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Daniel LeMoine is a social entrepreneur, change-maker, and writer. Here he writes at the intersection of faith, work, & building a matterful career.

Filtering by Category: entrepreneurship

Hold Loosely To Your Plans -- Here's Why and How

Dan LeMoine

A friend of mine is looking to start his first business. 

He and his wife have been in a limbo of decision between two different geographical locations and weighing the ups and downs of each in light of what makes sense from both a business perspective as well as family needs and the desire to be in a flourishing community.

[We should all commend him — the mere fact that he is concerned about the community his family will be in, the ministries they will pour into, the people they will serve with their time and resources and love, and the needs of his growing family speaks to this guys heart and rightly-oriented priorities. We need more leaders in the business world with this right focus.]

Have you ever been “bogged down in quandary about God’s will for your life,” as John Piper puts it?

As many of us who are working hard to make an impact and forge a purposeful path have experienced, making decisions between multiple good options can be really tough.

In making these tough decisions and discerning where to go and what to do, and how to keep moving forward in the face of uncertainty or ambiguity, I’ve found somethings to be particularly helpful. Things like: learning to hold loosely to your plans, moving forward in the face of uncertainty, and what “waiting on God” needs to looks like sometimes.

Regardless of the stage of career or life you’re in or what decisions you’re currently facing or plans you’re currently making, I hope this may help you as you grow in authentic leadership of your family and your organization:

We must hold loosely to our plans.

Plans are good. I love plans. I think they’re pretty fond of me too. It’s a nice thing me and Plans got going. I’m thinking about buying a ring soon...

Really though, plans are great. Who doesn’t love a good plan.

But, as I think we’d all agree, we must hold loosely to our plans. (Cue .38 Special’s Hold on Loosely)

As my friend reminded me during one of our mastermind conversations about his business decision — God's ways are higher than our ways.

We must tethering ourselves to the truth that God’s got us — identifying and reminding ourselves that he has provided, is providing, and will provide for all our financial, emotional, physical, physiological needs. Why? Because this creates powerful freedom and confidence which in turn allowing us to be our best selves and allocate clear mindshare to making these plans and decisions.

Why is this valuable from a leadership and entrepreneurial perspective?

Letting go of our need to control every minute detail, holding loosely to our decisions and plans allows us to do two things:

1). grow in contentedness, and
2). build tolerance with ambiguity.

The latter being a key aptitude of entrepreneurial success. As far as I can tell, every successful leader I know can tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty very well.

Entrepreneurs and courageous leaders still make plans of course, but holding loosely allows us to adapt and overcome when the inevitable happens — reality.

Everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.
— Mike Tyson

There’s only so much you can plan for, and something always goes contrary to our plans. Holding loosely helps mitigate the shock and discouragement which comes when things don’t go as we plan. It also allows us to be more nimble when God calls us into somewhere we weren’t expecting.

Holding loosely is simple, but not easy to do. Here’s some tactics to help deploy this strategy and grow in this ability of "holding loosely."

Do stuff.

Sometimes when planning and decision-making we can tend to get a little bogged down. When making our plans and setting our intentions we can get paralyzed into inaction. “Analysis paralysis” some call it.

Holding loosely to your plans does not mean doing nothing.

Simply choosing to make a decision, and moving forward in a decision while being open to God changing our plans is one of the most powerful tactics in making things happen. It’s been key to helping me creating a career I’m proud of.

I believe God honors our plan-making, but it doesn’t mean he always will honor it in the way we expect or want. Thus we must hold loosely keeping open the option for him to "call an audible."

Proverbs 16:9 should be comforting: 

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. 

He will honor our plan-making by establishing where that planning and subsequent doing takes us. We mustn’t hold too tightly to our exact plans or our idea of what the destination has to look like. Let me give you an example...

Tale of Two Countries

In 2012 we clearly experienced God "establishing our steps" while moving forward in a plan we made. We had decided to make a big career move which would’ve taken us from Cleveland to Atlanta. I had weighed different options, made multiple “vision trips” to ATL, and diligently planned our next chapter, and we were moving forward with it.

Throughout the process we were committing our endeavours to God. In this moving forward God audibled our plans and used the momentum we’d already established to move us instead to the Dominican Republic.

The truth is, if we hadn’t started moving forward into our plan and begun transitioning into the uncomfortable season of changing careers and geographies, we’d not have been ready for what God really had for us. But since we’d already “pulled up anchor and cast off all the bowlines” in deciding on and planning our move to Atlanta, it readied us to hear and follow his call for us in the D.R. that much more doable. 

I think there’s a Chinese proverb that says something like: the path reveals itself as you walk it. (I’m writing this in the back of a van, in the Dominican, during Hurricane fact checking my Chinese-proverb efficacy isn’t an option at the moment).

So, make your plans, but be sure to start and keep moving forward. It is a powerful way to make stuff happen.

[ProTip: If you’re feeling stuck and not having clarity on a decision, try giving yourself a deadline on that decision. When the deadline arrives, move forward with your decision while being open to God establishing your steps.]

Maybe you’re asking: But what’s this “moving forward while holding loosely” strategy look like? How will I know where to go, what to do, what decisions to make?

"Close doors” vs. “Give me a sign"

Have you ever asked God to “give you a sign” of affirmation? I have. I still do — “God make it abundantly clear what we should do.” I also know that God’s ways don’t always (read: rarely) fit my fickle wants and narrow perspectives. So we’ve gotten in the habit of asking him to close doors while we’re moving forward in our best plan. We pray this especially if the decision is between multiple good options. Because at some point you just have to decide and get moving.

In my opinion and experience, this is a slightly better approach than the “God give me a clear sign of what to do” while you twiddle your thumbs doing nothing. Actively asking Him to close doors if you’re not moving in the direction is sometimes a superior option. 

Now, don’t misunderstand me — there is a time to wait in discernment. Yet often we get hamstrung and paralyzed making our plans or trying to make a choice or decision. Sometimes we may have the opposite problem and we need to slam on the breaks and do a little waiting because we're making big decisions in haste. I know friends who are more of the "ready-fire-aim-if-aim-at-all"-types who a bit of intentional slowing down might serve well.

Self awareness here is key — if you tend to make “hasties”, then waiting and asking God to make it abundantly apparent which decision is best is for you is a good approach. But, if you’re like me, and tend to fall on the slower and more intentional side of pulling the trigger, you may be susceptible to analysis-paralysis and possibly need to be actively moving forward while asking Him to close a door if you’re not moving in the right direction.

Ultimately, as John Piper aptly reminds us, God isn’t concerned with some of the decisions we’re preoccupied with. 

"The text [Galatians 5:15] begins with a clear and refreshing statement of Christ's will for our lives. Sometimes we get bogged down in a quandary about God's will. And often we worry about decisions which are simply not a great issue with God (where to go to school, what job to take, where to live, etc.). [Dan: where to hang my shingle.]

We need to orient our lives on the clear statements of Scripture regarding God's will. And here is one: "For freedom Christ has set us free." Christ's will for you is that you enjoy freedom. Where you go to school, what job you do, where you live, etc., are not nearly so crucial as whether you stand fast in freedom. If they were, the Bible would have commanded those things as clearly as it here commands freedom. But it doesn’t.” (bolding mine)

So continue making plans and making decisions. But hold loosely to your plans and continue to pray through your plans, giving them to God, and asking he right your path or close doors if you've taken a wrong turn.

Keep moving forward and keep holding loosely,


P.S. Here’s a bit more intensity on Planning and Doing from my friend and mentor Zach Clark.



There’s No Automating Authenticity — Strategies in Making Raving Fans

Dan LeMoine

I’m all for tools of automation to make doing work easier. There is serious credence which should be paid to the whole maxim “work smarter not harder” maxim. 

I love the Boomerangs and Buffers of the world, and any other tool which assist in simplifying my life and help us do things more efficiently. I mean, who doesn't?

But lest we forget that it is too easy to let efficiency undermine our effectiveness.

You can’t automate authenticity

I was reminded of a story a friend told me of his favorite clothing company Mizzen + Main. He said he is a raving fan and has no issue dropping $130 on a shirt because of the quality and the authenticity of the company. It’s not uncommon for him to receive personal handwritten notes in with his orders, thanking him by name for his support and patronage. More than once the ladies and gents at Mizzen + Main have sent him personalized videos telling him about a sale or offer they’re running which he may be interested in based on his previous purchases.

It’s personal. It’s honest. It’s human. It’s authentic.

This level of authenticity, which is not automate-able, is the exact thing that has created a life-long raving fan for Mizzen + Main.

Because you cannot automate authenticity.

Doing the most human thing is, albeit paradoxically, necessary to scale and grow.

When to Automate

What and when should we automate, then?

When I asked him how he would split his time between relationship building and the digital content creation side of development and advancement of our nonprofit/ministry, my friend Zach Clark helped me clarify a subtle distinction —

Automate so that you can be authentic.

