This dragon ignites flames of entrepreneurship.
Arlene Dickinson prefers breathing inspiration into budding entrepreneurs in her role as a dragon on CBC TV’s popular Dragons’ Den show. Dickinson relishes the Dragon role she’s had since 2007 and instills the right measure of encouragement and wisdom to contestants. Dickinson can relate to those struggling entrepreneurs.
Born in Germiston, South Africa, she moved to Canada with her family at three years of age. There was no big house or car and travelling was out of the question. In her early 30s, broke and divorced with four kids to care for, she began her arduous, long journey toward success working at Calgary-based Venture Communications before becoming owner and CEO of the company in 1998.
Dickinson has garnered numerous awards over the years including Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100, Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence and PROFIT’s and Chatelaine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners. She’s authored two bestselling books, Persuasion and All In and frequently speaks at conferences.
Dickinson, who rarely journeyed beyond Alberta until her 30s, now travels around the world for business and pleasure. Travel incites her passion for discovering other cultures but her family and business roots are firmly planted in Canada. She will always be fanning the flames of Canadian pride and entrepreneurship.
What’s your favourite Canadian holiday destination?
I can’t tell you how much I love our country. I would say the Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island. I’ve been there so often and loved it every time.
What do you like most about travelling?
Travel used to be a mental holiday, sitting on the beach or by the pool and relaxing. Now it’s more a cultural experience, understanding the local community and what the world is all about. It’s a very different experience for me now.
What would be a dream destination?
I would really like to go to Bali.
And your favourite destination?
Thailand is amazing. I enjoyed going to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and the northern hills and meeting the people there.
What do you like to do on holiday?
In Thailand I went to a spa for a week and it was fantastic.
Any memorable travel experience?
While in Africa we were staying in the Ngorongoro Crater where a large leopard or panther came right onto the porch of our little hut and rattled the doors. It scared the dickens out of us!
Do you have any travel pet peeves?
Travellers who are disrespectful of others are a pet peeve of mine. On aircraft, I find people are unaware of those around them, which can be off-putting.
Do you carry-on or check baggage?
I can’t remember the last time I checked luggage. I am really good at putting two weeks’ worth of stuff in a small case. I travel so much, so the idea of waiting an extra half hour on either end for baggage does not appeal to me.
What is your most prized souvenir?
When I went to Afghanistan, one of the (Canadian) troops had gone to a local fair and brought me back a necklace made out of one of the local stones and handmade by Afghani women. It wasn’t that it was expensive but that she had taken the time to go and do this and give it to me as a thank-you. That was really touching.
Republished from Dreamscapes Magazine, Winter 2014