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April 12, 2012I always enjoy the opportunity to see Catalyst events through the eyes of newcomers to our organization. Erin Leonty, who has joined Catalyst recently as Membership Manager for Western Canada, shares her early impressions of Catalyst events below. Erin is looking forward to meeting Catalyst members and friends at events throughout Western Canada. Look for her at Catalyst Connects in Calgary on April 17. —Deborah Gillis

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As a Membership Manager in Western Canada, I have the opportunity to meet accomplished leaders in the business community, hear them speak about their experiences and lessons learned, and listen to their words of wisdom. Over the last few weeks, various networking events, from large-scale luncheons to intimate dinners across Alberta and British Columbia, have touched on a wide range of topics of interest to people from various backgrounds, geographies and industries.

But despite the many differences in challenges and opportunities that these role models have encountered, I noticed a strong theme emerging from their messages: know yourself!

On a beautiful evening at the Vancouver Art Gallery, I, along with more than 100 talented professionals, was inspired and empowered by a “fireside” chat with Bev Park, President and CEO of Timberwest and Kathryn Henry, CIO of lululemon. The discussion, moderated by Deborah Gillis, Senior Vice President, Membership and Global Operations at Catalyst, emphasized the importance of following your passions and being true to yourself. “Anchor yourself in who you are,” Kathryn urged. warning us against trying to be something we’re not. Bev emphasized the importance of making “you” a priority, looking after yourself and trying to be better every day. Life can get complicated, situations can feel like they are out of control, or you may find yourself at a crossroads—and at such times it’s easy to forget to be mindful of yourself.

The accomplished leaders I listened to over the past two weeks offered similar advice:

• Focus on and believe in what you’re good at.

• Choose to say no to things that are not aligned with your values.

• Get to know yourself better and better.

• Trust yourself.

So I would encourage all of you to take some time for self-discovery. What have your experiences taught you about yourself? Your values? Your strengths? How will this influence your decisions in the future? Using this information, build your confidence when asking for a stretch assignment, raising your hand for a new project, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, or considering that non-traditional opportunity that excites you!

Finally, share your empowering experience! Spend time helping someone else (who’s not like you!) in your organization explore her or his values and strengths. Then help this person use that new understanding to shine!