Françoise brings insight, compassion and strategy to the thorniest leadership challenges. A skilled mentor and coach, she empowers developing leaders to identify their strengths, find their voice and meet their goals. A lifelong hiker, cyclist and paddler, Françoise uses the forests and waterways of Eastern Canada as inspiration for professional development opportunities that can change lives.  
As president of Solva Strategies Inc, Françoise and her team are focused on supporting women’s career development in the context of change. Her outdoor retreats offer participants time and space for self-discovery while revealing confidence-building skills and strategies to break down personal barriers and support professional growth.  Françoise’s career spans 30 years working and volunteering in private, not-for-profit and public sectors. She is an entrepreneur and risk-taker with experience in tourism, health research, banking as well as sport and cultural organizations. She is a mother, friend, motivator and champion.

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Francois 0:00
We’re Landing.

Angelique 0:01
Welcome. So here we are. I call it our living room. The real story behind your business is a show where we meet amazing women who are in the middle of you know, building an empire. And what why we meet is really to hear more about you know, what happened that took you from A to Z and why today you’re doing what you’re doing. So welcome because first I’m gonna let you introduce yourself, I always asked you to tell your name, who you are and who you serve. So the floor is yours.

Francois 0:41
My thank you today can it’s really my pleasure to be on your show. Happy to have this conversation really meaningful conversations that you have. So I’m glad to be part of that. So my name is Haas was elsewise, for what and long time you know, career in the public and the private and the not for profit sector. And I just recently made the jump to entrepreneurship. And people I serve what I’m really passionate about is serving rising women leaders, women who were increasingly having responsibility and moving their career and I really want to support them. So that’s who I’m serving

Unknown Speaker 1:26
awesome. So we’re going to do a deep dive into that in the next few minutes. So concerts I always like to start with the beginning when you were a little girl like five seven even 10 years old. What was the what what was the thing you were playing with or that could kind of shape who you became

Unknown Speaker 1:49
now Hmm Well I’ve always been really active physically I’ve been involved in sports and and really found my way in sports I kind of found my voice found my my groove is if you will I was I was really tall really young. I was like towering over other boys when I was 11 years old and so started to play basketball and it gave me a lot of confidence you know i was i was really felt awkward you know how awkward from 11 to 13 years so so I think sports had a lot to do with kind of shaping my my way of finding my voice and my way of it also quite frankly develop my leadership skills and so was often you know, captain of the team and you know was was always kind of the one who was saying No no, we can do this tournament normal we can do this. So it actually I think is three sports that I kind of found my my my calling

Angelique 2:51
Where did you grew up?

Unknown Speaker 2:53
I grew up in Monkton in moncton, New Brunswick. So in you know in, in a Francophone family so but in an English neighborhood so I was you know flipped from French to English my whole life I did that basically since I was eight and yeah, so I’m really happy to be among toniann but I don’t live there anymore. I mean I lived down fredericton but really strong roots and just just for the record I was born in campbellton and northern New Brunswick and the rest of this area and I love the rest of this area. So I have strong roots there and love to be on the rest of this river and be out in that area.

Unknown Speaker 3:34
That outdoor door outdoor is your second name.

Francois 3:38
Yes. Yes.

Unknown Speaker 3:42
So um, Francoise what I love about your story is that you know I’m gonna be completely transparent you and I we met through a completely different world you were a woman that I was that was like my year of things you were at the top of the organization of what’s working for and I would have never guessed that someone like you would do what you’re doing right now which is you know you said your you want to support leadership women in leadership which is not what I’m I’m excited I’m questioning or anything but it just that what I love about your story is how you want to include outdoors in this and that’s very unique, right? You just saw this about your childhood your sports living in the in the woods and by the river. Campbell done because if you don’t know the eastern part of Canada, it’s very windy and very, very wet.

Unknown Speaker 4:49
Yeah, but but beautiful, pristine outdoor area and then in eastern Canada. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 4:55
So before I asked you but your business and everything. Just tell me more But that relationship between, you know, being such a, you know, your carrier as a senior executive in multiple organization, and this thrive for the outdoor and how you like, this is what I want to do now I want to help leaders and make it outdoorsy.

