Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gaining Momentum

At the beginning of March there will be a flurry of activities to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) which is actually 
March 8.

Like many of these special days, you sort of think we should be celebrating the achievements of women every day, or at least more often.

International Women’s Day actually dates back to the early 1900s when women were fighting to get the vote and better working conditions.

Today it is celebrated in many different ways around the world and in some countries it is actually an official holiday, although in China, for example, just for women only.

In many European countries it is seen as a time for men to honour their mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters and small gifts and flowers are frequently given as a sign of their affection and respect.   

Today young women may feel that the battle is over, and that women are equal, after all we have several female prime ministers and women as CEOs of major corporations, but us older gals, still feel there is much to achieve, particularly for women working in male dominated industries.

What has changed over the years is the focus of the events which have gone from marches and protests, to more celebrations. 

I’ve had the pleasure to work directly on a couple of IWD events this year – one in Guelph on March 5 which is a collaborative event with different women’s groups coming together to put on an evening event.  Their focus is on resilience, with local business owners sharing their strategies for successfully dealing with the time demands of business, work and family. 

Then in Toronto, I ‘ve been working with Enterprise Toronto to celebrate women and technology and we have pulled together a panel of women who have either started a technology business, are teaching code to women or embraced technology and introduced IT strategies to enhance business. 

Being held on March 11 at MaRS, we are not only being blessed with some words of wisdom from CEO, Ilse Treurnicht but will be immersed in an environment that promotes innovation.

The theme this year globally for International Women’s Day is Gaining Momentum and both events fit so well with that theme.  When you think about it, developing resilience and coping strategies, helps you move ahead and the male dominated IT industry is seeing more and more women starting  technology businesses. 

We truly are gaining momentum and in the words from Helen Reddy’s song – I am Woman – we are strong and invincible. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Serenaded with love

So how was your Valentine’s Day?  Did your honey arrange something special and romantic?

I have to say I am a bit of a cynic, maybe after being married 40 years to the same man, I kind of see Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark occasion, complete with flowers and an expensive, over-charged dinner out.

Over the years we’ve rarely celebrated Valentine's Day  – maybe I will cook a special meal – but no cards, gifts or anything.

Except for one year a few years back when my husband really, and I mean really surprised me.  We were having neighbours over for dinner and one couple had arrived when a strange car came down our driveway, and out popped four men.

At first I thought that Andy had invited extra guests and had neglected to update me, so my immediate concern was how I was going to spin the meal so it was enough for four extra people.

But no.  Egged on I am sure by one of our other neighbours, he’d booked this quartet to come and serenade me!!!  Armed with red roses, which they presented to the women, they stood at our fireplace, all eyeballs on me and sang love songs.

I tell you I didn’t know where to look.  There was no way I was gazing back at them, so I checked out the ceiling, looked at my girlfriend and tried to behave as if this was an everyday occurrence in the Day household.  Fortunately their repertoire was short and then they left.

We still laugh about it, but my husband has been warned never, ever, ever to pull a stunt like that again.  A box of chocolates maybe, but forget the musicians.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Money Talks

Part of my homework in my new mastermind group was to spend time each week focusing ON the business, not working in it.

Easier said than done, especially when I am in essence, a solopreneur.  I mean when someone calls and asks for accounting, it’s me.  If a member has problems, logging into the website, she contacts me – which is ironic really – because I am no more techy than she is. Or if I have to chase up on tardy payments, that’s me too.

So eking out some time is not that simple and being the creative type, I have to be in the mood, which isn’t always slotted neatly into my diary as an appointment with myself. I am lucky in that I live on a farm and the isolation of the place does lend itself to some deeper thinking.  Although sometimes I find it is my time in the car driving there that allows me to focus my thoughts on the big picture.

And it is not that I don’t have a vision and a sense of direction in terms of where Company of Women is going.  It’s more that like my workouts, a necessary evil in my opinion, (sorry Angie) I tend to avoid what I don’t like doing, which in my case is the necessary number-crunching to determine whether what I am doing is actually generating income, or just covering costs.  

Oh I have a sense of what’s working, and what is more a “membership service” but in doing my homework, I realize I need to get a better handle on the numbers. 

I have a feeling that I am not alone in my aversion to drill down on the finances, but I also know that in order to make informed decisions about what we do, or don’t do in the future, we need to do the math.

Of course my husband, the businessman,  has been telling me this for years.  I do so hate it when he’s right, but we won’t let on will we.  This is our secret.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Thinking outside the box … really

What do a pair of little boy’s underwear, a bag of drugs and an image consultant have in common?  A good question, but surprisingly more than you would think.

This was the flow of our discussion at our recent Brainstorming Dinner in Toronto. I guess in many ways you had to be there, but as Marilyn Barefoot led us through her provocative exercises, it was amazing to see the outcomes.   Who knew that there would be any correlation between any of these items listed above?  Yet not only did we find a connection, but they kick-started some fascinating ideas.

As a precursor to this meeting, we all had to complete a quick quiz to identify our “brainstorming” style and as a result that night we were divided into teams with a range of women who were Realists, Builders or Dreamers.

Taking two obscure items from the purses of two of the women, we listed words of immediate association with the objects.  In our case, it was a three-year old's pair of panties (clean), and a plastic bag of drugs (the holistic variety).  You can perhaps imagine the range of words we came up with, from toilet training to healthy lifestyle!

Marilyn then selected one woman who asked the group to brainstorm on how to recruit clients who would access her image consulting services.

Each team was empowered to use the words they had identified to trigger ideas that might work for the image consultant.  You may wonder what suggestions we made, given our words.  And you also may be very surprised.

Given much of our vocabulary was focused on preschoolers, our thoughts immediately turned to their mothers who may be returning to the workforce and need clothing that would be economical and versatile.   As for the drugs, we turned that into healthy lifestyles, losing weight and the potential of working with Weight Watchers whose clients with their new weight loss, would need new clothes.

So as you can see, we moved far beyond the original items and with the freedom to think beyond the obvious, were able to come up with some different ideas.  Not only was this a fun experience, it provided an ah-ha moment for many of us, and I have a feeling that we left changed, and more open to the ways you can be creative and come up with new ideas.