What If all we had was What If?

what if

What if. These are two words we say all the time. We use these two words for both positive and negative outcomes, for creative expression or terrible consequences. They can be connected with changing our future or going over the past. What if. It makes me think.

Our car got into a minor fender bender last week. No one was hurt, well except our car and the other guy’s. I immediately asked myself, what if we had left home a few minutes earlier? What if I had decided to keep the baby home that day and not bring her to daycare? What if my husband understood that looking in his blind spot when changing lanes was a good idea?

My son, in a moment of 11-year-old rage directed at his father, broke our bathroom sink faucet last night. The faucet probably was on its way out, but brute force definitely sent it over the edge. Again, I said to myself – what if I hadn’t told my son to take a shower at that moment? What if my husband didn’t snap at his son? What if my son just took out his rage on us by yelling and not acting?

Those are two small examples where I asked that two-word question over and over, but every day it crosses my mind. Sometimes it’s something minor, almost petty. What if I left my house just five minutes earlier, then I wouldn’t be stuck behind this garbage truck? Or what if I put my umbrella in my purse this morning and didn’t get soaked on my way home from work? What if I had turned left instead of right and not snagged that great parking spot?

It goes on and on, and for the most part the outcome is not that significant. Leaving a few minutes early or changing my mind does not affect my life too much other than maybe add some stress or bring a smile to my face.

But there are other what if questions I ask myself that are much bigger and most definitely have turned my life in one direction or another. I guess you could say that for almost everything we do, if we had not the acted, sometimes at that exact moment, our lives would be markedly different.

Back in 1999 my husband and I lived in Israel for about 6 months, early in our marriage. I applied for a number of Masters of Journalism programs across the US and chose a top-rated program in broadcasting at New York University. We moved to New York, where David worked and I went to school. What if I didn’t go back to school and we stayed in Israel? And what if I chose American University in Washington DC instead? What if we stayed in New York after I finished school instead of moving back to Toronto?

Did I make the right choice for my career path, years ago or more recently? Is Toronto the right city for me to live in and raise my family? What if we chose a different neighbourhood to live in or a different school or camp for our children? What if I didn’t give David a second chance, back in 1995, when I first met him (when he was drunk) at a “Beer Bash?”

If all I did was ask what if all day every day I would never be able to make a decision or live my life. And lately, I will admit, I have been asking that question too often. I have been questioning my choices and my decisions, and it often leaves me frozen on the spot. At times I have been overwhelmed, but thanks to some wonderful family, friends and colleagues, I am pushing through.

I need to turn what if into something positive and a vehicle to drive me to action. What if I contacted some old friends or work colleagues to just catch up and get some inspiration? What if I signed up for that spin or yoga class? Or what if I invest more energy (dare I say also money?!) in my beloved blog, Kinetic Motions, and see where it takes me? What if I focus on all the positive in my life and not all the tasks and stress that bog me down?

Writing this post helps me turn my attention from questioning past actions and choices to focusing on what is next and the great things I can do with my future. If you read all the way to the bottom, thank you, kind readers. Your support is much appreciated.

Writing is my Escape

My parents always told me to not make any decisions or take action when I’m angry. In that moment when I feel outraged my emotions are not in check, and it’s probably best if I calm myself down, relax, take some time, then reflect later on what made me angry. I had one of those moments on Thursday, and sitting here at my computer, just writing, is soothing and calming. I am not going to act or make decisions, I’m just going to write.

I created this blog, Kinetic Motions, primarily for me. Some people write in a diary and other people bottle up their emotions and thoughts and keep them inside. I can’t do that. I don’t like to hide my feelings, and my stress is alleviated by sharing how I feel about almost everything. This blog is my vehicle to relieve anxiety when I have it (I believe we all have some, sometimes). When I am overwhelmed, I write. I think. I share.

