An Inspiration to Us All
By Judith A. Habert
When you meet Debbra Sweet, it is easy to see what a dynamic individual she is. When she speaks, people listen; not only due to her delivery and positive attitude but because she is right on target with what she has to say about what it takes to be a successful business person in today's economy.
Debbra was introduced to business early. Her father, an entrepreneur, bought his first bowling alley when she was just four. He ended up owning several bowling alleys throughout Wisconsin. As family businesses, there was no question that everyone in the household would contribute. "I got my first paycheck at the age of nine making 2.15 cents an hour. By the time I was 17, I was managing one of my father's businesses. Innovative for the time, I came up with creative ways to get more customers and make money. My dad approached me about buying one of the companies that year."
They could not see eye to eye on which one she should buy. She wanted the one in the city. He felt she should buy one in the smaller town. Debbra’s instinct was that she was meant to be on stage sharing her creative side through music. She chose college, knowing she would have her own businesses someday.
Just a week before high school graduation her life was impacted in a way she would never have imagined. "In a moment of time, I had a life-altering experience. I tried to move a brick wall with my head!" Debbra loved riding her bicycle and one day competed in a bike marathon raising money for charity. At the end of the 52-mile event, she was riding to cool down and swerved to avoid a car coming up behind her. Instead of colliding with the car, the bike flipped out from under her. Flying over the handlebars of the bike she hit a solid brick wall, head first! The car drove on. Debbra was by herself, knowing that something felt different, very different.
"Helmets weren't required at that time. I stood back up and fell down. I stood back up again and fell down. I got mad and then reached up to my head. I had a pear size welt on the top right side my head. No blood, but it hurt. Out of sheer will and determination, I got up, stayed up, got to my bike and then rode back to the event to tell the coordinators what happened and that I was going to the hospital." Thankfully they eventually did. I was checked into the E.R., and then I blacked out. Later coming too, I was released from the hospital with a guarantee that I was fine, that there was no concussion or anything, but if something changed to call them. This was the beginning of a very long detour in my life. I was functioning, but things were not the same."
She was unaware the accident shocked, locked and rocked the very foundation of her life plan. She was just 18.
Leaving her father’s business she attended college for a while with a major in Music Performance. Debbra’s musical talents include; singing, writing, plays many instruments, with her specialty being the Saxophone. This was not an easy time for her, yet ever visionary and entrepreneurial, Debbra moved forward with her life moving to California to follow her deepest passion: music.
"Since the accident, I have had three seasons, periods, where I lost normal function and mobility. I couldn't talk, couldn't walk, or remember, and my internal organs started shutting down. In 1991 I was working in Mission Valley. I went to take a break, went into the ladies room. When I stood up, my back snapped. That was the beginning of one of the worst season of my life. I call it round 2.”
During this period, her life entailed visiting a wide variety of doctors. She wanted to know why she couldn't walk. They kept saying it was multiple sclerosis. Not one to sit quietly on the sidelines and let status quo be status quo, she dug deeper. After a year and a half of medical visits, not happy with their narrow focus of MS, she fired her doctors. "During this time I met my husband. He had some knowledge of Alternative Approaches to medicine. He brought me a ton of books from the library, and I started my research."
Highly sensitive to drugs, Debbra needed a solution that did not require the use of medication. Trailblazing here, they started using alternative methods until they created a program that worked to improve her condition. Eventually reintegrating into ‘normal life,' yet without an understanding as to the cause of the health issue, they married and had two children. "My husband and I started a carpet cleaning business, and that was a pivotal time for us in our professional career. He did the jobs, and I handled the business end of things. We are both musicians, so we ran the business by day and continued playing music at night.”
That company became the proving ground for how to do to business better. Once again trailblazing, Debbra refused to let the business stagnate as most do after a while by seeking help from ‘experts.' Only, what they gave her was not helpful. She leveraged her natural aptitude towards marketing, promotion, sales, years of hands-on experience managing, and dug deep into learning how to effectively market. What she learned she applied daily in their company. The result: she helped scale up and later created the exit strategy to sell that first company after successfully running it for 14 years.
