“Professionally, I’m constantly afraid of being behind.”Debra Giunta
Debra Giunta is the Founder and Director of Design Dance. Debra grew up dancing in the south suburbs of Chicago and has over 25 years of dance experience. She became director of her first dance education program in her hometown at the age of 16 and has been teaching, choreographing, directing and mentoring ever since.
As a dance educator for over 16 years, Debra has trained students ages 2-70 in a variety of dance disciplines including tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop and creative movement. In 2008, Debra founded Design Dance as a way to bring dance education to children in all communities regardless of age, experience level, background and income through partnership with schools and community centers.
Debra, what is your greatest fear?
I have countless fears I deal with in all aspects of life! Professionally, I’m constantly afraid of being behind. And sometimes that’s good! That fear motivates me to try new things and keep working. But there’s a dark side to that fear – where I often feel like an imposter, never making space to celebrate success, and falling into the trap of comparison and perfectionism.
Why have you chosen your professional path?
When I was in college, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. I changed my major 5 different times and bounced around exploring all of my different interests. My friends and family (and myself!) thought I was directionless but when I decided to take a break from school to start my business in 2008, I was amazed at how dedicated I became to the entrepreneurship career path! The first few years were incredibly difficult, but the feeling of being able to explore new ideas on my own terms, create a life that looked different every day, and work with people who share my passions, made the trying times feel totally worth it. After being in business for about a year, I became passionate about using my desire to build my own company to increase access to arts education for as many students as I could in Chicago. I was lucky to grow up in an environment where my family was able to provide me with dance classes – an experience that taught me confidence, creativity and social skills. Once I began to see the opportunity gap for Chicago kids, I knew I wanted to find a way to build a business that used partnerships to make dance more affordable.
What drives you?
People and ideas – and when I can combine the two there’s no stopping me 🙂 I love the very beginning phase any new idea. I often stay up super late for many nights in a row when I’m excited about something – imagining possibilities and structuring my plan of action! As I’ve had the opportunity to grow my team over the last few years, my most inspired and motivating moments are when I get to share in that early excitement with them, learn from their experiences, and collaborate on something great.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken professionally?
Definitely starting my business when I was 24 with no savings and no more than a part time job was risky! I was young, excited and impatient to start what I thought would be an easy road to running a company.
“Often, we spend so much time planning (to help calm our fears, no doubt!) that we lose sight of what we’re doing and why!”