Dianne Linderman… Fire, Passion, Drive

written by DAWN GOGGIN on

Originally published in theREALme Magazine


Dianne Linderman may be the most interesting woman in the world… move over, Dos Equis man!

Like him, Dianne is rich in experiences and her stories are fascinating, but her’s are true! How many women do you know who own lions, tigers, and bears (Oh, MY!) while at the same time save troubled teens, take care of a family, be an entrepreneur, host her own radio show, write books, have a cooking show, and the list goes on? There is actually so much to tell that this tiny article doesn’t even begin to tell her story, but I will do my best to hit the high(est) notes!

Dianne became inspired to set her own course at the age of 16 when she began thinking of ways to become self-employed. Her father’s joy in life was to see his kids succeed in whatever they wanted to do, and always had Dianne and her 4 brothers experimenting with new things and ideas. So, entrepreneurial ideas began forming in her young mind and heart knowing that she could not settle for status quo. Speaking about her first business at 16 years old Dianne said, “I think this helped me stay out of trouble because I was always busy, I made my own money, and it just kept me really focused about life.” Dianne learned from her own experience that this would be a great thing to share with other parents and their kids.

One day, when Dianne’s children were just 5 and 7 years old they had a yard sale where her kids sold cookies. “The first time they made a $17 profit, they just freaked out and were immediately hooked on being entrepreneurs.” She decided to write a children’s book called, My Cookie Business, partly to give kids and parents encouragement and “behind the scenes” knowledge of starting their own business. This knowledge is helpful during the start-up process because, as she states, “There are so many doubters out there who say “that will never work…starting your own business is a dumb idea. Those people don’t understand because they have never been in an entrepreneurial environment.”

Dianne is also passionate about giving impoverished children an option outside of their circle of influence to help them understand that they do not have to perpetuate the cycle, they do not have to be on welfare, that there is another option. So, Dianne ended up publishing a whole series of Entrepreneurial Kids books, intending to spark ideas and inspiration in kids’ minds toward having their own business. My Pony Business, My Fishing Business, and How to Become an Entrepreneurial Kid, were added to the first book, and is now an award winning series.

She also wrote them as children’s books because when she was researching starting a business the only books she could find at the library were 4”thick and not user friendly. Her books are written so that children can read, understand, and apply the concepts. However, Dianne says that adults are about ½ of the audience for the series, and are using them to actually start businesses. After looking at the books, myself, I think that every school library in America needs to have a set. Especially in a shaky economy when people have to think out of the box for their career choices anyway, kids need to be able to consider entrepreneurship as an option. As Dianne states, “People need to understand that if you are an entrepreneur you can create a job no matter where you are.”

Dianne has worked tirelessly for her entire life believing that her good ideas were doable as long as she put forth enough effort. That is just the way she operates, even in the face of opposition and naysayers. One of those good ideas began 33 years ago on her 3 acre farm in Oregon, when Dianne and her husband started a petting zoo. Dianne’s dream was to bring animals to the inner city and give urban kids hands-on exposure to farm animals and agriculture. “The Great American Petting Zoo & Pony Ride,” actually started out as a wildlife park, with lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, leopards, and more when the previous owner became unable to take care of it anymore, and entrusted Dianne and her husband with the park and all of its residents. They fixed up the park, found more natural environments for about 2/3 of the animals, and kept the rest for their traveling petting zoo.

All the while, troubled teens began showing up at their doorstep and Dianne and her husband, David, took them in and gave them animals for which they would be responsible. Dianne spoke about the teens’ remarkable life turnaround. “It’s amazing! You give a kid an animal to be completely responsible for, and they find self-respect and love. That love for another creature and the fact that they have to get up in the middle of the night and give them bottles and check on them–that just brought something out of these kids and they were reformed, 100%, within no time at all!”

The best part of the story is that they ended up raising these incredible kids and taught them how to do every aspect of the business to perfection (Dianne & David style). Now they share the ownership with the kids and it is now the top-rated traveling petting zoo, always with new kids involved and going through similar transformations as the original kids. Her rule is if the kids want to get to stay there they have to show respect and act like they want to be there. “No drugs, no piercings, I’m not their mother, I’m their employer…that’s the way we all look at it, and it doesn’t require any enforcement at all. Respect, thoughtfulness & work ethic is what they learn here, with a little tough love.” The petting zoo still travels across the country, even to Hawaii and Alaska.

Dianne has also owned 3 different restaurants over the years, learning quite a few hard lessons. She also owned two entrepreneurial marketplaces for women that were quite successful until 9-11 and the recession hit. These turned out to be giant losses for Dianne and her husband but they just took it all as a learning experience, and moved on. She is actually writing a book right now titled, Everything That Matters, which gives a humorous look at how she has “failed” in her life. But, how she learned to deal with failure is really the most important lesson in the book. Dianne says, “I don’t believe in the word ‘failure.’ I believe failure is an attitude and can actually be the best thing ever for a human being because of the lessons you learn from going through it.”

Another current project is a cooking show called, “Everything that Matters in the Kitchen.” She teaches people how to prepare healthy, farm fresh foods. The website, everythingthatmattersinthekitchen.com, has clips of her show, recipes, a philosophy, and a cookbook. She also has a nationally syndicated talk show and has been on the radio for about 9 years, first locally in Oregon, and for the past 2 years on Talk Radio Network, airing on 60-70 stations across the country! “I have to talk about meaningful things. That’s why I dare to do politics, and I speak from a place as a mother, not as an expert”. When people complain about the ills of the country, she encourages action with, “So what are you going to do about it?” Information about her radio show can be found at www.everythingthatmattersradio.com.

Her biggest focus now is, “Innovative Kids of America,” a business she started where kids come up with their own market-style booth, decorate it to make it look professional, and sell a product they’ve created or purchased wholesale. Dianne believes that the best way to help the country get back to its basic principles is to teach entrepreneurship to as many people as she can, stating, “Kids are the greatest entrepreneurs on earth. It doesn’t take them more than 5 minutes to get it. With that one experience they get the spirit.” See pictures and video about this project and how to get involved at, www.innovativekidsofamerica.com.

You might ask how Dianne Linderman can be considered a “REALme” woman. It’s because she has done, and continues to do, extraordinary things given her own sheer determination and hard work. Likewise, she would have you not waste your God-given talents & ambitions. Allow Dianne’s story to sink in and find that dream which resides within you, and then take action! Dianne believes success is not measured in wealth, but rather that, “You’ve found what you love to do, and you do it well.”

  • Sarp

    klar, gina! und damit seine show auch so richtig echt rfcber kommt, ein bidfchen zkceur in den tank!!! ;-)im ernst: ich versteh’s, wenn man sich wie im streichelzoo vor kommt, aber er hat es sich ja ausgesucht! und wie ist es denn? wir erwachsenen schimpfen mit den kindern, weil sie alles antapsen mfcssen, aber selbst schauen wir doch auch oft mit den fingern anstatt der augen

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