From Disney Exec to Dream Facilitator: Dave Hollis Gets Intentional - Jen Hatmaker

From Disney Exec to Dream Facilitator: Dave Hollis Gets Intentional

Episode 03

As we continue the conversation about finishing strong for the year, we tap into a resource who clearly maps out a way we all can live happier and with more intention. Our friend Dave Hollis (husband to our other friend, Rachel!) had his dream job as president of distribution for The Walt Disney Company, where he worked 17 years. At the top of his game, Dave left Disney and moved with his family to Austin to form The Hollis Company, so he and Rachel could continue helping people live better lives. This move also began Dave’s personal journey to find his true purpose. Dave pulls no punches as he lays down his thoughts on finishing strong, based on hard lessons he’s learned as he’s left comfort zones, chosen to be vulnerable and tossed aside worrying what others think of him. As you might have guessed, this took Dave a bit of deliberation, forced reflection and a lot of sweat, but he assures us the results are worth it. Dave gives us paths toward gratitude and steps toward making meaningful changes in our lives that are as simple as recognizing what brings us joy and what doesn’t, and saying “yes” to the joy-giving things more often. As Dave says, “If you go on the hunt for gratitude every day, you will find evidence of it, and you will have a life that is full and different because of it.”

Episode Transcript

Narrator:  Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people every week on this podcast. Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoy the show.

Jen:  Hey guys, welcome to the For the Love Podcast. This is Jen Hatmaker, and I am your host. I love you, and I’m happy that you’re here.

I love this little series, we decided to do a mini series called For the Love of Finishing Strong, because not only are we finishing out 2019, we are finishing out a decade. So my team and I thought, “Who can we talk to, who really has tools to put in our hands, so that we don’t just slide out of this decade, with absolute inertia bogging us down, but who helps us rise up and helps us reach strong and dig deep and really do this thing well?”

Obviously, my guests today is the perfect person to talk about finishing strong. He is one half of a very inspiring duo, and the moment we landed on this series, I knew I wanted to talk to him, because not only does he talk about this topic often, he has a very specific initiative around finishing strong, so I’m so grateful he made time for it.

You probably have heard of or know my guest today, my friend Dave Hollis. I’m a big Dave Hollis fan, I’m on record having said this many, many times. I just love this dude. Dave is the CEO of The Hollis Company, which exists to essentially just help people build meaningful lives. That’s really it. He is husband to Rachel, father to their four kids, and Rachel and Dave together host the podcast RISE Together, which is a huge success, and they just have their hands to a million plows. They’re putting out so much into the world.

We’ll talk about this, but Dave was previously the president of distribution for The Walt Disney Company. You might have heard of The Walt Disney Company. He worked there for seventeen years, at a very high executive level, absolutely at the top of his game, until poof, he left to apply his experiences to the expansion of The Hollis Company. We’re going to talk about a lot of that.

Dave and the rest of the Hollis crew live right here in Austin, Texas, where incidentally—if you follow Dave, you know this—he drives a 1969 Ford Bronco named The Incredible Hulk, and he has a mini Schnauzer named Jeffrey, naturally. That’s one of the many reasons to love Dave. Not the least of which is his humor and his warmth, and he’s a good friend. I’ve called Dave a few times with either a question or a favor or a need, and a 100% of time, 100 times out of 100, he’s like, “Yes, absolutely. Here’s what I have for you. Here’s what I’m sending you. Here’s what I can do for you. Here’s my suggestion. Here’s my counsel.” Just a really good friend behind the scenes, which, that’s everything to me. There’s one thing, what it all kind of looks like on the outside, but when you are behind the curtain and who you seem to be in front of it, that is everything to me, and that is absolutely who Dave Hollis is.

Guys, this whole hour, buckle up, there’s so much packed in here. It’s not just big ideas, but it’s like, “This is what we do.” These are action steps. These are ways, these are paths toward gratitude. These are levers to pull to make meaningful change in your life as you finish out this decade and start out 2020. I mean, there’s a ton, a ton, a ton in here. You are going to be happy that you listened today, you’re going to walk away with some fresh ideas and encouragement and inspiration.

I am so happy that you are here today, and you’re going to be, too. You guys, welcome to the For the Love Podcast, my friend Dave Hollis.

View More

Jen:  I am really, really, really happy to have my friend Dave Hollis on the show today. Hello, sir.

Dave: Hello, my friend, Jen Hatmaker. It’s so nice to be here.

Jen: Same. Thank you for saying yes to this. This is a busy season, a busy time, you’ve got a handful of irons in the fire. I’m thankful that you’re like, “Sure, let’s jump on the internet with headphones on our ears and talk, even though we’re fifteen miles apart.”

Dave: You know what, if there was a single person that I would rather do this for, I cannot think of them.

Jen: Real quick, I’ve already told my listeners the high level points about who you are, and my listeners mostly know Rachel. Rachel is how I met you, too, she was the front door to the Dave Hollis world. And Rachel’s been on the show, so I am really excited for my listeners to also know you better, because I just like you so much. I’ve said that behind your back many, many times, like, “I like Dave.”

