Terra Connors has been in the tradeshow industry for more than half her life.
Starting when she was a high-school student, she was fortunate to start her career in the industry working on the Global Petroleum Show, and Northlands Farm and Ranch Show. For the past 17 years, Terra has dedicated her enthusiasm for such a unique industry into the growth of Canwest Productions (formerly Kahshe Productions/Canwest Shows). Canwest currently produces 20 retail consumer shows throughout Canada, making it one of the largest independent trade show producers in the country.
Born and raised in Calgary, Terra juggles her successful career, while keeping up with her with her husband, 3 children and two dogs.
I am extremely proud of where I am, where my company is, and the many amazing relationships I have built around Canwest.
I count myself incredibly lucky.
Describe your Mission. What’s it all about for you?
To be passionate about what I do, across the board. That includes being involved and engaged with my amazing kids and husband, and my second family – which is my business, Canwest.
What is your ultimate dream for your role/business/mission and where you’d like to take it?
We spend so much of our lifetime working. I aspire to create an environment where my staff want to be there, where passion and integrity are of top importance, and where we look forward to what we do. Canwest is a family to me, and I hope that my passion inspires others.
Describe what success looks like – complete fruition.
Loving life – that is success – from home and family to the workplace. It is being passionate about what you do, and who you are with.
Describe your success strategy in one sentence.
Be determined, don’t quit, and take everything that comes at you one step at a time.
Biggest highlight in your career/journey thus far?
The progression and growth of Canwest is my biggest accomplishment and highlight. Originally, I started as an assistant working out of the garage office (we laughingly referred to it as the ‘warehouse office’). Over the years, I have worked thousands of hours, invested countless tears and significant sweat equity, and have experienced my fair share of character-building failures.
One thing that you feel has been most pivotal or useful thus far in your career/journey?
One thing? That is hard to narrow down, but I would say support – the support of my family, my husband, and my partners.
My husband is my champion, offering understanding and support especially when the challenges of being a woman in business can sometimes de-rail my efforts as a mom. My partners are also some of my biggest advocates, providing the encouragement, trust and understanding that I have necessitated to help grow our business, and to understand that I will always be a mom first.
How would you describe what brings you the greatest joy in your current role?
The relationships I have forged and the people that I work with.
What would you like women to most understand or consider – on a higher level – with regards to your role and your mission.
That you can do both – be a mom with a rewarding fulfilling family life and have a rewarding successful career. You do not have sacrifice one or another.
Best advice you ever received
Years ago, my partner – who was my then boss gave me the ultimate piece of advice in managing my time and my purpose. He asked me “How do you eat an elephant?”. I remember being bewildered and confused, but knew the answer: “One bite at a time”. The realization that life moves forward, inside the office or at home, one step at a time, and to remember to keep perspective when life becomes overwhelming.
What would be your top three tips for women regarding a walking their talk and a courageously approaching to is most important to them.
Be true to yourself.
- If you do not know what you want and what you stand for, no one else will either.
Be brave and courageous.
- Go out and get what you want. Do not let people tell you that you are not “enough”.
Have empathy and understanding.
- This world needs more people who care, and people who care are just better.
How do you balance between being an impactful community leader, a busy professional, volunteer and so much more without dodging your own self-care?
I wish I had a poignant answer here. Some days are more of a struggle than others, and unfortunately, putting myself first does not happen often. This is not a great question for me, as I am still working on creating a good balance!
You must have some pretty long days. How do you keep your energy up and your focus consistent? How you stay PowHERful and on the top of your game?
Passion, support, and the seeing the reward of our hard work. I love what I do, so motivation is not usually a struggle. But sometimes the promise of a great glass of wine is sometimes just the incentive I need!
What would you say your Top 3 Excellence Habits are (ie. habits that ensure your success).
- I don’t give up
- I don’t expect more out people than what I can give
- I have drive. You need the hustle to succeed.
Describe your Top 3 Time Management Tips as they relate to your Mission.
- Distributing tasks: Sometimes I am horrible at this, but when you have an amazing support system in place, you need to take advantage of that resource.
- Rising Early: I am an early riser, and many days I come into the office in the quiet of the morning. It really gives me uninterrupted time to get things done, and then I am able to spend the day with my team.
Describe collaboration and what the looks like/feels like on the ground – how does it show up in your life?
My company is built on teamwork, from my partners and I to our amazing staff. Everyone wears many hats, and we value input from everyone.
Describe a favourite hobby or adventure.
I have played ringette for more than 30 years. For me, it is an outlet where I can blow off steam and spend time with women from all walks of life. The times we spend in the dressing room or over a glass of wine are irreplaceable. I also help coach my daughter and enjoy every minute I can spend with the girls on the ice and off.
Favourite energy meal or snack (healthy).
I do not have a general ‘healthy’ go-to. Sushi is on the list though!
Do you have a morning ritual or primer that you use daily to set your state positively and powHERfully? We’d love to hear about it!
Outside of a great cup of coffee (thank you Nespresso!) If I am struggling to get myself up mentally and spiritually – I need to crank up a favourite playlist.
Favourite indulgence or treat.
Wine. Oh wait – that is not an indulgence – that is a necessity! Pizza then, for sure pizza!
Top 3 things on your Bucket List.
I do not really have a bucket list. Travel is one of the things I hope to do, like a trip to Ireland to stay in a castle, but I really tend to keep my focus on my life where it is now, my kids and our everyday happiness.
What does giving back (fulfillment) look like to you?
Mentoring. Whether it be coaching the girls on the ice or women in business.
Over the years, I have been able to look up to some very successful and powerful women and would love to be able to give back in the same capacity.
I never leave home without my……..
iPhone, of course! Fortunately, and unfortunately, I try to maintain constant contact with my business.
What are the apps or online tools you most use?
If you could display a 1-line message in Times Square that would be televised to women around the world, what would it say?
Be true to yourself, and in what you believe. Be courageous, be strong!
Your thoughts on mentoring young women? What do you feel your most valuable lessons to pass on are?
Girls can do it. Women can do it. Sounds like a Nike commercial!
Where do we go from here in terms of supporting and inspiring women to step-up and continue moving forward with their missions… regardless of how hard it may feel at times. #confidence #courage #connections #capital
Support, empathy, encouragement, sharing. It takes a village.