Colleen is pictured standing in front of a cityscape, beside another woman. Both are holding coffee mugs and smiling.

Women of Distinction Spotlight: Colleen Smith

From emotional intelligence to men’s rights, Women of Distinction alumni Colleen Smith has some thought provoking opinions to share. Take a few moments of your morning to get motivated and then get moving!

What have you been up to since your big win?
I have tackled business challenges that excited and scared the heck out of me all at once. Sound leadership principles and business acumen means you can tackle completely new areas with success. I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of fantastic opportunities to learn and lead. Two examples – I directed the local Children’s museum through a difficult transitional time with a view to support it through its next growth stage. I was also privileged to take the lead managing a high profile organization delivering food literacy programs and initiatives to Ontario students.¬†Canada will be one of 5 food exporters within the next two decades and yet we don’t currently have a national food policy. We need young people to understand where their food comes from, respect the abundance Canada has, waste less and appreciate our soil. We need to move from scant knowledge of food to a position of food literacy – a big job for the next generation!

Yellow box with a quote from Colleen, written in blue: "I remember to be grateful and try to value myself - not just in my performance success, but in the fact that I exist and contribute on this planet."

What does the world need more of? Less of?
Fewer performance formulas – more emotional intelligence. I’ve done a radio show for almost 13 years now talking about the many angles and aspects of EQ – it’s a passion – a commitment. The world needs more communication filtering using EQ sensitivities – less formulaic approaches to motivation and relationship building and more listening, empathy and emotional connections. In my opinion, this will lead to more compassion – which is a resource we never seem to have the tools to personally talk about, but is in critically short supply in our fast paced, digital world.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up again?
I rely on friends – their support and energy. I think about my successes and realize that everyone has ups and downs in life. I remember to be grateful and try to value myself – not just in my performance success but in the fact that I exist and contribute on this planet. I matter too.

What’s your go-to quote when you need inspiration or motivation?
I’m guided by a Mark Twain quote that says: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” It’s never let me down to boost my morale and energy – I deeply believe in this message.

What’s an issue happening right now in your community that your passionate about?
Men’s rights – perhaps not a community issue specifically but across the community spectrum in general – particularly when it comes to Family Law. True gender equality and equity will only be realized when we have leveled the playing field across all systemic platforms – in my opinion. One of the most egregious examples – automatic labels like ‘dead beat dad’ need to be discarded as we realize the label can apply to ‘mom’s’ as well. Preconceived notions about what gender is more nurturing, emotional, capable in specific roles, (child rearing, housework, cooking, etc). – all need to be discarded – and the sooner the better. We have labelled ‘men’ and their talents, shortcomings and capabilities almost as much as we used to label women’s. Not acceptable and as a grassroots ‘feminist’ I am directing my voice to ensuring equal rights for men too.

What question do you wish we’d asked you and what’s your answer to that question?
My question is: What areas do I think need to be mandated for our kids to learn about in schools? I believe mandatory courses throughout all grade levels need to include – in my opinion, mandatory courses throughout all grade levels need to include:

  • Debating skills – explore the art of conversation and presenting your ideas – let’s have a course on that in every grade to progress with a student’s maturing viewpoints
  • Food literacy – where food comes from and how to cook – – can we please ensure that all kids know something about Canada’s ‘best in world food quality’ and then can cook to feed themselves a healthy meal…and how to pack nutritious lunches?
  • EQ (emotional intelligence) – we need to unpack the continuum of descriptors re emotions to help our kids express themselves more clearly and share more deeply what they are feeling so we can be supportive

We’re grateful for your time Colleen: and for all the unique ways you’re making an impact; especially in the ways you’re setting a stage for young people’s education and leadership.

Want to hear from more women like Colleen? Tickets for the 2019 events are available now! Every ticket sale contributes to programs also aiming to make a difference in the lives of young people in our community. Thank you in advance and we’ll see you on March 29!

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