Dave: I love you, and I dig that about you.

Jen: Yeah, I do. I mean it, I’m like, “Dave Hollis is my jam.” I would love for my listeners to hear from you a little bit more about your experience and your story. And frankly, I wonder if the tattoo on your forearm might illuminate a little bit about your ethos in the world and what matters to you and what your North Star is. Can you tell us a little bit about that, that tattoo, but also just your deal? Can you tell us about Dave?

Dave: For sure. I have a tattoo on my forearm. I do think it’s a nice place to start that it says, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships were built for.”

Jen: I love that quote.

Dave: Man, I love that quote too. I got it at the beginning of, for me, a big transition, a big journey from who I was to who I needed to be in this world. I came out of a place with certainty as its primary commodity, me showing up in the way that I thought I needed to against the backdrop of traditional masculinity, against the backdrop of how I was raised by my family of origin and the backdrop of what I thought a good man does, and a good husband does.

It’s not to say that I wasn’t good, necessarily, but I wasn’t being exceptional. I wasn’t avoiding what, for me, was the biggest fear that I had in my life, and that was not living fully into the potential that was given to me by our Creator.

In the midst of a midlife crisis of sorts, the bridge between thirty and forty, for me, was a tricky one. I found myself in a traditional entertainment industry job that I’d grown into a career for twenty-five years. And though I had the trappings, on the outside, of everything that anyone who would listen or look thought, Man, this guy has got everything that you want. It looks like life is great. But I was really unhappy and unfulfilled and struggling with, Why?  With everything that I acquired, or the titles that I had, or the status I created, it wasn’t translating into something that felt more meaningful inside.

So, in June of last year, 2018, my wife and I moved from California to Austin, Texas. I left The Walt Disney Company as the president of distribution after a seventeen-year career, to pursue these dreams together. Now we’re working every day, hand in hand at the Hollis company, trying to put tools into the hands of human beings that, if they were to use them, might afford them a better life, a life that helps them stay out of their own way, a life that helps them believe in themselves and maybe is a another way to not believe the lies that has kept them in their own way.

Man, I’m excited about how the rest of my life gets to go in a way that the thirty-five year old version of me could have never ever imagined.

Jen: It’s great. I want to funnel down a little bit to the granular level of that, because—I’ve told you this, and we’re going to get to your book in just a second—I have endorsed it and I sent it over to you last week or the week before. In it, I said something that I mean, because you have admitted often that you were, and even maybe still can be occasionally, a self-help/personal development skeptic, cynic even. Which, I told you, draws me to you particularly, because you have this voice into the community that’s like, “I don’t know.”

I mean, some people are wired a little bit more like Rachel, just intrinsically motivated. She was born that way, she was an eight-pound baby [who was] intrinsically motivated. That’s just the way she was put together.

So I appreciate your perspective, because you’re coming from the side door, and I would like to hear you talk a little bit more, because you kind of skipped [over] Disney, seventeen years [at a] humongous, powerful job with absolute, guaranteed outcomes. I mean, that’s just the truth. You plugged the machine in and it won. It won all the gold medals.

How did you go? What was it? What was the impetus that allowed you to go from that guy, winning, absolutely slaying, to thinking, You know what? I’m going to buy into this thing that I’m not sure about. I’m going to leave all that behind to run a company that helps people live their best lives? I mean, it’s a leap.

Dave: It’s a leap.

Jen: I would like for you to come down on the ground a little bit more and talk about that process, because that is bananas on paper.

Dave: Yeah. The Walt Disney Company, when I came on board as the head of sales, had just acquired Pixar, and then in succession acquired Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, so as the person selling movies to movie theaters, convincing movie theaters that they need Star Wars and Avengers movies, as it turned out, was not a thing that required maximum effort.

So in the midst of really feeling like I wasn’t growing, I didn’t at the time realize it, but there is this crazy connection between growth and fulfillment. And the station I was in, I just wasn’t being pushed in a way that was having [me go] outside of my comfort zone or requiring me to grow.

At the same time, my wife, my Rachel, she goes on this journey. She goes on this journey of personal development, the story of basically building of Girl, Wash Your Face. The book is [about] struggling with anxiety or coping negatively with alcohol. So she’s struggling through how to become a better version of herself, and finds in her belief, in the tools that I have been skeptical of, that there’s a road, that there’s a route that you can—if you put in the work and you surround yourself with resources—overcome these things that would otherwise be barriers.

So I was stuck in this funk, where I couldn’t see a way forward. I was unfulfilled, I was not showing up well for myself. In the end, rather than deal with the way I felt, I drank more than I should. I disconnected from my family. And Rachel, all the while, was going to personal development conferences, reading everything she could get her hands on, and listening to every podcast.

