The Buzz Your source for everything Indie





PIC chair Arlene Amitirigala talks about the freedom of an entrepreneur and how to be a courageous entrepreneur.



PIC members Linda Andross, ABC, MC, John Bromley, ABC, and Patience Badze answer three questions about the entrepreneurial experience posed by Jacqui d’Eon, ABC, MC.



Jacob R. Robinson, CAPM, talks to emerging and recently established businesspeople to learn more about their mindset for success. What does it take to make it? What effect can we have on the world around us?

PIC and IABC/Toronto stand firmly against racism and discrimination. In our online and in-person activities, we aim to provide an inclusive space that is welcoming to all and fully representative of the diversity in Toronto. We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. We also welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can do better. Please email our chair, Arlene Amitirigala, at toronto-sig@iabc.to.


The independent view

Wake up your entrepreneurial spirit

By Arlene Amitirigala

“The world needs more people who have come alive” - Howard Thurman

We were both young adults when I first met my cousin Alexis in Belgium. With a French father who made a living as an inventor and a Jamaican mother who was a self-taught artist, he was born with an adventurous spirit. He was living in London at the time and was intent on carving out a business for himself, something I had never considered.

When next I saw Alexis, he had moved to Paris. He had forged a successful venture leading large-scale development projects from Europe to Dubai, and travelled regularly to far-flung places seeking new ideas and inspiration. I wasn’t surprised.

We caught up recently and I updated him on my venture as a solopreneur. I also told him how much he had inspired me.

“You are setting a great example for your sons to choose the entrepreneurial path,” I said.

“I hope to God they don’t,” was his reply.

It’s the kind of sentiment that the crushing reality of two “covid years” can produce, but beyond that, it was a healthy dose of reality. I appreciated his honesty.

As PIC members, surely we can all attest to having had second thoughts about launching our own ventures, and then third thoughts about sticking with it!

The truth is that being an entrepreneur can be tough. There’s the risk, the sacrifice, long hours and financial insecurity along with a host of other challenges.

So why break the ranks and venture out? The promise of greater freedom to employ our creative genius to serve others for financial reward and fulfill our purpose is a powerful pull. Waking up our entrepreneurial spirit allows us to continually explore other dimensions of ourselves and what we can offer the world. It’s a glorious opportunity to remain curious, explore alternate thinking and experiment with emerging technology.

However, drumming up the courage to let the entrepreneur within you lead the way isn’t easy. If you’re mulling it over, I recommend a book that has been a game changer for me: Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Her advice is to tell yourself that no matter what comes your way, you can handle it. Believing this enables you to achieve much more.

Whether you are in corporate life or already an indie, you may be undecided about what direction to head. As you plan your goals for 2022, consider ones that you’re excited about, that have a money goal and that you have energy for. Keep in mind the words of Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

In this edition of The Buzz, our contributors explore the characteristics of entrepreneurs and strategies for success. Read on and then head over to LinkedIn to share your thoughts on how we can continually nurture an entrepreneurial spirit that will help us thrive in this New Year.

If you have any ideas for professional development topics, or any questions, or thoughts about PIC, feel free to reach me at toronto-sig@iabc.to. I would love to hear from you.

Arlene Amitirigala is PIC's chair and IABC/Toronto's VP of Special Interest Groups. She is a senior corporate communications professional with extensive international experience delivering integrated communication strategies to drive enhanced reputation and improved performance.


3x3: All about entrepreneurs

By Jacqui d’Eon, ABC, MC

People who start their own businesses, like PIC members, can be classified as entrepreneurs. But not all PIC members consider themselves entrepreneurial.

To learn more about the spirit of entrepreneurism in our group, we asked 3 questions of 3 PIC members: Linda Andross, ABC, MC, managing partner/co-owner of APEX Public Relations, a PR agency with “a creative group of PR practitioners who love what they do every day;” John Bromley, ABC, a comms pro with a digital bias who has recently rejoined the ranks of the employed; and new member Patience Badze, an experienced strategist and marketer who personifies the entrepreneurial spirit.

From left, Linda Andross, ABC, MC, John Bromley, ABC, and Patience Badze.

How do you define entrepreneurship?

Linda: Entrepreneurship is building a business along a previously undefined path with your own ideas and values.

John: To me, an entrepreneur is someone who develops an idea or a creation. I distinguish that from independent contracting.

Communicators, whether they are consultants or inside an organization, are often able to express and try out new ideas and foster them. In that respect, communicators can build a career by being entrepreneurial.

