These fun icebreaker questions were asked of me as a speaker in the business track of Central Soapers Workshop in Kansas City. I haven’t caught up with myself since the trip to write about all that I learned there yet. I decided to share these icebreakers for now. They are the kind of questions that would be fun on an About Us Page.
What’s your favorite town/city in the world? Why?
This is a hard one! I’ve lived so many places in my lifetime. My top three favorite places in the world are Munich, Galway and Portland. But I will have to go with Portland, Oregon being my favorite city in the world. I felt community there like no other place I ever lived. It is as close to having a hometown as I’ve ever come. When I first visited Portland in 1986 I felt at home and grew deep roots there.
What’s the worst haircut you’ve ever had?
The year was 1982. We were just weeks away from our move from Munich, Germany back to America. I hadn’t set foot in America for years. I was anxious already about the move. I went for one last haircut at the Munich Vidal Sassoon School of Hair and that is when everything went terribly wrong. I had never had a single bad haircut in the five years students had cut my hair under the watchful eye of the head instructor until that day. My hairdresser just couldn’t get the sides even she cut more and more length off as she tried to correct her errors. At the final inch of hair she had it right. When I put my glasses on to view my haircut tears welled up in my eyes. I ran all the way home and hid. I sobbed to my mother. I was thirteen years old. I turned out that I loved short hair and kept it various short cuts for years to come. The world didn’t end.
If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
I would first invent a solar powered Kindle with an endless supply of books on it. I love to read. Since it is three things and not people I would have to go with my newly invented solar fully loaded Kindle, my glasses so I could see and endless supply of fresh water. I love water.
Describe your own outlook on life in six words.
God is good all the time.
What is the biggest fear you’ve overcome in your life?
I had an intense fear of speaking up in public. With every move I made in life I took the opportunity to reinvent myself. Over the years I had found myself intensely frightened of speaking in public. I decided that I was going to show up on my first day of college and pretend that it wasn’t true about me.
When I arrived in my first class I was resolved to talk out loud in class and participate whether I had anything to say or not. As we sat around a round table discussing the book To Know a Fly by Vincent G. Dethier and N. Tinbergen. I opened my mouth repeatedly to speak and nothing came out. Finally before the class ended I got my words out, while my hands shook violently under the table. Over time I forced myself through class after class speaking up while my hands shook, until one day my hands stopped shaking and my voice grew confident. Eventually I was no longer frightened of speaking in public.
Over those four years, I became quite outspoken in the classroom, did many poetry readings, became a leader in student government, became a student representative on many committees and somewhere along the way I lost track of the girl with the fear of speaking. I shook violently for a long time when I spoke up, but over time my body forgot to react. (Stories of overcoming fears are told throughout my new book Puffy & Blue: The Chronicles of Nine Lives Together.)
What motivates you to go to work every day?
I work in more than one business. As an author I am motivated to use what God had given me. As a wife I am motivated to serve and support my husband in his dreams, whatever they might be at the moment.
What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses in America today?
Small dreams. I believe too many people are afraid to dream big. They have God-given talents that they hold back due to fear and small dreams. My husband Dennis taught me to dream big. He eased me out of my comfort zone with his big dreams. Sometimes I went kicking and screaming while holding onto the edges of my comfort, but over the years I have learned to jump in blindly with both feet behind him. The worst that can happen is that we can fail. We have failed many times. But we get back up, reinvent, refocus and start again the next day.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in business and how did you overcome it?
We have made so many mistakes over the years. It is hard to decide which one is the biggest. We have ignored the advice of mentors and paid heavily for it with failure. We have started too big to manage things and had to cut back. We have wasted money and time going the wrong direction. We have had times when one of wanted to quit and the other one had to carry the load.
We have overcome all of our mistakes by never giving up on each other or our dreams. That is the key to overcoming whatever life throws at you: never ever ever ever give up on your dreams and in our case each other.