Creating High Performing Teams with Dane Espegard

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Want to learn how to create a positive company culture and a growth-minded team? Dane Espegard shares how to do just that, plus how to retain 5-star talent, connect your work life to your personal life, engage your employees outside of work, and build long-term vision within your team.

After the Interview:

About Dane Espegard

Dane Espegard is a Hall of Fame Member of CUTCO/Vector and has been the #1 Producer in Vector Marketing and manager in all of CUTCO in the last 2 years. He has trained thousands of sales representatives and managed over $51 Million worth of Cutco sales.

Dane is also a culture consultant who teaches, assists and executes the implementation of a culture centered around dream achieving. The system is bottom-up and emphasizes the development and personal lives of the team member. Dane works with companies in a very simple manner to get the culture started and leaves them with some very easy-to-implement steps.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive coach Allison Dunn. Our guest today is Dean Espegard. He is a cultural consultant and author of the Dream Machine: an A to Z Guide on How to Set Up a Culture of Achieving Your Dreams For the Workplace. Dan, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Dane: Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. I’m excited for the conversation.

Allison: Me too. I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation, what would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today?

Dane: My number one leadership tip would probably be really focused on giving vision, I find that that’s the, there’s always a shortcoming of that for most people. And when a leader can step in, and not necessarily give the vision but help maybe extend somebody’s vision a little bit further, that can be really helpful.

Allison: Okay, do you have any tips on how to do that most effectively?

Dane: I mean, I love leading through questions. In terms of, hey, you know, what are you most interested in? Where do you want to get to? Where are you right now? And how can we help you bridge that gap? You know, I think that’s just a rough structure of a good conversation.

Allison: Okay, so fantastic. So is this the vision of the leader of the organization, the owner, the founder for the rest of the team, or my vision for me.

Dane: Yeah, as a team member, I think the sweet spot is finding their vision for themselves. Once I know that, it’s a lot easier for me to roll that into the vision for the team.

Allison: Fantastic. Great tip. We’re talking about one of my favorite things in the whole world, which is dreams. And so you’ve created this guide, that I assume helps people create a high level of dreams for them to kind of go out and achieve. So why is the topic of dreams matter so much? Right now?

Dane: So I think I think a couple of things, you know, it’s a bridge from the conversation that we were just having about, like their personal vision. And I think that there’s so many people that don’t know what their vision is. And so I used to say, hey, what do you see for yourself, and I can’t tell you how many people were like, I mean, I don’t, I don’t really know. And maybe this maybe this and once I started having my team, go through the dreams exercise and build these large lists of things that would light them up and give them energy.

What I found then is it didn’t need to be one thing of destined to do blank, because most people just don’t know. And what I found was, if they had a list, kind of a menu of 100, or 200, things that would give them energy. Well, they can look from that and find things and say, Well, you know, this year, I’d really love to do blank, blank and blank. And then there’s a conversation to say, Oh, that’s wonderful, Alice, and let’s, let’s figure out your performance here. And how, how that can get you to those things, and how can we better support you with that, because in my experience, people find their big picture by doing things that light them up. And what happens for most people is they just are in this place, that they kind of go through the motions over and over again, without any opportunity for self discovery. And so that’s why I think that this kind of hits that sweet spot between the two.

Allison: In the book, you talk about the difference between goals and dreams. So I was hoping that you would distinguish that for listeners as well.

Dane: Yeah, I think goals, you know, that the whole, most organizations go through goal setting exercises quite often in AI for the last 15 years of my professional career have been in sales management, and that’s the conversation, you know, what’s the goal? How do we get you there, let’s break it down. And all too often people set a goal that they know that is totally within reach. And that’s really not the purpose of a goal, a goal is meant and I guess this is my belief, but a goal is meant to really stretch somebody beyond their current capabilities.

So that you get out of that comfort zone and really learn about yourself, achieve more whether or not you hit the goal, and the next time you can reach even further. But I think that the average person just kind of picks a goal that they know they can hit because that feels good. Dreams I find can be it’s almost permission to be absolutely ungrounded unrealistic, like when you were younger, and it doesn’t need to be a commitment. So one of the things when I when I run teams through the workshop is I’ll say, Hey, this is not a I’m committing to this. This is just a let’s have some fun. It’s an abundance exercise. Just if this ever were to happen, you don’t need to figure out how right now that’s not what today’s about. It’s really the why and the what and if we can get that down, we can figure out that other stuff later on.

Allison: In working with teams do you do you find that they are able to identify dreams for their professional life verse Since their actual, like, independent, you know, out of work life, so dreams for work versus dreams for me?

