Introducing EO Canada Bridge

Contributed by Marina Byezhanova, an EO Canada Bridge member and the founder of personal branding agency, Brand of a Leader.

What can be more exciting to entrepreneurs than a brand-new venture? Starting something from scratch, identifying the unique positioning, filling the proverbial bus with like-minded people in all of the seats, and driving directly onto the growth superhighway are arguably some of our favorite pastimes. Launching a new chapter gives EO members the opportunity to do just that and, arguably, even more. We are thrilled to be founding members of Canada’s 15th chapter―the Bridge―and are sharing what Bridge is all about and why you should consider joining one.

So, what is a Bridge Chapter?

A Bridge Chapter is not tied to a city; rather, it welcomes members from across the chapter’s country and sometimes even beyond. As Canada Bridge Chapter President Bashir Rahemtulla puts it:

“Bridge is exciting because it’s different. The structure is the same as a local chapter, but the membership is diverse. It includes people from across the country and even from overseas (such as myself), it includes people with different levels of tenure, and it includes members with varying levels of leadership experience. That blend, that diversity, is what makes it very attractive.”

Bashir moved to Costa Rica from Canada three years ago to pursue his dream of living by the ocean and owning a restaurant. He had to step away from his Forum and his chapter, becoming a “Member at Large.” Imagine his excitement when he heard about the Canada Bridge Chapter: A chance to reconnect with fellow entrepreneurs and an opportunity to be in Forum, which he missed so much. When the call came, he jumped at the opportunity to not only join but to become the first president of this new chapter.

In true EO fashion, the timeline was tight and the goals were ambitious. The chapter was to launch within four months with a minimum of 16 members. And of course, also in true EO fashion, we blew past our goal ahead of schedule.

How is a Bridge Chapter structured?

In Bridge, we have four in-person events per year (and thus four Forum meetings per year, unlike the usual monthly cadence of other chapters). We also host virtual events, participate in other chapters’ amazing events, as well as partake in local non-EO events, so that each member can have personalized learning experiences throughout the year. 

Forum membership is optional: many of our members retain their local chapter membership and their membership in their previous Forum. Some members, however, welcome the opportunity to join a second Forum, especially since it requires only a quarterly commitment. A unique feature of a Bridge Forum is that it can be built around common interests or even same industry verticals. While chapter Forums do not usually include business owners from the same vertical, this rule does not apply in Bridge.

What are the benefits of a Bridge Chapter membership?

A Bridge Chapter offers numerous benefits and is especially appealing to tenured members. Julie Mitchell, our Learning Chair, shared this:

“Each year when I fill out the annual EO survey, there is always a question about how long I plan to stay in EO. It’s funny that I never tick off ‘for life’ but here I am, 16 years later―still an active, engaged, raving fan member.” 

Naturally, over the years, Julie’s interests within EO have changed. She is now looking for more connection with members beyond her local chapter. She wants to reconnect with members that she served with in volunteer leadership positions in past years. Joining Canada Bridge provides Julie with both of these options. 

A Bridge Chapter is also an excellent alternative for members with heavy travel schedules who simply cannot commit to monthly meetings.

What makes Canada Bridge unique?

One of our key differentiators is having all Canada Bridge members play an active role in EO leadership. This was Julie Mitchell’s innovative idea stemming from her extensive experience being involved in EO leadership and the incredible benefits it yielded her. Since 2005, she always had a role in shaping EO: as a local board member, an area director, a committee member and a facilitator. The more we involve ourselves in EO, the more gratifying the membership experience becomes.

Everyone who joins Canada Bridge has a role to play in shaping the chapter we are creating. Roles can range from being a coach in Accelerator, a day chair for an event, a board position or a global committee role. Anything goes―as long as our members are willing to engage and contribute.

We are certain that Canada Bridge chapter will provide for an optimal member experience and are committed to making it the coolest chapter in the country!

You’re Invited!

Are you an EO member in a Canadian chapter? An EO member outside of Canada who is interested in building connections with EO Canada members? Our EO Canada Bridge Chapter Launch Party takes place 22 June from 6-7pm ET (virtually, of course)—and you are invited: https://www.eonetwork.org/member/events-and-learning/event-details?eventid=5f7550e1-ecc2-eb11-94a2-005056aa1955 .

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