She was born in Oregon, into a family of ranchers and farmers. Her parents had moved to the city to raise her, believing they were providing her with opportunities they had lacked having grown up on farms. Ironically, her desire was to live on a ranch. As a young girl she wanted two things – to be a writer and to own a horse. In the city, her bicycle was her horse.
Her grandfather came to live with the family – a living arrangement not all that uncommon. Unique was that he was totally sightless, having been blinded in a mining accident as a young man, although being without sight did not keep him from achieving his life vision. He had built a very successful ranching and farming enterprise and partook in the many gifts life presented.
She became his eyes, taking after dinner walks through the neighborhood, taking him to the store to buy supplies to tie fishing flies, guiding him wherever they decided to go. They became fast friends and their shared experiences would come to play a major role in her life.
In that era, girls were expected to get married, have a baby and perhaps find a nice banking job. She did all three. That marriage played out badly but she was a star in the banking world. She delivered exceptional results and become the youngest female vice-president in that Seattle bank. As a result, she was recruited to a national position in Minnesota
A factor in her success was having a boss who was self-confident enough to empower, encourage and mentor her – but with the move came a new boss. This one was not the open, supportive, collaborative mentor her previous boss had been. Things went badly – so much so that she ultimately decided to take a huge leap and start her own business.
All her experiences combined to get her to the point of making this move – one filled with uncertainty, challenge and fear. What she realized, however, was that this move was her calling – it would allow her to fulfill her purpose. It was the opportunity she had been groomed for through all her experiences – both terrific and horrible. Today she is an internationally recognized and sought after consultant – the author of several best-selling books – and the owner of a horse which she keeps on her ranch in Texas.
These accomplishments are not what made her brand – they have been achieved because Dondi Scumaci has built herself into a fearless brand.
Fearless Brands don’t just discover their purpose – they actively develop, enhance and follow their calling.
Dondi began her business by focusing on the lessons and results she had learned by building relationships both within the bank and with their customers. She had come to recognize the power of having a mentor. It was this foundation that launched her success as a speaker, author and advisor. Dondi found that her message was desperately needed in corporate America – and that’s where she put her efforts.
At one point, she asked her audience to think of a time in their personal life that they had benefitted from being mentored. To her surprise she had an ‘aha’ moment as her thoughts turned to the time she spent with her grandfather. She suddenly became more aware than ever that being his ‘eyes’ had taught her critical life lessons and honed three of her key attributes.
Vision – By guiding her ‘Pop’ she learned to look ahead – to see what was out front – to anticipate.
Communication – Effectively leading another person required very clear and effective communication.
Balance – When being leaned on – literally or figuratively – you must keep yourself steady and maintain your own balance.
Those traits allow her to be herself, to embrace her purpose and share these lessons in a powerful manner. Being vulnerable – being ok with showing her imperfections – has allowed Dondi’s audiences, readers and mentees to relate with her on an unquestionably honest and intimate and level. Allowing others to see that she embraces her flaws and shortcomings and in no way pretends to be perfect – provides the ultimate bond with those in contact with her. In her book Ready, Set…Grow! Dondi opens herself to the reader in a manner most are too fearful to. The day that she finished that book, it rained in Austin, ending a drought and with the rain came her tears as she rejoiced in the freedom writing that book brought to her.
Dondi learned that life and her actions should not be about herself – rather the focus should be outward. She discovered much greater and more effective results by looking out for other’s interests first and addressing those opportunities. That approach allowed her to stay in touch with her calling – to meet her purpose in life. It should come as no surprise that Dondi’s key mentor is Bob Burg – the force behind the book The Go-Giver.
One of her most powerful and oft-borrowed quotes is “Compliance will never take you where commitment can go.” – her point being to nurture, mentor, encourage and support people so that they become committed. Companies who rely on forced compliance will never realize the same results or level of loyalty as those who create commitment.
Some of Dondi’s lessons relate directly to branding. Here are but a few of her insights – which, if followed, will help you build your own fearless brand and enjoy the gifts of doing so.
You have a purpose – “We are all born with a purpose but I believe they don’t come with batteries.” says Dondi. It is not enough to know that you have a purpose – there is ‘some assembly required’. Do the work, whatever it takes, to have your purpose blossom.
Embrace your experiences – both good and bad – Dondi’s experiences helped her growth and understanding of other people. Your experiences make you who you are and lead directly to the next key point.
You have value – Dondi will also tell you that sometimes life will spindle, staple and mutilate but your value remains intact. Trust that you are never too small or insignificant – you offer unique perspective and have unique gifts.
Ask the best questions – The best way to facilitate success is to ask the best questions. As a result, not only do you get the best answers but you elevate the value of those being asked.
Mentoring is powerful – It is very simple – If you don’t have a mentor, get one. If you are not a mentor, become one.
Dondi Scumaci is one of the most genuine, authentic, kind, caring and talented persons I have ever had the privilege to meet. Meeting her is one of the countless gifts I have received as a result of my involvement with The Go-Giver. Read her books and blogs. Follow her on social media. She is currently ‘mentoring’ her horse Fortunato and teaching him how to become a fearless brand. She is imminently qualified to do so because she herself is the embodiment of a fearless brand and proof that fearless brands can be – and are – built.