Unknown Speaker 5:21
Yeah. So I think my love for the nature started a little later on in life as as a young adult, and, and it became a very important part of my well being. So as I was moving, you know, in my career into, you know, more senior positions and more, you know, and how do I, how was I dealing with stress, how was I dealing with, you know, being a mother working mother, you know, involved in the community, I really do have a fair bit of energy. And, and, and, but at one point, I needed to get grounded, and I had to find my, you know, my, my center of gravity, and I always came back to going outdoors. And so I’m outdoors every single day, basically, even if it’s just for a walk, but I, I bike, I ski I, I hike, almost, you know, I very, very regularly and it’s just for me, personally, was a way to get grounded and find my center of gravity and sort of collect my thoughts. And, you know, I probably a lot of people do that, you know, I think and we saw it, we saw it in caught COVID how, you know, people were really escaping the negative negativity of the pandemic and going outside, and people kind of reconnected with the nature and the outdoors. For me, it’s always been part of my life. And, and that’s kind of when I started thinking about maybe offering a consultancy, around women leadership, I thought, well, I’m just going to offer what I has been a recipe for me, which one of the elements and not all the items, but one of the elements is connecting with nature, which helped me connect with myself, and my core and my values.

Unknown Speaker 7:13
I love this. Thank you for sharing this. So tell me more about you said something. You said the word co v ID. Which is a turning point for a lot of people. Right? So right now we’re talking about, and I want to come back to your recipie. Okay, because I think it’s really important that people understand where you coming from and where you going to. So we know that there is a movement right now called The Great Race in raising nation. Yes. And you’re kind of a product. You’re not a product, but you know what I mean? I one of them easy illustration of it. Exactly. So how do you I, how do you identify yourself and your journey with what’s going on?

Unknown Speaker 8:10
Okay, well, I’ve been thinking, you know, for the last little while, but I, I wanted to take control of my life a little bit. And certainly, you know, back in early 21 2021, in January, February of this year, I was really thinking, Okay, I, I want to, I want to be doing I want to be control of my time, I want to be controlled, who I’m doing, who I’m you know, working with. And and I think it comes maybe with a certain age, you know, after you’ve been in the market, you know, in the job market for, you know, for 30 years, basically, can you kind of know what you want to do, and you know what’s important, and you know what, how you want to feel, you know, because often we do things because we feel obligated, because it’s expected of us or, but I came to a point in in in this year that I said no, I want to do something where I’m feeling great, like I really is connecting with my soul, really. And so I didn’t know I was part of a broader movement, quite frankly. And and it’s actually, you know, it’s through a video or an interview you did on CD is with Deb volante, a number of months ago about that time of year when you mentioned when you were having an interview with her and she was talking about life after corporate and it really rang a bell with me because I was in a corporate world and I thought gosh, there is a life after corporate and she is a mentor and coach in how to transition from the corporate life to the entrepreneurial life. So So I got really excited about that and and it got the wheels turning and so you know, so that was part of the you know, thinking about, you know, I wanted to you know, be my own kind of person and do my own thing but it was also really it was really a lifestyle decision i just i guess i’m at an age where I see a lot of people in my age and a lot of my friends who have health challenges and you know and it really struck to me on me for the first time in my life I really said Okay, enough of that I think I want to take time to and want to do life projects and I want to do things that are important to me so I did the I jumped I dived took the big the big big jump off the cliff and and so so what I’m you know concentrating on and developing my business is like I said it’s women leadership it’s a bit of a coaching you know a business quite frankly although it’s a crowded space coaching there’s a lot of you know, a lot of people in that space but I’m going with my gut I’m going with what I feel is been really helpful with me and part of that recipe as I was saying is integrating well being physical well being with your mental well being and those are kind of the basic premise you need to be a good leader so you can be a hard worker you can be really smart but if you’re not really well connected to your body into your wellness you know you’re not going to be of service to a whole lot of other people

