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Entrepreneur

Dust Off Your Rhinestones

By Tom Irmen

Dolly Parton is truly a worldwide iconic figure, even outside of the entertainment industry. With sales of singles, albums, hits collections, and digital downloads topping 100 million, and having composed more than 3,000 songs herself, Dolly’s notoriety understandably centers on her role as a country music legend. But her superstar status reaches far beyond the music world, including her worldwide war on illiteracy and her efforts to help improve the lives of Sevier County residents – Dolly’s birthplace and hometown until she was 18 years old.

I learned far more about Dolly from my wife, Judy, who recently read her most recent book, “Dream More.” In the book, she expands upon her popular commencement speech she delivered at the University of Tennessee and the drive and motivation that allowed her to overcome numerous obstacles during her more than 50 year career.

I think that Dolly’s experiences can be very enlightening to small business owners who are often confronted with their own obstacles as they strive to build successful businesses. While few of us were subjected to the abject poverty experienced by Dolly and her family of 14, who were forced to live in a one-room cabin, many of us, nonetheless, are confronted with economic, financial, health, and any variety of challenges that can derail our dreams.


In her book, Dolly describes a variety of challenges that threatened to overcome her dreams, but in the end, the power of the dream overcame the obstacles. Reflecting on the successes – and yes, failures – of iconic mentors like Dolly Parton offers hope to all of us that experience seemingly overwhelming odds in many areas of our lives, not only business. When knocked down by life, we would be well served to view ourselves as Dolly views herself – a dreamer who makes the decision to stand up, dust off her rhinestones, and continues on in her journey to her dream.

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