Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast meeting hosted by the Association of Québec Women in Finance.  I was blown away by the calibre of the women members—highly intelligent, witty, articulate and beautiful in their skin. The guest speaker, Joanne De Laurentis, was no exception. She’s currently president of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada. 

Ms. De Laurentis humbly shared some points which defined her life: from being first born and revered by her entire family in Italy; to being forced to repeat grade three because she didn’t speak English when her parents first emigrated the family to Canada; to her extraordinary opportunity to work as Chief of Staff in the Ontario government during the Bill Davis/ Stephen Lewis days thanks to a neurosurgeon turned politician who could see her potential as an aspiring young woman.

Ms. De Laurentis shared four pieces of wisdom that have inspired her.

Realize a childhood dream.  This comes from Randy Pausch’s last lecture. Do you remember what you dreamed of as a child?  I wanted to be a fashion designer. Doing creative things now gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Show up. Woody Allen says that 80 percent of success is just showing up. Joanne spoke of how student government and volunteering opened amazing doors for her. I could relate. During my second year in undergrad, I felt completely disconnected and flat.  A UPEI guidance counsellor quickly concluded, “You were student council secretary in high school. Go get elected to the Student Union”. I did.  This was one of my life’s defining points. I showed up. I continue to show up.

Put in the time. Malcolm Gladwell’s demonstrates in Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything.   Intelligence, talent and opportunity count for a lot and practice makes better.  To be a virtuoso, you have to play the violin A LOT.  I am seeing first hand that my success in coaching and busines corresponds to the time I invest in becoming an expert.

Fill the fields that unfold before you. Scott Thurow points to Obama and his ability to seize opportunity and plant the seeds needed to fill his fields.  I am continuously amazed that when I keep open to possibility, how many fields I can see.

I conclude with four words:  Dream, Act, Practice, Sow!

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