An award-winning leader and highly regarded mentor to companies of all shapes and sizes, the catastrophic flooding that Alberta experienced in 2013 turned Dickinson’s life and business upside down. To recover from the disaster, she worked hard to transform and reinvent not only her operations but also herself. This process and the things she learned inspired her latest book, Reinvention: Changing Your Life, Your Career, Your Future.
Dickinson spoke with us for Go Magazine about the key steps to reinvention, the importance of not limiting yourself and entrepreneurism.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
You’re very active on social media. Why is it important for you to engage with people through your different channels? How do you curate the content you share?
The opportunity to use my platform in a meaningful way is one I take seriously. I believe that when you have a public profile, you have an obligation to help create standards. It’s taken me a while to get there. I have both sent and made some foolish social media posts – ones that I deeply regret and wish I hadn’t done. But I’ve also said some dumb things over the years as well. I believe it’s about being intentional and yet still being human. I try and curate content based on what I personally am learning and feeling and then see if there’s a connection to what others are thinking or worrying about on the same topics. I also try hard to simply be positive. I’m not always successful at it, but I consciously try.
You have a tweet pinned to the top of your Twitter account that says: “My dad used to tell me that I would be a lot less worried about what others thought of me if I knew just how little they did. Everyone is too busy thinking about their own lives to think long about yours. Live your best life – not caring as much what others think of it.” How have you learned over the years to tune out other voices and just focus on what you think is right?
I have worked hard to be less driven by other people’s opinions of me and more concerned about the quality of my life – as I wish it to be. It’s a paradox – we spend our time thinking so much about other people’s views that we start to become what we think they want and need from us instead of asking ourselves what we want and need to be. It’s hard to be introspective and self-aware. I believe that time spent alone is a good way to assess who you are and if you like that person you discover.
What inspired you to write your new Reinvention book? Why do you feel reinvention is so important for all of us in both our personal and professional lives?
Life is short. We hear that, we know it and yet we ignore the reality of it. I believe a life of regrets doesn’t come from trying and failing but from never trying at all. So, use your time. There is no one thing we can be. We are multi-faceted, so why limit ourselves. I was forced by an event, the 2013 floods in southern Alberta, to reinvent. Many of us wait for something major to happen to force ourselves to do what we likely should have been doing all along. It’s not that we are lazy. It’s just hard to change and to allow yourself the freedom to try new things and fail at them.
How did writing the book teach you to be more entrepreneurial?
It wasn’t in writing the book I learned, it was in the reinvention of myself that I saw how much I was tempering my ambitions. I felt like, who did I think I was dreaming so big and daring to do more? So, I spent my time helping other entrepreneurs and always wishing I had pushed myself harder. Then I pushed myself. Hard. That’s what turned me into a true entrepreneur.
Many people want to reinvent themselves, but don’t know where to begin. What’s one thing you recommend doing to start yourself on the process of reinvention?
There are four key steps. The first step seems counterintuitive as it’s introspection. You need to look back at your life in order to move forward. Assess how you got into the place you are and the role you played in getting yourself there. Second, you need to understand and assess your currency – what you are good at, what your skills and talents are. Third is finding your core purpose. What is your “why” and what is driving your life as a result? Finally, it’s understanding the context of the world. How do you take your past, your skills and your purpose and apply them in the reality of today’s world?
You wear so many hats as a successful businessperson, entrepreneur, TV host, podcaster, author, speaker and more. What motivates you to keep taking risks and trying so many different things?
I am so lucky to do these things. What motivates me is knowing that I would always regret not trying if I didn’t. I know that with each experience – good or bad – doing something new is making me stronger and more rounded as a human.
A few years ago, you walked away from Dragons’ Den. Was that a difficult decision to make? What made you want to be a part of the program again?
I walked away because I needed to focus on building my Fund and saving my marketing company, Venture. It was an easy decision to make at the end of the day. Once I said it out loud and realized that I must follow my own path – even if that meant changing the one that seemed more glamorous – I moved forward.
I love the show and the impact it has had on Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s a privilege to listen, learn and sometimes invest with the brave people who come on.
Do you have any advice for the insurance industry on how to better serve Canadians in 2020 and beyond?
Treat your clients with care and respect. Spend the time to know them and their business models. Make sure they are well served as they are people with businesses, employees and lives that count on and trust the companies they insure through. I believe your compensation models and how you think about premiums are areas that should be reimagined for the future.