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Interview with The Editor Featuring Arlene Dickinson

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As a mother of four and grandmother of three, Arlene Dickinson is an award-winning CEO with a knack for picking companies that are on the rise, to say the least. Thanks to the Fort McMurray Public Library’s Northern Insights Speaker Series, Arlene recently visited Fort McMurray, where she spoke to a full field house at MacDonald Island Park about her life journey that brought her to the success story she is today. She also took some time to chat with YMM.

YMM: As a young girl born in South Africa and raised in Canada, what did you envision your life would be like when you would be grown up?

Arlene: My dream was to fall in love and be a mom. I never thought too much past those two things. I believe my high school book said I was most likely to become a candlestick maker. Guessing I didn’t exactly exude confidence but just goes to show you that your path is yours to choose and make the best of and not for someone else to tell you what you can or cannot be.

YMM: When did you first recognize the entrepreneurial spirit within yourself? Did you have strong examples of entrepreneurs around you?

Arlene: I suppose the signs were always there but I wasn’t looking for them and certainly wasn’t aspiring to become an entrepreneur. But I did not do that well working for others and always was questioning why things had to be what they were. My dad used to call me “yeah but” because no matter what the answer was I always wanted to explore why things were what they were and how they might be different.

YMM: As you say, entrepreneurs’ minds are jammed full. Is there ever a time when your mind is quiet? How do you unwind?

Arlene: I have been truly blessed with the ability to compartmentalize the many competing agendas in my mind. Because of this I can shut it off and enjoy the moment. I would say my mind is always working – no matter where I am I continue to see opportunities all around me. My only sorrow is that I can’t possibly explore them all! I’ve learned to recognize that focus helps that’s for sure.

YMM: You’re debating the pros and cons of entrepreneurialism. Give me your strongest points on both sides.

Arlene: Cons? There are cons?

Okay just kidding but I believe its a lifestyle choice and like any lifestyle choice it will be what you make of it and how fully you live and enjoy it.

YMM: As the national spokesperson for Breakfast Clubs of Canada, why are you passionate about kids having a nutritious start to the day?

Arlene: Our kids are our future. They deserve every possible opportunity to start their day with enthusiasm, encouragement and food in their stomachs. Protecting human rights of every man, woman and child is fundamental. Kids cannot protect themselves. It’s up to us to ensure they have what they need to be all they can possibly be.

YMM: Aside from a solid breakfast, what else do you feel today’s kids need to be successful?

Arlene: Love. Shelter. Patience. Education. Encouragement. Parents who help let them live their own dreams not their parents’ dreams. Unstructured play time and permission to fail.

Lightning Round

YMM: You’re whipping up Arlene’s Famous Breakfast. What are you cooking?

Arlene: French Toast

YMM: You’re in the mood for a pick-me-up. What song do you choose from your playlist?

Arlene: The Commitments album.

YMM: Do you finish every book you start reading? Or do you bail if it doesn’t grab you? Arlene: I bail.

YMM: What do your grandkids call you?

Arlene: Grandma or Nanny

YMM: All-time favourite movie?

Arlene: Shawshank Redemption

YMM: Habit that you’re trying to adopt?

Arlene: Sleep

YMM: Dream vacation?

Arlene: Anywhere my family is.

YMM: If you were a monster truck driver, what would be the name of your truck?

Arlene: Whitestreak

YMM: Beverage of choice for unwinding at the end of the day?

Arlene: Glass of Persuasion

YMM: Space tourism. You in?

Arlene: Nah. I love Earth.