In other words, automate the tasks and responsibilities which get in the way of doing the real work of building meaningful relationships in order to grow your influence and organization.



Change: Why We Hate It & What To Do About It

Dan LeMoine

When asked if he was concerned that he would confuse the market when they decided to split popular check-in app Foursquare into two separate apps, founder Dennis Crowley told Inc.

“Initially, we heard a mix of complaints and praise. But 90 percent of Foursquare users adopted Swarm for check-ins within a matter of weeks, we we think we’re on strategy. On the internet people don’t like to change until they experience it.” [1]

I don’t think this is limited to user habits on the internet.

In the 4 years my wife has been in leadership at the world-changing school we help run, she often receives (as most leaders do) complaints and criticism from different stakeholders about “all the change” they’ve experienced over the years. But when asked what specific changes they’re unsettled with, rarely can they come up with specific changes they are discontent with.

It’s not because things haven’t changed. It’s just that, rationally speaking, they (read: we) love positive change (and our staffers tell us as much). Yet emotionally there is a resistance to change.

Rationally, we see the need for improvement and organization and change. Emotionally, our reaction to change (or the mere suggestion of it), at least initially, is often in opposition of it.

Change is rarely the path of least resistance, which is the path we’ve been conditioned to want and too often take. Embracing change is never a default mode in our comfort zone. Change is scary because with it comes an innate sense of ambiguity and uncertainty — two variables our control-addicted culture resists. Tolerance of these things is a feature we must cultivate and learn to love (or at least manage) if we want to grow and develop as leaders and as humans. Embracing and navigating and initiating change is a key ingredient if we’re looking to move from a fixed mindset to a growth-mindset.

Fortunately, we always have a choice when change is upon us.

We can choose to scream, cry, rage, complain, and criticize, get angry, dig our heels in, sandbag, or run away...

Or we can choose to observe the changing landscape as objectively as possible and ask ourselves: how can I use the change to benefit, grow, further our mission and further my calling?

We can choose to be paralyzed by the shifting state of affairs. Or we can choose to leverage this uncertainty and ambiguity (and the paralysis of others) to connect more, impact more, drive more value.

Tolerance of change, ambiguity, and uncertainty seems to be a common denominator of the successful and effective leaders in almost any sphere of culture. It allows our best leaders to remain relevant, connect with others, and seize opportunity. 

Questions to Push You Towards Leadership In Change

Here are a few more probing and guiding questions we can ask ourselves when we confront change:

What can I control here? 

In what ways can I be part of leading this change? How can I be proactive in the change versus being driven by it or reactive to it?

Why am I finding myself resistant? What do I feel like I’m losing by changing? Is there anyway to embrace this change while maintaining the best things from what we were doing?

Is it helpful and beneficial to complain, criticize, get angry or mad? If not, how can I take captive those emotions and harness them to my advantage?

How could this change actually spur me to grow? Is there a way I can frame this to develop more grit, resilience, perseverance, strength of character? 

Where is the opportunity here (to love, to profit, to connect, to impact, etc.)?

Does this change inhibit my ability to live out the gospel — that is to love God and love others? Or does it create more/new opportunities to shake things up and do so.

Quoted from Inc. Magazine in an article by Scott Gerber, October 2014

Further Perspective on Change

Explained: Why We Don’t Like Change, Huffington Post article by Heidi Grant Halvorson, PHd





On Your Quest For Big You Become Bigger

Dan LeMoine

I touched on this yesterday, but we must divorce ourselves from the idea that success and scale looks like a straight line cleanly moving up and to the right.

To truly grow as leaders and grow our organizations in a healthy way, we must embrace the tension that comes with pushing your boundaries to grow while constantly battling the urge to tie our worth to how clean or successful our path looks. When we can embrace our imperfections, reframe failure as a key ingredient in growth that is when we flourish, regardless of the outcome.

The result of doing (even if it might not work)

With our identity placed in something (or Someone) other than the outcome of our efforts we are freed to be audacious. As we push into the possibility of failure in the name of curiosity, embrace the rollercoaster path, seek learning, and develop our understanding of what is possible, growth occurs.

The worst thing we can allow ourselves is to be paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. By pushing into the possibility of failure (or embarrassment or confronting past demons and failures), and embracing this truth that the path is not up-and-to-the-right, the mountain we thought we were trying to scale now seems like a mole hill. 

When we realize the journey is full of false peaks on the way to a larger destination it helps us achieve new levels of growth. And each new level of growth we achieve by ruthlessly confronting these fears with our rightly framed expectation of what the journey looks like, gives us a right perspective on our work and what we're working to achieve. It gives us a perspective we'd never even have gotten if we had never started.

In your quest for big you become bigger.
— Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan in The One Thing

Start. Do. Fail. Grow. (Repeat)



Is True Growth Always Up-And-To-The-Right?

Dan LeMoine

The word ’scale’ in a business context is usually synonymous with boundless growth. 

James Clear showed us that growth is hardly ever linear and often is either exponential (growth increases faster as time progresses) or logarithmic (growth slows as time progresses) depending on the area of your business or life you are trying to grow. And if we zoom in, we may also see that growth laden with valleys and false peaks and plateaus and stalls.

I have friends whose primary goal when launching their business was to hit critical mass as quickly as possible. This allowed them to establish and ‘trade’ on their company's reputation and portfolio of work rather than the connections and networks of our founding partners. They were seeking growth and scale relentlessly. They have achieved growth but if you'd ask them, they'd tell you it was anything but linear. Or where it may seem boundless and neat, that neatness came at the expense of some other area of their business or lives. 

We so badly want to make our path (in work and life) nice and neat and graph-ready. When we frame our expectations for up-and-to-the-right-type growth we are setting ourselves up for failure. What if we realize growth is more like scaling a mountain than an up-and-to-the-right linear path. What if we realize true growth comes with false peaks, detours, getting lost, being found, only to realize you were lost in the first place.

There is a lot of credence to learning from others who have gone before you; to following the path and listening to the wise sages that will help you identify and navigate the obstacles in your business and life. It’s natural to avoid hard stuff and constantly looking for the clean, easy, safe, and sanitized path that promises boundless linear growth in our careers and lives. But it may be much more effective to embrace obstacles and failures as necessary milestones to achieving lasting growth.

Want Growth? Then do, even if it might fail.

Sometimes we have to do a thing to find out the reason for it.
— John LeCarre

Part of growing is doing a thing even or especially if it may fail. We hear a lot about this in the start-up world — fail fast. fail often. Yet we still tend to avoid this in other areas of our lives we want to grow in.

So there in lies the growth. It’s not enough to just know the reason for something, we must DO. To grow we need the inquiry and learning, data-points, iteration, and intuition and intelligence which only come from doing.



My Online Brand Building Strategy

Dan LeMoine

By the end of July, when I finish the 100 Day Project, I’ll have written about 150 posts here — mostly on topics at the intersection of faith and work, building a career and body of meaningful work, and how to forge a faith for Monday (not just Sunday). Not a bad little base of content to play with, wouldn’t you say?

I got a question from a friend recently who receives my newsletter:

“[W]hat is your process for identifying and building your online brand?"

While right now my focus has been on putting in the reps, doing the work and writing everyday, that is not where it will stop. I have put some thought into this. Here’s the actions I plan to take to grow awareness and exposure of the ideas I publish here on this blog.  

My Personal Brand Building & Content Distribution Strategy

Here are the tactics and actions I plan to implement, in no particular order (unless otherwise indicated).

Move to a 1-2x/week Publishing Schedule

Daily writing is an excellent habit. Daily publishing is not where I’d like to stay. Moving to a 1-2x/week fixed publishing schedule will allow for more researched and well structured and articles. 

Cross Post Featured Posts to Medium

Medium is a massive platform with lots of eyeballs. Cross publishing there will generate more view and greater brand presence. A business partner and I deployed a similar strategy with The Beach Shirt when we began selling one of our products on Etsy. The number of eyeballs that get to your things on these larger platforms is a game-changer. It’s the difference between the farmer who waits for people to come buy his produce and the one who goes to sell it at the market where 100s of people come each weekend to buy.

Footer Call To Action on Medium

As I cross post to Medium, adding a footer call to action may be a good way to increase engagement and give people the opportunity to go deeper by linking back to my home blog. Something like:

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! You're a champion! :) If you enjoyed it, hit that heart button below. Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

FYI: this article originally appeared on my website.

[*Hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk for this framework.]

Using Buffer, Systematically Share and Re/Post Articles on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn

I don’t have the time nor desire to be on Facebook and Twitter everyday, let alone multiple times per day. Enter Buffer app and the beauty of batch processing! The plan is to set aside a chunk of time and batch schedule the articles to be posted throughout the coming weeks, months.

