Barbara Stegemann’s entrepreneurial vision was formed after her best friend—a soldier—was severely wounded in Afghanistan. Understanding that supporting Afghanistan’s economy was a key to building stability for its people, Stegemann created The 7 Virtues Beauty—a company that sources organic oils from countries experiencing turmoil (such as Afghanistan, Haiti and the Middle East) to encourage change and to reverse the effects of war and poverty. Despite addressing complex global matters in her talks, she uses humour to explain how individuals can effect change both at home and worlds away. Barbara tackles the Speakers’ Spotlight questionnaire below:
What inspired you to want to be a speaker?
It was quite by accident really. I had written a book, The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, and as soon as I launched it in 2008, I began to get speaking requests. Within six months, I had to leave my job to keep up with the wonderful requests.
Any advice for aspiring speakers?
Don’t hold back on your burning passion to connect others with information that can build a better world.
What do you like to leave audiences with?
Audiences are awake after I leave. I think that’s the thing I really do, I wake people up with the stoic wisdom of the philosophers. It’s mostly info we know deep down to be true, sometimes it helps if someone puts those thoughts into words. Then we can go and apply it.
How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?
There is a great deal of preparation. I speak with the organizers, learn about their challenges, opportunities, and the demographic. Then I go and do the homework, read up on the community or organization and arrive early so I can talk to attendees to get a feel for the group. I write my speech and then I throw it away so I can speak from my heart.
Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?
When I spoke at 14 Wing Greenwood, Royal Canadian Air Force Base on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. I was so honoured to get a standing ovation from these brave men and women who protect our freedom. A couple of days later, the commanding officer, William Seymour, asked me to be the first female Honorary Colonel in the 70-year history of the base. I had always wanted to join the military but could not because of a hearing impairment I was born with, so this gave me another way to serve. The commanding officer told me they knew in the first five minutes of my talk that I had to be their Honorary Colonel.
Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
The troops. My best friend was wounded in Afghanistan and his mission is my mission–he inspired me in my work to do trade with nations rebuilding to help build peace and ensure our military are not doing all of the heavy lifting. We must be a part of the solution.
If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?
Diplomat for Canada. I love our country!
Best subject in school?
English and typing (which certainly came in handy when I was writing a book!).
Last book you read?
Still Making Mistakes by my mentor and business partner, W. Brett Wilson.
I adore President Clinton. I had the honour to travel to Haiti with him on an Agri-Trade Mission and the Clinton Foundation. Met the most beautiful people from Haiti and investors who care to build a better world.