Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Natalie Spiro, Founder of Drum Cafe North America, located in San Diego, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Team Building using rhythm as a medium. We demonstrate the power of harmonizing around one common purpose through the universal language of rhythm and drumming. This language transcends all the barriers and boundaries that serve to separate people – culture, ethnicity, language, religion, geography, and even position in the organization. And it's a language that unites us all as a community of powerful brand leaders.

We demonstrate the power of creating a global community through the concept of UBUNTU – I am who I am because of those around me. As human beings, we cannot live/work in isolation. We are all interconnected. And when we truly live in this spirit of ubuntu, we are open and affirming to all – not threatened by our diversity of thought and beingness.

We inspire people to step into their best selves through the experience of connection between individuals and of the group as a whole around a common mission/vision. Discovery of effective ways to deal with differences, to listen to, value, and honor the inclusiveness of all the voices, experiences, and contributions sitting in the room.

What do corporate groups take away after a drumming session?

  • It promotes unity and team-building.
  • Music is a universal language. Interactive drumming breaks down barriers of hierarchy, age, gender, culture, and language. Drumming is an effective way to get a diverse group of people communicating, listening to one another, and working together as a team to create music. It evokes togetherness and leaves participants with a sense of belonging.
  • It leaves the group stimulated, relaxed, and more receptive.
  • Participants quickly reach an ALPHA state, which enhances focus and clarity. Drumming is, therefore, ideal during long conferences – to revitalize and refocus participants between presentations or before speeches or awards. Drumming relieves stress - when you hit the drum, you are placed squarely in the here and now.
  • It sparks creativity.
  • Participants are taught to stop thinking and start feeling the rhythm! The Left and right brain are used simultaneously. This promotes creative or 'out-the-box' thinking.

The analogy between the orchestra and the team provides great insight. Participants learn through the musical experience just how important it is to collaborate and listen to one another. They also learn the value of their own individual contribution within the context of the team.

The 'fun' aspect of a Drum Cafe event is completely infectious: even the most reserved or cynical member of the team will be smiling and beating away on his or her drum by the end of the event. Interactive drumming with the Drum Cafe is a real celebration!

Tell us about yourself

I am a Team Development, Interactive Engagements, and Motivational Speaker. My keynotes are about creating a unified whole through appreciation and acceptance of individual thoughts, skills, and contributions. Also, it explores the unique voice that each person possesses and emphasizes the synergy that results from our unique collaboration. The abstract idea of engaging rhythm as more than just a metaphor to solve problems in business is not a new concept. It's thousands of years old. In Africa, tribal counsels would meet and beat. They'd connect at that primal level first before approaching each other with speech. I have personally facilitated interactive drumming programs for more than 500,000 people. My clients have been from every sector—tech, health, government, transportation, hospitality, education, finance, media, and telecommunications. I have close ties with some of the most powerful brands in the world, including Google, Virgin Airlines, Microsoft, Intel, and eBay. I am a certified life coach, Gallup CliftonStrengths Coach, and Executive Coach through iCoach NYC. I am developing workshops that tie my interactive keynote programs into one-on-one and one-to-many transformational opportunities. I came to the USA in 2000 from South Africa with a Master's Degree in Industrial Psychology and an MBA in Corporate Strategy and Marketing. San Diego was a far cry from my life in Johannesburg, but my insatiable curiosity and hunger to make an impact where ever I lived and worked led me on a passionate path to understanding corporate culture in America. I held positions in top global firms within the financial services and hospitality industries, including holding a senior position at the corporate offices of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

My African sensibilities ultimately connected me back to my passion for community and collaboration. I became an owner/partner in the worldwide Drum Cafe organization in 2002— and from this point forward, my professional destiny came into clear view.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In a 25+ year career as a business development strategist, I have excelled in cultivating long-term, executive-level relationships with F100 leaders such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to drive rapid growth for startups with global reach. Over the years, I have achieved progressive growth as a collaborative, cross-functional leader who crafts cutting-edge organizational/leadership development solutions and delivers creative growth strategies that successfully identify and capitalize on new market opportunities.

A few of my achievements include:

  • Evolving and delivering award-winning leadership and team development programs for Fortune 100 clients worldwide, including for Gap in Japan, Google in sub-Saharan Africa, Microsoft in Prague, and WL Gore in Europe and China.
  • Establishing and growing multiple startups (Bluefire Leadership, Drum Café North America, and the Moonstone Company, Inc.) in the US and South Africa, focusing on corporate team building and leadership development.
  • Extending Drum Cafe to USA and Canada and led a 35-member team (five employees and 30 contractors) while doubling revenue growth over the previous two years to achieve over $1M+ in sales for 2018/19.
  • Initiating Google's Sub-Saharan Africa Career Development and Training Summit in Kenya, featuring attendees from 12 countries representing business functions such as HR, Engineering, Marketing, Outreach, and the Partner Solutions Organization.
  • Directing a successful values rollout initiative for 1,450 employees at Virgin Airlines by conducting 23 programs facilitating 75-80 employees at a time across four months.
  • Delivering a Tedx Talk for Female Business Leaders around collaboration and the power of UBUNTU.

I am a results-driven business development strategist with a passion for crafting cutting-edge organizational/leadership development solutions that deliver outstanding customer service and help drive consistent growth.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being on a journey where risk and reward are all your own. Sometimes it is a lonely journey.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Find a great mentor, someone who is successful in your field, and ask them for advice.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people.
  3. Be willing to take risks and learn from your mistakes.
  4. Don't be so attached to the outcome that you miss the lessons along the way.
  5. Take care of yourself and be in the community as much as you can.
  6. Stay focused. Be present and mindful.
  7. Enjoy the ride; life's too short. When you stop enjoying it, change the ride.
  8. The secret to starting a journey is to take the first step, then the next...
  9. Remember, blood, sweat, and tears are part of the journey… embrace them.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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