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Being Flexible: An interview with Sasha Yasinski

16 Sep

How are you at being flexible? Maybe it’s easier during the ‘downtime’ of  your year (if that actually exists) but what about in the middle of the rush season, as you are jumping hurdles and overcoming challenges? A leader often shows her stuff during these periods of activity, and so we’re interviewing an entrepreneurial young woman this week, Sasha Yasinski, who knows what it’s like to be in the thick of your busy season and need to stay flexible.

I met Sasha at a fair this past year. My partner and I were just about to throw a huge party, and we needed to hire a lifeguard for the event. (Yes, it was that huge.) Upon setting eyes on Sasha at the fair, I just had a little niggle of intuition. Going up I asked if she was a lifeguard, to which she replied yes! And that is how I met this young entrepreneur!

But Sasha is more than just a lifeguard. She’s founder, manager and teacher within her own business, Aqua Academy, which was launched in 2011 after Sasha received a Summer Company Grant from Invest Ottawa (then known as OCRI). From this grant she received funds as well as classes on how to establish a small business – and therefore took her education in Commercial Recreation and Tourism, and turned it into Aqua Academy, a school for swimming. Since that time in 2011, Sasha has been getting rave reviews from parents and kids alike, and her numbers are growing with each season.

So why does flexibility matter? Well, if you have trouble being flexible, you may have trouble shifting your strategies and priorities when you need to, which can build up huge amounts of stress. To be flexible is to adjust your emotions, thoughts, and behaviour as situations and conditions change.

Let’s see how Sasha has reacted to change in her latest, and most successful season of Aqua Academy – these answers come from an email exchange and are slightly edited for length and grammar.

Sasha, how do you successfully manage change in an environment where people are hesitant to depart with their old ways of doing things?

Sasha: [Keep a] positive attitude, make slight changes and incorporate some old habits shortly, justify the changes that are controlled by me, try out different organizational methods and use what works. Be inspired and inspire others.

Do you prefer your work to be predictable and stable, or do you enjoy conditions that require you to change what you do?

Sasha: I like to have a routine so that I can complete what daily tasks need to be done, but I don’t structure my day to the point where I’m always doing the same thing each day, hour by hour.  I like to have some days that are slow moving and others where I hunker down for a few solid hours to get some serious work done.  But the most important part of my business is to interact with the families and create relationships with both the parents and the children.  It is important for my instructors to do the same.  So I like to spend some days chatting with them and getting to know their experience with swimming.

If I compare this summer to the last two summers I operated Aqua Academy, there has been lots of change.  I am now more efficient and can accommodate for more clientele.

Can you describe a time where you have to adjust quickly to changes in your environment. What was your process for changing your behaviour/tasks?

Sasha: I had a challenging month in June however, because three of my five staff quit unexpectedly.  This was “unpredictable” and at the time I was frustrated and stressed because my business really requires staff that I can rely on.  Now that I have had some time to reflect, I am thankful it occurred at the beginning of the summer.  I have also found three great instructors to commit to the rest of the summer who are very reliable.  I’ve learned a lot from this experience when it comes to managing my staff.

I adjusted to this quickly by preparing myself mentally for a busy day at work every day. I had to let go of some other commitments and really focus on my business. I jumped in the water to teach as well as completed the administrative tasks that needed to get done.  I learned to adjust to a busier day and have been more efficient because of it!

Can you give us an example of when you found it difficult to adjust to a change in your career/studies. What emotions were you feeling?

Sasha: This summer is the perfect example of my business changing.  I hired on twice the number of staff from last summer to assist in teaching about forty children per day compared to 18-20 last summer.  I am managing more staff, more money and more clientele on my own.  The business grew exponentially and I wasn’t necessarily prepared for it.  During the last two summers, I was able to complete registration on my own, interact with families, and teach too!  This summer I realized I needed some help doing so, so I have hired on an admin assistant and instructor to give me a hand. She presents great new ideas for how to make things better every day!


A HUGE thanks to Sasha for answering our questions, and being such a bright spark amongst women entrepreneurs. We wishing you a nice time of recovery following your very busy season. If you’re in Ottawa and considering swimming lessons for your kids, check out Sasha’s business!

There are time when being flexible requires knowing what is, and what isn’t in your control – this taps into how you perceive your reality, and so today’s exercise focuses on something called the ‘Circle of Reality’. This basically looks at three general ideas:

  • What you know you know
  • What you know you don’t know


  • What you don’t know you don’t know

We break it down into further explanations in the resource PDF you can access by clicking here. Go ahead and learn more about these general states, as well as your Zone of Choice and Green Dot Moments.

And until next week, keep well!

Take care,


Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!