Patience: Entrepreneurs act on their ideas and create businesses that solve problems. They are constantly trying to find the next solution, the next idea, as opposed to someone who is in business to sustain themselves/make a living. As someone who has recently emigrated to Canada from South Africa, I can say that the entrepreneurial spirit is the same in both countries. What’s different is the ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurs act on their ideas and create businesses that solve problems. They are constantly trying to find the next solution, the next idea, as opposed to someone who is in business to sustain themselves/make a living.” – Patience Badze

Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Why or why not?

Linda: I am a reluctant entrepreneur. Through my work experience and even managing a business, I never recognized myself as one. Now, I think that being an entrepreneur is building and growing a business, whether or not you own it. So I consider myself a second-generation entrepreneur in that I took over an existing business and continued to build it.

John: I consider myself to be self-employed. It’s a journeyman title that I am comfortable with. My assignments enable me to take concepts to fruition. As an integrated (traditional and digital) communication manager, I really enjoy showing organizations what they can achieve with effective communications on digital platforms.

Patience: Yes, I am an entrepreneur. With my husband, I co-founded and operate a branding and design agency. I own and operate a marketing and design company. I have also tried other business ideas – some haven’t taken off as well as I would like, some have, and others have failed. Right now, I am in the process of starting another tech business.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs

What are three characteristics entrepreneurs need to have?


  1. Open-mindedness. I always think about what could be. I try not to be locked into the “this is the way we always do it” mindset.
  2. Understanding that the business is not a vanity project. There is no room for ego. Entrepreneurs need to be able to separate what’s good for them from what’s good for their business. If you are always doing what’s right for yourself, you aren’t really thinking about your business.
  3. Self-knowledge. That means being true to your values and building your business so those values endure beyond your involvement. Our values are our touchstone. We need to ask ourselves, “Does that feel authentic to who we are?” or “Are these the people we want to work with?”


  1. Determination.
  2. Creativity.
  3. Tough skin. A lot of times, the ideas you bring will be thrown out with a quick “no” after you’ve spent a lot of time developing them. You need to be resilient.


  1. A curious and creative mind. Entrepreneurs are always searching for better and more creative ways to solve problems. Innovation comes through curiosity and creativity.
  2. Willingness to learn. When we were coming to Canada, we had big plans. We knew what we wanted to do and how to do it, but as we learned about Canada, even before COVID-19 hit, we realized we needed to take a different path.
  3. Ability to see the vision. Rather than see our big idea as a dream dying, we took a step back, looked at the bigger picture – the vision – and reimagined it. It’s still where we want to go; it’s just that our route to get there will be different from what we initially planned. That’s entrepreneurial spirit!
Jacqui d’Eon, ABC, MC is a business communications strategist and self-proclaimed crisis preparedness evangelist. While she has operated her own business, JAd’E Communications Ltd., for over a decade (this time around), she recently got the entrepreneurial “bug” to try her hand at social media marketing for her business. // We launched this column to bring the voices of more PIC members into The Buzz. If you’d like to suggest a topic or volunteer yourself as one of the three “voices,” please contact Sue at getwrite@sympatico.ca. Our thanks to Gary Schlee, ABC, MC, for suggesting the name “3x3.”


Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit

By Jacob R. Robinson, CAPM®

Entrepreneurs drive change and they all have one thing in common: spirit. I wanted to take a closer look at this entrepreneurial spirit within emerging and recently established businesspeople, to learn more about their mindsets for success.

What does it take to make it? What effect can we have on the world around us?

To answer these questions, I interviewed two people in my network: Sarah Birch, a third-year Humber College public relations student, and AJ Ramil, a professional technology expert.

Creativity and empathy

Success demands creativity and empathy. Sarah Birch, founder of SHEPHORIA, knows this well.

SHEPHORIA is a Canadian online smoke shop with cannabis and non-cannabis accessories, lifestyle and beauty products. Sarah launched the business in mid-2021. She was “tired of going to head shops and experiencing the same store, with the same cartoons, half-naked women and random accessories.”

For years, Sarah felt that she was not a target consumer, and enough was enough. Sarah took the reins and transformed her ideas for hemp beauty, clean beauty and lifestyle into reality, and SHEPHORIA’s environmentally friendly products are just the beginning.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a passionate social justice advocate, Sarah especially tailors her key messages and brand to these groups. SHEPHORIA’s website went live on January 1, 2022 at the auspicious time of exactly 4:20 p.m. EST.

Lenses and impact

AJ Ramil, currently with Dell Technologies, describes entrepreneurial impact through three distinct lenses:

  1. Individual: Entrepreneurs are always learning, developing their skills and transforming great ideas into reality.
  2. Community: Innovation and invention can result in communities coming together, often from all over the world. They forever change the landscape of our lives and how we live.
  3. Economy: Entrepreneurship is the engine of any economy. The largest multi-billion-dollar corporations today were once startups. Creativity hubs are strategically scattered, from Waterloo, Ontario to Silicon Valley, California.

