Thursday, May 25, 2017

Where's Wilma?

I was meeting a friend for coffee this week and somehow we got onto the topic of women on boards, women on panels, and women in IT.

It sparked a discussion about how we should start a game, like where’s Waldo? But instead it would be where’s Wilma?  

Because more and more, despite the moves forward that we have made, there are still too few women on boards, in leadership positions and when groups have experts to speak on business topics, for example, few women can be found.

Now at Company of Women it is the reverse.  I only choose women speakers and experts, because I firmly believe we have comparable skills, and I want to role model women in roles of responsibility and sharing their expertise.

So Brenda and I are launching a #wherearethewomen? campaign.  Join us.  Every time you see something -  a poster or announcement - that showcases men but no women – fire off a post with this hashtag.

It’s a small way we can make our point and get the message out that we’re watching, we’re taking notice and we want our voices heard.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Make time to work ON your business

Between the conference and the launch of our new book Good Enough, I’ve been really busy working IN my business, knowing only too well, that I needed to spend time ON the business.

Where do I see the business going?  What’s our vision moving forward? How is the business evolving?  Do we need to change up what we are doing?   

Good questions for you to ask yourself too.

To help me I hired a consultant to walk and guide me through the process, and then held several planning sessions with the key members of my team as well as strong supporters who brought an objective perspective to the conversation.

But I still hadn’t really sat down to digest and reflect on all that’s been said and the recommendations in place.  Until today.

We were having work done at the farmhouse and I had to vacate the premises for four hours.  I didn’t have access to a computer, so I was back to paper and pen but I used that time to regroup, to think about what’s unfolded through all these planning sessions and what I  liked, wanted to continue, and what we could perhaps drop.

I highly recommend doing this because when you start to look at what you want to start, continue and stop – it makes your choices and direction much clearer.

 I have this tendency to keep adding to the menu, and in some ways, maybe I still am, but the key difference is the “stop” component. M y major conclusion is that I have to stop.  I have to stop being involved in every detail of what is offered.  I have to stop doing the admin behind the scenes (I suck at it) and I have to stop thinking it all relies on me, because it doesn’t.

I now have a great team, who all get what we are trying to achieve and why.  They are authentic, real and genuinely want to help women.  That makes a huge difference, as we are all on the same page, each bringing our unique talents to the organization.

I am excited about where we are heading.  Our new direction will, I believe, positively impact more women.  Stay tuned.

And take my advice, try to eke out time alone to reflect on your business. 

It’s worth it.  You’re worth it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Just do it

That was one of my main takeaways from the Journey 2 Success conference on Tuesday.  A great message for women entrepreneurs to hear.

So often we second-guess ourselves and want all our ducks in a row before we go further with our plans.  But there are no guarantees in life, and sometimes if we wait too long, we lose momentum and it never happens.

As I listened to our panel members -Brenda Halloran, Toni Morgan and Lindsay Rice – each of them had an ambitious goal for themselves, and steadfastly went after their dream.

In Brenda’s case it was to become mayor of Waterloo.  With limited political experience and limited funds, she threw her hat into the mayoral race.  She made us all smile when she confessed that she and her friends had limited political experience – for example –she chose to go with turquoise as her campaign colours because of a mug she liked.  Very much the outsider in the race for mayor, she’d been dismissed by her competitors, only to beat them on election day.

For Toni, she wanted to go to Harvard, which for someone who had been homeless as a teen, seemed like a pipe dream.  But don’t underestimate this young woman, who crowd-funded her way to Harvard and recently completed her masters in education. 

Lindsay chose to become a racing car driver, a lonely and different path for a young woman to pursue.  Like Toni, it took money and guts to make this dream a reality, and not only did she make it happen, she’s winning.   At 23 she explained she was late to enter this career, but she is certainly making up for lost time.

Our next speaker, Molly Burke, further emphasized the need to just follow your dream because when you do, you are living your life to the fullest.  With wisdom beyond her years, Molly shared how being blind was not holding her back – she travels, rides, surfs and rock climbs – which some of us wouldn’t dare to do and we have our sight. This gutsy young woman showed us that we need to get out of our own way and just go for it.

All four women are role models.  They are trailblazers, leading the way so the rest of us can pave our own journey to success.    

Saturday, May 06, 2017

What business are you in?

Remember when you started your business?  What was the first thing you did? Likely got a logo and business cards printed.  But according to our recent speaker  Charmian Christie, we’ve got it all wrong.  Doing the logo is the last thing we should be doing.

Why?  Because first we need to think about what business are we in.  We need to work out what we want to do and even more important, what we don’t want to do, and why.

Charmian was speaking from experience as she shared the dips and turns she went through to get to her current business.   She found that she just kept saying yes to everything that came her way.  And I remember doing that when I had my consulting practice, partly because you don’t know when the next contract is going to come in.  The freelance life can be a feast or a famine.

But Chairman found that she was taking on too much, doing stuff she didn’t really like or work that didn’t sit well with her values.  So she started to make two lists, one of the work she wanted to do, and the other of work that she didn’t.

She also drew up standards for herself in terms of what she would do to promote her brand on social media, and again what she would not do – such as make political comments.  Although as she laughingly acknowledged, these days that is hard, but she has drawn a line in the sand and just won’t go there.

Only after she’d gone through this process did she determine the name of her business, the look and the design of her logo.  Then she had a brand, a brand that she was proud to promote.

She encouraged us all to come up with one word to describe the business we are in.
As your business evolves, know that this can change. 

If you had asked me this question when I first started Company of Women, my answer would have been we were in the support business.  But today… while we still provide support, I think we are moving more towards the confidence business.  In other words, I’d like to think we give you the tools and confidence to succeed, and most importantly, it's success on your own terms.

Let me ask you, what business are you in?