Denise Donlon – Fearless As Possible [Interview]

Fearless as Possible CoverOver the holidays I got my hands on a copy of Fearless As Possible (Under the Circumstances): A Memoir, written by one of my favourite people, Denise Donlon.

To be clear, I don’t know Denise personally, but I feel like we grew up together. From the early days at MuchMusic through her Sony Music and CBC days, including her humanitarian work, Denise went where no other woman had gone before and succeeded. I’ve watched her and admired her courage, ingenuity and determination.

Last week I had the pleasure of talking to Denise. I have to admit, going into the interview I was intimidated, but from the second I picked up the phone everything was fine. It was like talking to an old friend. Before getting to my questions we chatted briefly about life, the holidays, Donald Trump (and what that might mean for the world), and Michelle Obama and how much we were going to miss her.

Diving in I wanted to know what Denise thought when the idea of the book was first proposed. Her first thought was “Of Course!”. She initially thought it would be a celebrity story book. With such a huge number of stories to choose from the question quickly became, how to narrow it down. Her criteria? The story either had to be funny, or it had to have taught her something, or it had to illustrate a point. But, the book took its own path and it wanted to be more. At the end of the day, even though the book was written chronologically, it’s also thematic and ends up being about leadership, feminism, humanitarianism, the times when she felt happiest and most fulfilled, and when she was able to use her power and position for good.

I think this is the best thing about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the celebrity stories and the history, but Denise gives us a true peek into her life. I think my favourite part of the book is her description of her husband Murray McLauchlan‘s heart surgery. It’s scary and touching. It reminds us that we’re all vulnerable and that music and friends have great healing properties.CCMA Awards 2016 Murray McLauchlan and Denise Donlon Green CarpetThe main thing that struck home for me was the honesty and her ability to express in words the things we all feel. The Imposter Syndrome is something many of us deal with and Denise touches on in this in the book. I asked her if today she felt like a successful author, after a quick pause and a laugh she answered, “No”. Her book is out, the reviews are good, but there’s still that little voice in her head, she calls it “the troll”, who’s just waiting for a bad review. I can 100% relate.

It was a lot of work, the book took two years to write and she was careful with the project. She’s glad people are reading it, and she’s very glad that young women are reading it. She’s hoping it inspires young women to dust themselves off when they fall down and get back up. We talked a little more about it and how you can use that voice in your head to stay humble and appreciate the good things when they come.

When I asked Denise about downtime, she’s said she’s hoping to spend more time outdoors. She’s a big fan of kayaking, walking, bird watching, spending time at the cottage and yoga. She loves taking time in nature or just being aware of oneself on a yoga mat. These are the places where fresh ideas come up.
FEARLESS-AS-POSSIBLE-UNDER-THE-CIRCUMSTANCES-Written-by-Denise-DonlonSo what’s next for Denise Donlon? Right now she’s thinking about another War Child trip and she joked she may just have to grow up and find a job. I responded that it looked to me like things seemed to find her and I would be surprised if that didn’t continue. We talked a bit about the fact that, at the age of 60, corporations may not be ready to take the time to start something new because it takes time for any employee to show value. Add to that the fact that she’s gotten to a place where she hopes to find something where she’s able to make a positive contribution. She’s got a ton of experience and a great network. I’m sure we’ll being seeing more of her very soon.

We love to ask people about music, it’s what we do. I asked Denise how she listens to her music and who the last five artists/bands were that she listened to. She’s an old school listener and she likes her music on CDs and they’ve just unloaded their Christmas music from the 5 CD player at home. She still finds new music via streaming services but if she likes it, she’ll buy the CD. She loves whole albums and if she likes an artist she wants to hear an album from beginning to end. I’d love to get a look at her collection!

Who was on her list? Theloneous Monk – Live in San Francisco, John Mayer – Born and Raised, Annie Lennox – Diva, Arkells – Morning Report and The Strumbellas – Hope. I love that she rounded out this list with a couple of Canadian artists and one of my all-time favourites, Arkells.

It was truly a pleasure chatting with Denise and I’m highly recommending everyone read this book. It’s a fun, touching, inspiring read.

