Many of you probably know Arlene Dickinson as one of the venture capitalists from the hit business reality show Dragons' Den on CBC. She's also CEO of Venture Communications and author of two bestselling leadership books. But what many of us don't know are the unique stories and experiences that lie behind everything she has become and all that she has achieved.
The Clear Path team, along with 650 other local HR professionals, had the amazing opportunity to hear Arlene Dickinson at the annual Executive Night put on by the Grand Valley Chapter of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA). Her keynote address, paired with networking and a delicious three-course meal, made the 2014 Executive Night an incredible success and a night to remember.
"Leadership is about sharing your experiences"
Throughout her address, Arlene drove home the idea that "leadership is all about sharing your experiences" - the things that make you who you are. Starting with her humble beginnings and her move to Canada as a young child, Arlene took us on a journey through her life - being incredibly vulnerable and transparent about the ups and downs that ultimately shaped who she is today.
She described a time she was invited to Afghanistan to meet the Canadian troops stationed there. While in Afghanistan, she accompanied a General as he went to the front lines to address the soldiers at several different military bases. She called that speech "the best leadership speech she had ever heard" and, after hearing it spoken over 5 times, she was able to pull some invaluable points from it.
The general three points:
1. You are an Indispensable Part of the Team
As the soldiers approached the time when they could go home and be reunited with their families, it became increasingly difficult to stay focused. The General reminded them how important staying focused was - "If you don't stay focused, not only your life is at risk, but the life of your team and everyone around you. If one person can fail, everyone else can fail." Each member of the team is connected, important, appreciated, and needed.
2. What You're Doing is Important and Has Purpose
He then reminded them of why they get up every day. When you're part of a team, or at work, you often spend more time with those you're working with than you're own family. Because of this, you need to feel purpose - feel appreciated. By understanding why you are doing what you are doing, by knowing that you are counted on, you can have the drive needed to focus and get the job done.
3. You are Appreciated
The General also reminded the soldiers that they are appreciated. "Canadians know that the job you are doing is super important and that what you are doing is protecting the most important thing individuals have - freedom." (Source: The Telegram)
It's about vulnerability
And while the General delivered this speech - he did so with vulnerability. He admitted that he doesn't have all the answers or know what is going to happen next. But he also said that when he did know, he would tell them. He would be vulnerable, transparent, and reachable. And it's the personal manner by which he told the speech that made it so impactful for not only all the soldiers listening, but for Arlene Dickson who was observing.
So much so that she has adopted this method of humble leadership. A leadership that is about "sharing your experiences" - showing people the things that make you who you are. And this was clearly evident in the way she approached her time at the Executive Night - transparent, vulnerable, and unafraid to share about the events and life experiences that brought her to where she is today. All in all, an inspiring night.
Clear Path at Executive Night
Here are some of our personal photos from the 2014 Executive Night. Anna Aceto-Guerin, President of Clear Path Employer Services, had the opportunity to meet Arlene Dickinson afterwards.
Did you attend the 2014 HRPA Executive Night? What were some of the points that really hit home for you?
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