Kate Dobrucki

SVP Communications and Womxn Who co-founder

A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.

I was recently daydreaming about dining at my favourite Parisian bistro in the 6th arrondisemont. I’ve learnt loads of life lessons here, but one in particular stands out, and on International Women’s Day it’s oh so relevant.

Years ago, on a gorgeous June day I was tucked away in the corner with my Chardonnay. Left to myself I had the perfect advantage to watch the tourists. Then a woman, around my age sat at the table right next to me, flush with the post Bon Marché high she quickly ordered a cappuccino – lactose free she insisted.

Many minutes later the waitress returned with a black coffee. The woman taken aback, looked at the order in front of her, slightly horrified but said nothing. She looked around the café and making eye contact with me shrugged her shoulders and begrudgingly took a sip of the coffee.

My point? She didn’t speak up. She didn’t say anything. She wasn’t in the wrong but was afraid to say what she wanted. And so, she didn’t get what she wanted.

Now, I get it. Most of you reading this are likely giving me an exaggerated eye roll, you of course would never allow this to happen. You are not afraid to speak your truths. I sure thought I was, until I wasn’t.

Two years ago, during International Women’s Week I led a Goggle workshop called #IAmRemarkable. The goal was simple: challenge the perception on self-promotion. Intended for women only we had a safe place to acknowledge, accept and celebrate all of our accomplishments. It’s not as easy as you think.

Even I, a champion for women, was at a loss when our facilitator gave us 5-minutes to finish the sentence “I am remarkable because…” Try it. Set your timer for 5-minutes and see if you can write anything. And no, you cannot belittle the exercise and respond with because I am intelligent, empathetic, or caring. You’re more remarkable than those adjectives and you know it.

I knew it about myself. I am remarkable because I’m a Vice President. Full stop. Because I’m the head coach of the Special Olympic Toronto Alpine Team. I am remarkable because I’ve stood up for what I deserve in a partnership even if that means standing alone. I was afraid to say why I was remarkable. Why?

Because I was bragging? But it’s not bragging, those are facts. Facts I’ve worked hard to accomplish, I’m the biggest fangirl for so many women in my life but I was forgetting the most important, most talented person in my life. ME.

I was afraid to list my accomplishments, and that meant I wasn’t celebrating them, and I sure wasn’t asking for what I really wanted from my employer. I was afraid to say what I wanted at work, and so why should I be surprised I wasn’t getting what I wanted.

So, I did it. I’d been drinking black coffee for months and you want to know what I found? That when you can clearly articulate exactly what you want, when you confidently list your accomplishments and boldly take a stand, people will listen, and you’ll get that lactose free cappuccino.

Editor’s note: Practicing using these accomplishment muscles are the most important. Having a mentor, connecting with other female colleagues and joining networks help. If you have the time, I invite you to check out an initiative we recently started at dentsu called Female Foundry. It’s a week-long conference holding workshops and panel discussions designed to empower Canadian female entrepreneurs. This is an exciting opportunity to find mentorship, co-creation support plus the tools and resources needed to launch and grow a business in a post-pandemic world. Registration is free: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/female-foundry-presents-forging-new-frontiers-tickets-140897461099