Today was a really good day for me. I got to listen to someone whom I look up to and aspire to be like. A woman who is a mother, an entrepreneur, an amazing speaker and a true inspiration to so many. Today I had the immense privilege to hear Arlene Dickinson, from CBC's The Dragon's Den, speak at the most surprising of places-a hockey arena in small town Alberta.
As I sat in the arena with 300 business men and women from the local surrounding municipalities, I really did not know what to expect from Arlene's presentation. The title of her talk was called "Lessons from the Den: Succeeding at Business & Being an Entrepreneur".
What she presented and what we got from her was an incredibly personal account of where she came from and what made her the successful business woman that she is today. And you know what, her life, her story, it was not an easy one. Her road was not without its share of BIG bumps. She immigrated from South Africa to Canada with her family with little more than the clothes on her back. She grew up poor but smart and graduated high school at 16. Was married at 19, had four kids and was divorced by 28.
With no formal education, and four small kids at home in Calgary, Alberta, she struggled to find work and through a friend eventually kind of stumbled upon marketing and found she had a knack for it. She joined Venture Communications in 1988 and 10 years later bought out her two partners.
Today I learned two really great things. 1. Arlene Dickinson is one hell of a story-teller, and 2. MARKETING is all about telling a story!!
Here are a few other great lessons from Arlene today about being an entrepreneur.
You need three things to be a successful. You need passion, you need commitment and you need leadership.
And Leadership is not just about being the boss. It is about putting yourself out there even though it is a bit uncomfortable. Even if the world will see your flaws. Leadership is about telling people that they matter, it is about being honest and vulnerable (admitting when you don't have all the answers) and it is about being focused on the task at hand.
Passion and commitment are about you and your company. Telling YOUR story. People need to understand the history of your business to really connect to it. Do you believe in what you are doing? Are you willing to put yourself out there and make a difference for others? Anything is possible if you allow yourself to do the things that scare you!!
Which brings me to Arlene's next point that really struck home with me. She said this today and it was like a light bulb exploded in my head!!
The thing in the way of most entrepreneurs is themselves.
And this reminded me of a post I wrote a few months ago about the Bitch in the Corner. You remember her right? The nasty one always telling you that you are a bad mother, bad wife, bad housekeeper, etc...... Well it seems that there is the equivalent in the business world and I would like to call her 'The Saboteur'. Always there in her corner of your mind telling you that your ideas suck, no one is going to go for this, why bother, you don't have the resources anyway, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera....
Well, SHE needs to GO! Kick that sabotuer to the curb and get out of your own way!!
Maybe there is a reason Arlene's company is called VENTURE Communications.
As in nothing VENTURED, nothing GAINED!!
So to all my fellow entrepreneurs. Be passionate, be a leader, and go out there and do something that scares the shit out of you, cause you never know when a Dragon may come knocking on your door!!
And thank you so, so much Arlene, for renewing my spirit, for giving me the push I needed to do what I have been afraid to do and for telling your story.
Never let those who say it can't be done stand in the way of those who are doing it.
Awed and inspired,