Ten years ago last Friday, we started Good Leadership, because I had a push from a friend to follow my Bucket List dream. It was my co-author on this book, Mark Bergman, who gave me a shove.

Ten years ago, I was haunted by something compelling on my Bucket List. No, it wasn’t a travel bug. It was the experience of owning my own business. I guess I can blame the instinct on my dad. I grew up with our kitchen table as the headquarters of his sole proprietor, veterinary business. Or, his father, who owned a farm. Or my maternal grandfather, who owned a newspaper and a funeral home. The start-your-own business bug began when I was 16 years old. Here’s how:

The photo wall was busy all night at the Bucket List BASH. Here I am celebrating with my friends from OrangeBall Creative (From left: John Gamades, Cristina Gamades, Rachel Nordby, Beau Nordby)

A rain and hail storm damaged several houses in our neighborhood in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, during the spring of 1979. When one of my parent’s friends complained that they couldn’t get a contractor to give them a bid on their house, my dad said, “My son can do it!” It turns out that my dad was right. One of my friends and I figured out how to paint that house to Marlene Orr’s satisfaction. I made more money in those two weeks than I did in six months working at Hardee’s and HyVee combined. That’s how I got the bug.

Once I became accustomed to being my own boss, it was hard to work for anyone else. I loved scoping the project and negotiating the fees. I loved doing the work and simultaneously supervising the crew. Turns out…that’s what I do today. Luckily most of our clients are easier to please than Marlene Orr.

A Bucket List Push

But, as I married and started a family, my need for health insurance and a steady paycheck was the compelling reason that kept me from pursuing the dream. Then, one day in 2009, while celebrating my 46th birthday on a beach in Ixtapa, Mexico, I felt my window closing. With 25 years of accumulated experience in my field, I had enough know-how to do it. But, if I waited much longer, would I have the courage?

The band Too Darn Hot kept us dancing all night long. Photo credit: Isaac Johnson

Back home, the nudge of my friend Mark Bergman helped me push back my fears and take the leap. I quit my job – with two kids in college – on Halloween, 2009. And on the next day, we began the planning for the firm we run today: Good Leadership.

We celebrated a decade of goodness in leadership with 140 of our clients and friends. It was a fantastic party. Photo credit: Isaac Johnson

Last Friday marked our 10th anniversary, and we celebrated with 140 of our clients and friends. It was a fantastic party called The Bucket List BASH, in honor of my friend Mark Bergman, the inventor of The HANDy Paint Pail. We danced to the smokin’ hot sounds of Too Darn Hot. And collectively, we raised a whole bunch of money for Make-A-Wish Minnesota. We intended to fund wishes for children who deserve one true wish to help them hope their way through a critical illness.

Encouraging Bucket List Thinking

Next Friday at the Good Leadership Breakfast, the Make-A-Wish America CEO, Richard Davis, will be the speaker at our 80th breakfast. We will celebrate the 10th year of the series and give away a boatload of Bucket List books because the world needs good leaders who are motivated by big aspirations for improving the world.

View a photo gallery of the party. Can’t get to the breakfast, but want to buy Bucket List Books to stimulate your team?

Then, please take me up on my coaching question: What is your Bucket List telling you?