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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is an Associate Editor at Goddess Connections for the Women Who Run It E-Mag. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Studies. She is a resident of Toronto and she has a passion for exploring topics on health and fitness, and enjoys writing stories about women’s issues. She also enjoys writing about business and how to build a career. When she is not working for Women Who Run It you can find her exploring Toronto, going for jogs, or simply enjoying life as a strong, empowered woman who runs it. Her goal is to share stories that help women of all walks of life take control of their lives and create balance with ease.

Lean In and Listen: The Success Story of Despina Zangas

Success stories: we all love to hear about them.

We use these stories to motivate us, to inspire us, and to help us know how to find our own success as well!

And it’s the nitty, gritty details we want to know. How much do you hate to hear about someone getting their big break on their first try?

I know I do.

I want people to have moments of doubt, times of struggle, obstacles to overcome.

That’s real life.

Despina Zangas is the epitome of a success story. Why?

1. Her Success Didn’t Come Easy

Despina worked for her success. She zigged, she zagged, made power moves and connections, and came out on top in the end.

Despina always knew that she wanted to go into something creative and she made it happen. After school she landed a career at The Toronto Sun. Her work in digital advertising was a great learning experience, but she needed room to show off her creativity.

“After that I found out about digital design and got really excited about that so I started working at a company called Passport Online and that’s where I had a lot of opportunity to work with big brands like LCBO and British Airways and a lot of radio stations in Toronto. Eventually I became a creative director there.”

After that she started a position with a company called Internet Marketing Associates, but her need to grow couldn’t be stifled and before long she was planning on spreading her wings on her own and started her own design firm.

“I did that for about 10 years and I absolutely loved running my own design firm but I found that it had it’s limitations and I knew that if I wanted to grow, if I wanted to go to the next stage, I really had to partner with somebody who kind of understood the path to growth. So I partnered with my current partners Randall Craig and Ashish Malik and together we form 108ideaspace.”

Despina shows that the leap to a new job isn’t scary, it’s an opportunity to grow and work towards your dream job!

2.  She Learned Something From Every Job

Despina took something with her from every single job that she worked at. If she didn’t like a job, she still used it as a learning experience and grew her repertoire of skills and understandings.

“At The Toronto Sun I learned that even though your goal is maybe to create something beautiful, it’s really all about the client. That taught me a lot about working with different industries, really thinking about what they want, and not necessarily what you want,” she shared.

From her job at Passport Online she learned about the power of having a love for what she does. “I really learned about being passionate and maintaining integrity in design and I think I gained a lot of respect with clients because they saw how passionate I was for what I did for them,” she shared.

Before going off at her own, she used her time at Marketing Associates to learn about how to eventually run her own companies. “There I kind of learned about management and leading people and process, and really the importance of encouraging creativity within your staff.”

3. She Knew her Limitations

The reason Despina picked her current partners was because she wanted to be with people who understood the path to growth. Despina had her own business but she knew that if she really wanted to reach all her goals that she would need to bring other people in and work together. Instead of taking on an “I can do it all” attitude, she happily brought others in to work as a team with her.

“What’s so funny about us is that we all compliment each other and I think that being a woman in this company has actually benefited me because men can be more direct and I kind of take that softer approach when it comes to our clients so it’s actually worked to my advantage,” she shared.

4. And She Lets Others Lean on Her

As a successful woman with a great network, Despina still saw that other women have issues doing the same. She heard about Sheryl Sandberg’s bookLean In and immediately felt inspired.

“When she talks about women not having self-confidence, when I read it I was like “yeah this is not something that I necessarily feel,  but it’s something that women tend to feel.” I really related to the concept of leaning in and and standing up for what you believe, and not being afraid because women are so afraid to proceed with things and just move forward. That’s what really resonated,” she shared.

That was all it took for Despina to work to create Lean In- Toronto with other inspiring women like herself. Now they have monthly meetings that feature networking events, speakers, and even more networking so women can meet possible mentors and future business partners, get inspired, and truly lean in together.

“I really wanted to connect with other women. I wanted to share our experiences. I tend to be a very social person. I love meeting people and I love meeting people from different walks of life and not just my industry necessarily. Lean In-Toronto actually started through networking- it’s absolutely something that you need to do,” Despina said.

Now she’s been able to watch Lean In-Toronto grow as it’s gotten more and more attendees to it’s meetings, and she’s met more and more inspiring women.

As a woman who has found so many successes in her life, she is definitely someone whose story we should all lean in and listen to. Especially when she shares her parting message:

“Trust yourself. That’s one of the issues that I had maybe in my 20s. Even when I knew it was right I would doubt myself. I wouldn’t proceed with things because I thought ‘Maybe that’s not the right way to go.’ Now as I’ve gotten older I feel that I’m making these right decisions. Just go with your gut and know that what you’re doing is probably right. All those stumbles you have along the way: they’re absolutely great because they’re learning lessons. They help you.”

If someone as successful as Despina is telling me to make mistakes I’m going to listen! Take that ladies as a free pass to push past your insecurities, trust your gut, and find your own success. Hopefully one day women will be leaning in to hear your story too!

To learn more about Lean In-Toronto visit http://leanintoronto.com.

