Category Archives: Life Essentials Series

How Small Acts of Courage Can Change the World

The following excerpt was taken from the book, Wavemakers: How Small Acts of Courage Can Change the World, from the Life Essentials Series. [Foreward below written by Chris Brady.]

The crowd was larger than usual for such an event, and it soon became evident that the venue would be packed. The amount of people who had turned out that day was indeed noteworthy, but even more so was the makeup of that crowd. For in those balcony seats sat a virtual “Who’s Who” of London high society. There were noblemen and ladies, Members of Parliament, other elected officials, and ambassadors. There were dignitaries and policy makers. And there were even a few, precious few, friends of the man who was standing alone at the metal gate in the center of the room.

The assembly was being held in Whitehall Palace in an octagonal room nicknamed the “Cockpit.” The attraction was the interrogation of a colonial representative who had shared with the public a private letter from a colonial Governor. This had caught everyone by surprise: the colonists because it confirmed for them the second-class treatment they felt they were receiving from the Crown; the members of the British government because it confirmed their suspicions that this particular representative was aligned with the rebels; the representative himself because this incident, for the first time, shed light on the true depth of the brewing conflict between crown and colony. In fact, for this particular colonial representative, it would be a wake up call that would rouse him from his slumber and forge a fire of determination that wouldn’t burn out until complete independence had been established.

The year was 1774, and on that late January day, Benjamin Franklin would be confronted with a truth he had somehow been slow to realize: that the colonies should never be reconciled to their subservient role under the British government. Up to that day, he had held to the notion that the rift could be repaired and that the colonies were better off remaining British subjects.

At first, the meeting was a minor irritant to Franklin. He had done nothing morally or legally wrong, and at most, he could be accused of behaving contrary to aristocratic etiquette. But as the vicious Solicitor General Alexander Wedderburn, known far and wide for his vitriol, took his usual rancor to new heights, Franklin grew angrier and angrier. It is said that by the end of the extended diatribe, in which Franklin was accused of all manner of treachery and treason, Franklin’s hands gripped the metal railing on the “bar” so firmly that it appeared he could rip it from the floor. Throughout, however, his countenance was stoic as a Greek statue. Finding himself in a situation utterly ridiculous, by sheer force of will, he remained silent.

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Soon thereafter, Franklin sailed back to North America from England, never to return. What had become a happy home for him, replete with fame and notoriety, friendships with the highest scientific minds of the time, membership in the distinguished Royal Society of the Arts, and stimulation for his abundantly curious mind, had now become enemy territory. He would thereafter throw himself enthusiastically into the cause of freedom for the colonies, accepting the role of Ambassador to France, where he would masterfully secure the money, guns, ships, and support of King Louis XVI that would all prove so crucial in the winning of the War of Independence.

The disturbance that began in the “Cockpit” had grown into a mighty wave that ultimately swamped an empire. And while one man didn’t do it all alone, it couldn’t have happened without what that one man alone did.

This type of occurrence, in which a single event triggers massive passion within the breast of an individual that results in a title wave of change is so enthralling, so thrilling, as to keep us talking about it hundreds of years later. In a world where most people seem intent on not “rocking the boat,” it is infinitely interesting (and instructive) when someone not only rocks the boat but intentionally makes waves. We watch those waves crash up onto the rocky shores of the status quo and wash it out to sea, leaving a world behind in the wash that is forever transformed.

What’s more, these are not rare events. Look through the pages of history, and there, everywhere, are people who have, in large ways and small, been inspired to stir up waves of change. Look around you in our modern world, and again there, everywhere, are more examples.

We call them “Wavemakers.” They are that particular slice of humanity that cannot stand to leave things the way they found them. They seem to understand that to make a difference, they have to be different. And importantly, they realize that the opinions of those who do not care to make a difference don’t matter to them. Whereas most people seem to go through life merely trying to survive, seeking short-term gratifications and a sample of life’s pleasures, there are a select few who are utterly discontent with the status quo. These extraordinary few can’t take things as they find them and can’t leave things alone. They are driven by a desire to remake the world into something more in line with their own unique vision of how it should be. And in so doing, they create waves of change that roll through the pages of time.

These “Wavemakers” come from all walks of life, persuasions, and political affiliations. But they have one thing in common: a life dedicated to making waves. Some call them heroes; some villains. But no one can ignore them. And since they cannot be ignored, they may as well be studied. Through such study, we will not only be mightily entertained but hugely instructed. And perhaps, just maybe, we will be inspired to make waves of our own!

Chris Brady
New York Times Bestselling Author
Cofounder, CEO, and Creative Director of Life

[To purchase the book, Wavemakers, click HERE. Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady]

Enjoy the Journey

The following excerpt was written by Chris Brady in the book, The Serious Power of Fun, from the Life Essentials Series. 

When it comes to equipping oneself for leadership and success, many words come to mind: vision, goals, execution, teamwork, metrics, mentors, knowledge, perseverance,  and others. However, one particular word that is critical not only to success but to the very enjoyment of it is often overlooked and usually downright ignored. That word is fun.

The concept of fun doesn’t get much focus. If anything, it is seen as a mere by-product of success, or perhaps one of the facets of success that makes all the hard work of earning it worthwhile. But fun is much more than the result of success; it is actually one of its most effective enablers.

Ultimately, nobody succeeds alone. Success is always with, through, and for other people. And people, though each individually unique, are alike in a lot of important ways. One of the most common threads running through the human experience is the desire to enjoy the journey. Strangely, however, although this desire is universal, the fulfillment of it is alarmingly rare. Although everyone enjoys a good laugh, laughter is seldom heard. Although everyone enjoys the bonding of good times shared, good times are scarcer than we’d like. And although everyone aches for joy, joy is largely missing. Therein lies the opportunity to utilize fun to great ends.

