Sincerity is risky (but always worth it)
By now you may have already heard the download from the Archangel Summit which was held Saturday in Toronto. Organizer Giovanni Marsico pulled together an epic group of mission-driven entrepreneurs on and off the stage. (You can get tickets for next year at the lowest rate they will ever be here.)
The event centered around a few themes that were repeated over and over by millionaires and even one billionaire who guided the audience of dreamers and doers about what it takes to build a movement and create permanent change.
- Fail fast.
- Make lots of mistakes.
- Take affordable steps.
- Expect to hear no.
- Get a great mentor.
- Get it done.
- Ask for help when you plateau.
And then there was this from one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100 Leaders, Danielle LaPorte:
BURN DOWN THE BARN
Now don’t get me wrong. I am (was?) a huge Danielle LaPorte fan. Her book, The Desire Map is the world’s best book on goal setting. It’s profound. Crisp. Clear. And frankly, it is one of the key factors in my success.
When I set my core desired feelings (fearless, grounded, open-armed) – I eliminated anything in my life that was not aligned with those feelings. It was heart wrenching.
Once a year on my Desire Mapiversary I renew my commitment to my core desired feelings. Have they changed? Have I changed? Am I living in integrity? How can I do better?
On Danielle’s website is it says her Core Desired feels are “Radiance and Devotion, and two other words that I keep to myself.” Unless her 2 other words are burnout and misaligned – I’m pretty sure she isn’t living the life she told us she was.
I didn’t WANT to write this post. The truth is, I love Danielle and part of me wants her approval and her friendship. But staying silent on the devastation I believe her speech caused would be a violation of my personal code of ethics and, frankly, my core desired feelings.
I speak out on what I believe in.
Even if it’s not always kind (I’m not always kind – #sorrynotsorry)
And even if it’s not always popular (it’s usually not popular).
I am a contrarian. I am argumentative. And I’ve got a bit of a mean streak.
I have raised issues of ethics and integrity with some of the best in the industry including Brendon Burchard and Marie Forleo and I am about to do it again but this time with someone I know personally and someone whose work has changed my life.
As I write this I am terrified of the backlash. I can feel it already. But, what I have to tell you is how easy it would be for me to get caught up in the hype of wanting to be a guru or celebrity in the experts industry and to let these things go past without letting you know what I see so that I fit in.
And frankly, I think that’s a slippery slope to hell.
Here is the truth — Entrepreneurship is hard. And it’s pretty clear, Danielle is struggling.
Her speech, in my opinion, was driven by ego, fear, self-obsession and overwhelming privilege.
This post isn’t just an attack on the speech though – it’s much more than that – it’s an attack on her integrity at the core. (My Cassandra complex chases me wherever I go. Please save the lectures and just unsubscribe if you can’t bear to hear this, I get it.)
Danielle said in her speech that “Success is taking too much space from living,” but wasn’t that exactly what she taught us NOT to do with the Desire Map? I’m confused.
Lots of people praised her for being “raw” and “vulnerable” by admitting that she was “burning down the barn” and letting go of “the need for approval and acceptance in order to ride, to serve and to make the world a better place.”
Ummmmm did I miss something?
I did that years ago because she told me to!
And here is the other thing. The idea of burning down the barn to see the moon isn’t exactly responsible if you’ve got people who have chosen to take up residence in the barn. You’ve got to evaluate them first.
Someone I like quite a lot who I won’t name here posted this on Facebook after the speech:
“I was so lucky to have a 1:1 call with Danielle back in June where we dove into my big vision for The Courage Collective and she really truly got me and my vision, I totally felt seen and heard, she cares deeply about helping others and making an impact in the world. Today, I was blown away by Danielle’s complete openness and real talk about where she is in her own business and how she is digging deep, going simple and actually ready to just ‘burn the barn down’ I feel like I am in a very similar heart space in my own business and so grateful to know it’s normal and actually essential to getting realigned with your true why for doing what you do.”
Wait – why were you lucky to have that 1:1 call with her again? Clearly if you took her advice (which maybe you did) you would end up just as overworked and creativity deprived as she was. We can’t teach what we are out of alignment with in our own lives. Why is permission to think the thought this is normal ‘lucky’? It sounds like it was a disaster to me.
I don’t see how you get heaps of praise for being honest about living in misalignment and being so focused on getting to a goal of $26M that you were willing to spend $700,000 on a website and systems that keep you from fucking living!
Danielle has repeatedly said she is “exhausted” by self-help and she is “leaving the church of self-improvement.” I guess she meant that.
I’ll tell you what – I am not over self-help or self-improvement. I live it everyday. I read and study with personal growth experts non-stop because otherwise it’s easy to fall into disconnection. I’m so sorry if that’s exhausting for her – but I’m pretty sure the alternative is pretty exhausting to since she declared to nearly 3,000 entrepreneurs (or at least the half who didn’t walk out on her speech that she was “burning down the barn so she can see the moon.”
