Summer Reading

Google “benefits of reading.” Pages and pages of results turn up with science-backed reasons why reading a REAL book can improve your mind, body and life.

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase intelligence
  • Boost brain power
  • Expand empathy
  • Improve sleep
  • Save money
  • Fight Alzheimer’s
  • Inspire children

On top of that, many articles report that many of the most successful people regularly dedicate time for reading books. It’s a daily habit that links together people like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk.

During the year, reading habits can get away from us, with busy schedules and shorter days. But that’s what makes the summer so incredible—whether you’re taking some time off or not, this season lets you take advantage of slower schedules, fewer emails (collage of out-of-office auto-responses, anyone?) and more daylight hours. Use that extra time to your benefit! Pick up a book for professional/personal development or simply an escape.

Here are a few on our summer reading list:

If you need a break from Trump politics and want to read about a woman who, nevertheless, persisted…

A Fighting Chance
by Elizabeth Warren

An unlikely political star tells the inspiring story of the two-decade journey that taught her how Washington really works―and really doesn’t.

As a child in small-town Oklahoma, Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher―an ambitious goal, given her family’s modest means. Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach, but fifteen years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. Then came the phone call that changed her life: could she come to Washington DC to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws? Thus began an impolite education into the bare-knuckled, often dysfunctional ways of Washington. In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class―and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America’s government can and must do better for working families.

If you’re looking for ways to find optimism in the darkest hour…

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

From Facebook’s COO and Wharton’s top-rated professor, the #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Lean In and Originals: a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.

After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build. Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity.

If you need to find ways to remove and recharge…

Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World

by Michael Harris

Governor General’s Award-winner Michael Harris explores the profound emotional and intellectual benefits of solitude, and how we may achieve it in our fast-paced world.

The capacity to be alone—properly alone—is one of life’s subtlest skills. Real solitude is a contented and productive state that garners tangible rewards: it allows us to reflect and recharge, improving our relationships with ourselves and, paradoxically, with others. Today, the zeitgeist embraces sharing like never before. Fueled by our dependence on online and social media, we have created an ecosystem of obsessive distraction that dangerously undervalues solitude. Many of us now lead lives of strangely crowded loneliness—we are ever-connected, but only shallowly so. Award-winning author Michael Harris examines why our experience of solitude has become so impoverished, and how we may grow to love it again in the frenzy of our digital landscape

If you like reading about real-life stories of true grit and triumph over circumstances…

The Glass Castle

by Jeanette Walls

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered. The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

Read the book before the movie, starring Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, premieres this August.

If you want to discover rich Canadian fiction about love and loss…


by Catherine Graham

Set in southern Ontario during the 1980’s, acclaimed poet Catherine Graham’s debut novel is layered like the open-pit mine for which it is named. Caitlin Maharg, an only child, lives in a house by a water-filled limestone quarry whose gothic presence is elemental to the story.

With loving parents and what appears to be an idyllic upbringing, much has been kept from her and she learns that her mother is dying. But there are things Caitlin knows in a wordless way, the way she knows every inch of the quarry. By the time she’s in her last year of university, her losses multiply. And when a series of family secrets emerges, Caitlin learns to rely on her inner strength. She gains the confidence she needs to confront her maternal grandmother and carry out her father’s last wish.

If you’re looking for professional development but in a shorter form…

Mentorship Fundamentals – Boost Your Career, Enhance Your Future

WXN and American Express Canada.

Mentorship can pave the way for personal growth and open doors for career opportunities. It’s beneficial for everyone, from the high-powered executive, who is looking to make a sustainable impact; to the junior sales person, who is fresh out of school and looking to make her mark. In a recent survey completed by WXN, 92% of women said they felt mentorship or sponsorship was critical to their career advancement. So how do you start? And how do you find a mentor that aligns with your professional goals?

To answer these questions and more, American Express Canada and WXN partnered to create “Mentorship Fundamentals,” a practical guide, showing how mentorship can pave the way for personal growth and tips on how to create and structure a successful relationship. We polled our members and surveyed our classrooms, interviewing top mentors and mentees. The results are clear: mentorship is important, and necessary for growth!

