Fill Up Your Tank and Keep Your Foot On the Gas

March 18, 2020

What is the real secret behind “doing it all”? Event technology and marketing entrepreneurs Dahlia El Gazzar of DAHLIA+Agency and Shannon DeSouza of DeSouza on Demand discuss the importance of showing up, practicing gratitude, servanthood and self-care while balancing family life and running their own growing businesses. Listen now.

Want to hear more from Courtney and her incredible guests? Find all Dare to Interrupt episodes here.

Rather read the conversation? See the transcript below:

[Start transcript]

Courtney Stanley: Hi everybody. This is Courtney Stanley, and welcome to another exciting episode of Dare to Interrupt, a listening experience where you have the chance to overhear unfiltered conversations between the event industry’s most influential, successful and daring women.

Throughout their careers, these women have dared to interrupt conversations and societal expectations to hustle toward their greatest levels of success.

I am super excited because today we have not one, but two phenomenal guests with us here on Dare to Interrupt. Both of these women have played incredibly inspiring roles in mentoring me and coaching me to go after what I really want and to push myself to build my own business.

So, I would love to introduce you to Dahlia El Gazzar. Dahlia is a tech evangelist and idea igniter with her own company, DAHLIA+, and Shannon DeSouza, who is actually one of my own business coaches, and she is a sales and marketing strategist for her own company, DeSouza on Demand.

Hi, Dahlia and Shannon.

Dahlia El Gazzar: Hello, hello.

Shannon DeSouza: Hi.

Courtney: Hi. It’s great to have you.

Dahlia: I feel like we should be in a Shisha Corner somewhere actually doing this.

Courtney: Yes. Yeah. I would love to have just a little fun with some hookah with the two of you. I know that’s a tradition of ours and always a good time.

Dahlia: It is. Traditions are good.

Courtney: I think so, too. Well, welcome to the episode. I’m really excited to have you both on here. And as I was explaining in this intro here, you two are women who have totally rocked the industry. And I want to make sure the audience knows how awesome you are because you have thrived in the sector of technology within the events and hospitality industry.

So, not only have you really climbed the ladder as a woman in this industry, but you’ve also climbed the ladder in a sector where it’s even more heavily dominated by male leaders at the top or male founders, and you’ve crushed it, too.

So, Dahlia, I would love to hear a little bit about how you actually even started your company, Dahlia+.

Dahlia: So, the way it came about was twofold. Basically, one was I was working at onPeak. I was VP of marketing there. And I ended up at a leadership institute summit, which was with IAEE. And it was a two-and-a-half-day summit with 30 other peers. And the moderator or the facilitator, which is Eric Burton, he said you have to put a flight plan together.

With the flight plan, you are supposed to mark a destination, obviously an origin, and think of yourself as a flight. And what are the challenges, turbulences that you will face, as well as who you will have within your tribe or community that will support you and have this be a successful flight. And with that destination, it needs to also have a definite time of arrival.

Shannon: I love that. I love that.

Dahlia: Yeah. We wrote down our flight plan. And my flight plan was—so this was in 2011. My flight plan was in 2012. I was going to start my own agency and it scared the shit out of me. And at that time, I was a mom with two little kids. Ruud, my husband, and a lot of people know that, he’s been ill quite a bit. He’s chronically ill with several different things, and he was getting ready to have brain surgery. And so, it all came together.

But I think what really made it solid was that I wrote it down. And this one tip that I would give to anybody if you’re going to take a leap of faith, if you’re going to do anything that scares the crap out of you, is to write it down. And that way it comes into fruition and that it’s not just a thought.

Shannon: Yes. And it’s visual, you’ve proclaimed it.

Dahlia: Exactly. And if you say it out loud, it’s as if—and I’m not being touchy-feely, but I do believe in this—that people from the woodworks will come and support you, and the universe will support you. And I’ve always believed that.

Shannon: 100%.

Dahlia: That’s how I came to see you guys. You’re part of the clan, the tribe, etc. So, it turned out that onPeak—I had a huge believer in Michael How, my CEO at that time, and he’s like, “I’m your first client.” And that’s how it came about. The “plus” in Dahlia+, you know, when Google+ was a thing and it was...

Courtney: Right. Back in the day. Good try, Google. Good try.

