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Confidence Camp Rock Stars: Welcome to Day 26! This is quite the journey, right? We’re so glad you’re still with us. Maybe you’ve followed along diligently every day, or maybe you’ve completely given up, or somewhere in between. It’s all good! There’s plenty of time to work on confidence every day of our lives, because that’s how it works.

Today’s topic is called, "Get Feedback from Your Trusted Advisors”, and I feel especially privileged to share with you a conversation I had recently with two of my own trusted advisors, Sharon McLeod and Kerry Owen. I hope you’ll take the time to sit down at the virtual table with us to share in a discussion of how important it is to have people in our lives who know us, support us, and truly stand by us—no matter what.

I met both Sharon and Kerry in the same company about 10 years ago. They actually didn’t know each other at first, but somehow we all ended up in the same room together on several occasions. It was not long after that we, along with two other women, started brainstorming about creating a women’s leadership and career development program—by women, for women—and our Chocolate Villa model was born. The story is a little more complicated and more intriguing (Why did you name it Chocolate Villa?) than we have space for here, but worth the quick little side trip.

Kerry is now a Managing Partner, Strategic Facilitator and Executive Coach at vivid connections, a marketing and strategic consulting organization based in Toronto, Ontario. She was a working “mum” (as they say in Canada) with a husband and two young children, just starting her company at the same time we were launching Chocolate Villa in the fall of 2008. When I met Kerry, I was not only deeply impressed by her genuine warmth and creativity, but also by her keen ability to gracefully juggle the demands of parenting young children while pitching her new company to big name-brand companies in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area. I’m almost a local to know that.) Also, by the amazing depth of her dimples. In ten years, she’s not only grown her business and her youngsters to new heights, but she’s become a fearsome, match-playing tennis maven. Watch out.

Sharon is currently a Global Vice President of Dove Men+Care for Unilever. Though she makes her permanent home on The Farm outside of Toronto with her husband and two loving and adorable dogs, she also lives and works part time in New York City, and travels to many parts of the world, because that’s what you do when you have the word “global” in your title. Sharon is a marketing whiz as well as a savvy business woman, and has had her brush in the paint behind many successful brand campaigns. She’s a put-your-head-down, hard-working, bad-ass woman, and was chosen a few years ago to be one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. That said, she’s as warm-hearted, kind, generous and loving as my Aunt Louise was, a rare mix to be found in one person. She claims people have told her she’s intimidating, but I tell her, “Nice try.” We spend a lot of time laughing together.


Together, the three of us are self-proclaimed geeks. When most women take their “girl trips”, they go to Las Vegas to shop, see dinner shows, or lounge by the pool sipping fruity drinks. Not us. We gather about once a year in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and meet for one day (complete with a prepared agenda) at Kerry’s office, and for another half day at Sharon’s farm. We talk about our lives, our careers, new projects and pursuits. We each bring something new we have learned recently to share with the others. We give each other feedback, challenge and feed each other’s crazy ideas, and try to shed new light on each other’s struggles. We love it. (See? Total Geeks.)

Wait. To be fair, you need to know that the annual Geek Retreat also includes a trip to the spa for a massage, a visit to a nail salon for a pedicure, wherein we select new polish colors for each other (Talk about taking risks!), dinner out with families at the Italian place, and an afternoon at The Farm, complete with kids, dogs, husbands, burnt hot dogs on the grill, and good times together.

It takes time to develop trusting relationships, whether they are personal or professional. In this case, for me, they are both, and I feel extremely grateful for that. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are many good reasons to have trusted advisors in your life, so I’ll list a few here for you, along with the ideas Kerry and Sharon have shared in the video. I got these from my own experience of having cherished advisors like these two women.

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  1. They see the parts of you that you may be unwilling or unable to see.
  2. They will be honest with you, even if it’s not what you want to hear.
  3. They will be there to help you whenever you ask. And sometimes when you haven’t asked yet.
  4. They will share their experience and wisdom, and they will ask you to share yours, too. And they will be genuinely interested in what you have to say.
  5. They will listen between the lines, and they will know when there is something else you’re not saying. They will ask.
  6. They will make you laugh and will let you cry, and either way it’s just fine.
  7. They will remind you that you are amazing because of who you are, and not because of what you do, or what your potential might be.
  8. If you make a big mistake, they will never let you believe they saw it coming. They’ll just pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you keep moving.
  9. They’ll respect your pace and not pressure you to run faster, jump higher or do anything more than you can do right now. There is no competition.
  10. They’ll make the experience you have together rich and enlightening, because the value for them is as high as it is for you.

After our first self-hosted Chocolate Villa, we decided that part of the experience could include peer coaching, so we set up what we called “circular coaching” between the five of us. (A coaches B, who coaches C, who then coaches A, etc.) We worked hard to make this model work, and it did, in some ways. Ultimately, however, we ended up choosing each other as advisors on different areas of life, and we didn’t always stick to our original coaching assignments. And, as often happens, our core group changed: Some of the original women moved on and or moved away from Chocolate Villa, and Kerry, Sharon and I began to rely more and more on each other. Chocolate Villa went through its growing pains and evolved into Villa Leadership, Kerry’s business blossomed—but not without threats of its own—and Sharon stepped into new roles and new opportunities in her company and her personal life that challenged her previously-held beliefs about what she could do and from what location.

But through all of our changes, we continued to grow in our support for each other. Trust develops over time, and—as you’ll hear in the video—it’s a “feel” thing. It grows out of consistent care, commitment and willingness to show up for each other, to have each other’s backs, and to stand up for each other with encouragement, belief, and support for each other, no matter what.


  1. In your journal, write down the names of people who come to mind when you think of the term, “trusted advisor”. Next to each person’s name, write what you rely on that person’s expertise for, i.e., professional or career guidance, interpersonal relationship-building, financial advice, etc.
  2. Now think back to see if you can determine the point in time in which you felt that you could trust him/her. What was the circumstance? What, specifically, made you trust them?
  3. Finally, send a note (email or handwritten) to one of the people you’ve been writing about, thanking them for their position in your life as a trusted advisor. Tell them why you rely on their wisdom or expertise, and what you value in the relationship you have with them.

Trusted Advisor relationships grow stronger with time, as long as there is continued re-investment in the relationship. Sometimes people fulfill their TA roles in your life for a long time, and sometimes things change and people move on. It doesn’t mean they weren’t valued and trusted for the role they played in your life at that point in time, and we can be grateful.

Thanks for being with us for another day at Confidence Camp. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Cheers to you, Trusted Campers!


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