Use @ Mentions On Twitter To Tag/Credit/Honor Thought Leaders

Mentioning and giving credit to the thought leaders, authors, and mentor who inspired or were quoted in a post would be a good way to both honor them, and gain some exposure. It may even open up the possibility of collaboration or a retweet here or there. Who Inspired Or 

Something like: “@chipconley thanks for inspiring this post! [title] [link]" or "@ScottBritton have you seen this post you inspired?! Thanks!"

‘Passive’ Call To Action in my Email Signature

Adding a subtle call to action on my personal email signature may drive a few more reads from people I’m already in communication with who otherwise do not know about this blog on faith and works. I’ve used this tactic successfully in the past for other ventures and projects, and this project is no different.

Something like:

Dan LeMoine
P.S. Check out: “26 Game-Changing Tools You Need To Be Using” 

Using Pablo, Create Instagram Quote Cards From Posts I’ve Published

Pull out select quotes or ideas from the work I’m most proud of and begin sharing those visual images on Instagram and Twitter. Buffer launched an amazing tool called Pablo which allows anyone to create these quickly, easily, and beautifully — not being a designer is no longer an excuse not to incorporate well designed visual media into your marketing strategy!

Make Blogs More Consumable

I’ve already taken a step towards making blogs easier to consume on the site with the use of the search bar at top right. As well, creating a “Best Of” and/or “Start Here” pages where readers can quickly jump into topics or articles relevant to them, not just the most recently published.

Other Ideas I May or May Not Pursue:

  • Read short quote from a post on Anchor to drive awareness and traffic and build authority.
  • Seek out guest post opportunities on like-minded blogs, thought leaders, or online communities.
  • Submit articles to publication like Relevant magazine.
  • Repurpose several posts into a downloadable free ebook.


The rationale behind building my online “brand presence” is two-fold.

First, I have this goal of trying to never need to use a résumé to get hired again. I desire to leverage meaningful connections I’ve made and the work I’ve produced. This blog helps highlight the later and showcase my journey of growth, curiosity, learning and becoming a change-agent. I have this intuition that to get any job I’d love, it’d be much more effective to point someone to a well designed website highlighting my body of work and meaningful projects I’ve been involved in, rather than a list of where I’ve worked and bullet points trying to beef up what impact I had. In my opinion, résumés are somewhat antiquated. 

Secondly, I have put a great amount of time and thought into the posts and ideas found here. I believe there are others out there who my writing would connect with and they’d say, “this is what i’ve been looking for all along.” I believe if more professionals started really trying to align their beliefs on Sunday with their actions in the marketplace we’d have better leaders, better organizations, and a better world. And I’m hoping a few of these thoughts move that needle, if ever so slightly, in the right direction. But they never will if they never get shared.

So, there you have it. That’s my approach and my rationale. 

Any other ideas on how to build your personal online brand presence?

(P.S. if you know anyone who is working to build a matterful career in a way that is informed by and glorifies God, please send ‘em my way!)



One of the most entrepreneurial things you can do

Dan LeMoine

I think the most entrepreneurial thing someone can do is move to countries where they don’t speak the local language...
— Entrepreneur Robert Reffkin, co-founder and CEO, COMPASS

As someone who has moved to a country where I did not speak the language I have some inside perspective on this quote. Below are several entrepreneurial traits and qualities which are magnified and grown by living in a culture outside your own. Living in a culture which does not speak your native language forces you to:

Be resourceful.

You will find effective solutions for your everyday habits and routines which will inevitably be shaken up. You will find the best way to learn the culture and language quickly for you. You’ll identify your strengths and weaknesses and find tools and resources and routines to help you navigate based on those strengths. When you have no easy way to communicate, you will be forced to be more scrappy and gritty in order to communicate your message and intentions to survive. 

Think on your feet.

When you have to find the bathroom or you get thrown in front of local television cameras with no notice (#truestory) you will need to react quickly. To navigate another language and culture being adaptable is paramount. This think-on-your-feet adaptability is also a quality highly prized in the entrepreneurial ventures and positions.

Gain perspective (which results in empathy).

In the same way a fish likely doesn't even know what water is (video link), we often don’t know the wonderful, horrible, beautiful, ugly, amazing, broken, admirable and disgraceful aspects of our own culture. Not until we spend some significant time outside of it, can we have a more rightly oriented perspective of the best and worse parts of our own culture (and the culture we’re in). This more-realistic perspective results in empathy and critical thought as to how to bring the best of both cultures into your work and life.

Take risks (which grow your comfort zone). 

A friend told me about a conference where the keynote asked the audience to give a four-letter word which described how to be happy. Answers of love, cash, golf, abounded. The word the keynote speaker then offered was “risk.” Lives of fulfilment and happiness often have a healthy level of risk. Beyond fulfilment entrepreneurs are often very savvy at weighing and navigating risk within and for their organizations.

There’s risk in living in and navigating another culture. There’s risk in trying to speak a new languageYou’re forced to take risks everyday. Not to sound overly cliché, but the saying holds true in this regard: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."[1]

Determination in doing hard things.

There is massive value in doing hard things, in life and career. Not only does it expand your comfort zone, but it teaches us dependence, which is a virtue we don’t put much weight in in the Western world. Opening yourself to uncomfortableness, trials, situations where failure (if only social) is imminentcircumstances outside our control, and even suffering is something we tend to avoid at all costs.

This is unfortunate because these thing actually produce perseverance, endurance, emotional aptitude, self-awareness, and understanding. Moving to a culture where they do not speak your language exposes you to all of these things. I can’t help but think of Hebrews 12: 

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

To Develop and learn. 

Entrepreneurs crave learning and developing. Just like in the entrepreneurial landscape, in new culture, if you don’t develop you atrophy and die (not literally, I hope). I’ve found that the higher up and deeper into the Caribbean-Latino culture of the Dominican Republic I go, the more I crave (and need) to develop my linguistic and cultural knowledge. Where I am with my Spanish today is what I would have considered fluent four years ago, but not that I’m here, my definition of fluency has changed. I want more. I desire to continue growing out of a love for this language and the power it holds in allowing me to connect with others in this culture. Continual development is key to avoiding plateau and mediocrity.

To grow your confidence.

Your confidence grows, not only because you’re pushing the limits within yourself, but also because the constant failure of bludgeoning through a different language forces you to decouple your value, worth, and identity from how you look or perform. You’re forced to put your identity, if even just incrementally more, into something solid — in my case, my identity in Christ — which results in a more quite, peaceful strength and confidence. In our work, what we do is important. The problems we solve, the people we connect with, the growth we facilitateBut our confidence is not rooted in something (or Someone) deeper.

Comfortable with failure.

Every entrepreneur I know understands failure is part of the game. And I can’t think of any situation more than language learning where failure is so inherent. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and to deploy that learning to grow. Like the time my friend Curtis went into the local market looking for a pineapple (piña), but ended up asking for a penis (pene). HAAA. 

In another culture we have no other option than to laugh and move on past these failures, and hopefully this translates to our comfort with failure in our professional journey as well.


My path — as a believer, a husband, and as someone looking to build a matterful career — was forever altered (for the better) when we moved to the Dominican Republic in 2012. The extent to which my spiritualrelational, emotional, and vocational trajectories have been enhanced is beyond measure, and the value of my experiences living and serving in another culture will be something I’ll be uncovering and leaning on for the rest of my life.

It is inevitable that you’ll develop the values of learning to do hard things, grow your comfort zone, learn to be resourceful and scrappy, (re)orient and expand your perspective, learn to think quick on your feet, and have ample opportunities to develop, when you ever decide to take the leap and live outside your home culture. Whether it’s a few months, a few years, or a few decades, if you have the chance to live abroad in some capacity in a culture foreign to your own, I promise you will not regret it. The growth from living in a different culture and learning a different language is already proved to be massively valuable on my own entrepreneurial journey.

[1] Author Neale Donald Walsch
[2] Robert Reffkin quote from "In it to Win it: Compass Founder on Switching Up a Business Model" Creator Magazine (Nov. 2, 2015)



The Entrepreneur Doesn’t Need Our Convention. (Another Great Lesson From Rocky Movies)

Dan LeMoine

I have a friend who is a true entrepreneur. While I fancy myself entrepreneurial, he is 100% to the core an entrepreneur. Right now, he is out there on his own, hustling and grinding to try making his business work. 

He is a close friend who values my input on things like branding, copy writing, content marketing, management and operations, and I’ve been fortunate enough to consult for him (i.e. help him for free so long as he pays for food and beer and the occasional work retreat to Costa Rica)

But one big value-add I contribute as well is sharing the emotional burden of trying to get his company off the ground. We’ve bonded over the lows and highs of starting something that matters, and the toll it takes on ones personal and family lives.

As he’s invited me into some of the moves he’s going to make, risks he’s going to take, many times my initial knee-jerk reaction is to give him conventional wisdom — to tell him things like: “have you ever considered getting a sales job? you’d be so good at it. You could easily pull 85-100k.” But I refrain, because I know it would do more harm than good.