Dahlia: Exactly. My thing was like, “Oh, I’m as cool as Google+.” So, the “plus” is actually me being able to—one thing that I also wrote down is I will only work with people that bring me joy and happiness and that I love to work with. And I make a list of people that I want to contact, connect and work with every year. It’s part of my vision board.

And I sometimes go off center. This is why you guys look at me sometimes and say, “How the hell did you make a partnership with my intent?” You know, it’s like that was on the list. This is where—part of the flight plan is who do you want in your first class, business class and economy class, if you will.

So, who’s going to take the seats? And that becomes part of your adventure. And it’s evolved tremendously. I’m in growing stage right now, which also, again, scares the shit out of me one more time. But it’s all good. You just have to really believe that you can do it and seek the way and the people that will help you make it happen.

Courtney: Yeah, I love that you call it an adventure, too. I think it’s so easy to think about success as a job. It’s something that you have to do. Whether you do it with passion or you just do it because you want your paycheck. I think it’s so much more fun to look at it as an adventure, where you can really go on a ride, and you can choose who sits next to you on that ride and which ride you get on next. I think that’s a really cool way to look at it.

Dahlia: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the other part of it is this is where you’re able to collaborate or partner with people that are not afraid to tell you like it is. If you are doing a crappy job in some way, shape or form, then that just makes you bigger and stronger.

There are some people that cannot relate or cannot take that kind of critique. I think that has to change, especially with women that instead of them having it ferment inside of them, they need more of a sounding board than ever before at this point in time. That I think is something that we can offer them as the three of us, to be honest, and this podcast, this platform.

Shannon: Totally, so they’re not alone. A big part of my own philosophy is not to let it ferment with inside of me—I put it out to the universe. And like you said, as soon as you put it out there, then the energy starts attracting. So, I’ve been practicing positivity for about four years, and I swear to you, it’s changed my life. The type of people I’m interacting with, the clients, the events, the projects, changed my life completely.

Courtney: How do you practice positivity?

Shannon: Oh, that’s a great question. And that is something I am faced with every single day. Every decision, every interaction, every email, every client, every phone call, situations arise. I think it’s up to us to decide how we’re going to react to that. And so, I try to react in a positive manner.

So, I’ll give you an example. A client is unhappy with some of the work, maybe website work that we’re creating for them. And then instead of being like, “I put so many hours into this, this was amazing. You’re not looking at it in the right way,” like, and then just completely shut down, I can look at it as feedback. I can understand where they’re coming from. I can look at their vision and I can push myself to be better and improve. That’s a positive reaction versus a negative.

So, that’s just like one example, or with my husband—I expected him to go into the grocery store yesterday, and he missed three items, which is like a very common occurrence.

Dahlia: Really? That happens in Canada, too?

Shannon: Yes.

Dahlia: I thought Canadian husbands were different. The food is on the stove, the gas is on, you just have to turn it on.

Shannon: Right. So, yesterday, an example is I asked him to buy spaghetti sauce, but I asked him to also buy tomato paste. And so, when he comes home, I’m like, “Oh, where’s the tomato paste?” And he’s like, “I got it,” and I take it out and it’s a can of spaghetti sauce.

Instead of freaking out and being upset and talking about the negative history of like, how he always forgets things, and why don’t I go and do it myself, and this is an extra stress for me, I just decided to like breathe through that and say, “Okay, we’ll just add it to the list for next time.” And I explain the difference between spaghetti sauce and puree or the tomato paste.

Dahlia: Well, wait a minute. Shannon, how long have you been married, honey?

Shannon: We’ve been married for almost five years, and we’ve been together for nine.

Dahlia: Then you’re still in the honeymoon phase. I mean, honestly, I’ve been married for 20-plus years. I actually lost count, and I am okay with saying that out loud. But you get to a point where like, you are still more diplomatic than what I would have done. But the whole blow up is something that is a choice, so to speak.

And I gotta say, I do sometimes blow up—not sometimes, quite a bit—blow up quite a bit, but it goes back to whether it’s on a personal side, like with your husband or with your kids or with just—life throws you curves all the time—or with clients. So, the amount of email drafts that I don’t send is pretty significant, I would say.

Shannon: Yeah.

Dahlia: With clients, you want to tell it to them as it should be. But then you take a step back and try to...

