Author

Sarah Thomson

Browsing

THE NUCLEAR POWER SCANDAL

While the media focuses on greenhouse gases, global warming, and clean air, possibly the most devastating, and costly threat to the environment slides stealthily under the radar. Radioactive waste produced by 16 Canadian nuclear reactors is still stored on-site, which means, for example, that the waste at Pickering is accumulating in a toxic, radioactive cesspool surrounded by concrete, less than 50 kilometers from the largest city in Canada.

Ontario Power Genera-tion (OPG) is storing – and has done so for more than 4 decades – one of the most lethal and toxic wastes ever created, right here in our backyards, primarily because they have no idea what to do with it.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why our government continually chooses to back nuclear power, when what the public ultimately wants is renewable energy. As a business investment, nuclear continually underperforms. In fact, when all costs (including disposal of toxic waste) are taken into consideration, the price of nuclear escalates to such a degree that it makes a bad business investment. Private investors have stayed completely away from the nuclear power industry since its inception. But I think there is much more at play than meets the public eye. Both the history of power generation and the politics surrounding alternative energy in this country play a huge part.

The history of the OPG is one filled with grand schemes promoted by power-hungry (excuse the pun) tyrants relying on an atmosphere of desperation and stupidity.

In the 1970s Ontario decided to base its future on nuclear energy. My guess is that the Nuclear Power Association presented a sly, polished, and legitimate-sounding “business” model to a government frustrated by environmental lobbyists pressuring it to stop building hydro facilities.

Nuclear sold itself then as it does today – as a “clean” alternative with little impact on the environment. Prop-aganda has a way of slithering into popular culture, distorting the truth, and the machine behind the nuclear movement is well oiled. Over time, as the actual costs have surfaced, nuclear proves to be far more expensive than estimated. One can only hope that the environmental risks haven’t been severely underestimated as well.

Today there are only a few environmentalists in Canada who have managed to build successful businesses in the energy industry, and I imagine that in the 1970s they were virtually non-existent and probably half stoned. It’s one thing to be an environmentalist and an entirely different thing to run a reliable energy company capable of providing a necessity to thousands of Canadians. The government then didn’t have much choice but to accept the recommendations of Ontario Hydro (now OPG) and hope for the best.

Last year’s Pembina Report estimated that “About 85,000 used fuel bundles are generated every year by Canadian nuclear reactors.” It goes on to explain that, “When a spent fuel rod is removed from a CANDU nuclear reactor, it is extremely radioactive: an unprotected person standing within a metre of such a bundle would die within an hour.”

Although radioactivity decreases with time, it takes about one million years for the level of radioactivity of spent fuel to return to that of natural uranium. Used nuclear fuel also has the potential to release chemically toxic elements, including heavy metals.

With so much focus put on clean air and greenhouse gases, nuclear power provides little more than a simulacrum offering a quick, expensive, and non-renewable stopgap. What’s needed now are a few good ideas, accompanied by some great business plans, and some savvy business types to implement them with the same amount of support and backing this government is giving to the nuclear power industry.

THE VALUE OF VISION

My two-year-old son woke me early this morning. He placed his hand on my cheek and, when I opened my eyes, his nose was almost touching mine. When our eyes met he whispered “hi mummy,” softly with a tenderness that melted away any thoughts of sending him back to his bed. He is learning the value of tenderness, learning that the way he speaks and what he says has a direct effect on how others treat him. He is learning the art of manipulation.

I’ve just finished taking the MBA Essentials for Managers course at Rotman Business School. The course fired up my desire to learn and grow, particularly the class on negotiation taught by Glen Whyte. What I came away with was the idea that good negotiation isn’t about winning or losing, but about creating a contract that allows both sides to benefit from the relationship like a good marriage.