I write about many light topics, like my love of sports, my passion for travel or random thoughts like what people do on an elevator or how many times I move my milk until it arrives in my fridge. I write about my family, how we are bed hoppers or that my toddler is an adorable little menace. The role of women in society is something I care deeply about, the challenges working mothers have to balance – or maybe integrate – work and home.

I have also tackled mental health, though I haven’t looked at this topic too deeply. While I don’t personally suffer from a chronic mental health disorder, I will admit that at times I am not mentally healthy. Certain situations or life events at times make me anxious. When there are stresses in my life that I can’t control I am sometimes brought to tears. As I write this post, on Thursday evening, there are tears rolling down my cheeks.

I am not writing this looking for sympathy. I believe the emotions I am writing about are felt by millions of people around the world. When life hands you lemons…. Sometimes you just need to cry. Sometimes it is just too much, and you need to find a way to release it all. For me, writing is my release.

While I am not someone who keeps emotions bottled up, I am at times a private person.  Like many women, I carry a lot on my shoulders. I have always been the person, from early on in my life, who could handle anything. People looked to me as a trusted friend, a reliable employee and dependable relative. I am proud of that and hope that people will continue to look to me when they are in need – of advice, help or a shoulder to cry on.

Over the past few weeks I have learned that I can’t do it all. My family is going through some transitions, and while I know that in time our life will stabilize and everything will be okay, right now life is stressful. We are all healthy and we are lucky to have the most wonderful and supportive extended family and close friends around us.

While my husband, David, and I, are not defined by our careers, we are both focused on what we have achieved and what we can accomplish next. I have gone on a journey over the last year and am finding my way, thanks to many people who have given me tremendous guidance.

David is at the start of his journey, since the company for which he worked for almost five years has gone bankrupt and no longer exists. He is facing a daily up and down emotional roller coaster, and naturally this affects our whole family. There are days when he has an inspirational meeting with someone and is excited about the path he has chosen. Then there are days that his anxiety gets the better of him, and he questions his career choices and his professional experience.

Thursday was one of those anxious days. He had an interview that didn’t go too well and a meeting with someone who didn’t offer him any real inspirational value.  When he came home an emotional wreck Thursday afternoon, my anger boiled over. I couldn’t handle his anxiety-riddled mental state and what it was doing to me and my family.

So, I remembered what my parents told me: when I am angry, when I am overly stressed and unable to behave rationally, walk away. Calm down. And I as do now, just write. Everything will be okay. For me, and I know for David too.

How Automated will our Future be?

automated

Another winter weekend and another Friday night drive up to our family country home for a weekend of skiing. We have such interesting conversations during the two-hour trip. I think I may have to make the conversations of our Friday night drive a weekly blog feature. The topics of conversation are just so interesting. One of the topics we covered during this week’s drive: how automated will our future be, and with that, what jobs will disappear?

It was a toss-up for me about which topic was most interesting during our car ride, an automated future or the history of small pox (David and Matthew like to discuss war, but they also enjoy talking about disease and death). In the end, our sometimes bizarre though, for the most part, fascinating conversation about an automated future, sticks with me most.

Over the past 250 years the world has seen tremendous change. The Industrial Revolution, which altered work from hand production to machines and industry, marks a major turning point in history, and our transition from manual to automated seems to accelerate by the day.

What fascinated my son throughout our conversation were the careers, jobs and industries that exist today, in 2018, that may disappear in the future because of automation. It was interesting to hear his perspective, at age ten, about how he sees the future and the career path he may take – based on jobs that may or may not exist.

For example, he questioned the need for doctors in the future. That may seem shocking to you, but his reasoning was logical, in part. I will admit that he used Star Wars as his prime example of a future with no doctors or no need for them. Matthew has a creative mind and his thoughts are often inspired by what he sees and experiences. But he is also very intelligent and insightful. He is also highly influenced by the technology that surrounds him every day.