So it really came to a head in that first chapter of my book, where I tell the story of us having the hardest and most important conversation of our relationship. After we’d been on a vacation, she comes and calls me out and basically says, “Hey, look, I am on a perpetual pursuit of being better tomorrow than I am today. I am a growth-wired person. And I know for me to be happy, I need to grow every single day. And if you choose to not grow, I don’t know that a year from now we’re still going to be going on dates, two years from now we’ll have anything to talk about, or three years from now we’ll be married.”

Jen: Wow.

Dave: I started going to therapy. Therapy was what opened up my eyes to the possibility of self-help and personal development being something that I could lean into. I begrudgingly agreed to go to a conference. I started reading books, and through the work, realized this connection between growth and fulfillment, and realized the only way that I can be fulfilled, if this is truly the pursuit that I’m on, how can I find happiness? How can I be fulfilled?

One thing was I needed to find a way to better tap into the potential I’ve been given. I’ve been given so many gifts and I’m not using them. Two, the tapping into those gifts, they have to happen outside of something that makes me comfortable. So at the tipping point of my wife’s business that she’d been working on for fifteen years, she’s got this book, it’s still in draft form, and, unbelievably, we make this decision to move to Austin.

Jen: Totally.

Dave: Before Girl, Wash Your Face comes out, and then hang on for your life. But our decision to do this was recognizing, “Hey, there’s something here, there’s something that’s going to connect this thing that she’s created, but also, there’s something in this community and the work that we’re doing.” It was foreign to me and was going to be challenging for me. I knew at a minimum, I’d be outside of my comfort zone and in that space, possibly open for growth, which could lead to fulfillment.

Jen:  So fast forward to here. You’ve lived into this for a while, you’ve made monumental life and career changes to build capacity around this hunch that this is a deal, that this is not just a bunch of hot air. So here we are today, and you have written your first book. It’s called Get Out of Your Own Way.

I, of course, have a copy, and I’ve read it and I endorsed it with great joy. It’s really, really good.

The one thing that I really like about you, Dave, is that your delivery style is so accessible. And what I want people to know as they’re listening today is no matter where you fall on the cynic or cheerleader spectrum, this is for you and it’s super, super usable. Can you talk a little bit more about the book, what it was like to write it, what you’re hoping for once it hits the shelves?

Dave: All right. Well, to answer the question, I have to actually go backwards, because I want to tell you that my initial reaction to reading Girl, Wash Your Face was absolute terror.

Jen: Yeah.

Dave: Right. I was certain, with 100% of my being, that the book that Rachel wrote when I received it in printed-out, binder-clip fashion was too honest and too transparent, that it created exposure for our family, compromised the work we’d done and the optics we were creating of everything being great on our side. And I actively worked to try and convince her to not release the book, which is insane, and we wouldn’t even be here if I had been successful. But that’s how much I thought the book shouldn’t be out.

And then because of, bless it, the thousands and thousands of letters that I’ve been able to read and all of the response of how we’re helping people feel like they aren’t alone in their struggle, I decided to write something that is similar. I’m also taking twenty lies that I once believed that were keeping me in my own way, but doing so through the lens of somebody, as you said, that was skeptical of these tools, that was more fixed than growth mindset-oriented and who has struggled with motivation every single day, unlike the motivation unicorn, Rachel Hollis.

I sat down to write my first book, thinking, Hey, I’m a pretty good communicator, I’m a pretty good writer, I bet I can do this pretty easily. And I’ll tell you what, I underestimated the process of writing a book.

Jen: Totally.

Dave: It is a difficult task in and of itself, just getting words on the page. It’s hard, right?

When I decided that I wanted to do something, and actually do it the way that it had to be done for it to actually have the impact that I hoped for, which is really be honest about all of these things, that made it multiples more difficult for me to write because of my worry of what people might think of me if they were to really know my struggle. I can now see, Man, who cares? I am so proud of having written this.

Jen: Aww, it’s great.

Dave: It’s still going to be something that certain people are going to be like, “I can’t believe you said that,” but because I was willing to, I think it’s part of why it’s going to work.

Jen: Totally. I want to talk more about that exact idea, because that’s one of my primary gremlins is, What do people think? I’ve done a ton of work around this. Because in my work, that cannot drive me, that will either take me out or falsely inflate me one way or another.

You talked quite a bit about how we just simply must let go of what other people think of us. Why do we have to stop using other people as an excuse, because that is what it is, to stall out or stop in our tracks or forego what we’re really meant and made to do?

Dave: Well, I mean, I think you have to start with this, and this is a hard thing because ego and your self-worth are so tied to the hope that everyone does actually care about what you’re up to. The reality is, and this is going to hurt somebody’s feelings, but nobody’s thinking about you. I mean this truly, 100%, like have a gift, be free, no one is thinking about you, they’re thinking about themselves. And that doesn’t indict them as being a bad person. It makes them human. And the humanity of each of us being interested first and foremost in self should be something that gives you the freedom to pursue the calling of your heart without worry of what they’re thinking because they aren’t, they just truly aren’t.

