What the Alberta floods of 2013 taught Arlene Dickinson about resilience, resolve and recovery
This interview originally aired on Feb. 1, 2020.
As one of the stars of the CBC's hit show Dragons' Den, Arlene Dickinson has invested in many budding entrepreneurs and she's won multiple awards as a business leader.
But in 2013, catastrophic flooding in Calgary badly damaged the offices of her marketing company and she found her career and her life turned upside down.
In her book Reinvention, Dickinson opens up about the personal and business difficulties that she faced during this time — and how she recovered and found new purpose.
"A few years ago in Calgary, as many people in Canada will recall, there was a flood in southern Alberta. The rivers rose and it was the largest natural disaster in the history of Canada. I had an office that wasn't very far from those rivers that flooded. I ended up losing the office and having to relocate my entire team into temporary space. I'd been in business there for 30 years with my marketing firm.
We were losing clients, we were losing people and we couldn't keep the team together. It was an enormous amount of pressure and stress.
"I had many other endeavours, but this was a firm that I've grown up with as a business person and it literally was falling apart in front of my eyes.
"We were losing clients, we were losing people and we couldn't keep the team together. It was an enormous amount of pressure and stress. I had to take stock of myself and my business. I set out to reinvent the entire organization so that it could come out from underneath the waters, literally and figuratively speaking."
"The book is about the opportunity we all have to reinvent ourselves at any time in our lives. It really isn't dependent on a specific set of circumstances; it's dependent on you needing or wanting to change. It could be that you've had something tragic or unexpected happen in your life or you just might not be satisfied with your life.
The book is about the opportunity we all have to reinvent ourselves at any time in our lives.
"The book tries to walk through the principles of reinvention using business examples and principles to help people understand the steps they can take to reinvent — because it can be very scary."
Arlene Dickinson's comments have been edited for length and clarity.