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What I’ve Learnt: Dani Wallace, CEO, IATQB

Dani Wallace is CEO and public speaking coach at Manchester-based IATQB and founder and producer of The BIG Festoon, a business and personal development event for entrepreneurs.

Founded in 2020 by Dani Wallace, IATQB (I Am The Queen Bee) provides a wide range of resources to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and improve their public speaking.

Securing a £5,000 start-up loan from the British Business Bank earlier this year, the mentoring and coaching business offers digital learning programmes to help entrepreneurs improve their public speaking skills, alongside offering networking events and opportunities, and live streams.  

From lucky breaks to best failures, Wallace shares all the lessons she’s learnt…

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

I love getting in my Lumi Pod- I try and do this everyday where I can but it’s so good for just giving me a blast of focus on my breathing and pulling me away from thinking about what’s next.

What’s been your luckiest break?

Not getting through The Voice in 2014 – 2015. It was actually the best thing that never happened for me. As an ambitious singer who thought it was her big break, I was devastated when no one turned around for me.

But Will.i.am said something to me that completely changed the trajectory of my life: ‘Stop, Just stop. Breathe and listen. Gurl, you can SING. You are obviously talented. If you think that just because four people didn’t say yes to you today, that no-one in the world ever will? If that’s what you think then you should stop now, but know this… if you are thinking who are you? to carry on sharing your gift, I challenge you and say who are you NOT to? There are 7.5 billion people in the world, and you will only be doing yourself a disservice if you stop. You have a gift, and what is a gift if you don’t share it?’.

I went on to sing around the world and built a business from my talents, which ultimately led to me building my public speaking business and hosting sell out live events for 600 people at a time.

What’s your best failure?

I used to work in the learning and development space, climbed the corporate ladder and then moved into management. But I hated it. I learned to teach and I learnt to lead… but the people I was working with didn’t want to be led. I was working 50-60 hours a week, lining someone else’s pocket and managing people who did not want to be managed. I didn’t feel like I was fulfilled and I felt like my life was frittering away before my eyes.

I inevitably got sacked for not caring about the role, but it gave me the BIGGEST push to actually work out what I wanted to do with my life and gave me the nudge to get out there and start IATQB and the speaking events that would ultimately become The BIG Festoon.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

Finding the right mentors. Without a doubt. And that’s both in terms of financially and in terms of my time. They say wisdom comes in two forms: mistakes or mentors, and I’ve had plenty of both. Making sure that I surround myself even now, with the right people who have the right knowledge, is imperative to both the speed and the trajectory at which I progress.

Which podcast or book would you recommend others to read and why?

I’ve got SO many but my book ‘I Am The Queen Bee – How To Overcome Self Sabotage and Fly Anyway’ is packed with stories and strategies of how I broke generational cycles of self-sabotage and living on the breadline to becoming the creator of my own destiny and the leader of a community that has seen thousands of people step into their own versions of success. For a podcast, I’d recommend Slo-Mo – Mo Gawdat’s podcast which is just packed with the most incredible conversations, conversations that really matter and goes deeper than just the surface level stuff.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

That she is going to be so much stronger, so much more self-aware than she realises because of the challenges and adversities that she’s had to go through. That I’m grateful to past Dani because she did the work, and she got us here.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

It’s really hard to choose a single person that’s had the biggest influence but I’d be genuinely lost without my IATQB team. Everyone thinks we’re a massive squad but there are only five core members in my team. And the way they hold space for me, the way they hold the reins when I’m out doing the do, is just everything. My family is also so supportive and that has a massive influence. They are holding the fort while I’m building our legacy and breaking cycles together and coming back stronger.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I am decorated and proud. I have tattoos all over my body and I love them. I have a ‘leg of destiny’ which is dedicated to documenting momentous occasions and triumphs through tattoos.

If there was one thing you could change about your career, what would it be and why?

I’d change the landscape for business events faster just like we’re doing with my business and personal development event, The Big Festoon. Now more than ever, people are recognising that if we’re not actively creating an inclusive culture where conversations can happen safely, then we’re not representing vast swathes of people who need their voices to be heard. People who need to see themselves represented on stage to know it’s safe for them to speak up and do the same.

People can only see what’s possible for themselves when they can see what’s possible for themselves. That’s what me and my team are doing with The BIG Festoon. We’re inspiring people to use their voices and be part of a conversation that transcends across various demographics and generations to really hammer home that we all do well when we all do well and that success is safe for all.

What does success look like to you?

Success looks like creating a speaking and business arena that’s world-renowned for being the most accessible, most joyful, most inclusive business event that a person could want to go to. I want The BIG Festoon to be seen as THE destination to have conversations that matter, a conduit space for inclusive celebration and to give a voice to underrepresented communities so we can all link arms and rise up together.

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