3 Things I Learned From The #1 Leadership Expert In The World

3 Things I Learned From The #1 Leadership Expert In The World

John C Maxwell at Lunch

A few months ago, my wife Renee turned to me and said, “Meeting John C Maxwell is on my bucket list.” I thought – cool… that’s an easy one. We could probably find an event he’s speaking at and try and connect with him before or after he gets off stage. Perfect, easy peasy.

But that plan all changed when I got a call from my good friend David – one of our community OG’s – or original “instigators” – a term I affectionately call those who create a better world for those around them. David is 67 and has more energy than most 20yr olds.

He starts off by saying he noticed a quote in my email signature, by John C. Maxwell.

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care about them.”
~ John C. Maxwell

“Yep, I’m a fan” I said, “his book on leadership changed my life.”

That’s when David started telling me about a crazy idea he had to bring John to our city?!?

“I’m in!” I quickly replied… not really knowing what that meant, but I was in to support him 110% no matter what. It felt like a f-yeah decision.

Fast forward to September 16th, 2014, John landed in his private jet, spent the day talking to over 6200 kids and over 250 teachers, filling the coliseum. He also shared his wisdom, alongside another amazing speaker, our own 2x olympic gold medalist Heather Moyse, to 210 of our regions top entrepreneurs over lunch, and 1650 local community leaders in the afternoon.

It was truly a special day for our city.

John C Maxwell Speaking in Moncton at the Coliseum

His talks moved everyone to play a bigger game. His words resonated on so many levels. During his last session, he shared some ideas that have since shaped my life – here they are:

You do not need to be the fastest, you just need to start first.

John shared a story about a dinner he had with one of the fastest female runners on earth. At the end of dinner, he jokingly said, “I bet I can beat you in a quarter-mile race.” If you’ve seen John in person, you’ll know why that’s funny. Agitated, she kicks off her dress shoes, and says, “lets do this.” – but before she got up, he quickly says “… all I would need is a 2 minute head start.”

That’s when I realized that it’s not about being the fastest … it’s about starting. It’s about the compounding effect you can have of starting towards a goal that may seem ridiculous at first, but if you just start, it can become a reality. Most don’t start.

Would you do what I did?

John told us that many times after he gets off stage, people come up to him and say “I really love what you do … I want to do that.” To which he answers, “I know you want to do what I do, but will you do what I did?

What a piercing question. Essentially saying, everyone wants to be that guy, the speaker, business owner, family man – but are they willing to put in the time and practice to become the person who can do that.

The outcome hardly ever reflects the journey and we all need to understand that it’s in the doing, that you become the person who can DO as John did that day on stage.

Being in your magic zone while outside your comfort zone

Everyone talks about the “comfort zone” but no one has ever talked to me about the “magic zone”. The magic zone is doing what you’re naturally gifted to do, and that energizes you. When it comes to that + being outside my comfort zone, I’ll be honest – I’ve become complacent.

A lot of what I do; speaking, raising capital, building a world class technology company is something I could do with my eyes closed.

But here’s a list of things that scare me:

  • Working with big companies
  • Sharing deep personal stories
  • Writing more and shooting videos

Each one comes with a sense of anxiety about them … either failing, being judged, or not being happy, etc .. but in my gut I know they’re the right decisions if I want to have the impact I’ve set for my life. This simple sentence has helped me reassess my goals, my actions and my day.

I’m now working on living 100% in my magic zone, while taking on projects that are way outside my comfort zone. Scary yes… but it energizes me like there’s no tomorrow!


I bet you’re still wondering “So, did Renee get to check off meeting John Maxwell from her bucket list?”


You see… the next sentence out of my mouth to David when he first called was, “All I ask is that Renee be the one who picks him up at the airport, and chauffeurs him around – can we make that happen?”

That was her birthday gift from me.


Not only did she meet him, she got to spend the whole day with John and connect on a level she never imagined possible.

I’ll forever be grateful to David and the folks who supported the initiative and to John for making the trip – it was definitely a defining moment in my life.

So, what’s your next move? What scares you but in your gut you know it’s the right move? Leave a comment below.

  • Elaine Shannon

    Magic zone….I love this and how you always inspire me/others to reach outside of what we believe to be possible. You do this by example with your own comfort stretching experiences.