Shannon: Now wait. Do you delete them after?

Dahlia: Do I delete them?

Courtney: Yeah. How many draft emails...

Dahlia: I have a couple of those still in draft mode because I gotta tell you, some of them sound really kick ass. I’m like, I want to keep this...

Shannon: For later.

Dahlia: Exactly. But one thing about how to be positive is I’m actually reading a book right now called Magic, which is by Rhonda Byrne, who wrote The Secret. I don’t know if you guys remember that book.

Shannon: Okay. Yeah.

Dahlia: It’s all about how you create magic within your life, and it talks about how kids have this unlimited imagination adventurism—I don’t know if that’s a word—but that sense of adventure that anything is possible, etc. And then as adults, you lose it, which totally makes sense to me.

Shannon: Society beats it out of you.

Dahlia: Basically, it’s how do you get that magic in different parts of your life: health, wealth, family, friends, relationships, business, work, all of that good stuff. It boils down to gratitude, and that you just become grateful and thankful for different aspects. And that abundance of gratitude, or when you say, “Thank you, thank you thank you” to the people around you, things around you, things you take for granted, then the abundance becomes bigger.

And it actually has 28 exercises that you do for 28 days, so that you sort of rewire your mind, your brain to being more grateful. I don’t know if you guys saw that. I think it was like a GIF or like an image that was viral for a bit where it’s like, “Stop writing, I’m sorry, or I apologize and start writing differently.” So, instead of saying, “Oh, sorry, I’m late in responding, like to an email,” then you say, “Thank you for your patience.”

Courtney: Oh, okay.

Shannon: That’s interesting.

Dahlia: I think women in general have this tendency of apologizing a lot.

Courtney: Yes. Yes.

Dahlia: If you look at it, it’s like we’re apologizing that we don’t have enough time. We’re apologizing that we forgot something. We’re apologizing for—whether it’s a client or whether it’s a family member or anything—like if you think of it, and it comes out real clear in the way you write, right? Not only in the way you speak.

And I tell my kids who honestly, I mean, you know Aisha and Lilly, and they think I’m crazy anyway. But you have to flip it. You have to stop apologizing for asking too many questions or stop apologizing for not having the time to send an email or to finish something. I think there’s a lot of strength there.

There’s also a lot of work that women, especially in our industry because our hair’s on fire, we wear so many hats personally and professionally, that’s one thing that we owe it to ourselves because in the end, you need to know that you should be grateful for yourself—200%.

Courtney: Yeah, I totally agree. I agree with that. I think it is so natural, for women especially, to apologize for anything and everything. One thing that I really admire about you, Dahlia, and you too, Shannon, is the way that you show up. So, I’m lucky enough to see both of you at least 10 times a year and every single time...

Dahlia: That’s it? It’s only 10?

Courtney: Maybe it’s more than that.

Dahlia: Are you kidding?

Courtney: Every other week? Something like that? Road warriors, that’s what we are. But every time I step off the plane, and I get to give you a hug, you always—both of you—you always have a huge smile on your face. And I know that you’re balancing so much at home. Dahlia, you mentioned, so you’re raising two girls, and they’re both teenagers, right?

Dahlia: Well, Lilly acts like a teenager, but she’s 12.

Courtney: See, she’s extremely convincing.

Dahlia: Aisha’s 15, yeah.

Courtney: Okay. So, you’re raising two pretty much teenagers. Shannon, I know you’re raising a very young child. He’s two?

Shannon: He’s two-and-a-half, going on 15.

Dahlia: But he’s a mini me of Shannon. Like, I don’t think age has anything to do with him.

Courtney: No, they look exactly alike.

Dahlia: No, I mean, personality-wise. I’m not talking gorgeousness. I’m talking like butting heads. She’s like staring in the mirror right now.

Shannon: Yes, yes. And that’s why I can’t even be mad.

Courtney: So, you’re doing all of this, you’re raising the “mini me’s.” Dahlia, you mentioned right at the beginning of the podcast that you also have a chronically ill partner, yet you show up and you show up with the sun radiating from the smile that you bring and the energy that you bring to your team and to your clients. How do you do that? And I truly want to know because I feel like it’s a mystery to me. How do you do it? How do you do it all and still show up the way that you show up?

