And yet, he didn’t write one word of the book. “He didn’t even see the book until it was almost done, and even then, his notes were short, and I took only some of them,” explains his coauthor Dr. Benjamin Hardy.
The book itself is an example of the Who Not How framework in action. Dan is the cofounder of Strategic Coach, the most prominent entrepreneurial coaching company globally. He’s trained tens of thousands of entrepreneurs to become even better.
“Dan is the genesis of the concepts and tools found in Who Not How. He provided the ideas and the amazing stories of his clients who have applied his strategies to radically grow their business and gain prosperity, freedom, and happiness,” writes Ben.
2: As the writer of the book, Ben describes himself as Dan’s “Who.” Each chapter is in Ben’s voice and from his perspective.
“After hearing Dan’s “Who Not How” presentation at a GeniusX meeting held by Joe Polish, I knew this idea had merit, and not just because Dan was so excited about it, but also because it radically simplified entrepreneurship and financial abundance, condensing success to a single statement,” Ben remembers.
Ben is a two-time best-selling author. “I felt this idea needed to become a book to reach a larger audience. I knew it could help people achieve bigger goals and break past their plateaus,” he writes.
After Dan finished his talk, Ben rolled his chair over and whispered, “I’m completely blown away by this concept. I’d like to turn Who Not How into a book. What do you think?”
The following day, Dan presented Ben with an “Impact Filter,” a one-page document he gives to his “Whos” when he has a new goal. The document outlines the vision for the project. Then, Dan turns over the creation of the project to the Who, in this case, to Ben to write the book.
As leaders, we must be crystal clear on the vision. The more explicit we are in what we want, the faster we’ll be able to attract the right Whos to help us achieve that vision. “That’s what real leadership is: Creating and clarifying the vision (the “what”), and giving that vision greater context and importance (the “why”) for all Whos involved,” writes Ben.
“The leader explains the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ and then allows the ‘Who’ to execute the ‘How,'” writes Ben. “All the leader needs to do at that point is support and encourage the Who(s) through the process.”
3: The Who Not How book is an example of what happens when a group of people operates at the highest level of psychological development, the Transformational Self, as outlined by Harvard psychologist Robert Kegan.
“Dan fully believes in this idea and only engages in Transformational Relationships,” Ben writes. “His core motive is growth. His core focus and investment are people. He seeks change both in himself and the entrepreneurs he coaches.
“As their coach, he doesn’t insulate himself from the feedback of his clients. Instead, he sees their feedback as an essential ingredient in the creation and evolution of his own ideas.
Dan explains to Ben: “I only see my part of the ideation as 50 percent. Once I’ve gotten the idea 50 percent formed, then it’s time to test it on the audience who provides the other 50 percent. Every time I share the initial concept, I’m always surprised by the feedback and comments I get. I could never guess what they are going to say and how they are going to react.
“Being surprised is something I seek out, and something I very much value. I’m always surprised by what becomes of the ideas and collaborations. Being surprised regularly is what keeps me young.”
Dan shares he did not always have this mindset. “I used to hold on to my ideas much longer, trying to refine them myself before sharing them with the audience. I was far less open to having the ideas changed through feedback. It required far more courage to share the ideas back then. But I’ve done it so much now that my courage has been replaced with confidence.”
Dan’s comments demonstrate the evolution from the Authoring Self to the Transforming Self. He speaks to the power of allowing Whos to transform our vision, giving it greater purpose and possibility than we originally conceived.
“Even still, it takes courage to become that flexible and collaborative. It takes openness and a commitment to growth,” Ben writes.
But the payoff is enormous. “By letting Whos take care of the Hows, the final product will actually be different, and better, than [we] initially imagined,” writes Ben. As Robert Kegan teaches, “at the Transforming Self level, all parties know the final outcome will be better than expected, even if it’s slightly different than the initial vision.”
Early on, Ben asked Dan for advice on writing the book. Dan responded, “Why would I tell you how to write this book? You’re the one who writes these types of books. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to advise you on this, nor would I want to.”
The message to us? The best projects empower the Who to fully own the How. If we want to get more significant results, we need Whos, not Hows. Once we are committed to the result we want, we will find the right Whos.
And, once we see how “ridiculously simple it was for them to produce [our] desired result, then [we’ll] begin to see just how small we’ve been playing,” write Dan and Ben.
Reflection: When was the last time I was surprised and delighted by a colleague making my idea better? What mindset must I have to make this happen more often?
Action: Journal about my answers to the questions above.