Susan Steffens

Susan Steffens: After Losing My Job, WNORTH Was a Game Changer

By | Blog, Interviews

Susan Steffens loved her job in the events industry. As she watched the pandemic unfolding and events canceling at a rapid rate, one thing was clear to her – the entire industry was going to take a harsh hit.

Early in spring of 2020 Susan unexpectedly lost her job that she was deeply devoted to. Losing your job is emotionally draining and devastating, but to go through it in the pandemic environment of heightened uncertainty adds additional stressors to the mix.

Susan’s story has a happy ending. Not only did she bounce back, but she also elevated her career, her leadership skills – all while finding a community of women that supported her through the difficult transition.

Susan is our inspiration – and so, we’ve decided to sit down with her to find out how she managed to make the shift over the past fifteen months.

Hi Susan! Tell us a bit more about who you are and what you do.

I am a Mom to two boys, I am a wife and I have a deep love for family, friends, music, and wine! I work in the live events industry as a Sales Director. I have worked in this industry for about 25 years – I can’t believe it, wow! My past position involved booking concerts, family shows, film, and trade shows into arenas, amphitheaters, and buildings.  I worked in the non-profit world for a few years as well, organizing fundraising events.

By far, the biggest professional challenge was being unexpectedly let go from a job that I loved and poured my heart and soul into.

I am now working back in the live events industry as it slowly ramps back up.

WNORTH Member Spotlight Susan Stefens events

What is your take on networking and building relationships through community memberships?

I have always loved networking in the business world. Connection means everything to me on so many levels.

This is actually only the second time I have been involved with a community membership.

I have found being a member in WNORTH has been so rewarding and inspiring to connect with like-minded people and generate ideas and have meaningful or poignant conversations.  

What is your experience with The Members’ Club at WNORTH?

An industry colleague told me about WNORTH a few years ago and she raved about the annual Whistler Conference.

During the pandemic, I was looking for connection and inspiration and it was important to me to connect with women specifically, so I decided to check out the first online conference (called Pivot). I found it inspiring, the speakers were so engaging and the range of topics was relatable and timely.  I was hooked!  I promptly signed up for an annual membership.

The advantages of the membership, especially during the pandemic and without a job, really helped me mentally by connecting with like-minded women. I felt like it was a safety net that provided me with inspiration and new ways to look at where I am on my path and how I want to define it going forward.  

Tell us a bit about the connections you’ve made inside of the membership - do any of them stand out?

The connections inside the membership have been fantastic.  Last winter, I was involved in the Leadership Mastermind Program with Deborah Stellingwerff as a facilitator.

We had such a wonderful group of talented, fun, honest, and supportive women, I was so excited for the weekly Zoom sessions and to explore where we were at individually and collectively.

Through these sessions, I decided I wanted to dig deeper and hired Deborah as a business and life coach and that has been a game-changer for me on both a personal and professional level over the last 6 months – I am truly grateful for the opportunity and connection!

What are some of the features of the membership that you enjoy the most?

Definitely, the Mastermind group is a wonderful and inspiring feature that I want to participate in again. 

Also, having the ability to go back into the WNORTH online library and experience some of the sessions that I am not able to attend in real-time is beneficial.  

I really appreciate the range of topics offered in the live sessions, I always leave them inspired. 

Plus, Heather, the CEO, is a gem; I love her energy, insights, perspectives, and her commitment to providing consistently timely and relevant topics, as well as incredibly talented and inspiring presenters.

If you could give advice to yourself 5 years ago, what would it be?

Be gentle on yourself, trust your instincts and get yourself out of the weeds so you can lift up the women coming up behind you.

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WNORTH Chapter Cities: Let’s Take Your Network to the Next Level

By | Blog, WNORTH News

​​As a professional woman looking to build your personal brand and make a name for yourself, we know that it’s hard to feel like you belong or have a place where you can grow your dreams and network.

