I was coming out of a 23-year marriage. It was a shocking marriage. There was a lot of little things that happened that I'm not going to bore you with but needless to say I fell into victim mode. I was kind of blaming certain events on other people, their circumstances, and I was just like I was crying and I was just feeling sorry for myself. And I just couldn't see. I just could not see beyond my pain. And Dan in his loving beautiful way and this is why I fell in love with him, he could look me in eye and basically say, “You're bigger than this. You're stronger than this. Let's look at your possibility. You don't need to be that victim anymore.”
I went into this kind of knowing that there were these different pillars in my life that weren't fully aligned. So, I might have been doing well in business, but not so well in relationships, and family and all these different aspects of my life weren't fully aligned and congruent.
And having Stacey as a mirror to kind of say, “Hey, is this really serving you. You're so much bigger than this.” And really kind of helped me see the bigger picture and being able to work through all that and being able to recreate a purposeful life which is what we're living today.
Stacey and Dan Lievens met less than a year ago at a self-discovery boot camp of sorts for entrepreneurs and leaders seeking to clear away any limiting beliefs or blocks and find their true passion and purpose. The rules were simple over those four months: No romance. So they became accountability partners and it wasn’t long before they fell in love, married and started building a transformational business together.
I’m Melinda Wittstock and Stacey and Dan join me today on 10X Together to talk love of business … the business of love … and how to create a full and integrated life of abundance in ALL areas by aligning the whole family around purpose.
Today we talk about how Stacey and Dan found their purpose in business together… helping entrepreneurs align to their true purpose. Together they have created The Proof – and akin to a Ted Talk where ideas are worth sharing, a Proof talk is a journey of discovery about your purpose, the why behind the what.
Dan and Stacey say they challenge Proofers to answer these questions, and they are thought provoking:
First, what is your gift to the world? And what would it look like if the whole world accepted or adopted your gift?
Makes you think, doesn’t it!
So, when a businessperson or an entrepreneur is truly aligned, you know the messaging is clear, the business plan is clear, everything becomes completely clear because it is their meaning. It is their meaning that they get to live into. And that's not the question, it's not questionable. Right? There are no doubts around your true purpose. That's what you stand for. There's no wind. There's no contradiction. There are no wavering clients or contracts or anything like that when you are so aligned, when every cell in your body knows, “Hey, this is why I do what I do.” And you attract alignments around you from customers to partnerships and whatnot.
I think this process has been quite vulnerable for a lot of people because you really get very authentic with who you are and the path of how you became this entrepreneur. So, some of the stories that are revealing are quite triggering. There's a lot of healing that we're seeing happen. And showing that, “Yeah, there was a really low point in your life but look how it served you today.” And so, we're seeing the healing right before our eyes with these people. They're realizing, “Wow, telling my story, getting on a stage in front of a live audience, having witness to my pain, to my progress,” is revolutionary to them and their business. We're finding that a lot of the testimonies we're getting now is, “Wow, I'm brave. I've got the courage now to share my stories with my clients and create them in a way that gives meaning back to the audience.”
Stacey and Dan are co-founders of The Proof, a Ted Talk type endeavor focused on bringing out the life purpose or the “why” behind the “what” of an entrepreneur or thought leader. The Proof captures entrepreneurs on stage sharing their talk – an authentic marketing tool that helps them best attract the right customers, investors, and team members. Dan and Stacey say The Proof is a witness to what humans stand for and what they are doing to elevate the planet we share.
We’re going to talk more about The Proof and much more besides, and first a little bit more about Stacey and Dan before we begin our conversation.
Stacey is an acclaimed master craftsmen photographer – the photo industry’s highest degree – and a personal branding expert supporting women entrepreneurs to be the face of their brand. I first met Stacey when she photographed me swinging on a trapeze (seriously) at my Unicorn Club mastermind for high performing female founders.
I know firsthand how her photography truly expresses her clients’ authentic self and individuality on film, and she brings both an eye for detail and a heart-centered focus to transforming her clients’ image, confidence and brand. For two decades she was a partner in Visual Photography – a San Diego portrait studio. She has also won multiple international awards and honors with Fuji, Kodak, the Professional Photographers of America, and the Professional Photographers of California, and served as the president of the Professional Photographers Association of San Diego.
