Leveraging Business as a Tool for Renewal and Inspiration
In celebration of International Women’s Day, RBC invited nominations for the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year award nominations. Given in conjunction with Women of Influence, these awards are given to outstanding women entrepreneurs in several categories. In 2015, I was honoured to make the semi-finals of this process, and being placed in the top 2% of 5,000+ applications was hugely validating.
Accepting a nomination for this kind of award is a significant commitment. The application process is rigorous, but absolutely worth the effort. We spent months distilling our strategy, value proposition and behavioural foundation into 3,500 character answers. The process forced us to drill down to the essentials. By the time I hit “Send,” we had a level of clarity about why our business matters, where we wanted to play, how we were going to succeed, the kinds of management systems we would need and the capacities and skills our leadership team would need. Clarity feeds growth and inspiration, which are essential ingredients in the long game that is business success.
Events are a great way to feed inspiration, and learn and connect with other passionate and engaged people. One of the side benefits of being nominated for a Canadian Women Entrepreneur award was getting introduced to Women of Influence and their events. Listening to the stories of people who have achieved what I’m trying to achieve, like Kimberly Newport-Mimran of Pink Tartan, helps me to maintain perspective and realise that the challenges I’m facing are universal and part of the journey. Scaling a business, growing from local to global is never, ever easy. Hearing Debbie Travers’ tell her story of the adventure of her Tuscan villa, reminds me that possibilities are endless and, as long as I’m engaged, who knows what lies around the next bend?
Events are also a great way to meet like-spirited business leaders. My “Why”, the reason I work in business at all, is because I know that business can be the biggest lever for real, sustainable change and transformation that we have. For-profit business can be a powerful force for good on the planet and I need to be part of that.
SheEO is the perfect example of this. Founded by Vicki Saunders, SheEO funds women-led ventures that are profitable and make the world a better place. In the process, SheEO is going to influence venture capital – I’m positive of it.
Last year, as soon as I met Vicki and learned about SheEO, I became an Activator, one of the women who gives $1,100 in an act of radical generosity, to support new ventures. In early March, I attended the organization’s gala, and had a chance to hear updates from the 5 ventures SheEO funded and supported last year, as well as meet this year’s ventures.
Just thinking about that night, I am energised. The room was full of women who, like me, want their work to be about more than just earning a living. Participants came from many different backgrounds: some were entrepreneurs, some employees of large corporations but everyone there was connected by a knowing that we can create the kind of world we want to live in. We craft the future through our actions now.
The food was great, the wine was yummy and I made new connections – some of which are turning into associates and friends. And then, Vicki played a video that was recorded at the SheEO gala in the U.S. Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey, explorer and anthropologist, opened my head, my heart and my spirit.
I attended this event several weeks ago now. Every time I connect with that evening, I am refreshed. When I watch the video of Dr. Lindsey speaking and go back to that room filled with hundreds of people, all aligned to a greater purpose, I am filled with energy, my purpose renewed.