On December 5th 2012, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) hosted their tenth celebration of the prestigious “Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Summit and Awards” – it was a day for connection, hearing stories and celebration. I was honoured to be a part of the occasion.
The evening’s gala held many shining moments, but I want to capture for you today a particular group of highlights that left a deep impression. These reflections aren’t about the individual awards or speakers , though the presenters were fantastic and the winners very gracious (and it was thrilling to see Clare Beckon win her top 100 award as a Champion – watch next week for our interview with her on mentorship), but instead they’re about the essence of the WXN and why it’s so very good to celebrate success.
The story of one
Just the other day I read an article in Forbes about Salman Khan – a 36 year old man on a mission to provide “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” (Forbes) His concept has exploded and with of just 37 employees, Mr. Khan has taken his new model of education and spread it worldwide, reaching over ten million students. But you know what? He started off as just one guy with a good idea at the right time.
On December 5th the WXN surprised the gala audience with an additional honouree to the Top 100: Pamela Jeffrey. Ms. Jeffrey is the founder of the WXN organization, and now included amongst the prestigious group that consists of the Top 100. Like Salman Khan, like so many other incredible entrepreneurs turned game-changing business leaders, she started off with a simple idea: to unite the new class of business women, the executives, founders and leaders. And all the while, juggling the many different roles as women are known to do, she supported her son through his own health crisis. From her efforts an international network of high-level women has developed, all whom have encouraged and cheered as they crash through the glass ceiling.
It simply amazes me, and fills me with hope and drive, to see what one person’s vision can create.
The bigger story
And as we sat there watching the rewards, our table of women celebrated the occasion. No, were weren’t the Top 100 award winners. But we are part of this fantastic network, and we have pushed and worked and moved our way up toward success in our fields. As each Top 100 winner celebrated their award, we were celebrating as well – celebrating each other, celebrating the moment for appreciation, celebrating what was a genuine feeling of collective winning.
You know, work and life can become so busy. We have meetings, we have obligations, we have correspondence and never-ending reminders on our phones. To take a pause for community and celebration, have an evening to toast accomplishment and build new relationships – well, I think that’s rather special. It’s our bigger story, it’s what we are working for across all areas of our lives. This was a gala for empowerment, whether or not you were receiving a reward.
The power to climb
You might have expected Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Summit and Awards to have been filled with corporate sponsors. (I know I did!) And of course there were members of the business community. But you know what other community was hugely present? Families. Family members filled tables, all there to celebrate the Top 100 win of the women they loved. Husbands, children, fathers, mothers, friends . . . I didn’t expect to see so much family, and yet it makes total sense. We don’t climb to the top of the mountain all alone. We have support –and that support is everything. It’s the reason to climb.
And as we sat there at the gala, and I looked over this huge room filled with cheering family members . . . I thought to myself, “We aren’t just celebrating the Top 100, we’re setting an example to these young people, these young women, and especially to these young men of what a woman can accomplish through her own form of leadership.”
It was a really incredible evening. The ladies at my table were fantastic, and the stories were quite inspiring.
Now it’s your turn
Now I’m putting out a call to all you reading this post, and please feel free to spread it around. We are looking for stories – your stories of mentorship, creativity, intuition, success, change. If you have a message, mission, or memory you’d like to share, get in touch. It’s our honour to showcase brilliant women creating positive change in the world.
If you or your project would like to be featured in a future Sister Leadership post, please send us an email at Camille@sisterleadership.com
Until next week (when we interview Clare Beckton – a 2012 Top 100 winner!)
Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. Camille is currently accepting applications for the Women’s Executive Network Senior Executives Wisdom Peer Mentoring program. Applications to this exciting and knowledge-sharing program are available here.