Jean Blacklock

reflections on being an entrepreneur

Latest stories

Feelings

My fancy daily schedule didn’t get used much last week. Turns out, Week 2 of social isolation was a week of feelings. I had a lot of them. I miss my business. I miss talking to Christina about the digital ad campaigns, seeing the beautiful photos. I miss my Monday morning management team meetings, hearing what’s going on, someone’s latest escapade on the weekend, Andrea’s laugh. I miss...

Week 1

By now all of you will have received the same joke email about 6 times. Subject line: Travel Plans. Body of email: the layout plan for a standard 2-bedroom home. I’ve also received the one about how it is fine to be at home but did you know that one bag of rice has 8956 grams and another only 8743?? Yes. Week 1 and we are slightly crazy already. At the best of times, I like a lot of structure so...

And that’s that

True confession. I’ve always wanted to be better at the letting-go stuff. Better at accepting that I am only one of billions of people, all spinning on planet Earth around the sun. I’ve never been very good at this. I have fussed over when our kids will tell us their Easter plans, which of Andrew’s business trips I should go on, and when we will get the Girl Guide cookies for The Original Girl...

The Real Us

I had a flashback in our management meeting this week. I was reminded of the first time I was asked to take a personality test. It was at the Bank. My boss was holding an all-day meeting and in advance of that, she had asked all the attendees to take this test. On the meeting agenda, there would be some time to talk about our individual results, and how we collectively all worked together. I had...

Unicorn Cakes

My friend , Peter Phoa, and a videographer, Chris Halpern, did a great job of videotaping my recent talk. Watching the 5 minute clip from Peter, I realized that in one story, I never really came out and said my point. My point was: no matter what work we do, or what role we have, we are all in customer service. Doctor, receptionist, lawyer, bank CEO, plumber, baker….we’re all serving someone, as...

The Master Plan

Last month in my remarks to the Rotman Commerce Women’s Initiative, I told 4 stories. The first story was about rolling with the punches. Why? Because punches are inevitable. After law school, my Master Plan was to be a big tax lawyer at a big firm. But I didn’t get an articling job at a big firm. Instead I got a job at a small firm that had me doing all sorts of things including setting bail...

How to Take a Risk

I spoke recently to a group of undergrad business students. There was a Q&A after my talk. Someone asked a question I have been asked many times before. “How did you decide to take the risk of opening your own business?” When I have been asked this in the past, my answer has been some version of brainstorming all the things that could go wrong and then mitigating them. To work hard at writing...

Lessons from a week without water

On Tuesday, January 28th we were unceremoniously tossed out of our management office on the 12th floor of 18 King Street East – and our flagship bakery and back office on the main floor – with an announcement over the speaker system that left no room for discussion: “There is an emergency in the building. Leave the building immediately”. Apparently everyone agreed that this was...

The Ugh of Saying No

For the first few days of business back in 2011, customers would call us and say, “I’m on my way! Save me a dozen Red Velvets!”, and the catering manager (me) would dash from my desk in the middle of the kitchen to the front of the store and dutifully box up a dozen Red Velvets. I think it was Day 4 when Andrea looked at me and said, “You have to quit doing that, Jean, it doesn’t make sense to...

January blues

Prairie Girl Bakery Ltd. was incorporated on August 10, 2010 and in the decade since, I’ve never thought, “I think I’m done here”. Until this Christmas. As this holiday season wound down, I had a persistent thought, “This just isn’t fun anymore”. I started to think about the best way to exit the business. As I write this, it’s January 22nd and I feel entirely differently so I want to reflect on...

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