You May Say I'm A Dreamer

How To Run A Successful Company And Raise Kids

I was always a “visionary”. Well that’s not exactly the term my friends used when describing me.

I remember clearly one day having a discussion with my friend and she explaining to me, “Farah, there is always one thing in a person that makes him or her crazy. For you, it’s being a dreamer”. A ‘dreamer’? But that insinuates that my big plans were never going to actually materialize. What my friend didn’t realize was that I was working hard to make sure they did. I actually had already come a very long way.

I always “saw” my future. When I was a teenager growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada), I pictured myself owning a glamorous business (perhaps a modeling agency?) and working out of a fabulous space. The elevator would open directly onto my floor (my agency occupied the entire floor), I would have a glass desk and a view of the CN tower.  Well, I knew that to make this happen I had to move to Toronto (that’s where the CN tower is). As soon as I graduated high school I packed my bags and at the age of 17 my adventure began.

After many years of post-secondary education in Ontario, a brief career in advertising, I eventually met my future husband Martin, and together, we decided to quit our jobs and start our own business, Speakers’ Spotlight.

We, and our staff across Canada, represent and book the most fascinating personalities to speak at events worldwide. We represent everyone from former Canadian Prime Ministers and possible future ones, to astronauts and Mount Everest climbers, international best-selling authors to world acclaimed comedians, leading-edge business thinkers, celebrities and the most inspiring individuals. After 13 years and six offices, if you now visit our head office in Toronto, the elevator will take you directly to our floor, and you will find me at my glass desk and behind me, through the window, you will see a view of the CN Tower.

I “saw” everything I wanted. From where I worked, to what I wore (I eventually crossed shoulder pads off my list) to what I wanted to do (Speakers’ Spotlight was originally based on how a modeling agency operated but instead of selling beauty, we provide ideas and inspiration). I wasn’t “dreaming”, I was “visioning”. And I thought I saw it all. But suddenly my world changed on September 12, 2000 and I realized I didn’t have a clue. Her name is Jade.

My whole life I knew I wanted to be a mother more than anything else. I saw myself being a mommy with a baby on one hip and another playing at my feet. We would dance and do arts and crafts, go to the park and use our imaginations all day long. I’ve always been excited for that scene in my life. Although always dreaming of career success, having a family had always been my top priority.

Go to the next page to read more about being a successful businesswoman/mother/wife!Now Jade is eight and our son, Cole, is six. The one thing I have realized in recent years is that I had never visualized having that idyllic family scene and that high-powered career scene at the same time. I never saw what a successful businesswoman’s life would look like while being a wonderful wife and a fantastic mother to young children. And I thought I was so prepared for my future!

So, here I am. Speakers’ Spotlight has succeeded well beyond what Martin and I could have ever imagined. We have won awards, are often asked to speak to entrepreneurs and have been written up in various books and media worldwide, and even a business textbook. That kid in Winnipeg would be shocked. Our two little ones are thriving too. We believe they are growing up to be conscientious, kind people. At least, as their parents, that is what we are striving to teach them.

And for me? I have to admit, it’s a constant, difficult tug-of-war. Wanting to be at the office everyday with my staff (and feeling I should be there) and wanting to be with my kids every day after school (and feeling I should be there) is not easy for me. I know that many mothers can relate to that. It’s tough. Balancing one’s career, one’s family, and actually finding time for oneself can be overwhelming.

For me, my family scene still comes first. So even though my husband hears me quietly grumbling about my carpools and how I have to rush from work to pick up the kids, I want to be there to take them home. I want to be there to help with homework and story time. I’ve had to miss some exciting events and fabulous parties over the years, but all those snuggles at bedtime make up for it. 

It hasn’t been easy, and I’m still in the thick of it trying to figure it all out, but I know one day Jade and Cole won’t need me to drive them home from school, or to help them with arts and crafts. I guess we won’t be dancing around the living room forever… I know I need to do that now.  They will one day be all grown up and I never want to regret not spending time with them… while they still want me to. My career will continue, perhaps not as robust and full as it could be, and one day will be, but it’s a choice that I’m so fortunate I can make. I just can’t have it all, all right now. But then again, maybe I do.

I’m lucky, and I’ve worked hard.  I pictured exactly what I wanted and have actually achieved both my visions. One day our children will take over the business and Martin and I will reminisce about these times while travelling around the world, stopping to rent a villa high atop a mountain with a view of the ocean, drinking tea watching the sun set… Well, I can dream, can’t I?


Farah Perelmuter, CEO & CO-FOUNDER of SPEAKERS' SPOTLIGHT started her career in the advertising industry. In 1995, she took a deep breath and a major plunge into the biggest risk of her life. Yes, she married Martin Perelmuter (but was pretty sure that would work out), and together, they quit their jobs and started their own business, Speakers’ Spotlight. The adventure began.

Due to the fabulous team at Speakers’ Spotlight, the business has grown beyond Farah’s expectations. Today, they have offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. Most recently, Farah and Martin Perelmuter were named finalists for the 2008 Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Farah enjoys running the business with Martin, but for this couple, the most rewarding time is spent being Mommy and Daddy to their children, Jade and Cole.