Our Leaders’ Lessons: Dan Starbuck Pelletier and Leadership – You Need To Live It

Dan Starbuck Pelletier, Founder & President – DIG USA

In this “Our Leaders’ Lessons” series of posts, I recap what I’ve learned, and what we can all draw, from the leaders I’ve interviewed for the Coach It Out with Everyday Leaders podcast series.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to interview people from numerous fields, who serve different communities, come from varied backgrounds, but who essentially are all driven by a very similar purpose: wanting to make the world around them better.

These leaders, who are all around us, are role models within their communities and organizations, always demonstrating the importance of serving others.

This is Dan Starbuck Pelletier

Your leadership, which encompasses your dreams, goals, and aspirations — how do you live it?

I sat down with Dan Starbuck Pelletier for an episode of the Coach It Out With Everyday Leaders podcast, to discuss how he came to found his company DIG USA and what it is that drives him toward what he envisions as his company’s success.

In our conversation, he explained what it is that drives him to work the hectic schedule he does, which is required to maintain the program he runs for youth in both soccer and chess, while working a full-time job.

Built upon the values and fulfillment he extracted simultaneously in his own experiences as a youth in both soccer and chess, and guided by the lessons of his father and mother along the way, Dan founded, and serves as President of, DIG USA.

I had heard about DIG USA when Dan and the company were profiled in the local news and newspaper for the company’s signature lesson-for-lesson program. In that program, for each paid lesson in either chess or soccer, a free lesson is provided in that discipline to a youth-in-need in Connecticut.

This program, which currently stretches across various counties in the state, has made Dan’s life more frenzied, as he juggles the logistics and schedules of the various disciplines, locations, and students, while also holding down a full-time job, which provides the financial stability in his life.

In my conversation with Dan, as we walked through his leadership journey and development and discussed what it is that drives us to do what we want to do and what we want to see happen in the world, he stated that you have to “live it.”

“You have to live it,” he said with such strong conviction and emphasis, referring generally to whatever it is you want for yourself and the message you want to put out into the world.

So many people, so many leaders believe they are espousing accurately what it is they support or what they are passionate about. They may feel that, because they articulate and preach both the goal and their desire to achieve it, that may be enough to drive them to fulfillment and others to action.

But that’s not the case. It takes much more.

A mission has to be lived. It needs to be heard, then seen, and then felt. It needs to be palpable. It has to be a way of life – a focused plan at first which then becomes secondhand nature later. It needs to be lived in.

It takes much more than desire.

It takes sacrifice, commitment, discipline, and, in some cases, a regimented diet and strictly-scheduled sleep habits such as the ones Dan adheres to.

It’s not enough to say we want something in the world, or that we want to see something in it. You have to live it.

Sometimes, you have to lead by setting the example. You need to demonstrate to others what that commitment looks like. The attitude can become infectious, spreading, such as when one person pays support, guidance, and lessons forward to each person he or she works with.

This lesson lives in the same vein as “Be the change you want to see,” as Ghandi exclaimed. That means if you think the world needs or is missing something, be that thing. Put together a plan. Refine that plan. Look for partners. Put it into motion. Adjust your plan, as necessary. Anticipate obstacles. If you fall, dust yourself off and try again.

What motivation can you draw from Dan’s example and story?

It’s great to meet someone like Dan who reminds us how much hard work it takes to get what we want, but that if we’re doing the right thing– what’s right for us, in our heart of hearts – that it is enough of a driver to keep a fire lit under our asses.

This is especially the case if we see the good we are doing and know we can connect communities through Determination, Integrity, and Growth (DIG).

To be that change, you have to hustle. You have to grind. You need to live it.

Dan Starbuck Pelletier – Everyday Leaders Podcast Episode

First published in the October 2017 issue of The Monthly Leader

The Full Conversation – Bio / Background / Questions / Analysis


The Short Cut – Bio / Questions

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