Jim Fisher also gave a great lecture on leadership, using a speech from Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth. The speech demonstrates how Henry is able to convince his men to fight although all the odds are against them, how he motivates and manipulates them using everything from honour to promises of infamy. A good leader must be good at managing, motivating and leading. They must carry out a plan, but be able to maneuver in a consistently changing environment. What is important is not sticking to the plan but sticking to the vision. A leader must live up to their value system in order to inspire those who follow them. It was interesting to learn that ethical values can have much more influence over people than money.

And today I think about the vision for the Women’s Post. Our vision is to inspire as many women as we can to be all they can be. Our strategy reflects this vision and so too do the people I work with. Now as a leader I must stick to my values. I must motivate the people I work with and adapt plans easily to the changes we encounter, and at all times I must stick to our vision.
Vision without a task is only a dream. A task without a vision is but drudgery. But vision with a task is a dream fulfilled.

Recommended Reading:

Willie Stone Sixtyfive Roses, a Sister’s Memoir by Heather Summerhayes Cariou had me in tears by the second page. The story is about how and why her parents founded the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But it is also about the bond between two sisters, and how illness changes the way a family lives and magnifies each moment.

Welcome

We welcome Sandra Martin, Heather Mallick and Elizabeth Nickson to our roster of columnists. They are three very intelligent women who say what they think with eloquence and style. I’m looking forward to some very interesting discussion and debate in the coming months.

THOUGHTS AND IDEAS

Monday

My office is filled with sunlight. I came in early today to get a head start on answering email and returning messages. Nobody is in yet and it seems so [quite] QUIET. I love the fast pace of the office when things get hectic on deadline day, but I also love moments like this. I wander around and notice that someone has hung a new map on the wall for the salespeople to use. I see that my great assistant has organized all the back issues of the paper onto shelves and labeled them. Someone else has a picture of their wife on his screensaver. I notice that every desk has something personal on it that distinguishes them. Someone has taken the little toy animals that sit on my book shelf and put them in a compromising position. There are some things people do simply to cause a smile ― I’m glad I work with people who do those sorts of things.

Tuesday

Went to my first MBA Essentials for Managers course tonight at Rotman Business School. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy school. Tonight the focus was on design thinking. Heather Fraser took the class through a crash course on the value of design as a means to “unlocking breakthrough strategies and ideas…” We covered some of the design tools that can be used to set up, grow and analyse a company. Fraser demonstrated how to create a strategic business design in order to understand the key elements that drive a company to success. As we spoke I doodled out a strategic business design for this newspaper and the act of simply writing down all the important elements that go into the end product made me focus on how important our distribution is to our brand identification as well as our advertising revenue stream. I must broaden our reach and get the street boxes out as soon as possible.

We’ve had success with every major city but Toronto. We have waited more than 2 years to get licences for newspaper boxes from the city of Toronto but have had nothing but roadblocks put up. At this point I’m wondering if we should take legal action. I can’t understand why the Toronto Sun can have a box on all four corners of an intersection but the Women’s Post is not allowed to have even one box.

Wednesday

I’m feeling guilty today. Guilty for driving to work when I could have easily walked; guilty for turning on the lights, for buying my latte, for consuming like most other North Americans. Global warming is real and yet I continue to go about my life, giving little thought to finding the answer to the energy crisis. If not me then who?

Thursday

We had our first advisory board meeting for the Women’s Post today and I was awed by the number of great ideas that were discussed. Having the time to think, talk and strategize with a number of very intelligent people felt like a great luxury. Each one of them gave their best ideas and their time and for that I will always be thankful. Time is something one can never get back, but I must say that those first few hours spent strategizing on the direction of this newspaper were some of the most productive hours I have had in a long time.

I had another MBA Essentials for Managers course at Rotman Business School tonight and this time the focus was on negotiation. The instructor was thorough and interesting. He had us break into pairs and role play while negotiating an employment contract. It is something I do frequently and the structure emphasized creating a winning situation for both parties so that the actual outcome would create the best situation possible. I didn’t realize that the things I do by gut instinct can be abstracted into a theory.