This is a highly intentional move.  The entrepreneur hears this "conventional" wisdom all the time.
He hear the doubts and sees the safe alternative paths in his own head.
He hears from parents and in-laws trying to “be realistic."
He hears from the concerned spouse spouse.
He hears from the culture that doesn’t want him to build his own thing and forge an uncommon path.

There is never a lack of these distractions staring you down when you’re out there trying to bushwhack your own way.

In this case, as one of this entrepreneur’s main confidants, I’ve made the conscious effort to simply support.

He’s undoubtably hearing the “voice of reason” from everywhere else, and the last thing he needs is someone to be another reminder of his “other options.”  So, if all I have to say is distracting him with input about safe backup plans he could pursue, then I say nothing. 

This doesn’t mean I say nothing when he may walk off a cliff or make imprudent decisions which would hold his family in financial hostage or scuttle a big project he’s working on. I shoot him straight, I tell him when I think something is wise or foolish, etc. The entrepreneur always knows what “short-term gratification” is out there, and he doesn’t need me to be another person reminding him of that.

To do this would be like Mick shouting to Rocky in the middle of fighting Apollo Creed, “Hey, I hear Ford is hiring some middle managers!” No! He’s already in the ring. He’s already in the fight.  

The entrepreneur needs someone in his corner like Mick saying,

“Get up you son of a b*tch! Cuz Mickey loves you!” 



A Right or a Revenue Stream? A Challenging Lesson from Richard Branson

Dan LeMoine

We believe that certain [things] should be a right, not revenue stream.
— Richard Branson [1]

This quote was from an article about Virgin hotels offering luxury amenities like free social hour drinks, resonably priced minibar and flexible check-in/out. This mindset is a huge reframe from prevailing or “old school” approach rooted in a zero-sum mindset.

If the purpose of business is to maximize profit, then the economist might say that this is imprudent. That everything from the minibar to the minibars of soap we should be looking to find opportunity to increase our margin. But, if the purpose of business goes beyond profit (of course it still includes it) and is to help people flourish, then this focus on making delightion a “right not a revenue stream” is almost inevitable. If this is our focus—to "make all boats rise”— then we will naturally find ways to provide value and delight to our customers without making it feel (or actually be) transactional.

The paradoxical thing is that this economical “imprudence” is becoming a highly effective strategy for winning and maximizing profit. Brand loyalty is a real thing that drives real dollars over the long haul.

Certainly it will look different for each organization — delight will look different given the nature of your business. What works to delight the customer of the plumber electrician looks different from what wins for the media agency, or from the educational nonprofit. 

What in your organization or business shouldyou consider shifting from a revenue stream to a “right”?

[1] Quoted in Entrepreneur Magazine, July 2015 (<-- Yeah, I was reading a SUPER old issue my buddy brought on a work retreat to Costa Rica. Don't judge!)



What To Do When Prospects Go Cold (My Exact Steps & Scripts & Process)

Dan LeMoine

If you are in sales, fundraising, build relationships or drive leads via email, or do anything in email where you want timely responses (which is like, errrbody) you will get serious value from this post. It's several of my most precious and most used tactics to reigniting conversations gone cold. 

I've used these tactics during my time consulting, building our business accelerator, and I even use them in personal and organizational fundraising every week. Feel free to copy and tweak these scripts as you find valuable. Enjoy!


When you sign up for my email newsletter (<==you've signed up for it, right?) one of the first things that happens is that you get an email from yours truly from my personal email (not an autoresponder) welcoming and thanking you. I even include a fun .gif in there to make you chuckle. I then ask: 

What's one thing you struggle with right now in your work? 

One recent sign up replied and we ended up having a really cool interaction where I believe he walked away encouraged and a little more focused on pushing through the resistance to building a career he's proud of. It was exactly the type of value and engagement I was hoping for as evidenced by the fact that he emailed again me a week or so later asking for help. 

His Problem: Conversations gone cold

We've all been there. We have a great interaction with a client, potential sale, donor or would-be BFF and we email or call them. No answer. Maybe we even email them a couple more times...still nothing. 

It's the worst. 

That was this guy's problem — he had a group of fellow musicians working on a project but now he is getting the run around. Below is my email interaction with him where I lay out the EXACT steps and email scripts I successfully use to get responses in my past and present work. 

Here's his email (edited slightly for length):

Hey Dan, I have one thing I could really use your help on...

As I mentioned before, I'm an aspiring music producer and still in the learning process. My main project is house music and DJing, which I'm on my own in.

But I want to be a multi-genre producer to help my career. Last fall a friend of mine wanted to start a blues/folk/rock project and be the lead singer (he has a good voice) [...] So I called a piano player and a guitarist that I knew. [...] I had them over at my house a couple times to draft some songs and it was alright at first. Great chemistry.

But now they will not answer any of my calls or texts.

Anyway, how can I pull these guys together?

Here's my response (Blame YOURSELF, Presume the negative, And don't forget to give them a backdoor.)

Hey man,

I've seen similar situations in business and development (non-profit fundraising). Generally if people go unresponsive it means either they don't have a clear path on how to answer/proceed or they are avoiding giving you the unsavory news of backing out or saying 'no'.

So, here's what you can do:

1. Break down what they need to do to the smallest step possible. 

Make it easy for them to say yes. So given your situation I would email or text them saying something to the effect of: 

"Hey guys! It's been too long. Somewhere along the way it seemed like we were all really excited about creating something great. I think I dropped the ball on keeping everyone in the loop. Apologies if this is the case. Can we all find a time next week to grab a coffee or beer to catch up and see if this is still soemthing we all want to do?" 

This "blame yourself" tactic can be very effective because it often prompts the recipient to think "Wait! No no, I was the one who dropped the ball...not you!" and gets them to respond. 

(Props to Scott Britton for introducing me to some of these inbox ninja-ry moves)

2. Be sure to give them a backdoor.

When you email/text them, give them a "backdoor" to say no.

Sometimes, when I'm emailing folks to donate to our ministry and they've gone "cold" or unresponsive, all it takes is throwing in a line like:

"Even if it's a 'not-at-this-time' type answer it would really be helpful to know either way whether you're in or out. (I promise we'll still be friends :) )" 

Give them permission to bow out. Yes, it'll suck if they do, but it would be so good for defining your next steps if you know where they stand.

3. Final chance email—Presume the negative.

If they are still unresponsive after all this it's time to cut bait and run. Something like:

"Hey So-n-So,
Been trying to get ahold of you these last couple weeks without any luck. Since I haven't heard from you about Project: [Insert Your Project Name Here], I'm going to assume this is something you're no longer interested in and you don't want to work together.

If this is NOT the case, let me know and we can hop on a 5 minute call to iron out next steps to re-ignite this project."

This is good closure for you if anything. You'll hang up your hat on working with them unless they get back to you. If they do, then you can re-set expectations and responsibilities and set some small milestones to hit to get the ball rolling again.

That's where I'd start. Keep moving,



These are just a few of the inbox tactic I've found to be extremely helpful in getting responses. Remember people are busy (so make it easy to say Yes), we hate conflict (so give them a backdoor and permission to say "no"), or we don't want to change unless faced with an ultimatum (so be willing to end the relationship).

I'll be sharing more business development and "sales" tactics I've found to be incredibly effective in coming posts. 



How To Be More Intentional: Balance Action & Contemplation

Dan LeMoine

One of the tensions I’ve been working to strike is the one between Action and Contemplation.

ipso’s lead partner Brent Warwick says, “If beauty and freedom and culture truly matter to us, then...well that means a lot of things, starting with taking the time to consider our purpose. Genuinely asking the question “why” until we get to the root of our underlying intentions.”

Recipe for intentionality: mix equal parts action and contemplation, splash of bitters and garnish with an orange peel.

In order to challenge the conventional understandings of the purpose of business we need more than just action. We must balance our action with contemplation, and visa versa. This Action-Contemplation balancing results is intentionality.

Thoughtless action is folly and results in risks that will eventually undermine your ability to make wise decisions and results in erosion of the ability to be effective. Yet, contemplation with no action will never results in anything meaningful because nothing is actually being done with that contemplation— no impact will be had, no matterful connection will be made, no momentum will be gained. This is why it is a creative tension we must strike, and a question to live.

We believe intentionality is closely tied to having purpose.

At ipso, our leaders have spelled out exactly what we believe about how profit, sustainability, culture, and purpose all fit together:

Profit is merely a component of a company's sustainability. And sustainability is merely a component of a company's culture. And a businesses culture is merely a component of a company's purpose. And that brings us to what we, here at ipso, believe about our purpose.

We believe that the purpose of business is to help humans flourish.

Purpose and Intention are quite synonymous. To have purpose is to have intention. Our recipe for intentional business building and human flourishing is rooted in purpose, and it takes intentionality (balancing equal parts decisive action with equal parts deep contemplation) to fulfill our purpose.


