What to Keep, Stop, Start


alphabet_jpg_568x678_q85Andrew’s back! His two-month course at Harvard is over so he and his jam-packed suitcases returned last Thursday. Although we have seen each other regularly for 1 or 2 day visits, getting back to our normal routine feels great.

“Normal” includes Andrew’s early morning Starbucks runs – there was no Starbucks close to his residence so we both missed that java jolt. Yes, we could have figured out other options but the best we did was make Starbucks instant and that is a sorry substitute for the real thing.

(Unrelated Starbucks story: usually Andrew is wearing a tshirt, sweats and ball cap when he goes to get the coffee. After a couple of years of this routine, one day Andrew went into the local Starbucks during work hours in his usual business attire: formal navy suit, silk tie, polished shoes. The team behind the counter spotted him and stopped what they were doing. After a few seconds of staring at him,  one of them said, “You have a suit?” He had the sense that what they were really thinking was, “You have a job?”).

As a “re-entry” exercise, Andrew’s class was asked to reflect on what they would keep doing, stop doing and start doing, in their personal lives and as a leader. The thing I like about this idea is its simplicity. I found that the theme of each of my lists – personal and business – were similar:

keep my inclination to care about and invest in the key relationships I have in my personal life (Andrew, bff Marilyn, and family) and in the business (in particular my management team).

stop my tendency to think that a goal is too big or that what I am doing in some area is “good enough”

start thinking bigger and more creatively….I like to think I am a creative thinker and that I pursue big goals, but with a little honest reflection I can see that sometimes I unconsciously put a cap on goals.

The last point is why I have a photo of a wedding cake in this post  – you were wondering about that, I know. Nice cake, eh? I think there is a huge wedding market in Toronto but I have always said, “PGB is in the ‘cupcake’ niche in the wedding market” [unconscious cap: “and that’s all we can do”].  So now I’m going to lift that restriction and see what we can do in the wedding cake market, not simply the wedding cupcake market. Why not?

I hope you try the keep-stop-start exercise too!

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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