Why Women Love Money

Gold digger. Fashionista. Socialite. Debutant.

Women have commonly been called names that suggest their obsession with money. Furthermore, we’ve often seen a hot woman with an older man and thought one thing: “he must be rich!”

It’s a bad rap for women.

It wasn’t that long ago that women were expected to be homemakers. To never handle the finances. To ask for an allowance to buy necessities.

Now we’re making our own money.

We have our own careers. We buy our own homes. We take care of ourselves.

No longer are we seen as needing a man to take care of us. We take care of ourselves.

According to Forbes, a historically high number of women are not only earning as much as their husbands, but more.

So why are women so money obsessed, as we’ve been branded in the past? We’re now seen as more career driven and have put off the age of getting married and having children, and we do it all for money. It’s not all about the money, it’s about something else.

1. It’s About Independence. Back when women were expected to be homemakers and weren’t even allowed to get jobs they used to get married as early as possible. There was no chance for independence because they needed to find someone to take care of them.

Now that women are making their own money they don’t need to get married so young because they don’t need anyone to take care of them. Making our own money has allowed us to be completely independent. That’s one reason why money is so important to us. We decide who we marry and why, instead of looking for a man who can “take care of you.”

2. It’s About Freedom. Imagine having to ask your husband to be able to buy an outfit you wanted. Even worse, imagine being told no.

A certain amount of freedom comes with being able to spend your money on what you please. You don’t have to justify anything to anyone, it’s your money and you can spend it however you’d like. No longer do women have to ask for an allowance, they have the freedom to make their own decisions.

3. It’s About Knowledge. I’m sure you’ve heard this story before: a woman who doesn’t make any money lets her husband take care of the checkbooks. She doesn’t know how much money they have, she doesn’t know what their bills cost, and she doesn’t know where the money goes each month, or even what comes in. One day she finds out they’re 100K in debt, with their house mortgaged, and everything they ever had on the line.

The most important thing when it comes to having your own money is having the knowledge that comes along with it. You know how much money you have and you’ll want to know how much everything costs. Knowledge is power and you won’t want to hand over your money without the knowledge of where it’s going.

4. It’s About Equality. Marriage is supposed to be 50/50 but when someone holds the power, the scales are tipped. Money creates an equality between men and women.

Don’t believe me? There are countless stories out there of men being put off by their wives making more money than them. You don’t think that a man wouldn’t want a couple of extra dollars coming in? They would, but they’d prefer it be from them. It’s a power thing.

5. It’s About Time. We are sick and tired of the way things have been in the past. We know that it’s about time that we started to prosper the way that we’ve seen men do. We’ve been waiting so long to break out and show our true earning potential that we’re ready to see it finally happening and don’t for one second take it for granted.

Every couple, every woman, every person has their own situation going on. We all find our own grooves and place importance on different things. There is no argument that a stay at home mother isn’t putting in her share of work. We applaud every woman who leaves their job behind to take on the hardest 24/7 job that anyone has ever had. Leaving that job behind, or even leaving it for maternity leave is hard because it takes us out from a place where we can exercise our right to earn money and find the specific kind of independence and freedom that our own money brings us.

To all of those people who have branded women as money hungry, they were right. We are money hungry and we plan on making our own money. Now that we’ve seen what it can bring to us, I doubt you’ll see women going back to early marriages to become homemakers again.

Say it With Me: I AM THE BOSS A Day at the I AM THE BOSS Conference

What does it mean to you to utter the words “I am the boss”?

Does it refer to status? To power? To responsibility?

To me, it means the freedom to play by my own rules, instead of following someone else’s.

Not everyone gets the chance to be the boss, but everyone can, if they want to.

I know that sounds like a whole lot of Indians and no Chiefs, and I probably would have agreed with you…that is until I attended Carolyn Dickinson’s I AM THE BOSS conference.

This one day event aims to inspire women to create their own path in life, to finally be able to utter the words “I am the boss.”

Over the course of the day attendees watched as Carolyn interviewed a panel of inspiring women who have found success in their own lives, women just like you and I whose passion and determination sent them from middle management, to the top. The panel participates in a Q&A session midway through the day, and the day is finished off with keynote speakers and trainers who share their vision, their journey, and their inspirations with the crowd.

So who were these inspiring women that we all stared in awe at as we held on to their every word? Well there was Odette Laurie…

As a business coach for entrepreneurs who want to build a multiple six or seven figure business and teacher of mindset marketing and money strategies, she knows what it’s like to fight for her dream.

“I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to struggle. I also know what it’s like to be successful. They need a leader,” she said.

She knew it was important for women to attend I AM THE BOSS because “as women we do it all by ourselves. We stay at home and we try to build a business behind our computer, but you’ve got to get out in the real world to see what real women are doing and learn.”
That’s why Odette, an already successful entrepreneur wanted to be a part of I AM THE BOSS, an event that tells women that “we’re blessed with the opportunity to have babies but that does not mean we have to stop our life, and that doesn’t mean we have to stop the train that gets us to making money …You can have both. It’s tough, but you can do it,” shared Odette.

Then there was Mary Engel…

A management coach who works with middle managers to help them improve the quality of their lives, they’re productivity, and get the careers that they dream of.

