Saturday, June 22nd, I hung out with Paulina, YWiB's co-founder and original president. She's an incredibly eloquent, wise, and super fun girl with a passion for cooking, farmer's markets and hiking, oh, and she owns a tandem bike..... named Sally! With YWiB's birthday around the corner (Wednesday, July 10th!), I asked her about starting YWiB and listened as she walked down memory lane. How did YWiB come to be?
In 2007, NJ Thompson and Claire Frazer had the idea to organize an entire conference of female speakers, after being annoyed at seeing only token women at business conferences while at Sauder. Our team of 25+ girls came together very quickly and the very first Beyond Pink was March 28th-29th, 2008. After that, we realized we wanted something that extended throughout the year. There were so many people that wanted to help because of the conference’s success, and the organization sort of grew organically.
What's the funniest story from that first Beyond Pink?
We orchestrated the whole thing in 3 months! I approached Fiona Walsh, a fairly reserved business coach at Ghost CEO, to be our opening keynote. Aside from our welcome speech, she was the first person on stage to address the 300 attendees. The first thing she said when she got up on stage was, "So, I met with Paulina only two months ago. I was super intrigued with this concept and I have to say, I’m slightly shocked that I’m standing on this stage today, because when she came to me two months ago telling me all their ideas for this conference, I thought she was f*cking crazy." NJ, Claire and I just gawked at each other!!! Beyond Pink was meant to be edgy and innovative, but I didn’t exactly expect our keynote to drop the F-bomb right at the start, haha! But she was wicked.
YWiB is five now! What's one of your favourite things about the organization?
There’s something so magical about the volunteers that come through YWiB and the way they’re able to engage. The team functions similarly to a mentoring and leadership development program. Every girl says they learn so much and the friends everyone makes last a beautiful lifetime. You're able to explore new areas or new careers...it’s pretty incredible.
What has YWiB yet to accomplish?
We have yet to be on Oprah, haha! At the YWiB team retreat we do a vision board, and every year, Oprah and Ellen make it on there.
Also, expansion. We’ve already incorporated in Toronto. We’d love to get out there.
When did you make the decision to step down as president?
At the start of 2012 I knew it was my time to move on. There was just no one who I could identify at the time that I could see filling the role. Then Nic and I started connecting a bit more at last year’s retreat, and I thought – ok, she’s good. I’m so excited it’s finalized. She's going to make a fantastic president.
Okay, now some questions about Paulina. Where do you work?
I'm the Business Development Manager at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, a national, non-profit that funds young entrepreneurs and catalyzes their success. I love meeting so many inspired entrepreneurs that want to build their dreams and I get to say, "that's awesome! Here's money, here’s resources! Go make it happen!"
What's one of your favourite things to do outside in Vancouver?
Gravity is my worst enemy, so needless to say... I'm a crappy biker. My fiancé, Dave, and I bought a tandem bike off Cragislist last year, and we have been riding it almost every weekend! We named her Sally. When it’s nice out, we’ll be hiking and picnicking around the mountains or farming in the valley.
Do you have a motto that you live by?
"Redefine your success" are words I've been sticking to really strongly over the last year. I find that a lot of us follow these predetermined paths for success, but it's really about how you define success for your life. It can mean waking up everyday feeling like you're contributing to your community or providing for your family. I think if we were to first define success personally rather than automatically accepting how society defines it, we’d change how we go about getting it and be a lot happier in the process.
...A powerful last piece of advice to YWiB-ers as Paulina continues down her own path to success.