Friday

One of my favourite journalists, Heather Mallick, has joined the Women’s Post. I find both her intellect and comical outlook inspiring. Last summer, she wrote a short sentence in an email that filled me with awe. While commenting on the heat she wrote, “the spiders are dripping from my windows.” Lines like that are few and far between and when you come across them they stick with you.

MAY WE HAVE THE COURAGE TO CHANGE

Change. Why do so many people fear it? When I was in my teens I hoped for change, in my 20s I counted on it and now, in my late 30s with two children and a loving husband, I shudder, just a little, before opening my eyes to see which direction it will take me.

I’ve always believed that life is about navigating through change with honour and facing adversity and opportunity with courage.

And today change is at the very root of the debate on global warming.

There are two opposing scientific theories to global warming. In one camp are the scientists who believe that C02 levels are contributing to global warming. Quite simply put, C02 traps the sun’s rays in the atmosphere, which causes the earth to warm up. This view is advanced in Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth. Temperature and C02 graphs, created from ice core samples, are linked, showing that they rise and fall together. The problem is that the ice core samples demonstrate that C02 increases actually follow temperature increases – at times they even lag 200 to 400 years behind temperature increases. Despite this, Gore insists that man-made increases in C02 will contribute significantly to global warming.

In the other camp are the scientists who disagree and believe that solar flares have far more impact on global warming. Solar flares create a wind that deflects cosmic rays from entering the Earth’s atmosphere where they meet water vapour and form clouds. More solar activity creates more of this solar wind and leads to less cloud formation. Without as much cloud cover, the Earth’s surface heats up. They conclude that humans actually have little to do with global warming. This view is reflected in the movie The Great Global Warming Swindle. The problem with this view is that the data for solar activity doesn’t go back very far and it seems relatively unreliable.

But while both camps believe that the Earth is warming, the most important issue is: Can we do anything about it?
What interests me is how the “climate crisis” looks through the eyes of the economists.

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is a report Sir Nicholas Stern released in 2006. The report supports the belief that C02 is causing global warming and it looks at what needs to be done to adapt to climate change: This is the part that matters most. Ignoring the fact that the Earth is warming will eventually damage economic growth no matter what the cause. The report insists that: “Adaptation to climate change – taking steps to build resilience and minimize costs – is essential.”

And it also looks at the need to develop new forms of energy technology. The report suggests that “Action on climate change will also create significant business opportunities as new markets are created in low-carbon energy technologies and other low-carbon goods and services.”

A home-grown green industry propelled by political activists who have turned one theory on climate change into a political ideology might be the beginning of a huge economic shift, or it could simply be the development of a new industry. Obviously, the “huge economic shift” is what people fear most. An environmental mandate in Canada could hinder our ability to compete on a global level, but then too it could also create so much economic activity here that it strengthens us globally.

The energy industry has the most to gain and, I suppose, the most to lose from the environmental movement. Both oil and uranium are finite resources, but long before they run out, the prices will go up, as is happening now. Over the years, as supplies diminish and prices increase, alternative sources of energy will become more and more viable and eventually oil and uranium will run out. It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but may happen in my children’s lifetime; which means that the seeds for alternative energy need to be planted now so that my children can enjoy the same quality of life that I have today.

The one fact that I am sure of is that the Earth is warming and – even if this wasn’t caused by C02 – there will be serious repercussion. Instead of arguing over the cause, it’s time to stand up and face the future.

Sarah Thomson’s views on global warming are constantly changing.

MOTIVATED MEDIA MOGULS

When I think of what motivates me, I think of my husband, my children, and my desire to do something significant with my life. Motivation is defined as “having the desire and willingness to do something.” It can come from others who inspire you, but in the end I believe it comes from within. I’m motivated to make this newspaper into the best publication in Canada, but when I ask myself why, it comes down to some very personal reasons.

