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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.

Top 5 Problems I’m Most Grateful to Have

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By Donna Litt, Writer & Author

Like so many entrepreneurs I know, I geek out on solving problems. And in my books (har har*), the more creative the solution, the better.

Now, we all know that not all problems are created equal. Some really suck to have to solve, and some are thrilling to break down. Oftentimes an entrepreneur doesn’t know what type of problem she’s getting into until she’s eyeballs deep in a giant bucket full of smelly life-ruining crud. Or, as in this woman’s case, until she’s flat on her back in shock and pain because she trusted the Super Hero.

All that said, the fact remains that there are few things more satisfying to an entrepreneur than lancing a nasty problem right through the middle, and exploding its putrid contents far and wide; and there are few things more satisfying to her than having good problems to worry about.

Below are the Top Five Problems I’ve gleaned from first and secondhand experience that make this whole roller coaster existence of entrepreneurship worth it, presented in no particular order.


Few pains are more complex and lasting than the sting of failure, and figuring out how to fail gracefully is a problem that every entrepreneur tackles whether she does it willingly or not.

It’s virtually impossible to not feel personally rejected when she fails at something, and she fails often and fails hard. But if she didn’t fail often and fail hard, she’d never learn what it takes to pick herself back up and that skill, more than any other, is the one that will help her to win.

And she likes how it feels to win.

There’s never enough time

Time is our most precious resource and should never be wasted, but for some unknowable paradox of a reason, that’s so much easier said than done.


The problem of Prioritization and Optimization (sister approaches to managing the expenditure of time) is one that every entrepreneur faces day in and day out, and it’s one of those problems that never goes away. In fact, it only becomes more difficult to wrestle with as her company grows.

But growth is a forcing function for entrepreneurs to become better at time management, and while it can be brutally painful to go through the paces required to discover how best to scale resources —the most precious of all being where she spends her time— the upside is that she learns just how precious every single minute of every day, is.



No one will ever care about growing her business as much as she does, which means expecting anyone who supports her along the way to offer her same level of commitment, is pretty much insanity. And so there will always be tension between her and anyone who supports her, because as the business owner, she’s always going to give the most sh!ts. Pardon my french.

Figuring out how to be alright with that while still empowering her people to be their best, is a difficult thing to do. It’s a hard problem to solve for many reasons, not the least of which being because the solution requires ruthless prioritization of emotionally charged issues (ack!), an ongoing commitment to bettering communication (say what?), and mutual trust and respect between equals (Unicorns have dreams too, right?).

But oh man, is solving this problem worth it. Because when she begins to figure out how the People that support her (employees, family, service providers, money backers, etc.) fit together and begin to work, that’s when the real magic happens. Because the only thing better than making a her dream a reality, is sharing the experience with her people.


She will work herself to the bone, and still won’t feel successful

And the worst part about it is that she can’t blame anyone but herself for it.

As an entrepreneur, a founder, a business owner, the buck stops with her. Like a coach, the fault is hers and the success is everyone else’s to share. It sounds depressing, because it is, but it’s also rewarding. It means that at the end of even the longest and most torturous of days, she still has control (whether it feels that way or not), and while that may mean making tough decisions —like choosing to shut things down or lay people off because there’s no more money to operate— it’s still up to her to own that decision, and she can because it’s her business.

The fulfillment she gets from knowing that someone will be held accountable, from being her own boss, and from being able to make sure things are done right, is unlike anything else, and she relishes it, because it’s her business and it’s her problem.

Putting herself “out there”  

An entrepreneur is like a battery, and to succeed she must be constantly putting out positive energy. Whether that’s asking people for things, offering help with no strings attached, having to say no, having to say yes, having no idea what to say at all but needing to appear like she knows what she’s doing… She does it all, and it’s exhausting and it’s difficult, and it so often makes her feel plain old bad.

But there’s no greater indicator of entrepreneurial success than determination, and there’s nothing she finds more rewarding than being recharged because she’s earned it, and she’ll never know that feeling unless she puts herself out there, pushes her comfort zones, over and over again, until her efforts begin to recharge her battery.


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.

Finding Your Optimal Growth Rate

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attracting-an-audienceIn business, growth must be approached strategically. Of course, you can expand your business without a plan, making changes piecemeal using trial and error. But this approach is fraught in danger.

Small business owners all too frequently abandon the practice of planning once they are through their start-up phase; forgetting to update their initial business plan, or ignoring the need to review business performance regularly and set new goals. Instead, they become pre-occupied with the daily demands of keeping their business afloat.

It is hard work. Yet, for your business to truly grow and thrive, you will need to workstrategically. What kind of growth is your business prepared for? What growth rate would allow your business to reach its optimal size?

Consider the following factors about your business:

Size and Efficiency

The greater the returns to a company’s scale, scope, or the size of its customer network, the stronger the case for pursuing growth. When scale causes profitability to increase considerably, growth soon pays for itself. And in industries in which economies of scale and scope limit the number of viable competitors, establishing a favourable economic position first can help deter rivals.

Customer Resources

Rapid growth makes sense if consumers are inclined to stick with the companies with which they initially do business, either because of an aversion to change or because of the expense of switching to another company. Similarly, in retail, growing rapidly can allow a company to secure the most favourable locations or dominate a geographic area that can support only one large store, even if national economies of scale are limited.

Competitor’s Growth

If rivals are expanding quickly, a company may be forced to do the same. In markets in which one company generally sets the industry’s standard, growing quickly enough to stay ahead of the pack may be a young company’s only hope.


When a new venture is not able to attract investors or borrow at reasonable terms, its internal financing capability will determine the pace at which it can grow. Businesses that have high profit margins and low assets-to-sales ratios can fund high growth rates. A self-funded business cannot expand its revenues at a rate faster than its return on equity.

Customer Tolerance

When a company is young and growing rapidly, its products and services often contain some flaws. In some markets, such as certain segments of the high-tech industry, customers are accustomed to imperfect offerings and may even derive some pleasure from complaining about them. Companies in such markets can expand quickly. But in markets where buyers will not stand for breakdowns and bugs, such as the market for luxury goods and mission-critical-control systems, growth should be much more cautious.


Some entrepreneurs thrive on rapid growth; others are uncomfortable with the crises and “fire-fighting” that usually accompany it. One of the limits on a new venture’s growth should be the entrepreneur’s tolerance for stress and discomfort.

Are you ready to take the plunge and explore a strategic plan for optimal business growth?

You’re Invited to the Launch of GroYourBiz Tampa Bay, FL!

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Please join us to launch GroYourBiz™ in Tampa Bay, FL., an initiative developed for women entrepreneurs that want to take their business to the next level. You will meet Sabina Zunguze, Managing Director of Florida and Chair of Tampa Bay’s MyBusinessMyBoard™ Advisory Board, along with Barbara Mowat, Founder & President of GroYourBiz™ Ltd., and Special Guests, Canadian Consul General Susan Harper and Carolyn Booth, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Banking at BMO Harris Bank at BMO Financial Group, Founding Partner of MyBusinessMyBoard™. We look forward to sharing how business peer advisory boards have helped shape and grow companies from all sectors.

When: Monday October 24, 2016, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

Where: 501 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 900 Tampa Bay

Hosted by:  BMO Harris Bank

See our invite for more details:

To RSVP or inquire, please contact:

Sabina Zunguze, Managing Director of Florida & Chair of MyBusinessMyBoard™ Tampa Bay • T: 813.586.0020