Top Dog - Heidi Ganahl
I don’t believe we necessarily “control our own destiny.” I believe our destiny is created by how we respond to life’s events.
Through personal and professional tragedies, beginning with the loss of my lovable young husband, to losing a $1 million insurance settlement, I have triumphed over extraordinary adversity. By turning my lifelong passion for dogs into the largest pet care franchise in the world, creating a related charitable foundation, and raising four wonderful children, I feel I have accomplished great success. Through these experiences, I have gleaned personal wisdom and business acumen, which I am happy to share with those who are searching for fulfillment, wishing to find strength to face life’s personal and professional challenges, or those needing inspiration to start their dream or expand their company.
Intertwined throughout my personal story, I detail the lessons learned from my years of building Camp Bow Wow®, from the first Camp which opened in Denver in 2000, to a $80 million business with more than 200 franchisees in 40 states and Canada. I also show the value of giving back as you grow your business. My inspiration? The dogs! I will illustrate how accomplishment and success can be fraught with many bumps along the way to becoming a top dog. Each step in the journey is necessary to learn, become inspired and gain confidence to reach your ultimate goal.
I gain strength by telling my own story of struggle. Although I understand my specific tribulations are not relevant to many entrepreneurs, I hope my words of perseverance spark inspiration, and my perspective on business fuels the hunger of hopeful business owners and leaders everywhere.
Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” From my experiences, change is what it’s all about. Life was not meant to be stagnant or easy—it was meant to be challenging and full of experiences to learn from. The paths you choose make you the person you are—so grab change with a feeling of zest and excitement! Fear of change will paralyze you, while welcoming change will allow you to evolve and keep life interesting!
I hope the story of my journey will inspire all of you would-be entrepreneurs and leaders to kick away the fears that are holding you back and finally make the leap you have been dreaming of. Tragedy, loss, misfortune and overwhelming responsibility have led to my tenacity and perseverance. These are traits I have cultivated to overcome the fear that stalls so many from achieving both personal strength and greatness as a leader and entrepreneur. You get one life to live, just one. If you’re lucky enough, you have supportive friends and family to inspire, and keep you stable. But know that everything you need in life already exists within yourself.
It’s been a long, tough road for me. There is a saying that goes, glass that’s been shattered reflects the light in a beautiful way that it cannot if the glass remains intact. I’ve had my dreams shattered many times, but it’s been the “getting through it” that has created my resilience and my faith in myself.
The Camp Bow Wow brand continues to grow at a fast clip with over 124 open Camps, 6 standalone Home Buddies, 150 franchises awarded and a wonderful charity, the Bow Wow Buddies Foundation. Our goal is to reach $98 million in system sales by the end of 2015, and my vision is ultimately to have 1,000 units. In August 2014, I sold the company to VCA Inc. to further this vision and to really be a player in pet care. I didn't have the capital to get to 1,000 and didn't want to sell the business to any old private equity. I'd rather play with a great name in the pet industry that I trust. I still love waking up every day and taking on the next business challenge, even after 14 years of drama, excruciating decisions and crazy long hours.
I’ve also been able to realize my dream of creating a nonprofit organization, The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, which promotes the health of pups and ending overpopulation and the inhumane treatment of animals worldwide. We’ve raised over $100,000 for canine cancer research, and we’ve adopted out over 10,000 dogs through our Camps' foster programs. Because of our knowledge of the human-dog bond and the incredible healing power of animals, we've also created a network of therapy dogs and their parents to be deployed around the country in times of crisis or need. Our plans are to tackle overpopulation around the world in the coming years, and help cure canine cancer along the way!
I have remarried after many years and have a wonderful family. I currently reside in the Boulder, Colorado area with my husband Jason, children Tori, Hollie, Jack and Jenna and lovable black lab, Raider. I enjoy hiking, traveling and working on various charitable causes including my board positions with the Denver Venture School, the Metro State Center for Innovation, the University of Colorado at Boulder Leed’s School of Business and the Leadership Program of the Rockies. I've also recently launched a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Moms to change the world for the better - Moms Fight Back. Finally, I am a CEO media spokesperson for Job Creators Network. My devotion to the importance of job creation, children's issues, education and animal welfare keeps me busy!
The lessons I’ve learned over the years fill my presentations - keep in mind that the world is your field of tennis balls and pile of sticks to fetch if you just put your nose to the ground and go after them! Tragedy, loss and misfortune can all be used to learn the lessons you will need to get past your fear and become a great leader or entrepreneur. So let’s play ball! Click here to book a speaking engagement today!