Stacey is also an end-of-life educator with a passion project called Soul Sitters. She works with dedicated caregivers facing the loss of a loved one and wanting to transform a frightening time into a peaceful and loving experience. She’s also the author of “The Soul Sitter’s Handbook, What To Do When Your Loved One Is Dying”.
Now to Dan – serial entrepreneur, Business and Technology Consultant with 20 years of hands-on experience with early stage companies. His video production company AmplifyX, is the driving force behind The Proof. In addition to creating video assets for Proofers, AmplifyX helps small businesses attract their ideal clients with creative and engaging story telling. Most often, by highlighting the unique customers they serve.
Dan is also Managing Partner at HeadRoom, which provides Small Businesses and Start-ups the resources they require to take a quantum leap forward. He has wide industry experience in online e-commerce, start-ups, information technology, software and database development and is well-known for his rapid and strategic execution. His areas of specialization include IT strategy, online campaigns, web analytics, requirement analysis, design, construction, testing and implementation of applications.
So a lot to talk about with these two right? I can hardly wait to share this 10X Together interview with you. Couplepreneur Stacey and Dan Lievens.
Melinda Wittstock: Stacey and Dan, it's so good to have you on 10X Together.
Stacey Lievens: We're excited to be here.
Dan Lievens: Thank you for having us. Really excited about our conversation.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, me too because you guys are brand new. I mean you just most recently fell in love and you didn't just fall in love and get together. You started a whole business together at the same time. How did all that happen? What brought you together?
Stacey Lievens: Well, we met at June 11, 2018, at a leadership conference called HeartCore Leadership out in San Diego. We both signed up for this four-month program and didn't know each other before we walked into the doors but when we walked into the doors all I can speak for myself at this point is I walked in and I saw this really handsome Clark Kent looking guy. And I went, “Huh. He's kind of handsome.”
Melinda Wittstock: Nice.
Stacey Lievens: Right? And so we just sat down and he sat down right next to me and as he shares our legs touched and the electricity started.
Dan Lievens: So, this conference the chairs were pushed together like really, really tight, and with just happened to get shuffled in and we sat next to each other and I recall vividly her knee touched mine and I'm like, “Well, I'm not moving my legs.” And apparently, she didn't either. So, until they declared the ground rules for this four or five-month long conference where you're not allowed to create new personal or business relationships so that's kind of how everything started.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, my goodness so you were attracted-
Stacey Lievens: [crosstalk] romantic.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, you were attracted to each other but you're not allowed to like do anything about it.
Stacey Lievens: Which actually was really beautiful way to set the container. So, the next thing was we had to choose an accountability buddy. So, we stood up and it was like a little break and I shuffled off to the ladies room and as I walk out of the ladies room he's waiting for me and he says, “I think we should be buddies.” And I just smiled and I went, “Okay. That sounds good to me.” And so we became accountability buddies like on steroids. It was one of those that we held each other … we held our feet to the fire for two months and just wouldn't let each other down and we were on the phone with each other several times a day. He was in Philadelphia. I was in San Diego. And we just got to be best friends. So, it was a really beautiful foundation of getting to know somebody and it was just so beautiful. I'm so grateful that we had that sacred time together.
Melinda Wittstock: How wonderful. So, what was HeartCore Leadership? What were you working on in those four months?
Dan Lievens: It's a transformational process that basically clears away the things that aren't really serving you in all aspects of your life. There's a lot of self-discovery and thinking back on your limiting beliefs and the different lenses that one wears going through life, as a result of certain events or your childhood and really kind of clearing that away and creating new possibilities out of that. So, that's kind of the whole thing in a nutshell. But its hardcore leadership. It takes it a little bit further. It's not just the clearing away and visioning and the discovery. They actually make you declare a project once you're dialed into your purpose, once you know what your calling is you have to create a project and be held accountable for a certain number of weeks to deliver these big audacious goals. So, you really get to apply what you're learning.
Melinda Wittstock: How beautiful. What an amazing opportunity. I think for a couple too or a couple to be, right from the outset tackle those things that can really besiege a relationship and you get it all out of the way, and you grow together and set that in motion really for the rest of your relationship. What a beautiful thing.
