1. A woman knows her limits. A wise woman knows she has none.
    – I’m not so sure who this is from. Apparently Marilyn Monroe? Regardless of who originally coined this quote - I like it. 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  2. [INFOGRAPHIC] Investing in Women

    Check out this great Infographic created by Pemo Theodore from EZebis and Piktochart on Investing in Women.  

    Unfortunately, this is based off of U.S. stats - but it is useful and interesting nonetheless.

    I had the opportunity to chat with Pemo about the VC space and Females in Leadership roles here in Canada. More on that later. 


    Carolyn Van 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  3. Sheryl Sandberg, the First Woman On Facebook’s Board Of Directors

    Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s four-year chief operating officer, has a new position — and one many people thought she should have gotten long ago. She’s now the first woman on the company’s board of directors.

    Check out the TechCrunch article here. 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  4. Superwoman = Mother + Startup Founder

    As much as we’d really like to think that men and women are on equal grounds as it relates to their professional lives - we are far from it.

    I stumbled upon this great article on how to juggle being a mother and a startup founder - give it a read). While I am no where close to ready to having a child, I’ll admit that the thought of how to do so has definitely crossed my mind. None of my those around me are able to relate because they are primarily all men. It’s a good thing we have a mother in this #PowerUp group!

    Carolyn Van 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  5. The League of Extraordinary Women

    Fast Company profiled 60 Extraordinary Women and their organizations who are influencing the world. The list includes Rachel Sklar of Change the Ratio and TheLi.st, Carol Everson of Facebook Women and Nancy Lublin of DoSomething.org. A great list! 

    Our question to you: Who do you think is missing from this list? If you could add any Canadian's to this League of Extraordinary Women, who would they be and why? 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  6. Can you have it all?

    In our Session #9 (2 weeks ago), we briefly discussed how to weave in other values and initiatives that are peak our interests in to our core businesses - IF it’s possible, how to go about it, if this is even realistic, etc. The conversation initially stemmed from discussing how to increase revenues at our respective organizations. One of us brought up the fact that opportunities and new venture ideas come her way from time to time - of which may not be completely in-line with her company’s core services. 

    Today, Jennie shared a great post from Fast Company, You can do anything - but not everything - that touches on some of what was discussed at Session #9, specifically around aligning personal values with professional ones. 

    Please give it a read. We’d love to know where you stand with this - and also on this bit from the article:

    Interviewer: So a big part of setting priorities is being clear about your values?

    Allen: Be careful. That’s a very popular notion these days: If you focus on your values, then you’ll improve the “balance” between your business and personal lives. Give me a break. Focusing on your values may provide you with meaning, but it won’t simplify things. You’ll just discover even more stuff that’s important to you.

    We suffer the stress of infinite opportunity: There are so many things that we could do, and all we see are people who seem to be performing at star quality. It’s very hard not to try to be like them. The problem is, if you get wrapped up in that game, you’ll get eaten alive. You can do anything — but not everything. The universe is full of creative projects that are waiting to be done. So, if you really care about quality of life, if you want to relax, then don’t focus on values. Just control your aspirations. That will simplify things. Learning to set boundaries is incredibly difficult for most people.

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  7. Stop apologizing

    Leadership is a really broad topic and it is part of every discussion we have at our meet ups. It is something that is practiced in the way that one conducts themselves in various settings and situations. In our session #8, one of the items we touched upon which affect female leadership is being apologetic.

    Many studies have shown that women apologize more than men do. This is not to say that men are reluctant to admit their wrongdoings, it’s just that men and women may have different thresholds for what warrants reparation. Women may have a lower threshold for what requires an apology because we are typically better in-tune and consider the emotional experiences of others. Professionalism and leadership is important for both men and women - and it involves knowing when to and when not to apologize. 

    Some of us had read Amber Mac’s Fast Company article, 3 things professional women should stop apologizing for (make sure you give a read) - and so we wanted to flush out some of the points she made - as well as some additional ones we came up with - and relate it to our own experiences.


    Let’s be honest: On average it takes women longer to be boardroom, camera and pitch ready than it does for men. It goes well beyond picking out and ironing a shirt, selecting a tie, shaving, applying aftershave balm, deodorant, hair wax, cologne, etc. for a female to look as professionally polished. We all get busy and with running a startup and clocking in 14+ hour days on the regular, maintaining our personal appearance and health can really be challenging. 

    Whatever you do, NEVER apologize for looking “tired” when you haven’t had the time to apply makeup on and NEVER feel guilty for not knowing what the heck is going on in fashion-land. Who cares if you haven’t had your nails done? While much of it is the pressure we put on ourselves, how others respond does not help as well. However, let’s start with what we can immediately control, our own perception and expectations. 


