Entrepreneurs and COVID-19 - Interview with Diana Reyers of Daring to Share Global (Kelowna)

Please share a bit about yourself as an entrepreneur and what your business entails - brick and mortar store, online, product, etc..

Daring to Share is a movement that transpired 3 years ago from a belief I had that “One uncomfortable conversation creates ten years of wisdom.” There was something deep inside of me that kept daring me to share the stories of truth most are afraid to mention and that we all experience in one way or another. My own story was yearning to be released and I knew that sharing it would empower others to feel more connected and lead life from a place of increased acceptance and inclusivity knowing they were not alone.

I had moved to Vancouver Island to retire and I was lacking purpose, so I decided to write a book. Initially, it was going to be my memoir, but I quickly discovered the book could not be all about me and I went on a mission to find my first 8 authors for Daring to Share: 8 Brave Souls - Volume 1 (2nd Edition - Daring to Share: There to Here). I started having conversations with individuals in the community and I met Scott De Freitas-Graff - along with his husband, John, they became authors in that first volume and our first conversation inspired the Daring to Share Storytelling Events featuring community storytellers.

Within 3 years, we held ongoing events and filled the room every time. The energy in the room consistently created a contagious level of connection and we realized that offering these events was our opportunity to model authenticity and inspire the in-person connection our society is lacking. Within 2 years, I transferred my Authentic Leadership coaching skills to supporting 16 additional individuals to write their stories in 2 additional books - Daring to Share: Trauma to Recovery - Special Edition 2020 and Deception to Truth - Volume 2. I self-funded the publication of these 3 books through Influence Publishing. Self-funding was important to me because it attracted a different kind of author to the projects. Although I highly value self-help books and coaching tools (I have needed and use many!!), I was adamant that the Daring to Share way would be purely inspirational - that is our only guideline within the storytelling. 

Whether in the written word or by sharing in front of an audience, I discovered that the DTS way of sharing a story is unique in that I encourage our storytellers to share in a very organic, authentic way. Even though there needs to be a chronological series of events for context, I encourage them to focus on communicating their emotions within their story more than on what they did within it. The reader and audience always resonate deeply with how the storyteller feels and that inspires connection with self, others, and on a global level, which is our mission. I ask them to purposely not rehearse their story, but come with an open mind that the story will be just right as it is meant to feel in their chapter or on the day they share it - all they need is the beginning, the middle, and the end; from There to Here… and how they feel… that's the Daring to Share way.

Scott and I incorporated these storytelling events into the 3 book launches by inviting the authors to share their stories at restaurants in various cities in Canada. Part of our mission includes The Movement, so there is always a non-profit component that supports mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness, specifically, for those struggling with housing and managing addiction. To promote financial inclusion, our ticket prices are as low as we can make them in order to cover our costs. I have developed the Daring to Share Events Program whereby individuals across Canada and the US can host DTS storytelling events in their city.

I am currently writing Daring to Share Your Legacy: A Self-Guide to Writing your Memoir in collaboration with Tana Heminsley of Authentic Leadership Global that will include 12 worksheets supporting self-discovery through an 8-chapter memoir writing process. This year, I opened the Daring to Share Global Publishing House Division and am currently supporting 2 authors as they write and self-publish their memoir. Shri Ananda of Reelization Studios and I are currently collaborating on Daring to Share: The Documentary and we have other exciting projects in the works for the future. Daring to Share advocates having a voice and we provide the space, energy, and platform to share. We believe that there is no right way to feel and, as human advocates, we have a moral and ethical obligation to support authenticity which includes love, kindness, inclusion, and hope. 

"We Connect Humanity Through the Art of Storytelling."

Before the COVID-19 crisis, how did you work with your regular clients and reach out to new ones. What type of marketing worked best for you? 

I advocate and believe in in-person connection, so if I have the choice, I always move towards meeting in-person and it usually includes a coffee or meal along with a conversation. COVID obviously changed the in-person piece completely, so I switched to online conversations encouraging coffee and food in the mix. Social media has always been a prevalent component within my marketing, so that hasn't changed at all.

How has the social isolation required to combat the spread of COVID-19 affected your business? What about this has been hardest for you personally? 

My business is actually very active right now. People want and have time to write, and creativity is a magical way to support yourself during any adversity or crisis. I have a waiting list of individuals who want to write and publish their memoirs, but because of the pandemic and financial strain, I offered a free 8-week writing program online for 10 individuals. It filled within a few days and the participants are writing their journey through COVID-19: Chaos to Calm. Super cathartic for them and purposeful for me!! 

The social isolation piece affected my business on the in-person events side. My team organized and sold out a Trilogy Book Launch Storytelling Event scheduled for April 30th in Kingston, Ontario, and that is, obviously, not happening! We rescheduled for September 10th, and I am very accepting of that given that we all need to play our part in supporting the health and well-being of our communities. 

Have you found new ways to interact with your customer? Have you developed any new products or services as a way to help your clients through this time, or to fill a new need you see? 

I connect with my authors on Zoom - it provides the option to share documents which is super helpful. I facilitate my writing programs this way and it is highly efficient, so that hasn't changed much. The writing program I am currently offering that I mentioned above was specifically offered as a result of COVID, but the intention was to support the need for connection more than to provide my program to accommodate the circumstances of this crisis. 

For the same reason, DTS is offering a weekly recorded forum, Connection Through Conversation, with 6 of our authors and community members sharing their experience through COVID and how they are feeling throughout it. It runs in conjunction with another online program, Daring to Share My COVID Story: Chaos to Calm that invites individuals to video record their COVID story on their phones to send in and be posted on the Daring To Share Global social media pages. Each of these programs has the same mandate to inspire connection and create a sense of community in a very vulnerable way while respecting everyone's authentic way of being.

What type of marketing seems to be working best for you in this time of social isolation? 

That's an interesting question because I am not really intentionally marketing my business right now. I am choosing to honour the financial impact this pandemic is having on the majority of society. As a result, I am not feeling compelled to "sell" my programs unless someone initiates the "buy." I am, however, very inspired to support others in any way I can through writing, sharing, and expressing themselves through any Daring to Share forum I am able to offer for free. 

I'm also spending any spare time I have phoning my friends, family, and community members to let them know they are not alone - I feel very passionate that others may be self-isolating, but they should not feel alone. I also feel strongly that I have been given this opportunity to step up and be who I say I am at a higher level, to walk my talk and be the human advocate I say I am by doing the right thing. I believe that most people are fully stepping into this mindset and that fills my heart. I don't believe that we are any different than we ever have been, but that we have upped our level of human advocacy to meet our society's needs. We really are incredibly intuitive human beings who move from our hearts and souls when we collectively need to survive.

Anything you'd like readers to know about you and your business? Any last words of encouragement you'd like to share with everyone? 

I would like everyone to know that I and the Daring to Share team are here for you. We want you to have a voice, and if it doesn't sound very positive or complimentary on any given day, we are here to provide you with the space and grace that honours how you feel. I love how people are sharing their anger and frustration, along with their love and positivity during this adversity because it reiterates how vulnerable we are right now - we are probably showing up more "normal" than we ever have during our lifetime!!!

If we truly believe that our experience through COVID is going to be so impactful that it will shift us all to a more mindful way of being, now is the time to intentionally look deep within your soul to discover "who" you really are. How do you really want to show up in and for the world? I feel that this is what COVID-19 is asking us.

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