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Leveraging your leadership strengths

Despite what many may believe, people are not born leaders.


Learning to lead, especially in the business world, is something that can be taught.


“In most organizations, especially in small businesses, we assume people will just figure it out and they don’t,” says Murray Smith, Principal of The Achievement Centre (TAC).  The centre has a mandate to assist business organizations in creating a planning strategy and then providing leadership development to achieve those goals.


Murray will bring his expertise in this field to our next YIP Growth Learning Series session – entitled ‘Being an Authentic Leader’ - in February.


During this two-hour session, Murray will focus on several areas related to leadership including communication, trust, and development.


“In training development, we always put an emphasis on technical training,” he says. “We don’t do much on what it means to lead people and train people on the human side of the business and it’s a big failing.”


Murray says in many professions, continuing education is a major requirement but not for many businesses.


“The human side of the business is the most expensive and it has the most impact,” he says, noting it can be tough for those handed leadership roles in smaller organizations.


“You switch from being the buddy on Friday to the boss on Monday and suddenly the dynamic changes.”


Murray says in these situations, quite often employees will ‘test’ their new boss to see what their boundaries are, which a new leader may not be expecting due to their previous relationship as co-workers.


“Often the response from the brand-new supervisor or leader is very defensive and they become very bossy,” he says. “It’s a distinctive defence mechanism because we didn’t train them (new leaders) and didn’t help them through that learning curve.”


Murray says many organizations have a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to leadership training, assuming it’s something new leaders can learn on the job, which isn’t the case.


“Most small business owners are entrepreneurs who don’t have an MBA, or a HR degree,” he says. “Most of us have energy, passion and drive, but that doesn’t make us good business leaders.”


Through his discussion, Murray hopes participants at this YIP learning session will get a better understanding of their own strengths and leverage them to be better leaders.


“Be the leader you are, don’t try to be another leader,” he says.


‘Being an Authentic Leader’ will take place Thursday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce office. The session is sponsored by Deluxe Payroll.


For information, or to register, please visit:

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Harnessing your passion to overcome obstacles

A great idea and money aren’t the only two things required to start a business, just ask Angela Englander of Ways To Wellbeing.


Angela, a trained psychotherapist who specializes in trauma therapy and now operates offices in Cambridge and Tillsonburg, says passion is just as important.


“No one just starts a business. You start it because you’re passionate about something and you want to take a risk,” she says. “You start it because you want something to be different.”


But sadly, Angela says, many people who go into business for themselves often lose sight of what inspired them to take that plunge in the first place.


“I feel people get exhausted, or burned out,” she says. “I think so many people have that vision and as they enter that threshold and go beyond to start their own business, but quickly realize there are a lot of hoops to jump through.”


Keeping that vision in focus will be the topic of a discussion Angela will lead entitled ‘Harnessing Your Passion to Achieve Your Purpose’ in January. Part of our continuing YIP Growth Learning Series, her talk will look at ways for business owners to find inspiration as they overcome obstacles when it comes to achieving their dreams.


“Sometimes, people just get discouraged and they need to find that passion again to push through those hurdles and obstacles and realize they’re on the right path,” says Angela, explaining her session will feature a ‘Hero’s Journey’ component in which a journey to success is laid out in various stages leading to a transformation.


As well, she will ask participants to outline what motivated them in the first place to start their own businesses.


“I will be using that to help you find your own guiding light towards where you’re meant to be,” she says, adding people sometimes need to ‘readjust’ when they realize they’ve strayed from the original path they set out for themselves. “It’s hard for people to adapt.”


Angela says some business owners may feel isolated, assuming that others are much more successful.


“Life throws everyone curveballs,” she says. “We all have obstacles to face.”


Angela says she will encourage participants to look inside themselves to determine what was their original vision and purpose for going into business, noting the answer will help them get out of the ‘hole’ they may feel they’ve stumbled into.


“We’ll look at what originally got them into this, because that’s going to help them climb out,” she says.


‘Harnessing Your Passion to Achieve Your Purpose’ will take place Friday, Jan. 10, at the Chamber office from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This event is sponsored by Deluxe Payroll.


For more information, or to register, click here

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Yes, You Really Do Belong!

We’ve all been there.


Do you remember sitting in class as a youngster working on a group project with some smart classmates and asking yourself: “How am I going to fit in here? Don’t I belong with another group?”

That sense of not belonging forms the basis of our next YIP Growth Learning Series entitled ‘You Don’t Belong – And Other Lies You Tell Yourself.’