Get together, network, and grow with your peers. That’s the premise behind our Chapter Cities – to help you connect with women in your area through intimate networking meetups that focus on key business and personal development topics. 

We’re excited to share what the WNORTH Chapter Cities are all about, the connections that are waiting for you, and how you can utilize them to your advantage.

Chapter Cities: How did it all come together

In 2014, Heather Odendaal, the Co-Founder and CEO at WNORTH, was working as a remote employee for a Fortune 500 company. She was the only remote employee on her team, making it challenging to grow and maintain her network.

Realizing the immense power of networking, she felt strongly about finding a group of like-minded women to connect with – both professionally and personally – but she couldn’t find one that fit and shared her values of women supporting women. And so, she decided to go ahead and create an organization that promotes women’s advancement to senior leadership positions – known as WNORTH.

Fast forward to 2021, WNORTH connects women virtually and in-person through high-level networking events and leadership development opportunities, including workshops, expert panels, and the WNORTH Conference.

WNORTH now extends its reach to 10 Chapter Cities worldwide – building strong communities of women in leadership.

Our Chapter Cities: A community of like-minded women in your area

Now more than ever, the need for connection and in-person networking is the priority of women in business and women entrepreneurs (let’s not forget women looking to re-enter the workforce after an extended leave). 

Our Chapter Cities are all about building a community through the power of networking. Each month, we host intimate networking events established to foster and develop your career and business connections.  

From finding a new mentor, sponsor, or a friend, WNORTH Member Meetups connect you with your next priceless networking connection. Here’s where you can find us:

  • Vancouver
  • Toronto
  • Seattle
  • London, UK
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Calgary (New)
  • Ottawa (New)
  • Kitchener-Waterloo (New)
  • Austin
wnorth member meetup vancouver networking event

City Directors: The unifying force of our Chapter Cities

Each Chapter City is led by a City Director that facilitates powerful networking experiences for women in your area. Each of our City Directors is an accomplished and brilliant woman with a passion for connecting driven and ambitious women in leadership. 

City Directors are at the heart of their local communities, assisting in creating opportunities for meaningful connections and conversations.

What kind of events can you expect in your Chapter City?

Member Meetups

Spend one hour each month networking with other professional women in your city! Led by our City Directors, Member Meetups connect like-minded women in our Chapter cities, support them to make new meaningful connections, and engage in inspiring discussions. Look forward to speed networking, group mentoring, and socializing.

In addition, our Member Meetups regularly feature speakers and special guests who share their expertise on relevant topics. The topics covered in the past include:

  • Why you’re not getting promoted and a blueprint to fix it
  • Developing a personal brand with impact
  • How to care for yourself so that you can care for others, 
  • And more… 

Connect Events and Specials

Connect in person with women who will support and encourage you on your journey. Some of the most popular Connect Events we organize include: Connect Over Cocktails, Connect Dinners, Holidays Specials, and more.

mastermind membership members at wnorth networking

Attending our next event and becoming a member of our community

Attending our Chapter City events is easy. Our Member Meetups are open for our Mastermind Members (free of charge). Members can claim their complimentary tickets using the links in this post on the Membership Portal. 

Not a Mastermind Member? You can join us, too! You can purchase Season Pass by selecting your Chapter City here, or sign up for membership (14-day trial included).

Find support from local professionals who want to help you succeed

If you’re looking to connect locally with other women, become inspired and productive during an eventful evening, and grow your network, then joining our next Chapter City event is the best step for you. 

This is YOUR chance to make a difference, build a community and align yourself with other professional women in a comfortable and supportive environment. 

Who knows where your new connections will take you? We can’t wait to help you find out.

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Amy Robichaud: Dressing Women for Success – And More

By | Blog

During this year’s Gender Equality Week, we took an opportunity to speak to women who have contributed to the growth, development, and identity of Canada & beyond; and to celebrate the significant achievements and accomplishments made in advancing gender equality.

