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Willy-Nilly or Will She Not!

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By Isabel Banerjee

That is the question . . .

I recently “re”-heard the term ‘Willy-Nilly’ and thought how appropriate the timing to be reminded of this amusing sounding expression and its more serious meaning.

Is it coincidental that this occurred at the time that purposeful and strategic thinking and planning were on my mind?

I think not! As others’ have said, there are no co-incidences just well-timed messages.

I’ve been facilitating GroYourBiz MyBoard workshops these past few months about how to create and leverage a Strategic Plan for business to get predictable results.

‘Willy-Nilly’ is defined by various dictionaries as ‘action without thought or in a haphazard or spontaneous manner’. Translation; leaving one without choice or control of the outcome.

Is that the way you run your business? Your profession? Your life?

‘Willy-Nilly’; leaving your fate to kismet; in the hands of others – good or ill intentioned. Really? Is that not like throwing your money, time and efforts into the middle of the street and waiting to see if the winds blow favorably?

‘Willy-Nilly’ is like stepping into a boat as the tide goes out, without oars or a compass and hoping that you get somewhere you’d like to be, on time and not eaten by sharks.

How could we leave our fate, our investment, our livelihood to chance like this?

Rather than ‘Willy-Nilly’. . .  I recommend “Will You Not!”

“Will You Not!”:

  • Allow others to control your journey
  • Be unclear of your chosen destination and arrival time
  • Have a Vision and Mission that are out of alignment with your core values
  • Leave to guess-work what resources you need to accomplish your goals
  • Be vague about the measurements and milestones that verify that you are ‘on target’ and ‘on schedule’
  • Have any uncertainty of the daily, weekly and monthly priorities and activities to focus on and which ones to delegate
  • Forget to celebrate progress along the way
  • Wait until it is too late to adjust course to avoid the icebergs


‘Will You Not!’ begin this year without a clearly articulated vision and strategy and check your progress regularly!

It is never too late to plan and to be accountable to yourself and to your advisory board!

Wishing you a Wonderful New Year, a Joyous Voyage and a Safe Arrival at the Destination of Your Choice!


ibIsabel Banerjee
Commander of My Destiny
Managing Director, GroYourBiz, Arizona
CEO, BIYA Global, Inc.
CEO, The Encore Catalyst
INT’L Leader, My Big Idea

Three Hours on a Couch – Part 2: Value for My Membership Dollar

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By Maureen McCabe

See HERE for Part 1!

Three-hours on a Couch

Each month I spend approximately 20-30 minutes while riding the subway to our meeting, completing my Monthly Check-in Report. It is optional and not turned in. The process helps me to recognize the progress and accomplishments of the previous month, to identify where I’m stuck and what’s keeping me back, and my personal commitment to action and accountability for next month’s meeting.

At the meeting each member provides an update. I have said it’s like lying down on a psychiatrist’s couch with my feet up for 5-8 minutes seeking help. But unlike the psych, who often doesn’t answer your questions, we have a chair and a dozen experts, fellow board members who genuinely want to help and support me.

Their insights into business processes and my ongoing monthly lessons are more than I could have imagined. Great guest speakers help to fill in gaps, ones that I didn’t realize that I had. Time set aside for “member challenges” is wonderful, not just for the member but all who support and share our lessons learned.

Each month, for three hours I focus exclusively on my business. Prior to joining GYB, I had not set aside time to plan for my business. Like many business owners, I was too busy with the day-to-day operations. I’ve now bought into planning and make time, but not as much as I should. I remind myself, patience grasshopper – a throwback to the Kung Fu, martial arts drama on TV. Change begins with one step.

Nightmares & Revenue Canada

After listening intently for eight months to a fellow Markham board member’s updates by Irene Ji, CA, I realized that I wasn’t getting the service or support from my own accountant that I needed. I literally started losing sleep imaging what could happen if I were audited. I hired Irene, and we have completed two year-ends. No more nightmares for yours truly.

Referrals. Revenue.

Many GYB members and prospective ones have heard me often say, and I was very sincere, “I don’t care if I ever get a client or referral, that’s not why I joined or what I value. It’s the couch that I love”.

I have used the services of many members and recommended others to clients and friends. An unexpected bonus – I got a client from our board which more than paid for one year’s membership. I’ve now amended the above statement:

“I am grateful for every client and referral, but that’s not why I joined. It’s a nice bonus.”

