Since the conference, there’s been a real buzz and conversation about resilience.

As several of our speakers talked about how they’d had to be resilient in terms of what has happened in their lives, it struck me that it’s not a competition as to who has had it worst.

In fact, it’s not so much what has happened to you or what curveballs have come your way, but more about how you have dealt with it. Case in point are the two recipients of the Donna Messer ConnectUs Award.

Eight amazing, outstanding women got nominated this year, making the task of the judges extremely difficult.  And in fact, they chose to have two recipients – Marg Hachey and Cynthia O’Neill.  Here’s some of what their nominators had to say.

Google “Marg Hachey” and you’ll learn that she can sell anything – from Avon to audio visual equipment. She is a business mogul, speaker, mentor, and fierce advocate and connector of women entrepreneurs.

Life isn’t always easy, kind, or predictable. At pivotal moments in her life, Marg has relied on the strengths of her network. She’s made “serving with purpose” her guiding principle and has met both professional and personal challenges with care, integrity, intelligence, determination, and resiliency.

In 2000, Marg sold her thriving, multi-million dollar Audio Visual business, Duocom, that she’d built from the ground up. Three years later, against her accountant’s objections, she bought back the assets when the CEO and CFO were fired and the company filed for bankruptcy.

She self-financed the payroll for the employees who had been locked out – getting them out of the parking lot and back to work. Even though she was not the one who drove the company into bankruptcy, she was fiercely committed to the people working there.

Marg shared “I didn’t bankrupt the company, but I felt responsible for all those families. I paid suppliers even though I didn’t have to. If you don’t have your credibility, you don’t have anything. I just did what I had to do.”

In 2007, Marg was diagnosed and successfully treated for kidney cancer. She laughed as she recounted this story: “December 21 was my son’s birthday, my staff Christmas party, and I met with my surgeon. I should have got an Academy Award.”

Today, Marg shares her wisdom, expertise, and lessons learned with other women entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses. She is the Managing Director for Ontario and Eastern Canada for GroYourBiz, a peer to peer advisory board, building and overseeing the establishment and growth for women business owners.

In everything she touches, Marg serves with purpose and with passion. How does she sum it up? “I just keep truckin’. I enjoy it because I make a difference. When you help a woman, you help a community.”

And then we have Cynthia O’Neill.  The year Cynthia turned 40 and having just lost her father to cancer, her 13year marriage abruptly ended and the business she was operating with her husband collapsed. With two children ages 9 and 6, no job and facing a dire financial reality she put her resiliency skills into action.

Securing three jobs, two of which she could manage part-time from her home, Cynthia made a name for herself in the non-profit sector, soon becoming an executive director and for six years leading her organization through significant growth. In 2005 Cynthia started her own consulting firm, working with clients in both the private and non-profit sectors.

In 2007 she launched Power of the Purse Women’s Conference, a social enterprise dedicated to inspiring, educating, motiving and celebrating women.   Over the past 11 years, Cynthia has created conferences from Ontario to the Maritimes, providing women with the opportunity to hear stories from fearless women. Cynthia quietly provides a number of tickets to women facing barriers to attend. With each conference, she supports a local charity.

In 2006, Cynthia learned of an organization called WrapAround, that works with families facing complex needs, including poverty, mental illness, addictions and at times homelessness.  Cynthia created ‘WrapAround the Christmas Tree’ and engaging others, they provided gifts and a holiday meal to 20 families annually. Over eight years a total of 490 children experienced a magical Christmas morning!

In 2014, Cynthia was introduced to Anago, a residential group home for young girls, ages 12 -17 who had experienced many levels of abuse, mental, physical and often sexual. The 25-year-old house had seen better days so Cynthia rallied a team of amazing volunteers who completed a weekend makeover, with fresh paint, new bedroom furniture and décor, lighting and refreshed outdoor space.

Two different stories, yet both women have reached out to make a difference in the lives of others, regardless of what was happening in their own.

Now that is more than resiliency, that’s the picture of women digging deep to make sure that what has happened to them, does not change who they are, but makes them stronger.

Anne Day

Anne Day

Company of Women

I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.