At 26 years old, I was the founder and CEO of a fast-growth startup. We were generating millions in revenue, on the covers of magazines, and even had a slick office in a desirable area of Orange County California. The last thing I expected was to be disliked by most of my 40 employees. 

leader

This is a picture of me (bottom center) with my staff after an employee party paddle boarding through the bay in Newport Beach. From the outside, everything looked great. But in reality, there was an emotional divide severing my employees from their leader.

Just days after this photo was taken in 2012, my mentor asked if we could have a private conversation. At my surprise, he listed off a range of negative feedback he had heard from my team.

He looked me in the eye and said, “Dale, you hurt people and you don’t even see it.” 

At this point, I was speechless. The details of how people had perceived my leadership, began to open my eyes to the wake of emotional destruction I left behind me. And while some of these flaws are acceptable for the average person, they were deadly for a business owner in my position.

Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.


Over the next several years, I dove deep into healing. I enrolled in a $12,000 executive psychotherapist course, had a monthly appointment with a therapist, read over 15 books on emotional leadership, and made an immense level of progress over coming months.

“Dale’s entrepreneurial journey is very diverse, but he truly does seem to have that magic touch in leadership, regardless of the industry.”

-Forbes Editor, Evan Kirkpatrick

In November of 2014, my stock in my startup was acquired. But it was the lessons I learned during this season, that changed my trajectory of success forever. There’s an old saying that all leaders should know:

“What got you here, won’t get you there.”


It’s the lessons of this season that not only allowed me to come back and earn millions, but to lead with integrity, to elevate and inspire those around me, and to create companies that change the world.

In my new book, People Over Profit: Break The System, Live With Purpose, Be More Successful I break down these powerful lessons in detail. I share the uncommon insights of how deep personal change occurs; and I help business leaders, startups, and entrepreneurs become the best version of themselves.

get a free chapter from people over profit

Here is a sneak peek into a few of the lessons from the book:

1. Complaining breeds disgust in those below you

In the earlier chapters of the book, I help leaders recognize the power complaining can have on those who follow them. The CEO of Clif Bar once told me,

“The reason executives get paid more, is to bear the immense weight of the company so others don’t have to.”

When an employee or subordinate hears you complain about anything, whether it’s today’s traffic or the deadline you’re struggling to hit, it places unnecessary weight upon their shoulders and builds contempt in the hearts of everyone who follows you.

The only thing complaining does is convince other people that you are not in control.

2. Speak to people how they need to hear it, not how you want to say it

At our core, we are all selfish beings. And focusing energy on selflessness has always been a common win for leaders, but what is rare is those who can communicate with selflessness. To intentionally craft their words for each individual audience. To be considerate enough to change their style to accommodate the needs, vernacular, culture, or beliefs of those who are listening. In People Over Profit, I reveal the 21 communication laws that captivate everyone around you. But at the core, this statement reigns true:

Thoughtfulness is the most effective version of communication.

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3. Be selective in your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right

Every battle has a consequence. A victor and a failure. It’s common for leaders (especially A-Types) to turn common confrontation or debated discussion into a battle. We lose sight of the person and focus our sights on the win. We fight with intense fervor and find our moment to slam the door shut. Bam! I’m right! But then it sinks in… the hurt and defeat we caused another on an issue that never had the merit of such a pain. In chapter six titled “People Matter”, I share a heart wrenching personal story that taught me this lesson:

It takes guts, maturity, and strength to be gentle.

4. People follow people, not ideas or businesses

I see too many incredible leaders hide behind their company. Sure, they can build a strong brand and execute a list of corporate initiatives, but at the center they lack the self confidence to even follow themselves. Many of us trust that when people engage with our companies or our ideas that we are adding value. But value is different than connection. Connection only occurs when the leader incorporates their humanness and their story within their work. Their weakness, their realness, and their authentic desire to grow. This is the beginning of relationship and the only thing worth following.

>Experience alone doesn’t make you better at anything. Experiencing deep, vulnerable relationships does.

“Dale’s book is going to change the hearts, minds, and bottom lines of today’s business leaders. A must read for any leader.”

-Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes

5. In humility, value others above yourself

In all of the leadership habits I have learned, humility trumps all. Have you ever met someone who authentically compliments you, lifts you up, and affirms your character? Almost as if you’re more important then anything else at the time? The capacity of offering this gift derives from a heart of humility and genuine belief in the value of people. It’s a hard quality to develop as a leader, but the more you can grasp about the equality of the human condition, the less you will tower over those around you.

