TAKE ACTION: At any point in time, nothing helps us move past a challenge better than taking action, not the PERFECT action, but forward movement action is better than staying stuck. That usually unlocks the path to reveal what is next and how we navigate the particular situation.
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dolores Hirschmann. Dolores is a Clarity & Communications COACH. She helps clients clarify their “idea worth sharing”, design their communication strategies, and implement business growth systems. Her clients are entrepreneurs, executives, and experts who take their message to larger audiences like TEDx and beyond to grow their businesses to the next level. Dolores is a writer, and both her novel, New Beginnings and her book 18 Minutes of Impact: Move your Audience to Action the TED Way are available on Amazon. Dolores is a TEDx Organizer and participated in TED Conferences. She runs the largest TEDx event on the East Coast with an audience of more than 1,200 people. She is a CTI certified and ICF accredited coach and has a business degree from the Universidad de San Andres, Argentina. Dolores has built and run three successful businesses before she founded Masters in Clarity and led the first online learning platform in the US from 1998 to 2004. Dolores brings an array of skills and experiences to her work. Her training as an executive coach paired with her business degree and life experiences as a pancreatic cancer survivor, world traveler, adventurer, writer, speaker, serial entrepreneur, and mother of four brings a fresh and new approach to impact driven business growth. Originally from Buenos Aires, Dolores speaks fluent Spanish, English, and French and lives in Dartmouth, MA with her husband and four children.
Thank you so much for joining us Dolores! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I’ve been passionate about IDEAS from a very young age and I’ve always explored the NEW. Growing up in Argentina, as I graduated from business school in 1996 I wrote the first paper (graduating paper) on what to do with the internet. It was titled (in Spanish) “Marketing on the Internet, Relationship Marketing”. Since then I’ve been playing, exploring and building businesses that managed to connect with their markets by aligning with the market’s “inside conversation” and personal storytelling. In this quest I’ve explored and started multiple businesses, I’ve gone back to school to study coaching and I’ve become a TEDx organizer running one of the largest TEDx events in the east coast. All in service of clarifying, communicating and building out IDEAS that can have an impact in the world.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I remember launching my coaching business, once I became a coach and feeling like I had found MY THING! Only to realize that I was not complete, I was bored, there was something missing. That’s when I asked myself WHAT WOULD I DO FOR FREE ALL DAY LONG? And the answer to that question was to become a TEDx organizer and help people spread their IDEAS. Little did I know that it would transform my business, actually I would launch a whole NEW business a few years later, Masters in Clarity and will lead me to play a much bigger game.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We combine a high touch and high tech approach to our coaching and consulting business. Our clients trust us to guide them through their message clarity and their business strategies BUT we also understand that getting the work done can be really difficult for many entrepreneurs. That’s why we also have a service side where we DO THE work to help our clients BE SEEN and STAND OUT in their markets by booking them to speak publicly and help them communicate their message through podcast, stages, TEDx and books.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
When I moved to the US, at the age of 25 and recently married, I remember sitting in my new home, married, with nothing to do and no friends. I had left my whole life and network to move to suburbia Massachusetts. After the excitement of the wedding, it felt like I was dropped in the middle of nowhere completely lost.
I had so many dreams for myself, so many IDEAS I wanted to pursue but I found myself lost in suburbia MA ;-). I will always be grateful to my husband, his patience and guidance to encourage me to spread my wings and engage in projects that I felt attracted to and I will always be grateful for Steve Mariotti, Founder of NFTE for believing in me. NFTE, a non profit based in NY, became my first big project here in the US. I was young, but having had experience with the Internet (this was 1998) I was hired as the Director of their Online Learning Platform. The first online learning program to be deployed in high schools anywhere in the world. That project, Steve and the Board’s support and encouragement allowed me to not only realize the vision for the organization but allowed me to discover my gifts and how I could make an impact. They supported me in balancing motherhood and work, as I proceeded to become a mother and raise my four children while leading their global operations and eventually when I moved on, I was equipped to stand on my own and make a difference.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is a muscle. Every time we operate on the edge of our comfort zone, testing our courage and stretching ourselves we are actually BUILDING UP our resilience muscle. Resiliency is the capacity to bounce back from moments where life gets tough. Whatever that looks like. Resilient people have an internal “tool kit” that they tap into when the going gets tough. It can look as diverse as us humans BUT it probably includes a dash of self care (eating well, meditation, exercise, etc), a sprinkle of connection (tapping into your friends, family, network) and a whole lot of self reflection (journaling, seeking experts to guide you, having the courage to ask yourself tough questions, taking personal responsibility).