So, here is what Matthew explained to me about why he questions the need for trained doctors in the future. It was, as I expected, all about technology. He feels that all medical questions can be researched and answered by the internet – yes, Dr. Google. He thinks that robotics is a technology of the future, where robots and droids can treat people and even do surgery. For him, it’s all about an automated future.

As we rely more heavily on technology, no doubt there are thousands of jobs that disappear every year. Grocery stores are investing in the “self-check-out.” Online retailers like Amazon are testing drones to deliver packages to customers. Factories need fewer employees to build, create and package product. It is all in the name of automation. Fewer jobs and lower cost to deliver a service.

But I also feel that with an automated future, where we lose jobs in factories, medicine or stores, we also gain jobs in other sectors. Technology, as it evolves, still needs the human touch to create, develop and maintain it. The career of the IT professional, web developer or digital marketer didn’t even exist a few decades ago.

2018 may not be when we experience a new Industrial Revolution but rather a Technology Revolution. With an automated future, we have to evolve the way we think and develop our careers. The way my children see their future is so different than how I saw mine. I don’t think a droid doctor will be doing surgery on my anytime soon, but my son thinks it’s coming. He discounts a medical career path as he has determined that technology will kill that career.

For me, as I sit at a crossroads mid-career, in my early forties, I know that I must embrace the Technology Revolution and ride the road it will take me on. This blog is my first step as I bring together the craft I love – writing – with an automated future full of technology – the blog, internet and social media. It’s exciting and a little scary, but I’m ready.

And as for my son, Matthew, and his future career? If you ask him, he will tell you that he wants to pursue some kind of business, and he wants to make a lot of money. He won’t expand and share any details on that dream to me, but I guess I can’t complain. He has an idea of what the future may be, and I’m excited to watch it unfold.

Pay it Forward

pay it forward

Helping someone in need can take many forms. There are many individuals who need help, be it financial, physical or spiritual. Some people are dealt some pretty rough cards in life, and I have always felt that it’s important to be there for people who need a helping hand. For someone who is sick, impoverished or disadvantaged in some other way, I don’t need someone to help me first in order to push me to help someone else. I just do it. The concept of Pay it Forward comes from the idea to create a ripple of kindness. One person can influence the next person to be kind, and it just spreads.

I’m all in support of that, and I even see that an international Pay it Forward Day has been established. It’s coming up on Saturday, April 28, 2018. But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to talk about how to pay it forward in other ways.

Sometimes you help someone just because it’s the right thing to do. The person you help doesn’t have to be ill, short on money or lost in any way. It can be your sister, your friend, your cousin or your current or former colleague. You can help your friend who has been close to you for 30 years or the person you met last week.

I have been the beneficiary of this concept many times in my life, and I appreciate the helping hand I got. In particular, I want to thank the many people who have helped me develop and grow in my career.

My first mentor was a tremendous man named Michael Ludlum. He was my “Writing for Broadcasting” professor during my first semester of Journalism School at New York University almost 20 years ago. I was the one student in our small class of graduate students with no experience in journalism. He recognized my raw talent and spent hours working with me, training me and giving me the confidence to be a good journalist.

Professor Ludlum, I believe, recommended my name to be a Graduate Assistant, which ensured the rest of my graduate school tuition was paid and that I secured a salary to teach young undergraduate students with him. He taught me the importance of mentorship and leadership and how to manage people in a way that helped them grow. I have passed that on to my colleagues and people who have reported to me throughout my 15 year plus career. I hope they learned something from me, via Professor Ludlum, and guide people in the right direction.

I worked with a talented group of people early in my career, in radio, at the Team Sports Radio Network. The ownership shut down the sports concept less than two years after we launched, and yes, we all lost our jobs. But my boss, and another one of my early mentors, Shawn Lavigne, stuck his neck out for me and secured a job for me at Sportsnet. He didn’t have to do that, but he just did. He recommended my name to a hiring manager, and that’s how I moved from radio to TV.

