Public speaking is my place of fear. You see, I was that kid who had
to ask everyone to turn around to face the back of the classroom
in my grade 10 French class just to get through my five-minute
speech. I was that law student that opted out of completing an
oral assignment because I got so nervous I almost cried and had
to walk out of the room. I was the lawyer that would read in a
shaking, cracking voice during oral arguments at hearings and
was only able to get through it because most of the people in the
room were behind me and I tried really hard to pretend they were
When I was elected to lead CREW Network, I was given a journal with “FEAR LESS” embossed on the cover. I focused on fear.
At that time, I clung to my fear and feared stepping away and
going beyond what I had been
doing. It wasn’t just that I lacked
I really, really, really lacked the
confidence to use my voice and
my words. It is through my involvement with CREW (Commercial
Real Estate Women) both locally
and at the Network level that I
found my confidence. I found my
confidence in CREW.
I would argue that words are
our most powerful tool. As a lawyer, I work with words, but I found
it difficult to use them in my own voice. I am fairly comfortable
doing that now because someone used her words to encourage
me to join and engage within CREW. (I was “voluntold.”)
Over the past 10 years, I have seen my network increase tenfold
by showing up and engaging in CREW. Through my involvement,
I grew taller, I grew stronger, and I found the confidence to step
up and step in to move forward.
When I was able to recognize my confidence, I was able to let
my authentic self shine through and have fun—not fear. I am not
perfect. I am passionate. I am personal. I am professional. I am
present. I am vulnerable, which is okay, because when I found my
confidence, I became open to criticism, praise, and new things.
And in doing so, I have found my voice.
I am a partner in a law firm with two very active children, and a
husband who is as busy as I am. I often get asked, “Why CREW?”
And, “why CREW when you have so little time?” My answer is,
“why not?” Time is extremely valuable, and I am not talking about
my billable rate. CREW is unique in that it is a network of professionals, mostly women, all dedicated to each other’s success.
The encouragement to join and engage have been the two
most important decisions I have made to date in my career.
CREW has been so important to my personal and professional
growth. I have been a member of other industry organizations
and there is something different about CREW. CREW is personal.
We call each other back, we trust each other, and we know that we
can leverage our Network to make the most efficient use of our
time. We believe in the relationships as the foundation to our suc-
cess. (We do, after all, work in an industry that thrives on relation-
ships.) We act as mentors for one another in the sense that we are
actively engaged in seeing the success of our partners—our fellow
members—in this organization. We encourage our younger gen-
erations of women to pursue careers in commercial real estate,
which will play an integral role in strengthening this industry and
further expanding our connections.
I have learned that with opportunity comes confidence, and
with confidence comes opportunity. It is a positive, continuous
loop. In order to expand your network and create business
opportunities for yourself and your clients, you need to engage
and show people what you are made of, what you stand for and
what you are capable of doing.
Getting involved in an organization like CREW will help you
on your leadership journey. However, we are not peddling magic
beans. You cannot expect to join a network of like-minded individuals and sit back and expect magic to happen. Like any
endeavor, you get what you give.
It is incumbent upon each of us to encourage ourselves and
encourage others to take those opportunities that come our way.
Along the way, you will expand your network and unlock your
confidence, your power and your voice.
I now read the cover of my journal as one word: fearless. I am
not completely fearless, but I am certainly much closer.
Congratulations, 2018 Women of Influence! May you continue
to find your confidence, voice and power—and empower others
to do the same. ◆
How Choosing a Career
In CRE Changed My Life
Words are our most
powerful tool. As a lawyer,
I work with words, but
I found it difficult to use
them in my own voice
BY TARA PIURKO
Tara Piurko is a partner with Miller Thomson LLP and the 2018
president of CREW Network. Based in Toronto, she is also the organization’s first Canadian president. The views expressed here are the author’s
own and not those of the ALM Real Estate Media Group.