    Let go of the fact that women are still making less income than male counterparts. When determining your financial expectations, free your mind of the statistics. Strictly consider the value you add to your organization.


    Can you school your colleagues? Be proud of it. Never feel apologetic or hesitant to correct someone or provide your opinion on something. It is more than ok to demonstrate how brilliant you are even if this means that it may cause someone else’s insecurities to flair up. Guess what? It’s not your problem. 


    We all have things that are non-negotiable when it comes to our personal and professional lives. Accept the fact that these exist for you and ensure that those around you accept them as well. Never apologize for your hard non-negotiables “getting in the way” or causing inconveniences for others. It is ok to want something and insist on having it no other way if it is truly important to you. 


    Women have traditionally played the supporting role. Also known as that background person who is absolutely meticulous over detail and ensures everything public facing is picture perfect. This often involves highlighting other peoples’ skills, position and professional accomplishments. It’s something women are taught and conditioned to do and do well. With this comes with the fact that many women have a difficult time discussing their own wins. It also doesn’t help when the responses that one receives are underwhelming, full of resentment or just – embarrassing. Never apologize for being proud of kicking ass and taking names. 


    There is a laundry list of physiological differences between women and men of those, there are at least 3 that are completely absent from men: menstruation, pregnancy and lactation. Each of these significantly impact behaviour and feelings. Never ever apologize for being a women and everything that comes along with it. 

    While these are some things women should never apologize for, there are also things of which women need to speak more about. More on this soon! 

    2 years ago  /  1 note

  8. Work-Life Balance + Running a startup: Can they be friends?

    Is it realistic for startup Founders to aim for work-life balance? Most Startup founders go back and forth on this one at different stages of their lives and ventures. Perhaps, the argument should begin with defining what “work-life balance” actually means?

    For the purpose of this post, we’ll define it as a lifestyle that maintains ones physical, mental and emotional health while maintaining and only strengthening that startup “just make $h!t happen - and NOW” mindset. This was the topic of our session #7: How to maintain a work-life balance. 

    Below are a few tips: 

    Live by what’s in your schedule 
    Do not commit to things unless it’s in your calendar. This is something that works for me (It’s Carolyn writing here) I have trained clients and even some of my friends to know that if I don’t get a calendar request for a meeting or if I don’t put it in my calendar, it’s likely not happening. I am an avid user of Google Calendar. Stan Weitzman, CEO of mobile ad network mADtivity would agree. He uses tools like Jaxtr, Microsoft Outlook with Google Calendar and SmartSheet for scheduling, timelines, and project management. 

    Resist from checking email first thing in the morning
    Do not check your email until you’ve had some time to yourself. I used to check my email and respond to them while still in bed - before showering, brushing my teeth, washing my face and even putting my contact lenses in.

    Take breaks between ventures 
    We all know that vacations are almost impossible to commit to in the thick of running a startup. For some of us they cause more stress than relaxation. In between startups, take off a longer period of time to stretch out and indulge in a mental leave before diving back in to your next professional journey or new startup. My good friend, Anton Van Rhyn recently took a little bit of a vacation to Costa Rica after selling his startup, Brave Commerce to Rogers Media before joining the Wave Accounting team.

    Go dancing 
    Dancing is social, physical, fun and takes a great deal of focus on other parts of your brain. It allows you to kill multiple birds with one stone. It is also not an activity that involves your laptop or smartphone - forcing you to disconnect. 

    Detach yourself from other responsibilities
    Give yourself a reality check. Accept the fact that your priorities and responsibilities will have to be shifted around. What can be trimmed will be different for each person as we all have different things that we consider valuable. The point is to be realistic with what the capacity of your mind, body and soul is - while managing to build and grow your business successfully. 

    Get over the traditional definition of “vacation” 
    The definition of vacation” are relative to what your regular work schedule is like. If you typically work 14 hour days, consider working 8 hour days for a couple of weeks.
    Also, if you cannot get away for a good few weeks - consider mini long weekend get-aways. 

    Just make time 
    Be honest with what is important to you and ensure that you keep them at the top of the list.  Stay disciplined. What you experiencing when running a startup really helps you realize how bad you actually want it and where your priorities are. 

    A concluding point from our session #7 was that there is really no one size that fits all solution. If you plan to live a work-life balance lifestyle, be sure to lather on things that are important to you in your schedule. Spend time on yourself to make you happy, full and renewed is the key to being able to doing it all. 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  9. While there is sadly only 1 female representing leadership at the June 5th Art of Leadership conference, there are some really good people in the line-up - and Ron Tite (host) is amazing and hilarious! You are definitely guaranteed to walk away with thought provoking insights on Leadership. Do yourself (and your organization) a favour and attend. 