The first powerhouse of gender equality we introduce to you is Amy Robichaud, the Executive Director of Dress for Success Vancouver & our valued Member of The Members’ Club at WNORTH.

Hi Amy, tell us about the work you do to help achieve greater gender equality in the world. What area of assistance are you most passionate about?

As the Executive Director of Dress for Success Vancouver, I lead a community of economic first responders helping women in need with gender intelligent pre-employment and job retention programs. This means that I spend my days (and sometimes evenings and weekends) working with others to empower women into the workforce – we lift as we rise.

We empower women into good jobs, financial independence, and personal success. This is critical work since a resilient and recovering economy must be inclusive of everyone.

This work is always ongoing and starts with trust. Our clients may come through our doors looking for a job or an interview outfit. However, they find that and so much more: a community and network of support and care that grows with them and because of them.

Amy Robichaud

What do you wish more people knew about the fight for gender equality?

I wish more people understood the economic impact of gender equality. 

In 2020 alone – in the midst of the pandemic – the collective economic value of the wages earned by Dress for Success Vancouver clients who found employment was $2.7 million.

What, in your opinion, should all employers do to positively impact gender equality within their organizations?

Run a gender analysis of your corporate benefits packages. Do your benefits cover all forms of contraception? Do they include flexible care options for families and leave options for caregivers? Is parental leave applicable to both parents? Do you have a loss of pregnancy leave for both parents? Do you have systems and care support for gender transition? Are your care days flexible for use and provided adequately? Have you asked your employees what benefits are most valuable to them?

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there isn’t any singular action to impact gender equality that is enough. We need systems and cultural change within our corporate and business communities and organizations. This will take time. This IS THE WORK. And it is worth it for us all.

amy robichaud

What do you enjoy the most about your mission and your work?

Working towards gender equality is a daily practice. I’m honored to do this work with Dress for Success Vancouver – we have an amazing and diverse staff, volunteer, and supporter family. A group of gender equality champions who lift as they rise. 

What I love most about this generous and ambitious community is that when you walk into a room with them, you simply cannot tell who a client, volunteer, or donor is – they are merely women surrounding each other with support and powerful opportunity.

None of us can do the work of achieving gender equality alone. My superpower is my community – all of you – my family – and the women and champions who keep going each day.

Connect with Amy & Explore Dress for Success

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About Dress for Success

Founded in 1997 in New York, Dress for Success is an organization dedicated to assisting the women in our community who need help to make ends meet. Its mission is to empower women into the workforce by providing professional attire, career services, and skills development programs. And they do just that – since the start of their organization, Dress for Success has helped more than a million women worldwide.  

Their work entails so much more than just a brand new outfit. What starts with appearance goes on to building womens’ confidence, defining what success means to them, and helping them tap into the knowledge that they have the full power to rebuild their life.

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Carrie Gallant Conversational Secrets

Just Published: Carrie Gallant & Conversation Secrets for Tomorrow’s Leaders

By | Blog

"If everything happens through conversations, then why not master it?"

Carrie Gallant is an executive leadership coach, a negotiation strategist, and our very own Mastermind Member at WNORTH. On top of leading The Gallant Leader™ Institute, she is also one of our Leadership Mastermind Facilitators, where she helps women leaders find more significant influence through impactful conversations. 

We sat down with Carrie to learn more about her newly published book Conversation Secrets for Tomorrow’s Leaders: 21 Obvious Secrets That Leaders Don’t Use Enough.

Together with Dr. Mindy L. Gewirtz and Steve Hamilton Clark, Carrie shares 21 “not so obvious” secrets to help tomorrow’s leaders embark on a journey of leading effective conversations – at work and at home.

Hi Carrie, congratulations on publishing your book! What made you choose the theme of conversations?

My co-authors and I have worked with numerous leaders throughout our careers – from emerging leaders to established CEOs. And, regardless of the client’s problem, it always comes down to how they’re managing their conversations.