So part of what I had to come around to is to appreciate that there will be things that I create, including this book, including our podcasts, or any of the work we do with The Hollis Company that certain people won’t like, and it wasn’t for them.

Jen: That’s good.

Dave: The pursuit of a life of impact comes with criticism as part and parcel of what it means to have impact. If there are 100 people, and we can impact ninety, but turn off ten, we stay focused on the ten who might be upset, and…

Jen: Always.

Dave: ….are stopped from even making a step toward the ninety who could be helped. Yeah, that’s cuckoo.

Jen: That’s cuckoo.

Dave: I had to really divorce myself from the possibility that someone won’t like this book. Not someone, literally thousands and thousands people will not like this book, and that’s okay. It’s just not for them.

Jen: Yep, that’s so great. I love that. That is the healthiest approach and it’s so liberating. I think disapproval and disgruntlement is such a deterrent for us, we just think, Well, that’ll be the worst thing. It’ll be the worst thing when people criticize this beautiful thing that I made, and it will just hurt my little feelings. And maybe it will, but then all that happens, because it will, as you noted, there is a 100% chance that that’s going to happen about these things that we create and bring forth in the world. And then you go to bed and you sleep all night long, and you wake up the next day and you’re alive.

Dave: So true.

Jen: You go, Oh, okay. Was that it? Was that the end of it? Well, then carry on everybody, keep doing what you’re doing, keep building what you’re building.

Dave: I want to say this, too, because this was a really important thing for me in the discovery process of producing on a level that I’d never produced before. And that is, every human, everyone listening, y’all have ways that you handle being triggered. Right? There are healthy coping mechanisms and there are unhealthy coping mechanisms. And as honest as I’ve been about drinking as one of my unhealthy coping mechanisms, I think part of what is interesting and the realness or rawness of this writing is that this book wrote itself in real-time, as I was processing some of this experience of writing a book for the first time against the backdrop of not having the best coping mechanisms. I have not had a drink in nine months. I’m super, super proud of the fact that I haven’t.

Do you know what happened nine months ago? I got my first round of edits back from the editors who read the book for the first time. I opened up this document, saw the read, and heard the negative self-talk that I was afraid of in starting the project. “You’re not good enough to write. You don’t deserve to do it. If it weren’t for Rachel having written this book, you wouldn’t be afforded this.” All the things that were stories that I told myself now came pouring in, and instead of dealing with those stories, I grabbed more drinks than I had previously to help smooth out the rough edges of a long day.

And when I caught myself like, “Look, it’s an if-then. If you say you want to be a good author, if you say you want to lead this team, if you say you want to show up well for your marriage, if you say you want to be a dad to these kids, then you better introduce some healthier ways of coping when life comes around and disrupts your normal, because we’re living in a sea of chaos over here.”

The headline is being honest through that lens in that context. If you want to create, you will be triggered. So if you’re going to create, whatever your creation is, if you don’t have a healthy sense of how to handle criticism—and you’re worried about what they’re thinking or how they’re judging you, or is you’re enough—then you either have to choose to not create or struggle through the wake of them; whoever the collective them ends up being.

So the great thing is I turned my negative coping mechanism of drinking into running. Just to give you a sense of how chaotic things have been, I’ve run 700 miles on the road throughout Texas since nine months ago. I’m running a lot, but running, for me, has been that outlet to process the things that normally previous Dave, old Dave, would have numbed out or tried to push down so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

Part of the idea of getting out of your way is how can you stay present in the things that are disruptive in your life, so that in that disruption, the way that a muscle builds, you’ve got to break it down. If you want to build the muscle of your life, then when something hard comes up, instead of running from it or muting it, or trying to take it out of being a thing you have to think about, find a more constructive way to process it so that in learning from it, you can grow.

Jen: That’s so great. That’s a lot of miles, that’s a lot of pavement. But we have a lot of kids and so between our work and our kids, we should probably be running 700 miles a year. That makes sense.

Dave: That’s right.

Jen:  One of the lies that you sort of dismantle in your book is the idea that, I am what I do.

I want to hear you talk more about this, because, frankly, we have been taught since we were kids that we very much are, in fact, what we do, that that is how this world works, that’s what the world values, is our productivity and what we can do for everybody else, what we are giving to everybody else. That is a really lovely disguise, that sometimes I can come up under as my front shield, but why is  I am what I do a bunch of crap? I want to hear this from you.

This podcast series that I have you on is on finishing strong. So obviously, I have you on because you and Rachel are doing this amazing last ninety days. And so, rather than just slide into entropy here at the end of the year, into slothfulness, into numbing, into excess that’s unhealthy, as you just mentioned, how do we honor the goals that we have for ourselves to finish strong and to reach and to stretch, but without becoming enslaved by deriving our worth from all this productivity? Does that make sense?

