it’s been two weeks since Steel 2020 – what stuck?

Written by Marin Hudson

February 5, 2020

Marin is a community-minded designer who finds joy in all things creative, and in connecting and supporting others. From designing an annual report to crafting the perfect pizza, she thrives in collaborating with a team to make ideas come to life.

Strength. Tenacity. Effervescence. Entrepreneurship. Leadership. Young leaders across Hamilton are shaping our city and Hamilton Hive is helping facilitate deeper conversations and meaningful connections. From an impressive keynote by Robin Lacambra to breakout sessions and a panel discussion, Mike and I spent a day at Tim Horton’s Field soaking up all Steel 2020 had to offer. Admittedly, I planned to write this immediately after the conference when the content was fresh and the ideas were flowing, but life got in the way! I’m embracing the delay as an opportunity to challenge my memory and reflect on some key takeaways.

People. Planet. Profit. Personal Pace.

Your bottom line doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) all about profit. Profit too often comes at the expense of people, our planet and our personal pace. Thank you to Robin Lacambra of GOODBODYFEEL for digging deeply into a quadruple bottom line, centred around a theme of empowered embodiment. For challenging us to think beyond standard business practice and consider how to find true balance in the workplace. How can we seek profit, while benefiting the people around us? How can we take care of people while ensuring we’re respecting our personal pace? How can we make decisions with the planet in mind while also being profitable?

I think it comes down to being conscious. To be aware. To acknowledge our abilities, and our power, and to respect our personal pace. Progress in our communities begins with us: our awareness of our surroundings and our respect and support for one another. Business is personal. Profit is political. But together, if we consider (and take action to implement) Robin’s 4Ps, we take big leaps toward great business.

People Are Difficult. 

This doesn’t make someone good or bad, but people are different and therefore difficult. It’s hard to communicate with others who think and perceive differently. It’s hard to anticipate and navigate a situation without knowing someone else’s perspective. It’s also okay to not see eye-to-eye with someone, but it’s crucial to take steps and set boundaries to work alongside them. 

Sarah Bradshaw shared insight into eight types of difficult people, from the “Nice Guy” to the “Know-It-All”, with actionable strategies for interacting with these people in your day-to-day life. It does require some work, but the first step is familiarizing yourself with 6 main concepts: listening, empathy, limits, compassion, separating the person from the problem and taking a break. Sometimes, the best way to navigate a difficult person is to first look at ourselves. What’s going on with us that makes it difficult to work with someone else? If you’re anything like me, have a snack before you think too hard about dealing with a difficult person, then take a step back and assess before you dive in.

Have That Courageous Conversation!

Is talking to other people uncomfortable? Does networking terrify you? Alvin Pilobello challenged our expectations in an engaging workshop on having courageous conversations. Tackling higher-stakes conversations can be terrifying. We put a lot of weight on conversations or meetings at work, or a difficult conversation with a friend, but engaging in any conversation is evidence of your courage.

Learning to feel more confident in conversations takes practice. I feel the less we talk, the more likely we are to fear the conversation. It’s easy to take a step back when we face discomfort, but are habits or history holding you back? How can you build resilience in the face of a challenge? Try jumping out of your comfort zone: approach a colleague to ask a quick question. Call a friend instead of sending a text. Say hello to the person beside you on the bus. What did that experience teach you? How can you create safe spaces for yourself to have these courageous conversations?

You’re Not An Imposter. 

If you’ve ever felt like an imposter, I feel you. If you’ve ever felt like you were “faking it” just to “make it”, you’re not alone. If you feel inadequate even in the face of evident success, you are one of many. It’s no secret that we all have doubts, but those doubts frequently act as roadblocks and it’s time to knock ‘em down and move forward. 

Feeling like an imposter can have a few positive side effects: you’re likely busy and generally enjoying it, you probably have high standards and therefore produce high-quality work, and I’d bet my bottom dollar that you’re pretty humble. By leaning into these pros, by trusting yourself, can you navigate your imposter syndrome? It’s unlikely you’ll ever stop feeling like an imposter. But can you face that fear, harness it and push through it?

Andrea Pohlmann offered some strategies to face this never-ending doubt: 

  • Push through in hopes that you someday recognize your excellence.
  • Write a list of your accomplishments or things you’ve done that you’re proud of.
  • Talk to your friends or mentors. People who know you well are happy to give you a pep talk, and it’s perfectly ok to ask for it!
  • Look for external clues. Is there an email in your inbox thanking you for the amazing job you did on a project? Read it, and read it again.
  • Focus on your work. Focus on your task instead of your insecurities.
  • Find other sources of confidence. Whether it’s power pants or an inspirational sticky note: make choices that make you feel strong and supported! You’re your best tool for encouragement, so go on and boost yourself up.

Want To Learn More?

For more Robin, GOODBODYFEEL and to dig into empowered embodiment, shared privilege or move in an inclusive space, visit

Want to learn more about people and navigating difficult situations? Connect with Sarah.

Need a speaker for your next event or think your team could benefit from an experiential workshop? Learn more about Alvin. (Fun fact: he’s also a salsa dance instructor!)

A jack-of-all-trades, Andrea offers consultation around all things business and marketing. Reach out to see how her experience can benefit your business.

Kitestring is a Hamilton-based design and marketing agency specializing in branding, marketing and campaign strategy, and annual report design. Whether you’re a socially-conscious organization, non-profit, or community-led business, we’ll take on your marketing so you can focus on your top priorities.

Written by Marin Hudson

February 5, 2020

Marin is a community-minded designer who finds joy in all things creative, and in connecting and supporting others. From designing an annual report to crafting the perfect pizza, she thrives in collaborating with a team to make ideas come to life.

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