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Get to Know: Carol Borghesi

With a career that’s spanned 30+ years and taken her around the globe, to say that Carol Borghesi has learned a lesson or two along the way, about both work and life, is an understatement.

Navigating changing standards, shifting expectations and different cultures, Carol did the only things she knew how to do: challenged convention, took on change without fear, and made it work. In doing so she found great professional success and, unexpectedly, found her way home to herself.

We can’t wait to welcome Carol to the stage as our second guest speaker of the 2018/2019 Women of Whistler season for her presentation on The Personal is Professional.

To give you a taste of what’s to come, we chatted with Carol to get some insight into her experience, and what to expect from of her talk on Tuesday, November 27.

In your bio it says that you’ve moved through moments of “getting it right and getting it spectacularly wrong.” Which do you think have been more powerful?
That’s a toss up. I was and continue to be motivated by positive outcomes. Yet I wasn’t always as open to learning as I was in my younger years. It was later in my career when I had to learn the hard way, thanks to the curse of knowledge. The curse of knowledge is the limiting assumption that you’re usually right when you’re a so-called expert - even if its only in your mind. I made mistakes - some willfully as I thought being right was more important than having people with me. Being knocked back really taught me the most vital lessons in humility and leadership, but it took me longer than I would like to admit to change my approach.
 
Did you have a lightbulb moment in your career where you realized you could be yourself AND successful? Or did this come over time?
I did! When I worked for BC Tel Mobility in the late 80s, I attended a fundraising event which featured a speech by one of the sponsoring companies. He was the first funny, irreverent and extremely good business event speaker I’d seen. I was hooked from then on in: why not be myself instead of a version of professional that struck me as woefully out-of-date. I used my sense of humour and irreverence for hierarchy and bureaucracy to call out the need for innovation and fresh thinking. This came after exposure to the changing leadership theory of that decade. The old command and control model was beginning to fall out of favour. So timing was on my side. In any event, feedback was that I was down to earth. That translated to being approachable, even as I was promoted to increasingly more senior jobs. In turn, I benefited from access to employee feedback. And that made all the difference in our success.
 
Do you still have moments where you struggle to find balance between personal and professional?
Yes. It's progress not perfection - a mindset that took me many years to embrace. I think we are under pressure to be successful in the very narrow sense of the word: financially. We are convinced we need more and better so we work more and harder. I am seduced by it myself because that’s what I did. Very driven, very focused and very tightly wound. And I lapse into that persona every now and again. When it does, my ego takes over and I'm less connected to others.

It is insidious: individualism means we are all leaders when that’s just not the case. Everyone is a follower in some area or another in their lives. Yet we don’t honour that role in popular culture, let alone business literature. Collectivism, social connectivity, and concern and care for community is as much a part of a successful life as our own personal growth.
 
What do you think men can learn from your talk?
The same messages as women. I have masculine characteristics which I value as much as my feminine characteristics. I believe everyone does to some degree - human characteristics are a continuum not separate categories. I know this from working with men and women. I know what expectations and the pressure to fit in can do to people’s behaviour at work. No one is immune to going along to get along. Be aware of why you have the views you have and make room for others ways and means; redraw competition as a collective effort and be human. That is to say fallible; vulnerable and available to others.
 
Why do you think this is an important topic for business women and men in Whistler to hear?
I am concerned for people that are working extremely hard under challenging circumstances. We can lose ourselves in the race to succeed. Becoming someone else is a real and present danger. I think having this discussion about the value of being authentic reminds us to really live.

Make sure you grab your tickets before they sell out! Register here.

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Get to Know: Devon Brooks

To put it simply, Devon Brooks changed the game. She co-founded Blo, the world’s first and largest franchise chain of Blow Dry Bars. The company now spans four countries, with 100+ locations, and has attracted collaborations with international mega-brands like Mattel, Guess, Topshop and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Since then she’s spent a decade supporting hundreds of creatives, professionals, start-ups, and founders in articulating and realizing their goals as a business coach, and now has her sights set on disrupting the personal-development landscape with her newest venture, Sphere, enhancing the experience of personal coaching.

