Dayna Lapkovsky of Frank: “Just do it”

Just do it. Don’t let fear hold you back. Nothing will ever be 100% perfect. Jump in and get started! Dayna Lapkovsky is the founder and CEO of frank, a borderless community of women leaders propelling each other to their full potential through facilitator-guided peer coaching. Dayna leveraged her entrepreneurial spirit, passion for developing female talent, […]

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Just do it. Don’t let fear hold you back. Nothing will ever be 100% perfect. Jump in and get started!

Dayna Lapkovsky is the founder and CEO of frank, a borderless community of women leaders propelling each other to their full potential through facilitator-guided peer coaching. Dayna leveraged her entrepreneurial spirit, passion for developing female talent, creative thinking, and innovative approach to problem-solving to create the frank community with the goal of helping other women thrive in both their personal and professional lives. In her 20+ career spanning media, strategic marketing, and communications consulting, Dayna has worked for a diverse set of clients including global beauty, fashion, and healthcare brands as well as international communications and marketing firms. Dayna is a graduate of Concordia University and received a certification in Women’s Leadership from the Yale School of Management. Dayna lives in Montreal with her husband and three boys where she is an active volunteer in her community.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

A couple of years ago, I was attending a women’s entrepreneurship conference and I had the opportunity to meet and chat with many incredible women, all from different backgrounds and industries. I noticed how open they were willing to be, candidly sharing their career and personal life stories and challenges with the other attendees.

In return, they were met with empathy, encouragement, best practice advice, and support. It was so amazing and eye-opening to witness these vulnerable exchanges between strangers. I knew something special was happening and I wanted to find a way to make it sustainable. As a solo entrepreneur, opportunities to interact, connect and learn are extremely valuable, and I knew I was not alone in feeling this way.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

After researching the leadership and networking market, I discovered that there were two main camps: leadership groups that were seemingly male-dominated with very restrictive membership criteria and on the flip side, cheerleader-like women-centric groups that felt a bit fluffy to me. I realized that there was an opportunity to create a community that was highly strategic, supportive, and empowering. frank, my online women’s leadership community that accelerates professional and personal growth through guided peer-coaching, was born from this idea.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for turning my passions into profit. In my teens, I translated my love for dance into a business and taught elementary students jazz and hip-hop after school. The concept took off and I was working with 6 schools at one point. This business showed me that you can make money and indulge in what you love.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

Yes, a few actually. When I was refining the concept for frank, I gathered a few of the smartest, creative, resourceful women I knew and asked them to join me as my Advisory Board. With diverse experiences and backgrounds from impressive companies like Google, Yahoo, and Unity, the board is essentially my personal frank cohort. They are my sounding boards, blind-spot detectors, and trouble-shooters. They are extremely supportive of my goals and are dedicated to helping other women succeed. I feel very grateful for their ongoing contributions to the frank community.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

frank is different in a few ways. First, we bring humility to the leadership space. We give women a safe space to be themselves. We are caring and supportive while being straightforward and strategic. We allow women to connect in a deeply meaningful way, practice important leadership skills, and receive feedback without judgment. frank is a place where women are on a collective journey toward individual growth, rather than your typical group more focused on power-networking.

Our international membership is curated to bring together top talent from a diverse array of industries, companies, and roles. This allows for rich conversations with multiple points of view, best-practice knowledge, and fresh perspectives.

frank’s cohorts are facilitated by experienced, professional coaches with backgrounds in HR and leadership development. They use our strategic framework to guide our members in peer-coaching, helping them to peel back the layers to the heart of the challenges at hand by encouraging powerful questions and deep listening. They each bring their own personality and experiences to help members reframe their situation and see it in a new light.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

My leadership signature stems from 3 principles: Curiosity, Collaboration & Boldness.

My curiosity allowed me to zero in on key components needed to make frank into a successful women’s leadership community. Through conversations with dozens of women, all with different backgrounds and work experiences, I was able to identify common pains and gains in ambitious women’s lives that I needed to address. Asking powerful questions and practicing deep listening enabled me to develop a community that fulfilled their needs.

Through collaboration, I was able to access the resources needed to launch a leadership program. It allowed me to troubleshoot the format, structure and concept prior to launch and really connect with what was important to the women I was serving. I am a huge fan of brainstorming and thinking big before narrowing my ideas to best fit the scope of what I am trying to achieve. Collaborating facilitates those grand, creative ideas and empowers bold moves.