Strategies for success in 2022 and beyond

Every business is unique, but I believe aspiring entrepreneurs can apply three universal success strategies:

1. Develop greater awareness and accountability

Sarah predicts that in 2022 and beyond, values around sustainability, diversity and inclusiveness will continue to have more significance in bottom lines. Personal accountability for one’s eco-footprint will also become more relevant as more businesses establish online presence and activity.

Technology also moves at a rapid rate. Keep up! Sarah currently uses Expensify, Shopify and Canva to run her business.

2. Take calculated risk

SHEPHORIA is 100% self-funded, a risk Sarah took on knowing full well it will take some time to break even.

Risk is a key element in any business. To manage it, calculate the risk versus reward, and accept the possibility of failure. Set a budget, review it regularly, and only contribute funds you would be comfortable losing.

3. Seek the trifecta to foster the entrepreneurial spirit

Skill is not enough. People must also be motivated and share your vision – this is the trifecta.

AJ’s first entrepreneurial experience was with a technology startup in Morocco in the mid-2000s. The entrepreneur leading the enterprise was unwavering in his search for skilled, motivated and committed people who shared his vision: to seamlessly connect technology to sales. It worked, and the company today is worth millions.

Drive with purpose. Motivate through kindness, flexibility, recognition and growth opportunities. People must relate, believe and want to contribute to your cause.


My discussions with Sarah and AJ revealed how much time, effort and care goes into building an enterprise – and how inspiration can come from interesting places. I now feel more confident about entrepreneurship and applying these newer ways of thinking to achieve success while creating impact.

Jacob R. Robinson is IABC/Toronto’s 2021 Bobbie Resnick Student of the Year. He is a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and a fifth-semester student at Humber College’s public relations advanced diploma program. He also leads the chapter’s Student Communicators Circle special interest group.

Seen at our seasonal social

Festive fun at the PIC social on December 14.

Santa hats, antlers, over-the-top sweaters – PIC members and friends were in the spirit for our holiday social on December 14. Danièle Dufour was clearly in the holiday mood, being the first to tick off “yes” answers in the festive five-finger icebreaker. She also led an impressive storytelling event, complete with props and team participation. Amid the frivolity, we also discussed how we’re looking after our mental health during the pandemic, and our hopes and expectations for 2022. Thanks to all for participating, and to organizers and discussion leaders Maureen Hosein, ABC, Gaby Moreno and Christopher Trotman.

Welcome new member

Patience Badze

edgeBD Inc. | Oakville | LinkedIn | Website | patience@edgebd.ca

Patience is a creator, strategist, problem-solver and entrepreneur who prioritizes finding smarter ways to do things. She’s been a marketing professional since 2011 with a focus on strategy and operations management. In 2013, she co-founded edgeBD Inc., a design agency that creates branding, marketing and communication assets. Patience drives growth and business development strategies for the agency, working with clients from startups to large global organizations to develop their branding, marketing strategies and campaigns to launch and grow brands.

Changes to the PIC member list due January 26

As a PIC member, you can gain visibility on the PIC member list on the IABC/Toronto website. Send your updates to PIC’s director of membership, Maureen Hosein, ABC, at maureenhosein@yahoo.com, by Wednesday, January 26. For new profiles, send your:

  • Name
  • Company name
  • City (to help us know who’s in our neighbourhood)
  • Email address
  • Telephone number (optional)
  • Website and LinkedIn URLs
  • Social media accounts, if any
  • Business description (up to 80 words).

If you are already on the list, does your listing include your LinkedIn profile? Have you earned an OVATION or Gold Quill award you can brag about?

See you on social media!

Build and strengthen your connections, advance your business and network with other PIC members on social media. In case you missed them, recent posts shared on our social media channels include:

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Who we are

Professional Independent Communicators (PIC) is a special interest group of IABC/Toronto. PIC's mission is to support independent IABC/Toronto communicators through professional development, networking and marketing. The Buzz informs members about upcoming events, shares professional development tips from past meetings and keeps us connected.

IABC connects communicators from around the world with the insights, resources and people they need to drive their careers and their professions forward.

Editor: Sue Horner | Designer: Austine Fischer

Executive team

Chair: Arlene Amitirigala | Past Chair: Nkiru Asika | Membership: Maureen Hosein, ABC | Marketing & Sponsorship: Brent Artemchuk | Communications & Social Media: Austine Fischer, Sue Horner | Programming: Gaby Moreno, Christopher Trotman