Full transcript below:
Wow, I’m gonna clear my throat – I’m a little choked up. Thank you so much. Thank you, WIFT for honouring me today and for the people who put me forward – I am truly humbled and very grateful. As my friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers will attest, gratitude is a regular practice in my life. It’s not just about the big occasions, like these, but actually recognizing the small wins, gestures, and perspectives that make life really worthwhile. In practicing gratitude, we experience a release of dopamine – and we can all use a little bit more of that, right? And studies have shown that practicing gratitude helps suppress the stress hormone, cortisol, by about 23% – so sign me up, yes please! Anything I can do to relieve the stress.
I’m grateful to WIFT for so very many reasons, beyond which, you know, we’re here today. When I arrived in Toronto from Montreal in 1988, in the early phases of my career, WIFT welcomed me with open arms – offering me an immediate community of extraordinary women and professional development opportunities. The Crystal Awards has always been one of my favourite awards due to the warmth and tremendous energy, power, creativity, and talent that convenes in a day, and a room with so many women is a room of my happy place. I wish I could stand here today and tell you that starting and growing Innovate by Day was my master plan, that I had it all figured out on the day that I landed on the name at its first office: my dining room table. That would be a lie. I did see an opportunity and I did see a need, and the industry, I found it compelling – it was fueling the learner in me – and I thought it had potential for profitability and it really leaned into some of my strengths. And, remarkably, I have slowly and steadily, been able to build the company that I’ve always wanted to work for.
Okay, here comes the truth. I am 55 years old. Yes. Innovate by Day just celebrated eight years. I was no spring chicken when I started my company, and I am grateful for that. I can see that I definitely have a love/hate relationship with aging. I hate how the body is drooping in the ways that it never has before… The wrinkles, the waistline – I could go on. But I have come to accept and embrace the changes, because in the grand scheme of things, they’re relatively trivial. I’m grateful that I’m comfortable in my own skin. I love that I have a face that tells a story of a life being lived. I love and appreciate that I have the energy to do whatever it is I set out to do, and I love that I have over 30 years’experience, working with an extraordinary network of smart, talented, diverse people that I can pull upon. All of these things, all of my experiences, inform who I am today, and help me with my confidence.
One of our greatest strengths as women is how we excel at building relationships – profound, deep relationships. But as with any strength, the flip side to that is that it can become a weakness, and when negative, this strength – as a weakness – has us over-analyze, overthink, self-doubt, become highly critical, and attach meanings to things that have, really, probably no meaning. The stress hormone – again, cortisol – then gets released when we’re in that negative state, setting us back further yet. Ladies, we need to move away from overthinking situations and simply learn, move on, and don’t attribute the meaning, and just get down and do it. When I beat myself up for mistakes and missteps – and trust me, I’ve had many and will continue to – if I wallow in it, it erodes my self-confidence, helping no one, least of all myself.
If you have a fire in your belly, a need that has to be expressed, or a dream to do or start something different – explore it. Don’t repress it. Step out of your way, find your confidence, and find someone who will help you boost it. Will it be easy? Likely not. Will it be rewarding? Probably. Is it scary? The “thinking about it” is the scariest part of all. Once you start doing it, it gets better, I promise. But you have to commit, and you really have to go for it, and it takes a lot of hard work.
Given the constant change and uncertainty of this industry and knowing that we are all our own worst critics, I would ask you to consider three calls to action. I’m inviting you to harness the power of gratitude. Give yourself as much dopamine – naturally occurring dopamine – as you can get. Two, get out of your head and into action. I promise, it’s far better than just thinking about it. And give generously when it comes to supporting other women and their confidence. It will empower all of us to be better, and to really live more fulfilled lives.
Thank you WIFT, for this. I am so very grateful to my dear friends – and many of you are here today. You have supported me through thick and thin. To my team at Innovate by Day, you guys are absolutely the best. And even though some of you have moved on to other things, and you have every bit of endorsement and support from me on that, I thank you. To our clients, many of you who are here today, we love working with you. And my family – I’m really fortunate today that my dad is here. Dad, you’re so very special and I thank you so much.
When I say you definitely need people who champion you and support you, in my corner, every day, all the time, is my husband, Graham. He’s also known as “Office Sugar Daddy” because he comes around and fixes things up at our building, but we adore him, and he is just stalwart and right there. And my dear, beautiful, confident daughter Aidee, you keep it real, and remind me what matters every day – thank you.
Thank you all for making me feel so very special. I am moved, and I am truly, truly grateful. Heather: thank you for everything you have contributed to WIFT. Your legacy lives on and I, for one, am here for you in your next chapter. Thank you.