Tonight I am watching the news of the Conrad Black trial. Two weeks ago I shared a drink with him in his study. He is the only person in Canada who has started a national newspaper; the only one who knows and understands the hurdles I face. What I learned over the evening is that he has one of the keenest minds I’ve ever come across, and he doesn’t shy away from using it. We discussed the media industry; we discussed his latest book on Nixon (soon to be released); and we discussed lawyers, architects, and leaders of the land who are critical of him, but have their own skeletons.

What touched me most, aside from his amazing vocabulary, was his willingness to pass on what he has learned. I think what motivates him is the desire to matter, to do something significant with his life, to leave his mark on history.

I too want to do something that makes a difference. Real failure is to live a life that doesn’t contribute to the world. No one would dispute that the media has a lot of power over public opinion, and I hope to use whatever influence we garner with this newspaper to inspire women to be all they can be. I believe that women are causing huge changes in society; more focus is now placed on issues that women feel strongly about. If I can help push that momentum forward, help get women’s views to the forefront of the decision-making process, I think I will have achieved something with my life.

As my children grow I realize how much they learn from me. My two-year-old now walks around repeating everything I say – the bad and the good. I must set an example, teach them to give back to the world, as my parents taught me. But what motivates me to do this is my own mortality. The only way I will live on is in passing my values, ideas, and knowledge to my children.

Motivation – It comes from a deep awareness and understanding of our own mortality.

*****

This issue marks the first issue that we will distribute through our new pink newspaper street boxes. The boxes allow us to reach many more women than ever before. They put us out on the streets where newspapers compete side by side. It will be interesting to see how many more readers we attract through them.

I encourage you to enter our pink box launch contest atwww.womenspost.ca. Simply click on the pink newspaper box on our website. We have a number of great prizes and you’ll get a chance to win tickets to our exclusive launch party at the end of March. Join me with over 150 key media celebrities, columnists, and some of the most accomplished women in the country.

ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP

Growing up on a farm taught me to see the world as a treasure – a gift to be treated with great care and respect. It was there that I learned to appreciate the fragile quality in the beauty of nature. And it was there that I first looked at a drop of dew on a blade of grass, and listened for the individual voice of a cricket on a hot summer night.

Over the years my concern for the environment has grown stronger. My last few editorials on global warming have generated numerous letters from both the left and the right. The left felt I needed to be more extreme in stating there was an actual crisis. While Conservatives didn’t feel that I spoke enough about the economy and the issue we now face in trying to meet the Kyoto targets. But the issue is more complex than simply stating that the Liberals procrastinated for so long that reaching Kyoto targets is impossible.

Energy is a cost and businesses know this. When the price of energy went up, companies looked at becoming more efficient. Consumption has gone down but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

The true issue at hand is leadership. If Steven Harper is serious about the environment than he has to do more then just complain about the previous government. He’s had over a year to work on this. He needs to turn the environment issue away from focusing on impossible targets and create attainable ones. Any good business leader knows that without targets no-thing gets done. But when it comes to the environment, lea-dership has to come from all sectors.

Harper is not a fool; he knows the same business leaders I do and they aren’t evil, scheming, men wanting to destroy the world. Many of them care very much about the environment. The most important thing that the business leaders I’ve spoken with want is action – they want policies designed to address the environment, policies that create a level playing field in their industries.

The second issue around the climate crisis is strategic, it involves risk analysis. What is the best means to reduce emissions? Will legislation to reduce emissions actually be as effective dollar for dollar as investing in energy efficiency? This is where I believe the business community needs to take the lead; this is where trial and error will happen. When it comes to change, government always lags behind and business always seems to take the lead. Take the example of Dofasco – not only have they cleaned up their emissions, but they have exceeded Kyoto targets.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) has formed a group of lead a task force to achieve a national consensus on the reduction of greenhouse gases. This may be the quickest route to at least trying to meet some of our Kyoto commitments.