In fact, research shows that more than 75% of work gets done through conversations. And yet, we find ourselves blocked in our conversations or afraid of having them. Because of that, we aren’t achieving the results we want. And so, we decided to bring awareness about conversational intelligence out in the world.

This book was written to empower leaders to build trust, spark innovation and bring people together. We wrote it for leaders who want to leverage the power of conversations into their leadership.

Carrie Gallant

What can we expect to learn from the advice shared in the book?

All of the 21 secrets illuminate the journey that a leader can go on as they develop throughout their career. The book is broken into three chapters – trust, connection, and collaboration. We see those as the fundamental parts of conversations. They leverage off of one another – we don’t get to collaborate effectively if we don’t build trust. And, there’s no trust if we’re not making connections with others.

To come up with genuinely innovative ideas, we need to feel safe to do so. Often, people have an addiction to “being right.” With that, we shut down others, and more so – we shut down ourselves. Trust in communication creates a safe environment to share yourself – to be innovative.

The 21 Conversation Secrets we share in our book aren’t rocket science – they’ve been around. That’s why we call them “Obvious Secrets’ – because people might know of them, but they aren’t using them enough. Their true secret is how powerful they are.

Tell us more about your journey to becoming the communicator that you are today.

I have a strong history in conflict resolution. I spent many years as a lawyer and mediator, bringing parties in conflict together. As a Leadership Coach, I’m certified in conversational intelligence and authentic leadership. I coach leaders to level up their careers by navigating their conversations, managing conflicts, and having effective conversations.

All three of us brought our unique points of view and experience into the book. All of our levels of expertise are layered on each other. I based my parts on what I have learned as a mediator and my conversational intelligence practice. 

My co-authors and I saw conversational secrets as a way to lead productive conversations – because if everything happens through conversation, then why not master it?

What's your advice on building powerful yet authentic conversational skills?

We learn how to communicate as children. Looking back, did I learn productive things while growing up? Absolutely. Did I learn unproductive things? Absolutely!

The key is to unlearn those unproductive things and replace them with effective ones. Personally, I learned a new way of communicating in law school – specifically an advisory communication style. Mediation exposed me to another form of communicating because all of a sudden, I was in the middle, trying to bring people together.

I always say to my clients that if you’re learning to be a better communicator in the work context, then use it in your personal life, too. The more you use it, the more natural it becomes. I am a big believer in bringing authentic leadership to the table. And the only way we can be authentic leaders is if we are the same person in all of our interactions.

Knowing your own system of values is a crucial factor of authenticity. If something bothers you, it’s likely because your values are being challenged. I encourage everyone to identify their top five values – and repeat this practice throughout their life. Authentic leadership starts by knowing yourself – and your values – well enough.

Which one of the 21 secrets is the closest to you and why?

The one that is particularly close to me is called “Yes, and..”, which is shared in the Collaboration Chapter.

“Yes, and…” comes from the improvisational theatre. It’s a powerful trust-building exercise where we accept the truth of the person we’re talking to and build upon that.

Think about what happens when you say, “Yes, but..” – what does the other person think? Human beings are wired to notice the negative. So, when we change the “but” to “and,” we look at ways to build something – and that’s when we get to start being creative.

When we bring this technique into the business world, we allow ourselves to show up as our best selves and cooperate with others.

Virtual Book Launch Conversation Secrets for Tomorrows leaders

Share with us more information about your Virtual Book Launch Party. Where, how, and what's to be expected?

I’ve just received the copy of the book, and it’s so exciting – it exists! Writing this book has been on my bucket list, and it’s a significant milestone for me.

I posted an unboxing video on our YouTube Channel, 21 Conversation Secrets – and it was a really fun way to share my excitement. In this YouTube Channel, we will be releasing insights into all Secrets over time, so keep it on your radar! 

