Thought Catalysts: Michele Romanow on Tackling Fear

December 7, 2017 Speakers' Spotlight, Michele Romanow

There are leaders and then there are followers. Generally the idea is to be the former. 

But perhaps it's worth a shot to look at this phrase the other way around. Maybe to be a leader, it's worth being a follower. 

The people who lead the way with awesome ideas and unique talents did so by acquiring knowledge and applying it in new and interesting ways. We all need to learn stuff to lead stuff. And those who do it best inspire others to act. 

They are Thought Catalysts. Here they are as told by the movers and shakers from Speakers' Spotlight

1. You Don’t Have to Know it All

The feeling that we don’t know enough often keeps us from pursuing our goals. While this can make it tempting to try and study away your fears, taking action is ultimately the best cure. As Romanow can attest, “You will never know everything. And you will learn the fastest when you just need to get something done.”

2. Focus on What You Can Control

In turbulent times, it can be easy to get caught up in concerns over how economic trends or political events might affect you and your side hustle. While I’m certainly not advocating that you ignore what’s going on in your industry, a big step in overcoming fear is to simply direct your focus to the things you can control.

For Romanow, this meant holding herself accountable for her own efforts. She adopted an attitude of, “I can execute at 120%, and if I just keep doing that day after day after day, something will work or I’ll get lucky.” By focusing on her own output, she could push aside fears and produce at the level she needed to break through.

3. Find the Right Support

Romanow found that surrounding herself with the right people made a huge difference in overcoming fears: “It helps when you have friends and cofounders and other people you want to work with.” This didn’t just make it easier to get excited about her work—it also gave her access to a support group that understood her situation and pushed her toward success.

4. Identify Opportunities

Jumping into the entrepreneurial world can be scary, and as Romanow explained, focusing on your potential gains is a must: “I remember being so nervous…it’s never easy when you leave [an old job]…but taking risks young and learning to build a business young was really in many ways the only thing that gave me the advantage to be where I am today.” Knowing what potential opportunities awaited made it possible to overcome her fears.

5. Acknowledge Your Fears

A key principle in overcoming your fear of failure is to learn to own your fear, rather than letting your fear own you. As Romanow explains, “The fear is real and that happens all the time as an entrepreneur.” This is okay, as long as you make a conscious effort to address your fears.

*This article originally appeared in Forbes, October 2017.

Michele Romanow is an entrepreneur and Dragon on CBC's Dragon's Den. To read more of her posts, visit Michele Romanow's page on Speakers' Spotlight. To have Michele speak at your next function, email Speakers' Spotlight at 

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