ONTARIO HYDRO: SIMPLY SHOCKING

Former Hydro One CEO Tom Parkinson’s alleged business expense transgressions and his resulting ouster may have made great political fodder for the government and opposition parties at Queen’s Park and the media who cover the pink palace, but it did nothing to resolve one of the most serious challenges facing our province and its communities – the lack of sustainable hydro-electric power.
Parkinson may be gone, but the lack of a made-in-Ontario power generation solution persists, with little or no thoughtful debate underway in the legislature to resolve it and no significant infrastructure investments on the horizon to sustain it.

All Parkinson’s dismissal did was validate recent criticism leveled by Hydro watchers that when it comes to developing and executing a plan that sustains Ontario’s most important economic development asset – available, reliable and affordable hydro-electric, power – Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Minister of Energy, Dwight Duncan, aren’t up to the job.

To give credit where it’s due, former Premier Mike Harris acknowledged this and developed a plan to privatize the utility, thus keeping it out of reach of the pol-iticians and bureaucrats at Queen’s Park. While Harris had the right idea, the crown-corporation-to-private-entity handoff was mishandled.

As a result, the new hydro organizations are neither fish nor fowl. They are subjected almost daily to inconsistent direction from Queen’s Park on everything from rates, future generation tech-nologies, infrastructure investments and the make-up of the various boards of directors.

I had the privilege to serve three years on the board of a local hydro utility. Based on my experiences at that level and what I was exposed to at a provincial level, I can assure you that few if any politicians or bureaucrats at Queen’s Park are qualified to manage what is easily the most financially and operationally sophisticated entity in the province. Ontario’s hydro generation service deserves – and requires – professional management that operates outside of the influence of the Government of Ontario.

Parkinson was removed because he was becoming increasingly and openly critical of political interference by McGuinty and Duncan, both of whom would prefer that Ontario’s energy service revert back to a classic Crown Cor-poration. As Parkinson told Energy Probe’s Tom Adams in an illuminating piece Adams authored for the National Post last Dec. 21, “Hydro One is too complex, too valuable and too important to the Ontario economy to be in government hands. Career politicians and me-diocre ex-CEOs are not up to the complex challenge of running companies like these. The price of chronic government interference is enormous.”

The price of that interference is as follows: long-term debt approaching $30 billion, consumer rates that don’t yet represent the true cost of hydro generation but are high nonetheless, and the lack of a hydro generation direction for the future – or a made-in-Ontario backup plan in the event of the failure today of one or more generating stations.

The combination of high debt load and below-cost rates makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Ontario Hydro’s successor organizations to build a sustainable energy infrastructure program for the future. In my view, there are no options other than to retrace steps taken towards privatization by the Harris government and properly implement that original plan. Ontario needs private sector management – and investment – to achieve sustainable, made-in-Ontario hydro-electric generation.

Don’t expect resolution of either the governance question or the future generation strategy until after October, 2007, when Ontarians go to the polls to elect a new government. Until then, let’s hope these are the only hydro matters that remain shrouded in darkness.

John B. Challinor is a communications expert and former city councilor.

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

Grant Whatmough: May 24, 1921 – Sept. 14, 1999

It has been seven years since my father died and as I look at his picture beside my desk I think of all he gave me — the innocence of childhood, the safety of it, and the desire to live life as fully as possible.

When I was a girl I would run through the fields with my arms outstretched like wings. The tall grass scratched at my bare legs, almost reaching my arms, but it offered a soft cushion with every fall and a great place to hide from my twin brother. I used to dream of flying. Of swooping over the fields like the barn swallows. I used to climb trees and watch the tall grass roll like waves in the wind.

One of my favourite songs isHome by Nathan Wiley. The first line goes “When I was a boy I had everything, I had silver and gold.” The song evokes images of his past, falling asleep in the back seat of the car, dreaming of ships he will sail. It reminds me of what home felt like to me as a child — a safe place to think, dream, learn, and set out from. That childhood innocence I once had is something I can only go back to in my dreams, a place where responsibility and worry don’t enter.

