“We eat, breathe, and sleep mission. Everywhere we look, we see opportunities for good people to step into their greatness.” 

Kristy O'Leary, Decade Impact, Strategies ,Vancouver, Canada, Helen Siwak, portfolio, yvr,

Decade is a change agency that builds strategy and culture clubs to educate people so they might wield impact and make their mark today to ensure a beautiful future for all. Decade helps courageous people tell true stories that move the world to action. 

Decade Impact’s Chief Strategist, Kristy O’Leary, is a multidisciplinary systems thinker with an innate ability to identify leading-edge entrepreneurs and align them with untapped opportunities to drive breakthrough change. 

She was raised in an entrepreneurial family, attained a unique fine arts and political theory education, and is a natural facilitator. 

Her passion and purpose have coalesced around empowering entrepreneurs to affect positive social, environmental and economic change. 

With over a decade of impact design, she is a veteran in this space and uniquely positioned to translate how today’s ideas become tomorrow’s impact. 

“I grew up in a corner store and it was that experience that planted the seeds of my passion for everything that impacts my business. 

“I learned what empathy in business meant. It was better for me than any MBA program. It was a cultural centre and hub in our community. My parents and by extension, myself, were nimble and responded to our community’s needs in ways that corporates never could. 

At the corner store, if someone needed credit, they got it. We gave rides home to those who stumbled in after one too many and offered extra support to our customers of varied abilities. Many of these folks also shared holidays at our home. We donated vast portions of our revenues to community programs and friends in need and, in the mid-90s, offered debt forgiveness. 


“My parents allowed me to get the greatest MBA possible before I was even out of high school. My mother never told me to be who she wanted me to be; she told me to go my own way.

“After years of working for my parents and witnessing their wins and losses, my father offered me a piece of advice that shaped my approach to entrepreneurship throughout my life: “Always, always be by appointment only.” I took that to heart. After learning the ropes of entrepreneurship in retail, I resolved to craft a business that fed my passion and allowed me to eat with my friends and family. 

“When I went to university, I resolved never to own a business. It makes me chuckle now – how cute little Kristy thought she could ever be an employee

“I studied Political Science at Carleton University and then did a second undergraduate degree in Media Arts from NSCAD University in Halifax

“For quite a time, I spent most of my 
days considering how to dismantle capitalism rather than how to become a capitalistMy first business was founded upon the idea that I could use the media arts, politics, and stories to help the good guys save the world. 

Kristy O'Leary, Decade Impact, Strategies ,Vancouver, Canada, Helen Siwak, portfolio, yvr,

“I opened my first business in my late 20’s. I did work for my parents in a series of companies; as a teenager, I worked in a series of start-ups my father had. They included one of Ontario’s first dial-up internet providers and a company that offered online discounts for products and services (think Groupon 1995). 

“My parents modelled a very high degree of risk tolerance for me. I knew what it meant for the buck to stop at my door, which provided me with exceptional experience – when I decided to open my own business, I knew what that meant. I knew what was at stake and what could be gained. I witnessed wins and losses early in life and was present for critical conversations. Our family businesses were the primary topic of conversation around our table. 

“In 2006-2007, I was one of two first artists in residence for the UNESCO town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I spent two years building an online archive of centenarians’ observations of client change. The hundred-year-old ladies I spoke to told me about the old world and shared their stories of times passing. It was beautiful, a life-changing experience. That project convinced me to step into entrepreneurship. 

“After that and until 2010, my best friend and I started Lalanova Communication Design in a heritage house we rented in Old Town Lunenburg. $300 each a month in rent, living on the edge of the North Atlantic with the wind coming through every crack and cranny in that house. 

“She had the eye, I had a Media Arts degree, and we had a lynda.com membership. We taught ourselves as we went. It was amazing, and it was my first step into B2B entrepreneurship, which is a massive departure from B2C. But, I wanted to be by appointment only. 

“Lalanova was also a combination of my two loves: business and design. I had this big idea that I could use my skills to help good companies steal market share from the dinosaur capitalists. 

“In 2013, I left Lala and joined a few fellas from art school to start a boutique creative agency – Napkin Works

“Unbelievably, we got a year’s worth of work in the first month! It was an exceptional learning experience. “We got to work for the likes of Romeo Dallaire, help raise capital for wind farms, and support small operators in taking on multinationals. 

“Napkin allowed me to level up my projects’ ambition and make critical connections between information design, business strategy, and shared value creation, in other words, sustainable business! 

“It was a great year, but I left the creative agency to start my first management consulting firm. It was an incredible learning experience and a colossal failure

Kristy O'Leary, Decade Impact, Strategies ,Vancouver, Canada, Helen Siwak, portfolio, yvr,

“At this time, I began using the B Impact Assessment (B Corp) to design business policies and practices. I knew that data could tell powerful stories, but I started to see data as a building block for impact and sustainability strategy. 

