Starting with Why?

So August and September sort of flew by. Why? Summer is far too short, but the sailing was… splendid. And yes, I do count September as summer. I’m cold-weather resistive.

Gwen Hayes Sailing TorontoGwen Hayes _Summer Sailing





But we’re back to reality here and in the past two months I’ve been learning plenty (as always), writing proposals, negotiating, failing in good ways, and experiencing some brilliant successes on my own terms. Feels rather fantastic.


Things are developing organically

I seem to be into all things organic beauty related these days thanks to a newfound acquaintance with Shahin Kalantari, President of d’Avicenna, manufacturers of the eaurganic product range. Nice to see a small company on the verge of making it big; well at least bigger and someone who has committed in word and deed to truly certified organic skincare, bodycare and haircare.

Tons of greenwashing these days and it seems like ‘everyone’ is talking about “organic,” but as Shahin’s tagline says, “It’s not organic unless it’s certified organic.”

Shahin is a chemist. Created his formulas from scratch and has determinedly built an ISO9000-2008 certified company and met every single requirement along the way to ensure his products are fully certified. That means each individual ingredient in each certified organic product has been audited to meet the requirements of the IOS 2008 Cosmetics Standard for Natural and Organic Certification (goes beyond getting the USDA certification for organic foods!). d’Avicenna’s processing facility conforms to FDA/CFSAN Cosmetics Good Manufacturing Practice Guidelines (GMP) for the processing of Natural and Organic Cosmetics & Health Care Products, and the ISO 22716:2007 standard covering all production stages, as well as control, storage and shipment activities.

Phew. Noteworthy, because his efforts have thus far gone above and beyond. So, I’m rooting for this little company, that’s been chugging along like the little engine that could. And why the ringing endorsement?

Those who know me best will recall that I am incredibly sensitive to synthetic scents and ingredients in handlotions, perfumes, and household products. Perfume knocks me out. Synthetic scents give me a whopper of a headache. Some make me barf… sometimes it is difficult to go on the subway or be in a crowd, or even a meeting!

But because eaurganic products are made with organic essential oils, the fragrances are different; they’re not like perfumes.

eaurganic certified organic products from d’AvicennaThey’re lighter, normal…real. They do have a fragrance, but they don’t make me sick because there is not a drop of anything that’s “nasty” in them, and that I can use them is, quite frankly, amazing. Lovely skincare! great shampoo, hand and body lotion, available at natural health stores across Canada, at most Rexall stores, and other retailers… soon.


There’s no ethical dilemma here…

Ever wonder how all those little bits of miscommunication, misguided thinking, stereotypes, value conflicts, inability to ask questions, or cultural misunderstandings have the potential to morph into a messy ethical dilemma? Well, I have. So, I decided to pursue my curiosity and I am enrolled in an excellent counselling course right now; class, prof and text, Ethics in Clinical Practice are all fantastic! In fact, this is one of the single, most interesting courses I’ve ever taken.

What prompted this? When I took my coach training the curriculum certainly included ethics, but in my view it was not nearly comprehensive enough. As a member of IABC, I participated in sessions about ethics in communications… and realized I didn’t agree with a couple of the ‘right answers’ and started questioning the context and wanting to know why. And like many others, I have had occasion to be distressed about some ethical shortfalls in business and leadership, in general over the years. So it all made me curious.

Health and social care practitioners have ethical responsiblities; of course we all do, and whether coach, counsellor, communicator, or business leader, there is a growing need for cultural competence, more understandinig, better communication, recognition that everything in business and in life is interconnected and we’re all interdependent.

Once again I’ve gone down the path where my curiosity leads, and thus have had the pleasure and mental stimulation of engaging in discussions about everything from advocacy, integrity, dignity, self-determination, accountability, self-awareness, and collaboration to vulnerable populations, mental illness, social justice, safety in work environments… and so much more. It gets better every week.


Life on MaRS

Here’s an excellent article from MaRS Discovery District about what what a product manager’s role is; a role that I’ve held twice over the course of my earlier career – and a role that I find most very-small businesses that are growing could benefit from, but rarely have. Visit other areas of MaRS. It’s a fabulous resource, and there’s plenty more info there on product documentation, creating buyer personas vs user personas; yes, they’re different, and on creating product strategy vs business strategy. Just as we have a strategic vision of what we want our business to be when it grows up, based on what we stand for (the why!), each of our products and services has its own strategy.” Sure helps when it’s all well orchestrated and it’s all in alignment.


And now for my technical revelation of the month

Embedded video; a decent achievement because at heart, I’m the least techie person in the world.

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership that starts with with a “golden circle” (looks like a target) with the word “why” smack dab in the centre of that circle. He uses Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers to illustrate his point in this TED video. I’m sharing this because a good part of my livelihood comes from helping others get to the heart of what matters, and as a coach I help people rediscover their purpose and passion…the why. And also to rebuild the energy, vitality, enthusiasm and focus to pursue it. This little talk is a fabulous reminder for marketers, communicators and business owners, to start with what you believe in and what you stand for. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that, when we’re pressured for time, anxious about short term revenue vs longer term perspective, or in a hurry, and that changes how we talk (and write) about what we do; and that’s it exactly, it’s not about what we do — it’s about why. People buy “why” not the million widgits we make.


And people want more sleep reported recently on a study indicating that when it comes to time versus money, most people would choose a lower salary for the opportunity to get 7.5 hours of sleep a night versus, get this, 75% higher pay and only 6 hours of sleep. Not sure that applies to any of the entrepreneurs I know!

Until next time…