There are a lot of “un-tradtional” jobs in Vancouver. That’s what’s great about Elletourage–we can make some thing uncommon seem incredibly common, if you’re able to find peers.

One of those un-traditional jobs you might come across in Vancouver is that of a yoga instructor. We spoke to Keiko Mihara, who along with her husband, owns a yoga studio. We asked her about networking in Vancouver and co-founding a business, and this is what she had to say.

Keiko MiharaQ: How and where did you form your most significant contacts? How have these changed over time?

I have met a lot of people through yoga. Since I moved to Canada about five years ago from Japan, I met lots of great people while working at a couple of yoga studios first as a receptionist, then while in training, I met more incredible people. Now with teaching and having a studio I meet lots and lots of people everyday.

But I think it all started when I decided to move to Canada. therwise, I wouldn’t have met those people, including my husband and my baby (on the way). Making big changes can be scary, but it can also bring lots of unexpected great things.

Q: What does networking look like in your world? What are some of your top tips for successfully networking in this city?

I really love meeting and talking to people. I think everyone is shy at first with strangers. But, for me, as an ESL (English as a Second Language) person, I learned that there was no need to be shy, and you had to get out and talk to get to know people. Being Japanese, it was not easy, because we are all pretty shy people. We care too much about making mistakes: “What if they don’t understand?…” I had those times, but now it is okay for me to go out and talk to people, especially here in Vancouver. People here are pretty easy-going and they are mostly very patient with ESL people like me. This made me courageous enough to start a business in my non-native country. If I had stayed shy and had not talked to people, then I wouldn’t have gotten to know my friends or even the business customers I have met.

So I encourage everyone to have the same mindset as me: Don’t be afraid to talk to people and start to get to know them!

Q: What advice do you have for the Vancouver woman who is just starting out in her career or considering a leap to a new career?

Sometimes big change can be scary and give you stress. But, if you think about it, you gotta have action. I had a pretty good job, making good money – if I wanted, I could have just stayed as I was, but I wanted to pursue my yoga career (just one of many hobbies back then) and improve my English skills.

I say if you want to do something, sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone, to accept that great change can come into your life.

I am deeply glad I made my decision five years ago to get out of my country to try something totally new. Then, when my husband decided we should own a business by ourselves, I was ready to accept that change to happen to us!

We couldn’t be more excited about sharing this story. What an inspiration–to come to Canada not speaking the language, to eventually owning her own business! Imagine how easy those first few months would have been for Keiko, had she had access to peers or mentors to speak with in order to help her on her career journey?

That’s why Elletourage was created. To help connect women like Keiko, and women like YOU.

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