A self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Terri-Ann Richards is no stranger to the hard work, dedication and sure will required to start and grow a profitable business. A graduate of the prestigious Wallace McCain Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program and New Brunswick's 21inc Leadership Program, she's always working to push the envelope in her personal growth.
A former rebellion, divorcee and supermom of 2+2, she gets that life is a series of ups and downs. Through her own hurdles, she's realized it's not IF you fall, it's when and how quickly you get up that matters. Terri-Ann has learned the hard way that failing isn't optional, but kindness is. When not in learning mode, she speaks, writes and coaches "A" Players on the practice of 'OWNING THEIR SHIT', and understanding the value and power of CHOICE in creating the path to success.
Kind, straight shooter, out of the box thinker, and lifelong rebel would be just a few words that describe Ms. Terri-Ann Richards.
Being born into a world where anger, addictions and violence are the norm, it has the capacity to either break you or fuel you. I chose the latter.
You can either allow the faults of your past to hold you hostage and make excuses to why you can’t live the life you’ve always dreamt of OR you can take responsibility for your present and use your past as the fuel to fire you up. As someone who has seen both sides of the coin, I realize that it’s not an easy task. That choice to dig deep, move through the hurt, heal and then in turn grow as a person takes time. It takes commitment and an unwavering effort to climb that mountain. It is so f*cking worth it!
All bets were against me. I am a survivor of childhood trauma, a youth who was pregnant by 17, a tenacious angry teenager who used substances as a method of healing. Nobody saved me. Nobody showed up on a white horse in shining armour and said, ‘follow me to freedom’. I made a choice. I chose to take responsibility for the life I was leading, for the life of my daughter and to NOT allow my past to dictate my future.
I spent my twenties taking my version of a street-credentialed MBA. I started a multitude of businesses in industries I had never played in before. I found mentors and influencers to teach me what they already knew. I read books, took courses and gave myself permission to fall. But every single time I fell, I learned something new. I took chances where others wouldn’t, I asked questions others were afraid to ask. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
My twenties taught me who I was, and who I didn’t want to be. I was so caught up in the ‘proving them wrong’ scheme, that I forgot to figure out who I was. Even though I am proud of all the milestones within that decade, I am also saddened that I lost sight of what mattered the most – “Loving Me”. While the work I had done up to then had me achieving externally, the inner work of learning and loving me had yet to begin.
I spent my early thirties lost. I continued to start and buy companies, in search of filling the void that was lodged so deep within. None seemed up to the task. Within a few years I found myself going through a divorce and was challenged to find joy in anything I worked on. I spent a lot of time wandering, wondering, and worrying. Where did I go wrong? What could I have done different? Why was this happening to me? And then one day it hit me. A moment of true clarity and my epic ‘Oprah Aha’. I had lived my entire life up until that day working to prove them wrong. What started off as a goal to both succeed as a mother and to ensure they weren’t right about me, ended with me living most of my life externally driven. As much as I wanted to believe I did it for me, I hadn’t. I was trying to be everything they said I couldn’t. And you know what, I succeeded! The problem with that success was, it wasn’t the version of success my inner me needed.
Somewhere along the line I forgot to read the small print. You know the one that says, “You cannot pour from an empty cup”. Well, I was an empty cup, out there chasing the worlds external validation of me, hustling to win at every chance I got, living in a place of pure ego and never stopping to smell the damn roses. That moment of clarity changed everything for me. In an instant, I realized while entrepreneurship may have been the catalyst that allowed me some of my greatest successes, it was not the answer to my life’s purpose. I began on a quest to get to know me, to understand my core beacon system, and to finally figure out what the hell I wanted to stand for.
Today I know my WHY. While entrepreneurship is still the vessel I use to steer my course, my passion and life’s purpose is to teach women and men the value and power of CHOICE. That every day you have a decision to make, you can either choose to live it for others, or you can choose to live it for yourself. That you have the capacity and the ability to become everything you have ever dreamed of, it just takes the choice to do the work to get there. That you can choose to forgive the hurt of your past and allow it to be your greatest teacher. I coach people who want more connection, with themselves and others. People who are tired of the rat race and are willing to do the work to finally find their joy.
What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?
I would love to see more women in roles of leadership. Atlantic Canada is ripe and ready for change. We see the need and know the value it can create to our economy. Women in leadership have proven time and time again that they excel in their abilities to take initiative and drive results of the organizations they have power in. At a talk I was at recently, a woman presenter stated that every woman needs three women surrounding her. One to look up to, to be mentored by and learn from. One who is a peer, that can hold you accountable and challenge your negative thoughts of yourself. And one that you can reach behind and bring with you. We women need to remember that this is not a race, it is a journey. A journey that we are all on together. If one of us succeeds, it is our duty to the female race to share that story with other women. Together we can make change happen!
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
Going through my divorce. It really forced me to take a good hard look in the mirror and decide what I wanted to be remembered for. It was the hardest and yet most liberating experience to date. I learned more about myself through my divorce than any other life experience had taught me. The shift occurred when I left the place of blame and took responsibility for my behaviours and my actions.
What's your favourite or most read book or podcast?
Jack Canfield – “The Success Principles”. I have read this book at min. 5 times to date. LOVE IT!
What's your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
I wrote a book this year [Why I Divorced My Husband: One Woman's Story of neglected love, ego and self discovery] about my journey through relationship, marriage and divorce. It's a book that sheds light on my scars and the areas I could have done differently had I known better then.
It was such a healing experience, and reminded me of how far I have come. I realize that life continuous to throw many ups and downs my way, and that when I take the time to listen, and go back internally, I find strength and courage that maybe wasn't there before.
Who's inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
Two people come to mind. Oprah and my mother.
Oprah, because even though they said she couldn't, regardless of the abuse of her past, and overcoming racism the way it has plastered her life -- she did it. She succeeded, and continues to touch lives despite her past, despite the naysayers, and despite all that life has thrown her way.
My mother, because she's seen the dark side of both abuse, violence and addictions. She's witnessed things most wouldn't survive from. Somehow, she's done it all with a smile. I have no clue how my mother stands before me today and still seems to embrace life positively. She's a remarkable reminder of how sure willpower and a positive mind CAN and WILL defeat the darkness.
What would you have done differently?
If I could tell younger Terri-Ann what's what, I would tell her that you need to stop living life to prove folks wrong, and you need to start living life 110% based on what's right in your inners. Every single time I did something because of someone else, I chose not to look inside first. While I cannot go back and change all those life lessons, today I do things for me first, then I consider everyone else.
What were your priorities and how did they help you overcome some of the struggles you've faced?
I live by very simple principles today. Before I do anything, I consider one word. LEGACY. If tomorrow I cease to exist, what will I be remembered for? Am I proud of it? Did I change lives? Did I help or hinder people? If not, I make a different choice. Period.
How have you recovered from fractured professional relationships? What uncomfortable truths have you learned about yourself in those experiences?
I think both professionally and personally, I have learned similar lessons. My ego has the ability to push me for greatness. However, living in a pure state of ego has hurt those around me deeply. It sucks to own your own sh*t and fess up when you know you didn't do it right. However, it sucks even more to just continue to make the same mistakes. I am living proof that while your ego is an important ingredient to success, knowing and loving the you that is you, is the icing on the cake!
Life Long Learner, Rebellion, Karaoke Rapper, Serial Entrepreneur, Motivator, GirlBoss