My Radio Interview on Communication on the Brian Crombie Show

Learning how to communicate effectively will help you become the successful candidate for your ideal job, shine in your workplace and land clients if you are a small business owner. Listen below to the replay of my interview with Brian Crombie on The Brian Crombie Hour on Sauga 960 A.M. We discuss the topic of communication. The highlights include:
– My journey from an introverted University of Toronto student to becoming a Certified Coach helping people become effective communicators.
– Obstacles that prevent people from becoming effective communicators.
– Strategies on how to become a more effective communicator.

Regardless of your professional background, there are always important skills that you have developed that you can use in your current work or use in a future career or business.

Throughout my career, whether it was working at the Toronto Star, in marketing communications, in the public service or in the non-profit sector, I developed valuable skills-sets. The skills developed are ones that I use in my work as a coach, writer, workshop facilitator and speaker. Anyone with hard work can learn a skill that they are interested in developing.

You can listen to the interview here.

We are in this together!

Hello Friends,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well in these challenging times. My heart goes out to every one of you. Thank you to those who have reached out. During the last few weeks, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has caused unprecedented health and economic consequences for everyone.

It sounds like a cliché; however, we are all in this together. Our choices and decisions count!

Many people are feeling alone, disillusioned and without hope. Hopefully, you have family, friends and colleagues who are helping you through this difficult time. I am blessed to have an amazing support system. For those who would like to connect (or who may not have a support system), please feel free to reach out to me anytime so that we can arrange a call or video call. I’ve included some resources that can help during this global health crisis.

We are in this together. With faith and hope we WILL get through this!

Sending you and your loved ones much love during this time.

Deborah Austin

While I have friends and colleagues from around the world, many of the resources are Canadian specific.

Financial – Individuals and Businesses
For individuals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, Canada offers the Employment Insurance Benefit. Go on to the Government of Canada website for eligibility and the application if you have not done so already. Applications are being processed now. For people not eligible for EI, for example contractors and self-employed people, the Government offers the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for those who have lost their income. Note applications start April 6th and they are based on month of birth. Check eligibility and the application on the website.
Government Support for Individuals

COVID-19 has forced many people to confront hard choices. If they have not already lost their job, many people are unsure of whether they will have a job after the crisis if they were laid off. Many people have had to pivot in their careers and consider alternatives. Some people might want to start their own business. I’ll send out some self-employment resources for those who are interested. In the interim, in order to have another stream of income during the crisis some people might consider temporary jobs or completely change careers. Here are resources to aid you or someone you know in your job search.

Tech Jobs

Amazon Jobs

Government of Canada Job Bank

The Government of Canada has developed supports for businesses. Whether you a small or medium-sized business or a larger industrial player, there are programs to help support your employees and keep your business running. Check the website for details. Each province is also offering support for businesses. Check your provincial government’s website.
Government Support For Businesses

Through my volunteer work with marginalized people such as the homeless, single moms etc., I know that there are many people who are food insecure. This pandemic has caused economic chaos for many lower-wage workers in the restaurant industry, daycare centres and many other places. Food insecurity has gone up for many people. Community organizations such as food banks are there to help if people need it.
Daily Bread Food Bank

Mental Health Resources
People are experiencing more anxiety, stress and even distress. If you and or someone you know needs mental health support, there are many organizations that can help. You are not alone! Having done volunteer work with The Kids Help Phone, they are excellent resource for children and youth who are having difficulty coping. Here are several mental health resources.

Kids Help Phone

Bounce Back Ontario

Canadian Crisis Centres

Parent / Learning Resources
Parents who normally work, now because schools are closed have had to become teachers by directly or indirectly homeschooling their kids. For many parents, this has been a challenge. Check your local school board for curriculum resources. Also here is an excellent resource that may help you teach your kids at home. The Khan Academy is an excellent website that has school resources for elementary and high school students as well as adults.

Khan Academy

On my website here, I also have several great articles. Here is one on compassion on which we all need to remember to practice during this unprecedented time.

Practice Compassion

Wishing you blessings and peace during this challenging time.

Lessons Learned From a Philanthropist and Community Builder

This is a flashback to one of my most favourite posts regarding lessons learned from billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin.

I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin at The Rotman School of Management at The University of Toronto. He was speaking there as part of an investor speaker series and there were approximately 250 people in attendance. In the lecture, he outlined some of his investing and life principles. Afterwards, I attended a reception, where I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Lee-Chin.

