Inspiring Women of Kitchener Waterloo, 2015

September 25, 2015 -
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Melanie and I attended the ninth annual Inspiring Women Event at Bingemans Conference Centre located in Kitchener on September 24, 2015. The event was hosted in recognition of and support for women in business, entrepreneurial and corporate leadership roles. The words learn, grow and flourish, were mentioned many times during the day, allowing for them to remain on my mind as I attempted to integrate them into my daily routine over the following few weeks.

Over 500 women mingled during breaks from speakers and sessions throughout the day over a variety beautifully arranged snacks and beverages - making the event success for yet another year. The Dress for Success Drive was also hosted, with attendees being generous by bringing in working apparel, footwear, purses and accessories to pass on to less fortunate women. 

We were fortunate to have four wonderful Canadian women present as keynote speakers, sharing stories and messages of success:  Lisa Lisson, Kristine Barnett, Dr. Samantha Nutt and Dr. Karyn Gordon.

Aside from the inspiring speakers, the room was full of successful, strong and busy savvy women from all sorts of different career and personal paths.

Kristine Barnett, Author of Spark

“Go out into the world and forget about the walls built.” Kristine Barnett, Author of Spark 

As the mother of Jacob Barnett, an autistic child, Kristine shares her story of how overwhelming things happen and how the power of hope can help us to overcome them as “love sticks, hope grows”. Her son was diagnosed with autism at age two and doctors had said he would never walk or talk. Kristine held onto hope and belief for her son Jacob, who is now 17 studying at the Perimeter Scholars International Institute. Kristine mentioned many times that "the way we treat other people in the world sticks", and that all of us are born perfect, “when you believe in this anything is possible”.

Kristine expressed that each of us need to take something we have learned during a bad place in our lives and give it back to someone else. Our challenge is to turn pain into empathy and help others in this world, as "sometimes through our hurt we can attempt to heal others." We need to remember we won’t always receive immediate results, yet it is inspiring women who learn who is around them and seek to lead them, "with hope we can overcome anything."
Kristine stated that “We live in a world where things get taken from us, society takes away freedoms from us -  you go through experiences and they give you the ability.” 

Dr. Karen Gorden, CEO & Founder of dk Leadership 

Dr. Karen Gordon’s high energy and colourful clothing encouraged and inspired us for ‘the art of engagement’. Dr. Karen Gordon encouraged us to focus on what you want to do - we all need to walk with a healthy attitude so that we can project positivity on others. Repeatedly, Dr. Karen Gordon stated that all confidence is is an attitude and that how we feel about ourselves impacts our behaviour in relation to ourselves and in regards to others.

Three Step Process to Change Thinking 

  1. STOP blaming: take responsibility, cannot control market but can control your effort
  2. SET goals: everyone has purpose figure it out, be realistic and strive for excellence
  3. SEEK people/resources: women are a village so surround yourself with inspiration
"Perfection detriments any type of performance." Dr. Karen Gordon, CEO & Founder of dk Leadership 


Dr. Gordon states that when we learn to change our thinking, it impacts how we feel and one should keep their thoughts positive as toxic thoughts are poisonous.  We must remember that nobody can move someone else, we are only responsible for ourselves and our only responsibility to others is to love, affirm and encourage.

Tips for Finding ‘Authentic You’

  • Mirror - understand what’s happening, toxic thoughts impact behaviour, hardest part
  • Challenge - if you wouldn’t share or tell your best friend toxic thoughts don’t tell them to yourself, listen away from and outside of self, can’t erase thoughts so must learn how to replace them
  • Adoption - come up with different thoughts, new thoughts become your own
As a suggestion for always conducting yourself your best, Dr. Karen Gordon suggests you make list of things you can control in the circumstance, and access resources that are available. 

Lisa Lisson, President of FedEx Canada

Lisa Lisson is the first Canadian, as well as the first female President of FedEx. She acknowledges that women and men have different traits and for women to overcome these barriers in the workplace they must leverage their own personal double blind (being a woman in the workplace while maintaining family at home), men don’t have to think about this

Lisa Lisson tells us to train your mind to live in the moment and dare to be the difference. She reminds us to focus on distinction but not to get caught up on the path and that listening more than we speak is important as we might miss out on valuable information if we are always talking. One must be aware of the shadow they’re casting - our thoughts are powerful, so we must keep them positive and attempt to find a life lesson in darker times. Making reference to “trying to stay up but being aware of down” (mood elevator).
“Don't waste time and energy on things you cannot control and give yourself permission to breath.” Lisa Lisson, President of FedEx Canada 

11 tactics

  • write down goals and dreams
  • mentors are  source of power
  • be consistent
  • be aware of shadow casting
  • choose good thoughts
  • focus on things you can control and influence
  • white calendar time
  • be here now
  • confidently dress your career
  • prioritize yourself
  • surround yourself with inspiration
The tip, is to learn your life lesson and continue to press on, surrounding yourself with inspiration be sure to give yourself permission to breathe.

Dr. Samantha Nutt, Founder and Executive Director of War Child Canada 

Dr. Samantha Nutt, one of Canada’s leading activists, spoke of western privileges and her international humane organization, War Child. She stated how she is “hopelessly unwilling to settle” and shared that as long as we are prepared to challenge and pay attention to the silences we can make change. Speaking on her first hand experiences and witnessing of conflict in countries in crisis, Dr. Nutt lets us know what starts, sustains and can be done on by others on their behalf to decrease the severity of the situation.

"After turning 40, permissions are something we grant not seek." Dr. Samantha Nutt, Founder & Executive Director of War Child Canada
She encourages us to find out our ‘why’ is as we rarely stop to reflect upon what drives u. She also suggests that when we are feeling stuck, to try a different approach - be flexible and adaptable and to push through and away from cynicism.

Dr. Samantha Nutt also stated that feminism is a process not a history lesson, and though the road ahead may be difficult, it is not impossible. We must ignore the blowhards (as often we allow ourselves to be judged by others). She states “If you get up every day and handle the fire, that’s a good day.”

"If no-one is listening, don’t shout change the message." Dr. Samantha, Founder and Executive Director of War Child Canada


Sociology studies immersed Nicole in the study of human social relationships and institutions.   An understanding of how human action and consciousness shape our surrounding social and cultural structures has provided unique insights into the digital media space.  There has been a paradigm shift in technology and its impact on society, as the use of digital engagement and technology use has transformed this landscape.  Nicole has taken a keen interest in understanding digital engagement and social media, and in particular, the impact of this digital ecosystem for clients, customers, consumers, partners, and key stakeholders. After graduating from Conestoga College with an Office Administration diploma, Nicole decided to further her postsecondary education in Sociology at York University.  Marketing work experience, followed in client services, supporting promotional initiatives and creative campaigns for Nissan, Infiniti and Expedia. Nicole Reilly is as energetic as she is efficient, and has a passion for people. As a 'shindig specialist' Nicole enjoys good company, conversation and food.  During her downtime she likes to read and write or get creative in the kitchen.
Written on September 25, 2015 by
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