Being a Resilient Woman in Business: Reflections for International Women’s Day 2021

March 04, 2021

International Women’s Day often brings a time of reflection for me.

As a mother of two daughters, I think about the progress that has been made and the work yet to be done. 

I hope in some small way that I am doing my part to help inspire my children and other women to go after what they want. And, most importantly, knowing that they deserve the success that will come through hard work and determination.

What’s My Story?

After 20+ years working in human resources and organizational development where I eventually landed at the C-Suite level, I set off to recreate myself and launch what I fondly call “my encore career” as an entrepreneur.

This journey required both upgrading my professional skills and doing the tough internal work to enhance my self awareness, identify my values and really think about the contribution I want to make. Through a remarkable happenstance I met my business partner, Hayley Hesseln, PhD while we were both pursuing our executive coaching accreditation.   

One year later, we launched EI Advantage, and certified it as a Women-Owned Business in Canada. We have now celebrated 5 years of business.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned during the last half-decade as a woman in business:  

Be Optimistic

As Winston Churchill said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”    

The lesson here is the power of the reframe.   

Life throws us a curveball occasionally, the real question is what you choose to do about it.   

Adopting a growth mindset has allowed me to accept rejection or failure more easily and view these times as learning experiences, which helps me bounce back faster.   

At the end of the day, being cool with who you are is all that matters. Never lose yourself or forget who you are.   

Learn to Pivot

If Plan A doesn’t work, have a Plan B.  

The “pivot” is no secret to small business owners, and the challenge comes to being open to doing it. Our most recent pivot has been to launch our online e-learning platform to meet the needs of our clients, respond to the virtual training demand COVID-19 has brought into our lives, and enhance our capacity to export. 

I get excited when our clients share that our self paced courses on enhancing resilience and boosting optimism have helped them bounce back from setbacks and restore their wellbeing. 

Be Open and Give Back

When our values and work are aligned, we are said to be living in our core purpose.   

I’m proud to serve as Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba Board, with other highly accomplished women and support the valuable (and tireless!) work of the organization. I have also had the opportunity to be a speaker and share my knowledge with many not-for-profits, associations, and agencies.

By sharing my knowledge and being open, I have built new fulfilling relationships.

Take Time to Stay Resilient

As women we wear many hats.   

Mother, daughter, aunt, partner, colleague, owner, among others, so it’s no wonder we often experience burnout. Taking time to be present or for mindful reflection is so important.   

I’ve learned to use time as my friend. While I may not be able to dedicate a day to the spa, I can take 10 minutes, sit on my front step, and celebrate the person I am.  

My time as a business owner has taught me that by being kind to ourselves, and by being generous with our expertise and time, women can build amazing things together. 

On this International Women’s Day, and every day, I invite you to celebrate the women in your life and do what you can to build your skills and use your strengths to lift up other women around you. 

Janice Gair is co-founder and president of EI Advantage. Want to learn more about how to enhance your resilience and optimism? Check our self-paced, online courses or contact us today.