The GroYourBiz membership fee is equivalent to a monthly massage. It’s an investment in my business. Yep. That’s why I’ll be a GYB lifer too!


web-lgMaureen McCabe (GroYourBiz, Toronto). The McCabe Marketing team works with established business owners to create and manage successful marketing projects that generate more sales leads. Request the free report: 8 Money-Burning Marketing Mistakes that Reduce Profits   Check out her humourous blog, 9 Tips for Media Interviews – How and Why I was Interviewed on CTV




Three-hours on a Couch, Why I Value My GYB Membership -Part 1

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After religiously attending GroYourBiz board meetings for over two years, a light bulb went off this past summer. Or, for those of you who are young enough to remember the 1977 popular commercial it was my-aha moment, I should’ve had a V8®

Carefully note the use of the registered trademark symbol. I worked in the IBM legal department and recall the odd law suit or two, or three. Perish the thought if the simple omission led to a letter from Campbell’s legal department to our fearless leader, Barbara Mowat and her imprisonment. She wouldn’t be able to host the EXCELerate 2017 conference – solely, because I neglected to submit the blog with the “R” symbol. Working in “legal” as we called it, was one of the 19 different jobs that I had during my 18 years at Big Blue. Yep. I was a lifer.  I learned many lessons that guide me today.

How and Why I Became a Member

In April 2014, I joined the Markham (Ontario) board as a founding member. To be honest, I only joined because Yang-Hai Wang whom I had worked with in the IBM small business division from 1998-2000 was the chair. I hadn’t seen her in 10 years; she reached out to me after reading my LinkedIn profile.

We spoke a few times, I kept telling her that I don’t join networking groups. She kept asking me to come to the meeting. I kept repeating, I don’t need to network because I’m on page one of Google for all of my keywords i.e. small business marketing Toronto.

Actually I said, “…the money would be better spent on a massage at the spa to relax after giving soooooo many free consultations(*) because I’m on page one.”

Any marketer with her grain of salt knows the value of an asterisk appropriately placed in the copy. Not the mice type, i.e. the legalize section that is too small to read, but keeps the lawyers happy.

She cajoled me to attend the meeting, finally I said yes. I had the wrong start time. HINT: subject lines with the date and time are helpful for everyone not just me as I sometimes misread the details in the email. I got lost, couldn’t find the elevator bank in BMO’s underground parking, arrived at the end of the launch meeting when the food was practically gone.

Yang-Hai tried to show me a few slides on her laptop, I displayed no interest, and kept saying no I was not interested. Yep. I intentionally used a double-negative to make an impact, perhaps influenced by the name of Barb’s Impact Communications firm. It was Yang-Hai’s personal mission trying to passionately convince me that GroYourBiz was not a networking group, but a peer advisory board.

I was introduced to Marg Hachey, Ontario and Eastern Region Chair. Her reputation as a successful women-owned business, a Canadian entrepreneur was well known. I was impressed that she was on the team. I asked Marg if there was a directory listing of members; a backlink to my website was a criterion for membership. Yes, there is a members’ roster. Link juice i.e. SEO is important to me. I want to keep my place on page one, of you know where.

In my quiet, demure way, I asked the cost of membership to Yang-Hai, and said if this organization was smart, they would offer a discount for a prepaid annual membership. (Yep. I was IBM’s #1 sales rep worldwide in 1996 in my division; incentives are important and drive sales.) She walked away, shaking her head, ready to speak with another prospective member.

As a small business owner, I missed the corporate, professionally run meetings which included an agenda, goals, and objectives. Taking advantage of the discount, I shocked the heck out of Yang-Hai when I wrote a cheque right on the spot. I was the first paid member. The truth be known, I had already decided to join as I had read every page on the GroYourBiz site and understood the value clearly.

Markham Board – April 2014

Although the members were great as were our two chairs firstly Yang-Hai and then Hilda Gan, I didn’t relish the challenge to arrive on-time for 6:00 p.m.  Anyone who knows me understands that I’m not just height but punctually challenged as well. At the best of times, I’m neither a great driver nor good parker – my eagle eyes can identify a drive through parking space up to 100 feet away, but on the highway, in the height of rush hour in sleet or snow? In regular traffic it was a quick 30-minute drive.

In May 2015, I chose to take “the better way”, a tagline used by the TTC, Toronto’s subway system, and moved downtown to board #4.

Good-bye Markham Board. Hello Toronto Board.

Marg Hachey is our chair; she generously shares her profound wisdom, on a level of depth and plethora of topics.  What’s great is that she always greets me and everyone with a hug at each meeting, but only if you arrive on time. As a marketer, I know that marketing is a drumbeat, it’s not a one of action; in this case, her acumen took a few meetings, okay almost 11 months to resonate, i.e. kick-in.

The following are four tips from the marketing gal (that’s me) on Board 4:

1. Red flags in the initial free marketing consultation should be embraced, not ignored.

2. Define your ideal client.

     (*) When you clearly know who they are, you won’t need to provide lengthy consultations.

3. Create a checklist of who is NOT your ideal client. Use it to evaluate prospective clients.

4. Trust your gut. This past summer, I decided to trust mine, now I tell clients if they are my ideal client during the consultation. It works, I’m closing more sales leads; my ideal client.

