Life is a Team Sport

To be honest, I was surprised, and completely honoured to hear I was nominated and selected as a WXN Top 100 Winner for 2018.

It seems that life is always so busy with work, volunteer and family commitments. It’s rare to actually have the time to sit down and think about where you started, what you’ve done, and how far you’ve come.

To me, this achievement is both rewarding and significant. It is a privilege to be in the company of such fantastic, accomplished Canadian women. Each of us has taken our own unique path to get where we are today. Now, here in 2018, one hundred different life paths converge to celebrate this special achievement together. How cool is that?

While I know I have worked many hours, months and years to get where I am today, I am also acutely aware that nobody (no man or woman) achieves success completely on their own. Life is a team sport. I have had so many great mentors, colleagues, family and friends who have cheered me on, taken down barriers, and offered help and support throughout my journey.

While I still feel I have so much more to give, I also recognize there are many youth following behind me that have great potential, who also require support and encouragement along the way. As a proud mother of two teenagers, both a son and daughter, I want to be a positive role model for them, and encourage them to be the best they can be. Ultimately, their challenge will be to apply their gifts and talents towards making their families, businesses, communities, and world a better place. As a bonus, if they can get paid to do that work, what an unbelievable calling and blessing!

I feel I am just starting to bring all of my experience, skills and talents to bear in order to make a significant impact. When a disaster hits, usually those most vulnerable are those most impacted. This doesn’t have to happen. There are resources, best practices, and solutions that can help. After all these years, I now know that my inherent passion is to help individuals, businesses and communities become more disaster-resilient. There is still so much more work to do in this regard. It’s also one of the things that continue to motivate me every day. I am actually looking forward to taking on even bigger challenges and seizing even greater opportunities in the future.

Finally, I am both curious and excited to think about the many men, women and children I still need to meet along my life path. My hope is that through our mutual convergence, we will all be able to leave this world a better place than when we arrived.

Leann Hackman-Carty, Principal for HackmanCarty & Associates, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the CIBC Trailblazers & Trensetters category for 2018. She has been recognized as a woman who has made a major impact in her field, in turn making a great contribution to Canadian society.

Do you know a female trailblazer who deserves to be recognized for her contribution to Canadian society? Are you a trendsetter that’s made an impact on Canada? Click here to nominate today! It’s free! Deadline to nominate is June 17.

Looking for more information about Top 100? Visit our website to learn all about the awards!


About Leann:

Leann Hackman-Carty is Principal for Hackman-Carty & Associates.

Hackman-Carty, Leann portrait

2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters

For almost thirty years Leann has lead public, private and non-profit organizations through eras of change to new levels of growth and stability. Her specialties are community economic development, business and economic recovery and entrepreneurship. She served as the Mayor of Calgary’s Executive Assistant, Community & Economic Development for over a decade; was VP of Calgary’s economic development group; managed several political election campaigns; provided business development services to the States of Mississippi and Georgia; provided leadership for the Organization of Women in International Trade; offered innovative community business and economic recovery services; hosted numerous high level international trade delegations; built peer advisory boards for women entrepreneurs; and initiated greater working relationships with provincial and international economic development groups. Since 2009, she has provided CEO consulting services to Economic Developers Alberta which is Alberta’s economic development network. Its 300+ members are involved in economic development activities including industry cluster development, tech-led economic development, business retention, expansion, and attraction, workforce development and business and economic recovery. Leann has a BA (Political Science/Sociology), BSW (Community Development), Professional Management Certificate (Marketing) and a Certificate in Economic Development.

Key Accomplishments:

  • In December 2017, Leann released her Master Your Disaster series of readiness, response and recovery guides for families, business and communities which are now available on com both in print, and in Kindle format, audio and Spanish.
  • Completed an Economic Disaster Recovery Project with 10 Alberta communities and Treaty 7 Community Futures (Siksika/Stoney); in partnership with BCEDA and IEDC, The Government of Alberta (Innovation & Advanced Education), Shell, RBC Foundation, the Canadian Red Cross and the US Consulate in Calgary. As part of this project, Leann spearheaded the production of a community toolkit to help them prepare and respond to future economic disruptions.
  • Worked with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on their business and economic recovery efforts, including setting up and running the Wood Buffalo Business Recovery Hotline; validating businesses for Red Cross emergency relief; and leading a 10- member economic development team to complete an economic recovery assessment.
  • Worked with the International Economic Development Council to bring their community resiliency training to bring their community resiliency training to Canada.
  • Established a partnership with the University of Calgary, Continuing Education to launch and develop a Professional Management Certificate with a specialization in Economic Development.
  • Developed strategic plans and annual work plans for various non-profit, and quasi-government organizations.
  • Organized ten very successful annual community economic development conferences, including significant outreach to elected officials. This brings together approximately 400+ attendees, 50 speakers, 5 concurrent streams, 15 sponsors.
  • Spearheaded the “Canadianized” version of IEDC’s Recovery and Resiliency Roadmap: A Toolkit for Economic Preparedness which helps communities prepare for and recover from economic disruptions, whether natural or manmade. Updated the Community Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency (2017 Canadian Version) with new links, content and case studies.
  • Lead the development of a strategic business plan for a U.S.-based, women’s non-profit with global membership.
  • Crafted a community economic development strategy that provided the framework for future promotional activities, including a major regional cluster development initiative.
  • Completed comprehensive research into federal, provincial and municipal programs and services related to trade and investment
    Organized several focus groups and community forum to obtain input on specific projects and topics.
  • Organized a US-Canada, “Save Our Kids” forum and youth rally to bring attention to the growing issue of designer and prescription drug abuse in youth.
  • Conceptualized and implemented a CIDA-funded project in partnership with the Trade Facilitation Office of Canada, OWIT, and the APEC Women Leaders Network to bring 15 women delegates from CIDA-priority countries to participate in a Miami conference.