She saw this event as a great opportunity because “an event like this gives women an opportunity to be inspired, to get a lot of clarity. I’m finding that the speakers have so much experience in the areas that I’m currently experiencing challenge in that it’s almost like looking into a crystal ball, seeing what to expect, and being able to answer those questions before you even get there.”
Her real clarity comes when discussing the topic of being a working mom. “A lot of us grow up with the belief, the unfounded belief, that to have a career, and be a great mom, and be a great wife, is impossible. Or that somehow we have to trade off one for the other and so we start making decisions that will sabotage any particular one of those things. So I think it’s important to understand that you can have all three, that they can be really great, and not to worry that you’re sacrificing in one area because there are ways to actually figure out how to work all of those,” she shared.

And there was Wendy Crystal…

A future mom about to pop, still sitting on the panel, and working a booth as the owner and founder of her own cosmetics company.

Looking at her you know that she has drive, but what did she wanted the women to take away from that day? “Determination and believing in themselves and knowing that failure and feeling fear are not things to be feared. They are things to actually motivate you and push you forward to be successful.”

But the real inspiration that day was I AM THE BOSS’s founder Carolyn Dickinson….

Carolyn went from a stressed out new mom at a complete loss of how to get her career back, to an entrepreneur with her own website appropriately titled “Supermom Entrepreneur”, to the creator of her own women’s event, I AM THE BOSS.

Her work has inspired countless women and she tirelessly labors for her love of helping women succeed.

“I always feel like I’m recommending these people. I take pride in that,” she shared. Which is why she hand picks all of her speakers, and it shows. “I have only heard ‘we love it, we’ve gotten something from it.’ That to me is all I want ,” she said. “I’ve had five people personally come up to me and go ‘this is not a typical women’s event,’” she continued.

Besides the obvious benefit of having people love the event, she works so hard to find the right because she said, “We are creating an environment, that to me,  is like having a big family over and we’re all kind of chatting and helping and supporting each other.”

In the end, the work of Carolyn, her team, and everyone involved in the I AM THE BOSS conference led to an event that was welcoming, inspiring, and a must-see for women everywhere. It’s certain that women took away so much from the day, but what did Carolyn really wanted them to take away? “Whatever they need.”

For more information visit: www.supermomentrepreneur.com


EmpowHER Yourself: An Exclusive Interview with Michelle King Robson

If you found out that something was wrong with you, you’d want to fix it immediately, wouldn’t you?

Of course you would.

That’s what Michelle King Robson did, but unfortunately, a quick fix isn’t always the answer.

At 42 Michelle was sick and told that she needed a complete hysterectomy. Desperate to feel better and listening to her doctor’s orders, she of course, got the hysterectomy.

Unfortunately the “solution” was only the beginning of Michelle’s problems.

After her hysterectomy Michelle’s health tanked. She became a shell of who she used to be and with no end in sight, she even contemplated taking her own life. She didn’t stop searching, she just began searching in different places until she found her answers. She found her solution in weaning herself off of her medications and taking Estrogel and Magnesium.

Once she got better, she got mad and vowed to never let this happen to another person. So she started EmpowHER, a women’s health website dedicated to bringing women the best information in health to help improve their well-being and their lives.

EmpowHER brings amazing information to women every single day. “We wantEmpowHER to give relevant and meaningful information around women’s health, gender specific to women,” shared Michelle.

Not only that but it connects readers with real doctors who will answer questions within 24 hours. “That’s a huge opportunity for women to get to where they need to go instead of them heading down a rabbit hole, which happens all the time on the web because there’s so much information being thrown at you,” said Michelle. Whether the information is on her own site or somewhere else on the internet, Michelle wants to guide readers to the best information they can find in order to offer them their best shot at a healthy life.

Most important of all is the community that EmpowHER creates, which Michelle didn’t have when she was fighting for her health. “I was searching for someone like me because women are silent sufferers, we don’t like to talk about it so this gives them the ability to be anonymous if they want, to private message each other if they want, and share their name if they want, privately or publicly, but it’s up to them how they connect,” she said. This turned out to be the most celebrated part of EmpowHER. “This is the one area that I can honestly say no one’s ever said to me ‘Why did you create this company?’ This is the one area where women say ‘Thank you for creating this for us.’ I didn’t do it for me, I did it for women,” said Michelle.

Michelle may share the best health advice she can find online, but she also has some personal tips that she has shared exclusively with Women Who Run It.

1. Schedule Everything “Everything needs to be scheduled, especially in my life. You have to make things a priority,” said Michelle.

When you’re a busy woman you can’t sit around and hope that you can find the time to prepare a meal or fit in that workout. Your health is what makes it possible for you to do everything that you do, so schedule some time to nourish yourself and your body, and it won’t let you down.

2. Put Yourself First “You need to advocate for yourself first, for your own health and wellness, or else you can’t take care of anybody else,” Michelle said.

Women are natural caretakers, but they can’t fulfill this role when they are sick in bed. By putting yourself first you’ll be able to do all of those things for others that you love to do. It’s not selfish, it’s just common sense.

3. Know Your Numbers Do you know your cholesterol number? Your estrogen number? Your thyroid number?

If you don’t know a baseline number for these how will you be able to tell if something is wrong?

