Unleash Your Inner Dragon

[A]rlene Dickinson, the self-made millionaire and dragon on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, shared her insights on achieving success with Ryerson business students.

As CEO and owner of Venture Communications, Dickinson didn’t reach her full potential until she was 31. She remembered sitting on her father’s couch with no university degree and no motivation to start working. She had just gone through a divorce and was about to lose custody over her four children, having no means to provide for them.

“My dad said, ‘Get off your ass and do something about it…’” said Dickinson. “That’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten.”

Dickinson described that memory as her low point, which allowed her to untap her true potential.

“The only bar that matters is the one you set against yourself,” said Dickinson.

Dickinson said in order to achieve success one must endure the three R’s: Resilience, Roadblocks, and Rejection. Resilience is being persistent and letting no one get in your way. Roadblocks are unforeseen set backs and rejection is a force that stops you from doing what you want to do.

“Don’t let anyone tell you your dreams aren’t worthwhile,” said Dickinson. Dickinson recounted several times where people have told her no.

“I guess they have to go on everyday dealing with them selves,” said Dickinson, as she laughed.

She encouraged the students to think about the three R’s, and how to mentally prepare for them. She explained that these are lessons she’s learned throughout her life, one’s that no textbook could teach.

“You will set the world on fire,” said Dickinson, as she looked around the room at the next generation of business minds. “Maybe even be a dragon.”


Photo by Sarah Beach.