The day I got my job at Sportsnet I promised myself that I would pay it forward and help other people secure a job if they needed my help. I have to say, one of the greatest ways you can pay it forward, and get a ripple moving, is to use your influence to help someone in his or her career. It is something people do not forget, and it keeps the pay it forward momentum going.

As I have changed paths in my career there are many more people who have guided me and really helped me. But people haven’t just helped me with my career. When I faced years of fertility challenges, people offered me advice and support. When I have been overwhelmed with life (ever had a day like that?!), my friends and family were quick to reach out to be there for me. I have and will continue to pay it forward and be there for them.

Dads in the Corner Office AND Making Dinner

Dads

Over the past six months I have written a number of posts about how to balance the many demands of being a mother to three children and my personal career ambitions. I have come to the conclusion that women in 2017 can’t have it all. We try hard to have a work-family balance, and I personally have settled to just do my best. But what about Dads? Can the modern father have it all? Can he rise through the ranks of a corporation or spend long days and even nights working, yet still be there at home to bathe the children and read them a bedtime story?

I have not given Dads enough credit. It is not easy to be a father in 2017. Men who choose to get married, in their twenties and thirties in particular, and have children in their twenties, thirties and into their forties, are also looking for the ultimate work-family balance. These men are not the CEO of the house (sorry guys, that’s the woman!) and often don’t even think about all the small details that go into the well-oiled machine that is raising children.

But today’s father plays an active role in not only how his children are raised – the corporate world calls this the strategy – but also is actively involved in raising those children – the tactics. Dads today don’t just wake up in the morning, get ready for work and kiss the wife and children good bye as he heads out the door. He may give the children breakfast, put their lunch together for school and often is the person who brings them to school each morning.

Dads today go grocery shopping, drive the kids to karate and wash the dishes after dinner. They book play dates for their kids and change diapers. And many of them also hold down a full-time job. I believe that at work they are expected to devote all their energy and put aside the demands of their home life. While many of these great men try, they too may never achieve a much-desired true work-family balance.

My husband, David, is one of those Dads. As his colleagues will tell you, David is one of the most dedicated and skilled people to work with. He works with tremendous integrity and passion and throws himself in to every task he tackles. He is thorough and considers every minute detail.

David’s biggest challenge is time management. As a professional, he is loyal and works hard. As a Dad, he is caring and will do anything for his children. Balancing the needs and demands of work and children is often very difficult.

I believe David’s challenge is not unique. Many Dads in 2017 want the same success in their career that men have always wanted. And they are expected to give their full attention and energy to their job. But they want to also play an active role in raising their children. Many of their wives have a career, and these men are compelled to spend quality time with the children and support the duties of the household.

It’s not easy. I commend the efforts of the Dad who tries his best to reach the corner office and cook dinner for his family. Thank you to all the men out there who work hard every day and who also do their best to support their wives as they strive to reach the corner office too.

Dads
Getting the office work done then feeding the kids

Maternity Leave is not all that it’s Cracked up to be

maternity leave

I have three wonderful children who are the loves of my life. Like many women, I dreamed of being a mother for many years and consider myself lucky every day that I was blessed with such an incredible family. My third child, Nessa, my little miracle, did not come so easily, and I am thankful every day for her being in my life. I chose to take maternity leave with each of my three children, which I feel is a privilege given to Canadian women. However, while many people see maternity leave as a great benefit, it can also have damaging consequences to a woman’s job and career aspirations.

I also firmly believe that the new expanded parental leave, announced yesterday by the Federal government, will potentially cause further damage to a woman’s career.

Under the current system, a person (or couple) can take a leave from work for a total of 12 months following the birth of a baby (or start that leave up to 8 weeks before the child is born). During that period, a new parent (or parents) qualify to receive up to 50 weeks of employment insurance from the Government of Canada. I believe that comes out to up to $543 per week. Some employers top up pay for some or all of that time as well. Under the expanded leave, a total of 18 months can be taken off, but the financial benefits are not increased (just spread out thinner over a longer period of time).

