The Encore – AVIS: Commit to Planning Ahead for Road Safety

Big business trip planned? A special level of attention to detail is needed when preparing to drive. No matter how much planning goes into ensuring a safe trip, no one ever plans to be in a crash. Take the time to be prepared and be safe.

Big trip:

  • Do your homework – know your route and set your navigation before leaving.
  • Check the oil, tires, air pressure, windshield wipers and fluid.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Make sure every person in every seat wears a seatbelt.
  • Remember to take breaks.
  • When riding in a taxi or using a car service, never let safety take a back seat. Crashes happen in all types of vehicles, with all levels of drivers at any time in any place. Always buckle up – no matter who is doing the driving.

Will your teenage driver be using the car while you are away on business? Teens look to their parents for driving advice. Always lead by example and make sure to give them the right tips.

NHTSA reminds parents to set the rules before they hit the road with “5 to Drive”:

  • No cell phones while driving.
  • No extra passengers.
  • No speeding.
  • No alcohol.
  • No driving or riding without a seatbelt.

If you are planning to bring small children with you on your business trip:

  • Know your state’s requirements.
  • Car seats and booster seats – know the difference.
  • The National Safety Council recommends that all children 12 and under should ride properly restrained in the back seat.
  • Always read your child restraint manual on properly using the restraint.
  • If you have questions check with your local community’s Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.


Visit to save up to 25% off your rental on your next business trip.


Forbes: Why Entrepreneurship Is Better Together

By: Geri Stengel

Finding another female-founded tech startup with ambitions to scale in Arizona is like looking for the mythical unicorn, said Vicki Mayo, cofounder of TouchPoint Solution, a wearable technology that reduces the stress response.

So when she heard about Project Entrepreneur’sSummit in Los Angeles, where women entrepreneurs had the chance to connect with one another and workshop their ideas with investors, she jumped for joy. Project Entrepreneur is a partnership between Rent the Runway co-founders Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss and UBS. Both companies are on a mission: to break traditional barriers women face in growing their companies big.

It Pays To Ask

Mayo was brought back down to earth when she tried to sign up. The event was sold out.  A very determined woman, she  called the organizers to ask if there was any way to make an exception and allow her to attend. She was put on a wait list. Then, a week later, Mayo was told she could attend.

WPO Guest Blog: Lumen Art Design Gives Tips On Successful Design Lighting

By: Mariya Kucherenko, P.Eng IES

All of the greatest metropolis areas in the world have one thing in common: easily recognizable, iconic night-time city sky lines. Visually striking lighting effects help emphasize the very best features of the urban landscape, not only showcasing the character of the area but also creating the ever-inviting so called “wow” factor. Light is no longer there just for practical applications, such as visual comfort and safety needs. It has quickly become a vital marketing tool for designing attractive urban areas and public spaces. Buildings of all shapes and sizes, fountains, plazas, parks, monuments, bridges and roads: all transform with darkness into animated canvases.

A successful urban lighting design project begins with a strong collaboration between all the professionals involved and the client during the planning stages. The essential points to be analyzed and taken into account are: overall design concept; desired message for the observing party; existent surrounding light conditions; facade surface properties (color, texture, light reflectance/absorption, glass transparence quality); light impact on neighboring structures and surroundings.

Some of the most important criteria for an attractive landscape lighting design are proper vertical and horizontal illumination levels. In contrast to the interior lighting design, exterior design is based on the luminance (illuminance and reflective properties of the light surfaces). Contemporary glass architecture has made it possible to utilize inside lighting as one of the components of night time facade visualization. With the help of contrasting vertical illumination of frontal elevations, the impression of outward glow is created.

It is now possible to achieve great lighting design that is not only visually appealing but is also environmentally responsible. Energy efficiency, minimization of lighting pollution and CO2 emissions are all attainable with a holistic lighting approach. Thus it is critical to implement an intelligent lighting system based on integration of innovative light sources and efficient luminaries. New LED-light emitting diodes technology allows to build outdoor luminaries with optimized lighting control for a varying complexity of layers, staging and effects.

Due to the immense complexity of all of the possible lighting scenarios, it is imperative to have a clear and detailed visualization of the lighting concept variations available for the client. This is made possible by today’s sophisticated lighting calculation software. I personally like to prepare at least three different illustrated lighting design approaches that vary in budget, energy consumption and solution. This also circles back to the idea of clear communication between all of those involved in the project.

Whatever the parameters of any given project, set up by the client and the local government guidelines, there is always a unique strategy that successfully marries all of the necessary design elements. This is no longer the time of light –bulb –quantity –per -given-foot of space. This is the time of welcoming and functional environments that have no boundaries for inspiration.

