A Hero You Can Chase: Leadership Lessons in an Oscars Speech

Last night Matthew McConaughey accepted the Oscar for Best Actor for a film I haven’t seen. McConaughey isn’t my favorite actor, although I have enjoyed several of his films. But something in his speech stood out as a leadership lesson I think is worth considering. “There’s three things, to my account, that I need each day: One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase,” McConaughey said. He went on to explain that the person he will be in ten years is the hero he is chasing. What a powerful concept to consider.

Every day, week or year McConaughey can look out ahead and examine what he needs to do to be the man he wants to be in ten years. When decisions are made with this kind of vision in mind, the choices are clearer and more easily made to do what it takes to move forward. If I want to be healthy in ten years, then today I will eat nutritious foods and get some exercise. If I want to have money to spend, then I will put some cash from my next pay check away in savings. If I want a successful business, I will connect with clients and create the best possible experience to keep them coming back for more. If I want a community with fewer hungry children, I will do what I can to feed one today.more.

Who will you be in ten years –

and more importantly, what do yo

u need to do to become that person today



Matthew McConaughey

What Kind of Door are You?

Last week I was on a coaching call with the Wealthy Thought Leader mastermind group led by Andrea J. Lee.  If you don’t know Andrea (If you’re a coach, have you been living under a rock??), she is the consummate coach, and always seems to have a question or exercise that makes me go “hmmm…” If you’ve worked with me, you have benefited from Andrea’s work as I often pass gems like this one along.

This exercise is about having a clear picture of what the door to your business looks like. If your business is a big beautiful building, what is the door like? The woman Andrea was coaching in our session is a silver-haired wise woman, with an earthy vibe, a potter and lover of nature. We all chimed in with what this wise-woman-business-coach’s door would look like, and by the time we were finished we had a beautiful sense of who Kaya is, as well as what attracts people to her business.

This exercise hit me at just the right time. I’m revising my web site and struggling once again with brand angst. I don’t want to waste time on navel-gazing and certainly don’t want to lose what is working with my brand – but how can I refine it, better define it, and embrace it?
For me, as a part of this exercise, it meant looking at doors. I’ve been collecting photos of beautiful, interesting doors on Pinterest a long time – you can take a look at my board here: “Behind this door, down this path“.

After finding doors that I love and felt were “me”, I talked to a few trusted friends, clients, and my favorite source of wisdom: my mom. I asked them which doors represented my business to them and why. The responses touched my heart. I learned that I do have a brand that my clients recognize, and now I have words and phrases and images to share it with others.

stained glass doors tree

Welcoming, safe, nurturing, a catalyst for growth, an artist.

How would you or your trusted confidants describe the entry to your life and your business? Not sure… go look at a few doors.
Here are a few of mine…  What kind of door are you?

blue grillwork door

There is light streaming from your door inviting those wandering in darkness to come in and find clarity and direction.

yellow arches

Layered, deep wisdom, spiritual

paned window door

Always looking upward, outward and forward.

yellow door

Both traditional and progressive; elegant and fun

Angkor Wat

Timeless wisdom, journey to the center, soul surgery to abolish lies and reveal hidden truths

Sturdy, yet vulnerable; old (experienced) but not weathered or tired; firm foundation

Sturdy, yet vulnerable; old (experienced) but not weathered or tired; firm foundation

teal door

A gem in a uniquely crafted yet highly secure setting.

Getting Unstuck

Yesterday I had a completely open afternoon. This doesn’t happen often, and I set an outrageous goal to use the time writing copy for my website, blog and newsletter.

I got nothing done.

Well, I did have a nice lunch. I pet my dog. I took off my chipped nail polish. I played a game. I talked (briefly) to a prospective client. I did a little research for one page. I played another game… You get the drift.

Every time I went to that open Word document where I was planning to place awe-inspiring words of wisdom my mind went blank. It’s not the first time I’ve gotten stuck. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

Getting stuck happens for a lot of reasons…stuck

– I’m worried about what others will think of my finished product.

– I’m trying too hard to be brilliant when great or even good enough would be good enough.

– I’m tired and need a break.

– I’m unsure of the direction I want to go because of all the wonderful possibilities.

Those are my top reasons for being stuck.  What are yours?

Here’s a secret tool for getting unstuck:  Do something – anything — in the crappiest way possible. Seriously! Do a lousy job on purpose.  And then go back and fix it if you must. Or throw it away. But Do Something!  Any motion in any direction is motion. Momentum is created from motion.  It’s easier to get going in the right direction once you get moving.

So get going. Do something as poorly as you can. I dare you!

