The Digest: Arlene's Sources Of Inspiration This Month, Volume 22

The Digest: Arlene's Sources Of Inspiration This Month, Volume 22

Lifestyle | Posted by - April 3, 2019 at 1:00 am

March has come and gone and what a whirlwind of a month it was. My new show with CBC Television, Under New Management, launched and auditions for Dragons’ Den took place all across the country. On top of that, my dear friend Jann Arden and I have been taping regular episodes for our podcast The Business of Life. We both love reading your feedback and we’re delighted to see such an amazing group of listeners tuning in regularly. I’m having a ton of fun, although I’ve needed to make sure I take moments to reflect on the excitement.

Underneath my work, I’m still Arlene, a proud immigrant and Canadian from South Africa. I often stop to ask, why am I doing this specific activity? Is this project giving me energy or draining me? How will this decision affect the people that matter most to me and the life I love?

This month I’m inspired by people and projects that help keep us grounded: 


The changing definition of feminism via The Business of Life podcast


We celebrated International Women’s Day at the beginning of March, but truthfully, we need to be celebrating women all of the time. Every day is an opportunity to support and encourage each other, especially as the conversation around gender equality is sometimes faced with continued negativity and misunderstanding. 

In our latest podcast, Jann Arden and I discussed the changing definition of “feminism” and how complex the word itself has become. The word has become attached to negative beliefs like men are bad, and women are angry with men. That’s not right. I believe in equality, and I believe that feminism’s goal is to create equality for men and women. 

I’ll always be advocating for women. We have to keep the dialogue going to challenge how feminism is being portrayed and how women are supporting women, not only how men and women support each other. Listen and share your ideas with Jann and I in the comments below. In business, a great idea is a great idea, it doesn’t matter which gender you are. 


Jennifer Garner, co-founder, Once Upon a Farm via Instagram


Who we follow on social media matters and I take my following seriously; I want to be inspired by the people and stories I take in each day. I recently started following actress Jennifer Garner on Instagram. 

We know her first as an actress. She’s also a mom, a co-founder of a baby food business, and a person like the rest of us. We often forget that people with public profiles are ordinary humans. I’m so grateful I started following Jennifer Garner because she brightens my feed and she’s a genuine, good, strong, and authentic woman (plus, she has a great sense of humour). I recently re-posted a poem she shared called Worst Day Ever by Chanie Gorkin—Garner said she needed some perspective on a recent Sunday. 


Here’s a conversation I had with a female CEO when I was starting out via Twitter 

When the entrepreneurial world sweeps us up and we forget about everything else going on in our lives, we have to take pause and remember: we are not our work. You are you. My fellow Dragon, Lane Merrifield, often reminds entrepreneurs of this idea, even after all of his success. When Lane was negotiating with Disney for the sale of Club Penguin, one of his non-negotiables was that the business would be headquartered in Kelowna, where he and his two co-founders were already settled with their families. 

There was a moment at the beginning of my career that I’ll never forget and I wanted to share it with you. I was starting out and I found myself in a meeting at the office of a car dealership run by a female CEO; a female CEO was even more rare in those days (if you can imagine) and especially in the auto industry. Her office phone rang and she stopped to check the caller ID. 

She turned to me and said “excuse me for a moment - it’s one of my kids and I always take their calls no matter what I’m doing or who I’m meeting with. I’m a single mom.” I will never forget this moment and I’m so grateful for the valuable lesson she taught me that day.

Being a female in business is tough. There’s an enormous amount of guilt if you’re a single parent, or a parent of any gender, in balancing work and life. Don’t ever be ashamed to say, “excuse me for a minute, my family needs me.”  If someone doesn’t like this? Oh well.


How to Be a Better Listener via the New York Times


Adam Grant has interviewed hundreds of CEOs for his former New York Times column, Corner Office. He recently shared an insightful and detailed piece about what he learned from the people he has interviewed about becoming a better listener. 

Listening is harder than we think. Take the time to read this and bookmark it for the future, because it has some of the best guidance I’ve read in a long time. We need to understand what our customers really want. We might need to empathize with family and friends who feel we aren’t making time for them, or perhaps we need to dig a bit deeper when someone tells us they’re “fine,” to unearth how they’re really feeling. Read 
the story and pass it on. 


A young fan asks Montreal Canadiens player to autograph his stick via CBC on Twitter  

We all want to leave a lasting legacy, in some way, in this world. Each day you have an opportunity to let yours be kindness towards others, whether family, friends, team members, or strangers. 

I recently attended a talk in conversation with Barack Obama, and he said something that really stuck with me; he said all the life lessons he has given to his daughters over the years have come down to two things: to be kind and to be useful. 

This heartwarming video from CBC shows how easy it is to be kind. As Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price headed toward the changeroom, a young boy asked him to autograph his stick from the stands; the boy had recently lost his mom to cancer. Price took an extra moment to give the boy a big hug and held him tight as he sobbed from the stands. 

Tags: arlene dickinson, confidence, diversity, dragons den, entrepreneur, female entrepreneur, inspiration, leadership, mental health, online reading, reading, self-confidence, small business, stress, women

Arlene Dickinson

Arlene Dickinson is one of Canada’s most renowned independent marketing communications entrepreneurs. As CEO of Venture Communications, her creative and strategic approach has turned the company into a powerhouse with a blue chip client list.  She is also the CEO of, a company she founded in 2012 that is dedicated to serving and investing in entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial lifestyle. 

Dickinson is best known to Canadians as one of the venture capitalists on the award-winning CBC series Dragons’ Den, The Big Decision and marketing expert on Recipe to Riches.  She is the author of two books, the number one bestselling book, Persuasion and her most recent best-selling release, All In. 

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