Originally written for ipso Creative at



What Seth Godin & Jim Collins Say About Building A Culture of Discipline

Dan LeMoine

Jim Collins on "The Culture of Discipline"

"Entrepreneurial success is fueled by creativity, imagination, bold moves into uncharted waters, and visionary zeal. As a company grows and becomes more complex, it begins to trip over its own success—too many new people, too many new customers, too many new orders, too many new products. What was once great fun becomes an unwieldy ball of disorganized stuff. Lack of planning, lack of accounting, lack of systems, and lack of hiring constraints create friction. Problems surface—with customers, with cash flow, with schedules."[1]

And to continue with a paraphrase: But then, out of a need for organization and to rein in the mess, a new wave of playmakers are brought in to bring order to the chaos, to help the organization grow into it’s next level of maturity. With them comes necessary procedure and process and structure. But if not implemented with intention, they risk killing the entrepreneurial spirit and slowly suffocating the egalitarian environment. As I’ve noted before the purpose of any policy or proceedure is to seek the highest good (for the individual and the organization).

As Jim Collins notes, veterans begin to get disenchanted that these forms and processes and procedures are slowing down the ability they once had to GTD, and the “creative magic” begins to slip away. What was once an innovative entrepreneurial culture is replaced by hierarchy and bureaucracy and mediocrity.

So how do we guard against this from happening?

How do we stay organized and efficient, but also continue to push the boundaries, innovate and be massively effective?

Here’s what Jim Collins continues with:

"…the purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline—a problem that largely goes away if you have the right people in the first place. [Yet] an alternative exists: Avoid bureaucracy and hierarchy and instead create a cultures of discipline. When you put these two complementary forces together—a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship—you get a magical alchemy of superior performance and sustained results."[1]

Similarly, this reminds me of a post by Seth Godin where he affirms this human-first approach. Seth says,

"The most important part of a race car is the tires. Good tires will always beat bad ones.

The most important part of a cup of coffee is the beans. The grinder, the machine, the barista pale in comparison to the quality of what you start with.

And the most important parts of an organization are the people you begin with. Not the systems or the policies or even the real estate. Great people make everything easier.

And yet...

And yet we spend money on 4 wheel drive instead of snow tires.

And yet we upgrade our coffee maker instead of buying from a local roaster (or roasting our own).

And mostly, we run classified ads to find the cheapest common denominator employee and spend all our time building systems to protect our customers from people who don't care..."[2]

What Jim Collins and Seth Godin are saying here has been true in my experience as well.

I have a unique perspective of serving in an organization going into it’s second chapter of maturity. I was blessed to serve under the founder and in a culture that was super scrappy entrepreneurially-driven culture. I’ve watch the transition of the founder to new leadership (my beautiful wife), and I feel we’ve played a key role in fostering a new culture — one of discipline and organization. As I reflect, the moments where a culture of discipline and a culture of innovation both seemed very far off where the moments when, looking back, we can see that we had the wrong people on the bus (or in the wrong seats).

What we’ve seen work, and what Seth and Jim have validated—

Focus on the right people (not everyone, necessarily).
Focus on building a culture where your a-team can flourish and perpetuate their 'a-team-ness'.
Build a culture your proud of — one that naturally expels the cancers, and attracts the playmakers.
Give your team freedom to navigate their way into the right positions to best serve your organization.

[1] Jim Collins, Good To Great (p. 121)  
[2] Seth Godin, "Tires, Coffee, and People" (



Maintain Your Creative Habit…Even When You Don’t Want To.

Dan LeMoine

Somedays you say enough is enough and hang the hat with a less than all-star performance.

Somedays you come home from work and all you do is start dinner with your wife and open a bottle of grape and try to sneak 15 minutes on the laptop to keep the habit going. 15 minutos, that's it. Because you love your wife. And wine. And your wife.

Somedays it’s 11:30p, you still haven't [insert your creative discipline here] and you’ve just committeed to doing a crossfit workout with your top dudes at 5:30a; you’ve committed to the process though, so you open that laptop. 

You shut up, sit down and type only for the mere purpose of staying in the habit by pulling on the tiniest thread you can find, even if just for a few minutes.  

It’s like the days when I’ve only got twenty minutes before the gym closes but I go anyway to stay in the rhythm of going. I don’t produce anything meaningful (and maybe a case could be made that it does more harm than good judging how my hammy is feeling right now after rushing a set of deadlifts without a warmup #Cmon! #You'reNot18NoMore!), but the habit was maintained. The momentum was kept. The mind was tricked into thinking: Yeah, I’m still in the routine. Nothing’s lost. We still got this. 

Or it's like when our kids hike the Caribbean's tallest peak. They inevitably end up dragging ass (to their credit they're lugging packs half their body weight on their backs). "Just keep moving," I say. "I don't care how slow you go, just don't stop. Keep the momentum going. It's so much harder to get moving again once you stop. Just keep cloggin'. "

When life gets in the way, when the more important “first things” must be kept from slipping into the margin, but you don’t want to lose your precious momentum, find the smallest thing you can do, the smallest ember to blow on, and keep the fire from going out. Know, that you can’t maintain and grow this fire with this minimal effort, but it’s enough to keep the ember alive until you recharge, reboot, or whatever else you need to give it the appropriate attention and resources to get that flame roaring again.

Here's to crushing it...tomorrow ;)




Empower Yourself & Others With This Simple Phrase

Dan LeMoine

“Figure it out.” 


Few other words can strike anxiety and empowerment all in the same breath. Let me tell you a quick story.

I had just moved back from Scotland, where I’d been pursuing my goal of playing rugby at the highest level I could. It was a good run, but student loans were kicking in soon and I needed to get a ‘big boy’ job. (student loans - the killers of all things good in this world). 

Leveraging some personal connections and parlaying the relative success I had in academia and sport, I secured a position with a corporate boutique turnaround firm that I was (probably) slightly under-experienced for, though my educational pedigree said differently. But I acclimatized well enough. 

As I settled into the job, work days ebbed and flowed, and though our two partners created inevitable bottlenecks at themselves (inevitable for anyone running a persona-based firm), the other associate/analyst and I often got slammed with assignments.

4:30p would roll around, Boss’s phone would ring. We’d overhear Boss taking the call — half holding our breath as these calls sometimes meant our home-by-5 expectations would be smashed on the rocks of clients’ urgent needs. Our stomaches would sink a bit when we’d hear Boss promising to deliver something big in a near impossible turnaround time. The phone call would end and we’d inevitably hear the ambitious footsteps coming down the hall to pass along said assignment.

Mild depression sets in because there goes the evening. Sulk. Coffee. Nut up. Get to work.

And inevitabley, a problem would arise.

Balance sheets not balancing. The forty tab financial model we’d built would begin acting like the fickle mistress that it was. The finanical statements Client sent over where in PDF from and completely uneditable, uncopiable, unpastable. Ugh...You know what I’m talking about—something always would get us stuck.

My fellow associate and I were fresh out of the halls of university and had little framework for dealing with some of the advanced roadblocks. So naturally, we’d run to Boss with our obstacle in hopes that his years of experience would quickly get us unstuck and back on track.

But Boss already had a full plate of his own deliverables and other Client work to handle. There was no time to “take a quick peek at solving the problem.” So Boss would deliver the anxiety-producing words I wouldn't have wished on my worst enemies:


“I need you to figure it out.”

I hated that. I would be so frustrated/angry/panicked/hopeless/helpless when I’d hear that. “What do you mean, 'just figure it out'?” I tried. That’s why I came to you, because I couldn’t.” I’d think.

But now, now I couldn’t be more thankful for those words.

They forced us to push through.

They forced us to be scrappy and resourceful.

They forced us to be creative and gritty. They empowered us.

It’s kind of like bootstrapping your business—where resources are in scarce supply and you’re forced to be creative with what you’ve got. And so we were. We had to problem solve when Clients’ expectations where on the line, when the stakes were high. And that forced us to get it done. 

[I even went as far as outsourcing to a virtual assistant in Sri Lanka $30 to do some menial tasks I needed completed on a project (“I need a contact list of each concrete forming and shoring companies east of the Mississippi”) so I could focus all my energy on “just figuring it out” on another more time sensitive project.]

Now, as I’ve pushed into more leadership and am faced with similar requests, I can empathize with Boss. I wouldn't be helping my teammates if I just solved each problem for them as it arose. That doesn't empower, that doesn't grow, that doesn't better the team.

Next time you run into a roadblock or obstacle and feel the urge to fire off an email to your partner or run to your manager for a quick solution, first ask yourself: Can I try to solve this on my own first (even if I know they probably have a quicker answer); Can I “figure it out” on my own before derailing someone else whose plate is already over-full?

Figure it out.



