“You only get one life, so it’s vital that you spend your time in the ways that bring you the most fulfillment.”
Lindsey Dinneen is an entrepreneur, leader, and teacher. She founded and owns VidaDance Studio in Leawood, Kansas, she founded and is the Artistic Director of VidaDance (a professional dance company), and co-owns Brio Creative (a sales, marketing, and management consultancy) with her husband. She loves sharing the joy of dance and wellness with others, and creates online courses to teach various dance styles, stretching/toning, and healthy living. She enjoys dogs, coffee shops, friends, and art.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Absolutely! Thank you for having me. I have been dancing since I was four years old. After watching a video of “The Nutcracker,” I fell in love with the beautiful costumes, and my mom enrolled me in a ballet class shortly after that. I grew up mostly studying classical ballet, and in college at Mercyhurst University, I branched out to include modern, tap, and jazz while earning my BA in Dance. After college, I moved to Kansas City to dance professionally, and did so with various local companies for five years. I’ve been an entrepreneur at heart for a long time, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that I finally took the first steps towards becoming one. I was inspired to start my own professional dance company, VidaDance, not only to affect change in the dance world, but to affect change in the world with dance. Seven months later, I founded VidaDance Studio, with a mission to inspire confidence and joy through dance. We have a unique youth leadership program, BeyondDance, that we incorporate into our curriculum to help build empowered, capable, and successful students. I am passionate about helping women and men live their very best lives.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
During VidaDance’s second year in business, we were about to perform a series of shows at the Kansas City Fringe Festival. We were prepared and excited, having rehearsed diligently for a few months before the festival began. One night, one of our dancers forgot her costumes at home, had to drive back to get them, and missed the first four pieces of the show. The next night, another dancer forgot her shoes at home, had her husband go back to get them, and borrowed shoes for the first few pieces of the show. Another night, a different dancer mistakenly thought his entrance cue was much earlier than it actually was, and with full confidence, sashayed onto stage before realizing that it wasn’t his turn yet. It was the most Murphy’s Law series of shows I’ve ever been a part of, but what’s amazing is that despite all the craziness, we rallied together and had such strong shows anyway, that we won Best of Fringe that year for our venue. I’ve never been prouder of my company for working so well together and efficiently problem-solving on the spot!
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge to date is actually an ongoing one, and will probably continue to be because of its nature. It is building my dance studio from the ground up, and running it profitably. The studio was my first business in which I had immediate expenses, like rent, utilities, and payroll, that had to be met regardless of how the business was doing financially. No matter what happened, or how many students I had, I was personally obligated to meet those expenses. Building the studio has been incredibly exciting, but also incredibly difficult as I continue to learn and grow in many areas in order to ensure its success. I don’t believe I’ve “overcome” that challenge yet, but I’m optimistic and confident about the studio’s future.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
I have a very open and democratic style of leadership. I expect that my employees and I will demonstrate mutual respect, and that we will be honest with each other. I do retain the final say, of course, but am happy to receive input from my employees. I have adopted a “coaching” style of leadership, in that my goal is to help each of my employees be empowered to be the most successful they can be, and achieve their own goals (even apart from my company), so that the company as a whole can flourish. I encourage leadership. The best leaders are the ones who promote the leadership of others in their workplace. When the director of a company is willing to let others create and inhabit positions of leadership, he or she is promoting the betterment of the company as a whole. Every time I ask one of my employees to step into a leadership role, whether it is for a one-time project, or for an ongoing basis, I am always delighted at the ownership these employees take in not only their assignment, but in the company itself. These employees step up every time, and prove their qualities in truly beautiful ways.
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?
So many people helped me get where I am today! I could spend hours thanking all of the people who have contributed to my success. No one can achieve great things alone. One woman that particularly stands out is named Cheryl Kimmi. She is the founder and director of the Kansas City Fringe Festival. I met her about five years ago, and she changed my life. We were at an event together, casually chatting about what I wanted to do in the future, and I mentioned I wanted to start a dance company someday. She asked me why I was waiting, and offered an opportunity for me to produce a show at the KC Fringe Festival that year. That was the launch of VidaDance, which has quickly grown from a seven-person company that first show to having over 20 dancers, aerialists, and actors in our latest show, RISE. A year after I launched the company, I opened the doors to my dance studio. A couple years after that, my husband and I started another company. Those questions, “Why are you waiting? Why not do it now?” sparked a complete change in my trajectory to become an entrepreneur with a growth mindset. I’m so grateful for Cheryl.
