business strategy | January 05, 2014

Behind the Podium: Our Interview with Celebrity Entrepreneur Debbie Travis

Recently, we sat down for an interview with Debbie Travis, the entrepreneur behind the largest celebrity brand in Canada. We asked her how she is enjoying life behind the podium and how she—and her audiences—find inspiration from her talks. Read on for our interview, and check out the video embedded above for a bigger picture of Debbie the entrepreneur.

Lavin: At your most recent event for us, organizers said, “The attendants found her presentation inspiring, engaging, and refreshingly humorous.” How do you approach your talks for corporate audiences? 

Debbie Travis: When speaking to corporate audiences, it is really important for me to create an atmosphere where the audience can relax and enjoy the event, but at the same time come away inspired. I use my own experience of working closely with large corporations such as Canadian Tire, CBC, Random House, and Shaw to help the audience tackle the challenges of the corporate world. Probably one of the most important factors is tackling the fear factor that hits us all throughout our working life.  

L: The organizers also pointed out that working with you was a pleasure: “[Debbie] was kind, personable, and grateful towards our efforts of making her feel welcome. Her assistant was also very helpful when it came to planning/organizing.” Why is it important to you to connect with conference organizers as well as participants? 

DT: It’s important to me to connect with the conference organizers in the same way as with the audience, because that’s who I am. And it just makes good business sense to try to instill in my team the same values that I live by.

L: What is your style of presentation? Do you move around a lot, contribute a lot of personal anecdotes, etc.? 

DT: I like sharing every aspect of my life by telling my many personal stories. The audience can relate to that. I can move around or curl up on a chair and chat. I like to feel that the room is not only excited to have me there, but is entertained and at the end everybody is inspired to follow their own dreams. I love to answer questions and try to include the entire audience into each question and answer.

L: How do audiences react to your talks during the presentation, and after? 

DT: There is always a great deal of laughter and often tears. I love to think you can hear a pin drop when I talk about my journey, my mistakes, and my dreams and I think everyone can relate to my experiences in some way and see the parallels to their own lives. I love it that when they leave the hall, they feel they have just gone on the best girls' night out!

L: Do you enjoy doing a Q&A with the audience? Why? 

DT: I love taking questions at the end of a speech. It brings the audience together and makes people realize that they are not alone in their worries and their challenges.

L: What’s your favourite personal story to share with audiences, and why? 

DT: Gosh I have so many. Here is a quick one about working moms and the guilt they feel. I was running through the airport in LA when my 14 year old son called to say he had failed his math homework. I apologized and told him I would work on it harder and sort it out when I got home. He asked me where I was, and I told him I was in LA. He said, "Oh I thought you were upstairs." I had been gone for 3 days!! This makes women roar with laughter because it basically tells them to stop worrying so much—the kids don't even notice half the time.

L: What do you think audiences get out of your talks? 

DT: I know my audiences leave feeling inspired to tackle their fears of "what ifs," but I hope I also put life in perspective for them and helped them towards their journey of "Dream it, do it, live it." When I watch them leave they are always all animated and full of their own ideas.

L: What’s one takeaway from your talks you want to be absolutely sure every audience member takes to heart? 

DT: Have a dream, work very hard, and live life to the fullest.

L: We hear you are working on a new book. Are you at liberty to say what it will be about? 

DT: I am working on a book about next chapters. What's Next is a personal guide on how to successfully squash the fear of making changes in your life and how to once again wake up excited every morning, told through my own experiences and those of others. For instance, are you an impending "empty nester" worried about what's next in your life? Or, are you newly divorced and asking yourself what's next? Does your present career no longer excite you and you are asking yourself what's next? Are your children busy with their own lives, and what's next in yours?

Our thanks to Debbie Travis for joining us for this Q&A. We are looking forward to reading her new book! In the meantime, if you are interested in booking Debbis as a keynote speaker, please contact us. One of our agents would be happy to assist you.