I want to put the financial benefits of maternity leave aside. What I want to focus on is the job one “leaves” and what happens the next day after a woman has left the workplace to focus on her new baby. This has happened to me three times.

Each time I had a new baby I chose to go on maternity leave from a full-time job. I was at one place of employment when my first two children were born and another organization when my third child was born. As a communications professional, I worked in fast-paced demanding jobs with a lot on my plate. And I loved it. I knew that with the massive workload I had that someone else had to either take over my job or a group of people had to fill in for me while I was away. Life went on and work had to be done whether I was there or not. That’s the case for all women who go on maternity leave.

So, what happens when a woman is away from the office for just a few weeks, a few months, 12 months or now as many as 18 months? As I said, life goes on at work, people fill in and the organization creates a new normal. When my son was born in 2007, I was away for 8 months. When my daughter was born in 2010 I was away for 11 months. And the organization where I was employed went on and my colleagues worked hard and filled in for me.

After my first maternity leave I returned to my same job and went on with my day-to-day responsibilities. In fact, a few months later I even got a promotion. I worked hard and did my best to balance the demands of my job with the needs of my baby. I assumed the same thing would happen in 2011 when I returned to the same job after my second maternity leave.

But I was wrong. The organization where I worked was planning massive changes and a rebranding while I was away, and those changes were implemented weeks after I returned. I was told my job was eliminated.

I had just come off 11 months of maternity leave and had received almost 50 weeks of employment insurance benefits. I did not qualify to receive any more and thought that in Canada there was a system in place to protect young mothers who chose to take a leave from work to care for their young children. Our jobs, we were told, were protected, so that we could go away for a year and return to work. I understood that my exact job did not have to be given back to me but that a job equal to mine had to at least be available to me. It was, for a few weeks, then it was gone. Why? Because if an organization, for or not-for-profit, does a massive reorganization, it is not required to retain women on maternity leave. It is allowed to eliminate those jobs.

I was lucky that I quickly secured another job in 2011, one I loved very much. I received a number of promotions over the next few years, and by 2016, when Nessa was born, I managed a team of people and oversaw many files and projects at the company. While I did not make a final decision on how long I would be away from my job, I knew I wanted to take at least 4-5 months of maternity leave to spend time with my new baby.

When the baby was not quite 3 months old I was informed that my job had been eliminated. This time there was no company reorganization that I knew of. Various people had filled in for me, there was a new normal and they didn’t need me anymore. It didn’t matter that I was respected by my colleagues and made contributions to the organization over the previous five years. Out of sight, out of mind. So what if the Government of Canada had a maternity leave program? My employer didn’t care. My job was gone.

According to some research I found from Statistics Canada, which looked at the increasing maternity leave benefits from 1971 onwards, I read that “one aim of the 2000 amendment was to enable working parents to care for their infant longer and still allow them secure re-entry into employment” It added that “after the extension of parental benefits, all provinces and territories revised their labour codes to give full job protection of 52 weeks or more to employees taking paid or unpaid maternity or parental leave.”

Financial benefits aside, maternity leave was created, in-part, so that women could feel confident that they could walk away from a job to care for a baby knowing their job was secure and protected. But that is not the case. And the longer a woman is away from her job, potentially up to 18 months with the new expanded leave, the less security and protection she has.

If the Government of Canada is going to expand its parental leave program then it also needs to put in place strict rules that protect those parents’ jobs when they choose to take a leave to care for young children. As long as employers can eliminate a job during or soon after a maternity leave then it is not a true benefit. Canadian women need to know their careers can grow and their jobs are secure when they become new mothers and attempt the very difficult task of a balance between work and home. Until that happens, there is no such thing as a true maternity leave.

I am a CEO. Of my House.

