Power. Is it your physical strength, the amount of money you have or your title within your organization? Or is it the way you give unselfishly, meet adversity with bravery and stand up for others?
“Our mission and challenge to you today is redefining what power means to you,” said Sherri Stevens, Owner and CEO of WXN and CBDC. It’s a call-to-action she shared with all of us during this year’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards Summit and Gala at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Nov. 21, 2019.
And to help us all on that mission (should you choose to accept it): our Top 100 Winners, who shared their stories and knowledge with a crowd of over 1,200 women and allies.
So what can we do in our daily lives to be powerful and make that mission a reality? Here are six lessons from our speakers and winners.
Learn it, earn it and return it
Success doesn’t happen in a silo. When one person succeeds, we all succeed, said Rola Dagher, president of Cisco Canada and 2019 Top 100 award winner. Hence her philosophy of “Learn it, earn it and return it” – no matter where you are in your career, if you’ve been blessed with an opportunity, use it to support and uplift those around (and those who follow in your footsteps).
at the @WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada Leadership Summit.
— Melissa Kargiannakis (@melkargi) November 21, 2019
Quit that stinkin’ thinkin’
People fear what they don’t understand, said Victoria LaBillois, a Mi’gmaq entrepreneur, president of Wejuseg Construction, owner of Wejipeg Excavation, mentor for Indigenous women and 2019 Top 100 award winner. That’s why we have to do everything we can to create opportunities for other people, be bold and step into our power.
Advice for women
”Step into your calling!
When you walk into a room, own that room!
When You walk up to a podium, own that podium!
Be bold, be courageous
Be humble and never forget where you came from”#VictoriaLaBilois
@WXN #cmpwtop100 #powerfullyempowered pic.twitter.com/7Li5O1g1gE
— Chioma I-O (@Chiomaio) November 21, 2019
Know who you’re fighting for
It’s a basic truth of life, said Melissa Grelo, co-host of CTV’s The Social and 2019 Top 100 award winner: we can’t know what we’re fighting for if we don’t know who we’re fighting for. Those of us who have privilege must understand that many of our sisters start their fight from a different level. How do we fix that? Stand next to them, but never in front of them. Help make their voices heard.
So moved by the incredible keynote @WXN’s leadership summit given by @melissagrelo – thank you for having the courage & vulnerability share your story. I am so inspired by how you’ve leveraged your voice to amplify those of marginalized communities. #powerfullyempowered pic.twitter.com/dkohyDISXr
— Jessica Lui (@luijessica) November 21, 2019
Leave the armour behind
“Can you think of a situation where you’ve seen a leader step out with courage and vulnerability?” asked Jenn Lofgren, founder and executive coach at Incito Executive and Leadership Development and 2019 Top 100 award winner. It starts with understanding what it really means to be vulnerable and accepting (even embracing) that things are going to be uncomfortable sometimes. Now that’s courage.
Do you know @BreneBrown ‘s 6 myth of vulnerability and how many you believe? Great workshop and dialogue this morning on how vulnerability is actually courage @WXN @RBC #powerfullyempowered #Top100 #speakupforinclusion pic.twitter.com/cq0sAQ5N3L
— Sarah D (@MissJacobs) November 21, 2019
Break the silence
Samra Zafar, author of A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose and 2019 Top 100 award winner, knows what it’s like to be silent. Married as a teenager to a much older man, abused throughout her marriage and denied access to the education she desperately wanted, Zafar was not alone – there are millions living the life she used to know. That’s why it’s up to us to break the silence for those silences that are yet to be broken.
Final keynote @iamsamrazafar – how she kept hope alive on her journey from teenage bride to human rights activist. “My story wasn’t just mine, it was the story of millions of women around the world” – wanted to break the silence for all of them. #powerfullyempowered #Top100 @WXN pic.twitter.com/j3VLvwlSmN
— Dr Allison Sekuler 🧠 (@asek47) November 21, 2019
Think seven generations ahead
Mohawk wisdom teaches us that, in the decisions we make today, we must not focus on the impact to our own grandchildren but rather on our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren – the seventh generation to come. That philosophy fuels WXN Hall of Fame alumni Roberta Jamieson’s goal of making sure every Indigenous youth graduates school through her organization, Indspire.
In 2014, I received my first @Indspire bursary. In 2017, I graduated and started my PhD. In 2019, I sit at the @WXN gala as a #cmpwtop100 listening to THE @RobertaIndspire. Her North Star: every Indigenous youth graduates in one generation. I am one of many. Let’s do this. pic.twitter.com/iuUZCQogdi
— Taylor Morriseau (@TaylorMorriseau) November 22, 2019
Congratulations again to all of our winners, past, present and future – and thank you for sharing your wisdom!
— April Howe, EMBA (@AprilHowe) November 22, 2019