I would love to invite everyone to our Book Launch Party: “Conversation Secrets for Tomorrow’s Leaders.” It’s a free event happening on Thursday, September 23, 2021, at 9 am PST and 12 pm EST. You can register on Eventbrite

Along with celebrating the book, we’ll also share people’s adaptations of these secrets – so that you can see how they’re used in practice. 

Those who join us at our Virtual Launch Party will get exclusive access to super-valuable bonuses that go together with the copy of the book – as well as a chance to win a signed copy! 

Where can we buy the book?

I’m pleased to say that all major publishers in the US, Canada, and beyond have picked up the book. The best way to get hold of the book, our Masterclass, and some freebies, is to visit our website 21conversationsecrets.com for more information.

If you’d like to leave a review in the future, visit our Amazon page and let us know how these secrets are showing up for you and how you’re working with them!

The last thing I’d love to share is that our book is not a long read – but it’s certainly a valuable one. One of the significant perks of the book is that you don’t have to read it all at once – you can always go back to the one secret you want to apply to your current situation. I’m confident to say that the book will be an invaluable ally to you as you’re managing conversations throughout your entire life. 

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WNORTH's "Just Published" with Fotini Iconomopoulos

deborah gillam spotlight

Deborah Gillam: It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.

By | Blog

Through our WNORTH Member Spotlight, we share unique insights and advice of our Members with you. 

Meet Deborah, an Entertainment Coach of 25+ years specialized in coaching professionals in the entertainment industry to move their careers forward. 

Since joining WNORTH in June, she’s become an incredibly insightful member of our community. As a warm welcome on board, we sat down with Deborah and asked her about her career and development – both professional and personal.

Hi Deborah! What brought you to our community, and how is WNORTH treating you so far?

I fully align with the mission statement: Elevating Women in the Leadership Pipeline. The slogan has caught my attention right away, along with the amazing networking opportunities.

The courses and workshops all provide a safe and productive space to grow and refresh your focus, leadership skills and build foundations to work things out with like-minded women that really encourage you to do well and help celebrate your achievements.

We’d love to know more about the work you do. How did you get into your field of work?

My work has many layers, but all seem to be related in one way or another. Over the past 35+ years, I’ve been extremely passionate about Career Coaching. I launched my career in the fashion industry, which sparked my interest in starting a Model & Talent Agency – I was only 19 at the time!

A few years later, I moved to Vancouver and started a Film/TV Extras Agency that built itself into the prosperous Principal Talent Agency that it is today.

I have built a reputation for helping people achieve their dreams and aspirations both in front and behind the camera. I retired as a Talent Agent at the age of 45.

Now, I’m working as a career coach within the entertainment industry.

Have you had any career setbacks that have made you stronger or wiser?

I don’t relate to the word “setback” – I call them “roadblocks”. Roadblocks are helpful because they redirect our attention and push us to adopt a different approach – an approach that usually allows more doors to open up. 

When you hit a roadblock, I strongly recommend you to join a Mastermind – a group of like-minded people who can help you overcome it. It works wonders.

What is your opinion on the future of work post-lockdown?

I believe that offering a hybrid approach, such as allowing people to choose the way they want to stay connected and receive services, is the best way forward. 

If it makes more sense for someone to work remotely, it should be accepted on all levels. After all, “lockdown” does not mean “shutdown” – the important thing is to remain connected. In the past year and a half, we’ve all learned how to use the tools we need to stay connected.

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women?

I am constantly inspired by other women. I have a strong support system and have always tried my best to be around positive people. People who not only encourage me to do well, but allow me to be of service to them when they need help.  

One particular woman who has inspired me is Nastasha Baron. She’s a successful film writer, and one of my clients. She’s always had a real passion to direct, write and produce. We teamed up in the late ’90s to produce film projects. I worked with Nastasha for many years and it was her passion and dedication towards her goals that really kept the fire lit in my career.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

l would advise women to be active listeners. Ask people to share their concerns by asking “What do I need to know?”.