It was truly an honour to meet him. In life, I believe, that you can learn from anyone regardless of status. When you have the opportunity though to learn from people like Michael Lee-Chin who have achieved extraordinary success in life be it with their families, in their business and in the philanthropy/contribution area, it is important to take special heed. This blog article contains my musings on my encounter with one of Jamaica’s and Canada’s most successful businessmen and philanthropists. If you are interested in learning more about Michael Lee-Chin’s career and philanthropy, there are numerous articles that describe his rise to fame and fortune.

From the lecture and my conversation with Michael Lee-Chin, I took away many lessons that will inspire me for a lifetime. One of the main lessons that was reinforced was that anyone can have a successful life, if they are willing to do the required work AND implement proven success strategies. If you examine the lives of successful people you will see commonalities. Success, as businessman and motivational guru Tony Robbins likes to say leaves clues.

Early in his business career as a young man, Michael Lee-Chin visited families in order to sell investments. One of the primary questions he would ask is, how can I make this family wealthy? In other words, how I can create value for this family? This is a question worth asking on a daily basis. How can you create value for people on a regular basis? As an employee, how can you contribute to your employer on a daily basis? As an entrepreneur, how are you helping your clients solve problems so that they can attract clients and new opportunities as well as save money? As a speaker, how are you ensuring that your message resonates with your audience? As a family member, how are you contributing value in terms of your love and time to the development of your family? Your answer to this question which is about contribution and the actions that you take can be a determinant for your success in life.

We all know that there are proven and timeless principles and formulas that will help us live successful lives. While there are various formulas and principles that outline how to become successful, find the strategies that work for you. Michael Lee-Chin in his lecture outlined some of his principles for building wealth.

When he was a young man starting out in the business world, Michael Lee- Chin also studied the wealthiest people in the world. He discovered five main principles that wealthy people around the world have used to build their wealth overtime. While I’m not an investment advisor, here are the principles with my personal perspective on them. They are:

1.Buy a few high quality businesses.
People who have accumulated great wealth overtime have usually concentrated on buying or investing in a few high quality businesses. In other words, they are focused investors in terms of the type, quality and the number of businesses that they have. If you apply this principle even further to the personal level consider this. Do you invest your time in many different things that don’t yield great results? Or are you using your energy and time in a few high quality things that help you achieve optimum results to reach your goals.

2. Once you own these high quality businesses (i.e. investments) understand these businesses thoroughly.
Once you buy high quality businesses become the expert on those businesses. In other words, know them inside and out. Applying this to the personal level, regardless of how small the amounts are, do you know all the intricate details about your investments. Do you know how they are performing on a consistent basis? If you don’t know the specifics about your investments, make it a priority now. While your investment advisor may be competent, you are the one who has the greatest stake in your future so ensure you understand your investments thoroughly.

3. Invest in businesses that have strong, long term growth.
When it comes to your investments, are they performing consistently and growing in the long term? That is one of the key to success. Even though there may periods when your investments have lower returns monitor them consistently to ensure that they overall have strong, long term growth.

4. Use other people’s money prudently.
Using other people’s money prudently means, how can you learn to borrow and invest intelligently to purchase businesses or investments in order to build your wealth. As we all know, this is easier said than done. If you are able to invest with other people’s money to build your wealth ensure that have you done your due diligence on all accounts.

5. Hold on to your businesses (i.e. investments) for the long term.
Unless you win it, marry it or inherit it, building wealth is a process that takes time. So many people want quick returns on their investments. The key to building wealth is to develop your long term strategy rather than focus on short term gains. Part of that strategy means holding on to your high performing investments for the long term.

While these are the five main principles that I learned about building wealth while listening to Michael Lee-Chin’s speech, there is so much more information that I could add. I’ll save that information for another article. The lessons from Michael Lee Chin will last a lifetime!

Six Tips To Help You When You Are a Panelist

Recently, I was invited to be part of a panel on women and entrepreneurship at an entrepreneurship expo at the Ontario Science Centre. I was part of a panel that included a moderator and two other panelists. The moderator was Katherine Roos, Executive Director – Imagination Catalyst at OCAD University. The two panelists were: Dr. Diana Kraskouskaya, CEO of Dalriada Therapeutics and Chakameh Shafii, CEO and Co-Founder of TranQool. It was a wonderful experience. The moderator asked questions to the panelists for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, there was a question and answer period with audience members.