Yes, yes, she is a lovely poet. But how do you let yourself get to the point of needing to burn it all down if you are doing your own spiritual and personal growth work? And how come all those books and products she clearly doesn’t believe in are still for sale on her site if she is burning it all down?
Say what you want about Doreen Virtue but at least she took (most of) her stuff down when she no longer believed in it.
One of the first gates of personal growth is taking accountability for your life, your choices and your thoughts. But what I saw on that stage was a shadow of the woman whose work I loved.
Danielle complained on the stage that she worked so hard for New York Times best seller status and didn’t get it.
I mean, do you have any idea how hard most of us work for shit we don’t get as entrepreneurs?
And do you know what being a victim gets you?
It gets you committing more crimes against yourself.
Danielle said, “a revolution of generosity can only happen when you’re in service.” Yes – so be of service! Don’t stand on a stage and talk about how you have been in service to getting to $26 Million and it’s just too hard. Are you kidding me?
How is this fair to the audience? How is this service?
Anyway, NONE of this is what offended me most about the speech…. My real problem was this:
Archangel Summit is filled with (largely) new entrepreneurs who come for guidance and inspiration about building a mission-driven business.
Most of these people have not built their business to anywhere close to Danielle’s. Most are just starting out.
How can it be of service to speak on “Burning it all down” when most of the people in the room haven’t built anything yet.
The other speakers were quite clear on this.
But Danielle was implying that if you build what feels good and feeds your core desired feelings you might have to “burn it down.”
One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs have is not taking action because they are trying to figure it out and get it right.
The truth is – that is impossible. Successful entrepreneurs take action anyway and pivot without story-fondling or complaining it’s all too hard.
Danielle said our biggest super power as an entrepreneur is our ability to pivot but I think there is a lot more to it. Our biggest superpower is to continue to hold ourselves to the highest accountability and to know that others will see the truth in us, even when they are confused by it or lack words to name it.
I know I am not alone in what I observed and in fact many people who couldn’t stand to watch the train wreck left the auditorium, but many, many others were mesmerized by the spell she cast.
Essentially what her speech indicated to the audience was that they need to make sure they get it perfect or they might have to burn it down. That is about these most self-serving, entitled, ego-filled message I could think to give. It probably set people back years or decades. The number of people who will not be helped because of this ego-drenched speech is the source of my concern for our industry and the world.
DO NOT BURN IT DOWN – BUILD IT UP. LIVE IN INTEGRITY. PIVOT AS YOU GO. DON’T BE A VICTIM.
And for God sake, don’t idolize people who are out of integrity and then be surprised that you don’t have the outcome you want!
The highlight of Danielle’s speech was when a brave (and much kinder) soul than I gently asked: “Do you think you can say all this because you already made it? You are so successful?”
And there was this moment when I saw the real Danielle again and fell back in love.
She paused, looked the questioner squarely in the eye and said: “Thank you for calling me out on that.”
And in that moment, I saw her! I felt her! I loved her!
And then the bizarro bullshit started again.
- Live every day with joy
- Commit to your joy
- Be in joy
- Face the heart of who you are
Yes… we thought that’s what you were doing. Come back to us Danielle. Come back to the church of Self-improvement. I’m pretty sure you need it as much as we need you. You can keep trying to fix your business by being transparent about the difficulties of migrating legacy computer systems all you want – but until you do the real work that personal growth requires you are just going to end up right back here.
BTW – I totally get why Danielle is going crazy. She has a massively ineffective business model (as she admitted on stage) she generates about 25% less revenue than I do and with a team half the size. She and her team have to be do 10-20 times the work that we do.
Just take a look at what I sell vs. what Danielle sells. No wonder she is going bat shit crazy!
Danielle said “To be in service you have to be devoted. To be devoted you have to come from a place of self-love.”
I couldn’t agree more.
But service is not bragging to a room of young entrepreneurs that you want to charge women in Poland less so you can feel magnanimous. Because clearly that is what got you into this under charging mess of a business you have. That’s ego. You want to feel like a super hero for charging someone $9 or whatever for a license which is great, but do that after you have a working business model that is sustainable and includes bandwidth for charitable acts.
In her speech Danielle said, “Sincerity is risky but always worth it.” True. But I hope she also remembers we don’t get to control HOW it’s worth it. My guess is she will see this message. My prayer is that she will take it as the loving ass-kicking it’s meant to be.
I agree sincerity is worth it – but only if you truly listen to the feedback – even the feedback you don’t agree with.
Others have called her speech spiritual, humble and raw. But I’m calling it total bullshit and honestly, I think she is in a bubble of self-righteousness where she isn’t listening to anyone except her ego.
Okay, I’m ready for a taste of my own medicine – especially if you saw the speech. What did I miss? What did a get wrong? I am open to seeing something else.
P.S. If you want a mentor who actually believes in self-help and personal growth and who does her own work and doesn’t act like a victim when things in her business get hard. Here’s the link to apply. Bad news – we are currently sold out – though we can get you on the waitlist. www.theauthorincubator.com/apply. Hmmmm – I wonder if my self-development efforts have anything to do with my programs selling out and my not needing to burn down the barn….