If things were ever to go South you should know your baseline numbers so that you can immediately figure out what’s wrong. As Michelle found out, not knowing what’s wrong is worse than finding out the truth.

4. Know Your Body Parts It’s important to know exactly what each piece of your body does for you. Michelle didn’t understand what having a hysterectomy would mean before she got one and it quickly became clear to her how important her uterus was to her body.

“You have to understand what you’re doing and how it’s going to effect the rest of the body because there’s a reason why every body part is there… especially for women, they don’t know their bodies and they don’t really pay attention to all the reproductive parts,” Michelle shared.

5. Find Your Motivation “My biggest motivator to be healthy each day is to set an example for all the women who either are on EmpowHER, or will be coming to EmpowHER, or who I may run into, whether it’s on an airplane, a train, a bus,or if I’m speaking somewhere, so I need to live the brand. I am the brand and I want people to look at me as an example of ‘Hey look, you too can get past this, you too can get well, and you too can live a happy, healthy life,’” Michelle said.

What’s your motivation?

6. Advocate for Yourself Michelle said that if she had advocated for herself that she may never have had to go through such an ordeal. “I didn’t advocate for myself. I didn’t quite care. If they said ‘We want to cut your arm off’ I would have said ‘Okay’ if it would have made me feel better. So, I didn’t advocate for myself and I didn’t push back on doctors because they’d think that I was bitchy or a know-it-all.”

You’re the only one who knows how you feel and what is best for you, be your best and biggest advocate. Ask questions. Push back. Be considered bitchy or a know-it-all. Do everything you have to do to make sure that you’re receiving everything you need.

7. Listen to Your Gut “We were born with this intuition as women and we tend to ignore it and we can’t ignore it because it’s usually right. If there’s something wrong, if you don’t feel well, then there’s something wrong and you need to figure out what it is. If you have to go to ten different doctors until you get to the right answer then so be it. But you can’t let things go. At any age, at any stage, you should feel fabulous,” Michelle explained.

There’s no reason for you to feel anything but amazing, no matter what age you are. Remember that and you’ll be sure to always advocate for yourself, you health, and your body.

Michelle’s perseverance led her on the road to better health and on the path to creating EmpowHER. Not only did she save her own life, but she’s moved on to saving others’ as well. She’s a woman who runs her life, her health, and an amazing company that brings health and wellness to millions of women daily. Today’s your day to “EmpowHER” yourself too!

Can Women Command A Screen?: A Night with WIFT-Toronto

This past year we’ve seen an amazing group of women grace the silver screen and that showed at this year’s Oscars.

While Ellen’s twitter crashing selfie was the talk of the night, something else seemed to catch my attention: Cate Blanchett’s acceptance speech for her role in Blue Jasmine.

“Those in the industry who are foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women in the centre, are niche experiences, they are not,” she said.

“Audiences want to see them. In fact they earn money. The world is round people!” she continued.

Cate was absolutely right. Women in film and television can and do hold the show.

Women Who Run It believes in this so much that they have been working with Women in Film and Television – Toronto (WIFT-T), a member-based organization of women and men working in screen-based media that supports the development and advancement of women in the industry.

Women Who Run It recently attended their advanced screening of The Grand Seduction and their networking event afterward where we learned a few things about women in film and television with the help of WIFT-T’s Executive Director, Heather Webb.

Give us a chance, and we’ll run with it For some reason people have come to believe that women can’t carry a movie, but WIFT-T has different ideas.

“Women are one of the largest consumers of onscreen material and we’re half the population. It’s really important that we see ourselves on-screen as well as behind the camera… I think if we can just give them a chance, and often that’s all it takes, you just give them a chance they’ll run with it and they’ll make a really successful product commercially,” Heather shared.

But we’re still struggling for that chance While we may be the main consumers of on-screen material, we’re still struggling to be seen as the powerhouses that we are.

WIFT-T tries to combat the lack of opportunities by bringing women together to help each other.

“In the entertainment industry it’s very much who you know. Women are notoriously not good at networking and promoting themselves so that’s part of what WIFT-T does. We always have a networking component to every program we run because it is really important for women to make those industry connections,” said Heather.

In the end it’s all about diversity “If you want to be very successful in the entertainment business in Canada you want to have as diverse a workforce as possible. You want to have as many people telling different stories, whether it’s women, or Aboriginal people, or people from other minorities… I think you want to have as diverse a population making your film to reflect our population and to set up role models for people,” shared Heather.

“I think it’s really the leaders of every company, the CEOs, the board, they need to set diversity as a priority at the top level because it really is where the decisions are being made. I encourage everyone to look at their writing rooms, look at their production set, and make sure there is as much diversity as possible reflected there and it will pay off. It will pay off in the long run with really successful, engaging, relevant stories,” she continued.

WIFT-T’s message is one of diversity, acceptance and community. This is a message that needs to be heard.

Unfortunately there are countless myths surrounding women in the entertainment industry. People believe that women can’t carry films, they are constantly trying to pit women in the industry against each other, and constantly taking the focus off of women’s achievements and onto their personal lives.

While women are more outspoken than ever, there is still a need for an organization that uplifts them, brings them together, and promotes them.

