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Dayna Lapkovsky is a Montreal, Canada-based entrepreneur who wanted to create a new kind of space and support network for women. Her company frank does just that. It’s not only a community where women can network and meet other like-minded women, it also functions as a form of professional coaching, where women can help each other accelerate their professional and personal growth in a safe, confidential and inspiring way. And while Covid-19 has forced her to adjust previously in-person programs online, she’s still managing to grow her network and provide frank members with the support they’re looking for.

Lapkovsky’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

After attending various female entrepreneurship conferences across North America, I noticed that the real take away was really the inspiration, motivation, support and camaraderie – even more so than the content. I recognized that an opportunity to create a sustainable solution for fostering lasting, meaningful and strategic connections and personal development amongst talented, smart, ambitious and creative women – was right in front of me. Putting my revelation into practice, I rallied my own diverse group of exceptionally talented, out of the box thinkers, dreamers and doers to help shape my vision. Frank was born and has now grown into a global community of like-minded women.

In my eyes, success means filling a range of buckets: passion, purpose, finance, family, relationships, collaboration, wellness and inspiration. It is important to me to have a balanced life to feel fulfilled and be my best self. If one of my buckets is running low, it impacts everything else in my life. While the necessary levels of fullness for each bucket may change overtime, I strive to make sure they never run dry. It is really about taking a holistic approach to happiness and success.

[Related: The Story Exchange’s 10 Most Popular Stories About Women Entrepreneurs in 2020]

In a short year, my business has evolved tremendously. Initially, the frank program was a series of in-person sessions. Covid-19 pushed me to shift gears and re-imagine the program for the digital space. I am very proud of the resilience and nimbleness of my team. It was crucial for us to ensure superior levels of connection and trust online. Everyone jumped in to deliver a fantastic experience to our members, making sure they were supported by the frank community during difficult times.

One challenge I have faced is having so many opportunities – which I guess really is a great challenge to have! But it is easy to get distracted and thrown off your path when there are so many interesting options to explore. With limited time, energy, manpower and funds, every move has to count. It is important for me to have clearly defined goals to use as a benchmark when choosing how to spend my resources. I have my goals listed out and pinned to the wall in my office. I cross-check new opportunities against my list and if it is not moving me closer to my goals, then I put it on the shelf for another time.

[Related: Virtual Parties, ‘Slackolades,’ Company PPE: How Women-Owned Businesses Are Boosting Morale]

On a personal level taking care of three young children while growing a business is always challenging. But this year it was especially challenging not knowing if they would be at home or at school during the pandemic. This made it tricky to plan and optimize my work hours.

I admire Arianna Huffington for her commitment to work-life balance. Burnout is not a badge of honor!

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Editor’s Note: The Story Exchange is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching the annual Women In Science Incentive Prize. Apply now for a chance to receive $5,000 in funding for your climate-related research or startup. Deadline: July 31. 

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