Business Can Also Be About Caring

Recently, some shocking news was trending on Twitter and other media outlets. One article on the subject, from Maclean’s read: “If they were to live on the average worker’s pay, Canada’s CEOs could stop working at around 11 a.m. on January 2 and take the rest of the year off. That’s because by 10:57 a.m. on the second day of the year, their earnings will have already hit $49,738, the equivalent of the country’s average wage, according to research by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPPA).”

To me, this is outrageous. I am a CEO too, and I know how much time, effort and energy growing my business consumes. I deserve to get paid well for my leadership and decision-making. However, while winning is an integral part of any definition of success, I cannot imagine how I could ever justify creating such a gigantic disparity between what I earn and what I pay my team. To me, the team is integral to my business’s success. If I win, then my team wins. If my team wins, then my clients win. When my clients win, then the entire business ecosystem wins.

I strive to create a supportive environment with my team, and I have found that we win more often when I place an emphasis on personal happiness.

Happy teams can achieve productivity increases of up to 20%, according to Daniel Sgroi of the Social Market Foundation, who authored a 2015 study which looked at the relationship between happiness and productivity. The researchers chose workers at random and provided materials that would make them feel happy, including comedy videos, drinks and snacks.

Many people assume that businesses are focused on profit at all costs, including the cost of workers’ well-being. But I’d like to suggest that you can build a business, make it successful and also care about your team’s happiness.

When we all win, we become happier. That happiness leads to a nurturing environment that encourages productivity. It’s the opposite of a vicious cycle: it’s a positive cycle!

Nourishing Your Team in a Business Environment

“The more you nourish employees, the more a business flourishes,” says Lord Mark Price, former Trade Minister in the UK Conservative government.

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of the yogurt company Chobani, believes that nurturing employees is the best way to create a positive work environment. Ulukaya, the Yogurt King, grew up in the mountains of Turkey, but sought a different life. He moved to New York and eventually used his experience to create the Greek-style yogurt brand Chobani. Founded in 2005, Chobani currently holds a 20% share of the U.S. yogurt market.

Every year, each employee receives a turkey and a bucket of feta cheese during the holiday season. In 2016, Ulukaya gave 10% of his company to his employees in the form of shares. For some long-term workers, that was a million-dollar gift.

“Now they’ll be working to build the company even more and building their future at the same time,” he said in 2016 in an interview with the New York Times.

For those who believe business is only profit-oriented, the idea of gifting that much of a self-built company might sound like a recipe for disaster. Ulukaya believes the opposite is true. He has built his highly successful brand by encouraging employee ownership. It is a process every business owner can follow.

Why Employee Ownership Creates a Winning Scenario

When employees feel engaged in the success of the organization they work for, their sense of ownership creates a collaborative environment which offers robust levels of productivity. It is evidence that business isn’t an individual game, but a team sport. We all win.

Many organizations use an ESOP, or an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, to create a team environment. For startups or SMBs, introducing an ESOP may not be the best solution. It might not even be possible. But there are still effective ways to encourage employees to take pride in their company.

  • Provide regular feedback that encourages worker skill growth.
  • Be willing to listen when workers are struggling with a personal or professional issue.
  • Offer public rewards for excellent work, even if it is only a “thank you.”
  • Look for ways to expand the role of top producers within the organization, since a promotion or a raise can be an excellent motivational tool.

I may not be able to offer a million-dollar ESOP to my team, but I can nurture them by encouraging an environment where we can all be proud of our work. When that pride is present, a winning attitude often follows.

That is how business can—and, I would argue, should—also be about caring. By nourishing others, we feed ourselves.


Karima-Catherine Goundiam is the founder and managing director of Red Dot Digital, which she launched in 2014 with the aim of bringing greater efficiency and diversity to the world of digital and social media. She brings 16 years of international integrated marketing, campaign and project management experience to the firm. Before Red Dot, she managed digital and social media for Deloitte Canada and directed social media for Ford.

Karima-Catherine has mentored executives at every level on digital transformation, from digital strategy to social media. With over 49,000 followers on Twitter and many more across social media platforms, she writes articles on LinkedIn Pulse and the Women’s Executive Network, an international organization and community advancing the conditions of professional and executive women.

Red Dot Digital helps its clients boost their sales and achieve their business objectives in today’s digital world with solid digital and social media strategies. Globally-minded and cost-efficient, RDD works across multiple time zones, setting themselves apart byproviding real, measurable results.

@KarimaCatherine on Twitter