Welcome to the second edition of Don’s Thoughts. Thank you to all of you who gave great feedback on the inaugural edition.
I invest a lot of time in learning, from reading a few books a week, to being a part of a number of learning-centric organizations, to doing research, to interviewing incredible people on my podcast Impact With Don Wenner, to hosting our Elite & Prosperity events with world-class teachers and speakers, to participating in DLP’s Driven 4 Greatness where, every couple of weeks, a different DLP leader presents to the group on the book we are reading together, to simply asking lots of questions to the incredible people all around me. My goal is to share the nuggets I learn and the insights I garner. I aspire to bring value to you through “my thoughts.“
Feel free to forward to anyone else you think might benefit from it.
Let's Dig In
The beginning of each year is a great time to set goals and assess what you want to achieve out of your life, your family, and your business or career. For me, the process of laying out and updating the goals and the direction for DLP and for my life and family is a significant, ongoing activity, and an area I have spent much time and energy on over the past couple of months. We have developed tools we call Compasses to give us the structure to align all of our goals and passions with our purpose, mission, and values.
There are three different compass formats that I use to guide my life, family, and business–The Elite Compass, The Family Compass, and The Personal Compass.
The Elite Compass was featured in the first chapter of my first book, Building an Elite Organization and the Personal Compass will be a core topic of Building an Elite Career, my second book coming out in 2022.
We recently shared our Vision Forward for DLP, unveiling our updated Compass, including our one-year bullseye of the key goals we will accomplish in 2022, at our recent Vision Day.
During Vision Day, we not only lay out where we are going, but we also celebrate what we accomplished the past year, including celebrating and rewarding our best team members. We also grant dreams through a program we call DreamOn, which is sort of like a make-a-wish type program for DLP team members. We granted 13 dreams on our last Vision Day. We kicked off the day with an incredible rendition of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” performed by Larry Hickernell, Senior Director of Investor Relations, and Barry DeGroot, Chief Legal Officer. You can see it on our full recording of Vision Day.
Part of unveiling our updated Compass and sharing our vision is the announcement of our annual theme. This year’s theme is “Bigger, Better, Faster.” We are focused on making everyone’s job at DLP a little bit easier and maximizing our efforts and impact through this focus. We will do bigger deals, work with bigger operators or sponsors, make decisions faster, remove distractions, and be very selective on choosing what initiatives, products, deals, and priorities we focus on. The HOW we will achieve Bigger, Better, Faster is laid out in detail in the Vision Day recording linked above. After each year’s Vision Day, the whole organization knows exactly where we are going, leading to high levels of energy, engagement, and alignment.
Each month at DLP, we highlight one of our ten core values.
These core values truly drive the decision making at DLP, and drive the people we hire into our organization, and the people who stay with DLP year after year. This month’s core value is:
Driven for Greatness
We are driven to seek knowledge and pursue growth and greatness each day in both our personal and professional lives.
Driven for greatness is the curiosity to learn, to grow, and to get better each day. It comes naturally to the people we attract and hire at DLP. People who get excited to learn new things, who go out of their way to seek opportunities to learn, are the ones who fit well into the culture at DLP. This leads me to my next thought I would love to share: DLP’s Driven 4 Greatness.
This is a meeting we have been doing now for ten-plus years. Essentially, it started as a book club. I was reading a book called The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell, and loved it so much I decided to invite my teammates to read the book with me. We started meeting every other week to discuss the book. That led to us reading another book together, and another, etc. Over the years, we have read more than 150 books together, many of them multiple times. Today and for the last number of years, Driven 4 Greatness has been a voluntary group at DLP. As we have grown, the attendance and membership has remained at about 50% of all of DLP, so today that is over 200 people. We meet every other Thursday at 8 a.m., and we read on average one book together each month. Two DLP team members volunteer to lead us through a presentation and discussion on the book we are reading, breaking it into two halves, and each leading one Driven 4 Greatness meeting. We also coordinate 1-on-1 meetings with members in between our bi-weekly meetings.
Our Driven 4 Greatness members become part of a community of like-minded team members who share the great insights and learnings from the books we read together. We also provide all members with FitBits, BeachBody on Demand, and unlimited learning through a Libro.fm account, where we will pay for our team members to download and read (via listening to the book) as many books as the team member wants to read. I personally started over 200 books last year, and finished more than 100.
