We had the good fortune of connecting with Diana Ralston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diana, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks, at least calculated risks, not only helps stretch you beyond your comfort zone, it has the power to propel you to the next level. This has been equally true for my personal growth and relationships, as it has been with my professional trajectory. There is something invigorating and exciting about taking a leap and not knowing if you will land on solid ground. From starting a restaurant with no experience, to moving away from the safety and security of my home of 20 years, to ending my marriage and starting Can’d Aid, none would have been possible if I hadn’t been willing to take a risk. The confidence that comes from successful risk-taking fuels my drive and determination. At the same time, failed risks have provided me with valuable lessons, not the least of which is humility. Dusting myself off again and again and continuing to put myself out there has helped build my character and prove to myself that I can do hard things. Often, the fear of the risk and the stories we make up in our heads about potential outcomes, are so much worse than the reality.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
A little over seven years ago, I was fortunate to be able to start a new nonprofit organization, Can’d Aid. With significant help from Dale Katechis and Oskar Blues Brewery, Can’d Aid has evolved and grown into a national NGO spreading people powered do-goodery through a variety of programs. I am hard-wired to cultivate a culture of kindness and connection, and Can’d Aid is the canvas. I am on a quest to make Can’d Aid a household name synonymous with doing good. I believe giving back is vital for community connectedness, and it is critical for our mental and emotional well-being. When we collectively practice do-goodery, the impact is exponential. We are growing the next generation of do-gooders, and the value of that can not be overstated.
A few simple but true lessons I have learned along the way are to trust my gut and ask for help; to build a solid team; to keep my sense of humor; to be fearless and to speak up; to stay humble and to be grateful.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ll pretend I’m answering this question in non-COVID times, rather than in lock-down at my house in Lyons. I’m passionate about outdoor exercise and adventure, so I’d definitely take my friend for a mountain bike ride at Hall Ranch, a trail run on Picture Rock and a hike up Steamboat Mountain here in town. Lyons is a really artsy town, so we’d cruise through the Lyons Labyrinth to see what new installations and creations local artists had added, and then tour the public art sculptures throughout the town. Bella La Crema for a flight of butter and glass of wine, and a delicious sandwich from St. Vrain Market would be on the list. We would stop by REEB cycles to say hi to Adam and Sam, and watch them hand-weld some beautiful bikes. No visit to the area would be complete without at least one or two Dale’s Pale Ales on the patio at the original Oskar Blues Grill + Brew. We would absolutely check out some live music at Red Rocks and spend some time along the St. Vrain River. The drive on Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain Park is spectacular and would be on the itinerary. We would check out some of the great restaurants in the area like Babette’s, Oak at 14thand soak in the view of the Flatirons from Correda’s patio. And since some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had has been at home when Randy’s cooking, we’d certainly host a few meals at our house too!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have benefitted tremendously from the friendship and mentorship of several incredible people over the years. Pat Crow’s belief in my abilities during my time at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts, Terry Adams’ guidance and support as I navigated growing and changing a well-established fine arts festival, and Dale Katechis’ willingness to take a risk on me because he saw something in me that I had yet to recognize, all helped guide me to where I am today. Personally, I am grateful to be surrounded by a solid group of friends who hold me accountable, call bullshit when needed, ground me when I’m drifting, commiserate when I’m wallowing and celebrate my successes. A few books that have resonated lately are Brene Brown’s “Dare to Lead”, Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed” and Michelle Obabma’s “Becoming”. Their collective bravery and authenticity inspire me to stay true to myself and to keep growing.