Wishy-washy women (if they were men, we’d call them slow decision makers) and alpha males are a couple of the flags on my checklist; but I’m not ready to open the kimono fully in this blog 🙂

See HERE for Part 2: The Ah-ha Moment!


web-lgMaureen McCabe (GroYourBiz, Toronto). The McCabe Marketing team works with established business owners to create and manage successful marketing projects that generate more sales leads. How do you attract more customers? With a marketing strategy and Marketing Action Roadmap™ that work.  Maureen invites you to signup for Profit Boosting Marketing Tips. Check out her Marketing Checkup video.





Governor General Persons Case Awards 2016

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GG02-2016-0443-057 November 15, 2016 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada  His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presented the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case to six laureates, on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, at the Manitoba Legislative Chamber.  Credit: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall, OSGG

GG02-2016-0443-057 November 15, 2016 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presented the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case to six laureates, on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, at the Manitoba Legislative Chamber. Credit: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall, OSGG

The Governor General Awards meant more to me this year than ever before.  For the first time the Awards were held at the Legislative Assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba—a place that was vital to the struggle for women’s suffrage in Canada.  This year marked the 100th anniversary of granting the federal vote to women in Canada.  Nellie McClung, one of the Famous Five, who led the fight for women’s right to vote succeeded first in Manitoba.

My sister-in-law, Edie Mowat, was my guest as our children’s great grandmother, Catherine Wilkie Mowat was a friend of Nellie McClung and also a sister-in-law to Nellie. Both living in small communities in Manitoba, there would be many Sundays after church, where Nellie would sit at the kitchen table with Catherine and they would be discussing women’s rights and financial independence.   History is worth remembering.  I always say to Edie, “Catherine’s grandsons –Glenn and Barry Mowat married strong women—to carry on the passion for gender equality!”

My congratulations to the 2016 recipients awarded with the Persons Case this year who were: Cecilia Benoit, Anna-Louise Crago, Pascale Navarro, Norma Jean Profitt, Diane Redsky, and Lucia Lorenzi for the Youth Award.  My congratulations to all in joining “the Club” of CDNs who advance gender equality.

5 Reasons Why She Gets Back Up

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Every person’s experience of discovering what it is to be a woman is different. But as the fairer —and by that I don’t mean beautiful— sex, she learns life’s hard lessons at one point or another.

Whether that’s because she’s been discriminated against for career advancement or pay raises, sexually harassed in the workplace, charged more than her male counterparts by a service provider, patronized by the public at large, or some other similarly themed experience, her biology defines her. Which is why she has a a scalpel-like edge as an entrepreneur —she’s been overcoming adversity since birth.

Speaking from personal experience & some good ol’ fashioned behind-the-glass second hand observation, I’ve compiled 5 Reasons Why She Gets Back Up, presented in no particular order.

She’s used to having to speak up to be heard

From being interrupted left right and centre, and slotted into the “wholesome” category alongside bran flakes, greek yogurt, and excessive stretching, she knows that no one will listen to what she’s trying to say the first time, the second time, or even the third time.

She knows that people need a reason to listen and unless she keeps trying, unless she keeps telling her story, she’ll never give people the time they need to find that reason. In other words, she has Saint-like patience. (Until she doesn’t, at which point heads will roll, but that’s OK too because some of us were born to chop heads, metaphorically speaking.)

She doesn’t like Yes men

If everyone said Yes to her she’d never know if she was doing the right thing. As someone who’s been fed a pacifying diet of hot and steamy BS for a lot of her life, she’s had to develop strategies to smash through all the sparkles and rainbows!


She knows she needs adversity, challengers, criticisms, to help her think clearly and choose the right path for her; and she knows this because she’s had to overcome adversity to get where she is today.

Her ego exists, but is appropriately checked

Certain words hurt, a lot. She knows that the only way to overcome negative pain is with positive action; and she knows that having people acknowledge her pain is less rewarding than getting past it.

From having already licked wounds and come out the other side healed (and often changed), she has the confidence to channel pain productively by utilizing it as knowledge and experience.

She has faith in the right process

Rock bottom is a moving target. It’s dynamic and relative. She knows that even at rock bottom, things change. In fact, rock bottoms can vanish into no bottoms, at which point she’s in free fall and practising the foetal position to save herself from Bambi-splatting out.

PS this is real:

But she has faith in the passage time, and she finds comfort in knowing that change is inevitable because she’s been at the bottom looking up before. She knows that an inflection point will come, and that things must always be bad before they can get better.

Her belief in others is well placed

She knows that she’s intelligent. She has a lot to offer, and she has opinions that matter. She has life experience and has fought many battles; she is an expert in some right.

And yet she’s still willing to change her mind, her course of action, her hard-won perspectives, if compelled to do so. Which means other people, when appropriately hit over the head enough times with reasons why they should, can change too.


About Donna Litt


Donna Litt (GroYourBiz, Kitchener-Waterloo) is a software startup monkey turned fiction writer. She’s as excited about building a business around authorship as she is about refining her craft. Her passion for exploring human behaviour via the clues we leave behind is why she specialized in archaeology at the University of Toronto, and is what drives her writing.