Once you ask this question, listen with the intent of hearing them out – rather than planning on how to respond. Sometimes, people just need to be heard in order to figure things out.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

I’ve been fortunate to score many professional achievements along the way. But, to share one of the most meaningful achievements in my life, it’s the blessing of having a partner, best friend, and soulmate along my side for the past 30+ years. When going through any roadblocks, he has been there to help me grow stronger and wiser.

What is your motto or words you live by?

“It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.”

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Maria Decotiis interior designed in Vancouver posing in her office

Maria DeCotiis: Our Home Environment Plays an Essential Role in our Well-being

By | Blog

Through our WNORTH Members Spotlight, we share unique insights and advice of our brilliant Members with you. 

Meet Maria DeCotiis, the Owner and Principal Designer of Maria DeCotiis Interior Design, a full-service residential design firm based in Vancouver, BC. Through her work, she helps her clients elevate their “every day” through the beauty, clarity, and confidence that comes from a well-designed home.

Maria specializes in merging both modern and traditional styles to create a California-French aesthetic that blends the effortlessness of West Coast living with the sophistication of classic French design. 

Maria first joined WNORTH to expand her network before the Covid-19 pandemic. She soon realized that, aside from networking, there are so many other ways to utilize her membership.

“WNORTH is a platform where I can genuinely connect with other women that inspire me and encourage me to continue to grow as an individual and a business owner. I love most how comfortable I feel at the WNORTH events, both virtually and in person. I have always felt very welcomed and free to be my authentic self,” she shares.

We sat down with Maria to talk about her entrepreneurial journey, the challenges and opportunities presented to her throughout the pandemic, and the difference we can all make for women-led businesses.

Maria Decotiis interior designer based in Vancouver dressed in pink coat and white shirt working at her desk

Hi Maria! You've recently redesigned your brand and business strategy. Tell us why you decided to do that and what steps have you taken?

When Covid hit, I knew I needed to step things up. I needed to make changes so that my brand and business strategy supported my vision. 

I hired a business coach to help me get on the right course. With her help, I’ve grown my business and started to see that I’m on the right path. I want everything in my business to represent my purpose and values and showcase how important client experience is to me.

The first step was to fully define my brand. Through a series of questions and interviews, my business coach helped me define my brand and figure out what makes my company unique. My new website is under construction now. Thanks to the work I’ve done on my brand, I am confident that it will represent my brand voice and the message I want to send out to the world. 

My goal is that my clients have a wonderful experience from the moment they land on my website, during the design process, and all the way through the final reveal of their new home.

What advice would you give someone who wants to elevate their business?

I’d recommend everyone to hire professionals to provide you with guidance. It is challenging to assess your brand and narrow down your “why” without having someone with an outside view assisting.

I’m a true believer in hiring people that have the skills that I lack or I don’t enjoy. Investing in rebranding and reevaluating my purpose has been invaluable.

What were some of the challenges and opportunities that you faced during the pandemic?

At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt pretty scared. I struggled with the thought that interior design was not a necessity amidst the tragic events happening in the world. However, the more time we all spent isolated at home, the more evident it became that our homes are more than just four walls. 

Having a well-designed, inspiring, welcoming, and safe home is now even more critical than ever. Our home environment plays an essential role in our well-being. It should be our retreat and the place we choose to escape to – not escape from. 

I’ve experienced some silver linings during Covid, too. I have been able to reach out and connect with inspiring and empowering people thanks to virtual meetings and WNORTH.

Maria Decotiis interior designer based in Vancouver dressed in white blouse standing in a kitchen holding a mug in front of a table with cakes

What quotes, entrepreneurs, or women leaders have had a significant impact on you?

Oprah has undoubtedly had a great impact on me. I admire how authentic she is and how she is truly living her purpose. Many of her quotes have motivated me on my personal and entrepreneurial journey.