The Domino Effect

What do Bono, Charlie Sharpe (founder of Ozark National Life and Heartland Dairies), and most of my clients have in common? They are all business owners who have used their success and influence to create positive change in the lives of other people.  My husband Duke and I   attended the U2 concert in Minneapolis a week ago. It was AWESOME!! Bono, the Edge, Adam and David all performed with passion in the pouring rain. The music was outstanding. The technology (you’d have to see the Claw in person to understand just how amazing it is) was incredible. But for me the concert was even more inspiring because of the example Bono and the members of U2 demonstrate of using their platform to create change. Bono is well known for his support of Amnesty International, Project One and the Red project. He personally meets the hungry, disenfranchised and politically oppressed and does what he can to improve their lives. During the concert 58,000 fans were privileged to view a Skype message from Aung San Suu Kyi, the woman elected president of Burma. She was just recently released from prison after two years of oppression. Her crime: being elected in a democratic election. She was so thankful to U2 and their fans for her freedom. It moved my heart and made me glad to be a part of something even bigger than a rock concert.

Charlie Sharpe is not a household name, but thousands of people owe much to the lifelong commitment to service and integrity of this man. Charlie is the president of my husband’s company, Ozark National Life. Charlie had a vision for offering what he calls the Balanced Program of insurance and investments, and when the company he worked for as a young man didn’t support his ideas, he went out on his own and started Ozark. Now people around the country are saving and investing and creating wealth. But Charlie’s influence only begins there. After he had created this highly successful company, Charlie had a vision of creating a place where people could come and get free of alcohol and other addictions. He built Heartland on farmland in northern Missouri where he grew up. The men in his program needed work, so he built Heartland Dairy. The dairy needed trucks and other businesses to support the dairy, so he built those. Later a lodge, restaurants, cleaners, beauty parlor and other small businesses were added. At the center of this growing city is the church, school, and now a small college. Visiting Heartland last June was awe-inspiring as I couldn’t stop thinking about the Domino Effect of one man on so many lives.

How are you creating a Domino Effect with your time and resources? As a successful business owner, executive or entrepreneur, you have much to be thankful for and so much more than so many others. I realized not too long ago that almost every one of my clients is creating a Domino Effect of their own – transformational leaders in their work, their community and the world.

Let me know what you are up to – I’ll be highlighting transformational leaders here in the coming months and on a new radio show I’ll be launching in the fall!

Why YOU need a Strategic Plan

I thoroughly believe in strategic planning – whether it’s for your life or your business or both!  Here’s why:

1 – Strategic planning helps you look back, look inside, and look forward.  Taking a look at your accomplishments and failures, your assets and debits, your dreams and realities is healthy and necessary for growth.

2 – Strategic planning forces you to define who you are and what you do in concise terms.  This is essential for marketing and networking.  More importantly, it helps you determine if you are really who you want to be.

3 – Strategic planning asks you to answer the big “WHY?”  Defining your purpose and passionately pursuing it will carry you through tough times.  Knowing “why” you do what you do forces your gaze outward to how you give back and who you serve.

4 – Strategic planning helps you set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-specific goals.  A dynamic strategic plan is always in front of you urging you on toward those goals.

5 – Strategic planning allows you to narrow your focus on the action items that will make you successful.  Keeping your eyes on the goal and the specific action steps needed to accomplish those goals will keep you from wasting time, money or other precious resources.

6 – Strategic planning will outline the ways you plan to measure your progress.  Nothing encourages more than steady, measurable progress.

7 – Strategic planning can be personalized so that it is YOUR plan, highlighting YOUR strengths, embracing YOUR passion and purpose.

Get your copy of my GPS for Life & Business Workbook at

Meaningful Purpose

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  There are seven traits of a “spiritual entrepreneur” identified by authors like Marsha Sinetar and Nikos Mourkogiannis or “conscious business owners” described by Fred Kofman:  inventive inclination, authentic focus, meaningful purpose, figuring out skills, risk taking effectiveness, strategic long term outlook, and spiritual intelligence.  Of the entrepreneurs taking my Spiritual Entrepreneurs survey, all of them felt they had a sense of “meaningful purpose”.   All the rest of the traits were rated in varying degrees, with risk-taking effectiveness being the lowest.  Purpose.  That sense of who you are, why you are here, what you are called to do.  It is an essential trait that, in my opinion, enables someone who is not all that comfortable with risk, to take a leap of faith and pursue the passion and vision that leads them to create a new business.

Have you found your purpose?  Are you fulfilling that calling?

Entrepreneurs – The New Normal

I love reading stories of entrepreneurs – they inspire me and make me believe  my dreams and aspirations are more within reach because of their achievements.  I’ve often felt out of synch with the rest of the world – I’d rather slave away creating my own business than work for anyone else.  Even when the hours are long and the pay lower than I could get elsewhere –  the pride of ownership of what I’ve accomplished far outweighs any hardship!

I guess I’m not that unusual.  Entrepreneurs are becoming the new normal!  More and more people are seeing how they can invent a life of purpose and passion – and profit!  I just finished a couple books I highly recommend on this subject:


  • Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary people Creating Extraordinary Lives by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek


  • To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love by Marsha Sinetar


I just celebrated the anniversary of my business and am proud of weathering storms, excited to see new growth, and thrilled at the success I see coming my way!

How can I help YOU create the life and business you want?  Contact me at lisa@VanAllenCoaching.com