We can’t wait to welcome Devon to the stage as our first guest speaker of the 2018/2019 Women of Whistler speaker series season for her presentation on The Conversations It Takes to Grow.

To give you a taste of what’s to come, we chatted with Devon to get some insight into her experience, and what to expect from of her talk on Thursday, September 27.

What are some of the highs and lows that’ve been a part of your journey?


Starting my first business, Blo, was one of the richest experiences of my life. I was experiencing tremendous wins at work with my co-founders - as our business had such early success. Whilst simultaneously going to through the judicial process after experiencing two major traumas and processing a PTSD diagnosis. I was about 21 and it was a mosaic of highs and lows.


What is a challenge you continue to face?


One of the hardest parts of being the leader of an organization is having to make big decisions often, and sometimes with less information than you'd like. That's why questions are so important - because you have to ask the good ones.


If you could give a piece of advice to your past self when she was starting out on her entrepreneurial path, what would you say?


The best indication of how someone will behave in the future is how they are behaving now. 



The subject of your talk is “The Conversations it Takes to Grow.” How has conversation been transformational for your business?


Because every time we ask questions and have questions asked of us we face a mirror. We face ourselves.

Make sure you grab your tickets before they sell out! Register here

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You Don’t Hate Mondays. You Hate Your Job.

By Tracy Hutton

When I share with people that I’m a professional strengths coach, they usually give me a cursory up and down look and I easily read their bewildered minds as wondering “Really? You don’t look like you’re super ripped. You look sorta mushy.” Of course, they’re too polite to say what’s on their minds, so I always offer an additional distinction, “I’m not like a (flexes arms) strength coach, I’m a strengths coach – emphasis on the plural. By that I mean that I support people in discovering their comparative advantage and how to offer it up in service of others. You know, I help people love their work.” Which is always met with an, “Ohhhhhh,” and then “I could really use some help there.” Read More

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Take a Coffee Break – it’s Good for Business

I’ve always made a point of scheduling a coffee ‘meeting’ at least twice a week. - one is with someone new that I’ve just met and the other is usually a colleague that I haven’t seen for a while. I’ve made it part of my weekly routine and business plan.

More than ever, especially in these uncertain economic times, connections and relationships are worth their weight in gold because you do business with people, not things. No amount of cold calling, sales promotions, or advertising will equal the amount of business you can acquire from someone who knows you, trusts you and will recommend you to their customers. These are the people you want to be with. These are the people you want to do business with. Read More

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Nonna Pia’s – From Whistler to the Biggest Success in Dragons’ Den History

Whistler, April 26, 2017 – How do you go from being a physiotherapist in Whistler to the biggest success in Dragons’ Den history? This April, Natasha Strim, co-founder of Nonna Pias Gourmet Sauces, will share her fast-growth success story with the Women of Whistler. This event is being held at Nicklaus North Golf Course & Table Nineteen Lakeside Eatery, from 6-8pm on Wednesday, April 26. Tickets start at $40 and can be bought online: womenofwhistler.com Read More

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Vision and Determination… made in Whistler

When I first arrived in Whistler, in the fall of 2009, a friend took me to the Farmer’s Markets. I still remember my first visit to the Nonna Pia’s stand and my first taste of the delicious balsamic reductions on offer. The fresh bread on offer to dip into the thick reduction that coats your tongue with a sweet, yet tart, richness of flavour. Since that day, my cupboards have always been stocked with their strawberry fig edition.

When you look at successful people, those that inspire you, more often than not, you can only read about them in magazines or watch interviews on the television – they’re not typically in your backyard. That’s why I was so excited when I heard that Natasha Strim of Nonna Pia’s Balsamic Reductions was going to do a talk at the next Women of Whistler event. Her product is a firm favourite on my shelves at home, I’ve seen her and her family at the Whistler Famer’s Market, as well as on Dragon’s Den, but I haven’t heard the full story. As an entrepreneur myself I’m intrigued to hear what it takes to get it to the level of success they’ve achieved.