This quote, in particular, inspires me to continue along my path; “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.”

Also, I found this quote years ago, and it has been something I go back to and read many times to stay motivated. 

Do what you love
Any adaptation of it
Find it
Do it well
If you don’t know how to do it, learn
Know that it will rough you up a few times
Bring you to tears

Do it to your best ability
You’ll have no other choice
You will find there is no end 
No real one anyway
It’s a journey
A long one

But you will forever be changed
Once you give it a go.

And finally, how can we best support women-led businesses?

I am very fortunate to have become friends with other interior designers who run very successful design businesses. Not only do they inspire me, they also encourage me when there are challenges along the way. 

We can support women-led businesses by investing in them, referring them to our circle, or utilizing their services and purchasing the products they offer. 

Whenever I am outsourcing, I always try to hire women-led businesses because we all win when we support each other.

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Lotte Davis wearing a light dress speaking in a microphone

Goal Setting with Lotte Davis: The Key to Unshakeable Self-Confidence

By | Blog

Through our Woman-to-Woman series, we bring you interviews with accomplished women who share their key advice for women in leadership. Our first article of the series welcomes Lotte Davis, Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, who speaks about her advice on confidence building.

Born in South Africa, her family relocated to Canada when she was a child. Together with her husband, she co-founded a hair-care business AG Hair in 1989. Years later, her company was profitable, stable and her daughters were grown up. That’s when Lotte decided to follow her calling – fight against gender inequality. 

One day, Lotte attended a dinner party with a few friends. All of a sudden, she heard herself saying: “I want you to know that I am going to start building schools for girls in Africa, and I will work in gender equality.”

In 2008, without any prior charitable experience or contacts on the continent, Lotte founded One Girl Can. A Canadian and Kenyan registered charitable organization, One Girl Can is breaking the cycle of poverty and works to achieve gender equality through education and mentorship.

Lotte shares what role confidence plays in elevating the lives of young women, and her number one confidence-building tip for women in leadership.

Lotte davis wearing a white shirt standing next to a girl in blue shirt and a man in pink shirt pointing on object in the distance talks about self-confidence

Hi Lotte. What difference does building self-confidence make in young girls?

Lotte Davis: It’s all the difference in the world. Confidence is the foundation for success. In underdeveloped countries, girls don’t get asked what they want to be when they grow up. When we ask girls what they want to be, many can’t answer. They never looked into career opportunities, because it’s presumed that they’ll have multiple children and work as labourers. 

Our high-school workshops start with envisioning exercises. We ask girls to close their eyes and imagine their future conditions and environment. We ask them questions like: “What do you like doing? What do your loved ones say about you? What do you think you’ll be studying?”, or “How old will you be when you get married?”

The first round of workshops is called “Empower me,” the second is “I want to be,” and the third is “I will be.” The fourth year of high school is all about career development. We bring in successful business women who act as mentors and help girls navigate their career choices and craft a plan to get there.

Everything we do is based on goal setting. Goal setting is the only common denominator between a privileged white women leader from a peaceful, prosperous country and a girl living in extreme poverty in rural Africa. We can all move our lives forward by setting goals. If you start planning where you want to be in four years and then break it down into individual years, months and weeks, you begin to see progress. And, the progress gives you confidence. 

Goal setting has become highly successful with the girls – just as it does with women leaders. They realize that with vision, a goal, and a carefully constructed set of plans to get them to where they want to go, there is nothing they can’t do.

What's the best confidence building technique for women leaders?

Lotte Davis: Everything we do is based on goal setting. Goal setting is the only common denominator between a privileged white woman from a peaceful, prosperous country and a girl living in extreme poverty in rural Africa. 

We can all move our lives forward by setting goals. If you start planning where you want to be in four years and then break it down into individual years, months and weeks, you begin to see progress. And, the progress gives you confidence. 

Goal setting has become highly successful with the girls. They realize that with vision, a goal, and a carefully constructed set of plans to get them to where they want to go, there is nothing they can’t do.