“I just think a lot of people ask is there still a need for WIFT? There’s 45 WIFT’s worldwide, so obviously we’re relevant, we’re needed. I don’t think we have seen the full potential of women in the industry yet. I’m really excited to see when that happens because I think we’re going to have some really high quality storytelling coming from that,” Heather said.

WIFT-T isn’t just for people within the industry. They host advanced screenings that anyone can attend and their networking events afterward are great opportunities to meet new people, see new perspectives and support a great organization.

To learn more about WIFT-T go to www.wift.com.

Are You Ready to Coach Your Way to a Better Life?

You’ve already heard my story about my experience with coaching, but that’s just one story. One story among the countless of lives that have been changed, people who have begun to see things differently, paths that have been redirected.

And here is another.

Julie Anne Christoph is a life coach certified through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), but this wasn’t her original path.

Julie Anne began working in sales and she did so for seven years until she was diagnosed with depression. Like so many other women, she found herself on the wrong path in life, and her health was suffering because of it.

Instead of reaching for the pill bottle, Julie Anne headed to the gym.

“I didn’t want to take medication to get out of it so I started exercising… I was really doing it for how good it feels, spiritually and mentally, how you just feel good afterwards. I wanted to share that with the world.”

And she did, by opening her own Curves gym.

Her Curves immediately thrived. She had over 880 members and was running a successful business she loved with one goal in mind: “My goal was impact and inspire one woman to love life again, just like what exercise had done to me.”

Julie Anne achieved that goal and in a bigger way than she had ever imagined. One day a member of her gym came up to her and told her “When I came here I had heard so many great things about your club and I said I have to go and check it out because at that point in my life I did not want to be on Earth….If that had not worked I was going to kill myself, but that was six months ago.”

Julie Anne was stunned by this. She realized that she had reached her goal, and that this goal was the key to what she wanted to do with her life.

“I spent time to think about what I was really doing different and what I wanted to do with that. So I went into coaching and when I found iPEC…I said ‘Oh my God. This program is absolutely life changing; it deals with consciousness, with awareness, with energy, with what human beings are’… It’s really finding yourself so you can share your gifts with the world,” Julie Anne shared.

So she became a Certified Professional Coach and shared her best insights on what coaching is with me.

WWRI: What would you say are the three main things that you have learned from coaching?

JA: That it’s important to be objective, meaning not jumping into other people’s stories. Being non-judgmental. There are so many perceptions from one situation. There are so many options to choose at every moment for how we want to perceive our world and create our world. Also, coaching has nothing to do with giving advice. Coaching is there to help you see clearly who you truly are, and be aligned in everything you do. Coaching guides you to be the best you possible.

WWRI: What has it taught you about other people?

JA: People get stuck in their own story.

People limit themselves.

People have so much potential and when they choose to open it, they bloom like crazy. They become very different people. When they choose to face what’s stopping them, they accept it and they realize that really what was limiting them was all a story that they made up themselves, they literally change. This is how we get in our own way, whether we’re conscious of it or not. It’s how people work through any potential blocks or challenges or stories they’ve hung onto, that will determine how fulfilling and abundant life will be. We do have more control than we think, in terms of how we “show up” in our relationships, career, and all other aspects of our lives. Coaching is a viable tool to plant these seeds of growth.

WWRI: What would you say to people who don’t think that coaching is a necessary thing?

JA: A coach is no longer seen as someone you go to in order to tout your problems. Coaches are now in such high demand grooming leaders for growth and greater possibilities. In fact, women who hire coaches to help them with their careers are shown to increase their productivity and confidence, helping them to speak up more, make bolder and stronger strategic decisions, and improve upon their work/life balance. In just three years, according to a Sherpa Coaching survey, coaching has fast become widely used as a leadership development tool.

And, right here in Canada, the Sherpa survey revealed that over 50% of individuals find coaching to be a credible and effective return on their investment. So, while coaching may not be for everyone, I say anyone can benefit from self-development heightened communication skills, and finding alignment with oneself – one’s values – my journey through iPEC’s Coach Training Program proved to be priceless… I love my job, family, and my outlook on life because everything is in alignment. I am passionate in what I choose to do and coaching was my springboard in getting there. I loved it so much that I now own iPEC Canada. I really wanted to make this incredible program accessible to Canadians.

WWRI: What about becoming a coach? How about that?

JA: When you become a coach then you go through the certification process to become a masterful coach, following a certification program through an ICF accredited school is recommended. People follow a Coach Training Program for different reasons, some for personal growth, some to start a new career and others to bring the new skills and tools back into their organization.  You could just want it for yourself, you could want to bring it back to your own organization and be a different leader and interact differently with your employees, or you could just choose to coach.

Many people ask me about a career in coaching (either life, executive, or business coaching.) The first thing I say is, it’s great that you’re curious – the best coaches use their curiosity, intuition, and listening skills, day in and day out, to help move their clients forward. And, nine times of out ten, the people asking me this question are drawn to the profession because they truly want to make a difference in the lives of others.

