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Insights from the Toronto Women’s Leadership Forum

Last week we had the honor of hosting Amanda Lang, a Gemini-award winning business journalist and a well-known Canadian media personality, at the SAP Run Better Tour in Toronto.



She graciously agreed to speak at the Women’s Leadership Forum over breakfast, in addition to her keynote spot.  Having had the opportunity to meet and interview some of the world’s most influential people, she offered thoughts on what makes someone a great leader, and also shared some of her own life lessons.


Here are a few of my take-aways:


  • Everyone has a remarkable story.  Listen to these stories – seek them out.  “A good interview is one in which the questioner is actually listening to the responder… At the heart of every story for me are stories about people – stories about goals and dreams and ambitions.” 
  • Treat everyone with respect.  For example, when she met Jack Welch, a.k.a. “Neutron Jack”, what struck her was how polite he was.  “Show respect for people.  It’s one of the qualities that make people gravitate towards you.”
  • Take a leap of faith in others.  “Opening the door for them is often all that people need in order to fulfill their dreams, and also answer yours.”


There were more gems in some of Amanda’s off-the-cuff remarks…


  • Having gone to school for architecture, she said that she “wound up in journalism quite by accident, and in business journalism even more by accident.”  For me, this was a reminder to take risks and follow unconventional paths.
  • An active sense of curiosity serves you well:  “You don’t actually have to have a lot of information about something to find it interesting.” 


And finally, on women in leadership, Amanda described her recent interview with the Ambassador of Norway, a country which recently mandated diversity in business after talking about it for years in much the same way as we do in North America (i.e. without much real momentum).  Amanda indicated she’s not sure this is the answer, but the the outcomes are interesting – i.e. leadership positions filled with women, business schools filled with women, and suddenly they can stop talking about it.


If you ever have the opportunity to see Amanda Lang speak in person, I would highly recommend it.  Meantime, we Canadians can watch her on CBC!


Happy International Women’s Day. 

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