Connect With The "Why" To Get Important Things Done

Dan LeMoine

Yesterday I finished the "8 Strategies of Building A Culture That Sticks (or ‘Don’t Just Think About It, BE About It’)” and the 8th Strategy is: Connect Yourself (and Others) to The Why in order to truly bring to fruition the culture you desire. Here, I want to expound on this tactic a bit.

Here's a short and sweet video from the guys at Fizzle (of the above mentioned podcast) which explains this tactic very nicely. Podcast about why our work isn't getting done here:

[Serendipitously enough, I was then in the gym this afternoon and listening to one of my favorite podcasts on honest business building and the hosts hit on something that I think really drives home this approach of connecting with your why, which I'll touch on below. Watch video at right ==>]

When we (re)connect with our Why — the reason a project, objective, or to-do is important to our business — it legitimizes our otherwise non-urgent projects which often got deprioritized by all the urgent “fires" we are forced to put out in our organizations.

By connecting to the Why behind a given objective or project, we’re in essence building a business case (a strong rationale) for doing a thing, especially when that 'thing' falls into the important-but-not-urgent category. Let’s take this vague concept of culture as an example.

In the theme of the previous post, forging a culture you can be proud of falls directly into this category of “important but not often urgent."

Work/team culture is an important thing. I think we can agree on that.

But I can tell you from my time trying to upstart my own venture — intangibles like culture and team morale and whether we’re “living our values” was hard to focus time and resources on when Survival and Urgency were the two modes we operated in most.

Each time I felt the urge to cancel our weekly team pow-wows — where we checked in, enjoyed organic coffee (roasted on premises!), and sharpened each other via Seth Godin’s Krypton Course — I had to reassure myself that this “culture stuff” matters. I had to remind myself that if I wanted to build an organization I was proud of, it was this stuff (ie. the pouring into our humans) that mattered more than the emails I needed to send, the potential partners I need to call, or the interns I needed to direct.

I had to connect to the Why behind pouring into my staff in order to push through the dip of doubt of doing the important-but-not-urgent thing.

Our values are only our values if they cost us something, remember.

How I've used this strategy in brand building

The Doulos Brand Platform is another example of a project where the Why is a primary motivating factor. I’m currently championing and spearheading this project, and in all candor, it’s been a struggle to see this thing to the finish line (because it’s important but never urgent).

[For reference: a brand platform is a guide to how we look, sound, and feel as a brand. It’s the things we believe as an organization and how those practically play out into our brand messaging and how others experience our story. It’s an intentional guide and important first step to making raving fans of our donors and supporters. To get a more visual idea, you can see amazing examples of this here and here.] 

In the begining, my motivating force behind building this brand platform was because it was fun and I was excited about running point on building a delightful brand experience like those of the organizations I look up to. Then, as my zeal naturally waned, and as others stopped asking me this project, it kept being pushed lower on my to-do list.

How will I ever get excited about this again and get it done? Maybe you've asked yourself the same question on certain projects you've started on as well.

I had to reconnect with WHY it is important to our organization. I had to revisit my belief that Doulos can be an enviable brand, and that a well thought out brand will be key to making raving fans. I had to remind myself that a delightfully designed brand is a repeateable and memorable brand. I had to remind myself that our message — a beautiful message of hope and transformation through education — truly matters, and that a consistent and intentional brand message helps to spread our story and multiply our impact. 

Reconnecting with my core beliefs about how brand identity is key to building a successful organization helped me revive this project and get moving on it. 

Practically, it’s helpful to ask: Why is this project so important? (And not just once you’ve found yourself putting off a project, but before, during, and all the way to the finish line).

The guys in the podcast even go as far as advising that as you write out your project, include the desired outcome and Why right there on your task list. This way every time you look at your project task list, it’s right in your face of why this matters.

This tactic has ramifications WAY beyond work, as you can imagine. If i’m able to think through why asking humbling asking for forgiveness from my wife matters, or why revisiting a conflict I had with my parents will help us build a better relationship, or why spending two hours in the middle of my work day to “shalom and granola” with a close friend matters, well, then I’m able to execute on the important stuff that too often gets marginalized in my life. And that, my friends, is key to holistic success.



8 Strategies on How To Build a Culture That Sticks ("Don't Just Talk About It, Be About It")

Dan LeMoine

My buddy Tim used to always say,

"Don’t just talk about it, be about it."

We can talk ad nauseum about culture, doing the most human thing, the reason behind delightful design, and the purpose of business, but at some point we need to bring our ideas on culture and brand and values from the theoretical to the practical. We must create a framework and formula to operate from.

Over the next several days I'll be building out this post—each day adding a new element which will help you in the articulation, implementation, and execution of your values and purpose as a leader and organization. These are tactics and strategies I've either used, are currently using, and/or have seen other leaders use effectively to bring these ideas of purposeful work culture and brand identity to life within their organizations.


Things like brand platforms and culture codes are great first steps in defining who you are as an organization, what you value, and how those values inform how you feel, sound, and look as an organization. These "shared purpose" documents are powerful starting points in building a meaningful brand experience and casting the vision for your team.

These things, while great, can still keep you too much the clouds and never truly work themselves out in a practical way in your daily operations and culture. The last thing you want is to spend the energy and resources creating something that just sits up on Google Drive and grow weeds. 

One powerful tactic to help mitigate this, and truly create buy-in is to involve people in the process of building this cultural collateral. Invite your playmakers and challenge your leaders to have an active hand in crafting these things.

This creates a shared sense of ownership among your most valued humans. It helps create proud ambassadors of your brand and culture, both internally and in the marketplace.

Because we often discover what we believe in the course of actively articulating it, what better way than to have a cultural "task force" of sorts collaboratively capturing who you are and who you want to become as an organization?

Build buy-in and traction through collaboration.


Once you've begun building buy-in through inviting your key playmakers and stakeholders into the creation process of your cultural collateral you're crafting to help inform who you are and who you're becoming as an org, you need to get that thing out into the world. It's far to easy to just ...whoever is taking the lead on this project needs to set a date and ship it.

Parkinson's Law is the is the truism that: work will expand to fill the time available for its completion. Meaning, give yourself a freaking deadline to actually ship your project, otherwise you'll just keep tweaking and perfecting and never actually get it out into to the world to make an impact. 

In creating our brand platform for Doulos (the document describing and guiding how we look, how we feel, how we sound as a school/ministry to the outside world), I set a series of mini-deadlines to ship each section of our brand platform draft to our team of collaborators to add input on each week for input.

Without a deadline(s), procrastination-parading-as-perfectionism is inevitable.

Set a final date for a launch party/celebration within your company. Not only will this force you to actually ship your strategic plan, brand book, culture code, or policy, but will help the idea spread.

This will help get your project completed AND will also be a crucial step in building a broader buy-in across your entire organization—getting them excited about your new direction, and the cultural identity or standard you want to living into.

Be sure to make it as much of a party as you can. Build buzz. Have food, always have food. And be proud as you actively work to create and direct your company culture in an intentional and relevant way.



Don’t assume people know how to "do culture" well.

Culture happens (good or bad), and without intention in creating the proper environment of shared values and purpose, you open yourself to simply having a mediocre culture (or worse).

Training and on-boarding your new (and used) team members on “this is how we do it here” is crucial.

Now, practically, this shouldn't look like a mandate as much as an invitation—an invitation to live into your ideal culture. An invitation which empowers and challenges your team to steward well the power they each have in crafting and living into this culture. 

Yes, "trainings" may not be the most efficient use of time...but I promise you the evidence is showing, culture and purpose and mission matter deeply to win in business.

You may get some indifference or complaints. Stay the course. Know that there will always be folks who can't be bothered by this type of woo-woo stuff. But rest assured, this stuff matters.


If your sole purpose in your business is to make money (or in your ministry is only to get more people in the seats), then this won't matter. But if we truly want to create places of work where humans flourish — which, if you're still reading, chances are you do — then this is important work.

Approaching this stuff intentionally is not only the right thing to do, it's a strategic thing to do as well. Culture is a massive competitive advantage, and it pays to model and train the same way we train employees in other aspects of their work.

Not only does this helps galvanize long term direction and vision, but also solidarity, organizational trust, continuity and transparency. All which flow to the bottom line by building long-term engagement among your team (lower turnover, ability to attract top talent) and creating raving fans of your customers (as more people want to put their money in endeavors with purpose and care).


While formal training is important, at the end of the day we are social learners. Seeing culture and values and purpose modeled well by leadership will trump any workshop everyday of the week. All the training won't help if we're not modeling our values well. We as leaders have a crucial obligation and responsibility to model the culture well ("BE about it" remember)

This relates and leads to our next element...


We won’t always get it right. As any business leader or entrepreneur or artist or impresario will tell you, you will mess up…lots. Those you work for and those who work for you will not be 100% on-point 100% of the time (“60 percent of the time, it works every time” Anchorman, anyone?…I digress). I love how Hubspot describes their own culture code: “This document is part manifesto and part employee handbook. It’s part who we are and part who we aspire to be." They know they won't get it right every time, but it's an identity to live into.

