Q&A: Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia on the Spirit of Entrepreneurship
An introduction to the next Brian Jessel M Power Series speaker.
November 9, 2016
On November 15, entrepreneur Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia will sit down with Vancouver magazine’s editorial director Anicka Quin to talk about how she’s brought an entrepreneurial spirit to all aspects of life, whether in business or philanthropy.VanMag recently spoke to Lisogar-Cocchia about the just-opened Pacific Autism Family Centre and her life as an entrepreneur to get a glimpse on what will be discussed in greater detail next week.
You run the Century Plaza Hotel as well as Absolute Spa. How did you become such an entrepreneur?
The Century Plaza Hotel was built in 1972 by my father, Roy Lisogar. When he suffered a serious stroke, I took over business operations at the young age of 22 along with my husband Sergio Cocchia (who wasn’t my husband yet!) Let me tell you, it was a quick learning curve. But I wanted something to call my own, not created by my family. So, my husband and I opened our first Absolute Spa in a 600-square foot corner of the Century Plaza Hotel in 1998, bringing our vision of a 5-star spa business catering to the stars of Hollywood North to life. One location eventually grew into ten spas with the flagship Century location slowly expanding from 600 to 15,000 square feet. We started with just four employees and we now oversee 200 team members in the spas alone.
So you’re about to open the new Pacific Autism Family Centre, could you tell us more about it?
Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) is a charitable organization with a mandate to serve the needs of individuals with Autism and all related disorders across their lifespan as well as their families. The foundation is opening its main hub, GoodLife Fitness Family Autism Hub on November 9, 2016, in Richmond with provincial spokes to follow in early 2017. It is a centre of excellence linking together state-of-the-art resources for assessment, treatment, education support and research. The hub provides a start for families in their navigation of information and services.
What entrepreneurial skills did you use to carry out this massive project?
For me, I always focus on my three P’s: passion, persistence, and the power of positive (thinking).
What were some challenges you faced along the way?
Raising $31 million is harder than I ever could have imagined.
How would you define the spirit of entrepreneurship in a few words?
I think the quote, “Jet pilots don’t use rear view mirrors” perfectly sums up the true spirit of entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur, just like a pilot, must always be looking ahead and not dwell on any perceived failures. It is crucial to never lose sight of your goals.