Claiming my Power


In September I attended the Discovery Series: Gaining Power and Influence event from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, with key note speaker Christine Day (CEO of Luvo).

This was my first event with GVBoT since becoming a member last month and wow did it not disappoint.
Despite arriving at the last minute and having the unfortunate joy of finding an unoccupied seat, yes the only ones were right at the front and yes the speeches had started, I made it.
Not only was I going to hear an excerpt from Christine’s new book she is writing (I’m looking forward to that one once it is published) it was also the graduation ceremony for the Leaders of Tomorrow program. The LoT is a program run by the GVBoT in conjunction with many partners for young adults…

Here is a link to the video that we got to watch.

I felt privileged to have ended up sitting at a table with one of the stars of this video, Victoria Velez. This young lady was articulate, confident, engaging and an absolute pleasure. It’s no wonder that her mentor was beaming from ear to ear as he sat proudly next to her all evening.
After we listened to Christine’s speech (which I will get to in a minute) there was time for us as tables to discuss what we had heard. On the table was a card with helpful facilitating questions to get everyone talking. As is often the case among a group of strangers no one jumped at starting so I kind of through our LoT graduate under the bus and asked if she’d like to lead the discussion. Without missing a beat she jumped right in and spoke passionately about what from Christine’s talk had struck a chord with her and from the reams of notes in front of her this was evident. From this springboard, the table took turns to share their thoughts and a lively discussion ensued. It seems everyone had found at least one thing to take away from the session 🙂 one point that stood out to me – “I have a new definition of power, it doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore for me but instead it can be a good thing, it’s just how it is wielded”. I personally had never seen power as negative but after listening to this lady speak I suddenly saw how it could be and how important it is for us, especially as women or younger people in the workplace to take ownership of our power and then be aware of how we use it, because it can be used for good and indeed evil but it is up to us as individuals to use it properly for the betterment of those around us.
I look forward to seeing where Victoria Velez ends up in later life as I feel she is definitely someone to watch.

Going back to Christine Day. This lady is a bit of a trailblazer, CEO of Starbucks (making it an internationally recognized brand), CEO of Lululemon (taking it from a $23m business to $1.2 billion) and now CEO at Luvo using the brand marketing tool of buyer engagement [fund correct term for this]. She’s also a woman in traditionally a mans world and it was very interesting to hear her talk candidly about her experiences with gaining power and using it, through a talk that was written for 50people but suddenly was being said to 280 people.

She opened with her first memories of using her power, at junior school playing kickball and suddenly at grade 5 all the girls didn’t play anymore but instead watched from the sidelines and discussed hair, makeup etc. but Christine still wanted to play and then found herself navigating the tricky waters of being shunned by the girls and teased by the boys who didn’t know what to do with her. This was definitely a story I could relate to as I had been through something similar when I decided I didn’t want to be a brownie but instead joined the scouts. In the UK we don’t have Girl Scouts, instead, a scout has been for boys only. Well, I broke that rule and became the first Girl Scout in my area and it was a battle every day.

She also told the story of the time she was in a meeting and how after the meeting a male colleague pulled her to one side and said he didn’t appreciate the way she had spoke to him during the meeting. Christine apologized but later thought about it and realised why was she the only one being pulled aside, why not her male colleagues when they had been saying exactly the same things and often worse. So in the next meeting when he did this again she replied with “if you can’t get on board with the best things for this project then maybe you need to find a new project” she regained her power and survived the “locker room smack down”.