One of the most effective long term tactics in living into the meaningful culture you desire is the consistent celebration of what is working well. Rather than pointing out where your team is failing, complaining about what isn’t working (without every proactively bringing solutions), gossiping about how stuff isn’t meeting your expectation, or how so-n-so isn’t living into the cultural standard you desire to uphold, focus on what is working. What the Heath brothers call “following the bright spots” in their book Switch! How To Change Things When Change is Hard.

According to a good friend who is a master of community development and crafting programs which create space for good things to run wild, this “focusing-on-what’s-already-working-then-celebrating-the-crap-out-of-it” is a powerful tactic in what he calls Asset Based Community Development.

When entering a community with hopes of bringing development and change and goodness—find the people, places, and things that are already working and already fostering community and already helping people flourish to some degree. Then identify creative and sustainable ways to breath life into those things. In other words... “Follow The Bright Spots"

I saw this modeled exceptionally well during my time building our social business accelerator. During our upstart phase I was put in touch with an organization called Social Entrepreneur Corps’ Community Empowerment Solutions. I was blown away at how their model/approach worked.

In short, their Micro-Consignment Model works to identify “local assets” — that is, locals who are vouched for by the community or local leadership — who are reputable, honest, hard-working, and entrepreneurial. CES then trains these entrepreneurs to start social-minded micro-businesses while also training others to run these consignment-based micro-businesses as well…Follow The Bright Spots.

So whether you’re trying to institute a change in culture at the office, at your weekly basketball game, or within your family—follow the bright spots to lead the change.


This one is tightly related to modelling & training (element no. 3, above), but is worthy of its own section. Transparency leverages consistency of character.

When you’re transparent as a leader—sharing information, trust, and responsibility generously—it cultivates empathy and trust among your team. This tactic is powerful for two reasons.

First is, when you’re transparent, it’s very difficult to live antithetically to the values you proclaim as important for your culture. At some level, each one of us wants to live consistent with what we say/believe, but we all have our moments of hypocrisy or inconsistency; the places and times when our actions fall short of what we aspire to. However, the more open and transparent we are, the easier it is to identify our inconsistencies, correct course, and live into the values we set for ourselves.

Second reason being transparent is a powerful tactic is that it helps to cultivate grace, patience, understanding, and empathy within your team culture. When you are appropriately open about your vulnerabilities, challenges, and weaknesses, it humanizes you to your team and makes you a stronger leader. By “taking up residency” among your team in this way—i.e. being more relatable—it actually turns the conventional/traditional frameworks of power and leadership on their heads, making you a more followable teammate and leader.

ELEMENT #6: Build in visual cues

Whether you’re a solo-preneur or work on a robust team—your physical environment matters. It’s no big trick that using visual cues and crafting your environment can help you achieve your performance goals. But why not build in cues for cultural excellence and identity-based goals as well.

Whether we realize it or not (does a fish even know it’s in water), our environment shapes us, for good or for mediocre. As leaders we need to do what we can to craft our physical environment to inspire and support our cultural and character goals for our team, not distract from them.

College campuses are great examples. You walk onto a beautifully manicured college campus you can’t help but walk a little taller, feel a little more confident. Those places reek of excellence.

Physical workspace is a powerful way to push us towards who we want to be. Use visual cues and inspiring space and delightful aesthtic to win the cultural battle. Don’t underestimate the power of space.

ELEMENT #7: Build in feedback loops & Listen (with Humility)

Feedback Loops

If you’re not engaging with your clients and with your employees/teammates in a way that provides cues as to whether or not we’re living what we say we value, then you’re essentially running blind.

There is only so much we can do to self-regulate and self-evaluation before we need to look outside. We need to gather feedback on whether we’re actually walking the walk. Sometimes this is über-practical like sending out a customer survey or a 360° Feedback Evaluation.

It also be feedback loops like employee absenteeism, simply following up with each and every new client or employee to have a conversation, and/or trusting your gut feeling about the state of your culture.

As we increase in our social and emotional intelligence, it’s easier and easier to identify when something is “off” within a given work culture. It’s then our job as leaders (aka “thermostats") to know what to correct course and set the new tempo.

Listen (with Humility)

The extent to which you humble yourself and listen well is the extent you will profit from the feedback you get. It's as simple as that. First step in being able to lead and craft a culture is listening with open hands to those who occupy and inhabit this culture.

ELEMENT #8: Connect yourself and others to The Why

Why are you doing what you do as a business. It’s not (read: shouldn’t be) to make money. That’s just a rule to the game, not the ultimate goal.

Knowing why it is you do what you do. Reminding yourself and your team of that continually. Discovering and living out what you believe—about the world, the purpose of your work, and the meaning of your life within your organization and outside of it—is paramount.

Be radical about your self-inquiry and diligent in your focus on others.

Working to live a life of/with/on purpose is the only way we can transform an otherwise sterile/neutral sphere of culture like business for good.

Robert Safian, editor of Fast Company magazine believes business is THE driving force for progress in modern culture.

He says, "We’re not in business to make money; we make money so we can stay in business. […] Not all enterprises embrace that sense of mission, but the ones that do have shown that it is, paradoxically, a highly effective way to deliver financial success."

Staying closely connected with your purpose and your why is a massive key to galvanizing the edifying culture you’re creating through your work. 


That’s it for this novel-of-a-post. Thanks for hanging in there. This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list but I hope it gives you some tactics and strategies to help you become more of a thermostat than a thermometer when it comes to leading-up and creating a work culture you're proud of.

Serve hard, sell soft, and keep making culture.




What is a "meaningful problem" anyway?

Dan LeMoine

We talk a lot about solving meaningful problems with our work. If you’re reading this you likely desire or are actively working to have purpose in your career, and make it more than a paycheck provider, and solve a problem that matters to someone.

But what makes a problem “meaningful"? How do we define meaningfulness?

Great question.


“Meaningful” means having a serious, important, or useful quality. Having a purpose. Having substance beyond the obvious, beyond face value. 


As for what constitutes a problem—a problem is a need being unmet, an itch being unscratched, an injustice being unresolved, an obstacle to right relationship going undestroyed.

Does a problem have meaning if it’s something it isn’t a necessity? if it's a want and not really a need, per se?

I think yes. Especially if you focus on the WAY you go about solving the problem, meeting the need, satisfying the want, or destroying the obstacle to right relationship in your work.

Uber didn't invent something completely knew in terms of transportation, but they've found a new way to solve an already met problem (getting from point A to point B via car or cab). And they found a way to do it in a seamless and delightful way—in a way the market sees as more meaningful. 

They disrupted the mediocre status quo. They democratized the private black car experience for all of us serfs—which is, arguably, slightly more transformational and slightly less transactional than hailing a cab. As a client you feel a bit less like you're buying a commodity (taxi) and more like you're part of an experience (private car). They've discovered meaningfulness in an already existent problem in the marketplace.

I can't help but think of my friends who run a boutique web agency. The quest they are on goes beyond their conquest against poorly designed websites. Their purpose and meaning goes deeper than just being able to visually and beautifully articulate a brand on the web.

They define themselves as seekers. In an email from one of their partners he said: "We seek to be on the forefront of establishing credibility in the web design & development world. We don’t just want to accomplish this for ourselves. We want to be a catalyst for raising standards in this market." 

If that's not meaning enough, they define their purpose as: to help humans flourish. You'd expect that from a charitable nonprofit or a ministry, but from a web agency?! Dang son, that's good stuff. And I can tell you from experience they truly strive to live that purpose. From the way they treat their employees, to the developing neighborhoods they choose to set up shop in, to the dreams they have for growth — these are some uncommon people finding a fresh, deep, and meaningful way to solve a common problem already being solved by others.

In the same way we can take the smallest amount of influence and create impact, we can take the tiniest unsolved problem and make it meaningful. It just takes a little intention. There's no cookie cutter answer on how to build this meaning but the recipe seems to involve delight, intentionality, doing the most human thing, and focusing on How we're solving a problem above and beyond the problem itself. 




A Breakdown of The Paradox of Comparison

Dan LeMoine

“Don’t focus on the competition, they’ll never give you money. - Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

[This article is a continuation/development of The Paradox of Comparison which I hope brings more clarity of thought, as well as how to effectively use comparison as a tactic to win.]

I mentioned previously that comparison to others is a paradox. Something that is wise but at the same time foolish, depending on who, when, how, why, and where on your journey you’re comparing. In this post I want to break down exactly when it is wise and when it is foolish.


Here is when it is wise to compare: when it’s the basics, the blueprint, the how-tos, when you’re thinking about starting something matterful. It makes sense to look to others when you have no framework on even where to start or what the journey to success could look like. It is helpful to look at how others have done things to begin wrapping your mind around what it’ll take to get you launched, or get you to the next stage of growth.