“I also began to connect the dots between everything I had learned about business from my parents’ social enterprise and the clients I was working with. 

“Twenty years later, I could understand just how deeply committed to impact my parents were in their business. I also saw that very few businesses prioritized care for the community in the way they did. 

“In 2017, I was involved with Uncommon Cocoa, and although it was not my venture, it was a venture that taught me so much about supply chain impact, source communities, cultural immersion, etc. I worked in Guatemala and Belize for months, researching, writing, and designing Uncommon Cacao’s 2016 impact report. 

Decade opened on January 1, 2020. I had been watching the pandemic take hold and was sweating. “I had failed previously and did not want to go through that again. Because we are in the business of helping passionate, justice-minded entrepreneurs do things that most people think are impossible. We do not want to be traditional management consultants – we want to exercise our agency to leave this world better.

“We are in an acute crisis – a climate crisis – an economic crisis – a crisis of confidence, and a crisis of spirit. This is not a drill – something must be done. 

“Our little motley crew of women and the ‘Imagineering’ entrepreneurs we work with will take a bite out of the universe and use our time and passion to find new ways of being and knowing and maybe transform capitalism in the process. 

“Taking my business to the next level requires me to take myself to the next level. I have been investing in therapy and self-care. I have been ruminating on what ‘winning’ looks like for me and how that translated into Decade outcomes.

“I am relentlessly trying to understand how to cultivate value for clients. As entrepreneurs, we can develop ‘ main character syndrome,’ but I am not the hero in this story. Our clients are the heroes in this story – we need to give them the talisman that will help them realize their greatness. 

“Our current business model is simple. We are impact management consultants that support for-profit businesses in further developing or creating impact business models. We help companies leave the world better than they found it every time they turn a dollar. We do this through teaming, bringing teams together to explore how they might be better and how that might be implemented. We develop policy and measurement structures that embed practices, get folks on the same page, and provide guidance for continuous improvement. 

“We make magic happen by creating space to imagine how businesses might leave the world better. What can happen when we make space for new ideas or reflections on existing practices is incredible. Our team is reaching beyond B Corp. That is how many folks know us; we are the B Corp women, but we are, and we are not. Our work is so much deeper than a certification.

Kristy O'Leary, Decade Impact, Strategies ,Vancouver, Canada, Helen Siwak, portfolio, yvr,

“At Decade we are culture builders, analytics experts, ESG practitioners, communicators and storytellers. We love the B Corp framework and believe deeply in the social movement that underpins it. 

“So many clients come to us seeking the certification, which is fantastic. Often, they need to learn what that means; they cannot know how deeply we can change their business and culture for the better if we focus on continuous improvement and cultivating as much business value as possible. 

B Corp is a blueprint; it is the legend on the future map of their world-saving company. B Corp has been a deep love of mine for many years – it is evolving just as I am, just as our team is. I have learned more about good business and human motivation from practicing B Corp than I could ever have learned in school. 

“My dad used to take me out of school to bring me to work. He always offered the school the same note: “Kristy is doing business today because you don’t teach this in school.” Save the MBA; I got mine from continuously applying the B Corp framework to businesses across a spectrum. 

“So many incredible people have supported me over the years. I am childless and fabulous – this was a lifelong goal – and I have never regretted it for a moment. 

“I met the love of my life in December 2020, and together, we parent a lazy cat with a weight problem named Tigger, aka Tiggy Smalls—the goodest of boys. My partner is incredibly supportive of Decade’s work and empathetic to my seemingly endless work commitments. 

“I’m surrounded and supported by incredible women like Michelle Austin, Kate Smith, and Mairin Shields-Brown, all of whom are on the Decade team and whom I learn from every day. 

“Huge props to them and the Decade team for leaning into the work and entertaining my impromptu conversations—“Are we on the right track? Where’s the value? Where’s the impact?” That also goes both ways, and it is absolutely thrilling when they come up with incredible ideas. 

“By the end of 2024, I see Decade engaging with various new clients, continuing to serve our long-term clients, growing our team further, and preparing for our annual two-week rest period.”

Author Profile

Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at helen@ecoluxluv.com.
Spread the love
Jimi Brockett, Real Estate, rider, Vancouver, Canada, Helen Siwak, portfolio, yvr Previous post PORTFOLIO.YVR: Jimi Brockett: A Real Estate Agent Who Builds Community with Rider for Ryders
Dawn Chubai, live selling, Vancouver, Canada, Helen Siwak, portfolio, yvr Next post PORTFOLIO.YVR: Dawn Chubai is Taking the World of E-Commerce by Storm with Live Selling