Reviewed by Sarah Ell

It is very rare these days to find a book that really has the capacity to inspire and move you.

In the Arena is one of those great stories that restores your faith in human nature and illustrates the strength of New Zealand entrepreneurial spirit.

Diane Foreman’s narrative is alive with fascinating detail from her life experiences. The more you read her book the more you feel that you are getting to know this very interesting person who, if truth be told, you wouldn’t mind calling a friend. 

Throughout the book you really get a sense of what’s important to Diane.  No more so than with this view: “To me, getting more women on boards is as important as winning New Zealand women the right to vote in September 1893.” 

Diane takes us on an informative, inspiring and entertaining journey of her growth as an entrepreneur.  It starts with her humble beginnings as a 21-year-old, solo mother of two children and working three jobs. Diane describes her fortuitous meeting with future husband Bill Foreman, which was to set her on the path to ownership of major companies such as Trigon Packaging Systems Limited, Emerald Group and Healthcare Holdings.  

Diane offers a multitude of advice for entrepreneurs.  Her brutal honesty makes the book an entertaining and inspiring read, regularly describing lessons learned, such as the failed attempt to bring infant formula into the Chinese market at the time of the Fonterra botulism scandal.

The influence of strong mentors and experienced advisers is also emphasised throughout the book.

Personally I love Diane’s ethos: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” It expresses in a nutshell what this great book is all about.