Are you a cook or are you a baker? In my unscientific research (i.e., asking my friends) people are usually one or the other. Cooks tend to feel constrained by the rigidness of following a recipe for baking up some kind of succulent treat. And bakers like the clarity of a list of ingredients that shows exactly how much you need. They like to know they’re going to get the same result every time. The ingredients for success in cooking and baking are very different when it comes to how you approach each discipline.

For the longest time, I would have called myself a baker. I could look at the list of ingredients, buy what I didn’t have, and easily assemble everything. The end result was a tasty treat.

The only problem is that I make “cook” adjustments to everything I bake. That made-from-scratch plain pancake recipe? It is SO much better when I toss in some ground cloves and cinnamon. Cookies (or really anything) that call for vanilla? I triple the dose. There aren’t chocolate chips in the brownie recipe? Why not? Brownies deserve to be a chocolatey as possible.

My dad used to tell me he could never tell whether he was going to like my chili since I never followed a recipe and it tasted different every single time. (The worst was the time when I cut peppers I should have put in whole…don’t ever, ever do that.) Chili was one of his favorites, so it bothered him that he couldn’t count on the flavor to be the same.

When it comes to cooking up success in business, there’s no one recipe that will lead to your success. What works for me may not work for you. And though there are proven business principles, they’re open to interpretation. That’s why you taste test before you serve up the final product. Try something, see how it goes, tweak, and repeat.

I asked my fellow WBN members what their own ingredients for success happen to be and the answers were just as varied as I expected.

Lisa Ann Robinson:
Tenacity and competitiveness I think have helped me be the best in my field. Sales is a game of survival!”

Jacqueline Richards:
“To define your business, yourself, your time takes some courage. The process takes a dose of honesty and locking arms with supporters that suggest the good, the bad, and the ugly without judgment. Defining your goods and services extends with integrity. Taking a step back to decide what your business is to the demography that needs the helping hand.”

Loreto Cheyne:
Consistency in marketing; because when you stop and start it’s really difficult to see progress, and it’s easier to get discouraged. Discipline when you work from home because there are SO MANY distractions to take your focus away.”

Sabrina McTaggart:
“For me, the true currencies in life are love and time. So I try to think carefully about how I use my time and spend it wisely. That means I have to focus carefully and with intention on what really matters because that’s where I will spend my time. With a thousand things clamouring for my attention, it takes diligent effort to not lose focus and keep my attention on what I have clearly identified as being top priorities.”

Trudy Chapman:
“The courage to try something new when you haven’t before; the courage to try when you’ve failed before; the courage to try after you’ve been kicked to the curb. I only found my courage through doing what I needed to do in order to survive.”

Diane Merpaw:
“To be true to myself. Always. No matter what others may suggest or say.”

Lara Wellman:
“The ability to ask for help (and know that I needed it) has been huge. And being able to figure out what you truly want to do. Knowing and understanding the root why of what you do and how can you stay true to it.”

Elissar Sarrouh:
Mentoring. A strong drive to succeed. Sharing your success.”

Aren’t these amazing responses?

The path to success is different for everyone. It’s no wonder we find very different ingredients for success along the journey.

Personally, I think a large dollop of confidence, a steady stream of belief, and a daily dash of humor will keep you going strong. And, like Diane said, you’ll never disappoint you if you’re true to yourself.


Don’t forget to register for the BYA Gala presented by BMO Financial Group on April 20 as we celebrate the leadership and accomplishments of these outstanding women in the Ottawa business community.

Karen C. Wilson, WBN President
WBN President, 2016-17
Senior Content Writer & Editor at Halogen Software