If you’re going to dream, dream crazy big

leadership Oct 10, 2021
Nadja Piatka turned despair into success

Nadja Piatka is an inspiration. Not so long ago her marriage was over, she had two children, no job, and she was hiding from debt collectors. Now she presides over a $20 million success story.

I had the chance to interview Nadja this week, for the Canadian Association of  Professional Speakers (CAPS). We had an audience from coast to coast for this virtual meeting. One of the attendees, Lorne Kelton from Montreal, said afterwards: “This session alone was worth the price of a CAPS membership.”

In our interview Nadja talked candidly about the low moments in her life. And then she told us how she turned despair into triumph. Her secret? A cranberry orange muffin. She baked muffins in her Edmonton home, took them to coffee shops, they became a runaway success, McDonalds became a major customer, and the muffin-maker became CEO of Holista Foods.

Lorne, the founder of ThinkShift Performance Solutions, was blown away by Nadja’s insights and advice. Before the evening was over he’d come up with a list of 30 takeaways.

I want to thank Lorne for letting me share them with you:

  1. Having to hide with her 12-year-old daughter to stave off money-collectors served as a catalyst to re-define her life and take charge of her future.
  2. It’s important to resist the temptation to feel sorry for yourself.
  3. The Power of “Writing something down” and “envisioning” cannot be overstated. These actions concretize your plan and pave the way to a successful future.
  4. We are all destined for success, but you have to be open to it.
  5. You need to define what you want. You must be specific.
  6. She moved from Fear to Anger to Action.
  7. There are many “lows” along the path to success. You simply need to be ready for them and accept their inevitability.
  8. When driving down the lonely Alberta highways at 4:00am with her muffin deliveries, she would envision the trucks behind her as her partners carrying her products to market for her!
  9. She leveraged relationships in order to grow and expand her fledgling business. She collaborated with her banker and others who had expertise that she lacked. Together they formed a business partnership that was far greater than the sum of its individual parts.
  10. McDonald’s introduced her to a  commercial packer that allowed her to scale her business to meet the needs of her clients. You have to know when you can no longer go it alone with your current resources.
  11. If you’re going to dream, then dream crazy big. Everything’s possible, so don’t sell your vision short.
  12. Have the chutzpah to see your plan executed and be prepared to invest the blood, sweat, and tears necessary.
  13. Do the research necessary to overcome whatever problems you face (all problems can be solved, even if it means switching to heat-activated baking powder!).
  14. Never throw in the towel; you’re never done until you’re done!
  15. When marketing a new product, bring a tangible sales history to the table to differentiate yourself from all the other muffin-makers.
  16. Everyone loves free stuff, but what inherent marketable value does it have?
  17. Whatever you create, make sure it’s sustainable and not just the flavour of the month.
  18. The Subway store across the street from Harpo studios sold her brownies and Oprah took notice. Next thing you know, she’s on the show. Serendipity can work wonders.
  19. Always maintain your relationships (old and new) and never burn bridges. You just never know when they’ll play a role in your growth.
  20. If you bring value to people’s lives, you WILL BE successful.
  21. Know your supply chain from top to bottom and monitor it.
  22. Keep pushing the narrative. Never stop talking about your products and services.
  23. Selling one muffin to six million different people one time does not make for a sustainable business. You need to have repeat customers.
  24. You need to know, understand, and leverage your “differentiators”. You CANNOT be a “me too” provider.
  25. When pitching your product/service explain what it is you have that none of their current providers have.
  26. Wedge yourself in and understand that they (your potential buyer) need to make money on your offering. Know their business model and partner accordingly. DTFW.
  27. If you don’t truly believe in your product, then you’re pursuing a hobby, not a passion and you will eventually abandon ship.
  28. Nadja does not eat anything that she cannot pronounce (love it!).
  29. “If it doesn’t taste good” then it doesn’t matter, and no one will buy it.
  30. Positive thinking is your most powerful muscle.