Women’s Executive Chief Calls For Diversity to be a Government Priority

Canadian experience shows that progress on diversity too slow, even with Government support

Annalise Murphy, Sharon Horgan, Marissa Carter, Lucy Gaffney, Carolan Lennon, Marguerite Sayers, Sharon Donnery and Iseult Ward named some of WXN’s ‘Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25’

Today, 25 of Ireland’s most influential and successful women will be acknowledged for their achievements by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN).

Winners on this list include: Olympian Annalise Murphy; CEO of Leicester City Football Club, Susan Whelan; International Screenwriter, Actress and Producer Sharon Horgan; Founder and Chief Executive of Cocoa Brown, Marissa Carter; Chairperson of Communicorp, Lucy Gaffney; Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Sharon Donnery; CEO of Beats Medical, Dr Ciara Clancy; and Co-Founder of FoodCloud, a not-for-profit social enterprise, Iseult Ward.

“Despite hosting Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25, recognising the success of women is just not enough to cause an increase in diverse representation at board levels in Irish business,” said Sherri Stevens, CEO, WXN.

“Our experience in Canada shows that even with a government-backed call for increased diversity on corporate boards, progress has been too slow.  Today, we’re still seeing representation rise by only 1-2% each year, leaving us nowhere near the national target of 30 per cent.”

She continued: “Ireland has no hope of improving its ratios without Government backing.  At present 12% of ISEQ board directors are women, with no available figures demonstrating LGBTQ, minority or disability representation.  20 of the 50 listed ISEQ companies have no female board representation.  That’s just not good enough and shows there is no real commitment to change at the highest levels of Irish business”.

“Ireland’s new Taoiseach must get behind the diversity cause and put Government resource and commitment into it,” Ms Stevens concluded.

For further media information please contact:

Catherine Logan /// 086 811 4785 ///

Laura Egan /// 086 081 7778///



WXN creates a list of Winners through research and the counsel of the WXN Advisory Board. Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25 Award Winners are in the following categories:

Business Leaders Award

This category recognises eleven women who hold the most senior positions in Ireland’s largest companies.

WXN creates a short list of Nominees through broad research, including research of the Top 40 companies by turnover and employee numbers as defined by the Irish Times Top 1000 companies of 2016.

  • Catherine Duffy, First Female Chair, A&L Goodbody
  • Louise Foody, Global Marketing Director, Kingspan
  • Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson, Communicorp
  • Aisling Hassell, Global Head of CX, Airbnb
  • Carolan Lennon, Managing Director, open eir
  • Catherine Moroney, Head of Business Banking, AIB
  • Dr Nuala Murphy, President, Icon Clinical Services, Icon plc
  • Dr Grainne Quinn, Chief Medical Officer & EVP, Perrigo Company
  • Marguerite Sayers, Managing Director, ESB Networks Ireland
  • Julie Sharp, Head of Group HR, Bank of Ireland
  • Susan Whelan, CEO, Leicester City Football Club 

Entrepreneurs Award

This category recognises three women who own and run some of Ireland’s largest independent companies. Nominees must actively manage the daily affairs and own at least 20% of the shares of the company if it is private or at least 5% of the shares of a publicly-traded company.

  • Marissa Carter, Founder, Cocoa Brown
  • Alison Cowzer, Co-Founder, East Coast Bakehouse
  • Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, Founder, Sugru 

Public Sector Leaders Award

This category recognises four women who hold senior positions and are making an impact on the public sector in Ireland and/or Europe.  Winners cannot currently be elected by the voting public and must be Irish but do not have to be based in Ireland.

  • Eileen Creedon, Chief State Solicitor (up to 18th June, 2017, who is now subsequently being sworn in as a High Court Judge)
  • Sharon Donnery, Deputy Governor (Central Banking), Central Bank of Ireland
  • Dee Forbes, Director General, RTE
  • Justice Siofra O’Leary, European Court of Human Rights

Trailblazers Award

This category recognises three women who have ignored boundaries and burst through barriers.  Each Winner is the first or only Irish woman to achieve such a notable accomplishment.   Winners may have furthered the cause of other women through their work, or they may have established a precedent for others to follow.

  • Danni Barry, Ireland’s only female Michelin-starred chef
  • Professor Lydia Lynch, Associate Professor, Trinity College Dublin; Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
  • Iseult Ward, Co-Founder, FoodCloud

Arts, Sport and Entertainment

This category recognises three women who have added to the recognition and reputation of Ireland through art, music, literature, broadcasting, journalism, film, the performing arts or sport.