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
For me, it’s always been important to fit my business/career into my life, and not the other way around. However, I’ve gone through seasons where that’s been a lot more challenging than at other times. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to have and create jobs for myself that fit my passions and skill sets so well, which has allowed a much easier integration. For example, since I direct a professional dance company, I can still perform and choreograph and do what I’m most passionate about within my career (instead of as a side hobby). You only get one life, so it’s vital that you spend your time in the ways that bring you the most fulfillment.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
Actually, not really. I find that as my success grows, I am able to prioritize and reprioritize my time as needed. I’m very diligent about identifying the areas of my life that need my attention and focusing on them accordingly. I’m great about meeting deadlines and knowing how to order what I focus on in order to accomplish my goals. However, I’ve had to develop and utilize the strategies to do it!
Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?
- Establish expectations. Even before I started my first business, I had a long conversation with my husband about the fact that when one spouse is an entrepreneur, the other spouse inevitably gets roped in to it on some level. It’s always a team effort. If that’s not something you’re both ready to commit to, set that boundary, and hire someone who can be that support system for you when you need extra help. Being able to establish those expectations from the start is imperative.
- Establish boundaries. It’s important to decide upon and enforce boundaries when it comes to separating your personal and business lives. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband, who understands why I occasionally need to take a business call at inconvenient times, and vice versa now that he also owns a business. It’s helpful to decide on “business hours” and honor the off-times when you will power off your laptop and won’t check your phone. It’s completely acceptable (and advisable) to not be available to your clients (or boss) 24/7, and it’s also acceptable to gently remind people of your boundaries when necessary.
- Prioritize your time. This includes prioritizing time off, when you will absolutely not bring work into the vacation or break. When you’re at work, use effective methods to help you be your most productive. The Pomodoro Timer method, for example, can work wonders. You can adapt it to suit your preferences, but the idea is that you work diligently on only one task (shutting off everything else and anything that would be distracting) for twenty-five minutes. You then take a five-minute break. After four of these sequences, you take a fifteen-minute break. An alternative method is to work in fifty-minute blocks and then take a ten-minute break. I have found the latter to be extremely helpful for when I need to focus on a task and get it done in a short amount of time. Forcing myself to focus on only one task at a time significantly increases my productivity and rate of completion.
- Be kind. Trying to balance all of life’s demands is so hard. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. There will be times you just won’t get it right, or your spouse won’t get it right, and it’s easy to fall into a pattern of negativity, frustration, and complaining. Instead of nagging someone about their work/life balance, offer to help if you can. At the very least, be compassionate towards yourself and others as we all strive for successful balance.
- Be present. My husband has a saying about life that I really love: “You must be present to win.” Successful work/life balance boils down to this simple concept. Be present in everything you do. If you’re at work, be present and do your tasks diligently. If you’re at home, be present with your family and at the activities you engage in together. Try not to let one focus bleed into another. It’s when you lose focus on your current activity that you end up having to make up for it at another time, which usually means boundaries are broken. For example, if your boss walks in to your office and you’re 12 cat videos deep on YouTube, it’s going to be a lot easier for him or her to ask you to stay late or take home work on weekends. Commit to being fully present in each area of your life.
What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?
This past year, on separate occasions, I was told by two of my employees that if it weren’t for me and the company, they would likely not be alive today. They both credit me with saving their lives. I have never felt more fulfilled in my entire life than realizing that what I do, and what my company is, makes a significant difference in people’s lives. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and to hear that I actually have had that kind of profound impact blew me away. There’s nothing that could bring me a greater sense of accomplishment and pride than the knowledge that what I do really matters.
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. 🙂
If I could inspire people to start a movement, it would be a campaign to ignite kindness and empathy towards all humans. The “pay it forward” movement would occur daily. Each of us would have enough confidence in our self-worth to understand that everyone is going through challenges. Instead of being unreasonable, disrespectful, or unkind, we would find daily reasons to pay the love forward. It would promote a lifestyle of empathy, kindness, and compassion. This movement would literally change the world.
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?
People can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram at lindseydinneenofficial. I’d love to connect!
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Authority magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live