Sunday, May 25, 2014

Can Entrepreneurship be Taught?

As mentioned in my last post, I am now taking the Foundations in Entrepreneurial Management course.  It's the first class of the Entrepreneurship Certificate at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies.  Heading back to classes while pregnant takes planning and focus as I attend classes with my ever growing belly (maybe the baby will be able to pick up a thing or two in utero too) .  Hitting the books and doing homework while still working full time is not easy.  For one, I get tired or hungry easily which diverts attention when I had wanted to research, do my readings or homework....

As I finish my banana and juice I start to get an energy boost to ponder some of these changes and the things I've learned in class and my readings so far.  How will they help me on my entrepreneurial journey?  I start thinking about what opportunities are available to me that might make a good entrepreneurial venture, looking internally to see if I have the characteristics needed.  What are my strengths?  What are my weaknesses?  If I am missing a certain skill that would make me a successful entrepreneur, is it something that I can learn?

Wait a minute, haven't there been many debates on this?  Are entrepreneurs born or made?  Think about all the business schools out there, from fancy Ivy League MBA schools to local colleges offering courses on business and start ups.  But then look at someone like Sir Richard Branson who didn't go to business school, in fact he only went to school until he was 16, yet he has created many successful businesses.  I'm no Richard Branson so I think there is valuable stuff I can glean from this course.
Do I have an entrepreneurial mind?  My instructor, Keri Damen wrote an article called "The Entrepreneurial Mind: What's the Secret Sauce of Successful Innovators".   Do I have the secret sauce?  Risk management, resilency, effectuation....

I guess figuring out how to make an interesting blog post for readers who are used to seeing my pictures of tea fields, shops and festivals while meeting my obligation for the course is a worthy challenge.
Photo: Raymonde Drolet
Will this work?  What if i fail?  What if my dear readers get lost or bored and leave me?!  One thing I do know, I'm not about to quit.

The course so far is much more interesting than the "intro to business" class I took in my university days.  I feel encouraged to think and see things a little differently.  e.g. Seeing problems as opportunities, that entrepreneurship is not a solo effort, but requires interaction with others and an interdependent relationship.

  Wow, all this brain work is making hungry, I think it's time for a tea break.  Bear with me dear readers.
Photo: Raymonde Drolet

Follow #StartUpEdu, @rfongtea, @entrepreneurSCS on Twitter to join in on the entrepreneurship conversation.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Certificate in Entrepreneurship program; however, the opinions provided are my own.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


As mentioned in my last post, I'm expecting big changes and have some new projects.   One new project has to do with exploration of entrepreneurship.  Many Tea Sommelier friends have opened tea shops (brick and mortar types and online varieties), or work as consultants or teachers.  Listening to their experiences and helping them with tea tastings, I often ponder if I could do what they're doing, or where I would fit in the industry.  If I had my own business, what would I do differently?  

I am not totally unfamiliar with the concept of entrepreneurship. My parents were new immigrants with a successful restaurant who put me to work at a young age to help out the family business.  I saw a lot of the hardships and joys that can come with running your own business.  Even now, working in financial services, we have clients who are business owners.  I even have a friend who opened up her own organic bakery.  I watch and give ideas on marketing, finance and social media since graduating with a Certificate in Digital Strategy and Communications Management at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.  

Now that I am expecting, as I prepare to pass on my work duties to my maternity leave replacement, I wonder what else could be on the horizon for me.  Some may see a break in a career and a new baby on the way as a "problem" but why not see it as an opportunity?  

When I received an invitation from the U of T School of Continuing Studies (in collaboration with the MaRS Discovery District), to be a brand ambassador for their Entrepreneurship program, I thought, what marvelous timing!

Toronto's MaRS Discovery District offers workshops, lectures and assistance for entrepreneurs to develop their businesses. 

This, on top of the U.of T. Digital Communications Strategy and Management program I completed last year, sounded very intriguing.  How inspiring, to meet classmates at varying stages of their entrepreneurial journeys and learn about the latest in entrepreneurship in Canada and beyond while exploring my own strengths and weaknesses. 

My first class was last night and it was quite exciting!  My energy level was good despite my ever more noticeable bump.  We have a a diverse and interesting group of classmates.  Some have businesses already, some have ideas and need more structure to see what would work.  Our instructor Keri Damen is informative and engaging. 
So, as I head back to school again for the next 6 weeks, please join me as I learn more about entrepreneurship and begin my own entrepreneurial journey.  As student ambassador I will be sharing my thoughts and experiences, what I learn from class about some exciting new concepts and potential businesses through my blog and other social media platforms.  These special posts will be denoted by #StartUpEdu.

Follow #StartUpEdu on Twitter to join in on the conversation.  Also feel free to follow @EntrepreneurSCS and the instructor @KeriDamen.

Can I use my Tea Sommelier skills as a consultant for independent tea businesses or cafes? Or a tea sommelier service? Or perhaps an import/export tea company of my own?!  You never know... We shall see!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Certificate in Entrepreneurship program; however, the opinions provided are my own.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Hello!  It has been a while since my last blog post. 

I shared this lovely green tea with my mom today.  Hope all the mothers had a wonderful day with their loved ones.  

I've been busy as you can see...yes, I am expecting!  I'm five months along now.  

Around the same time as the Toronto Tea Festival  this February I was busy with planning and volunteering to help make the second annual two day festival a great one.  I thought I was starting to get sick, perhaps the flu.  It had been a really rough winter with the Polar Vortex and all.  Found out later that I was expecting! What a amazing surprise!

Morning sickness and fatigue took over all of my first trimester.  Morning sickness can last all day, not just morning by the way...  Still working full time in my day job so I haven't made a post in a long time.  My experience thus far has given me a new appreciation of some of the things mothers go through, and it's only the half way point.

I had read and heard from others that the second trimester gets better.  I was waiting patiently and I'm happy to report that it's true!  

My taste buds and sense of smell are heightened.  A lot of the foods I normally enjoy, I can't stomach anymore.  Unfortunately tea is often one of them.  I have to be careful of my caffeine intake for the baby's sake. Now and then I'm allowed a cup or two but the tannins and any slight imperfections are now magnified and quite disagreeable to me. Lighter brews are more palatable.  

It's now after the Spring tea harvest.  One of the top Chinese tea shops in town, Tao Tea Leaf was holding their annual Spring Tea Tasting event.  Over the last couple of weeks, I carefully sipped little Chinese cup samples of the Spring teas.  

I was so happy to be able to taste and enjoy great quality teas again and catch up with many of my tea friends that I hadn't seen in months!  

I still can't drink as much as as I used to, so I only bought one tea.  Hey, that took control and effort on my part!  I decided to pick up some Tai Ping Hou Kui, since I didn't have any of this beautiful long leafed premium green tea left in my stash.  

Fresh, smooth and sweet finish.

Lots of changes ahead, stay tuned for more blog posts to come!