  • Selina Cartmell, Director, The Gate Theatre
  • Sharon Horgan, International Screenwriter and Actress
  • Annalise Murphy, Olympian

Future Leaders

This category acknowledges Women under 30 years of age who have successfully started their own business. Nominees will be assessed on their company turnover and number of people employed, plus the scalability and future potential to grow.  Overall originality and innovation will also be considered.

  • Dr Ciara Clancy, CEO, Beats Medical


Winners are introduced to the Hall of Fame upon receiving their third Award.  This allows new future leaders to emerge in subsequent years, while still recognising and honouring the achievements of these great women.

  • Bronwyn Brophy VP, Early Technologies, Medtronic, EMEA
  • Sharon Buckley, Commercial Director, Musgrave
  • Caroline Keeling, CEO, Keelings
  • Rosaleen Burke, MSVP Quality, Boston Scientific Endoscopy, Urology and Pelvic Health, Global Sterilization and Distribution
  • Siobhan Talbot, CEO, Glanbia plc


The Women’s Executive Network (WXN) is an innovative networking, mentoring, professional and personal development organisation which informs, inspires, connects and recognises its global community of more than 22,000 women, men and their organizations.

WXN enables its partners and corporate members to become and to be recognised as employers of choice and leaders in the advancement of women. It hosts Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards and Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25 Awards.

Founded in 1997, in Canada, WXN became Canada’s leading organisation dedicated to the advancement and recognition of women in management, executive, professional and board roles.

In 2008, WXN launched in Ireland, followed by London, UK in 2015, creating an international community of female leaders.

WXN is a Founding Member of the Canadian Board Diversity Council, dedicated to increasing the diversity of Canada’s corporate boards.

About The Awards – Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25:

Every year the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) identifies and celebrates the outstanding work of 25 Irish women.  These are women who, by their success, encourage others to follow, be ambitious and to succeed.

To mark this year’s awards, WXN is hosting two events: A Leadership Summit which is an afternoon of professional learning for members of the network; and an Awards Dinner during which the winners receive their awards.  Together, more than 650 senior professionals will attend the two events.

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden with Alayne Metrick – President, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

Alayne Metrick – President, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

by Brian G. Bachand

MICHAEL’S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION President, Alayne Metrick, sees passion as a driver in professional success. A strong advocate for mentorship and celebrating team success, Alayne has been at the helm of hospital foundations for over three decades, leading successful campaigns through inspirational engagement. Reflecting on the industry talent gender shift and trends on the horizon, Boyden’s Brian G. Bachand sat down with Alayne to talk leadership, diversity, team drivers and advice to the next generation of leaders.

BOYDEN: As a leader in fundraising and corporate development, how has your alignment with mission-based organizations guided your career?

ALAYNE: You have to really believe in the mission and the good you are doing. You feel the sincere difference with every gift brought in and with every accomplishment that the institution achieves. People are in the hospital field because they want to save and change lives, and you feel part of that. It’s not like there is the organization and then there is you—it’s like we are one.

BOYDEN: How does that translate into your leadership style?

ALAYNE: I have two expressions I use: 1) how you do business really matters and 2) nobody has to give us time or money. You’re not in it for a transaction—you’re in it for a relationship. So creating an environment where people want to give you time actually determines how you do business.

BOYDEN: Your team is a collection of leadership, administration, and clinical leaders and practitioners yet you have had great success in campaign participation across all levels. How do you motivate and inspire?

ALAYNE: Acknowledging everyone’s part in a campaign’s success is important because no one person can do it alone. It’s about creating excitement and bringing people in. When you bring people into the strategy, they’re part of it and they understand the complexity. Everyone’s job is different, but we’re all fundraisers and it takes all of us to get the job done. As a leader, you are the number one cheerleader. It’s your job to think, give constructive criticism and motivate the team towards a successful outcome.

BOYDEN: What role does mentoring play?

ALAYNE: Everyone has their gifts. It gives you a great sense of pride to see where people go that you have mentored and worked with. For instance, an individual who worked with me for 17 years recently became the president of a foundation and she is doing a terrific job. I’m grateful that many of the people I have worked with are stellar and that’s what a team is about—they may have strengths that you don’t have and can give you advice. It’s a great sense of accomplishment to see people do the job well.

BOYDEN: What does diversity look like in the healthcare industry?