Being bold is a relatively new part of my leadership style. In the past, I may have been more cautious or hesitant to push my boundaries and go after what I wanted. I now realize that you never get what you don’t ask for and it has encouraged me to move forward with confidence and assertiveness.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

In the past years, I’ve heard a lot about “staying in your lane.” In my opinion, this advice stifles innovation, creativity, and growth. While my background in marketing communications is on a different highway than running a leadership community, there are definitely cross-over skills that I use to my advantage. I leverage my abilities as a connector and communicator, a working mom, and an entrepreneur who has helped others build businesses as well as creating my own. I am proof that you can do anything you put your mind to as long as you surround yourself with the right team of people who have the expertise you need to support your vision.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

As a Type A personality, I am typically over-structured and over-planned. The pandemic has taught me the benefits of adopting a more fluid work style and allowing things to evolve and develop organically. Being able to go with the flow and adapting accordingly has allowed me to stay resilient in overwhelming situations. I think we could all benefit from learning to let go of our controlling tendencies in this way. Remaining flexible will allow us to bend to shifting demands rather than break under the pressure.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Listen deeply and ask powerful questions.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

It is human nature to want to jump in and give advice, especially on topics we are familiar with. However, holding back and digging deep can reveal so much more!

Identifying the heart of an issue is so much more meaningful than offering a quick solution, and it really allows you to showcase your strengths as a leader.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Being rigid in your ideas and thought process can hinder success. For me, taking a fluid approach has allowed for optimal creativity, innovation, and the most strategic steps forward.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

The roller-coaster ride of entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Having everything riding on your shoulders can be both exhilarating and debilitating. Personally, I love being in the driver’s seat and knowing that I am in control of my input to my business and that I can step on the gas or pump the breaks as I see fit. However, control comes with many outside pressures that come into play in a business situation. When you are in control, you are also accountable to your team, your family, and ultimately yourself during difficult times. You have to be ready to make hard decisions when needed.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business?

Launching frank was a euphoric experience for me. We launched right before the pandemic hit, and I can remember being at the launch cocktail event, feeling the energy in the space, seeing my frank members connect and interact for the first time. It was electric. I was so proud that I imagined and created something so special that would impact so many women.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

Initially, the frank program took place IRL, with small groups of women meeting together for sessions in our cozy loft space. When the pandemic hit and in-person gatherings were shut down, I felt a huge sense of loss. All of my hard work, my carefully thought-out programs, my upcoming collaborations, and my partnerships were put on pause. It took me a few weeks to mourn the loss of these plans and be in the headspace to look at things more objectively and be able to re-design the frank program for a digital space.

In the end, re-designing the frank experience to be virtual was the silver lining of COVID for me. Not only was the virtual version of frank stronger than before, but it also broke down barriers for our busy, ambitious members. Without the barriers of finding parking, navigating traffic, and rushing off to the next meeting, it gave our members more time and flexibility. It also allowed us to expand the frank offering internationally as geographical boundaries became non-existent on Zoom. We now have an international membership base of exceptional women.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Start with 15%. One of the techniques we practice in frank is to make an insurmountable challenge manageable by breaking it down into small, bite-sized pieces. Figure out what the first action item is and begin by doing only 15% of it. Everything is less daunting if you tackle it through micro-steps.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. Create a supportive network of people who empower you, challenge you, support you, and love you in all aspects of your life — business & personal.
  3. Carve out time for self-care. As they say: “Burnout is not a badge of honor.” Take the time to nourish your mind, body, and soul so you can be at your best.
  4. Say no, nicely. As every ‘yes’ means a ‘no’ to something else, understand your priorities and say yes accordingly. And don’t forget to actually say no — leaving someone hanging is unprofessional.
  5. Just do it. Don’t let fear hold you back. Nothing will ever be 100% perfect. Jump in and get started!

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

To me, resilience has a lot to do with the ability to stay focused. It is key to keep your eye on the prize and keep moving towards it, even as circumstances change. This may mean finding a completely new route to get to your destination or finding a new way to navigate around the obstacles in your way. For me, that meant redesigning frank as a virtual platform after the pandemic hit.

There are many ways to get where you want to go. Some ways may take longer or be more difficult, but resilience will allow you to forge ahead on your path.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

I strive to have a positive attitude through difficult situations; however, I give myself permission to sit in my negativity or disappointment whenever needed. It is part of my process of acceptance. If you jump into action without acknowledging a difficulty or hardship, you may not be well-equipped to see the situation clearly and make the best decisions. It is ok to “feel your feelings,” process to gain clarity and move on in a positive light.

A while ago I read a parenting article about shifting the concept of “You get what you get but you don’t get upset” to “You get what you get and you might get upset” (Amanda Donnet of Spilt Milk Psychology). It really struck a chord with me both as a mom of 3 boys and as an entrepreneur. Sometimes stuff happens that you are not happy about but you deal with it and then you move on, hopefully with more clarity.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

As a leader, you set the tone. Team members will look to you for clues on how to react in any given situation. Positivity combined with truth is often the winning combination to keep people motivated and focused.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” ― Brené Brown.

This quote is validated in every frank session. Once the walls come down, you will be able to let in what you need.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Via the frank website:

Via social media: on Instagram @franktalk_global and on LinkedIn

Via LinkedIn:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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