Dave: Oh, yeah. Well, it’s interesting. I approached it from the lens of if I have this title, If I have this job, if I make this amount of money, does it have a correlation in my life for me being a better, whole-er, more [fulfilled version] of myself? I was asking the question through the lens of someone who had achieved a whole bunch of things that conventional society, and even my younger self, convinced me I needed in life to be happy, and I was not. So then, I had to start conversing, Okay, if I don’t have this title, if I didn’t have this status, does it in any way take away from my worthiness as a child of God, my worthiness as a human being?

And the answer, of course, was, No, it doesn’t. I’ve had to really turn the way that I think about any of it, all of it. I’m sitting in a season right now of if-then statements.

The if-then statements for me are, if I say I want to have mental health as a priority in my life, then I need to have a calendar that reflects spending time by myself, thinking about what I do in journaling, or I need to have an appointment on a calendar with a therapist at this regular amount of time so that I can process the garbage in my head. If I say that I want to have an exceptional relationship with my wife, then we have to stick to our every Thursday night date night, and even if it takes some of the spontaneity out of it, I have put things in my calendar that are as simple as, “Send Rae a text telling her how much you are thinking about her.” If I say I want to have an exceptional relationship, and the pursuit of my mundane Monday needs to be reflection of my stated outcome.

Jen: It’s good.

Dave: If I want this. It doesn’t mean that you can’t also be in pursuit of rest. It doesn’t mean that you can’t also be in pursuit of taking a break from whatever it might be, because those things are as important as anything. I did something, in my attempt to finish strong, where I left my family. Goodbye, family. I left Rae, I went to the desert in Tucson without technology. I deleted Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Twitter from my phone and then told someone on my team to change the passwords.

Jen: Wow.

Dave: I left on Thursday, and came back on Sunday. For those three days, I sat with a pen on a piece of paper with no prompts, and I wrote down on a piece of paper the things that were inside of my head.

What interestingly happened, the pursuit for me, the intention of the time, was, What is the outcome I am hoping for in 2020?

Jen: It’s great.

DaveWhat is the outcome I’m hoping for? And believe me, I started thinking I was writing about one thing, it veered into completely different spaces because of my subconscious. But if-then statements were basically at the cornerstone of it.

Jen: Sure.

Dave: If I say that I want to—this might not make sense for everyone, but I can either continue to tell stories about brokenness really honestly, and how I got out of my own way, or I can evolve into a thought leader. If I want to be a thought leader, then I need to do certain things that, frankly, today I don’t do enough of. I need to read more books, I need to spend more time in personal development conferences. I need to listen to more podcasts. I need to spend more time by myself.

Then I have to ask, like, Okay, I think that’s the thing I want. Am I willing to commit and sacrifice the things that would be required to still achieve this thing now that I’ve identified the then statements?

I would encourage anyone who’s listening, if you want to finish strong, you’ve got to start by really identifying what your intention for finishing this year is. If your intention is to create the most amount of work or to be the person who’s considered for the promotion, or to come into Christmas, when your family has come together and not drink too much because of not being able to deal with the triggers of your mother-in-law. Just know what your intention is, set that intention out there. If you want this outcome, then. And then you can really get into the then.

One of the things that I wrote down is that I want to be more connected spiritually like, Hey, how do I commune with God regularly? I can hope to have a good relationship. I need to set actual [goals], be really in my calendar, in my daily routines. I picked up a new devotional, I’ve got a new devotional habit.

When it comes to my physical goals, we have six RISE events, a RISE Run, and I’m doing a twenty-five city tour for my book. If I’d like to actually affect the lives of the people I interact with when I do all of that work, then I need to commit today to moving my body every single day, even and especially on the days I don’t want to. I’ve  got to commit to a diet that’s going to fuel my body.

If I decide, You know what? I don’t want to do the working out. I don’t want to eat well, I don’t want to keep from drinking, well, then I have to change my if statement, because I can’t show up well for those six stages, the run and twenty-five dates for a book tour if the then statements change.

So, I hope that makes sense?

Jen: It does.

Dave: If you’re grappling right now, as a listener, with like, “Man, I’m sick of grind.” Okay, change your if statement. “If I am interested in creating space for me and my family to slow down, then I have to say no to these things on my calendar. Then I can’t be the volunteer who shows up at every school event. Then I have to let go of my worry of being judged by other moms for not showing up in this way.” It might mean in that freedom, you can have the peace that you’re looking for.

You can’t hold both, though. You can’t say that you want to keep every mom happy. By the way, they’re not thinking about you. You can’t say that you want to keep every mom happy and have peace. You can have Sabbath or the freedom from their opinions, but if you can’t get rid of the first then you’re not going to have the later.

Jen: Well, I love that, and it sort of hangs on this statement that I’ve heard you and Rachel say, which is that, “Hope is not a strategy,” because I think that is the way a lot of us walk around. “Gosh, I hope this piece of my life gets easier. I hope my marriage gets stronger. I hope that my kids and I forge a meaningful connection. I hope that I can have a career change.” These are deep desires and wishes and dreams in our heads, but that’s not a good strategy.

Dave: No.