ALAYNE: What’s interesting now in our profession is that about 80% of the people are women. When I started, about 65% of people in the field were men. Today, we have more female leaders than men—these are all great things. But that is a creating another challenge—we are now not attracting men who are starting out in their career. I believe it’s because traditionally the salaries were lower unless you were in the top jobs and I think we need to balance that.

BOYDEN: Reflecting on your career, what has been the greatest change compared to when you started out?

ALAYNE: One is how competitive the marketplace has become in terms of talent. There is a whole lot more professionalism in the field as donor expectations have changed and the deliverables are different. People are jumping around from place to place more than ever and training has fallen to the wayside. There needs to be more of an emphasis on that.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

ALAYNE: Number one, you have to work hard. You have to be on it. It is your opportunity to go for it and you need to love what you do, but also have some balance in your life. Secondly, seek out people who are out there who can give you advice on how to get there. And, finally, realize it’s not going to be perfect.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.


About the author:

Brian G. Bachand, Partner is part of Boyden’s Toronto team. A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @BbachandG @BoydenCanada

What Speed Do You Operate On?

Recently, my husband and I made a trip to the local garden centre. We sought out the tree and plant guru there, Kevin. This garden expert started out showing us a selection of six possible trees. As soon as he finished his explanation on each tree, I said, “We’ll take this one and that one.” Kevin looked a bit surprised and asked if I was sure I didn’t want to think about each of the options more. I looked at my husband, who really didn’t care about what trees we picked, and I quickly knew what I wanted. “No, thanks.” Then we proceeded to the cash register to pay for the trees when I saw some annuals just outside the far door. I proceeded to actually run through the garden centre to quickly grab these flowers as I didn’t want to hold up Kevin and my husband, Jeff (or myself!).

Later, Jeff told me what Kevin had said to him when I went dashing through the garden centre: “I think she only has one speed!” And let me tell you, I don’t think the speed he was referring to was mindful. When I heard this, my ego took over. At first, I felt a sense of pride for acting so quickly and decisively, packing it all in a short amount of time. And then my ego swung to the other end of the spectrum as I felt crestfallen that all of this work I have been doing over the past few years around mindfulness seemed to disappear and I was back to my “old self,” moving at a super-charged speed through this world. I watched the scene of me running through the garden centre like a video in my mind.

Then I stopped and thought about what I tell my clients: mindfulness is a practice. It is not something I will ever do perfectly, but perhaps the imperfections of it make it perfect for me in each moment. And the fact I noticed was important. I share this with you because I want you to know that it is okay to fail. Failure is part of the journey. And yes, even I, the preacher and teacher of mindfulness, sometimes go flying through my day on autopilot until the awareness comes in. I was thankful to Kevin as he served as a messenger showing me I was starting to lose my way in that moment of how I want to live and be. I was cramming in too much and unnecessarily driving up my adrenaline and cortisol levels. When I was able to stop and see that, I could go back to choose moving and thinking with more focus and purpose. Life is a journey, not a destination.

Interested in working and living in a more mindful way to reduce your stress levels? Here are some exercises to try.

  1. Slow down. For 10 minutes each day, pick an exercise you’d normally do on autopilot such as driving or typing out emails, and slow it down to half time. Really focus on the physical sensations of touching the keyboard and the thoughts that go through your mind.
  2. Deep breathing. For three minutes, three times a day, close your eyes and practice deep breathing. Breathing in through your nose and out through your nose is the best way to calm down your nervous system. This is a great way to recharge your batteries at intervals throughout the day.
  3. Connect with others. Reach out to one person each day in a completely selfless way. This might be an email to check in with someone on a personal level. Or, it could be dropping off a takeout dinner gift certificate for a busy friend. When you give away love, you receive more back.
  4. Nurture your body. focus on taking care of your body Several times a week. This could be a yoga class, spa appointment or even just lying out on a lounge chair to relax. Put down the book for a while and just feel your body.

Blogger Carey-Ann Oestreicher, MBA, BA (Hons.), Chief Engagement Officer, Potential Unlimited

Recipient of a Top 40 Under Forty Business Achievement award, Carey-Ann Oestreicher, owner of the career development firm for women, Potential Unlimited (, holds a MBA and has worked in a variety of senior positions including vice-president level. Her focus is her family and helping women in business find true peace and happiness in their lives while achieving new heights in their careers.