Ever entrepreneurial, she took what she did privately and made it public. "In 2002, l took my knowledge of marketing and passion for helping others and started ‘Sweet Marketing Solutions.' I've led this company by honing our talent for strategic thinking, marketing plan writing, development, and implementation. This year I'm pivoting the company again, and we're still running strong."
She says every business has influencers of results. In 2012 another health detour showed up. Debbra calls this round 3. “I lost all function and mobility, again. Up to this point, my doctors had still not figured out what the cause was of these episodes. This put a big damper on the timing of plans I had to build my business even further. Throughout my career I have always been an innovative thinker and ahead of the pack. This has led me to where I am today. I did the same with my health.”
After much research, varied approaches and not settling for status quo, Debbra finally found the answer to her recurring episodes of loss of mobility and bodily function. Debbra had sustained a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury when she hit that brick wall decades before. It took a new type of doctor to help with her rehabilitation. This was extensive rehabilitation setting out to reprogram her brain. "When I first found these amazing doctors, and they told me of their treatment I was so relieved and happy to finally have an answer. What I wasn't happy about is they told me the treatment would take a year. They had to reprogram my brain, taking me back to day zero of infancy and moving up to present day." Not knowing at the time how severe her TBI was, it didn't take one year to accomplish this goal, it took five years.
Through all of her health issues, Debbra kept working at her business concepts. Knowing she was on to something, in spite of her physicals, she couldn't wait to share her approach to better train, educate and support companies who are out there struggling with overwork and overwhelm, lack work-life balance and have stagnation of growth from ‘status quo’ concepts.
"I have so much to give to entrepreneurs. I believe businesses deserve to stay in business and make money- but the traditional ‘how' of achieving this isn't working. I had been extremely frustrated seeing businesses get stuck, get off track, and not grow as they should… all due to a lack of specialized knowledge that quickly bridges the gaps in growth. So, I innovated again. During my rehab, I launched ‘Thrive Right Consulting.' This business helps you confidently master the stages of entrepreneurship and navigate business growth for the long haul."
Her specialty is trailblazing with growth-minded businesses and entrepreneurs. Taking what she's lived through in business, infused with first-hand experience about how the brain learns, she helps you leverage the power of your thinking so you can short track your efforts & time it takes to attract, convert & retain more clients.
“By innovating Entrepreneurial Education that is easy for you to learn, apply and do, I’m trailblazing a mission to build better education to build better entrepreneurs to build better businesses for the long haul. We need to change how business is done. It’s doable. I’m doing it. I refuse to accept the grim statistics that are cited for entrepreneurs. There are gaps in business knowledge that make business close down too fast or not grow. Those gaps can be avoided.”
Today Debbra walks her clients through the process every step of the way. She has online courses, seminars, and Weekend business retreats. She has one to one key man Goal Achievement Sessions with clients that create breakthrough outcomes for issues that arise in their businesses.
Surprisingly when asked about the horrors of her medical incidents, Debbra amazed me with the following, “The accident saved my life. Literally. It took me away from a path I was walking on which would not have ended up with a good outcome. Instead, it led me to where I am today; with the knowledge of HOW the brain learns. I’m bringing that into business to make a profitable impact for those who want to learn.”
Today Debbra is a N.Y. Times Best Selling Author, Speaker, Trainer and a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury survivor. She’s a multiprenuer, mom, wife and loves the outdoor life San Diego offers. Through her journey, she has been working to improve herself and businesses every single day. She continues to lead the pack by living what she teaches.
This is a woman with a penchant for business. Her vision is big, but she authentically cares for those who are the backbone of our country. “Women are currently the largest growing demographic for business ownership. I have always believed, and have voiced that the concept of my training will allow women to bust the myth of the six-figure mindset and step into the seven-figure lifestyle. Six figures is great, but it still creates too many challenges personally and professionally. My upcoming business leadership conference, “Dare To Be D.I.N.O! ” delivers powerful, practical and transformational insights that you can apply right away to Raise the Bar in Body, Mind & Business. For those who register to attend, we’re going to start your training even before the event.”
When you are ready to move forward with innovating your business to achieve the time and money freedom you desire, visit her site at www.debbrasweet.com and be sure to attend her Dare To Be D.I.N.O! Business Leadership Conference which runs October 19-21, 2018 at the Springhill Suites by Marriott in Oceanside CA. (www.daretobedino.com)