Jen: Those are just unfulfilled ideas. That is where it’s so weird, because I know what it sounds like. It sounds like the act of sitting down with a pen in your hand, and a notebook paper—like 1984 called—and just simply, deeply flushing these ideas out, writing them down, like, “Well, big deal.” It’s weird, the impetus that that can become for intention, for a way forward and actionable steps.

I have a quote sitting right here on my desk. It’s framed, it’s by Henri Nouwen, and I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of his work, but he’s a profound spiritual leader. One thing he said was, “I do not yet know what I carry in my heart. But I trust it will emerge as I write.” And I have found that to be profoundly true, there’s a weird alchemy about putting pen to paper, putting words on a blank document that allow some of that to manifest.

I mean, you have found that to be true, obviously, you and Rachel have spent a lot of time telling people to write their stuff down.

Dave: It’s real. And I’ll even take it a step further, because one of the favorite practices that we do during Christmas break, between Christmas and that first week of New Year’s, is a full calendar audit. What’s interesting is that I was not a person who was religious about this, and Rachel has been crazy about it forever and ever. And now that she’s been crazy, and I’ve seen the fruit of my diving into it, I look forward to it. The reality is this: life is going by so fast. We all have a thousand kids and a million responsibilities that rarely—I mean, rarely—do we actually pause life and take a look week by week, day by day. What did you fill your time with in the trailing twelve months? We go through this exercise of what we actually filled our days with, and what we filled our days [with that] brought us happiness, brought us joy.

There’s columns. What brought us joy or happiness? What was a good use of time? It was efficient, it produced some big idea, it was the first domino catalyst for something else big inside of the business or our relationship. What was a poor use of time? Maybe it wasn’t something good that came from it, but if we could do it over, we wouldn’t do it again. And then, what were the absolute things we thought we had clarity on when we were making this decision at the time, but man, in retrospect, we should not have made that decision.

We make that list, and then we go through it. And what inevitably ends up showing up, is that we were not as intentional about creating opportunities for joy as we should have been. We say that we are in pursuit of a life that is more centered—forget balanced, but centered—and centeredness has a piece of it. Lifestyle, the thing that we’re trying to create is a lifestyle, wisely giving us these moments for Sabbath and peace and reconnecting with our family. We usually don’t have enough of those.

When we look at the things that we said yes to that were effective and efficient, the question ends up being, in 2020, how can you more often say yes to those things? And for the things that feel like a waste of time, use those as blockers for what you are not going to say yes to in 2020 so that you preserve and protect your calendar in a way that’s a reflection of the kind of life you say you want to lead.

Jen: Absolutely. I love that so much. It really does have this accrued effect of dialing in a little tighter, year after year, into what you’re good at, what brings you a lot of life and joy, what energizes you and your community and what works. It’s these sort of incremental changes that you learn and that ultimately informs your instinct. Maybe at the beginning, that is a huge exercise and you’re like, “My, everything is crazy.” You do that long enough and then you develop this real discernment as things come into your orbit, because you know by experience that that’s going to be a no or that’s going to be a yes.

I’m curious, I’d like to hear from you a little bit about your initiative on finishing strong in your community, in the last ninety days. Talk to us a little bit about that, what motivated you to create the space—this is not your first year to do it? What’s your favorite thing that you have heard back or experienced or maybe a cool story that you’re hanging onto thinking, Yes, this is definitely a good use of our time and influence and encouragement to our community?

Dave: Right on. Well, I mean, number one, Rae-Rae Hollis, she was the creator of and has been leading this charge longer than I have been partner in its charge, so I want to give her credit. But the last ninety days, just at its simplest form, is this idea of being intentional in how you approach the last three months of the year the way that you traditionally attempt to start out the first month of a new year. The idea is, “Hey, are there some habits, is there some discipline, is there some routine in community that we could commit to, that in doing it together might have us ramping into a new year in a way that helps us take off, as opposed to making bad eating decisions or relational decisions because of what ends up being, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, these opportunities for being hyper triggered?”

We have these Five to Thrive, five things that we need as a community and are trying to, every single day, put in as a part of our life, starting each day with gratitude. If you go on the hunt for gratitude every day, you will find evidence of it, and you will have a life that is full and different because of it.

Having half of your body weight in ounces of water every single day, it sounds crazy, but hydration is super, super important, not just for brain function, but it just helps pump the bad stuff out of your body. So drink a ton of water.

Moving your body for thirty minutes every single day. Which,  in our community, there are people that are going couch to 5K. It’s a big deal just to say, “Hey, move your body for 30 minutes,” but move your body, change your mind. This is about showing yourself the power of body movement as a vehicle to changing your thinking. If you do something that is physically challenging, you will convince yourself on an unconscious/subconscious level that you can do hard things mentally, it will change the way that you think, but more importantly, it’ll change the way that you feel.

We give up a single category of food that we know we shouldn’t be eating. This isn’t about diet, this isn’t about restriction, this is about showing yourself the power of keeping a promise to yourself. So when you tell yourself, I’m not going to do this for thirty days, we ended up breaking it up in three thirty-day increments. If you commit to something for thirty days, you can commit to doing it for the rest of your life if you choose to. The power in acknowledging that you are capable of that is so, so big in pursuing basically any other part of your life.