Our current book is Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead And Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. DLP team member Denise Laferrera led our first session on this book.
Some of the key takeaways from the first part of the book for us were:
- Leaders must exhibit extreme ownership–acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them and develop a plan to win.
- Leaders must set the tone for the team and enforce standards in a way that encourages and enables the team to utilize extreme ownership.
- Leaders must understand the why of the mission and be able to explain it to the team for them to believe in the mission too.
- Leaders must check their ego and operate with a high degree of humility. This allows the team to operate without issues being clouded by ego.
- Teamwork is fundamental–departments and groups within the team must depend on each other, help each other, work together and support each other.
- Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success. If the plan is too complicated to follow, no one will follow it!
What I'm Reading
Where I've Been
Where I'm Going
IMPACT with Don Wenner
The IMPACT with Don Wenner podcast is a great source for information on topics like the Job Crisis, Housing Crisis, Affordability Crisis, and Happiness Crisis, so you can have the knowledge you need to make an IMPACT in the world.
David T. Fischer - Opportunity + Action = Happiness
Here’s a recent episode where I interviewed business executive, philanthropist and former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco David T. Fischer about attracting the right team members in a scaling business and how to find happiness through opportunity.
Josh McCallen - Empowering Yourself to Create Wealth
I also recently interviewed Josh McCallen, a nationally recognized hospitality executive, conference speaker, innovator, builder & investor with a track record for the development of exceptional resort properties and growing world-class operational teams. He discussed his path into hospitality and creating legacy wealth, having a massively successful podcast, and how he is turning his wealth into impacting the world around him.
Fundamentals Of Living Fully: The 8 F's
Over the last number of years in my pursuit of Living Fully, one of DLP's core values, I have developed what I believe to be the formula for a life of significance, fulfilment, prosperity, and happiness, the whole formula I will cover in future editions.
The central thought of living a full life is the 8 F's: faith, family, friends, finance, fitness, fulfillment, freedom, and fun.
By putting intentionality and focus around all of these areas as a part of “one plan” for your life, you can truly live fully. We have an entire day–Living Fully Day–dedicated to being a launch point for all of our team members to live a full life.
We have a process of assessing our lives, setting goals, and then putting those goals into an annual Living Fully Dashboard, which I will also dig into in a future edition.
The first and most important “F” for me is Faith. I believe so many people are unhappy. We have the highest unhappiness rates in American history right now by a number of studies, because people lack connection. They lack connection to a purpose that is bigger than themselves, and even more so they often lack a connection to the Lord. Many people turn to connections through social media and other external communities that they can not find anywhere but through the Lord.
A few ways I bring faith into my “Life Plan,” which I lay out in my personal compass covered above, starts with bringing intention to improving my faith. So, how do you bring intention to each of these areas? First, I have established a faith statement for my family—“We are passionate about knowing God and growing in our relationships with Jesus Christ. We give ourselves to serve the Lord.”
In addition, we set a family Verse of the Year. Our current verse is:
As for me and my family, we serve the Lord.
- Joshua 24:15
I have also, as a part of my personal compass, established my perfect life metrics. The way my friend and advisor Llyod Reeb, co-founder of Halftime institute describes it is, if in 30 years, you were sitting on a park bench next to someone and they asked, “How did the last 30 years of your life go?” What would be the metrics that you would be able to say, “My last 30 years were perfect”?
My perfect life metrics are:
- Deep and growing relationship with my creator that guides my decisions and focus
- 3 happy, healthy adult sons are living lives of significance and making an impact
- 40 years of marriage that brings us closer to each other and the Lord
- I am fit mentaly, physically and on track to live to 150 years old
- DLP achieved Fortune 500 through impacting 10MM lives
- I have spent my life surrounded by natural beauty and consistently travel and explore
Finally, I set 1 or 2 very specific goals for the next year around my faith (and the other 7 F’s each year). This year my top faith goal is to have Prayer & Scripture Daily: alone, with my wife Carla, and with my 3 boys each and every day.
To summarize, for each of the 8 F’s we make sure each area is accounted for in our long-term goals and mission, as well as in our shorter term goals and commitments. By aligning where we spend our time and what we focus on, with what we want to accomplish in our lives, we will gain the feeling of fulfillment we all seek out of our lives.