    You can use the code TOSOCIAL for $50 off tickets. 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  10. Stepford Leadership vs. Step-forward Leadership

    Stepford Women in the Workplace is an interesting Harvard Business Review piece examining current do’s and dont’s and rules of women in the workplace and it’s backwards approach to leadership. It really seems to perpetuate societal expectations of women. 

    "When examining, reporting, or discussing successful women, the emphasis needs to shift away from identifying them only from a gendered perspective and look more at the positive qualities they bring to the workplace." <- Something we aim to achieve through our #PowerUp sessions. 

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  11. Words of Wisdom from Carrie Hindmarsh

    Carrie Hindmarsh has spent over 20 years making her way up steep ladders in the advertising world. Currently, she is the CEO of M&C Saatchi Group’s advertising agency. She shares 5 of her lessons about women in business in this Wall Street Journal piece. Give it a read

    1. Difference matters
    2. Identify what should change and what should stay the same 
    3. Creativity is always the answer
    4. Feedback breeds success
    5. Emotional intelligence  

    2 years ago  /  0 notes

  12. Session #6: Managing our Business relationships

    This morning we had a discussion around relationships, a topic suggested by Jennie

    As our organizations grow, relationship management can become a challenge. While, relationship management is essential to organizational growth.
    A little bit of a catch 22 situation. 

    There are many groups of people whom we have relationships with: Clients, colleagues, partners, media and sales leads are among the few.  Below is just a little bit of what we discussed and came up with: 

    Sales Leads
    There is way too much invested in to generating leads to not be on top of those relationships and the progress of conversions. There are both tools and communication tactics that can be used to help one through this. While every one of us are utilizing some sort of CRM, challenges of managing sales leads was nothing new to any of us. This is not to say that we didn’t have some tips to share amongst ourselves. 

    Ensure that the leads are being categorized.  An example that was brought up was Green light, Yellow light, Red light or Hot, Warm and Cold. 

    Those in charge of sales are notorious for disliking tracking their progress or anything around administrative or reporting work. Be sensitive to this by making tracking as easy as possible. However, insist on capturing at least the minimum viable data you require to identify patterns, draw conclusions and plan for projections, sales strategy and marketing efforts. 

    Team members are key assets to your organization of which directly impact the success of your company. Thus, managing relationships with this group is essential. It is very easy to become detached with your team members especially when 95% of your conversations with them are around projects and the progress of those projects. 

    Arrange for non-(directly) related work activities. For example, having employees present about whatever topic they want may be unrelated to the business – but in many ways are very much so related. We know how this works, right? The world and all it’s musings are much more connected to one another than most of us think they are.

    Understand your employees’ personal and professional goals – and more importantly do something about it by always having it in mind when assigning them to roles and responsibilities within the organization. 

    How many of you have had that client who emails and calls you every second of the day and with multiple fragmented requests? The chances of this happening increases when clients are smaller or are start-ups. While having a very close relationship with your clients is ideal – there are also behaviours that work against working towards meeting project goals. There are small things that can be done to not further enable such behaviour: 

    Do not respond immediately to multiple requests. Instead consolidate all communications within a certain amount of time (Ex. A day) and respond in one shot.

    Stick to your own client operating hours. Whether you operate on a 4 day client work week, only allocate 2 days client meeting days or split up half of each day for them – be firm and stay disciplined. Allocating time specifically and solely for client services time is an interesting idea on it’s own. Let’s face is, as those who run the business – there are things outside of taking care of clients that we are responsible and accountable for. 

    Keep track of information that come up in passing which can be useful to know when communicating with your client point of content. Ex. Where they went on vacation last summer, who or what influences them, etc. 

    Thanks Jennie for having us at Bento Miso, Khalid for sending Lannie off with smoothies for us (Banana and Strawberry is always a winner!) and Henry for surprising us with croissants from Nadege (Do you own a piece of the business yet?) 

    2 years ago  /  1 note

  13. Stereotypes

    Stereotypes exist for both men and women.

    For example, women may generally be viewed as being great at building and maintaining relationships and possessing emotional intelligence. Men may generally be viewed as being dominant and competitive. 

    While traits that are often associated with women are generally positive, they typically are not the first ones that come up on a list when one is asked to describe or imagine a visionary leader. Which means there are also stereotypes for business leaders - of which many fall in to natural traits that men possess.

    Thankfully, for the sake of the business landscape (and quite frankly, of everyone) what defines a great leader is changing. The definition of a great leadership 40 years ago will differ from one that effectively applies today. 

    2 years ago  /  1 note