Dahlia: Well, it’s kind of self-serving and I’ll tell you why. With everything that goes on at home, and then I show up with you guys or I show up with a client, it’s self-serving because I thrive, and I feed off of energy.

And so, my whole philosophy—and don’t get me wrong, it took me a while to work this out because with Ruud being in the hospital on and off, and I have a blurred line where all my professional, even clients or peers, they are friends as well. I enjoy that they know about the family and they know about when Ruud goes in the hospital and about my kids growing up, and when they meet them, they know about them.

So, I know some others don’t like that blurred line. I thrive on that. But what I was gonna say was I thrive on energy. And this goes back to in order for me to get the energy that I need to go on and to keep me sane, I need to show up, and I need to give the energy in order to get it right back to me.

Shannon: Which is true. Which is true.

Dahlia: Which is almost like a recharging station if you will, right? So, you guys are all my battery packs, basically. I enjoy it, I enjoy being there for people. I work a lot on intuition, as well as I know when someone is in need of an energy boost, whether it’s within our team or whether it’s someone that I read a comment on their Facebook, etc.

But the other part is, I think that’s what significantly sets us apart, because clients seek these energizers for them.

Shannon: It’s true.

Dahlia: I think that what it is, it’s almost like an effect. I don’t know what the word is, but it’s an effect where you send off this energy and it will just propel forward. And it will just keep on changing other people’s perspectives, lives, minds—make them feel that they’re not alone.

Courtney: Both of you, I don’t have to tell you how many people have personal stories and personal stuff going on that all they need is someone to say, “Hey, how are you doing? What’s going on? What’s up at home?” kind of thing and not leaving it only for work, work, work. I bet you that if you look at your client list, most of them are probably friends by now for the two of you.

Shannon: Totally. Yep, building that connection and that bridge. And it is a ripple effect. It totally...

Dahlia: That’s the word. Ripple effect.

Shannon: I read your mind.

Dahlia: Yes, you read my mind. See? We read each other’s minds.

Courtney: Well, I think what you’re talking about in a way, too, is emotional intelligence. I think a lot of women have a serious level of emotional intelligence that they don’t even tap into.

They don’t know how to actually harness that skill and really that power to be able to connect with people on a deeper level, or to be able to empower people, or lead a team, or to even understand how to work the room or to be politically savvy in a huge corporation. I don’t think that a lot of people understand what emotional intelligence is and how to actually use it.

Shannon, I think you’re actually a very emotionally intelligent person. And I know I’ve been super impressed with your ability to not only read what other people are thinking or what their next step is going to be, but to also know what your next step is going to be and how to really tap into that.

Shannon: I would say that is also a practice. I think I received feedback very, very early in my career about listening to the room, only speaking when you can provide value, being intuitive. I’m really, really big on feedback. My undergrad was in speech communications, and we had to practice a lot of feedback from a very young age. And then that was supposed to veer into our actions and our words and how we treat other people.

I think another way of looking at it is being like politically savvy, and that kind of may come out as a negative perspective, but I mean it as what it is in the workplace, right? So, if you’re connected to other co-workers or your boss and understanding the vision, understanding relationships, understanding how people work, understanding people’s strengths, Dahlia is really, really good at understanding her team’s strengths and how to put them on specific projects.

But it really comes down to listening and spending that energy on trying to listen and trying to improve. And so, definitely, that’s one of the things that, even with my clients, understanding how can I help them? Then I become an ally and a benefit to them, and then they can’t live without me. And then that’s how my business has been able to grow.

Courtney: Let me ask both of you this. Is it necessary to be politically savvy in business?

Shannon: 100% yes. And it comes down to me saying, “You’re listening.” That’s what being politically savvy is. You’re just paying attention to the situation. You’re paying attention to what people are saying. You’re paying attention to strength. You’re paying attention to your interests and likes and dislikes. That to me is what politically savvy is.

It’s not by any means trying to backstab, trying to get ahead of people, trying to earn more money, trying to hurt people. To me, it’s paying attention. What do you think, Dahlia?

Dahlia: Yeah, I mean, I think to be honest I don’t know if politically savvy is the right term. I know where you’re coming from, Shannon. I think the art of listening is very important. And I think people need to work on it a little bit more, to be honest. But I think it’s also not the only necessary thing. I think it’s also the art of—I don’t know why I’m saying art.