Unknown Speaker 11:19
Ooh, you said so many keywords you said filling lifestyle in this yeah and old enough to know what I really want now Okay. Wow. So for people who are watching right now and maybe are thinking through those lens what what you know the biggest struggle for you to make the leap particularly

Unknown Speaker 11:47
well first I should say that it was a long process like a guide it just didn’t happen overnight I was thinking about it I was you know kind of muddling this over and and then I start writing you know I started writing what is important what do I want my life to look like it’s kind of silly but I kind of did a life design thing I said what I really every day this is what I would love from it and I didn’t think it was possible quite frankly, I’m writing and thinking oh that’s not you know i’d love to work in jeans every day I like to be outdoors being part of my life more and more integral part and and I thought well that’s no that’s crazy. You know after being in corporate most of my life I thought that’s crazy. How am I going to do that? So anyway, so I start it was a process right it’s a process to start thinking about you start designing and so I started designing a bit what my life I wanted my life to look like. And then you know, I kind of you know, I have mentors and I have coaches that have you know, I’ve bounced ideas off and I’ve really worked hard at thinking about in you know, designing what I thought would be a good business plan and a good a good you know, a good lifestyle and so, yeah, so I did the leap and then your question was sorry, I probably went off on left field there but

Unknown Speaker 13:02
like what was the biggest struggle when you Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 13:07
well the biggest the biggest struggle was you know, getting the courage to do to act you know, do getting the courage to actually do it, but once it’s done, man, it feels good. It feels wonderful to be you know, kind of in control my mistakes my I’m going to reap the benefits and I’m gonna you know, suffer the struggles of you know, failures and but it’s on me and that’s a great feeling it’s it’s funny to say but it’s a really great feeling. And, and I have a lot of kind of I have a lot of faith you know that you open the door you take the first step you know, things will kind of appear the next step will appear for you and, and so life is not perfect, but you know, I’ve started with my first retreat that’s planned in in a few weeks and tremendous interest in it. So I’m just thrilled I’m thrilled that there’s interest and it’s you know, it’s it’s it’s a it’s really opened up a whole lot of other possibilities.

Unknown Speaker 14:08
I love what you say here because we don’t talk about that enough that women are very intuitive. And you started writing you started on paper, I’m gonna design my life even if it sounds completely crazy.

Unknown Speaker 14:22
Exactly. Yeah, it is.

Unknown Speaker 14:24
But it started on paper. It didn’t it just love it because we don’t talk about that that now. It starts within you within a day.

Unknown Speaker 14:36
Absolutely The answers are always in you, right? The answers are always in you. You just need to give space to find a way to you know to be able to see the answers. And we don’t write we we every day we go out and we we go through everything go through work we go through family, we go through all our other obligations and and typically and you know, women are Till today, you know, have an unequal burden of responsibilities. And so we tend to be forget ourselves, right? And, and so and so for me and I didn’t mention this earlier, but you know, Outdoors is important. Yoga was important to me Yoga is important simply, for me personally, it was a way of connecting my mind and my body. And so when things aren’t going well for me, my body usually I usually get some sort of signal from my body that something’s not in balance or something’s not right. So. So yeah, so I am I think intuitive, I think that I have grown to be more intuitive. And you know, it was funny, because I don’t know if you saw this when the local MP jenica adwin, who recently won the seat in fredericton. And, in her interview, her post election interview, she just won her seat was reelected. The journalist asked her, you know, because she had switched, she was a Green Party member and she became a liberal. She, she, she crossed the floor to the Liberal Party. Anyways, the journalist asked her, you know, about Okay, so now, how do you feel about and how did you come to that decision? And, you know, crossing the floor and, and she said, Well, I, I said, I, you know, I, I asked for, for some some signs, I asked her, you know, some sort of guidance. And she said, That night I went to, I was outside and I was looking at the sunset was like, red, red, red, red sunset, she goes, that was my answer. She had done the right thing. So, it’s funny, it’s a funny story, but I thought that took a lot of courage for you know, someone to say that in the mainstream media, I think I think the world of of a woman who kind of, you know, stakes her claim and says, Well, that’s okay. You know, that’s the way I see the world. And, and

Unknown Speaker 16:58
I love this, because we Yeah, as I said, You, we don’t talk enough about that, that we, a lot of very successful women that come to, it always comes to this, you know, the time to reconnect with who they are, you know, stop listening to all the formulas around you, and what do I want?

