How training to be a circus performer helps Leah Skerry run Squiggle Park

Leah Skerry

Entrepreneurs have a reputation for spending majority of their time hustling to establish and grow their companies, often leaving behind activities they enjoy. But at the latest TechToronto, Leah Skerry, co-founder and CEO of Halifax-based Squiggle Park, shared how founders can successfully run a company and pursue their personal goals at the same time.

Skerry kicked off her presentation by discussing how this year, she is planning to “run away with the circus” and pursue her dream of training as an acrobat aerialist while continuing to grow her company, Squiggle Park. Squiggle Park, which raised $800,000 earlier this month, aims to help young children develop reading skills through a literacy platform consisting of small games.

“I want to pursue these two things together…it’s a bit of an unorthodox choice,” said Skerry. “I wanted to be able to balance these two things together. Being a co-founder requires daily focus and being a circus artist requires daily focus, so I’m experimenting right now in how I can do the two at the same time.”

“You can create a culture that not only empowers you to be the type of leader that you want to be, but you can instill that in your team.”

Skerry said she’s always believed in “the power of time off.” Earlier in her career, Skerry would go on sabbaticals, which she found to be the most “power, influential, and important” times in her life as she gained new perspectives that helped her make critical decisions as a leader.

During her presentation, Skerry also encouraged other entrepreneurs in the audience to create a “conscious culture” within their companies.

“You can create a culture that not only empowers you to be the type of leader that you want to be, but you can instill that in your team,” said Skerry.

Skerry believes there are three things that founders should keep in mind when adopting a conscious culture: “adopting an MVP view on life,” which means experimenting with yourself to get the most out of you; “nurturing individuality,” which means understanding other people’s core assumptions and perspectives; and lastly, setting “behavioural agreements.”

“The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behaviour if the leader is willing to tolerate,” said Skerry. “The one thing that I’ve started to do and it’s paid off, is write down the things you want to see, but more importantly, write down the things that you don’t want to see and ensure that your team is on board with what those things are.”

Watch Skerry’s full presentation below:

The next TechTO takes place on July 9. Get your tickets here!

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer and content creator at BetaKit with a strong interest in Canadian startup, business, and legal tech news. In her free time, Amira indulges in baking desserts, working out, and watching legal shows.