How do you go from taste tests at the Whistler Farmers markets to marketing throughout North America? What has been their biggest mistake? Their biggest challenge? How do they stay true to their business ideal? What has been their most joyous moment? Are they still just two normal people from Whistler?

What’s so relevant about Natasha’s story is that they started right here in Whistler. Just two normal people with the vision and determination to make their business work – it kind of reminds me of another couple who opened a pie shop. The fact that their business grew from Whistler roots makes me excited to see what I can learn from Natasha – not only in a business sense, but also as a person who works closely with her family and still takes the time to enjoy life in the mountains.

Kerri Jones - Peaked Pies

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The Science of Health, Happiness and Productivity

Whistler, January 31, 2017 – This February, Women of Whistler Powered by the Whistler Chamber is bringing speaker Catherine Roscoe Barr, BSc Neuroscience and founder of The Life Delicious, to Whistler for an exploration into the science of health, happiness, and productivity. The event is being held at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, from 6-8pm on Wednesday, February 15. Tickets start at $40 and can be bought online: womenofwhistler.ca Read More

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Sneak Peek: The Science of Health, Happiness and Productivity

by Catherine Roscoe Barr

Words are meaningless without defining their meaning in a way that holds value for you.

I hope the title of my upcoming talk on February 15, The Science of Health, Happiness and Productivity, has sparked enough interest for you to keep reading!

The words “health”, “happiness” and “productivity” are often thrown around willy-nilly, but if you really stop to think about it, aren’t they incredibly valuable factors you want present in your life?

Let me elaborate.

Science is the systematic knowledge of the physical world gained through observation and experimentation.

When you treat your life like a science experiment, you can figure out exactly what you need to make it extraordinary.

Through observation and experimentation, you can figure out exactly what serves you and what doesn’t; what fuels you and what drains you.

Using the data you gather, you can create an action plan that contains the conditions perfectly suited to your unique needs, and will produce incredible levels of health, happiness and productivity.

I define health as mental, physical and spiritual vitality.

Without the right knowledge and tools, mental stress can crush your vitality – but there are powerful strategies I’ll share to trim and transform stress to your advantage.

Movement, nutrition and sleep are critical to physical vitality, but don’t need to be complicated or time-consuming – and work best when viewed as indulgent and not deprived.

Gratitude and connection must be present for maximum spiritual vitality. Discovering what you need and having gratitude for what you have are beautiful, transformative practices.

I define happiness as a rich, diverse and acknowledged emotional spectrum that rests in a place of joy.

Research suggests that a diverse emotional ecosystem – called emodiversity – is associated with greater mental and physical health, self-awareness and resilience.

When you learn how to recognize, honour and process your emotions, you can flow through the spectrum from negative to positive emotions more easily – and not get stuck in the trenches of worry, anxiety and fear.

I define productivity as getting the most out of each moment, in both your personal and professional lives. When you bring presence and focus to every thing you do – whether it’s pause to enjoy a beautiful sunset, create an artistic masterpiece, truly listen to a friend, or secure a lucrative deal – you get the very most out of this one, precious life.

I hope that connecting with the science of health, happiness and productivity will bring more meaning and value to your life, and look forward to seeing you on February 15!

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A Bottle of Her Own – Stories from Sommelier Joanne DiGeso

“I drink Champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it -- unless I'm thirsty.”   - Lily Bollinger

I am attracted to wonderful stories and to real connections with people. It could be why I love learning about wine! Wine is not only experiencing it on your tongue but it is also a collision between family, history, land and culture. In “A Bottle of Her Own: Exceptional Wines & the Women Who Make Them” seminar, we will take an adventure from South Africa to Uruguay and Argentina to Champagne and more. We will also stop to explore wines from our own backyard of British Columbia. Here is a highlight of some of the stories and bottles that will be shared.