Courtney: It’s fancier.

Dahlia: It is fancy. Oh my God, the art and science of listening. No. Forget that. I think the other part of it is the giving.

Shannon: That’s what I was going to say is the other important thing.

Dahlia: Yeah. And so, when I say giving, it’s really showing up and listening and really seeing what emotions come across a person’s face or their voice when they’re telling you a story, a challenge, etc., so that you know, even if you’re talking about a marketing project, and then all of a sudden you hear it in their voice, “Oh my God, I flippin’ hate my job. I hate my boss. No one does anything like I do here. I’m doing too much. There’s no money...”

You sort of tend to with the art of listening—yeah, the fancy way of saying it—is you also hear what they’re going through personally. And I think that needs to be addressed quite a bit, in my opinion, because everybody is going through something.

The whole idea of giving is then you are able to give attention. You’re able to give advice without being overbearing. You’re able to give even introductions or having them team up with someone, maybe that’s a neighbor of theirs or someone they can go to lunch with, etc., or can help them out with something. And there’s no strings attached to it.

Courtney: Yeah. I think that’s really cool. I think that being able to just give to people selflessly, just being there to listen, and support helps you really build a tribe. I know we talked about this a little bit before we started recording today, but we talked about how our industry is so huggy and so lovely to one another, and we just we love seeing each other, and we truly are a family in a way.

I don’t know that we necessarily see that in a lot of other industries. And I think that’s something that’s really special to us. But I will also say that I think there are definitely people within the industry that don’t feel like they have that tribe of people that supports them or that they can equally support.

What advice would you give the women specifically maybe who don’t have a tribe and just want to find their place and their people, whether that be a mentor or whether that be a friend?

Dahlia: I’m going to flip it over to you, Courtney. If you’re having this platform and this podcast, and that’s what this is all about, why aren’t you creating the community?

Courtney: Well, I think that’s the goal for me. I think it is to create this community of women who are excited to have real conversations and for them to be able to experience this podcast and to understand that what they’re going through is relatable.

And even if it’s not a structured—"Here’s the Courtney Club, where were all of my listeners are living”—it’s knowing that we are creating a community through these types of conversations. And that the conversations carry from just listening to an episode to bringing something up at a dinner with girlfriends that you heard on an episode, or maybe at your next networking event practicing some of the things that we’re talking about here.

So, my goal for this is to help teach people to build their own success and to build their own tribe and to really just pay attention to the lessons that people like you and Shannon are teaching us because I think they’re so, so important.

Dahlia: Yeah, I actually foresee you with your listeners perhaps building like a closed Facebook group or something where it’s okay to be vulnerable, ask questions. A lot of times, women in our industry don’t want to talk about their challenges, their personal stuff, because they’re afraid they’re going to be haggled, especially by others that are in their organization.

Shannon: Yep.

Dahlia: Or leadership will know about it, then they’ll be, I don’t know, like flagged at work...

Shannon: Yep.

Dahlia: ...unstable, this is happening. I love our industry. I love our world, our universe. And like the three of us were talking, I honestly, every single time we go to one of our other shows where we’re doing, whatever, tech, medical, industrial professional, I don’t see the amount of love yous, hugs, kisses, the true authentic love that we show to each other as we do in our industry. And that’s a real thing.

I think that’s why people live in our universe for as long as they do. It’s like I keep telling everybody, especially the young ones coming in and they’re like, “Oh, so happy and giddy. Oh, I’m going to be in the events industry.” I’m like, ‘You know, it’s like Hotel California—you can never check out. You will never check out. You will go from flippin’ planner to supplier to sub-planner, back to planner back to consultant doing whatever, but you will stay in this universe.’

Shannon: It’s so true.

Courtney: It’s home.

Dahlia: It’s the same with parents. I think one of the biggest Facebook groups out there is for parents. It’s called Grown and Flown? I want to say it’s like 1 million people—it’s not, but it’s like close to it. And it is everybody just tapping others on the shoulder and saying, “How do I do this? What do I do here?” All of that, and I think that’s what we need in our industry.

Courtney: All right. I’ll do it.

Shannon: Yeah. You’re on it.

Courtney: Stay tuned.

Shannon: Yeah, so talk flight plan, Courtney. So, when is your due date? And by when?

