Author, speaker and business coach Patty Vogan dove into her dreams, quite literally, when she moved to the Kingdom of Tonga to open her own scuba diving business. An experience she wouldn’t trade for the world, Patty returned to the United States after seven successful years with lessons on business, culture and personal resilience that she shares with us on this episode of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition.
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Hi, I’m Rochelle Reiter, president of Orange Label. After three inspirational installments in The 19: Entrepreneur series, we’re excited to discuss expert leadership insights with author, speaker and Victory Coaching International founder Patty Vogan. As chair of Vistage International’s CEO advisory board, Patty specializes in out of the box thinking to help CEOs, executives, and teams accelerate their growth and effectiveness. With strong beliefs in the power of possibility thinking and serving the community, Patty’s desire to help leaders reach their goals started with accomplishing her own childhood dream of opening a scuba diving and whale watching business in Tonga. Here to share her life experiences and leadership knowledge with us today is Patty Vogan.
Rochelle: Patty, welcome to The 19, we’re so happy to have you.
Patty: Thanks, Rochelle. I’m happy to be here.
Rochelle: So Patty, tell us a little bit about your background and please don’t leave out anything about your adventure in Tonga.
Patty: Well, I’ve been a business coach for about 17 years, and a Vistage Chair and speaker for 14. And I’ve actually been speaking since I was 14 years old. It was Mrs. Stathis, it was her fault. She was my speech teacher.
Rochelle: Oh my gosh.
Patty: She made me compete at 14 and I said, “I don’t do that, that’s what the nerdy kids do.” And she said “you’re doing it.” So somehow or another I’ve been speaking, I think, my whole life.
Rochelle: So did you feel like you were a natural when you were little?
Patty: No, I didn’t at all. But she seemed to have seen something in me, and kinda kicked me, and put me out there.
Rochelle: It’s cool to have people see things in you and challenge you.
Patty: Yeah. I think I’ve learned the most, though, from my adventures in Tonga. I didn’t want to be 90 years old and doing the, “I wish I woulda, shoulda, coulda dance.” And it was a dream of mine to have a scuba diving business in the tropics since I was about 14. So I left my fast-paced Orange County life. I put my life in a 20×20 container, and I moved to the South Pacific Islands, the Kingdom of Tonga. I started a business in a third-world country. And, you know, when people who live on Hawaii say that they get island fever, I must tell you I laugh. They don’t know what rock fever is until you go out into the middle of the South Pacific where there are only a few people.
Rochelle: How long were you there?
Patty: I lived there for seven years, and I started the business ground-floor up. I laid the cement slabs myself.
Patty: And I started the scuba diving business, then went to whale watching, and then sport fishing. And it was, I tell you, just so incredible. If you offered me, Rochelle, five million dollars right now and said, “You cannot have that experience, but I’ll give you $5 million,” I wouldn’t take it.
Patty: I wouldn’t take it because the things I learned about culture, you can’t learn anywhere else. The things I learned about business and personal resilience I learned because of the experiences I had there. I’ve been in the water with baby humpback whales, I’ve been the first perso