Trish Cassling

Writer/Photographer/Editor

If you have any questions or are interested in working together you can reach me at trish@thereviewsarein.com.
Follow me on my personal Twitter account or my Instagram account – @trishca.

Denise Donlon – Fearless As Possible [Interview]

Fearless as Possible CoverOver the holidays I got my hands on a copy of Fearless As Possible (Under the Circumstances): A Memoir, written by one of my favourite people, Denise Donlon.

To be clear, I don’t know Denise personally, but I feel like we grew up together. From the early days at MuchMusic through her Sony Music and CBC days, including her humanitarian work, Denise went where no other woman had gone before and succeeded. I’ve watched her and admired her courage, ingenuity and determination.

Last week I had the pleasure of talking to Denise. I have to admit, going into the interview I was intimidated, but from the second I picked up the phone everything was fine. It was like talking to an old friend. Before getting to my questions we chatted briefly about life, the holidays, Donald Trump (and what that might mean for the world), and Michelle Obama and how much we were going to miss her.

Diving in I wanted to know what Denise thought when the idea of the book was first proposed. Her first thought was “Of Course!”. She initially thought it would be a celebrity story book. With such a huge number of stories to choose from the question quickly became, how to narrow it down. Her criteria? The story either had to be funny, or it had to have taught her something, or it had to illustrate a point. But, the book took its own path and it wanted to be more. At the end of the day, even though the book was written chronologically, it’s also thematic and ends up being about leadership, feminism, humanitarianism, the times when she felt happiest and most fulfilled, and when she was able to use her power and position for good.

I think this is the best thing about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the celebrity stories and the history, but Denise gives us a true peek into her life. I think my favourite part of the book is her description of her husband Murray McLauchlan‘s heart surgery. It’s scary and touching. It reminds us that we’re all vulnerable and that music and friends have great healing properties.CCMA Awards 2016 Murray McLauchlan and Denise Donlon Green CarpetThe main thing that struck home for me was the honesty and her ability to express in words the things we all feel. The Imposter Syndrome is something many of us deal with and Denise touches on in this in the book. I asked her if today she felt like a successful author, after a quick pause and a laugh she answered, “No”. Her book is out, the reviews are good, but there’s still that little voice in her head, she calls it “the troll”, who’s just waiting for a bad review. I can 100% relate.

It was a lot of work, the book took two years to write and she was careful with the project. She’s glad people are reading it, and she’s very glad that young women are reading it. She’s hoping it inspires young women to dust themselves off when they fall down and get back up. We talked a little more about it and how you can use that voice in your head to stay humble and appreciate the good things when they come.

When I asked Denise about downtime, she’s said she’s hoping to spend more time outdoors. She’s a big fan of kayaking, walking, bird watching, spending time at the cottage and yoga. She loves taking time in nature or just being aware of oneself on a yoga mat. These are the places where fresh ideas come up.
FEARLESS-AS-POSSIBLE-UNDER-THE-CIRCUMSTANCES-Written-by-Denise-DonlonSo what’s next for Denise Donlon? Right now she’s thinking about another War Child trip and she joked she may just have to grow up and find a job. I responded that it looked to me like things seemed to find her and I would be surprised if that didn’t continue. We talked a bit about the fact that, at the age of 60, corporations may not be ready to take the time to start something new because it takes time for any employee to show value. Add to that the fact that she’s gotten to a place where she hopes to find something where she’s able to make a positive contribution. She’s got a ton of experience and a great network. I’m sure we’ll being seeing more of her very soon.

We love to ask people about music, it’s what we do. I asked Denise how she listens to her music and who the last five artists/bands were that she listened to. She’s an old school listener and she likes her music on CDs and they’ve just unloaded their Christmas music from the 5 CD player at home. She still finds new music via streaming services but if she likes it, she’ll buy the CD. She loves whole albums and if she likes an artist she wants to hear an album from beginning to end. I’d love to get a look at her collection!

Who was on her list? Theloneous Monk – Live in San Francisco, John Mayer – Born and Raised, Annie Lennox – Diva, Arkells – Morning Report and The Strumbellas – Hope. I love that she rounded out this list with a couple of Canadian artists and one of my all-time favourites, Arkells.

It was truly a pleasure chatting with Denise and I’m highly recommending everyone read this book. It’s a fun, touching, inspiring read.

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