How difficult does it come for girls to get started with building confidence?

Lotte Davis: Initially, it’s very hard. If a girl tells me that she wants to become a nuclear physicist, I go deeper and ask her, “Okay, how are you going to do it?” 

“I’ll work hard,” she answers. But, that’s not enough. I push her to go deeper by asking “What does it mean you’ll work hard? Can you break it down?”

Eventually, they start to understand that it is not about working hard. It’s about making specific goals to get where you want to go. And now, when girls are graduating, they come to me and say; “It’s the goal setting. That’s what makes the difference.”

Lotte Davis surrounded by Kenyan girls of her program One Girl Can teaching self-confidence to future women leaders

What advice would you give to women in leadership who want to become more confident in their careers and personal lives?

Lotte Davis: You need to put one foot in front of the other. It’s frightening to take the first step to launch a massive initiative or a new goal. But, if you break it into bite-sized pieces, you’ll be able to figure it all out – little by little.

The first step is to ask yourself; “What do you need to do tomorrow to get closer to your goal?” You’ll never get to the end result if that’s the only thing you’re focused on. 

Secondly, don’t take “no” for an answer. People might tell you that something can’t be done, and if you believe it can, then just keep going. Look for those answers, don’t stop when someone tells you it can’t be done. Generally speaking, it can.

And thirdly, act with conviction. I have never met a man who has as many doubts as a woman does. Men go after what they want without weighing up all the consequences and implications of potential failures. 

Go with what your instincts tell you to do – I learned this lesson a long time ago. You’re going to make mistakes along the way, but personally, I’ve never regretted anything I’ve tried. Failure is just a temporary roadblock, and you’ll find a way around it. There are so many roadblocks to becoming successful. Remember that there are so many ways around roadblocks, too. You need to go for it. Don’t overthink it too much.

Can you recall a time in your life when you struggled with self-confidence? How did you overcome it?

Lotte Davis: Like many other women, I suffered a lot with a lack of confidence in my life. But nothing has ever stopped me from moving forward. For me, the fear of failure is not nearly as great as the anxiety I get from not following up on my commitments. 

I am the type of person who has to get things done, and staying at home worrying about something is way worse than trying and failing. So, don’t fear failing – there’s no such thing. You need to keep moving on.

Lotte Davis wearing white dress and blue shirt hugging a smiling Kenyan girl future woman leader

What happens when you don't follow up on your promise?

Lotte Davis: I believe that my personal power is that I get things done. That’s what’s given me my confidence my whole life. And so, not following up on my promise has terrible consequences on my self-confidence.

I didn’t have much when I started, I come from a dysfunctional background. If I didn’t make the commitment to get things done, I’d never have been able to get where I am now. I wouldn’t have been as happy and confident as I am today. So, don’t be afraid to make commitments in front of people! I committed to making a difference for girls in Africa, and one day, I got on a plane to Kenya with a bunch of self-help books and I figured it out. Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as it seemed before I started.

If there's one thing you can do every day to become more confident, what would it be?

Lotte Davis: Goal setting. Every single day. Make lists, set goals, envision what you want to do, and start developing a plan. But, don’t spend too much time on crafting a perfect plan. The plan can be as simple as a to-do list for every day. And then, check your accomplishments off one by one until you get everything done on your list.

I guarantee you that you will get where you want. Once you realize the true power of everything that you can do, you’ll enter a stage of unshakeable confidence.

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5 Virtual Networking Tips for Working Mothers

By | Blog, Media

As mothers, we have been forced to make some tough decisions over this last year. Many of us had to unexpectedly add full-time teachers to our resumes, and/or had our daycare and caretaker services taken away, and even put our careers on hold. The pandemic completely abolished in-person events, mommy meet-ups, networking drinks, coffee dates, and more that acted as crucial support systems.

Read the full article on WellDefined.