Dane: Yeah, yes, absolutely. When I take people through the exercise, there’s nine categories. And one of the categories, right in the middle is financial and career. And so it really is what I love about it is when we take people through this, when we talk about the work component of it, it’s, it’s, you know, not even 1/9 of what we go through. And I start them off with, Hey, let’s think about some, you know, goals or objectives or things that maybe you wouldn’t even fathom that you could accomplish in your current role. But then also think outside the box, right?

 In today’s world, people have tons of different careers. And inside businesses, and you know, we live in a really cool era where it’s not just you get one job, and you stay there for 40 years. And so I think that we need to be aware of that. And I do this with people on my team. And I would love to not see them go. But I think not talking about it creates that elephant in the room, as opposed to Hey, John, you know, you’ve been here for a couple years, let’s talk about some of your vocational career, you know, dreams, what would you love to see yourself doing? Because odds are, that person is not going to be here forever, anyways, if I can really engage them in align with them for whatever time they’re going to be here, that’s going to be more valuable for myself and that individual.

Allison: And that makes a ton of sense. Um, you’ve kind of put the lens on an exercise like this making a great impact to transformational culture. So I really would love everyone to listen to this episode and decide like, yeah, that’s the conversation I want to have with each and every one of my team members, so I can help them get there. Explain why this is so important.

Dane: Yeah, I think this is so important. Because I think, you know, it’s kind of goes back to the question that you asked before tonight, and I answered it a little differently. But why is this matter right now? Specifically? You know, I think that there’s, there’s a shortage of dreaming happening in just in the world in general. And it’s probably always been the case. But you know, what we’re bombarded with now, just in excess due to social media and how much we’re on our phones.

It’s just negative, negative comparison, comparison, negative, negative. And so that mixed with, you know, what, we’ve just gone through it the pandemic and kind of like the pattern interrupt of, hey, the way we did things, you can’t do them anymore. What of that the like, what do you want to shift like, there’s just so much that has caused a lot of people to have zero certainty. And a lot of people have struggled with that.

And I think that when somebody is focused on this, when somebody is focused on achieving their own dreams, they get certainty from that. So it’s like, hey, there could be all this chaos that’s going on out here. That’s okay. I mean, I’m not a fan of it. But I know what I’m working on for me, and it’s these things, and nobody else has an impact on those other than me.

 And so I really think that it brings that focus back to the individual to where they can have more certainty, rather than the, you know, left to our own, it’s really easy to have those outside influences really cloud up what our focus is.

Allison: In my experience, I find that we don’t often set time aside time to be able to dream big, on our lives. And without that, it does just piddle by like, you know, photocopy, you know, year after year doing the same thing and whatnot. So what can you share, like a dream or two that you’ve seen someone that seemed pretty outrageous or not necessarily, obviously attainable, that you’ve kind of seen it come to fruition?

Dane: Yeah, I mean, just recently, I had two guys on my team that said, I think it was a year ago, I want to do a physique competition. Okay, you know, and so I at first I’m like, I don’t even know is that bodybuilding? What is that, and then I come to find out, there’s some differences of it. But these two young men, like just completely had, you know, their health and their fitness at the forefront of what they did for, I want to say it was nine months.

And to say that it was impressive in terms of like, the discipline and the fortitude that they had to, you know, exercise on a regular basis. It was so powerful to watch them go through it in the second guy, he just had his competition, if you will, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this last weekend, and he got a medal and it was so cool.

And the team was all supportive of it, but to see somebody in their personal life to show up that way for nine months. You know, it was impossible for him not to bring energy to work when he was having all of this purpose and focus in his in his personal life. So you know, that’s kind of one example but to individuals. We have a lot of health ones on our team that I think are really inspiring.

Allison: That’s fantastic. I think that health is the greatest form of wealth. And you know, so we have businesses that we say create wealth, but really it is at the end of the day. For sure. You mentioned that there’s nine components, and you brought up two of them, are you willing to kind of just kind of circumference of what that involves?

Dane: Yeah, we always start with travels. And the reason that we start with traveling, that’s it. I think, when somebody things bucket list, I think a lot of times travels, what comes to mind, right? What are the places I want to go to my life, we always start with that, because I think it’s the easiest for somebody to really just kind of like word vomit onto paper and come up with a lot, right?

So we start there, and we go to adventure. And there’s some crossover between those two, but those would be like experiences, then we move into material. And a lot of that has to do with maybe things that would make you feel happier in your own home and in you know, but they could also be a fancy car or something like that. Then we get into the career and find the financial aspect. And then we get into health, which is both mental and physical. Then we go into family and relationships.