The last one is getting up an hour earlier, so that you can—before the chaos of your day wakes up, before your kids start ruining everything—have an hour for yourself, to plan your day, to get into devotional, to spend it in meditation, just have that space to process your life before your life starts processing you.

Those are the Five to Thrive, and each week we’ve had a different theme, where we’re talking through fear or comparison or what the worry of other people might be.

It’s been great. The feedback from the community has been overwhelming and amazing. We’ve always talked about this idea that you are the five people that you surround yourself with, whether it’s five or more than five. Being a community of like minded-people who believe in hope, who believe in the power of discipline or happen to believe that searching for gratitude is a thing that will help you,it’s a life changer. It’s a difference maker. If you find yourself, through the last ninety days of the year, around people who are hopeless, who [feel like] the world’s always out to get them, who are unlucky, who want to talk behind other people’s back, it will affect the way that you think and feel. Part of this was creating a community of people that we could feel awesome doing life with. It gives us the energy to go and pursue all the things.

Jen: Love it.

Dave: It’s been great.

Jen: Love it.

Jen:  Okay, one last question, then we’re going to land the plane. We are not just closing out a year right now, but a decade, which is always an interesting time to pause and take stock. So we need to think back to where you were ten years ago, just about to turn the calendar page to 2010. If you could pick just one thing, one bit of advice that you would go back and give that guy staring ahead at the decade that you’ve just lived through these last ten years, if you can think of that Dave, what would you go back and tell him?

Dave: I’m going to go back to the tattoo, because we started there. I mean, ten years ago, I was beginning my last assignment at The Walt Disney Company. I was the head of sales, the president of distribution for the last seven years of my time at Disney. The first couple of years, man, I was definitely that ship out of the harbor. I was in choppy waters that were bigger than who I was, and what my resume necessarily suggested I was capable of. I was thriving, learning, and growing in an environment that was really testing and challenging me and because of that growth, I was fulfilled.

And about ten years ago, my boat came into the harbor, into an environment that was no longer challenging because of the acquisition of great content, of me having conquered a learning curve, of me believing that I have reached destination. The outside world is worthy and good and of significance, but I threw a rope around the dock and stayed there at the expense of my ability to grow.

As much as I do not want to relive the few years of time, certainly between thirty-eight and forty-two, where I felt like, Man, I did not show up well, I wish that I hadn’t made every choice that I made when it came to drinking too much or not being the dad my kids deserve. But I wouldn’t undo it, because of the gift that it created for me in having to persevere through the valley of my own creation, which is the rest of my life.

When I was at the bottom this trench that I created for myself, this ditch, Rachel is growing and I’m not, I’d like to say that I was treading water, but I wasn’t, I was dying, because I think you’re either growing or dying. And I was dying. In the bottom of that ditch, I can remember throwing my hands in the air and yelling, “God, give me a miracle! I need a miracle to get out of this.” And God, looking down to me in the bottom of this ditch, saying, “You are the miracle. Now act like you are and do the work. You have been given every gift, you have been given all of these resources, you have been given a light. Your wife has been dropping breadcrumbs on how to actually reach for a better life. You sir, you’re the miracle.”

Jen: That’s great.

Dave: And, man, it took time, it took a funk, it took a whole bunch of lies that I believed and uncovering the truth to those lies, I don’t have to be weighed down. I’m free from them.

But if you’re listening to this, and you’re stuck, if you’re struggling and you’re looking for a miracle, you’re the miracle. There are tools and resources that exist right this second. They do not cost money, they are free on the Internet, they’re in your public library, they’re a circle of friends, they’re a blank page in a journal that you just need to start writing in. These tools exist.

I just wish that my ten year ago version, my thirty-four year old self, could have heard that my needing those tools, my reaching for those tools, it didn’t make me weak, it didn’t make me broken. They didn’t make me bad. Those tools existed for me to become who I am on this planet, right this second, having maximum impact, having maximum value, being the dad my kids deserve, showing up well for my wife.

Those tools exist so that you can grow every single day, and for so long, I thought that my needing to grow was an indictment on me not being good as I was, and that was a lie from the devil. If you’re in a ditch, and you’re hearing this, and you’re wondering, Where’s the miracle? You’re the miracle. If you’re in any way skeptical of the tools that may exist to help you get out of your own way, to help you get out of this ditch, let go of the lie and start reaching for the help.

Inevitably, you’ll come to this conclusion. It may be listening to this podcast today, it may be two years from now. Those will be two wasted years, because, man, time is one of these commodities that we don’t have promise of existing. So come on, the tools exist, you’re the miracle, let’s go.

Jen: This is me. This is my clapping.

Dave: Come on.

Jen: I like it. It’s awesome, Dave.

