On Monday night, January 9th, 2023, a community of female entrepreneurs in Mississauga celebrated 5 years of empowering women in business. To commemorate this milestone, almost 70 of the more than 3200 members of the MAWB Network (Mississauga and Area Women in Business) came together at Touchdown Coworking Space, owned by fellow MAWBster Fernanda Cancado, for a wine and cheese party, some networking, a fascinating panel discussion, and an unexpected special surprise guest!
Mingling and Networking
Doors opened at 6:30pm, and as the women arrived and started chatting and sampling the spread of wine, charcuterie, and sweets, the energy level ramped up quickly. There were a lot of new faces—what a fantastic introduction to a MAWB in-person event!—and there were even a couple of members there who had been to the very first MAWB networking meeting 5 years ago, before it was even called the MAWB. So, a special shoutout goes to Cathy Bochnak, of Designer Digits with Cathy, and Dianne MacMillan, of Wearable Neurotech!
Photo credit: Xanthe LeBlanc
After plenty of mixing and mingling, and allowing time for everyone to arrive, we gathered together for a group photo. In a serendipitous and cosmic coincidence, MAWBster Gaby DiVirgilio Mammone happened to be onsite filming video with a client, so she did us the favour of taking our group photos. Not only did we get that professional eye, we didn’t have to worry about timers going off or people being cut out of the pictures. Thank you so much, Gaby!
Photo credit: Gaby DiVirgilio Mammone
Our unexpected special guest was Roger Caesar, an award-winning public speaker and coach, who was also Gaby’s client that night. After spending some time in the room and watching our MAWB shenanigans for a while, Roger said a few words of encouragement and empowerment about the importance of women in business, and then participated in some shenanigans with us. He was a lot of fun to have with us, and it looks like he had a lot of fun with us, too.
Photo credit: Gaby DiVirgilio Mammone
The next planned activity was a game of Networking Bingo, with a goal of having everyone engage with at least 5 new people and learn a little bit about them. The room went a little bit crazy for a while there with questions flying, and I know everyone wants this category called out—Someone who has no Social Media. Really? In a networking group that operates from a VERY active Facebook Page? LOL! I don’t think anyone got a full card because of that one, but the three women who got 2 lines the fastest and won Door Prizes were:
- Mirella Canavan, of Canavan Real Estate Group, with a Pampered Chef goodie bag from Donna Philp
- Helen Felipe, of Azul Education Services won a photoshoot from Katrina Sutton
- Caitlin Blundell, of ActionCOACH Canada, won a crystal bowl from Nita Kang, a Real Estate Agent with Royal LePage
Panel Discussion: Work/Life Balance
Once the Bingo shenanigans were complete, we all gathered around for a fascinating discussion about Work/Life Balance and how it relates to women entrepreneurs. Our founder and MAWB Boss, Christine Hull, was the moderator, and the panelists were three women with three very different jobs and business setups. Ritu Kohli-Sethi, Managing Partner of the Greater Toronto Executive Centre, represented businesses with employees and brick-and-mortar locations; Andria McKay, a representative and activist with Beauty Counter, represented solopreneurs with online-only businesses; finally, photographer Trish Beesley represented the in-between business woman, someone who is a solopreneur who often collaborates with other professionals and has her own studio space by appointment only, but frequently works at other locations to meet her clients’ needs.
It was a well-thought-out discussion with a lot of impactful statements made about balance and especially about the importance of setting boundaries. The consensus was that there really is no such thing as work/life balance, because that implies a 50/50 split which is just unrealistic. Ritu’s point was that it’s an ebb and flow, and that sometimes one has to take precedence over the other and it’s constantly switching. It puts too much pressure on us, as women, to strive for balance. Andria agreed, saying it’s an illusion, and that it’s important to take care of yourself so you can take care of everything else. Trish was refreshingly blunt, saying work/life balance is a crock, lol! It’s about rearranging your priorities based on what needs the attention at any given time. Caitlin Blundell contributed from the audience the analogy she uses with her clients: That it’s a bike ride, not a tightrope. With a tight rope you’re very carefully putting one foot in front of the other, applying careful, equal effort the whole way; with a bike ride, though, in order to move forward you have to apply all your weight and energy to one foot to get any kind of momentum, and then you switch.
The next question from Christine addressed what kind of boundaries the women set for themselves. Ritu said when she needs to buckle down and get things done, she makes herself a To-Do List, and focuses on it, and only it, until the jobs are done, no distractions. She has also learned to recognize when she needs to just STOP. Andira shared a personal story about how she learned to set boundaries for herself. She learned boundaries after a concussion, because she HAD TO. She suggested you learn to set limits before your body tells you you have to. Setting boundaries isn’t mean, it’s honouring yourself. And if you honour yourself you show up better for others. Trish had to learn not to answer calls and messages late at night, outside of her posted business hours, even if she is working because that’s when her house is quiet. And, when she reaches out to people out of hours she says “you don’t have to deal with this now, but I don’t want to forget.” She recommends you block out all the times you can’t be available, then schedule out your tasks in the time you do have available as a starting point. Nita Kang contributed from the audience that boundaries are important when you work from home. She has also found her clients respect her time more because of her time boundaries. From Janet Lirio, owner of Fusions Mobile Spa: as a consumer she sometimes sends emails late at night because it’s when she has time and she never expects a response until business hours, and Trish added, “this is an expectation we put on ourselves,” which is sadly true. Najma Raza Chattha, of Najma Chattha Law asked, “But what if you don’t want to set boundaries?” Andria replied, “That’s fine if it works for you, but you will probably get burned out. And if you don’t set boundaries and you don’t meet your own expectations, you will start to be disappointed in yourself.” A final word on the discussion came from Tovey Blake, owner of AboveAllAdmin: “Don’t look at boundaries as something to restrict you, look at them as something to open you up to the things in your life other than work.” 🧡
The panel discussion gave us a lot of food for thought, and was a prime example of one of the MAWB’s primary goals, women supporting women. Another way the MAWB empowers female business owners is with the opportunity to promote their business to the group.
Event Vendors& Door Prize Sponsors
We had three onsite vendors, Kandice-Lee Doucette with Epicure, Nicola Bone with She’s Got Leggz, and Trish Beesley Photography. There were also door prizes, contributed by these wonderful, generous ladies:
- Sue Coleman, Selling on the Spot
- Trish Beesley, Photographer
- Cynthia Walker Kennedy, CMK Bookkeeping Services
- Jo-Anne Pietrantonio, Mortgage Agent
- Caitlin Blundell, Action Coach
- Hilda Rogers, From Overwhelmed to Organized
- Ana Pina, Amarilis Flowers
- Alexis Duncan, Allstate Canada
- Ritu Kohli-Sethi, Greater Toronto Executive Centre
- Nita Kang, Royal LePage Realtor®
Selfie Station Shenanigans
Once mingling resumed, everyone was encouraged to make use of the Selfie Station we had set up at the front door, and you know what happened? More shenanigans!
Cheers to 5 Years Christine Hull and MAWB Team! If you were there, you know what a great night it was. If you weren’t there, you can check out the photos on the Facebook Group and we hope to see you at the next event!
Make sure to visit our website at www.mawb.ca to see all the information available for our extensive network of local business women. There are links to FREE Tools and Resources that are MAWB-approved and recommended, other Resources that have been provided by women within the network to help you with your business, a business Directory of members, as well as the upcoming Events listings and a Shop with exclusive MAWB products and services. Start the new year as you mean to continue it—learning more about the MAWB and its members, participating in our KNOW, LIKE, TRUST philosophy, prioritizing your business networking, and growing your business to meet your goals.
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