A great leader is always willing to be little.


As leaders we can afford to be broken, but we cannot afford to be emotionally immature. People will follow you in spite of a few bad decisions. People will not follow you if you are unaware of your weaknesses. As a leader, you must develop the elusive skill of leading confidently and purposefully growing or you will forever stand still.
Do you want to become a captivating leader? Maybe you’re a new entrepreneur or dreamer. Or maybe you own a small business already. If you’re looking for a practical guide with timeless principles that never fade, principles that push for a healthy type of success, one with integrity, honor, and respect, my new book People Over Profit is for you. Consider my offer below.

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Dale Partridge is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Sevenly.org and Startupcamp.com. He's the Author of the bestselling business book"People Over Profit" and is a keynote speaker for Facebook, Adobe, and Spotify.
  • Rachel Leigh Murray

    I love these tips! Especially about being humble and honestly complimenting people. That’s gold. I’ve written a bit about adding value to others on http://truthandtravels.blogspot.com

    • peopleoverprofit

      Thanks Rachel! Love the article.

  • Vicki C.

    I love this!! Can’t wait to get the book! Can I get it in an audio version?

    • peopleoverprofit

      Yes! You can pre-order it on Amazon. It will be on Audible too.

      • taylor

        When will this book be available on audible? Sounds like it would be a great book to listen to on my commute to work!

      • Vicki C.

        Thank you Dale!Cant wait!:)

  • Winter Harbison

    Hi Dale!
    I am interested in reading your book. Where can I learn more about this coaching kit? Is it anything that’s beyond the content covered in the book?

  • Lola Reed

    I’ve met Dale and he’s the real deal- a leader and a proper human being for the 21st century. And one of the things I really respect is Dale’s willingness to learn from the stumbles- and his willingness to share his journey. I’ve read the book cover to cover- it’s heavily highlighted and a daily inspiration- thanks for sharing it all Dale!

    • peopleoverprofit

      Hey Lola! Thanks for the kind endorsement. It means a lot :)

  • Jax Sutton

    I have a wedding blog and after three years felt like I had lost my mojo. What I had really lost was my authentic self. My originally honest and often eye opening posts may have included the odd F bomb but they had impact.

    They have now been replaced with mushy love stories and the over use of the word ‘lovely’ because I thought I should probably tone it down a little to increase my audience (and not offend them) ARGH I have become the style of blog that used to make me want to vomit.

    Your words (in the free chapter)…. “What are you doing currently that is not you? Murder it.Wrestle it to the ground, strangle the life out of it, and bury it in your backyard. Stop investing in things that are not you.” pretty much just saved me! I am now off to bury some ‘lovely’ in the backyard. THANK YOU!!! Buying your book NOW. F#*K YEAH!

    Jax – http://www.paperandlace.com

    • peopleoverprofit

      Yes! Love your passion. Thanks for the support :)

  • http://www.lionsbrain.com/ Brian D. Evans

    Choosing your battles as a leader is something that resonates with me a lot. I often see things that I don’t think should be how they are. But, at the end of the day I have to remember that I hired someone to do something that they can do better than me — therefore, I should let them do it!

  • Robin Clason

    “Connection only occurs when the leader incorporates their humanness and their story within their work. Their weakness, their realness, and their authentic desire to grow. This is the beginning of relationship and the only thing worth following.” This really resonates with me, as an instructor of American Sign Language (ASL) it really is about relationships and helping others open a door of communication with their family members. You can’t fake being interested in other families ‘stories’ or needs. Thank you for helping me to be true to who I am and what my family has gone through in order to help others.

  • Bryant Pryor

    Great article, I struggle with tip #3, always trying to win. But just by reading this brief article it has given me insight on what I need to do next to move in the right direction, and interact with people in a different way and manner.

  • http://silvertreasure.blogspot.com/ nindy

    Great post! I will try to apply this to my subordinates and other colleagues :)

  • Ed Love

    “Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.” My wife who’s also my office manager sent this article to me. Great Stuff! Purchasing the book now.

  • Gwenn George Bartku

    I bought “People Over Profit” this summer and couldn’t put it down. I’m now sharing this book not only with friends, but with department leaders within the company I work for.