Getting an idea of what success can look like in your endeavor is a great way to conceptualize the journey and reverse engineer how to get there. Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS agrees. He says, “Learning how someone else is already doing the thing you want to do, or a version of it, can eliminate fear—every path is easier to follow when you se someone else’s footprints already on it."

If I wanted to build a rocket ship I would look at Elon Musk and SpaceX. If I wanted to turn my blog into a viable revenue stream (which I have no intentions of doing right now btw), I’d look to Chris Guillebeau (The Art of NonConformity) or Pat Flynn (Smart Passive Income).

When I wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle I first watched others do it—noting where their feet went, how to use the brake, how to incorporate the clutch while they shifted gears. In other words, I needed to learn the functions and the “rules” to the game. 

"You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, and a pilot wouldn’t fly an airplane without a flight map.” — Steph Crowder,

When NOT to compare

After you’ve learned the functions and the rules. After you’ve benchmarked and gotten a rough idea of what success can look like in a given endeavor, stop comparing. 

When you’re constantly comparing and competing with anyone but yourself (and against mediocrity), it distracts you.

Let Go Of The Need to Win

Jeremy Bloom, Olympic Skier-turned entrepenreneur says we need to let go of the need to win.

Sometimes we get stuck analyzing and thinking about what everyone else is doing and what we need to do in order to win. It’s important to take a moment and focus on what really matters to you and what motivate you intrinsically. To become more intrinsically motivated, I stopped focusing on beating others, getting rich, and caring what everyone thought about me. I began to focus more on what I wanted to get out of life, and the person that I ultimately wanted to become, and how I could get better at whatever I was doing. And Ironically, I started winning much more often.*

[WORLDVIEW REFRAME: I would only add to Jeremy’s wonderful insight in this way: we’re called to not just focusing on what you want to get out of life, but what you want to give in life. “Count others more important than yourself” (cf. Philippians 2:3). We don’t just focused on who we want to ultimately become, but we actively work to aligning our desired identity to be consistent with who God has called us to be as individuals and a community.]

I remember reading somewhere that racers preform better when they are unaware of other competitors around them. (Unfortunately, I was unable to find the source where I read this, so please take this as simply anecdotal.

Now, I'm not advocating for a let's-all-get-trophies-and-sing-kumbaya type market. I love competition, and think healthy competition fuels innovation and progress. But as we strive to innovate and grow, focusing on our competition too much will actually stifle our ability to win.

Big Takeaway

This gives us a better idea of when it's appropriate to compare and when not. It’s good to pick up a tactic here, or a style there, or get inspired from him, or find a new approach from her. But beyond that, just relax, have fun. There is no room for keeping up with the Joneses in your career or when building your organization. Our competition is ourselves and mediocrity.

One of the Expeditionary Learning design principles which informs how we instruct the kids at the school I serve for as the Director of Growth & Development is Collaboration & Competition. "Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete, not against each other, but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.” 

We compare to others in a spirit of collaboration and leanring. But we compete with ourselves.



3 Tactics to Reprogram Your Response To The Fear of Putting Yourself Out There

Dan LeMoine

I’m about a fifth of the way to my goal of 100 consecutive days of writing. I’ve got a nice foothold on doing the work and shipping. Forcing myself to shut up, sit down and type

My comfort zone is expanding, and with that, naturally, I’m finding found new ways to “hide"; I'm finding the fear of putting myself out there actually changes tunes and flavors as the comfort zone expands.

For example, here’s the progression my comfort zone is on with regards to writing and this project:

“I’ll begin writing anonymously, on an anonymous blog that will get 0 readers"

“I’ll begin putting my name and face on the articles I publish. But I’ll do little-to-nothing to share these with those beside maybe my wife…maybe."

“I’ll just post the article on my blog, but won’t share it with my tribe on the different social platforms I hang out on” or

“I’ll post the essay, and share on Twitter and Instagram because my tribe on those platforms don’t know me personally, but I’m not going to post this on Facebook or LinkedIn” (still really scary)

“I’ll post, share on the platforms, AND actively reach out to the thought leaders who I have quoted or have inspired the essay or post” (still really really scary for me)

Really putting yourself out there past your limits of comfort is scary and vulnerable. 

We all know this and have experienced it at one time or another. Somewhere along our journey we are trained (or we train one another) to fly under the radar, don’t put yourself out there, don’t open yourself up, don’t be vulnerable, don’t ship matterful work which may get you noticed and criticized. 

What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.
— Timothy Ferriss, The 4 Hour Work Week

And I know for a fact I’m not the only one who feels this. In some ways that is a good thing—we’re not alone in this.

One of my favorite authors Seth Godin calls this fear and primal resistance to taking responsibility and putting yourself out there "The Lizard Brain." Stephen Pressfield calls it The Resistance. The takeaway here is that these massively successful guys still have to battle the fear all the time.

My friend Katie was telling me how she recently started a blog on motherhood, and after a few vulnerable posts she got some unpalatable and unexpected and unsolicited feedback. I hate that for her. I hate it for me. When you put your voice out there, and step up to take your turn, you are open yourself up to being misread, misunderstood, scoffed at, slighted, attacked... 

But what’s the alternative to taking the risk of opening yourself up and putting yourself out there?

Boredom? passivity? commonness? weak impact? atrophied influence? no connection? settling? mediocrity?

Reprogram Your Approach To Squelch The Fear


The takeaway here is to simply acknowledge the fears as they come. Take stock of them. That, I have found is half the battle—recognizing and being self aware to what triggers insecurity and paralysis or hiding. Blake Mycoskie says a good tactic, which I too have utilised and found to be helpful when in the anxious and fearful states of taking big leap (like moving my wife and I to the developing world, or starting our business accelerator), is to write down your fears. He says,

"When fears stay stuck inside your head, your imagination can go wild, torturing you with all the various negative possibilities and outcomes. But when you write them down, you clarify exactly what you are afraid of, and soon the power they hold over you will fade."


Another great tactic Blake gives:

"Instead of focusing on the fear itself, which you cannot control, focus on what you can control: your actions. How you react to negative feelings will be the key to your success."

He goes on to to note that remembering to "live your story" is important—go back to your core motivation: "Why am I doing this?" 

When you go back to your core motivations, you affirm the authenticity of your project with takes away one of the biggest fears: that you are a fraud," he says.

So if you’re hemming and hawing on starting your “someday” thing, or putting yourself out there in any way in your work and life— take heart.

3. Trust the Process, Young Grasshopper

Trust that through the discipline of creating, the work itself becomes the reward which positively overwhelms the fears and insecurities. I consider myself someone who is constantly trying to expand my comfort zone and has a relatively decent fear tolerance, but I still find myself pushing into uncomfortable, fear-full places in different areas of my life.

Over time The Fear quiets little by little. Trust that along the journey of producing we’ll connect and resonate once we find our voice and find our people. I/we have to trust that the vulnerability of producing, solving meaningful problems, leading up, sharing your voice, trying to connect, or taking responsibility are the dues we must pay to have an uncommon career.

Quotes taken from Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie of TOMS



Peter Drucker Got It Wrong

Dan LeMoine

Peter Drucker got it wrong. 

In his book The Essential Drucker: The Best Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, he reasons that each institution "exists for a specific purpose and mission; it has a specific social function. In the business enterprise, this means economic performance.” Sorry Pete, but I think that is a limited take.[1]

Now, I know that even the slightest insinuation that Master Drucker might be wrong in the management world is as blasphemous as saying Santa isn’t real, but hold on real quick.

While this may have been true nearly half a century ago, I don’t believe it still is. And where this is still seen as the purpose...well, what is, is not what ought.

Yes, a primary function of business is economic performance, but to say it is the purpose is selling business short of what it can be (and often what it is, when done well).

Now, to be fair, I don’t think Peter is wrong or bad or that we should ignore his massive wisdom. I mean, the guy is a sage. On this topic specifically, he does note that business is primarily a social function. He says, “To know what a business is, we have to start with a purpose. Its purpose must lie outside of the business itself.”[1] I think he’s dead on.

We live in a time when business is shouldering more responsibility more than it ever has, which is pretty amazing if you ask me. We as consumers are wanting not just goods and services for ourselves, but wanting our dollars to provide goods/services that meet a need in the world too. We want the brands we follow to be transformational not just transactional. 

The overlap between businesses and social functions is deepening every day. And having an ever growing purpose deeper than maximizing shareholder value and providing jobs is become a key to success. We employees and owners—change makers—want our work to have impact. I’d dare to say we need it to have impact for us to be our best selves at work. We need the organizations we pour our emotional/financial/chronological/spiritual resources into to be doing more than stackin' "dolla dolla billz, y’all”.

[1] Peter F. Drucker, The Essential Drucker; specific quote excerpted from Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (1974)