An Act of Courage and Inspiration!!

posted March 4th, 2009 by Janet Graham - 8 Comments

Yesterday I did something I have wanted to do for more than 10 years, I interviewed my first “Babe on Bay Street”. I conceived of the idea of writing a book about the wonderful women I had met during the course of my career on Bay Street after leaving my position with one of the financial institutions in early 1996.

I wanted to tell the stories of the phenomenal women I had met because I admired them so greatly. I had a vast network of women in my life and when I left my job, the first thing I thought of doing was telling their stories. In the early 80’s, when I started working on Bay Street, we had few role models and were not always welcome in our jobs and our institutions and despite this, we had succeeded and prospered and grown and led the way and I was so very proud of us and I wanted to inform the world. I didn’t want our stories not to be told.

Over time, I have come to believe this instinct I had more than ten years ago was based on a solid foundation because I believe stories have the power to engage, move and transform us, to inspire our creativity and courage, to offer wisdom and strength — in fact, I believe that a story well told has the power to change lives, the lives of the story teller and the one who “hears” the story. People see possibilities in the stories of others. They find validation, inspiration and hope. They find meaning in their own situations and a common bond.

And for years I didn’t trust my instincts (and I let my fear of doing it and how it would be received hold me back). My life did what we often allow our lives to do in such circumstances, it consumed me!!! I built a consulting/advisory services business, bought a house and renovated it, became a dog owner and a coach, got married for the first time and became a mom to four beautiful children, joined several boards and agreed (against my better judgment) to chair their audit committees, all of which is to say, it took me all of these years to do what a friend (and fellow coach) finally challenged me to do, tell the stories already!!!

And yesterday I interviewed my first “subject” and it was everything I hoped it would be!!

My intention is to use this blog to record this interview and others I plan to conduct. I want it to become a place where I can share the questions I ask during the interviews and the answers these women give me and for you to share your own answers to the questions with one another. It will offer you the opportunity to tell your own story and share your wisdom with those who become regular visitors.

I am not certain what form the Babes on Bay Street “book” will ultimately take; whether the stories will simply be written in installments over time on this blog (because in the end the audience I am trying to reach, you and the women (and men) in your life you think would be inspired by such stories, find most of the information they need today on the internet) or whether I will aggregate all of the interviews I conduct and publish them in book form. And I don’t think this decision is relevant at the moment.

The critical act for me is to start.

In early 2008, when I set this blog up I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it. I simply wanted to know how blogs worked in their simplest form. And over the next few weeks and months, I “posted” a few times and loved doing it but wasn’t sure what I wanted to make of it. And slowly over time, my thinking evolved. And the style and components of the blog may evolve in the same way over time, however, I am now very clear about what I want to do with this blog.

I must warn you, I still don’t know much about the technical aspects of blogging, so I will be learning about it as I go and will add to the structure of the blog as I learn more. However, the essence of the most critical component, the content of the blog posts and our dialogue with one another will be unchanged.

In connection with my coaching training, I was challenged to take a “leadership” course and the one I selected/”endured”, required us to come up with a “leadership project” and I believe this is mine.

So what’s my stake, my philosophy, the belief which underlies my taking on this project:

I believe women lack role models and mentors.

I believe women are excluded from informal networks.

I believe women face gender stereotypes that men don’t face.

I believe women benefit from having role models and mentors.

I believe women learn from telling their stories and sharing their reality with one another.

I believe women thrive with a network of support.

And I hope this blog is one way of providing role models and mentors for all of the women in our lives (and men , if they care to participate), a forum for telling our stories and sharing our reality and offering a network of support where we can all thrive. I hope it will be a forum where we can ask questions and offer one another our experience and wisdom to inform the discussion and allow us to share our wisdom, strength, courage and creativity with one another.

Over the course of my life I have offered more people than I can count more “unsolicited advice” than I care to remember, in fact I sometimes call myself the “Queen of Unsolicited Advice”. My coaching training liberated me from this when I discovered my role could be to simply ask the right questions and assist my client with the discovery and creation of their own answers and ultimately, their own life. It took me a little longer and more intense training to learn you cannot rescue anyone but I digress…
My intention with this blog is to post the content of the interviews, in whole and in part and build the blog format and content to enable it to become a digital “mentor” which we can all rely on.

I will share with you the questions I am asking each of my interview subjects, one at a time, so you have a chance to answer the questions and pose additional ones you would like to have answered.

I encourage all of you to participate and I encourage, in particular, other long standing members of the female Bay Street “sorority” to become regular commentators.

I want to have fun with this project. I don’t know what I don’t know at this point about blogging and writing and asking the right/correct questions. And I am confident, the joy of creating whatever this becomes will override all of this lack of knowledge and be its own reward.

Please join me. My hope is that your stories will inspire others, as they have inspired me. I encourage you to contribute and offer your comments.

It would be my very real honour, privilege and pleasure!!!

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8 Responses to “An Act of Courage and Inspiration!!”

Comment from Phoebe
Time March 4, 2009 at 6:42 pm

So true Janet. For example, for years I have been reading the ROB monthly magazine and have seen very, very few profiles of business women. I look forward to reading these stories! So much is possible.

Comment from Trish
Time March 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Beautiful Janet….just putting this ‘out there’ is already inspiring. It motivates us to trust our instincts and turn our deepest thoughts into action. Congrats! I look forward to the stories.

Comment from Voulala
Time March 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

Fabulous! It’s about time someone had the courage to share these stories we can all learn from, smile when we read, relate to, empathize with, be inspired by and look forward to! I can’t wait to read what you have in store for us next!

And, I hope you expand to include other ‘babes’ not just those on Bay Street! 🙂

Comment from Dan
Time March 5, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Very proud of you.(xoxoxoxo)

To quote, Robert Burton:
“I light my candle from their torches.”

And in the immortal words of Nike:
“Just Do It !!!”

Comment from Lynnette
Time March 8, 2009 at 11:15 pm

How exciting that you have provided a voice for all these stories! Janet, I am deeply inspired by your courage to follow your heart and your intuition.

Comment from Elisabeth
Time March 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm

And who among us will write Janet’s story?
Janet, I just reread your message and loved it; thoughtful and well written. I look forward to reading these stories and mentoring by story telling.

Comment from Flo
Time March 10, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I don’t know if I qualify as a “babe on Bay Street”, but I am certainly of the “younger” variety if I am one(although not so young anymore either). But I definitely look forward to hearing the experiences of those that paved the way before me. Notwithstanding the fact that I have generally felt less barriers than you Janet would have, they still do exist in a subtle and even not-so-subtle way. Some of these barriers I believe are self-imposed or innately a “woman” thing. And so hopefully your blog will help break at least those barriers that we can control. For myself, I can honestly say that I have never had a female role model from a business perspective – maybe because there are not so many of them out there. So I look forward to reading the experiences of others out there and gaining inspiration from them – including yourself.

Comment from Anonymous
Time March 11, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Hi Janet, this is so timely ! After a high-profile and diverse career on bay street, I now have a daughter wanting to enter the business – now in year 2 at DeGroote, McMaster. I have often wondered how to pass on our experiences, so your blog is timely. I will get her to sign up and tell her friends. Thanks. Marianne

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