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Dear readers and tea lovers everywhere,

Welcome to a regular feature of our blog,
‘Afternoon tea with …. 
people of note’

Today, we’re taking afternoon tea with Anne Day, founder of Company of Women, a community of like-minded entrepreneurial women who gain support, confidence and connections to grow professionally, personally, and as Anne likes to note, profoundly.

“Our lives are a tapestry with different threads woven into the fabric of who we are, and who we can become. Through Company of Women, we weave wisdom, warmth and wellness into everyday life.  We want to inspire women to achieve their full potential and to realize their dreams,” says Anne

Anne Day, Founder of Company of Women

Anne Day, Founder of Company of Women

Throughout her career, Anne’s focus has always been on helping women and children. She’s held leadership roles in the non-profit sector, has worked in government on women’s issues and was editor of a national parenting magazine. And then established her own successful consultancy. But working at home is isolating. “I sensed other women likely felt the same way too. So in 2003 I started Company of Women as a way to meet up and connect with other women entrepreneurs,’ says Anne. Company of Women took off and became an influential organization. In 2005 Anne shuttered the consulting business and focused on growing Company of Women.

Company of Women mug

Today Company of Women has six chapters in Toronto and its environs and over 300 members who attend more than 80 events a year to grow professionally, personally and profoundly. It has also garnered a slew of recognition for enabling women. Success seems almost guaranteed when your mantra is: Be bold, be brave, belong.

Born and raised in Scotland, Anne immigrated to Canada with her husband over 35 years ago.  They have two lovely daughters and a puppy named Brodie. Anne has written three books: Courage to Succeed: Inspiring Stories by Enterprising Women, Faces of Opportunity, a book which is a fundraiser for Opportunity International and Day by Day: Tales of Business, Life, and Everything in Between. Both books and the mug are available from the Company of Women website.

daybyday_smallcover

Our interview took place on a hot and sultry day in August, so Her Ladyship (that would be me!) offered Anne some Lighthouse Lemonade made by Jill Fisher. Fanning ourselves, and cool glass at hand, we sat down to sip lemonade (digitally) and to chat.

There are so many definitions of ‘passion’; how do you define passion?
I feel so lucky – I love what I do; I get to meet amazing women who inspire me with their courage and determination to succeed. That is one way of looking at passion.  Passion is also giving back and that’s very important to me. Over the years I have been an active volunteer, serving on boards, both nationally and internationally.  Through Company of Women, we support several charities that improve the lives of girls and women. I suppose you could say this is one way I define passion.

Besides guiding Company of Women, what else grabs your time?
I write – perhaps this is another of my passions!  I am a regular business columnist for Huffington Post and blog for several online publications.  I am currently working on co-authoring a fourth book that looks at why women feel they’re not good enough.

Where did your entrepreneurial attitude come from?
At home. My father was laid off at the age of 52 from the company he had work for all his life. He used his severance package to buy a newsagent and at one point had 18 paperboys working for him! What was amazing is that my mother served them a hot breakfast everyday. My father was very big on giving back; growing up we were given a sense of balance – a sort of ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ philosophy. Also, I love to start things.

Success is like passion – we have many definitions for both; what’s your definition of success?
Making a difference! When I introduce two women business owners and they connect, forge ahead, and go further because of their relationship with one another, now isn’t this the definition of success? But I see success also when a woman comes out of her shell, blossoms and flourishes to become a successful person and entrepreneur; when a Company of Women program has positively impacted the women in attendance and they leave changed by the experience – that is also success – big time.

It’s proven that small businesses started and managed by women have greater survival rates then similar enterprises started by men. What’s your take on this?
I think the issues facing men and women entrepreneurs are the same, BUT women have a different attitude from the get-go about getting things done. We bring different things to the table and I think makes all the difference in the world.

What surprises you the most?
It’s Company of Women. I was running this company as a sideline and never expected it would take off like it did.

What is your go to method to cheer yourself up?
Reminding myself tomorrow is another day.

What skill would you like to learn?
Hearty laugh ….

What never fails to make you laugh?
British humour.

Brodie1You’re a hugely busy lady; how do you make your life less stressful?
We just got a puppy and we’ve named him Brodie. I think this may have added to my stress! But I love walking with him and I think this is very relaxing and very de-stressing.

How do you indulge your inner kid?
I love to dance and I dance with Brodie, our new puppy.

What is you favourite work of art?
It’s a field of flowers. The painting is in our home and besides being beautiful, it has a story – so perhaps that’s also why it’s my favourite. Some years ago, we were in Paris and we came across this painting in a shop window; we certainly couldn’t afford the painting, but we bought it!

Toronto Symphony or Tegan and Sara?
Tegan and Sara.

How do you celebrate big moments?
Meeting up with my girlfriends.

How do you like to spend a summer day?
Anywhere near water.

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?
I read murder mysteries; I wouldn’t want to meet any of them!

Who is your favourite author?
The British writer Peter Robinson, author of the Inspector Banks murder mysteries.

What is your guilty pleasure?
A glass of wine.

What is the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever visited?
Sorrento.

What is your favourite season?
Autumn.

What is your workout philosophy?
It needs work!

What is must see TV for you?
Downton Abbey.

What is your favourite Canadian city?
Quebec City.

Which contemporary celebrity do you admire?
Oprah Winfrey.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Somebody feisty.

What is your favourite virtue?
Generosity.

What are three aspects of your personality?
Strong sense of humour – I think humour has gotten me far; authentic and I would say I’m pretty well grounded.

What you appreciate the most in your friends?
A positive attitude

What is your idea of happiness?
Being by the sea with family and friends, for sure.

Who is your real life hero?
Oprah Winfrey

What is your favourite food?
Curry.

What are three little known facts about you?
Aha … I don’t know if I should answer this …. I can’t swim, I can’t ride a bike, and I have a phobia about birds.

What do you bring on a long light to make yourself comfortable?
A shawl.

When you take a vacation, do you focus on luxury, adventure or relaxation?
Luxurious relaxation!

What is your current pre-occupation?
I love to write and I’m co-wrting my fourth book and blogging.

What is the best advice you would give your younger self?
Take more risks.

What would you like to be doing10 years from now?
Travelling.

What words do you live by?
T
o thine own self be true and all that we send into the life of others, comes back into our own.

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