If you have the opportunity to participate as part of a panel, I highly recommend it. Here are six tips that can help you navigate the opportunity when you are invited to be a panelist. They are:

1. Panel Fit. Before you accept the invitation to be part of a panel, determine if it’s a good fit for you. There are a variety of reasons why you could be asked to be on a panel. You could be invited based on: your expertise, your professional experience, your education, your network, or your profile and platform. Before you accept the invitation, decide if being a panelist is a good fit for you. Take into consideration your professional experience and the value that you would add to the panel. When I accepted the invitation to participate, I decided that it was a good fit. The other two panelists were CEOs and based on my experience as a “solopreneur” in the coaching and consulting areas, I could give a unique perspective. Being on the panel was also in alignment with my commitment to women’s issues, including economic empowerment.

2. Conduct Your Research. In order to prepare properly, conduct research into the following: the organization hosting the panel, the topic under consideration, the moderator and the other panelists. Doing your research in advance will help you to speak credibly to the topic that will be discussed. I conducted research into all the above and it served me well on the panel.

3. Questions from the Moderator. If possible try to obtain some examples of the questions that the moderator might ask in advance of the panel and prepare accordingly. If you are unable to obtain some of the questions in advance, prepare a few sample questions and practice with them. I anticipated what some of the questions might be and some of those questions were asked.

4. Share Personal Stories. You were asked to be part of a panel because of your expertise and professional background. The audience members want to learn about your journey. Be prepared to share relevant, personal stories that highlight your area of expertise. One area where I got personal was when the moderator asked me who my mentor was. I mentioned my mother who taught me the tenacity, courage, perseverance, empathy and compassion that I need to succeed in business and in life.

5. Questions from the Audience. Similar to preparing for the moderator’s questions, anticipate some questions that might come from the audience. When the questions are asked, answer to the best of your ability. I brainstormed a few potential questions in advance and some of them were asked by audience members.

6. Connect with Your Host. Before the date of the panel, ensure that you have communicated with your host well in advance. Have at least one phone call with your host in addition to email communication to determine the event expectations and the venue location/time. If he or she doesn’t do so automatically, ask to be connected with the panel moderator to touch base. On the date of the event, arrive early, connect with the host and make sure that you know where the panel meeting room location is. After the event, thank the host for the wonderful opportunity.

While you may not have participated on a panel (yet), these tips will help you navigate that opportunity smoothly. When opportunity knocks, preparation will enable you to open the door with full confidence!

Tips to Prepare in Advance for a Successful Speech

Before speaking before an audience, you may feel nervous before presenting. In order to help alleviate some of that nervousness, there are several things that you can do in advance that will help you to be more confident the day that you are presenting. Below is a checklist with several tips listed that can help you to perform your best. If you know that you are presenting weeks or days in advance, there are several things that you can do in order to set yourself up for success. They are:

• Be knowledgeable about the subject matter.
• Prepare your speech well in advance.
• Know your audience demographics in advance i.e. conduct an assessment/research.
• Survey your audience members using tools like Survey Monkey etc.
• Build your credibility by knowing the image that you want to convey.
• Practice enough so that you are knowledgeable about the subject matter without notes. The goal is not to memorize verbatim. The goal is to know your speech well enough that you have a structure that you can follow.
• Know what your practical and visualization strategies are for success.
• Obtain feedback on your speech from people that you know and trust.
• Record your presentation and review the video.
• Ensure your handouts and PowerPoint presentation are prepared well in advance.
• Ensure that you have enough marketing collateral on hand i.e. brochures, postcards, and business cards.
• Connect with your host in advance to discuss the contract, the location/venue and the audio-visual requirements and details such as whether you can you make an offer or have a draw etc.

By following these tips and implementing your own, you will have a greater chance of delivering an excellent speech when you are scheduled to present. Preparing well in advance will help you to become a more confident and dynamic speaker.

Featured Speaker at Swift Networking Event on March 30, 2017

Are you a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who is looking to connect with your ideal clients and grow your network? Speaking engagements are an excellent way to connect with potential clients and expand your network. On March 30, 2017, I will be a featured speaker at a networking event called: Swift Networking. I would love to see you there! The topic of my presentation is called: Develop Your Signature Speech. A signature speech is a presentation that outlines your key area of expertise when you are invited to speak at events. Developing your signature speech can help you to leverage your speaking engagements to connect with potential clients, maximize sales and other opportunities.