Unknown Speaker 17:18
Yeah. Yeah. And, and it’s, it’s kind of our internal GPS, right? And, and so, you know, I mean, it, you make it, you make decisions, hundreds of decisions a day, and you, you know, you, you worry about your career, you’re worried about your family, you worry about all kinds of things, and sometimes we just get lost. I think that’s just it. I think you just need to get your GPS going sometimes, and then I’ll help you find, yeah, get your answers.

Unknown Speaker 17:51
When you said, you know, and the day I you know, he said, you know, the struggle. And then when you did it all managed, found good. Where did it feel in your body? Like, can you remember where were you when he hit you? Well, I

Unknown Speaker 18:05
you know, it was I wasn’t sleeping, you know, I was really like, was a big decision, you know, to to leave a you know, which would be, you know, a really, which was a lovely job. I mean, it was it was a lovely, you know, position and I, any person in the right mind would want that position. But it was a big, big decision. But once I made that decision, like, and it took a while, but once I made it, I slept like a baby. It just, my mind was clear. And then I just turn the page, and I started working on something else, like on my, my project, and it felt great.

Unknown Speaker 18:41
Wow, I love it. So what was the big payoff for you, of all that work in that process? So it doesn’t have to be the financial aspect of things. It could be something that happened that you said, Oh, my God, this is it?

Unknown Speaker 18:58
Well, so I, I started promoting this first retreat for women leaders, which is, you know, has a mixture of outdoor and wellness and leadership type of workshops. And, and I, you know, and I think I’ve heard your other guests say this cut in, you know, what’s your biggest fears that, you know, no one will buy or no one will be interested in what you’re offering, right. So that was a huge fear. But the biggest grab gratification with the biggest benefit for me was the interest that that it created. And I had, you know, doctors and entrepreneurs and all kinds of people saying, Wow, I really love the concept. And have you thought of doing it just for this type of group or, you know, you know, just for entrepreneurs because it’s lonely at the top as entrepreneurs and we’d love to have this kind of network where we can we Connect and and really, you know, I think in all fairness, you know, because of COVID, I think there’s a big craving for people to reconnect. And so and so this particular formula that I’m offering is a very small, you know, very exclusive small group. It’s, it really I think, is ringing a bell with a lot of people.

Unknown Speaker 20:24
Yeah, definitely. And I have to say, because I’m very transparent, I’m gonna be part of the retreat. And I’m so excited.

Unknown Speaker 20:32
thrilled to have you. I’m thrilled.

Unknown Speaker 20:35
So check our stories, because we’re probably going to be taking some photos and stuffing in the woods, because I don’t know exactly what we’re going to be doing. But I know some of it is going

Unknown Speaker 20:45
to be Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 20:47
So excited about this. So you’ve been using social media passwords, and we talked about it. So how is your field right now? You know, it’s one thing to talk about social media for an organization. But when it’s you and your nose and your mouth and your eyes and your art and your brain, how does that feel? What is relationship so far?

Unknown Speaker 21:10
Oh, well, I’m scared to death, quite frankly, I’ll be I’ll be perfectly perfectly honest. And I know I mean, I’ve been a you know, involved in communications and marketing and, and it’s a completely different story when you’re the brand and you’re the person. And so I’ve been very into I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m very intimidated by it. And, and, which is why I reached out to you. Because that’s your, obviously your specialty to help female entrepreneurs and leaders to kind of get over that fear. And I loved the way that couldn’t, Boudreau said it in your last interview, or one of your recent interviews when she said, you almost feel like it’s,

Unknown Speaker 21:50
you know, you’re full of yourself roots too much. You know, I feel like so so I need to get over that. I

Unknown Speaker 21:56
know. And because I do, you know, honestly think that, you know, we have something interesting to offer. And I think there’s people interested in, in having these conversations and having these kinds of services or experiences. And so, but yeah,

Unknown Speaker 22:16
I have a little light right now and you’re alive, everything is okay. Yeah, no one’s died. That’s good. So, is there anything I should have asked you that you want to share with us?