Tonight, as I type away at my desk I remember the evenings I had as a child. There were times when my parents had company and I would sneak out of my bed to listen to them talk. They spoke about philosophy, art, politics, love, and life. I remember wishing I would grow up faster so that I could understand more about what they discussed. Life seemed to be just out of reach.

Many of my childhood memories are beautiful and sometimes I wonder if my senses were more finely tuned then. I remember being in bed with my window open and trying to pick out a single voice in a chorus of 1000 frogs (spring peepers) that filled the night air. Their voices seemed to create a magical symphony.

I remember running along paths in the dark with nothing but a sparkler to light our way and reaching the crest of a hill to turn and see the sparks from a huge bonfire we had spent months preparing rise until they merged with the stars in the sky above.

I remember evenings when my parents sat out on the lawn to watch the sun set and I, in turn, watched them from my bedroom window. They held hands and sat out there well after the light faded and darkness filled the night with stars.

I still recall my first skate on a cold winter’s night, the smoothness of the ice and the stillness of the night broken only by a dog’s bark from miles away. The star-filled sky stretched over the fields, enveloping them in its silence. I glided over the ice, floating, flying above and amid the night, part of it and grounded completely in it. The beauty in that moment struck me like never before, but as soon as I took notice it was gone.

My twin brother and I swam in a neighbour’s pond. We explored the nearby swamp and choked on cigarettes made from dried leaves and weeds. We rode horses from the neighbouring church camp, sneaked into their gospel hall and sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight over their public address system. We flour-bombed their prayer wagon. We grew. I remember the fear and exhilaration that came from swaying in the upper branches of a tall tree on the crest of a hill, as an August thunderstorm rolled, clashing and bursting over the fields, toward us.

The innocence of my childhood left long ago. I know about loss and the feeling of emptiness in the pit of your stomach that has a way of growing into you, and becoming part of you. I know that happiness can come and go. This knowledge is something I’d never experienced as a child; its price was my innocence. I remember how much I craved being older, I wanted to be free to do anything and to learn as much as I could. And you know, I still crave learning despite the cost.

My childhood home was my Eden. I will never go back because I would never voluntarily give up the knowledge I have gained. But, if I live long enough, my knowledge and my memories might slowly begin to melt away and someday I may indeed regain the innocence I’ve lost. Life is, if you live long enough, one big circle.

THE SADNESS OF SEPTEMBER

This morning the lake is calm and still; there isn’t a boat in sight. The sun seems to be melting away the mist. It rises up in wisps where the bays and inlets are still in shadows. A loon in the distance has a lonely call that seems to echo over the lake.

The summer is over, gone before I had a chance to truly settle into it. September has arrived in the quiet way it usually does, its long shadows creeping over the afternoons and cool nights filling the morning air with dampness.

I had a dream last night that I was visiting September as if it were a neighbour that I’d lost touch with. We went through some old memories, the ending of summer vacation and beginning of school. Days when I’d sit in the classroom beside an open window and listen to the geese flying high above, honking as they left for the south.

I remembered the day in September that my father died. It was a warm sunny day. I woke up just before the sun rose. My father’s hospital room looked out over Lake Ontario. I watched the wisps of clouds high in the sky change from grey to pink followed by the flash of light as the first ray of sun broke the horizon. I remember when he lost consciousness a few hours later, and feeling that he was suddenly gone from the room. I remember the nurse calling “code blue” and the doctors running into his room. I remember leaving the hospital with all the weight of worry gone, feeling light but horribly empty as well. I remember the sunshine, warm on my face, and the butterflies that seemed to fill my mother’s garden that day. I remember my tears stinging like never before.

I remembered another day in September when the twin towers fell. Again it was a warm sunny day. A day that seemed to exude life although it would soon reek with death. I remember driving over to drop the newspaper pages to our copy editor and hearing the news on the radio. We turned on his television and watched the horror on CNN. I remember the awful scenes and the terrible feeling that nothing would ever be the same again.

