Apr 11, 2020

Being An Actionist

Excerpt from Do the KIND Thing

A lot of people have great ideas but don’t act on them. For me, the definition of an entrepreneur is someone who can combine innovation and ingenuity with the ability to execute that new idea. Some people think that the central dichotomy in life is whether you’re positive or negative about the issues that interest or concern you. There’s a lot of attention paid to this question of whether it’s better to have an optimistic or pessimistic lens. I think the better question to ask is whether you are going to do something about it or just let life pass you by.

Are you an actionist? Action, no less than creativity, is essential for an entrepreneur. While others may ask whether the glass is half full or half empty, an entrepreneur just fills up the glass.

Determination is fundamental. Entrepreneurship is hard work, and most people who start a venture understand that they will be working around the clock and doing anything that needs doing. Being an entrepreneur is also about figuring out what needs to be done, what problems need to be solved, and then finding solutions. In many ways, attitude is destiny. If you determine that you’re going to do something and have a positive attitude, you can find fulfillment in the pursuit itself. Trying is half the win already. If you don’t try, you’ve lost from the outset.

One thing that my dad taught me is that change is not a spectator sport. You have to actively participate in shaping the world you want to live in. This sense of responsibility has influenced all of my business ventures. The same is true with the blocking and tackling of sales. There were retail accounts that took me years to get, but I would not relent; I would not stop until those outlets were carrying KIND bars. There are still goals today that I won’t give up on.

Entrepreneurship          Leadership

More from Daniel

2022 High Point University Commencement Address

Today, I want to talk about a light and fluffy subject: your generation’s role in steering humanity in the right direction. No pressure, Dalton. 

But in all seriousness, Dalton, I love what you shared about “leaving everywhere you go better than you found it…and finding ways to give grace and inspiration to the people around you.”  

I want to talk today about HOW to do that as you are all simultaneously challenged and blessed with graduating as our world is re-entering a stage of dramatic consequence. 

The ship of humanity is moving in the wrong direction, and it will be upon all of you to steer it back on track. 

To illustrate this point, I want to compare the circumstances when my father’s generation came of age, to those when my generation and your generation graduated from college. 

My father was fifteen-and-a-half when he was liberated from the Dachau concentration camp by American soldiers. He was barely alive.  He never got to go to school past third grade, let alone college. Several of your grandparents were around your age when they were sent to free Europe from tyranny and darkness. 

By contrast, when I was fifteen years-old, my family immigrated to America from Mexico. I was able to attend college during a period when passionate but cordial debate was the norm. I remember observing political leaders vehemently disagree on a particular topic, while maintaining a friendship rooted in respect. Our world was far from perfect – but the arc of human progress trended in an upward direction. Freedom, open markets, human rights, civility, and the quest for knowledge were all advancing.  

It seemed almost too good to be true.  In fact, it was so good that we began to lose sight that Our Great American Experiment isn’t so much a fixed state of affairs as it is a purposeful daily affirmation – something that we opt into, live out, and vote for not once every four years, but every single day – through how we engage with one another. 

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Understanding the Tricky Balance When Launching Social Startups

At a time when our world is facing unprecedented challenges, from climate change to political polarization to a global pandemic, entrepreneurs and nongovernmental organization (NGO) leaders cannot afford to operate in silos. Entrepreneurs possess resourcefulness, creativity, and initiative; heads of nonprofit organizations are equipped with depth of knowledge, purpose, and the patient determination that comes with that purpose. Together, these partners can turbocharge impact if they properly calibrate their respective contributions to create new social enterprises.

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Both Sides Are Minimizing Violence. Americans Must Fight for Our Nation

Shocking news emerged this week from the bipartisan committee investigating the January 6 attack: On that dark day, Fox News hosts and former-President Donald Trump’s son sent text messages begging for Trump to address the nation and stop the violent riot. Yet many Republicans continue to downplay the insurrection that dangerously undermined electoral integrity and the rule of law and threatened our democracy.

But minimizing violence isn’t only happening on the Republican side. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, District Attorneys promoting an anti-police narrative and lax crime-fighting policies have contributed to an alarming rise in homicides and spiraling crime rates. Yet despite the skyrocketing crime in liberal bastions, many of us have family and friends living in these cities who refuse to accept that controversial policies to suspend prosecution for many crimes may have played a role in the violent wave.

There is no comparing an attempted insurrection with day to day crime; one is significantly worse, and a much bigger threat to our democracy. But both sides are suffering from a partisan blindness that has led to minimizing any violence that appears to implicate their leaders. And it presents a huge threat to our country.

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