Self-Awareness from the Dragons’ Den

13 May

Just last Thursday I was invited by Scotiabank to attend a really exciting event at Carleton University here in Ottawa, and what I heard from the AMAZING featured guest fit so perfectly into our EI focus that I  had to share it with you. Here’s the news: Scotiabank is donating $500,000 through their Bright Future philanthropic program to the Sprott School of Business for future international exchanges, and the formal announcement along with a 30 minute speech was given by none other than the talented, beautiful and inspiring, Arlene Dickinson.

Arlene DickinsonYou may know Arlene from Dragons Den where she listens, invests and navigates hundreds of pitches. Everyone on that show has their own style, and Arlene’s approach is a great example of Emotional Intelligence well used. Whether she’s celebrating an idea, or telling someone to ‘stop right now’ from investing anymore money, she always does it with the approach of a leader who understand the meaning of compassion.

You may also know Arlene because she’s CEO of Venture Communications and a Canadian icon, particularly known and admired amongst other business women of Canada. She’s also a single-mother of four, and makes that clear in all of her bios you’ll read. (Another renaissance women, juggling many balls.)

It was already very exciting to listen to Arlene’s talk on the 2nd of May and hear her opinion on businesses like RIM and how we don’t give ourselves enough credit (and support) as Canadians, and how if the company were American they’d be treated very differently; as well as her feelings toward socially aware business and entrepreneurism (i.e. it’s good, but also it’s essential to make money too – there’s nothing wrong in making money!)

Toward the end of the speech she began accepting questions. Most of the crowd at this event comprised of graduate students from the Sprott School of Business. One student put up his hand and asked whether Arlene has ever had a challenge she wished she had mastered.

And her answer really surprised me. I wasn’t rolling a tape-recorder (or recorder app on my phone), but basically she said that looking back on her life, she would have liked to master self-awareness. Well, my jaw could have scraped the ground – she was talking about an aspect of Emotional Intelligence that, as we’ve been saying these past couple weeks, is essential for realizing the root of our issues and ambitions. If you want to change in this world, you need to become self-aware.

The EQ-i 2.0 Model of Emotional Intelligence defines self-awareness as “recognizing and understanding one’s own emotions. This includes the ability to differentiate between subtleties in one’s own emotions while understanding the cause of these emotions and the impact they have on one’s own thoughts and actions and those of others.”

She seemed to allude to being more self-aware with her relationships. As though if she had been more self-aware she would have made different choices to share time and energy with someone else. There’s a lot going on when you are a business woman and a single-mother, it’s an experience I relate to directly, and here she was touching on the idea of become more aware. Goodness, if only we had all been more aware! But here and now and today, it’s so possible to fix that oversight. I’m certain if Arlene is talking about self-awareness today, than she is aware of her awareness, much like I’ve become and how I help my clients see themselves more objectively.

The truth is, whether you are a famous Canadian business mogul, a woman new in the ad business and negotiation with car sales men, or someone with a seed of an idea and just starting to help that grow – we all have blind spots in our lives. Self-awareness helps us see deeper to the root of our behaviour and beliefs.

As Arlene says in her book Persuasion, “”To be a good persuader . . . you need . . . to be self-aware, willing to be honest even when telling the truth is difficult, and committed to reciprocity [the “win-win”] in all your relationships.”

cararesourcesHere’s a challenge from the tool box: Look over these three questions and answer as honestly as possible.


1. What emotions help your job performance? Which emotions hinder your performance?

2. How do your emotions affect other people? Can you provide an example where your teamwork (or relationship) was affected by the way you were feeling?

3. Describe a time when you were making a decision and your emotions got the best of you.

And if you ever want to talk more, feel free to leave a comment in the discussion or get in touch directly. Otherwise, I wish you a wonderful week!

Take care,


Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!


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