IN A YEAR OF PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL TURBULENCE, WOMEN WANT SOME HONEST TALK
A year and a half ago, before the world turned upside down, entrepreneurs Jennifer Stewart and Catherine Clark met for a quick coffee date that set in motion plans to build a bold new venture to support and inspire professional women.
“That day, Jen and I chatted about how frustrated we were to hear so many female friends and colleagues talk about being burned out and unsure how to adopt changes that would make things better in their lives,” said Catherine, a respected broadcaster and emcee, and the president of Catherine Clark Communications. “We decided we needed to start a conversation that could help women find the support and resources they need to build the lives they want to live, not just put one foot in front of the other in survival mode,” said Clark. And right then and there, The Honest Talk was born.
Originally, The Honest Talk was designed as a live event series which would feature prominent women sharing their stories on stage, with lots of audience questions and numerous opportunities for guest interaction.
Of course, the pandemic changed all of that, but not for long. “We realized we could either shelve the idea until we could get back to in-person events, or adapt,” said Jennifer, the President and CEO of Syntax Strategic, a full-service media relations, strategic communications, marketing, and graphic design firm with clients across the country. “So we adapted and created a podcast, because we firmly believed this was an idea that could help other women, especially at a time when we’re all facing even more stress and disruption because of the pandemic.”
The Honest Talk podcast now airs bi-weekly, and the guest list is impressive – from athletes and trade commissioners to authors and politicians. Well-known names like Green Party leader Annamie Paul, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, TV star Mary Walsh, Olympian Perdita Felicien and singer Serena Ryder are just a few of the diverse names the duo have chatted within recent months.
“Nothing is left on the table,” says Catherine. “We’ve had our guests talk about personal issues, transgender challenges, infertility and other medical problems, racism, parenting and career advancement obstacles because we want to take an honest look at the opportunities and challenges these women have encountered in their personal and professional lives in order to give inspiration to other women who might be going through similar situations.”
In the space of about twenty minutes, the guests – highly motivated, dynamic and professional women – provide practical tools while sharing their motivations, concerns, objectives and opinions. The hope is that listeners will use those tools and be inspired to streamline, improve and shape their lives.
Both Jennifer and Catherine have been thrilled with the positive reception the podcast has received. “We’ve had great response from our guests, wonderful comments on social media, and we’ve seen substantial growth in the number of impressions our podcasts have generated,” says Jennifer.
And the two women are very focussed on casting as wide a net as possible for their conversations. “We work hard to ensure our guests represent every part of the country, and\ we’d like to bring on more inspirational women from the West and from the Territories,” says Catherine, who also notes that they’d soon like to begin reaching out to remarkable women living in other parts of the world.
Nor have the two given up on the idea of live events. “Once we put the pandemic behind us, we hope to stage live events in different cities across Canada,” explains Jennifer. “While our podcast is enormously successful, it can’t bring women face-to-face like a live event, and those in-person connections can be such powerful, positive motivators for women.”
“We have big plans for The Honest Talk,” concludes Catherine.
“We believe that more authentic conversations amongst women can make a big difference in their lives, and lead to positive changes for all us, so that’s our goal – a lot more honest talk.”