Our fabulous people feature this week is Dena Marie Patton, a woman who has become an inspiration to many. Dena is a business coach to leaders, entrepreneurs and world changers; speaker and best-selling author; co-founder of Girls Rule Foundation; and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. Learn more about Dena…
First job: Waiting tables at various Phoenix restaurants was my “first job,” when I was 17 to 21. It was a great way to get introduced to real life because with each table was a different set of people and personalities that you had to adapt to. It taught me so much about business, too! I learned lessons from customer service to relating to people, sales, money management and being responsible for my shifts, times and customers’ food. I moved up quickly, became a trainer and traveled the country to various restaurants, which was fabulous. During college, it allowed me to move to NYC, where I worked with celebrities and got my “big break” in business and started my own marketing company.
Favorite AZ restaurant: Roy’s or Postino’s. Because they are fabulous!
Person who has impacted your life the most: My mom. During her life and her death, she inspired me. She lived lovingly and died fearlessly. She worked at the Flinn Foundation, was a single mom and taught me how to manage a busy life and still give back. She was fabulous. Pancreatic cancer took her in 2009.
Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes: Having my daughter and being a mom. I have been blessed with fabulous business accomplishments over the last 20 years, but they don’t come close to my daughter. Everything about motherhood trumps business success – from accomplishing a successful pregnancy (three unsuccessful), to surviving breastfeeding and raising a fabulous, thriving daughter takes the “accomplishment” cake.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: I have had two times in my life where I didn’t think I would come out the other side. In NYC when I had a minor stroke at age 27 and, soon after, 9/11. It was a scary dark time in my life without my family. Then, in 2009 when my mom and one of my best friends died 30 days apart was devastating. All obstacles, whether it’s emotional, financial, spiritual or physical are challenging, but I do believe that with every storm we get stronger and wiser.
Someone who inspires you: Ellen DeGeneres. She owns her authenticity and fabulousness and doesn’t apologize for it. She knows how to be fun and professional. There’s too much negativity in the world, and her whole brand is about lifting others and fun.
Favorite quote: I’m too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: If you want to be a business coach/trainer to entrepreneurs/business owners, you have to have success behind you first with your own company (in addition to getting trained as a coach). I’ve owned four successful businesses. Through that, I created my own greatness coaching methodology that helps people become great leaders and own great businesses. I’ve seen way too many people try to coach others when they don’t have the experience themselves, and it ends up failing. The coaching and training industry is a $9.4 billion industry, and in the 14 years I’ve been in it I’ve seen it change so much. It’s a wonderful field, because you are helping people succeed and fulfill dreams. I would recommend coaching (there’s all kind of coaching areas, not just business) to anyone who wants to make a difference for others. As a speaker, it was a long road to become a paid keynote speaker, but most people have a great message inside them and can do it, too. There are many resources and trainings (National Speakers Association) you can take to learn to become a speaker. I do believe that everyone has a story and a great message if they have courage enough to share it with others. I’m also a cofounder of a small nonprofit. If you want to start your own nonprofit, I highly recommend interviewing three to four nonprofit leaders or owners first. If you decide to go down that path and don’t have a degree in it, the key is education and training so you understand the ongoing legalities and policies. The AZ Alliance of Nonprofits can help.
What makes someone fabulous: In my opinion, authenticity and integrity are the foundation for fabulousness. As we tell the girls in the Girls Rule Foundation, “Don’t be worried about blending in and being perfect. You are brilliant, beautiful and bold just as you are. Own what makes you fabulous and know your worth.”
Learn more about Dena at denapatton.com.