Andrea Cartwright, Chief Escape Officer of Breakout Escapes in Cambridge and Brantford, will lead this session and discuss ways to set yourself up for success and how to avoid the ‘Imposter Syndrome.’


“It’s one of those things that is so very common, and nobody talks about it,” she says, explaining that kids in school and new parents aren’t the only ones who struggle with this ‘syndrome.’


She says feeling like a ‘fraud’ is very common for those in the business world, especially women.

“I’m a CEO of a corporation and I’ve dealt with my fair share of being talked down to,” says Andrea. “You start to doubt how others see and perceive you and that it’s indicative of your performance, which it’s not.”


She says it’s easy to doubt yourself and abilities, especially if you’re dealing with businesspeople whom you may perceive as being more experienced and capable.


“One of the biggest things I like to tell people is that you should never be the most experienced person in the room because then you’ll never learn,” says Andrea. “If you’re an expert, then you’re not learning.”


This is one point she intends to stress for series participants, whom she will encourage to be more open to learning.


“When you put a positive spin onto the negative thoughts you’re processing there are ways around feeling like you don’t belong,” says Andrea, who has developed seven successful games between her two Breakout locations which employ 10 people.


She says marketing yourself in a positive light to highlight your work when you introduce yourself to others in a business setting is key.


“If you position yourself in that manner, you’ll feel a little bit more comfortable about yourself and less like an imposter when you’re speaking with others at a higher level.”


Also, Andrea says asking others what words they would use to pen a bio about you would likely reveal some surprising and very positive results. 


“We’re all our own worst critic,” she says, noting changing the way people think of themselves will be a key takeaway from her talk.


‘You Don’t Belong – And Other Lies You Tell Yourself’ will take place Friday, Nov. 29 at the Chamber office from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The event is sponsored by Deluxe Payroll.


For information, or to register, please visit:



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Selling yourself key to business success

The answer to finding greater success in business can begin with one question: How does the world see you?


But achieving that answer may not be simple according to Michael Jennings, president of the marketing firm, who will lead a presentation May 8 focusing on ‘The Art of Selling Yourself.’


Part of our ongoing YIP Growth Learning Series, Jennings will tackle a variety of topics including building trust, authentic engagement and customer care.


Jennings, who for more than a decade has led a team of marketing experts in helping clients navigate an ever-changing digital marketing landscape, says it can be difficult for young professionals to ‘sell’ themselves and their ideas due to the immense amount of competition.

“There is just so much competition out there,” he says. “Smart, young well-informed professionals are often competing for the same or similar roles.”


As well, Jennings says these young professionals also face competition from more entrenched and experienced professionals.


“Add to that the competition from online,” he says, explaining that most consumers are now doing their own investigation before having any interaction with a salesperson or organization.


“Therefore, it’s critical to know your products and anticipate what shoppers are really looking for because if you don’t know, the next person does and the internet definitely does, and now you’re playing catch-up.”


Lack of preparation, says Jennings, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks people face when they try to sell themselves in the business world.


“I can’t tell you how many times I encounter a salesperson who knows little to nothing about their own products and is quickly thrown off when asked any details about their product or service,” he says, adding poor communications skills among young professionals has become an issue. “Many are well educated and well meaning, but they cannot articulate their own propositions, or stumble when facing challenging questions they can’t just look up online.”


One of the topics Jennings will touch on during his presentation centres on technology and how to use social media and traditional interactions to provide value to clients and influencers. He says the emergence of social media, particularly Linkedin, has become key when it comes to selling yourself in business.


“Employers, potential customers, and colleagues will all refer to your Linkedin profile,” says Jennings, adding it should contain a professional headshot rather than a cropped or blurry ‘holiday’ photo.


He also recommends the profile reflect the young professional’s passions and expertise, not to mention their relevant roles and education, in effort to convince a potential employer or customer they should have a conversation.


The importance of not just networking, but ‘giving back’ to a particular cause or association, will be another topic Jennings will discuss at his presentation.


“There is such competition in the market for young professionals that they need to stand out and differentiate themselves,” he says, noting volunteering for causes that reflect their passions can accomplish this. “Also, try working for companies that align with your career direction, even if it means providing contract services if no positions are available.”


The Art of Selling will take place Wednesday, May 8, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce office, 750 Hespeler Rd.

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Brian Rodnick
January 14, 2020
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Lisa Durocher
September 14, 2018
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