Sophie Kiwala

The Power Within

TBOP2017 ⋅ 5:01 ⋅ Filmed May 12, 2017

Are you thinking of starting a business? Investing in an up-and-coming company? Maybe you dream of being an entrepreneur one day. If the thought has ever crossed your mind, you’ve probably wondered “how do I get started?” “How will I know what’s a smart venture?” “When will I know it’s right?”

Now, you can take it from MPP Sophie Kiwala, as she recounts her first foray into business ownership. Presented with an opportunity, Sophie describes the confusion and uncertainty of the decision she had to make — and the consultation process that helped her decide what was the right move. Most importantly, she shares the advice of her brother-in-law (a multimillion dollar business owner himself) that changed her life. Lucky you, you’ll get to hear her secret and use it for your own career and business ventures!


I want to leave you with a personal story, and when that relates back to that human infrastructure or what I like to call 'the power within'.

[11:45] A whole bunch of years ago — way too many more than I'd like to remember — when I was 24 years old, after being a single mother for years, I had an opportunity to buy my own business. It was a 35 year-old flower shop in Toronto that didn't have a stellar reputation that it was OK. However impulsive I might have been in those years, I thought very carefully about the decision to buy this business or not.

[12:15] I consulted far and wide. I asked everyone that I knew what they thought about the idea. I deliberated on every last detail, what I should be considering about buying this business. What if the neighborhood where the business was located was not sufficient to carry it in accordance to the vision that I had? What if I borrow the money to purchase the business and it went under? What would it do to my family? To daughter's life and her future?

[12:51] In the many conversations that I had at the time, on of the people who's opinion I sought was that of my brother-in-law-to-be. He and his wife had two very young children who had successfully extricated themselves from 15 years in Scientology. Now, before I go on, you're probably thinking why would you consult with somebody who spent 15 years in Scientology? Think about it for a moment. They were older hippies, they had two small children and no work history for 15 years.

[13:29] So, what Gary did is he identified problem and he realized at homes would be converting to natural gas heating from oil at fast and furious pace. They would need to convert their furnaces and chimneys to accommodate it.

[13:46] So what are you going to do? You're older, you have a wife you have to support, a family and in desperation, he went to house knocked on the door and sold his first job. When he left that house he thought, 'OK, I don't know what to do now. How do I do chimney liners? How do I find out about that?’ He left the house, he went to the library and he learned how to do it. He taught himself how to change a chimney liner. Over the years, he built himself, and his family, a multi million-dollar business that now supports not only his own family, but his children's families and many of his employees.

[14:33] So what's the connection? Why are we talking about this here and now?

[14:39] My ex-brother-in-law who I still love to bits, heard me when I was talking about starting that small business. He heard me mount up the reasons why I shouldn't do it.

[14:53] His advice to me then and the motto that has guided me ever since was not to focus on something why something was difficult and challenging but to find solutions. No matter how big or small the problem, no matter how complex the solution, insist on seeing yourself as part of the solution. Cast aside what can be perceived as a cloak estate a safety that so often surrounds us and never be afraid of tackling the problems of the day. So let The Breakout Project strengthen your resolve be that change that you want to see in the world. Let it nurture the ability for us to utter fewer words and replace them with more action. Less greed and more giving. Less worried and more caring. Less anger, more laughter. Less hate and more love.

[16:05] Let the world that you have [experienced] in the past couple of days never stop inspiring you. Never underestimate yourself. Or consider anything single challenge or problem to be too large where you cannot make a difference. You can do it.

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