Westler says she fell in love with the Vancouver Entrepreneurs Toastmasters club (VETC) the moment she walked in and was exposed to Table Topics. She thought, Wow, I wish I knew how to do that! That was six years ago.
She is the CEO and founder of Plazus Technologies Inc., which creates a communication app tool for businesses to reach their own community. In 2016 she gave a talk at TEDxStanleyPark in Vancouver, in front of 3,000 people, where she presented her take on social media addiction and how to overcome it. Westler’s career, volunteer work and personal drive are based on her desire to connect people through technology.
How did you become an entrepreneur?In my career as a senior product manager and a software engineer, I had advanced quickly to senior-level jobs only to discover the glass ceiling was crushing my creativity and wealth of ideas. When I was 30 years old I started my own company, 2Galvanize Web Solutions Ltd, to become my own boss while still having a secure job. I would work for companies, and in my spare time invest and grow my own business. I then started my second company, Plazus, received some investment and focused on one product—a platform for anyone to create their own communication mobile app for their community.
Being creative and a master in my domain, I know that achieving success is what drives any individual. I have set goals for myself since I was very young, which included being independent, educated and fulfilled in my career.
How has Toastmasters played a role in your career?Our club is geared toward entrepreneurs and we encourage members to share different topics on their businesses. At Toastmasters you’re given a stage, but it is your duty to serve others and share your knowledge while there. If you do it right, there may be business opportunities along the way when you present yourself as an expert in your field.
Our club communication app, which was created by my company, Plazus, is for members to communicate before, during and after each meeting. Real-time notifications alert the members if we need volunteers for roles. We interact by posting pictures and videos, and each member has a profile page to showcase their Toastmasters experience and their business, allowing others to get to know one another.
What was your main message at TEDxStanleyPark?I talked about how existing social media can cause addiction and isolation. My message was that human beings long to belong in a place that will support and nourish them. Whether they find it at their Toastmasters club, or through work or religion, I found that the existing social networks are simply too big and people connect better in smaller groups. This talk was aligned with my startup, Plazus, which gives these small groups a tool to connect privately and with a purpose.
Where else have you presented?I’ve spoken to Lean In groups, the Google offices in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and to high school and university students on the need for education to progress in life. I think it is particularly important to support young women to help them see their potential and encourage them to take on roles in professions such as engineering, medicine and politics.
What is your advice to someone who is considering becoming an entrepreneur?Put all your fears and doubts aside and jump in the water—even if you are not sure how to swim. We have incredible abilities when we are faced with survival mode and a true entrepreneur is a survivor every day. I encourage you to follow your dreams in calculated steps. Educate yourself; work for others and learn; gain experience; and when that brilliant idea hits you, go at it with full force and never doubt yourself. The trick is to dare to do it and to be consistent at it.