And so we get that one’s where things get a little bit deeper. In all of these aren’t check off the list items, a lot of them are how do you want to live? How do you want your best version to be? I joke around a lot. It’s like on my family one, when I run a workshop, my very first one on my family, I’m wearing a dad hat. But my first one there is be a great dad. And that’s not something that I can, you know, be like I crushed it today, let me cross it off my list, right? Like, I keep it number ones, every time I look at my list, it’s a reminder of how I want to be and get more specific with that, then the last couple are creative in skills like you know, what do you want to learn throughout your life, that could be reading a certain amount that can be you know, learning new skills like a language are, then we get into spirituality and faith. And then the last one is legacy to charity and how you want to be remembered what kind of impact you want to make.

Allison: Fantastic and kind of what I appreciate is the balance of the diversity of all of those. That’s very cool. Do you encourage people to have big dreams in each and every single area?

Dane: I do. But what’s really interesting is when people go through it, it their list is total reflection of what season of life they’re in. You know, I have my list from when I did it first. But the first time I ever did it, I was 23 years old, my list, you know, there’s a lot of stuff. Five years later that I looked at, I was like, I don’t want to do that anymore, right? So I cross some things off. My list now is gonna look very different as a 38 year old dad of two than it was as a single 27 year old. Right. And so I don’t think there’s really no wrong way to do it. And I think that when somebody goes through the workshop, their list is very much reflective just where they’re at in their life in that moment.

Allison: Fantastic. You also talk about how to retain five star talents. Can you explain how that maybe ties back to this conversation?

Dane: Yeah, you know, five star, I think any organization, that’s always the goal, right is how to number one attract that talent, but then retain those individuals. And what I’ve found is that, you know, those people in particular, it’s like, they want to know that they are valued for more than just their output. And when I am able to get to know somebody through their dreams list, that relationship is far deeper than we just work together.

You know, I know things about the people on my team, from like, my five star performers, I know what their dreams are, you know, their top ones anyways, in all nine categories. I don’t like before doing this, you couldn’t have quizzed me on my top person. And then like, tell me about, you know, the family relationships and tell me about their health goals. And so what I find is a lot of our conversation is about the individual. And then when we get to the Okay, let’s talk about performance. Let’s talk about some objectives here at work. We don’t need to talk about why it’s important, because we’ve already talked about it. And it doesn’t need to be why it’s important to me or the organization, it’s, you got a lot of things that you’re trying to get done. I don’t know how those things happen unless you’re performing, you know, 10 out of 10 out over here.

And so what I find is that five star talent really wants a partner, five star talent really want somebody that’s not going to hold them back in any way. And that’s what those dreams conversations are. It’s like how big are you thinking, right? In five star talent, also want somebody who’s going to, you know, mentor and nurture those conversations, which they’re not going to find those conversations in most of their personal lives.

Allison: That’s, that’s a cool tie back. And I do agree, I think that people who are five star talent do want that to be understood on like, why they’re showing up every day. So strong, super strong purpose. You also do a lot of research and not research is not the right word, but like diving into the concept of a growth mindset versus a scarcity. mindsets, what should we be thinking about when we’re setting dreams and making sure that we’re not going about it from lack of abundance?

Dane: Yeah. So you know, when I just had the opportunity yesterday to do two workshops, and one was in person one was virtual in there, I’m always really particular to set it up correctly. And part of it is, is trying to relate to the individual to help them understand like how somebody got to where they’re at, and we talked about it, you know, just very briefly, but, you know, the idea of, I don’t want to be the person and I say this not as you’re that person to somebody in the group, but I don’t want to be the person that has this happen where, you know, five years go by, and all of a sudden, you’re like, we’re all the time go by. And that’s a very normal thing.

Why that happens is absolutely understandable and acceptable. And what happens, we’re ushered through life, somebody’s holding our hand all throughout, you know, our upbringing, through high school, possibly go to college, and even at college, it might not be parents, but you have an advisor who says, Okay, pick your classes, and here’s what you need. And then here’s the next ones. And here’s the next one. And then when you graduate from college, it’s kind of like we’re released into the wild and expected to be able to thrive, right, and it’s like, there you go, you’re prepared, we’re not prepared. And then what happens is we find ourselves in a job, it’s not always the job that we wanted. And we get big people bills, which then require us to have this type of job, we blink all the sudden, we’re you know, and this isn’t everybody’s path, married with kids with a mortgage, and all of a sudden, it’s like, all of my time is filled with obligation.

I put my dad hat on husband hat work at. And so very rarely do we find the time, it’s hard to find the time to really focus on what’s going to fill me up and what’s going to get me in the next stage. And I think when I talk about that in a group setting, it’s very easy for most people that say, yeah, that I can relate to that right in some form. And then I just talked about, hey, this doesn’t need to be an overhaul on like, I’m going to be some superhero. It’s like, hey, what if this next year, you just did three or four or five things that really feel job? Would that be a win for the year? And most people would say, Yeah, does. And we have that, right.