If you want to become a coach, do your homework. Be sure that the coach training school is ICF-accredited, that is, it has passed strict rules and regulations set forth by the industry’s governing body, the International Coach Federation (ICF).  Again, take a look at your values and that of the coach training school. Ask yourself if they are aligned, and be sure to investigate the quality and experience of the trainers. I can tell you one of the things that sold me on choosing iPEC was their business development component. iPEC not only teaches a unique, inside-out approach to coaching, they incorporate business development and marketing tactics to help you become a successful entrepreneur…or womenpreneur, as I like to say!

WWRI: What is one weird thing about coaching that most people don’t know?

JA: Whatever a coach is hired for, whether it’s in corporate, in business, whatever field, it all ends up being about life coaching. You never know when those “ah ha” moments are going to come or where they might stem from. In order to get to the bottom line, whether you aspire to engage your employees or become a more authentic leader, coaching will get you there. It’s the journey, however, that is a weird, fun, zigzagging adventure and the rewards, in truly finding out about yourself – how you operate and what you want to improve upon, are simply endless.

WWRI: What about people who are scared to take the leap?

JA: To get a coach: I would ask what are they scared of finding?

People who want to become coaches: How much do you believe in yourself? We all have the capacity, it’s just about choosing if we want to or not. And some people choose not to.

Through my talk with Julie Anne I learned that becoming a coach, or getting a life coach is not for everyone, but that it could benefit anyone. It just depends on where you want to take your life and if you’re ready. If you’re ready, then take the leap today!

Hugging Complete Strangers: A Weekend of Life Coaching

I’d heard about life coaches before.

I’d previously pictured a strong, scary, yelling man on the sidelines of your life, telling you what plays to execute. Or a man in a windbreaker giving you some inspirational speech in a locker room.

So what is a life coach?

A life coach is kind of like a personal goal therapist. They help you achieve things in your life using weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one sessions. Less frequent sessions are possible, but are not ideal. If you have a goal you’re trying to reach, wouldn’t you want to focus on it at least once a week? Life coaches take an objective standpoint and are trained to ask the right questions to help lead you to your right path. They are not there to give advice or share opinions, they are there to coach you into making your own decisions, the decisions that are right for you and will help you reach your goals.

The idea of someone coaching you in your life was kind of a foreign idea to me, until I was tossed right into the thick of it when I attended Module One of The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching’s (iPEC) Coach Training Program.

Now, this isn’t the kind of thing I’d normally do. Initially the idea of spending three days (three weekend days) sitting in a chair and learning some inspirational and life changing ideas sounded a bit far fetched to me, not to mention uncomfortable.

On top of that, I’ve found myself to be a bit shy when put in a situation where I don’t know anyone. This sent my anxiety into overdrive.

That is, until I heard that Module One would only consist of 15-20 people. My walls began to come down when the opportunity to connect with others became more probable. Instead of picturing myself in a hotel’s grand ballroom, sitting among rows of other aspiring coaches, I pictured us in a small room, spending hour upon hour with each other, bonding over our shared experience.

So I went. Even though I knew almost nothing about life coaching, and I had no intention to become a life coach, I did know that I wanted to be a leader. I did know that this weekend would teach me things that would transfer over into other parts of my life. What I didn’t know was that it would help to make me a better person.

Day One: Learning About Life Coaching

I walked into Module One of iPEC’s Coach Training Course a bit scared and a bit wired after already drinking two coffees before we’d even reached 9am. I scanned the room for a place to sit and found a spot in the U-shape of chairs.

Outside of my comfort zone and immediately being asked to find a partner and share an interesting fact about myself sent my brain into overdrive. I forgot every thing I’d ever done. What a start to the day.

It was on the first day that I learned what life coaching truly was. Have you ever needed someone to help you solve a problem, but they were too busy getting stuck inside their own feelings to help you? Life coaches are there to help you find the solutions to your problems from a subjective point of view. They have amazing ways to help lead you to the answers that you need through asking the right questions and focusing on you, instead of themselves and how they feel about the situation. I was continually amazed how through being coached I was led to answers to my problems that I didn’t even know I had inside myself.

Some other things changed as the day went on. With each break in the day, with each new chance to congregate around the coffee cart, my walls began to come down, and so did everyone elses’.

Beyond that, I started to truly learn things, but I wouldn’t realize how much I’d learned until the next day.

Day Two: Losing My Victim Status

On the first day we learned about energy levels. There are seven and they all have their different pros and cons. Level One is the lowest, Level Seven is the highest. We may be operating at multiple energy levels at once, but they all have to do with our point of view and affect the way we lead our lives.

Level one is a level of victimization. Things are happening to you and there’s nothing you can do about it so you create an attitude of victimization in your life.

It wasn’t until I learned this that I realized how much I had victimized myself in my head. Even something as simple as being forced to walk a few blocks because the subway was under repair had been something that would have left me thinking “poor me.” Until I attended Module One.

The morning of Day Two I walked those extra blocks with a smile on my face. I grabbed a coffee and enjoyed the opportunity to take the city in and feel the sunshine on my face. I know this all sounds a little silly, but the point is that through the conference I was able to completely change my perspective. It was empowering.

Day Two was one of awareness. I was now aware of how I perceived the world, and how I could change it.

I was breaking down my barriers, and possibly also my joints. Sitting all day is not good for these runners’ knees!

Day Three: Hugging Strangers

What has struck me most was how much things can evolve over the course of three days.

