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Introducing Our Newest Service: Purposeful Coaching

Hi, I’m Dan. My preferred pronouns are he/him/his. I am the cofounder of Grassroots Solutions where I’ve spent more than 20 years as a strategy consultant and evaluator for foundations, large advocacy organizations, political campaigns, and elected officials. 

My wife Cassie and I have been married since 1998 and I am the proud dog dad of Doc the Basset Hound. I’m a competitive backgammon player, an avid cook and a Minnesota State Fair fanatic. Cassie and I are also cancer bloggers. Together we chronicle our efforts at navigating life with her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Our cancer journey has influenced how I think about questions of balance, privilege, presence, empathy, and just about every aspect of personal and professional development. It has also pushed me to take a long look at my own priorities, which is what brings us to the topic of this blog post: Purposeful Coaching. After reflecting on where I want to be and what I most want to do professionally right now, I’ve decided to switch my primary focus from working with big organizations to one-on-one leadership coaching, an area where I believe I can have the greatest impact at this moment in time. 

After years of advising in the progressive sector one thing is clearer than ever: leadership matters. Building power for social changes demands strategic, equitable and healthy leaders. 

About Purposeful Coaching

My purposeful approach to coaching revolves around the following attributes.

  1. Equity-Driven: As someone who has benefited immensely from unearned privilege, I know that race, gender and identity shape all institutions and individuals. I also know that I spent a long time hiding behind my progressive values to avoid directly confronting questions of racial and gender equity. Now, I strive to center equity values in all aspects of my life including coaching.
  2. Imaginatively Practical: Too often we start with the “how.” Working together, we will instead start with “what if” and let our imaginations run. Given so many seemingly intractable societal problems, effective leadership demands imagination to help see new possibilities. At the same time, as a practitioner I know what it takes to get things done. 
  3. Curious: Good leadership starts with good questions. I approach coaching through a lens of curiosity. Let’s talk about what inspires, motivates and challenges you. Understanding this will allow us to identify new practices that you can use to reshape, renew and evolve your approach to leadership.
  4. Relational: Traditional leadership styles are all too often about roles, titles and hierarchy. A different and more relational approach shares power, centers equity, values deep listening and is more adaptive than rigid.

Coaching Specialties 

There’s no shortage of coaching options or specialties in this day and age. I’ve spent the better part of the last year honing in on where I believe I offer unique value and perspectives.

Complex Strategy: If you want to push yourself as a leader or are feeling stuck.

Sometimes you need a thought partner outside of your organization to help think through complicated strategic questions. Whether it’s prioritizing your work, exploring equity-related challenges, changing organizational culture, making tough staffing decisions, or overcoming the internal battle that is “imposter syndrome,” there are moments when you need extra insights. In leadership roles, unbiased feedback can too often be difficult to obtain within your organization. You may need someone who isn’t too close to the work to see things clearly and isn’t influenced by internal power dynamics. Through this coaching speciality area I act as a strategic sounding board: together we can test ideas, clarify your thinking, explore options and plot a path forward.

Equity Journey: If you are a white person (especially a white man).

I am a cisgender white man. I am not an expert on racial or gender equity. That said, I do have my own journey towards centering racial and gender equity to draw upon as a starting point for joint insight gathering, reflection and lI am a cisgender white man. I am not an expert on racial or gender equity. That said, I do have my own journey  toward centering racial and gender equity to draw upon as a starting point for joint insight gathering, reflection and learning. I view working collaboratively with other white people (men in particular) as part of a shared responsibility to learn more about how we’ve benefitted from privilege and to unlearn the habits and approaches to leadership that actively contribute to systemic racism and sexism. In this coaching journey, I see myself serving as a “bridge,” meaning that I help clients start their equity journey but under an assumption that they will eventually continue this work with more experienced equity professionals.

Campaigning and Governing: If you are a progressive elected official.

Having long worked at the crossroads of political campaigns, policy making and advocacy, I have observed that campaigning and governing as a progressive pose unique challenges. These include: establishing a progressive and equity-driven governing philosophy; leveraging your power; staying true to your values; creating a strong and equitable staff team; and building enduring coalitions. Whether you’re newly elected or a long-term incumbent, talking through these types of questions can accelerate your impact and contribute to progressive governance.

The Business of Consulting: If you are thinking about becoming a consultant.

Considering becoming a consultant, launching a consulting practice or growing your firm? Let’s discuss the issues that can lead to long-term success. Will you operate solo or with partners? How will you think about health care, project cash flow, define your budget and price your work? How can you center equity and other values in your business? How do you balance selling and doing work? These are just some of the questions you are probably asking yourself and they’re all challenges I faced in my own consulting journey—I would love to talk through them together.

I am most hopeful that this body of work will include working with people who are under-represented in the social change consulting field. 

I’m excited to continue on this professional endeavor, and am grateful to those who have helped me along the way (and grateful to readers of this blog post who have made it this far!). If coaching is something you’re thinking about, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I won’t be the right fit for everyone, but I do believe in the power of one-on-one coaching, and I’d love to have a conversation.


Read more about Dan's coaching services here

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