Like, think about the last time your family went on a vacation. You don’t get enjoyment from the vacation, you get enjoyment. The second you decided, as a family, we’re going to blank, right? We’re gonna go on a camping trip, we just went to Tennessee on a camping trip with our girls. When we made the decision, there was excitement and joy. When we went through the planning, there was excitement and joy, the week leading up to it excitement enjoy the experience itself. Amazing. And then there was awesome memories after. But what if he just were intentional about having 2,3,4 Things like that throughout every year? Right? And so there’s never a spot where it’s just like, Oh, it’s another week, it’s another month? It’s like, no, there’s always something that you have to look forward to. And I think when I suggest that, I think that’s easy for people to wrap their head around and say, I can see that it’s hard for somebody to say I could see it.

And then I also I’m very transparent and vulnerable as I run these workshops. And one of the things that I’ll always do is start with, Hey, if you’re okay with me sharing, I’d like to share what I’ve accomplished from my dreams list this year in 2022. And I think that helps them understand, you know, there’s, there’s a year one of this where it’s maybe only a couple things in the list, and then there’s year 8,9,10. You know, where you can be doing 20 to 30 dreams a year.

Allison: Right. That’s awesome. You talk about the four buckets that need to be filled in order to be operating at 100 percent. Can you tell me more?

Dane: The four buckets remind me of the four buckets I’m maybe I’ve traveled.

Allison: That’s okay. So I guess the follow on to that is, is it even possible to nail all four at one time? So I don’t know if you have them categories? Buckets, maybe I’m using the wrong terminology.

Dane: I’m trying to think of is it work personal is the one life multiple life thing? It might be that yeah, so it might it might be like the health the relationship, the financial the work, it might be that scenario where, what I mean by that, when I talked about this, and this is a concept that I was introduced to by Matthew Kelly, the author, he wrote the book called The Dream Manager, which inspired my work on dreams and what we’ve done. And in that book, he introduced the concept, actually, excuse me, he introduces in rhythm of life. And the idea of, you know, especially in today’s age, even more so now, I think he wrote that book over 10 years ago.

I’d say it’s even more now and how we work from home, that there’s not separation. There’s not this like, okay, there’s a work version of me and then there’s a homebrew It’s like, no, there’s, there’s literally, there’s a lot of people that are working and they go and do their laundry, right? Like it’s the same version. And so this idea of leave your problems at home, right? Put on your work face, it’s like that stuff. It’s very old adage in terms of like management style. And, you know, in today, it’s like, if I want to thrive at work, I need to thrive at home, I need to thrive in my health, I need to thrive in my finances. Like those things, I need to at least have a handle on those things to hope to be able to get up over here.

And if these things are really struggling, it’s virtually impossible for me to rise to where I want to at work, right. And the same thing can be true, I need to be thriving over here so that I can be thriving in my personal life. And so I think that what I love about the dreams concept is for me, it is an all encompassing, I’m not talking to somebody about a siloed part of their life, which is just work, I get to talk to them about, hey, how you feeling as a parent, how are you feeling as a spouse? What are you struggling with? And in, you know, the more conversations I have about that, the less conversations I have about their sales performance.

Allison: Imagine that, I’m super excited, what is the most exciting thing that you’ve accomplished this year on your dreams list? And what’s the one thing maybe you’re still working towards, that you’re excited about?

Dane: So, for me, a lot of it has to do with, you know, family stuff, I would say, we relocated our family to, you know, multiple states way across the country to Austin, Texas, and, and trying to support my wife’s dreams. I’m looking outside right now. And there’s fencing getting put up to bring our horses that we have that are nearby onto our property. And that’s been a dream of hers. I hired a health coach at the beginning of the year. And I’ve stuck with that all year. That’s been a really big one for me personally. I have some work ones that have been great. And then this coming weekend, I’m going to be experiencing my first ever f1 event in Austin. Like, yeah, so it’s kind of, you know, more of a fun one.

Allison: yeah, fantastic. Thank you for sharing and getting vulnerable there. I super appreciate sharing the concepts around how this would improve culture and bringing it into the workplace. And that balance that is required, what is the best way for someone to connect with you?

Dane: Sure, on social media, I’m most active on Instagram, I do some dream spotlighting on there. So I love it when people will do a dream, even if I’m not, you know, to connect with them. And they tagged me in and I love seeing those in my website, which is just And if somebody wants to this year, my objective is just to try and make as large of a rippling effect as possible with people in terms of how they, you know, view their life and purpose, if you will. And so, at the beginning of the year, I made the decision to give away a free version of the book for anybody that wants so if they just go to my website at, they can get a free downloadable copy of the book from there.

Allison: Okay, fantastic. And for our listeners, I’ll include I’ll include that in the show notes. Fantastic. Thank you very much for joining us here today. It’s been a pleasure.

Dane: Yes, my pleasure for sure.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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