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Published 27 September 2012 04:52, Updated 01 October 2012 05:03
Suzi Dafnis is now full-time with the Australian Businesswomen’s Network. Photo: Louise Kennerley
A combination of “right place, right time” and hard work put entrepreneur Suzi Dafnis on the inaugural Young Rich list in 2003, with a personal wealth of $14 million.
Dafnis and her husband Peter “PJ” Johnson founded Pow Wow Events, a training and publishing business in 1994. The company brought keynote authors and motivational speakers from the United States for events. The publishing arm emerged when personal finance author Robert Kiyosaki came out for a speaking tour. The pair secured publishing rights for his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Dafnis says the release of the book in 2001 coincided with a “growing hunger [in the market] for people to take care of finance and [know] how to invest in shares”.
The book sold 26 million copies worldwide. It also encouraged Dafnis to establish Rich Dads’ Seminars, a US-based version of Pow Wow Events.
It was a gruelling period.
Dafnis was running offices and 25 staff in Australia, the US and Britain and moving between homes in Sydney and Phoenix, Arizona.
“I was working in two time zones, getting up in the US and then Sydney would come online at 4.30am. I’d get offline at 11.30 at night. I was in the worst health I’ve ever been.”
But the pair wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
“Life was so buoyant and chaotic . . . it was the most joyous and most exhausting period of my life.”
They sold Pow Wow in 2007 for an undisclosed amount and moved permanently to Sydney.
PJ decided to look after the sizeable property portfolio the pair had accrued, which now sustains them financially.
Suzi chose a different tack. She had been head of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network since 1995. Offloading Pow Wow meant she could devote her time to the organisation and training. She still works 60 hours a week, but it’s on her terms.
“So much of my identity was tied up with [Pow Wow] and then I realised it was education and helping people to reach their business potential that I was passionate about . . . it hadn’t changed.”
Dafnis has set up the network to be as mobile as possible. It offers webinars, podcasts and online courses to give it national reach without tying Dafnis to an office or airport lounge.
“I asked myself the question ‘how do I design a business to suit who I am right now?’”
Health is also front and centre in Dafnis’s agenda. She is a CrossFit convert and has just run her third half marathon for the year. She is a subscriber to the paleo diet of non-processed food.
“I’m the strongest and fittest I’ve been in years,” she says.
“Some people can find that balance and make it work, but I was always really, really bad at it.”