For more than forty years, Dan Sullivan has become one of the most sought after business coaches and personal development experts in the world. His company, Strategic Coach®, has helped entrepreneurs grow their businesses exponentially, and his unique approach has inspired many individuals to pursue and achieve their wildest dreams. He’s a Game Changer, defined by him as an entrepreneur who creates something innovative that provides a tremendous jump in value creation within a market-place. To become a Game Changer, Dan says that individuals must first adopt a Game Changing Mindset with eight specific areas to nurture and develop.


Get past the notion of competition. “I want people to steal my ideas. I want to create a community where people are just thinking at a higher level,” said Dan. We are taught that competition is non-negotiable, but Dan’s approach is just the opposite. At Strategic Coach®, Dan uses this idea of No Competition every day and with this spirit, Dan has made some of his biggest competitors also his biggest clients and allies.


Dan has developed a simple rule when it comes to market research, and it is embodied in the second Game Changer Mindset: Test only on check writers.

In his 40 years of experience working with entrepreneurs, he has seen the same mistake over and over again—a great idea never sees the light of day. Dan advocates a simple strategy—“If you have what you believe is a winning idea, go immediately to the person who would give you money for the idea.” Don’t show the idea to your spouse, kids, best friend, or employees. Show it to your potential customer.


“Many entrepreneurs try to gear their message to attract everybody. But you don’t want everybody,” Dan advises. This is what his concept of the Optimum Maximizer is all about, attracting the “right fit” people to be your customers and clients, people with whom you want to work, who share your mindset—in short, people you like. Through Strategic Coach®, Dan has developed a Mindset Scorecard that outlines the qualities of his “perfect clients,” and he encourages entrepreneurs to do the same for themselves. This single idea of marketing only to like-minded people, can transform your daily business life.


Dan believes that Game Changers seek to be paid in more than just cash. Here are the other ways to “get paid” in the Game Changing world:

Capabilities: In today’s world, building capabilities usually takes the form of cutting-edge technological tools, systems, and networks. The other critical capabilities to develop involve teamwork, and the use of each team members’ unique abilities.

Creativity: Whenever you combine your teams’ abilities with cutting-edge technology, you inspire Creativity—new concepts, methods, tools, products, and services.

Credibility: Capabilities combined with Creativity bring about Credibility. Your team’s Credibility make you the “go to” in your industry.

Connections: As your Credibility grows, so do the number of people who seek out your company and your unique innovations, you build Connections.

Confidence: As you build more and more Connections, the market will have more and more Confidence in you and your company.

Cash: These expanding Connections and market Confidence get you to the final C—Cash. You have built a company that customers know, respect, and want to do business with.

Dan asserts that the more you focus on the first five C’s, the greater the cash that will come to you. And when Cash does come, it feeds back into the first five. This virtuous cycle frees you from competition for the rest of your entrepreneurial life.


According to Dan, the ultimate goal in our careers and life is freedom—freedom of time and money, freedom to choose our relationships and to live our highest purpose. Game Changers are often the people whom we admire purely because they have these freedoms in abundance.

Dan’s own journey of increasing freedom began when he started coaching in 1974. As he honed his skills and capabilities as a coach, he learned how people do business and what it takes to succeed. He also built relationships with people he genuinely liked and admired, and his increased success allowed him to pursue his higher purpose—to help entrepreneurs expand their own freedom. The key to becoming a Game Changer is to find a meaningful purpose that makes your work enjoyable.


Dan recommends that every Game Changing organization have managers whose sole focus is to execute new initiatives. Dan divides the innovation process up into three steps: The entrepreneur comes up with the brilliant vision (Make It Up). The Innovation Manager takes that vision and builds everything needed to bring it to life (Make It Real). Finally, the Innovation Manager passes along the system to a Process Manager to “Make It Recur.” They improve the system’s quality and efficiency so it continues to run smoothly. It’s critical that the right person handle each of these steps. And it’s especially important that you, as a Game Changer, stay out of the way of your Innovation and Process Managers.


Game-changing ideas are inherently disruptive. To be a Game Changer, Dan urges entrepreneurs to get comfortable with the fact that they are going to create massive inequality in their industries. But Game Changers know that their innovations, in the long run, will benefit far more people than they hurt.

Dan says, “There is always somebody who is playing an old game that their income, reputation, pension, and power are tied to, and they are going to lose all that with the change of the game. You are not responsible for that. That discomfort doesn’t signify that a game-changing innovation shouldn’t be done.”


There are two sides to any Game Changer’s community. The first side is the unique marketplace that will be best served by your breakthrough. In other words, at the same time that you are creating your Game Changing idea, nurture and seek out the support of the people who will buy it. The second side is a community of other entrepreneurs who are striving for their own breakthroughs. Game Changers surround themselves with others who have big goals, too.

For the last twenty-five years, Dan Sullivan has been building his community of entrepreneurs and Game Changers through Strategic Coach®. But at seventy-two years old, Dan still holds firm to the belief that his future is bigger than his past.  He believes that being a Game Changer takes the kind of commitment that will carry him through the next twenty-five years. Dan sums it up, “As a game changer, there’s no specific end point that I want to get to. I just want the next step to be more exciting than the last.”

About the Author

Emily Hache