To end, here is my favorite quote by Paulo Coelho – “No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind the door: the purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eyes, to reveal the marvels around.”

The Encore – Advantage | ForbesBooks: The Greatness of Gratitude

By: Bea Wray, Chair Entrepreneurship Practice, Advantage Media

After years of working side by side with scores of entrepreneurs, there is one generalization I have come up with.

There is no one generalization.

But there is one key ingredient that separates the successes from the almost-rans.


First, gratitude makes the right people want to be around you and opens the door to more relationships.

Entrepreneurs who are thankful for the people around them and show it have a devoted following of partners, advisors and employees who are willing to follow them.

Second, gratitude opens up opportunities and energizes creative thinking.

Grateful individuals are better able to form social bonds with clients, better able to utilize coping skills to defer stress, better able to maintain positive affect, and are more creative in problem solving.

Finally, a grateful spirit won’t give up so gratitude fuels the attitude needed to drive entrepreneurial success.

Gratitude provides a safety net for those times when you fail and empowers you to get back up. All those meetings where I walked away empty-handed. I was still grateful to be in the room. The lens of gratitude blurs the lens of defeat.

WPO Guest Blog: Meet A Google Supplier – Claudia Mirza, CEO and Co-Founder, Akorbi

Claudia Mirza Blog

Claudia Mirza has a warm, open smile balanced with a confidence that exudes a sense of resilience and strength. Even on a video chat, Claudia’s presence fills the room. With her husband, Azam Mirza, Claudia co-founded Akorbi, a 930-employee firm that supplies corporations with a variety of translation, interpretation, staffing, and other enterprise-scale content needs.

As the mother of two boys, one of whom had faced critical health challenges at birth, Claudia is passionate about supporting working women build careers while raising a family, by providing a nurturing and flexible work environment.

“We founded and we run our business believing that we can demonstrate our values in everything we do. Claudia values being compassionate, so much so that she wants to hug everyone when they come through the office,” says Azam of his wife, dialing into the video chat by phone.

“She grew up during violent times in her home country of Colombia, then built a career in the U.S.,” Azam continues. “She took it upon herself to find mentors and advice to build it, and today she pays it forward with the people we hire.”

Here, we share excerpts from our conversation with Claudia, which she took time to conduct in between her classes at Harvard University, where she is currently enrolled in the 3-year Owner/President Management (OPM) Program.

Claudia, when did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
When I was a little girl, I never thought that I could become an “entrepreneur.” I come from Colombia, where there is an informal economy. I lived in the equivalent of housing projects in Medellin. All of us were supposed to survive without access to a lot of employers.

I saw every other business was a house with a business. In homes, you’d find bakeries, places to get a manicure and pedicure. My family were agricultural workers. When I moved to the U.S., I realized I would have the opportunity to try working for corporate America. So, I went for it, and got a job at a telecom company. And then one day, I was laid off.

That was a very difficult moment in my life. But I made the connection that the reason people started businesses in my home country was to survive. So that is what I did, with the help of my husband, Azam. I started a business to survive.

What steps did you take?
I volunteered. I wanted to get business experience. I knew anywhere I could find it. So I had the opportunity to volunteer at a horse racing seminar and I did it; I volunteered at a nonprofit. I collected materials, looked at data, and started thinking of business plans. From my research, I realized there was a need for simple, fast, tech-enabled translation services for corporations. So I launched Akorbi with Azam. I had the creative idea, and Azam is great at operations and is amazing at numbers. We made–and make! –a great team.

How has working as a supplier to Google helped you grow your business?
We’ve learned how to become a better business. Google focuses a lot on its people, and values treating people well, making people feel amazing. After working with Google, we wanted to be a cool business, too! We decided to make a fun environment and make Akorbi an amazing place to work.

As a staffing organization, we are competing for amazing tech talent with so many other companies. To attract the best tech workforce, we have to provide the best experience. We make sure the experience of working with us matches the Google experience.

It’s not just about fun colors in the office and a playful furniture. It’s about creating an environment where the entire team can believe in themselves. Where everyone can ask, ‘What am I really good at?’ and then capitalize by focusing on their strengths, and magnifying them.

Working with Google as a supplier, I’ve come to learn we, too, can be an instrument of change. At Akorbi, we can provide a variety of people with a great environment for work. That includes moms with kids at home, veterans, immigrants like me. People who didn’t think they could be a contractor at a place like Google. Now, through our staffing services, they’re there and changing their lives. Working with Google, has also peaked my interest in STEM studies and coding programs for girls.