Unknown Speaker 22:36
No, I think, you know, I would just say that the message that I think is really important for my, for my brand, or my is, is the authenticity of being who you are. And it will just guide you through everything that you need to go through. And, and it sounds easier than it is. It really is not that easy. But I admit that’s the message I would have for folks and for women who were maybe feeling a little bit lost sometimes in making having a hard time making some difficult decisions. And

Unknown Speaker 23:12
yeah, that’s a great way let’s let’s conclude with this, you know, you I know you have a recipe, I’m not asking you to give your full recipe, but what will be three, you know, advice for someone who is looking for clarity right now, whether they’re VPS, or presidency, you as an organization, and then they want to, you know, I remember the time, first time we met, he said, you know, enough of working 80 hours for someone else dream, I want to build my dream, right? So what is the three things I could do tomorrow, to help me get to clarify exactly how you feel about all of this?

Unknown Speaker 23:46
First, you have to eat create space, you need to create space in your head, to allow to have this reflection, because that’s exactly what we don’t allow ourselves often to do. And creating space is different for everybody. But certainly getting away from distractions and, and, and carving out time for some, some, you know, some reflection is certainly one of the first things I’d say. I would also say the importance of mentors. Really, really important. It might not be a mentor or trusted group of advisors. And it might be your peer or might be, you know, another environment. But there’s a lot of a lot of shared living or shared, not shared living. No, that’s not what I mean. But there’s a lot of experience out there. And it’s so helpful when you’re kind of trying to find your way to get someone else’s perspective and share their experiences. So so that trusted network, I think would be another piece of advice I would give And the third thing I would say is to follow your guts. I mean, I know it’s easy to say It’s not that easy to do, but make do what makes you feel happy not makes you what you feeling obligated to do.

Unknown Speaker 25:10
Thank you so much, because it is really something, you know, when you talk to women, leaders like yourself, or even some of my students or even part of mastermind them belong to. Yeah, it always ended up to Yeah, follow your intuition at the end of the day. So using the three points, he said, you know, next time in space, you know, get a good round circle of people around yourself. Yeah. And then if you support it, right, and then at the end, you were the one that keep it. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So, so exciting. And so if you want to learn more about sponsors, projects, mission, retreats, ww sober.ca. And you’ll have more information there or even if you want to contact as well, it’s everything is on the website. Thank you so much passwords, and best of luck, and I can’t wait for the retreat. No, I can’t wait. I’m already a groupie.

Unknown Speaker 26:20
Thank you. Honestly, think I really enjoyed the conversation I looked for I look forward to our time together in a few weeks.

Unknown Speaker 26:27
So see you soon Thank you everybody. If you’re watching the replay, you have to tell us in the comments, what resonated with you. And if it’s if you feel embarrassed, just send me a private message or send a message to Francois because those of you watching and listening on the podcast or any of the social media platforms if we hear from you, you know, we all get stronger it’s not just about growing each other’s business it’s also building that link that feminine link that we have that next is grow right grow confidence grow relationship networks, everything so don’t forget to let us know in the comments or by private messages what you felt through this interview because fossa you and deep and I appreciate that. I love it. Thank you so much, so much so much.

Francois 27:20
It was my pleasure. Thanks.

Unknown Speaker 27:23
Hello, Joe. Gala. Hello, hello. Okay, I’m just gonna say goodbye for Instagram. And if you want if you’re just joining now, the podcasts gonna be available in a few days if you’re more an audio person, but I’m committed to them. I’m gonna put that on HGTV here and then follow my Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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