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
My mother for her capacity to bounce back from an ugly divorce where she lost custody of her children (my brother and I), the death of her daughter (my younger sister), the death of her husband and bankruptcy only to go on to build a successful travel agency and raise her children (including me) and now be an amazing grandmother.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Well, it actually happened many times!
When my husband lost his job as the main breadwinner of a family of 6 (4 children) I was told that we needed to sell our house and both of us find a full-time job. The story is actually a bit complicated because it’s not that he lost his job, he had a falling out with his father in the family business and we found ourselves in a legal battle with my father in law for a business that had all of our savings.
Anyhow, at the time I was running my own business with an average monthly income of about $6,000 which was not bad but not enough for our family. I knew that in order to keep our house and our lifestyle I needed to bring $20,000/month consistently.
The first month I was the only income I spent the month crying, playing victim and doing everything I could to meet my numbers at the same time.
It felt impossible, I was told I could not do it, but I did. I met my numbers that first month and every month since almost 3 years ago now.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
When I was 19 I was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor. I was told I was not going to live. The doctors in Argentina told my parents to bring me to America because the risk of having surgery in my country was very high. I remember being told all this (granted I had no symptoms and I felt great) and feeling like it was not true, it did not resonate with me. There was something about it that felt that it was surreal, not for me. Somehow, internally I did not “accept” the diagnosis. While I went through the process, I had the surgery and did what the doctors told me, inside of me I kept imagining myself healthy, doing all the things I wanted to do, without any issues. I insisted on taking my school books to Miami where I had the surgery and keeping up with my school work. My parents tried to tell me to relax, to not stress about school work, but in my mind, I knew that I would be fine, and if so, I did not want to be held back in my university studies, I wanted to keep up with my peers.
I think, looking back, how we “accept and take on” a challenge matters. Do you sit back and let it play out the way others predict (doctors, friends, etc) or do you engage knowing full on that you will make the most of it and you will overcome it?
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
My mother lost custody of my brother and I when we were very young, I was just one year old and for most of my childhood, I lived with my father and stepmother. The classic Cinderella story. To say it was not happy is an understatement. I found myself in chronic stress, dreading my stepmother’s punishments (physical and psychological) and in constant fear. At some point, I think I was 10 years old, I began waking up and making my mind focus on ONE thing I was looking forward to that day. I would go through the day ahead, in my mind, and find the one thing I was looking forward to. It could be gym class, or dance after school, a party, a project or something going on that day that I was excited and looking forward to. That kept me going. I still do that today, especially in times of stress.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- CHECK IN — AWARENESS: Knowing where you are and what you are feeling and giving space for that. When I was ramping up my business, when my husband lost his job, I was aware of the fear and the feelings I was having at all times.
- SEEK HELP: Resiliency is a muscle that sometimes requires someone else to hold you or help you for a second so that you can build up the muscle. As I was making ends meet and ramping up my business I sought help of all kinds. Coaches, friends, colleagues… it was all hands on deck.
- TAP INTO YOUR INTUITION: At its core, resiliency is based on tapping into your “INNER KNOWING” and knowing that even if the branch bends it won’t break.
- TAKE ACTION: At any point in time, nothing helps us move past a challenge better than taking action, not the PERFECT action, but forward movement action is better than staying stuck. That usually unlocks the path to reveal what is next and how we navigate the particular situation.
- REFLECT: Back to reassess. Is the action we took moving us in the right direction? It’s back to the first step of what are we feeling?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would be a movement anchored in empowering women to lean into their super power and lead courageously. Live boldly, parent boldly, create boldly, work boldly, love boldly.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would love to sit down and chat with Bill Gates or Matt Damon. 😉
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Linkedin: Dolores Hischmann
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!