Thursday, May 26, 2016

Plan for your trip, wherever you are headed…

With summer around the corner, many of us will be packing for a trip.  First thing I usually do is consider where I am going, what the temperature will be and what I am likely to be doing.  Will I need fancy clothes or are we going casual?  Should I pack warmer clothing just in case?

It will often take me days to sort stuff out, while I lecture myself on how long we are going away for and to travel light.  By the time I leave, I’ve sorted and re-sorted what I want to bring.  I’ve also tried clothes on to make sure they fit (often a depressing moment)  

I’ve done my homework, researched my destination and hopefully packed a few things to cope with any changes in plan.   I also try to leave some room in the suitcase, you know… just in case I spot something I want to buy.  If it is a road trip, I've got out the map to see how to get there.

All this for just one week away. 

Yet when we want to embark on the journey of business ownership, a long term deal, we sometimes don’t have a plan at all.  We have no real idea of where we are heading or how to get there.   At best we have read a few books, jotted down some ideas on paper, and then we’re off.

Little wonder that when we reach the first roadblock, we’re totally stumped, thrown off track and haven’t a clue what to do next.  It is all too easy to get lost, diverted by what comes our way.

Then there’s the extra luggage.  The baggage you haven’t dealt with like that little voice questioning you, sowing seeds of self doubt.   It is hard to pack for a trip if your luggage is already half full.  It doesn’t leave room for much else. You have to empty it to make room for the new opportunities down the road.

In fact, just like flying, you pay for extra luggage. There can be a hefty price tag.

In other words, whether you are planning a trip or a business launch, it is key to houseclean before you set off.   Otherwise, those dust bunnies (mental or otherwise) will leap out and bite you.

Set your mindset on success.  Plan for what could go wrong.  Be ready for whatever could come your way. 

While travelling these days is not always fun, especially by air, make the most of the journey and be prepared to take the scenic route because who knows what you might find there. 

And yes, travel light.  Get rid of the baggage that could hold you back.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I am celebrating our success

My friends and family will tell you that just before the Journey 2 Success conference I can be heard muttering under my breath “never again, this is the LAST one.”  

And certainly this year was no different, in fact I had decided it really was the last one.  
Equating my decision that it was better, like a TV show, to quit while you were ahead.  Plus “10th conference” had a good ring to it.

Fast forward two days after the conference and what have I just done?  Booked the space for next year – May 9th ladies, mark your calendar.   

What made me change my mind?  Apart from being on a high from the day,  I just love, love seeing women connect and support one another.  I spend hours plotting out the table plans and to see it working is reward in itself.  The energy in the room was palpable and it wasn’t just at the start, it lasted all day.

Second – I have come to realize that we are offering something special and unique to women and I want more women to benefit from that experience.  Part of my growth is learning to delegate and so heads up team, get ready as I plan to rope you all in.

Lastly, where else do I get told by 200 + women that I am looking good?J

As I sat in on the Make it Happen session the day after the conference, I was struck by some common themes that came up. 

The sense of community that Company of Women has created.  Not just at the conference, but across the organization. We had women there from all nine chapters, including Manitoba, and it became really clear to me that we are attracting like-minded women, who want to support not compete with one another.

My second observation was that we can all learn from one another, no matter what stage you are at in the your business or how successful you are, there is always something new to learn.

There was much conversation at the conference about success and as one person pointed out, it is an inside job.  It starts with how you feel about yourself and your level of self-awareness.   The speakers frequently talked about trust – in yourself and your gut instincts and in others.  Being authentic was also key. 

Our keynote speaker Amy McLaren spoke with such humility and honesty about the life-changing charity she started at 26, downplaying her achievements while encouraging us all to step up and make a difference.  And we did.  Together we raised $5,085 for Amy’s charity – World Teacher Aid.

As I listened to the women in the Make it Happen session it was interesting that many of their main takeaways came from someone who ran a charity, not a for-profit-business, which speaks to the fact that it really doesn’t matter what type of business you are running, striving to do and be your best is what matters.

As for Liz Radzick.  What can I say?  She’s always amazing but when she just took over the opening session without a blink… that’s masterful.  That’s truly role modelling how to go with the flow.

That leads me to our ending - the clever, entertaining but thought-provoking documentary – One Red Lipstick – produced by Spenser Chapple, a young woman with insights beyond her years, who was looking for role models, and found them.

It was a day of laughter, tears and wisdom, in a community of women who care.

See you next year.

Friday, May 13, 2016

When competition sparks creativity

This year I threw out a challenge to my chapter leaders to help me get raffle prizes for the conference on May 17.  Proceeds will be going to World Teacher Aid, a worthy cause that builds schools in Kenya.

Little did I know that when I threw down the gauntlet that they would, not only take it seriously, but get competitive about which chapter could pull together the best gift basket. Beyond encouraging them to get their chapter members involved, I gave few instructions.  I also asked them to name their collection.

As a result, between them they have raised over $5,000 in prizes.  Wow.  What is also interesting is that this whole exercise has brought people together and truly sparked their creativity.

Cheron, who is my leader in Winnipeg and just flying in for a couple of days,  is bringing with her a Greetings from the Prairies basket, with all things from out west.

In Simcoe, they asked the women to donate some of their favourite items, calling their basket Gifts from the Heart and the Niagara and Durham chapters are duking it out to see who has raised the most valuable basket.  Toronto and Halton are focusing on pampering which we all love (and deserve).

But the creativity prize needs to go to Anne who currently heads up the Waterloo-Wellington chapter.  She decided to take a more pro-active approach and headed off to downtown Guelph, and did a walking tour of all the stores that appeal to women or are women-owned. 

She not only collected a gift at each store, but gleaned some business wisdom from each of them. She then promised to provide a “Walk and Shop Guelph Tour Guide for Women,” which will be available at the conference and back at the stores. As a result, she has piqued the business owners’  interest in Company of Women and used this opportunity to spread the word about our organization.  Brilliant.

And then there’s the basket from Company of Women to which all the leaders donated.  Can you guess what it is?   A basket of wine.     Whoever wins it... the party is at your place.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

“I want to be alone.”

It would appear Greta Garbo was not the only one. A new survey found 71 percent of moms say the thing they want the most on Mother's Day is some ALONE time.

When we play our game Chatterbox at a Company of Women meeting, one of the questions is what would you do if you had a week alone?

I usually joke that the mothers in the group start to hyperventilate.  But it would seem while having time alone is a fantasy of many, it’s also a bit scary.  

If this wish came true, what would you do?  I’d get myself a cup of coffee, choose a book I have been wanting to read… and finish, and chill out with my book in hand.  No interruptions. No people or dogs to feed.  Just me and my book.

It’s the finish part that is key.  I have stacks of books on my bedside table, but most have never been opened.  Or I’ve dipped in, started to read, never to return.

While I fully intend to get into a book at the weekend, somehow that hardly ever happens.  And as for reading on a weekday – well that just seems too decadent to imagine.

But what would you do… maybe garden, shop, go to a spa, or a long walk?  Somehow doing something for ourselves seems selfish but we need to get over ourselves.

And back to the scary element.  Sometimes I think we don’t want to be alone with our thoughts, as that could be a dangerous place to visit.

Having time alone is such a rarity that I suspect many of us would struggle at first.  We are so used to others placing their demands on us, to putting our needs last.

At least on Mother’s Day we have permission to be pampered and I for one intend to sit back and let it happen.

In my case, my husband and daughters are cooking dinner for me.    Stay tuned, but you can be sure that regardless of what it tastes like, I will be ringing their praises because who knows, this foray into cooking could catch on