Last question. This is just one that we ask every guest, in every series, and you can answer it literally however you want. I mean, it can be really profound and important or can be the smallest, most ridiculous thing you’ve ever said in your life, either way. What is saving your life right now?

Dave: Well, I mean, in real-time, having just come off of this experience of creating space so that I can give focus—I want to give you a flippant glib answer, but I’m going to tell you, what’s saving my life in real-time is clarity. Clarity that came because of taking a pause from my totally chaotic life, and allowing the space, the quiet, the absence of technology to really afford me a chance at that focus of where I’d like to go.

I have the most audacious belief in what I can do on this planet. It’s all tied to the gifts that were afforded to me by our Creator, and the things saving my life right now, are fully leaning into the utilization of those gifts. It just couldn’t be possible without some space and clarity that comes in the silence of listening and writing and thinking.

So in real-time, I’m on fire for what we’re about to do, but I’m also grateful for the blessing that came in the silence on a rock in Tucson, Arizona over the last four days.

Jen: Great. Yes. Good for you. Gosh, I’m so happy you had those days. That is wisdom to rotate that into your experience right before you turn into 2020, which by any measure is a super high octane year for you. Tons of exciting things, the fruition of a lot of work that you’ve done, it’s really, really exciting, but it takes a lot of energy and focus.

Good for you for having the wisdom to know, I need a minute here. I need a minute here to get my ducks in a row. I’m thrilled about this. And you! I believe in you so much, and I’m really proud of the work that you’re putting into the world right now, and how many people that you and Rachel, people that you matter to, are inspiring and encouraging and serving. It’s really something to watch, Dave.

And then way down to the ground, it’s just fun to be your friend, so thank you for being this great guy and dad and husband and creator, and also this good person. I feel so lucky that we got to know each other, and now we live in the same town, which is awesome.

Dave: Well, I want to say this, too, because I’m sure that every person who comes on For the Love is basically a friend of yours or at least believes himself to be a friend. But in the case that not every guest actually finishes by acknowledging how awesome you are, you are truly a gift in our life. It is a strange thing to run as fast as we are running and to experience some of the things that we are experiencing that are a little bit different. They come with the territory of doing this work and a little bit of the trade off of personal becoming public. But your wisdom and your friendship, your telling us that, “This is normal,” or, “This is okay,” your empathy for how to handle the mob of internet trolls, or whatever it might be, there’s a gift in our friendship that goes beyond traditional, “Oh, let’s just have a good time and have some fun.” I want to acknowledge and thank you for that.

You are complicit in a very important, humongous chapter of our life, and that Interrupted was the beginning of an adoption journey that ended with my now-two-year-old daughter existing in our life. I mean, she’s a monster, and she’ll come and see you so that you can experience it. But my family is complete in part because of the influence that that book had on our deciding to venture initially into international adoption before foster care and then private. So I want to say thank you.

Jen: Thank you.

Dave: But if you’re listening, you need to know this. This Jen Hatmaker, she’s the real deal. She’s a good human being, and she’s not just good and decent when she’s got a mic in her face, she is good and decent and awesome every other second of the day, too. I love and I appreciate you.

Jen: That’s nice, thank you Dave Hollis. Thank you Dave Hollis, you are the greatest and we’re excited about your book coming out, so you know I’ll banging the drum.

Dave: I appreciate that.

Jen: Love you, friend.

Dave: I love you too. I appreciate you. Thank you, thank you for having me.

Jen: Thanks, Dave.

Yes, love that guy. Love that guy. He has put a lot of meaningful tools in my hands, he and Rachel together, that have really mattered to me, a few levers that we’ve pulled that release me from some self-imposed anxiety and stress, and set me free in a few places to do what I do in ways that bring a lot more life—not just to me, to my family and my community. I am a believer.

So anyway, I’m happy that you were here today. I hope that this series has meant a little something to you as we wrap up 2019 and we wrap up a decade. Golly, can you guys believe it? Can you even believe it? I want you to know that I love you and I love serving you. And this last decade, serving this community—obviously the podcast community is newer in it, but so many of you have been in my world for years, and it is such a joy, it’s an honor. It is an honor to be a part of your life and to be able to introduce you to friends and leaders and thinkers that I think will mean something to you, and companies and vendors and organizations that are mattering in this world.

Gosh, I just, what is this life that I get to do this? And so I want to thank you for being such good and loyal and kind and generous members of this community. I don’t deserve you, and I know it. But I am eternally grateful for all the ways you’ve invested into my life. And I don’t take it for granted—ever, not for one second. And I promise you as we turn the corner into a new decade, my aim is to serve you even better and with greater significance and meaning, that is my goal.  I pray that the things that I put my hand to serves God and serves people and serves world.

I’m sending you all my love. Thanks for being here today. Hope you loved today’s show, more to come next week you. See you then.

Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!

Shop Jen's Faves

From exclusive, limited-edition items to my must-haves, check out all my latest faves.


Take a peek around

If you’re not sure where to begin, I got you, friend. I’m always bringing you something new to enjoy.

Read More About Jen