In the beginning I felt shy, scared, and insecure. Others admitted their fears as well.

By the end we seemed more optimistic, more open, and more empowered. Instead of feeling a bit of panic each time we were told to find a partner, a new partner, I found myself excited to learn from someone new.

I know, it sounds like I drank some kind of Kool-Aid while I was there. The truth is that it was because I was open, and because I kept myself at a distance as well, that I got so much out of this. Not only did I allow myself to participate and get everything I could from the weekend, but I also tried to watch from a distance, which helped me see the full picture of what was happening.

The pinnacle of the weekend came down to the last minutes. Module One was over. No more sitting in chairs. No more group work. No more learning. We were free to go. But we didn’t. We congregated in the middle and each person began hugging each other.

This is so not me. I was hugging strangers here, but they weren’t really strangers. We had opened ourselves up to each other, experienced something challenging and uplifting together. In some ways they knew me in ways that my friends had never seen me.

The weekend truly changed the way I see things. I even began saying that everyone should take Module One of iPEC’s Coach Training Program, just so they can become better people.

Of course attending iPEC’s Coach Training Program isn’t for everyone, you may even be scared at the idea of it, but when you open yourself up to the possibilities, you never know where they may take you. I know that they took me from sitting scared in a chair, to standing up and hugging strangers.

From Stressed Out to Super Mom Entrepreneur: An Interview with Carolyn Dickson

Carolyn Dickinson is no run of the mill working mom.

She has two children, a thriving business, and she runs a yearly conference to help other women follow in her footsteps.

But she wasn’t always living a supermom life.

At one point Carolyn was dealing with a colicky baby, postpartum depression, and a career that she had to be put on hold as she dealt with a harder life post-birth than she could have ever imagined.

So how did she get where she is today?

1. She never gave up

Sure, Carolyn could have said “I’m exhausted, I’m dealing with so much. I’m just going to sleep and forget about work for a while.” But she wouldn’t let that happen. She knew that she wanted to work so she made it happen.

Carolyn researched for herself, used the contacts she had, and built up her business on her own. And she did all this with a baby strapped to her.

“Sometimes I actually put her in a pouch, I got running shoes for my house and I would walk for two hours and make phone calls and literally just walk her around the room and that’s how I would sometimes do my business,” she shared.

2. She used her resources to her advantage

When she first began working again after the birth of her daughter, Carolyn wanted to know “Who do I go to to say ‘what do I do?’ and ‘I need help.’” When she couldn’t find anyone to help her, she took it upon herself to find the answers.

“I’ve always done self-training. I’ve always gone to courses. I’ve always tried to better myself, learn more. I went back to some of the courses I had taken…and thought ‘let me pull some of the strategies and kind of change them up a little to work for me as a mom,’” said Carolyn

Not only that, but she leaned on those around her to help her to achieve her dreams as well.

“I had a great business partner at the time who would literally, no word of a lie, would come over and walk my baby in the pouch so I could make some calls and feel like I was getting stuff done. He would come over and support me so that we could do meetings at my house. Even if I had to leave and breastfeed, he would continue the meeting for me,” Carolyn said.

What a great man!

3. Her children are the CEOs of their own companies

“If I go to my daughters school event, I don’t bring my phone. If someone calls and says I couldn’t reach you, ‘Oh I was in the meeting with the CEO,’”she shared.

Carolyn continued to explain that “I look at my children and my husband now, and it took a while to get here, but they’re CEO of their own company and I would not, if I had a meeting with an IBM CEO and the CEO of Royal Bank calls me and says that he wants to meet with me, I’m not going to call the IBM CEO and say ‘Sorry I can’t meet with you, Royal Bank wants to meet with me.’ I’m gonna say ‘I’m really sorry, I’m booked at that time, but here is a bunch of other available times, can any of these work for you?’”

Instead of feeling the need to justify the important time that she needs to spend with her children, she makes them a priority and brings them up to the same level of importance as she would her work.

“I have to choose that when I am with my kids, everything else shuts off. They feel I’m 100% present with them when I’m with them. That’s more powerful than being around all the time and never being present… It’s not about spending a ton of time, it’s the quality of time,” Carolyn shared.

4. She always planned ahead “The night before I would try and take 20 minutes to a half hour and write down my list of things to do for the week and pick 5 things I could do each day.”

Planning. Kind of sounds like a joke when you have kids, but Carolyn planned to have distractions by getting things out of the way as soon as possible.

Carolyn said that “It was really about organizing my time, being efficient in the time that I did have, because you never know exactly when that was going to be, especially when you have a colic child.”

5. And of course she prioritized, because you can’t do it ALL

Carolyn always tried to make her to-do lists as realistic as possible and prioritized them in order of importance, “My top 3 being the money-makers, [I would] really get at them as soon as I had the opportunity, regardless of how tired I was. If I could get through that I could take a nap.”

Instead of thinking that she had to do everything, Carolyn understood that she needed to work,  be a mother, and keep her sanity, so she allowed herself time for all of those things, instead of burning herself out.

Besides becoming successful in her own rite, Carolyn chose to share her success with others. She has become the kind of person that she wished she had to look to during her time of struggle.

