Patty DeDominic, owner of DeDominic & Associates in Santa Barbara, could be called a modern-day renaissance woman. She started two businesses from scratch — PDQ Personnel Services and CT Engineering — and then sold them and moved to Santa Barbara, a lifelong dream.
During her career, she co-founded the Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and founded Women’s Festivals.
“At 59 years old, I continue to reinvent myself and continue to learn and stretch. I feel pretty young,” DeDominic told Noozhawk.
As a child, DeDominic said she learned entrepreneurial lessons from her father, a paper salesman.
“I was mentored by him in business,” she said. “We used to talk about board meetings and employees during dinner.”
She said finding mentors is a key component for staying afloat amid the current economy.
“When times get tough, it’s really important to reach out to mentors and other people who have walked similar paths that you want to walk,” DeDominic said. “Finding mentors is crucial, and it got me through the major recessions.”
Despite a bleak economic forecast, DeDominic said she believes it can be a good time for true entrepreneurs.
“Even though the times are different and the economy is as challenging as it’s ever been in my entire working life, it’s a very good time for people who are innovative, creative and resourceful because frankly, anyone can do well when there is a lot of waste and abundance,” she said.
“Anyone can spend money and buy things. It’s only the great people who can survive when they have to stretch a dollar and have to find great people to work with them as collaborators, not necessarily as employees. It’s a great way to judge the character: If they’re great volunteers, they’re probably great employees and business partners.”
DeDominic is planning the fourth annual Women’s Festival for Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real. The March 4-5 event will include a business expo, discussions and an awards ceremony.
“It’s truly going to be an international conference this year,” she said. “We are working with top-level people in the State Department and the Army who are working with organizations that do democratic- and nation-building around the world. We will be having female leaders from the Iraqi and Afghan police department coming into town and speaking. We will be connected via the Internet and broadcasting live all over the world.”
She said the event will serve as a litmus test for finding high-quality entrepreneurs.
“The Women’s Festival is a great way to screen the extraordinary people who are in town,” DeDominic said. “People who are great volunteers can go to the next level. There are a couple of ladies who are selling clothing who got their start at the Women’s Festival.”
With her involvement in a wide variety of ventures in Santa Barbara, DeDominic said one of the most important lessons she has learned is not to skimp on staff.
“I try to surround myself with people who have really high personal standards, who have a great deal of integrity and who are ambitious for worthy missions,” she said. “And I say that because it’s one thing to be around ambitious people, but ambitious people without worthy missions can get people in trouble.”
Four years ago, DeDominic found herself enthralled in a worthy personal mission: losing nearly 100 pounds. After seeing pictures from the first Women’s Festival that revealed a “fat woman” and worried about extra weight exacerbating arthritis in her knees and feet, DeDominic began keeping a food journal and hired a personal fitness coach. She has since written a book about her experience, titled How I Lost It.
Since 2007, DeDominic has kept busy coaching high-achieving professionals in a variety of fields, and she said she has continued to learn and grow.
“It’s so much fun, and a lot of learning because my clients are in so many different fields — science, education, architecture,” she said. “I’ve learned not only to be the CEO but also the CEO’s mentor.”