Developing your signature speech ensures that you are ready to speak on your area of expertise at a moment’s notice and attract potential clients and opportunities to you. In this dynamic workshop, I will teach you tips and strategies on how to develop your signature speech. You will learn:

– The components that you need to develop your signature speech.
– How to research your ideal target audience or clients.
– What you can do before your presentation to ensure that you maximize your speaking engagement.
– What you can do during your presentation to connect with potential clients and your audience.
– What you can do after your presentation in order to collect leads, maximize opportunities for sales and develop your network.

I’ll be speaking along with two other great speakers. Tickets are selling fast. You can purchase your tickets here!

Purchase Swift Networking Tickets

My passion in life is helping people to develop their leadership and communication skills to the highest level. It’s a privilege to be able to help people get their work out into the world. Feel free to reach out to me if I can be of service to you.

Looking forward to see you there!


Develop Your Signature Speech Workshop

Develop Your Signature Speech Workshop: Learn to attract new clients, expand your network and leverage opportunities! (Wednesday, December 7, 2016)

Are you a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who is looking to connect with your ideal clients and grow your network? Speaking engagements are an excellent way to connect with potential clients and expand your professional network. A signature speech is a presentation that outlines your key area of expertise when you are invited to speak at events. Developing your signature speech can help you to leverage your speaking engagements to connect with potential clients, maximize sales and other opportunities.

Developing your signature speech ensures that you are ready to speak on your area of expertise at a moment’s notice and attract potential clients and opportunities to you. In this hour long introductory workshop, you will learn tips, techniques and strategies on how to develop your signature speech.

In the workshop you will learn:

• An overview of the fundamentals of public speaking.

• The elements that you need to develop your signature speech.

• Develop the components of your signature speech.

• How to research your ideal target audience.

• What you can do before your presentation to ensure that you maximize your speaking engagement.

• What you can do during your presentation to connect with potential clients and your audience.

• What you can do after your presentation in order to collect leads, maximize opportunities for sales and develop your network.

This is an introductory 1 hour workshop conducted on behalf of the Pink Portfolio Group on December 7th, 2016. In the new year Deborah will conduct a more in depth workshop on How To Develop Your Signature Speech. She is also available for 1:1 customized presentation skills coaching and can assist with presentation design and development of your signature speech.

To register for the introductory workshop you can register here.
Signature Speech Workshop

To contact Deborah for personalized coaching and consulting services please call 416-546-3390 or email

The Art of Empowerment: Communicate Your Message

Creating a life that you love requires that you step into your authentic power as a leader. As a visionary leader, the ability to communicate effectively in front of audience will help to get your transformational message out into the world. When you make the decision to invest in yourself, it will pay more dividends that you could ever imagine. Learning how to speak effectively in public is a skill that is essential to your success.

Being able to speak effectively in front of an audience ensures that you can capitalize on opportunities. If you have not been taking your speaking development seriously, now is the time to start doing so. The first place to start is to do an assessment of your communication skills, in terms of your strengths and challenges. Every time you deliver a presentation you need to capitalize on your strengths. One of the most effective ways that you can get a sense of what your strengths are is to compile data through feedback and by recording yourself on video to determine how you present.

On the opposite side of knowing your strengths, you also need to examine your communication challenges. Feedback from people that you know and trust can help you in identifying your strengths and the areas that you need to improve. Once you identify the areas that you need to work on, obtaining a mentor or a coach can help you improve your communication skills. Also investing in a program like Toastmasters, a self-directed communication and leadership training program can help.

If you want to learn to speak effectively in front of a group, learning the fundamentals of public speaking is important. Some of the fundamentals include: knowing your speech purpose, knowing your audience, learning to develop great content, using your nonverbal language effectively and being conscious of your language usage. When you know the purpose of your speech you are able to connect with an audience. Doing demographic research helps you to identify who your audience members are and craft your presentation to meet their needs. When you learn to develop great content, you can connect with your audience with storytelling techniques and relevant research. When you organize your speech effectively you take your audience on a journey. Learning to use your nonverbal communication like body language, gestures and facial expressions effectively all play a role in connecting with your audience. In terms of your language usage, use powerful words as they do influence the audience’s perception of you.

As a visionary leader, you have gifts, talents and skills that the world needs. Learning to become a powerful speaker can help you to get your life changing message out into the world to help transform lives!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (August 2016 issue)