CEO

It wasn’t my dream to be an executive. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a doctor. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a sports journalist. I also knew that I wanted to be a Mom. Little did I know that one day I would be a CEO – not of a retail company or a non-profit organization, but of my house. That’s right, my house. I am a CEO, the Chief Executive Officer, of my house.

I attained my first executive position at a very young age, on June 25, 1998. It was the day I married David. We moved to France, where David was fortunate to get his first engineering job working with his brother-in-law. We lived in a sweet little house in a small village. I would say that was my first foray into executive leadership. I didn’t have a traditional job, but I worked. I ran my first household. It was a small business, with few needs and demands. But it kept me busy, as I learned how to live away from my parents, how to cook and how to live life with another person.

I was promoted through the executive ranks over the next 8 years, as we moved our home from France to Israel to New York and back to Toronto. I had achieved the title of Senior Vice-President by 2006. In June of that year I learned that I was pregnant with our first child and accepted the role to be CEO of our household. In March of 2007 I was formally installed into my position of CEO – Chief Executive Officer – of my house.

Our family of four, the day we moved out of our old house
CEO
Our excited kids three years ago, on the day we moved into our current house

I will admit the first three paragraphs of today’s post are a bit tongue and cheek. But I am trying to make a point. I really am the CEO of my house. I run a very busy household that includes five members, ranging in age from 1 to 44. Each person has a unique schedule, a unique role and unique responsibilities. And I’m in charge of making sure it all runs smoothly. I strategically consider everything each member of the family needs, and I carefully make plans to achieve success. I am not just a wife and mother – I am the leader of the family. I am the CEO.

Since Matthew was born 10 ½ years ago, I have held this position on a full-time basis, on and off, for just under three years. For the other seven plus years, I have also had a job in the general workforce. But why isn’t CEO of my house on my resume? Am I ashamed of the 9 months I was a full-time CEO of my home when Matthew was a baby, the 11 months when Julia was a baby and year that Nessa was an infant?

I have been a CEO for over ten years and have gained valuable skills during that time. Here is a list of some of them:

  • I have experience managing people – I currently lead four people
  • Multi-tasking – I can make dinner, help the kids with homework and tidy the living room at the same time
  • Budgeting – running a household can be an expensive endeavor, and it is important that funds are available to pay the bills, buy groceries and save for the future
  • Passion – okay this is not a skill, but it’s something I have. I love my family and am deeply committed to helping them be successful in life
  • Strategic communication – this skill is key in the successful leadership of a household. Language and tone must be carefully considered every day. Whether it is calming down a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum in a grocery store to a 10-year-old who refuses to go to bed at night, a strategic approach to how one communications can be the difference between success and failure.

Right now, my resume includes many skills and leadership roles of which I am very proud, including my years as a student, as a journalist and a communications professional. Maybe I shouldl add one more section to my “professional experience” – CEO, of my house.

Are we too Tech Savvy?

tech savvy

We live in the Technology Age. If you look back through history, there was the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Middle Ages, even the Machine Age and Space Age, to name a few. For me, what defines the Age we live in today is our reliance on information and computerization of everything we do. To succeed, do we need to be tech savvy?

When I was a child, you knew a tech savvy household if your friend owned an Atari or a Commodore 64 computer. I remember my amazement, back in 1987 when my brother got his first computer. I think it was a DOS-based operating system. A short time later my father brought home our family’s first laptop. All I remember is that it was a 286. I couldn’t tell you any more than that.

tech savvy

My brother also had a Sega video game system and a Gameboy. We were one of the first homes on the block to get a VCR and later a flat-screen TV. I will never forget the first time my mother used our car phone – a behemoth that she shook in the air on the highway sometimes to let some rude driver know that SHE had a direct line to the police in her car because she had a car phone.

tech savvy

But these devices did not define us. No doubt we enjoyed those early computers, video game systems and technology toys, but we did not rely on them. Life was, in some ways, manually operated. But not today.