Carey-Ann has been featured in a variety of media because of the success she has experienced with her holistic approach to developing women leaders and entrepreneurs. Her appearances include: CTV’s Canada AM, TSN, CBC News, Global Television, City TV News, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business magazine, The Toronto Star and The Canadian Press.

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden With Kyle J. Winters – CANFAR

Kyle J Winters – President & COO, Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research

by Brian G. Bachand

CANADIAN FOUNDATION FOR AIDS RESEARCH President & COO, Kyle J. Winters, is mission-driven, translating individual experience into inspirational, authentic strategy. Having spent three decades in some of Canada’s leading not-for-profit institutions as an institutional ambassador and leader in fund development, Kyle is now driving forward CANFAR’s mission raise awareness and fund research into all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS. Boyden’s Brian G. Bachand sat down with Kyle to talk leadership, team drivers and the value in amplifying individual voice.

BOYDEN: How has leading mission-based organizations influenced your leadership style?

KYLE: Every mission-based organization has 1,000+ stories behind it. There are 75,000 people right now in Canada who are living with HIV. I’ve spent time speaking to people who are affected by HIV and AIDS, who have lost loved ones, as well as researchers, funders and supporters. I’ve focused on understanding how the mission has affected individuals and capturing that to lead forward. My style is to listen more and be humble enough to understand that sometimes I don’t get it right the first time. We work as a team to ensure that we are able to communicate not as one singular voice but as a choir and that each of us has a perspective.

BOYDEN: You’ve spent nearly three decades in the NFP sector. What have you observed as changes and advancements towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

KYLE: Diversity used to be reflected in organizations by slapping on a rainbow sticker and thinking they’re covered. At times, it even meant diversity happened in June only [for Pride month]. Now, there is a calibre of institutions and organizations that realize diversity is an economic and societal driver by stating that different and disparate voices actually lead us to a better place.

BOYDEN: What can we do to help one another succeed towards true inclusion?

KYLE: It comes from caring that is true and honest. It cannot be “I care about diversity because I think everybody else cares.” Understanding that the potential influence of diverse perspectives can produce output is an intelligent perspective and position to take.

BOYDEN: How do you innovate and stay ahead of the game?

KYLE: It comes back to diversity. The three words that I love to hear are, “Have you considered?” I know then that there is going to be a fresh perspective that I haven’t considered yet. It takes an idea to a new level—innovative, advanced and enhanced societal inclusion. I rely on the input of my team and challenge them to ensure we’re ahead of the curve.

BOYDEN: How do you inspire and build trust within your team?

KYLE: One example is our weekly reflections. I’ll throw out a new idea and each person has the opportunity to reflect and contribute to the conversation. One week it might be to turn to someone else at the table and compliment them on something they do that makes the world a better place. Another week it will be brainstorm how we can solve a particular challenge by leaning on individual strengths.

BOYDEN: How much does diversity fit within CANFAR’s mission and leadership team?

KYLE: Every person on our team is expected to demonstrate leadership on a daily basis, so diversity here is very democratic. I can best describe it as an intersection of moving pieces represented by a robust blend of culture, thought, age, gender and sexual orientation. We support and elevate each other. For example, our entire team is marching in Pride Toronto. This is not due to sexual orientation—we’re marching together because we are part of the community and celebrate diversity.

BOYDEN: Any perspectives on how Canadian NFPs can innovate together?

KYLE: Organizations that share views and values have great potential to collaborate. The not-for-profit landscape in Canada could afford much more structure and formal collaboration. At CANFAR, we see ourselves as a piece of a puzzle and there are pieces out there that are complimentary. Collaborating would mean fewer pieces for that puzzle to come together and our donors would applaud that.

BOYDEN: How would you define the differentiators that have contributed to your success?

KYLE: Taking time to enjoy life. As a leader, I want others to understand that while I am rigorous about what I do and enjoy the good work accomplished, I also enjoy my life. I tend to laugh often and find joy at work.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

KYLE: Any time my work is acknowledged, I share that recognition with all those who contributed. There’s a team of people working with me, volunteers who support us and thousands of donors. So don’t keep the spotlight for yourself—recognizing all of the people who contribute to the success shows true leadership.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.


About the author:

Brian G. Bachand, Partner is part of Boyden’s Toronto team. A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @BbachandG @BoydenCanada