The famous Dame Veuve (widow) Clicquot took over the wine estate in 1805 after her husband’s death. At the time, it was only possible for a women to hold property (or a bank account for that matter) if her husband had passed away.

Clicquot took over the business in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars and she was bankrupt. She went to her father-in-law and secured a loan for a million dollars. But by the time she was blending the wine from the famous 1811 harvest, she was going broke, again. By this time, Clicquot knew that Napoleon was losing and waged that the Russian conquerors would become their next big customers. So she bet everything she had and sent her wine to Amsterdam for housing. The war had caused a naval blockade and the ports for transporting wine and goods were closed. When the war ended, Clicquot was weeks ahead of all of her competitors as she sent shipments of her wine to Russia. She quickly established her brand as the favourite of Tsar Alexander I.

The idea that a woman could only hold a bank account when her husband passed away is only a somewhat palatable idea when we are referring to the early 19th century. Yet, in many places in the world, the transition of women leaders in wine is quite recent.

25 years ago, for example, there were no female winemakers in Argentina. When Susana Balbo went to enology school in the early 80’s, out of 33 students, there were 17 women. She was the only woman that graduated. Taking the classes meant you had to take a bus past the 10 pm curfew. Argentina was still under the military dictatorship of the Dirty War and women were particularly vulnerable at night.

After graduation, Balbo had trouble finding a job as a winemaker. Her first opportunity came from a winery in Salta, only because a Paris firm was doing the headhunting. After her first vintage, she gained the title, “The Queen of Torrontes”. Today, she has many brands under her belt, one with her name on it, the Ben Marco wines, Dominio del Plata and Crios.

As you may know, Argentina is famous for its wine made from Malbec and Torrontes. Yet for anyone who has been there, it is often Cabernet Franc that wins the hearts of sommeliers. At this seminar, we will try a Catena ‘Los Carlos’ Cabernet Franc from 4th generation proprietor Laura Catena. I’ll save Laura’s fascinating life story for those of you coming to the seminar on Monday (I can’t share all of my secrets with you!!).

I can tell you that Cabernet Franc from Argentina is new to the British Columbia market and it’s worth checking out. In these high altitude vineyards, the Cabernet Franc receives a long hang time in close proximity to the sun. They are richer, rounder and have none of the green notes you see in cooler climes where Cabernet Franc is usually grown.

Overall, we have 9 stunning wines and 9 unforgettable stories to share.  We will try the new release from Veuve Clicquot house at the seminar. We will savour a Malbec from Susana Balbo and a Cabernet Franc from Laura Catena alongside Heleen Pannekoek’s Cabernet Franc from Fort Berens Winery, Lillooet. Hope to see you there!

[A Bottle of Her Own: Exceptional Wines & the Women Who Make Them is on Monday, November 14th at the Whistler Conference Center 5:30-7:00 Tickets are $47 at whistlercornucopia.com.  A Networking Session with wines from Les Dames D’Escoffier Vancouver Chapter to follow from 7:00-7:30]

Joanne DiGeso – Bio

Joanne has one foot firmly placed in Whistler and the other in Vancouver. She recently returned from Verona as a certified Italian Wine Ambassador from VinItaly International Wine Academy. She is a recipient of both Les Dames D’Escoffier and the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation scholarships. You can usually find Joanne nurturing wine exploration as a sommelier at Hawksworth Restaurant.  A dedicated wine lover, Joanne writes for her website SommWine and is a Wine and Spirits Education Trust Diploma Candidate who aspires to one day becoming a Master of Wine.

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A Bottle of Her Own

Whistler, November 4, 2016 – Women of Whistler’s next event, A Bottle of Her Own: Exceptional Wines and the Women Who Made Them introduces local women to successful business women in the wine industry.  Joanne Digeso hosts this fascinating look at the real-life stories of women who have made their mark on the world of wine as winemakers, winery owners, and industry trendsetters. Read More