Courtney: Yeah, and who’s gonna be in first class with me?

Dahlia: I’m first class. I’m sorry. There you go.

Courtney: Okay. All right. I’ll pilot. Oh, man. Well, so before we wrap, this has been a really awesome conversation. And to be honest, I feel like there needs to be a part two, part three, part four and so on, because I feel like we have so much to talk about.

But I want to just bring it back and ask you both one final question. And that question is, if you could give one piece of advice to the women within this industry, and it could be about anything, what do you think they need to hear or should hear? So, Shannon, maybe we’ll start with you.

Shannon: Totally. So, the very first thing that came to my mind, and I’ll speak to the women in our age group, Courtney. Don’t take your foot off the gas pedal because you see having a family in the horizon. I got this advice from an older cousin of mine, and it’s so true. I don’t want to say you can do it all because nobody can do it all.

But it is possible for you to have a loving family, a loving marriage and children, a career that you are interested in, but it may take some reorganization, and that’s really what my story is all about, is just how I’m constantly trying to figure out balance. But it takes a lot of self-care and self-love and effort I would definitely say.

But don’t just stop because you want to have a family or you want to get married and you feel like you can’t make it all happen or work, or just think about it from an organization perspective. When you get groceries and you have to put it into your stuffed cupboard and refrigerator, you just reorganize, you throw out what doesn’t work, and then all of a sudden, boom, it works.

Courtney: That’s awesome. That’s really awesome. I think a lot of people need to hear that because there is this big question of can I do both? Can I have children? Can I have a thriving career? Can I do everything I want to do? So, I think that’s really great advice.

Shannon: And lean on your partner.

Dahlia: And lean on your partner.

Shannon: You’re not in this alone. You didn’t get pregnant by yourself. There was another person, right?

Dahlia: Even if tomato sauce is not tomato paste. Just go with it.

Shannon: Exactly. Just swallow it, and you’ll be at the grocery store in like 48 hours for something else anyways.

Courtney: Totally makes sense. And our next episode will be called “Birds and the Bees with Shannon D’Souza.” Dahlia, what about you? What would your one piece of advice be?

Dahlia: One piece of advice is be good to yourself and take it easy on yourself. Maybe those are two pieces of advice. But you need to stop being so critical of what you do, how you do it, how much you think you’re doing or how much you’re not doing.

I think women have a tendency of looking at the to-do list and saying, “I didn’t do enough, or I didn’t do the right things” or...

Courtney: Every day.

Dahlia: Every day. And the funny thing is we do it to ourselves because what happens is you start with a to-do list, and then you actually add on to it. And you don’t get the stuff that you were focused on doing out of the way first. You just keep adding on to the to-do list.

And the flip side, which I started doing, is I started putting a list of what I did do. So, even that simple email or text message to your kid’s teacher or you ordering party favors because there’s a party coming up on the weekend or a birthday gift or paid the bill or did a doctor’s appointment or went and reached out to five people... I have this thing on my to-do list every week. I reach out to five people just to check up on them. That’s it.

Shannon: That’s awesome.

Dahlia: Or I look at my camera roll because you know how many selfies we take, right?

Courtney: Oh my gosh.

Dahlia: I look at my camera roll, and I do a throwback by taking a look at like, “Oh, I had a selfie with Derek.” Let me send it and shoot it to him and say, “remember this?” and that’s it. That’s it. That’s all I do. Because that actually enriches your soul. It’s a feel-good.

So, the stuff that makes you feel good, do more of it; self-care, reaching out to people that you haven’t heard from or know what they’re up to, that makes you feel good. Or being there and all of a sudden, you’re reaching out to Courtney or Shannon or Derek and all of a sudden, they needed someone at that moment. Has that ever happened to you? When at that moment, someone says, “Oh, my God, you reached out to me at a time when I needed someone.”

Courtney: I actually—one of my former colleagues, Bentley, I’ll give him a little shout-out here—he had this weird intuitive knack for knowing exactly when I needed to hear something, and exactly what to say. And it was a little bit freaky, but I totally credit some weird universal connection and it always made me feel better. Always.

Dahlia: Yeah. I say take it easy on yourself because you matter to so many different people. And it’s not governed by a to-do list or a by an accomplishment list at all.

Courtney: Yep. I agree.

