I was super thrilled and flattered when I was asked to share my career and entrepreneurial journey on TWL Law's Woman In Focus article series. I hope to share some insight that will help some other women (and men!) who might be on an entrepreneurial path.
My name is Dani Kagan and I am the Co-Founder of City MOGULS, a platform that celebrates, educates, and connects entrepreneurs through incredible events and experiences. I am also the Co-Founder of Stratus Events Inc., a full-service event production company and, to top it off, I am a dance teacher and choreographer on the side. I know what you are thinking; yes I get 7 hours of sleep… every single night.
More on my sleeping tips to come.
To backtrack, I graduated from the University of Toronto with a major in political science and a minor in Jewish studies (neither of which I’m really using for my career… for now). Throughout my university career I was dancing professionally, most notably for the Raptors on the Dance Pak, which was a surreal experience. I was also the Co-Captain of the UofT competitive dance team (with my now business partner, Victoria Marshman). Balancing teaching dance, running a team of 20 dancers, and my full course load, was crucial to me learning how to juggle multiple things at the same time, which I continue to do today.
When I approached my final year of undergrad, a job that I never really knew that I wanted, fell into my lap. I was at the gym one morning when I ran into someone I vaguely knew who worked in the event industry. I approached him to say a quick hello, which ended in me getting an interview to work at his very established event production company. It was the start of my career in the events world, and I am so grateful for the universe pushing me to go the gym on that very day those 7 years ago. I really fell in love with producing live events, the adrenaline rush alone is unmatched. After networking with some incredible people at this particular company, I eventually was offered a position by the Co-Founders of Roots who were looking for an executive assistant and special events planner. At the time I wasn’t sure what the “right” decision was, but I jumped ship on the premise that I could learn some new skills, network, and get some insight into a very different business. Boy did I learn a lot about how to manage up, the corporate hierarchies (over 250 people worked in the head office), and the retail world. It was one of the most interesting times of my life, and I’m glad I made the decision to try something new, but I quickly learned that I really wasn’t great at working for other people. I was constantly working on my passion projects on the side (I was already working on the creation of City MOGULS when I was there!).
After my time at Roots, I had a friend who helped me get a job at the experiential marketing firm where he too worked (all about that networking game). This was a 180 from Roots: it was a start-up vibe, about 10 people, working from my boss’s home in Etobicoke, where everyone wore multiple hats. This job taught me many of the skills that I use today in onboarding clients, presenting creative pitches, managing budgeting, and most importantly, dealing with yet another eccentric boss.
I was finally brave enough to go off on my own to properly invest time into City MOGULS & Stratus Events. City MOGULS Inc. began as an idea to combine all of the things I loved: entertainment, live events, dance, fashion, and of course, entrepreneurship. After thinking about how valuable networking was to my career, and continues to be, I wanted to provide a platform for other people to have a place of support, gain new experiences, and network meaningfully. I was going to a ton of really bad events to be perfectly honest. I knew I could create something with way more meaning, way more organization, and a hell of a lot cooler.
What started out as one event (The MOGUL Awards, formerly known as The Runway Show), which features the top entrepreneurs in Canada in a unique fashion show for charity, now has become one of Canada’s fastest growing hubs for entrepreneurs to connect, get educated, and be inspired through a variety of experiences. Under our brand we run three major events: Talk The Walk, our speaker summit, The MOGUL Retreat, a brand new leadership retreat up in Algonquin Park for a highly curated group of entrepreneurs and our signature event, The MOGUL Awards. Whether someone is an established entrepreneur, an aspiring entrepreneur, or an intrapreneur, we really do have something for everyone. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I’m proud of how far we have come in 5 years, and excited to see this platform grow and provide so much value for years to come. Check out more: www.citymoguls.com.
Here are my best success habits (professionally and personally) that have lead to rapid growth over my career:
SUCCESS HABIT #1: NETWORKING & RELATIONSHIPS
The one thing that ties all of my experiences together: the power of networking. This ever so simple skill, which for many can be daunting, lies at the core of my career path, and allowed me to open new windows that I didn’t even know I wanted to open, and grow my own companies. Had I not met the people that I did at these jobs, and MAINTAINED GREAT RELATIONSHIPS, I would not have all of the support systems that I currently have in place that is allowing both of my respective companies to grow and flourish.
Getting out of the house and going to an event where you might not know very many people seems, honestly, annoying. BUT, the silver lining is that you could meet someone who could help you (or you could help them!) down the road. It’s never a waste, because you always learn something, or meet someone. GET. OUT. THERE.
SUCCESS HABIT #2: SLEEP
I definitely do not do this every single night, but about 4 nights a week I do a quick 10-minute stretch and then roll out my back and leg muscles (or use my Theragun, which has been life changing… I highly recommend). We do a lot of sitting each day and it’s important to loosen all the leg muscles before sleep and it really relaxes the body and mind.
I’ve coerced my husband into joining me in this new habit: every night before we go to sleep, we tell each other 3 things we are grateful for from the day. Having any kind of daily gratitude practice, whether it’s writing in a journal, meditating, expressing gratitude to a colleague, etc., can improve your physical health, quality of sleep, cardiovascular function and of course promotes optimism.
SUCCESS HABIT #3: THE POWER OF NO
I used to say yes to absolutely everything – and to be honest, I think at the start of your career (or when changing careers), you sometimes have to in order to gain new experiences and learn as much as possible. However, you also have to understand that point in your career (and life generally) when you are not only allowed to say no, but you SHOULD be saying no.
When you say no, you leave room for so much yes. “No, I don’t want to go to that 3rd cousins engagement party”, because I’m saying yes instead to that workout I’ve been neglecting for 3 weeks. “No, I don’t need to go out for dinner with that old friend who never makes an effort to see me”, because instead I’m saying yes to lunch with my real friend who supports me so much and we rarely get one on one time. “No, I don’t want to be taking random gigs to help pay my bills”, because instead I’m going to invest time into my business since I’m more passionate about seeing that succeed and I see more long-term potential there.
Say no, so you can say YES.
SUCCESS HABIT #4: NEVER STOP LEARNING
I’m a big believer that people who continue to take classes, listen to podcasts, read interesting things, LISTEN to other people, etc., are more open minded and therefore have a more holistic and empathetic worldview that makes them GREAT leaders.
SUCCESS HABIT #5: DON’T TAKE EVERYTHING SO SERIOUSLY
Seriously, it’s just life. Smile more. Laugh more. It releases great endorphins. Something bad happened recently? Can you overcome it? Have you already overcome it? Great, move on. And don’t forget to smile about the fact that at the end of the day, you and everyone around you, are human fucking beings.
BONUS TIP: WATER
It’s simple: Drink. More. Water.
I’m always open to connecting with awesome people so feel free to reach out to me directly: email@example.com, or to get involved with City MOGULS and attend events, you can join our mailing list at citymoguls.com!