    • http://twitter.com/danmartell Dan Martell

      Thanks Elaine … I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people who continuously push me to be a better person. I have big goals for myself and I know I need to grow everyday to achieve them, as the person I am today won’t cut it … it’s just the way it works.

  • Gene Fowler

    Nicely done dude.

    • Gene Fowler

      My list:

      1. Cashflow Management
      2. Getting out and selling myself and company.
      3. Making my own cartoon (funny enough).

      • http://twitter.com/danmartell Dan Martell

        Gene, great list.

        Re: Getting out and selling yourself … I’m actually working on an ebook that might be able to help you out.

        I’ll get you early access to it, all I ask for is feedback so I can tweak where it gets confusion 🙂

        Hope all is awesome.

  • http://kimberlyeagles.com/ Kimberly Eagles

    This was an inspirational day for sure…John is incredible but i hope you know how inspiring you are too. You prove that little old Monctonians can have big dreams and make them happen. Keep the Magic flowing!

    My List of things that scare me:
    Writing a book
    Stepping out in the spotlight
    Asking for help- aka building a team

    • http://twitter.com/danmartell Dan Martell

      Kim, Thanks for the comment. Love your list.

      On the book item .. I will say this … I asked John about writting a book and he said “You don’t need to write a book, yon only need to have a book.”

      So, if you have a hard time writing, you can use a ghost writer or editor to interview you and transcribe it. Your ideas, stories, words with some help.

      Actually, my good friend Jayson interviewed Tucker Max about this a few weeks ago, his service is called http://www.bookinabox.co and the interview is here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/mastermind-talks-podcast/id903383999?mt=2 (How to Position Yourself….)

      Hope that helps.

      • http://kimberlyeagles.com/ Kimberly Eagles

        awesome thanks…listening to this now! I actually took the initiative to start it this month…I have it 1/2 drafted and when I am done the draft this week I am handing it over to an editor to make it into a book 🙂 my ideas but someone else can make it look and sound pretty. This is part of asking for help and building my team, it all seems to go together. I am finally realizing I don’t have to do it all myself (that’s big for this control freak mom haha)

  • Chantal Landry

    Dan, I saw you speak at our AGM and to a small group of youth at Youth QUEST Central and although you may have been nervous and you were facing a fear, you were also giving us all a gift. So thank you. It takes great courage at times to achieve the greatest goals in our lives, and it can be as simple (or sometimes not that simple) as sharing a story, even as personal as yours. So thank you because that is how I began to follow you continued stories and now those of Renée…you are both inspiring and motivating!
    My biggest fear right now is:
    Starting my own Social Enterprise
    But I am doing it anyways 😉 Cause that is where I believe my “magic zone”…or at least one of them, truly is.
    Great blog Dan! Continue sharing your story!

    • http://twitter.com/danmartell Dan Martell

      Chantal, thanks for the thoughtful comment .. so excited to hear about your biggest fear and that you’re going to push forward regardless.

      Magic Zone FTW!

  • Lenny Boudreau

    Which book was it from the collection that is/was your favorite, the game changer 🙂

  • Iqbal Ahmed

    Dan, I am working in a company since 4 years and have good experience in application development. Now I want to start something my own but every time I try to initiate I step, I fear what if I got failed. What if I didn’t reach to the potential customers? Any suggestion?

  • Melody

    Dan, as always inspiring and directional. My fear to go outside my comfort zone yet I realize my Magic Zone is just beyond my comfort zone. Greatest fear is that I am not enough to lead my company to the next level, our vision is set, goals establish yet that nagging little voice of not “being enough” sends me into a place of quiet safety, hindering and blocking that which I desire. My gift is my passion for the company, my intuition, inner sense of knowing has allowed growth yet I fight that inner voice daily. Recommendations to silence that inner naysayer???

    • http://twitter.com/danmartell Dan Martell

      Melody, actually, there’s a difference between magic zone and comfort zone.

      You’re magic zone is that place where you do your best work. Where you stand in your power and purpose.

      Outside of your comfort zone is things that scare you. The key is to be doing the magic zone on things that are outside your comfort zone.

      Hope that makes sense?

      As for quieting the inner naysayer… best remedy is continue to grow as a person. Read books, spend more time with people you admire and ensure you continue to acheive little goals you set for yourself.

      I break mine down into weekly.

      Weekly magic zone but outside my comfort zone.

      Even if you start with a monthly project / goal to start with would have a huge impact on your life after a year.

      Hope that helps.


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