In my dream I grew angry at September for taking life away, but then it encouraged me to remember the day in September that I was married. The day started out cool and overcast. The lake was cold and the power was out all over Muskoka. Greg and I jumped in the frigid lake to wash and bath before getting dressed for our wedding. It was cool, but by noon the sun was shining. The clouds had blown away and the power was finally working. I remember sitting on the dock with Greg and watching a butterfly flutter about looking for the last flowers of summer. I remember the boat ride to our ceremony, and trying to contain my joy at seeing everyone I loved gathered there to celebrate with us. That day in September was one of the best days of my life.

I woke up from my dream to the sound of my six-month-old son crying from his crib. I picked him up and the two of us looked out over the still lake, watching the mist rise in the bay on the far shore. The clouds turned pink and sunlight touched the tips of the trees across from us, tingeing their dark green branches with a touch of gold.

September marks the end of summer. It is a month that reminds me of endings, but it also reminds me that with every end there is a beginning.

CHANGE

We did it. Finally, we are the magazine I envisioned six years ago. This change from newspaper to magazine format will help us define ourselves more clearly as the publication that businesswomen rely on for information, thought-provoking content, recommendations, and a sense of unity with other women. It all goes back to the days when sending letters and the quality of the paper you chose reflected the importance of the recipient.

From mothers to lawyers, presidents and CEOs of companies, our readers are some of the most intelligent women I’ve ever met. At times I wonder if we are good enough. Do we challenge readers enough? We discuss news and ideas that get me thinking, but then I’ve always doubted my own intellectual level and my abilities. My father used to say that is what made me smarter than most, and I’ve noticed that most smart women question themselves; actually they question everything, especially in this day and age. That is why I think there is a need for a magazine that can provide smart women with the intellectual stimulation they want.

When I look back at the many lessons learned through my career as a publisher, perhaps the most important came from the presidents and CEOs I’ve had the great fortune to meet. They taught me to give ideas and time freely to those wanting to learn, to pay it forward, so to speak. And when I think of all those who have given me both their time and ideas without asking anything in return, I know I still have a huge debt to repay.

Change is the only absolute in life. I can count on it, I can fear it, or I can navigate through it using the guide of morality my parents passed down to me. But there is good and bad that can come with any change, and I wonder sometimes if my ability to deal with it has more to do with my physiology than my attitude. Do I have a “happy” gene that doesn’t allow me to get depressed? I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt depression the way some of my friends have experienced it. I tend to find good in almost every change, which can be terribly annoying to some, especially when the stakes are high.

My husband trusts that I will make this magazine work, but he’s worried about the change. It is a big investment — the cost of production has more than doubled with this new format, and he worries that the income we generate from subscription and advertising sales won’t come in quickly enough. I worry too. But I won’t let the worry stand in the way of my belief that people appreciate quality and that women will support us with subscriptions (see subscription form on this page ;-). I know that advertisers value the intelligent community of women we have earned.

Our latest Courage to Lead event focused on marketing to women and was an incredible success. We had a panel of experts that included Tony Chapman, CEO of Capital C; Alison Leung, marketing manager for Dove, Unilever Canada; and Cheryl Smith, national VP, consumer and trade marketing, Parmalat Canada. The sense of unity among the women in the room, the shared desire for an intimate discussion, reflected what Women’s Post magazine is all about. The evening had an energy that comes when intelligent ideas are united with minds that want to learn and grow. I mingled with our guests and each group I spoke with had intelligent women connecting, sharing ideas, or offering recommendations. Alison Leung came to me at the end of the night and said that she finally understood what Women’s Post is all about. I don’t think she knew how much her words meant to me, and how such words can work to inspire. It’s amazing how few words it takes — words said at the right time, in the right place — to inspire someone. That is my goal for Women’s Post: To inspire women to be all they can be through words, ideas, and connection.

Sarah Thomson can be reach at publisher@womenspost.ca.