Shannon: So beautiful.

Courtney: Well, ladies, it has been a tremendous privilege. I think my favorite part of this podcast was talking about spaghetti sauce.

Dahlia: Tomato paste to you, young lady.

Courtney: You’re right. So, please Google before you shop the difference between tomato paste and tomato sauce.

But thank you so much for being a part of the podcast today. And thank you all for listening. Don’t forget to tune in to hear the next episode of Dare to Interrupt and subscribe to the podcast. Thank you everybody, and we will see you next time.

[End transcript]

Dahlia El Gazzar:

Dahlia El GazzarDahlia has an OMG-attitude about all things tech and audience engagement solutions. With more than a decade of experience in the meetings and events sector, working on both the professional planning side and as an association collaborator, Dahlia is known as the coffee-fuelled ‘go-to’ source for trend-setting solutions, eventtech news, and social media expertise.

Her mission is to untether the busy professional from their desktop and office and enable them to be more efficient and productive working from a beach in Mexico [umbrella drink in hand] through their mobile device utilizing smart solutions and apps.

Recently featured in:

  • Smart Meetings Magazine 2019 Smartest Women in the Industry - Hall Fame
  • Top 500 People in Events by BizBash
  • Smart Meetings Magazine 2017 + 2018 Top 100 Smartest Women in the meetings industry who inspire us
  • Top 25 women in the meetings industry list by Meetings & Conventions Magazine
  • Top 20 of the #eventprofs US & Canada Power 100 List
  • Top Five Women in Event Tech List
  • MeetingsNet’s 2015 Changemakers 
  • 2014 Meetings Today Magazine’s Trendsetter & Industry mover & shaker 

She is an Evernote aficionado, speaks globally on meetings and events technology, new-and-upcoming technology solutions and platforms. and Her mission is to empower event professionals with practical intel on everything tech related and educate them on the emerging digital innovation opportunities to elevate their events and audience engagement.  
She wants you to break the status quo and #getshiftdone!

Shannon DeSouza​:

Shannon DeSouzaRecently awarded with Connect Corporate’s Top 40 under 40 award, Shannon DeSouza has over a decade of paralleled experience in the event and technology industries, with a rich background in sales and marketing.

A previous successful entrepreneur, Shannon founded and ran her own events company for ten years and was acquired in 2015. Today, Shannon leads the DeSouza on Demand team as a Sales & Marketing Strategist to provide her clients with a modern digital approach to power boost your pipeline.

Shannon holds a Masters in Business, Entrepreneurship & Technology from the University of Waterloo and has many digital marketing certificates.

When she is not in North Vancouver, she travels the world as an international conference speaker shedding a digestible light on winning lead generation strategies, revenue event marketing, and ROI based social media management.

About our host Courtney Stanley:

Courtney StanleyCourtney is a keynote speaker, writer, podcaster and career success coach with a background in experience design, community engagement and leadership development. Courtney is the host of Meetings Today’s “Dare to Interrupt,” a podcast that provides a platform for the event, hospitality and tourism industry’s most influential and successful women to share their stories of adversity and success, unfiltered.

Courtney believes that transforming past experiences into impactful conversations through raw, authentic storytelling challenges the status quo, connects people from all walks of life and results in great change for the world.

  • Courtney is the youngest member to have ever been elected to Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Board of Directors
  • She is the recipient of Smart Meetings’ Entrepreneur Award, MeetingsNet’s Changemaker Award, the Association for Women in Events (AWE) Disruptor Award, the MPI Chairman’s Award and MPI RISE Award
  • Named Collaborate and Connect Magazine’s 40 under 40 and a Meetings Today Trendsetter
  • Recognized as one of the event industry’s most impactful change-makers 
  • Serves on the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, AWE’s Board of Directors, MPI’s Women’s Advisory Board, is a Meetings Mean Business Ambassador and is the co-founder of the award-winning movement, #MeetingsToo

How to connect with Courtney:


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About the author
Courtney Stanley

Courtney is a keynote speaker, writer, podcaster and career success coach with a background in experience design, community engagement and leadership development. Courtney is the host of Meetings Today’s “Dare to Interrupt,” a podcast that provides a platform for the event, hospitality and tourism industry’s most influential and successful women to share their stories of adversity and success, unfiltered.