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Spotlight On: Dianne Buckner, Host of CBC’s Dragons’ Den

Do you have what it takes to be successful in today’s competitive marketplace? Who better to advise eager entrepreneurs than Dianne Buckner, the host of CBC TV’s wildly popular program Dragons’ Den. Dianne takes audiences through the “entrepreneur’s journey,” from identifying niche markets, to the art of the pitch, to taking advantage of business trends—all while sharing entertaining backstage peaks into life in “The Den.”Dianne kindly let us shine our spotlight on her today:

What inspired you to want to be a speaker?

When I got the job to host Venture, CBC’s long-running business program, the executive producer ask me if I was doing any speaking. At that time, the answer was no. “Get on it!” she told me, explaining that it would be a wonderful way to connect CBC to various communities. I was hesitant at first, but it only took one engagement for me to realize how my work as a business journalist had given me so many stories to tell and insights to share. Plus, I loved meeting people all over the country and hearing their perspectives.

Any advice for aspiring speakers?

It’s important to think hard about the audience you’ll be speaking to, and how what you have to share connects with them.

What do you like to leave audiences with?

A feeling of excitement about the dynamic nature of the business world.

How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?

I hot-roller my hair 😉

Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?

Last August, accounting firm Grant Thornton asked me to host its annual meeting in Chicago. It was for the consulting side of the firm’s business, and the topics ranged for forensic accounting to international expansion–it was fascinating. Bonus: I extended my trip to a weekend and had a fabulous time discovering the architecture and restaurants of Chicago (also saw a game at historic Wrigley Field)!

Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?

Several years ago I traveled to Thunder Bay to give the keynote at an awards ceremony hosted by an Aboriginal business group. I’d been working hard and was quite tired, so when I boarded the flight, I fell asleep almost as soon as I sat down. A Native gentleman was in the seat next to me, and he did the same thing. We both woke up as the plane landed in Thunder Bay, and left the plane with barely a word to each other. But that night, as I arrived at the reception, there was my seat-mate, standing talking with a group of people. As soon as he spotted me, he called out in a very loud voice “Hey, there’s Dianne Buckner. I slept with her on the plane!”

I was momentarily dumbstuck….but then had to laugh. It turned out he was the emcee and well known as quite a jokester, so I didn’t worry a    bout anyone taking his remark the ‘wrong’ way 🙂

Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?

A friend of mine, a mother of three young children, was cured of stage 4 Lymphoma several years ago, and she now runs marathons and does all sorts of fund-raising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. That gives me a chance to help, too.

If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?

I could have/would have been a lawyer. I think law requires some of the same skills as journalism: the ability to read a lot, think critically, and get to the heart of the matter. But I was daunted by the years of education required for a legal career. I was too eager to get through school and into the workforce.

Desert island album?

Right now I’d pick “Salad Days” by Mac DeMarco. He’s a 23-year-old genius who grew up in Edmonton, and he’s fantastic. Laid-back and energetic at the same time.

Best subject in school?

I always got great marks in math, although I enjoyed English more, because I loved reading.

Last book you read?

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt. She won the Pulitzer this year for her most recent novel “The Goldfinch” and it was great, but I’d never read her debut. It was creepy, in a good way.

Last film you saw?

I saw “The Wolf of Wall Street” on-demand the other night. I’m sure there was a Hollywood factor at play, but the true story behind the film is shocking as well. And I’m not sure the financial industry has come as far as it should: two former Goldman Sachs employees just launched a gender discrimination suit, and the New York Attorney General is suing Barclay’s for fraud.

Celebrity crush?

As if I’d tell THAT…..!