For example, my son is working with a partner from his class on a presentation for school. They need to prepare a 3-5-minute presentation on a particular topic. Their teacher told them that how they present is up to them When I was ten years-old and wanted to be creative, I put on a skit in front of my class or I used a combination of construction paper, scissors and glue.

But these two, tech savvy fifth graders, would have none of that. I watched and listened in amazement as they planned out a power point presentation, which will include a short video (that they will shoot and edit with an iPad) followed by a quiz for the class. In less than two hours they put together said power point presentation (video is coming soon), and I almost deleted it when I tried to press save. My son clearly knows more about power point than I do!

Julia, at maybe two years old, showed her grandmother the basics how to swipe through an iPad and how to get into her favourite app of the time, Angry Birds. Nessa, at 16-months old, deftly touches the FaceTime app on the iPad so she can enjoy late-night chats with my mother. When I was that age all I had was a plastic Fisher Price telephone. And if I wanted to get in touch with my grandparents when I was ten years old, it was an expensive long-distance call or a personally written letter – using that same construction paper.

Okay, so children are tech savvy and from a young age know their way around computers, tablets and smartphones. Millennials could teach me a thing or two about how to properly leverage social media. But what about my generation – known as Generation X? Are we tech savvy now? Have we gone from construction paper and Fisher Price phones to email and texts?

I would say, yes, we have. I don’t know if most of us are tech savvy, but we are definitely tech reliant. And I think we are too tech reliant.

In my last job, and in my current consulting work in communications, I receive too many emails. I also send too many emails. If the person is sitting 30 feet away from me, wouldn’t it be easier to stand up to ask him or her my question? Or I could  pick up a phone and call versus sending a lengthy email? If I have a great idea and want to share it with a group, do I have another option than a multi visual power point presentation?

When people applied for jobs decades ago, they didn’t have LinkedIn. Human resources professionals did not have databases where they could type in key words that would be pulled from a pile of 100 resumes that had been uploaded to a website. Job searching and employee hiring was definitely more manual, and maybe it was also more time consuming. But it was more personal. A human resource professional or a hiring manager often read through all the resumes. The only option to follow up on a job application was to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Was that better, or maybe it was worse? It was definitely different.

When I send an email today – to my mother, to my friend, to my work colleague or to a potential employer – will that person see that email, in the hundreds that person may receive on any given day? Will the person read the email? Will that person reply to me? Do I rely too much on that email to determine my fate? Maybe I should pick up the telephone more often, or knock on my friend’s door.

Am I too tech savvy? No. Maybe I should be, or at least I should be with respect to some parts of my life. The Technology Age is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. I love this blog, and I love that technology has given me an avenue to express my musings. I love that social media has given me a tool to amplify my blog and to share moments and photos instantaneously. But I also want to be careful and not rely too much on technology. I want to retain some of my manually operated nature and the personal interactions that go with it.

My Greatest Asset is Passion Capital

passion capital

Have you ever walked into a party, a meeting, an event or a conference by yourself and felt nervous, almost afraid, to walk through the door? It’s almost like the feeling that a child has on his or her first day of school. That first step in the door is so hard, but once you are inside and have met a few people you realize there is no reason to worry. You are welcomed, you feel comfortable and you know you are in the right place. This happened to me this week when I attended a conference and came home at the end of the day after learning that my greatest asset is Passion Capital.

I sat in a room all day with like-minded individuals, who are leaders in both Corporate Canada and the non-profit sector. We listened, learned and discussed purpose-led business strategies. The speakers discussed the importance of corporate citizenship and making meaningful connections with customers, employees and the community.

All morning I listened intently, as I nodded my head in agreement. I shook people’s hands and introduced myself as a professional who believes in purposeful communication. Then I heard Paul Alofs give a keynote address after lunch. His topic: passion capital.