Leaders face all sorts of opposition on their quest for success and significance. Among these is the difficulty of enlisting other people to the cause, especially for the long haul. Financial incentives often fail to motivate, recognition is fleeting, and a sense of accomplishment can be only too distant over the extended course of a project. But the leader that can manage to make it fun along the way stands to accomplish more than he or she could with all the other motivators combined.


Think of the times when you’ve really felt rewarded in your work. If you examine the elements of why those moments were so fulfilling, you’ll likely notice that there was a challenge, the work was interesting, and you made reasonable progress. But usually you’ll find that there was an element of fun involved, too. There was laughter, camaraderie with coworkers, and an empowering sense of achievement. These conditions almost never exist in an environment of drudgery. Usually, all these elements of meaningful contribution are wrapped in an aura of fun. They were fun because they were fun, and the fact that they were fun made them fun!


Fun is a circular concept! When we are engaged in meaningful activity, we discover that our work can become the most fun fun there is! (That is not a typo. I really meant to say the word fun twice!) But we also learn that work can be more meaningful if we strive to intentionally make it fun. In fact, some of the best leaders and highest achievers have discovered this serious power of fun: namely, that fun can make anything more rewarding, more motivating, and more achievable. Fun becomes one of the motivators as well as one of the rewards. Very few success factors work on both sides of the equation in just this way.

Fun, though obvious as an idea, is way more important than you may have ever realized. It is a specific implement in the toolbox of a high achiever, wielded to make things both better along the way and more worth it at the end.

(Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady)

Mindset Memos: Learning to Think Like a Leader

The following excerpt was taken from the book, Mindset Memos, by the Life Essentials Series. Forward below written by Chris Brady

I’ve studied leaders for decades, and when considering their track records and actions, I’m always left pondering one particular question: “How did they know to do what they did?” It’s one thing to read about the history of a country, company, or project and be told the facts about what happened. It’s another to understand the why behind the what.

This was driven home to me while researching the development of the Kindle e-reader at Amazon. As you will discover, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was adamant that his vision of the future e-reader be carried out in a certain way. Particularly, he wanted seamless wireless connectivity to the internet at all times so that customers could buy a book directly from the device anytime, anywhere, without any hassle. There would be no rate plans, no ongoing subscriptions, and no download charges. This was all to avoid the need to hook the device up to a computer in order to purchase an e-book. Bezos’ concept was that he should be able to hustle through an airport, remember that he had forgotten a book, and in seconds download one onto the reader without any technical knowledge or complication. It should be so easy a neophyte could do it with ease.

While this sounds logical, it was not easy to implement. For one thing, deals would have to be negotiated and struck between Amazon and wireless carriers all over the world. The costs could be astronomical. Further, no one had ever done anything like this before, and there could be no certainty it would work. Nearly everyone involved with Bezos on the project was opposed to this particular aspect of the reader, and many thought the risks far outweighed any of the potential gains in usability. But Bezos would not be moved and was insistent.

As I learned of Bezos’ obstinacy in the face of opposition from his peers and subordinates, I was struck with my usual question: just how did he know this would be so important? Why did he insist on it even in the face of resistance from just about everyone on his team? Because in the end, of course, this one particular aspect of the Kindle design was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back and brought the formerly resistant book publishers on board. Once Amazon representatives demonstrated to the publishers the easy connectivity that fostered spontaneous book buying, they were finally sold. It was the turning point in the whole, complicated, coordinated development project.

Had Bezos known this would turn out to be so important? After all, several years later the WhisperNet feature was quietly dropped from the Kindle with hardly a, well, whisper. But at the time it proved crucial to the Kindle’s success. We are left to conclude nothing other than the fact that Bezos could not have known specifically how important this feature would turn out to be, but conceptually he was convinced it was the right thing to do. And that is the key.

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Great leaders never know for sure. They, after all, are leading people into waters in which they’ve never sailed themselves. That’s the very picture of leadership. Many times the leader must lead others into places he himself has never been. At such times conviction is paramount. Being right is not nearly as important as being sure.

I could give several additional examples, as again and again I find this same dynamic when studying successful leaders. But this one is sufficient, because it so aptly demonstrates the concept. And here is my point: leaders don’t know precisely what the future will bring, but they have a mindset that if they are not right about something, they will simply shift and end up making things right anyway. The goal is set, the vision is cast, and the leader is entirely committed to making it come true. Convictions come in strong, and they can sometimes be right, but they are also sometimes wrong. Ultimately, this doesn’t even matter, because the greatest leaders have a mindset that regardless of the obstacle, they will get to their envisioned destination. The way is not as important as the reason for the journey in the first place. The path can change, but the vision remains.

It’s a mindset. It’s a passionate adherence to an inner compass. It’s the response to a burning desire. And with the Kindle project, Bezos had it in spades. He would not be deterred. He knew intuitively what would be required to bring his vision to reality, and he would not be denied by the logic of those who would play it safe. If an obstacle were to pop up along the way (as they did in droves), he and his team could just pivot as necessary. But they kept their eye on the prize until it was realized.

That’s the essence of the mindset of leadership. It can be expressed most clearly in the stories of what leaders do, which provide insight into why they did what they did.

The Mindset Memos book features several stories that are compelling for the leadership traits they display. The leaders are very diverse, ranging from business figures to artists and athletes, but the leadership lessons are a consistent thread running throughout. Read each carefully, and consider how the lessons involved apply to your own quest in life. Don’t simply look at the what; seek to understand the deeper why. And there, in the reasons springing from the mindset of these great leaders, it is my hope you will find the conviction to pursue your own why.

Want to read more? Purchase Mindset Memos: Bite-Sized Biographies for Learning to Think Like a Leader HERE.

(Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady.)