda said the other night, the disease of pleasing. I know better and I need to get over myself.

“But the other challenge,” Sabaina remarked, “is that people see you as the founder of Company of Women, not as an author.” So she recommended that I first start to identify myself as a writer because if I don’t believe it myself, how can I expect other people to.

My homework is to write my bio as an author, which given this is my third book, shouldn’t be a stretch, I just have to remember I can write.

So let me start by introducing you to Anne Day, author – OK Sabaina - accomplished author.