Can you recall a specific moment when you felt you achieved one of your biggest goals as an entrepreneur?
Yes. I am very passionate about supporting working mothers as they achieve their goals. One day, I saw someone drive a beautiful car in front of my office, and then park. Out came a single mom that we had hired a while back, who did not have a college degree. We had provided a flexible career situation for her over the years, so she could go pick up her child after school. And over time, she let us know that her child was growing up and thriving. And here was this mother, thriving too. At that moment, I knew that creating a business driven with Azam, based on our shared values of trust, compassion, and treating people like family, truly pays off.

USA TODAY: It’s Time to Brag, Women Entrepreneurs

By: Rhonda Abrams

I want female small business owners and entrepreneurs to give themselves a gift: Greater confidence. I want you to give yourself more credit for your accomplishments and learn a critical business skill. I want you to learn how to toot your own horn.

Years ago, my friend Tammy was a human resources consultant. Companies hired her to screen job applicants. She’d run the help wanted ads, review résumés, interview some applicants and present a final selection to her client. After many years of experience, Tammy recognized the pattern. “If a help wanted ad lists 10 qualifications for a job, a man will apply if he possesses even one. A woman won’t apply if she’s missing even one.”

Each time I repeat this story to business owners, everyone agrees it’s true, whether they’re male or female. In other words, women often do not give themselves the credit they deserve. They judge themselves harsher than is often necessary. They feel they have to be perfect to be competitive.

Now, some of this is based on the reality that women often have to be better than men to be judged equally. But some comes from women not knowing how to recognize and promote themselves. Women are slow to “toot their own horn.” But it’s a business skill female entrepreneurs must master.

Women have been taught it’s unladylike to brag. A woman is often seen as cocky and unlikeable if she is successful, especially if she appears aware and proud of her own success. And women are often uncomfortable with self-promotion. So there’s a skill to learning how to promote yourself without being off-putting, on learning how to make the uncomfortable comfortable.

Some ways to toot your own horn:

► Make promoting and supporting yourself a priority. Working women typically put others first: their clients, employees, family, friends. But you need to commit to the fact that promoting and supporting you as a capable, successful entrepreneur is a business priority.

► Hire a professional. It’s a whole lot easier, and expected, for your public relations agent, your marketing director or your salesperson to boast of your skills and successes than to do it yourself.

► Bring a “bragging buddy.” If you don’t have a professional, make friends with another woman business owner and become “bragging buddies.” Bring each other to networking events, or perhaps even to sales calls and have them sing your praises.

► Build up your website and LinkedIn profiles. It’s a whole lot easier to list your full range of accomplishments on your website and on LinkedIn than in person, and prospects expect to see your past accomplishments and expertise listed there.

► Name drop. Find ways to work past accomplishments into your casual conversations with prospects or at networking events. Practice this so it’s not so awkward.

► Apply for awards, lots of them. Most industry associations, publications and community entrepreneur groups present a number of award opportunities. Apply for lots of them, and when you win some (and you will), list those awards on your website and LinkedIn profile, perhaps even print them on your business card.

► Convert yourself into a product. It’s a whole lot more comfortable to sing the praises of your product than of your person. For example, a lawyer offering an “estate package” can more easily list the advantages of that package than she can tout her own outstanding skills as a lawyer. (But work the fact that you’re an expert in estate law into the conversation …)

► Stop using the word “just.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a woman business owner say something like: “I just have 10 employees.” “I’ve just been in business five years.” Don’t downgrade your accomplishments.

► Support other successful women. Women need role models.  Let’s make it more comfortable for all women to highlight their successes by being supportive, rather than critical, of women who are forthright about their accomplishments.

► Support politicians and companies that support women. Women need confidence, but they also need child care, maternity leave, good pay, good health care, non-discrimination laws. Help women gain the skills and earn the successes by supporting and voting for those who support policies and programs that enable women to succeed.

The Encore – PwC’s Tax Insights: Government targets tax planning using private corporations

On July 18, the Canadian government released legislative proposals and a consultation paper targeting three tax planning strategies that, in the government’s view, use private corporations to gain unfair tax advantages for high-income individuals. The draft proposals are complex and will impact every Canadian private company and their shareholders.

The proposals focus on three main areas:

  1. Income splitting with family members to reduce the overall family tax burden
  2. Perceived tax advantages achieved through the accumulation of a passive investment portfolio owned by a private corporation
  3. Strategies that convert regular income or dividend income of a private corporation into capital gains, which are taxed at lower tax rates

Read more about the proposed changes, how to submit a response to the government and listen to PwC’s webinar on this topic.

If you have any questions about how these changes could impact you and your business, please reach out to your PwC Canada chapter member.