Paul described passion capital as the combination of “energy + intensity + sustainability to succeed.” He explained the seven building blocks to achieving passion capital, and #3 affected me deeply: courage.

In order to affect change, any kind of change, we must have courage. It’s not a word I have ever heard before at a meeting, at a conference or any part of my professional life. If I want to dedicate myself to find ways for profit and purpose to meet, I need the courage to bring about change. But I learned that I can’t do that on my own.

If I am to be part of a movement to change Corporate Canada I need to align myself with courageous leaders. These leaders need to step up and speak out in support of purpose. These leaders, as I learned from another speaker, need to be in the business of doing good and not just in business and doing good.

The people I met, the workshops I attended and the speakers I listened to opened my mind to passion capital, and they showed me that it’s my greatest asset. Success in business does not only come from intellectual, financial or human capital. They need passion capital too.

I now know that my greatest asset is passion capital. I think that most people, while they do not know it yet, also possess it. We strive for purpose where we work, where we shop, what we buy and how we raise our children. But if we want to affect change, and I mean real change, we need the courage to take the first step.

Do High Heeled Shoes Define a Woman?

high heeled

I still watch the TV show Grey’s Anatomy (can you believe it’s already the 14th season?). In this season’s opening episode, the Chief of Surgery, Dr. Miranda Bailey, struggled with high heeled shoes. More specifically, she didn’t just struggle with actually wearing them but also with what they mean to women. It was a well-written storyline, produced in good-humour, and it had an impact on me, as a woman, who is exploring the next steps I take in my career.

During my 15 plus year career I have never been a high heeled woman.  What is a high heeled woman you ask? She is a professional woman who is put together, dressed elegantly every day at work, and every piece of her outfit is carefully considered and matched, down to her high heeled shoes.

My first job was at an all-sports radio station, where I was the lone female among a few dozen men. Jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of running shoes was considered dressed up for work. I fit in with the guys, earned their respect and was more than happy to look like a hobo like the rest of them (especially when I produced the morning show and arrived at work at 4:00 am).

As I moved along my career path, into television then communications I made myself over and dressed accordingly based on my workplace. But I left the high heeled shoes at home.

Do many women feel the pressure to dress up, from head to toe, every day? Do they need to brush their hair just right, put on the right amount of make-up and slide on those high-heeled shoes? Have men put the pressure on us, or have we created this ourselves? Would a man ever consider putting on a pair of shoes in the morning that he knows are uncomfortable, that he knows he must squish his feet into?

Why do women feel compelled to wear high heeled shoes? I realize that for some people the answer is simple. You are an intelligent and successful woman, and you choose to look feminine and sophisticated, and that’s it.  Many women feel that the high heeled shoe is part of the required uniform for a female in the professional world. Her feet hurt and sometimes her toes and ankles will blister, but damn, she looks good.  No man would ever stand for that.

I did an experiment Thursday morning and wore a pair of sleek, black high-heeled shoes to work (I do own a couple of pairs). I put myself together nicely (I wouldn’t say I looked elegant or sophisticated but I looked okay!), with a light amount of make-up, casual yet professional outfit and my high heeled shoes.

My feet were already hurting as I walked from my car to the elevator. I had to take my shoes off at my desk, as I slowly began to feel my swelling feet doing all they could to escape their prison. By the time I walked back to my car hours later each of my baby toes had a red blister on them and my feet were really sore.

I did get a few compliments on my shoes and how shiny and nice they were. Sleek, high heeled shoes are often noticed and complimented at various offices I have visited. No matter how much agony they are in as they stand there, knowing their feet are enclosed in a space that really only has room for the big toe, these compliments reinforce the idea to other women that high heeled shoes are okay.

For me, they are not okay. I prefer to follow the lead of Dr. Miranda Bailey, a successful, intelligent woman at the top of her game. I am putting my high heeled shoes back in the drawer and pulling out the clogs (or flats) instead.