WOMEN ON FIRE: ON ENTREPRENEURS, DETERMINATION, AND THE NEXT WAVE

As a woman entrepreneur in the tech field (how often do you see those words together in a sentence?), and the CEO of two companies, Fresh Intelligence and ValidateIt.com, I’m often asked to speak or invited to take part in panels on marketing, entrepreneurship, the impact of Big Data, etc. But very rarely do I have the pleasure of participating in such an inspiring and engaging evening as I did recently as a panel member for the Girls Raising Presentation Event in Toronto. Per their website, “Girls Raising Presentations are a unique series of events that help women founders get publicity, network with like-minded entrepreneurs, and meet influential women (and men) who can move their businesses forward.” 
But of course it’s much more than that, especially for us women leaders who are already walking the path that these young and talented women who are all “can-do” and “will-do” are just starting out on. Like them, I’m still gung-ho about what I’m bringing to the world, and seeing them presenting their start-ups provided a potent reminder of how important that spirit is in each of us. When our determination to realize our vision burns hot in us, what can’t we achieve? That determination never goes out when you’re an entrepreneur at heart; even when adversity or setbacks stall you, you warm yourself at the coals of that flame, and rekindle the determination you need to keep moving forward. But it never burns brighter than it does when you’re first setting out, and hearing the enthusiasm these young women brought to the realization of their dreams was like feeling the glow of a roaring fire. 
What I saw was unbelievable talent in Toronto, showcasing brilliant concepts and innovations that are going to rock the world. The buzz in the room, the level of commitment and intelligence and optimism, were practically intoxicating. There aren’t many women in start-ups – but those of us who are out there, it seems to me, are extraordinarily committed to what we’re doing, which probably accounts for our high success rate. 
    More women need to come out and make a difference; we need to be economic change agents. Girls Raising is doing a fantastic job in raising the profile of Canadian woman entrepreneur start-ups, and the support from the NY Canadian Consulate was impressive, but ultimately it falls on us who’ve gone before to commit to mentoring the up and coming in every way we can. How many of us had strong female mentors? How many more of us would have been grateful for the insights and experience such a person could have offered, when we were starting out? 
Be that person for someone else; it’s a two-way flow of strength and inspiration that will fan the warming flames of determination that empower you both.