The Pull of Independence

9 Sep

weddingThis week Sister Leadership is honoured to welcome Debbie Hollingworth, of I Do With You – an online wedding shop hosted on Etsy, and focusing on really charming ‘old time’ type of invitations, favours, menus, etc. Debbie and I met at the Ottawa Citizen back when we were both working there. Since that time, we’ve both left for new horizons: for myself it was coaching and Sister Leadership, for Debbie it was to become a freelance graphic designer and specializing in wedding stationary.

And so, when considering who to interview about the concept of Independence, Debbie and her business popped right up into my mind. You see, originally Debbie ran (and still runs) a business called You’ve Been Posted,  but when the wedding biz had a slump not too long ago, she decided to put aside her freelance ambitions and go back to working for someone else. It was during that time she hammered out her values and stumbled upon a new concept, Etsy, for launching into her dream business once again.

(Etsy is an online retail community with a high focus on craft, art, and design. It’s an excellent place to shop for some party touches, your next dress, jewellery or – in the case of IDoWithYou, wedding invitations!)

So what is Independence? “Independence is the ability to think for yourself and be free of emotional dependency,” EQ Leader Program. With Debbie’s interview, we’ll see how her passion sparked that ability to think and create for herself.

Q: So, Debbie, what feeling do you experience when you need to work independently from others? Do these feelings change over time some ways?

“It is the greatest feeling overall because you have control you have options you have choices. You can affected in any ways its works for you, explore all kinds of different areas, you are under some different regime you don’t want to go outside the box, anything is possible.”

Q: how did you get back to the ability of confidence in your independent business? How did you get out that cocoon?

“Well, you know what’s so odd is that, you know they say . . . that wherever you are led, there’s a reason for everything. I try really hard to look at the positive in everything. For the most part, I’m a very positive person . . . I just try and follow things as they go through. When I took that job at that invitation shop, one of the girls there said was, ‘one of the things you’re going to have to learn when you are here (because they were on Etsy) is Etsy and how to manipulate it and ground it, etc.’ It was like – I think it was three weeks into working there and I was already not happy. I had started thinking, ‘oh yeah, I’ll have to get this Etsy rolling for her,’ but then it clicked in my head. I said, ‘wait a minute, I’m going to open my own Etsy store.””

Q: How did it feel when you went back to working for yourself in this new type of business?

“Totally exhilarating. It was the right thing to do, I felt right and good and my passion started to come back. Every day I started to have something else that was to work toward . . . It help makes things work for me a bit better know there was a goal. I was doing the shop for money, but I could also pursue this new venture I had with the hopes of building it up and getting rid of the other job.

“It turned out that I did go to that stationary shop job for a reason. It helped me start up this whole new Etsy idea. It gave me insight into a new found passion and new business. A new way to be independent.”

Q: To what extend to you involve others in your work and the decision that you make?

“My every day stuff, making new things, whatever I’m doing, and contact with clients – I’ve been doing it all on my own. I’m welcoming the time when I can’t do it on my own and I need to hire somebody. That’s really going to show that I made a lot of progress.”

Q: Can you describe a situation where you were set against the grain and made a decision that wasn’t popular?

“The decision to take work (at the Stationary shop). Everybody was against it . . . most everybody was against it. But I just had to do it. I just felt like I had to do it. It made me feel at peace in my tummy. I just needed to do it. And in hindsight, it about more than the money because of what the outcome has developed.”

Q: Because of the Etsy wedding business you are now running?

“Exactly! You know what’s interesting. This is an odd parallel that came into my mind. I was married for 23 years, I’m in my second marriage, but I was married to my first husband that long. And the last ten years that marriage was not good, but I don’t have regrets. I’m not a person that hangs on that. There was a reason I did that, the reason I had my children – they were meant to be here, so that had to happen. I don’t feel bad about it, I feel good about it.

“And the way it turned out, I met my husband now. Had I not followed that course, I might not have met up with him. So I’m always appreciative of what has occurred. I’m not sitting there like, “I wish, I wish, I wish.” I’m not saying I never do that – I do it, but in the big picture I get a handle on it and understand how it’s been good.”

We’d like to very much thank Debbie for sharing her time and thoughts with us. The road to our goal may not always be smooth, but it’s a powerful ability to take what has happened and kernels of knowledge.  And who knows, it’s quite likely that one experience will help prepare you for the next, as it did with Debbie.

This week we’re offering an NLP tool to couple the EQ concept of Independence. In this tool, you are locating the placement of your inner critic. Using the submodalities of

  • Kinesthetic
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory
  • Auditory
  • Visual

We’ll help you shut down your inner critic and find that good moment above off of the worry. Go on now and take a look. It’s also connected to the exercise we gave you during our Barry White post on the inner critic. We’d love to hear your thoughts or feedback from the exercise.

Till next week,


Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!

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