“I felt really alone when I needed that help and it was a horrible, horrible, horrible feeling and I didn’t want other women to have that. It doesn’t need to be that way. It doesn’t need to be this difficult. It doesn’t need to be that we don’t help each other,” she shared.

One way she’s done this is through her Super Mom Entrepreneur website, a site dedicated to helping women balance their business and home life. Thanks to Carolyn, no longer will women need to choose one or the other, or struggle on while trying to juggle both, now they can thrive in all areas of their life and they don’t have to do it alone.

Carolyn has also created a one day conference called I AM THE BOSS. It has three parts to the day. In the morning she has a talk show segment where she interviews other inspiring women in business. Part two has a keynote speaker, and part three provides training for the women. Her conference is now in it’s third year and has truly inspired and changed women’s lives, all in one day.

Carolyn is truly a super mom entrepreneur and thanks to her, you can be too!

Priceless Relationship Advice

Love is one of the most beautiful things that we get to experience in this world. It evolves, it ebbs, it flows, and it becomes a great part of our lives.

And what’s better than the beginning of a relationship?

Everything is fun, new, and exciting.

Of course, once we start to get serious, things change, or evolve, I should say.

Not everything is as sexy as it once was and what’s less sexy than money talk?

There comes an uncomfortable day when you’ll have to look your partner in the eye and really get naked. You’ll have to get down to the naked truth of your finances.

Will you be ashamed of what you have to bare? Or will you be disgusted at what your partner presents to you?

Sounds like it may be better to just avoid this topic of conversation as long as possible, right?


Money talk is not sexy. This is true. But it’s important.

Julie D. Andrews knows all about balance, she has devoted her life to writing about it, whether it be in health, finance, or just in life in general.

She shared some hard and fast rules for dealing with the somewhat sticky topic of money in love:

1. “You have to take responsibility here and awareness about your money situation.” The first person you need to worry about is yourself. Get your finances in order so that when the day comes that you need to share your financial situation with someone, not only will you be knowledgeable, but you’ll have nothing to hide.

People get in debt, yes, but you need to take control of that. It’s not on anyone else to take on that debt for you. Chip away at your debt and be very aware of it. If you do have debt when this talk comes around then you can at least share how far you’ve come and what your future action plan is.

2. “Money should never be off the table as a topic in your relationship” Why not start talking about it sooner rather than later? This way you don’t have to shock or be shocked later on.

Relationships are about openness and honesty. If you have bad finances, then share that with them from the start. Let them know that you have your own financial issues and that you plan on taking care of them yourself. On the flipside, if you are very financially responsible, then let them know that you carefully watch your finances.

3. Always be aware. Never put yourself in the dark. We all have different financial situations and you should do what you’re comfortable with, but what makes the most sense is always keeping yourself knowledgeable about what is going on with the money in your life.

Once you’ve merged bank accounts, if that is what you should choose to do, you should still always work to be aware of where your money is going. Women can end up feeling trapped because of a financial situation in their relationship. “I don’t wish that on any woman,” shares Julie.

On the flipside, it’s not your partner’s responsibility to take care of all of the financial issues in your relationship. “If you’re in a relationship don’t put the onus on the shoulders of your partner. Always be aware.”

Money talk can be uncomfortable and a downright turnoff but you should never hesitate to ask about money for a second. “It is absolutely your place to ask. You need to know so you can have a secure footing.” You’re a woman who runs it and if you can run a business then you can run your life too! Get to it Wonder Woman! Your Prince Charming awaits and he’s got your happily-ever-financially-secure-life waiting for you!


But Why Is All the Money Gone?

It happens to me every payday: I get my paycheck, pay my bills, maybe get some groceries, and continue on with my life. Days, maybe a week later, I look into my chequing account and it just doesn’t seem to be the way I left it.

The money’s all gone!

Now I’m left calculating how much I’m going to need to survive for the new week before I can start this cycle all over again.

Do you ever find this happening to you?

You know you don’t have a debit card hacker, but you just can’t seem to figure out how you spent all that money.

It’s usually after I check my statement that I see that I have spent a lot of money. A lunch or dinner out here, a new outfit there, a cab ride when I was too lazy to take the subway, and all of those little things that tend to eat up your paycheck. This isn’t such a big deal if you can make it like this week to week while still enjoying yourself, but what about your savings?

We tend to forget about planning for the future when we’re enjoying ourselves so much right now. Unfortunately, we probably have goals, like paying off a mortgage, or even retiring one day, but those seem so far off that we push them away and instead buy a new outfit because we “needed” it.

The worst part of it is that all these little things, that tend to add up, usually are so meaningless to us after a short while.

Follow these tips to stop your spending cycle:

  1. Take a good hard look at your paycheck and where it’s all going.

  1. Set up budgets and stick to them.

  2. Treat your paycheck like a big pie and divvy it up each month.  Leave money for those things you love but also leave money for savings.

  1. Make sure you divvy it up immediately.  Don’t hope that you’ll have enough left over for savings at the end.

  2. Keep yourself accountable. You want that new top? Save for it or don’t buy it. There are no in-betweens. What’s more important in the future is how you plan for it, not how you look when you get there.

With these tips you can finally have an organized and responsible life without having to spend another week stretching your cash with a dumbfounded look on your face. Take back control of your money and your life!