Stacey Lievens: It allowed us to speak a language, a shared language of possibility and grounding and … you know there's many times whereas a couple, as you know, we'll have these little challenges that come up whether they're in business or personal relationships with siblings or parents, or friends or whatever and so we have this really beautiful openness with each other where we can look at each other in eye and say, “Hey, can I be your buddy for a second?” And so we go back to those times where we weren't romantic and we put on our buddy cap and we say, “Hey, you know I just really want to be a mirror to you right now. I want to hold you higher than you see even yourself. I want to pull you out of being a victim right now and show you how to be a victor.” So, we have that beautiful language with each other and that foundation that makes not just our marriage, our family life, but our business, really strong.
Melinda Wittstock: Gosh, I can really see that. What was one thing Stacey, we'll start with you first, that Dan really helped you work through? And then we're going to turn the tables and ask Dan the same question?
Stacey Lievens: Wow. Okay, I'll say this so, the reason why I did HeartCore Leadership is because I was coming out of a 23-year marriage. It was a shocking marriage. There was a lot of little things that happened that I'm not going to bore you with but needless to say I fell into victim mode. I was kind of blaming certain events on other people, their circumstances, and I was just like I was crying and I was just feeling sorry for myself. And I just couldn't see. I just could not see beyond my pain. And Dan in his loving beautiful way and this is why I fell in love with him, he could look me in eye and basically say, “You're bigger than this. You're stronger than this. Let's look at your possibility. You don't need to be that victim anymore.” It was so [crosstalk 00:07:36.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, gosh. How beautiful.
Stacey Lievens: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Because to go through 23 years of that in a relationship that's not serving you where I know just from my own personal experience in my marriage where my complete confidence was completely ruined because I was married to a narcissist. It was kind of horrendous and you don't even notice it at the time. But then coming out of that and healing, it resonates so deeply with me Stacey what you say because it is about stepping out of victimhood and finding that thing like where's the compassion, where's the gratitude, even for the crappy stuff that happens because it helps you. It helps you heal.
Melinda Wittstock: So, Dan, it's so great that you were there and you could help Stacey with that. What was something that she helped you with?
Dan Lievens: So, I went into this kind of knowing that there were these different pillars in my life that weren't fully aligned. So, I might have been doing well in business, but not so well in relationships, and family and all these different aspects of my life weren't fully aligned and congruent. That was kind of my objective. Walking in there, I think there was a lot of things that really I didn't know that I was causing not necessarily harm but stagnation in different parts of my life. And having Stacey as a mirror to kind of say, “Hey, is this really serving you. You're so much bigger than this.” And helping, not just from a big vision perspective but even from the small little things, supporting me in really thinking for myself. And what I realized was I was in this stagnation phase, I guess, for a few years between relationships in business and really kind of helped me see the bigger picture and being able to work through all that and being able to recreate a purposeful life which is what we're living today.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. I almost think that our first marriages or our first relationships or maybe we could have many, they kind of are training us for the right one.
Stacey Lievens: Right. Right. I can't be sad for the decades that I invested into my past marriage because it brought me to where I am today. And I am so grateful for all that. I can look back with a whole different lens of gratitude now for the last several years of my life and be really happy moving forward.
Melinda Wittstock: So, It's the last day of HeartCore Leadership and what happens? How do you guys get together because now you're sort of free to … okay, we've got this romantic thing going on here. How did all that happen?
Dan Lievens: So, let's set the stage real quick. In terms of the buddy and being in HCL on the beginning it really, like neither one of us were trying to do anything more than be supporting buddies. I want to make that absolutely clear. And that's of the power of the program is how can you be that mirror? How can you be so helpful and authentic and honest, brutally honest at times, when you're trying to have an ulterior motive whether you want them as a client and more. So, we definitely couldn't have that and actually, we were supporting each other in the relationships that we were trying to cultivate at the time.
Stacey Lievens: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, so we were both in separate relationships. You know kind of casual. Like he was dating several people. I was dating several people. When we had this window of opportunity where we were like free to explore this we kind of explored it. And yes, there was magic and yes, it was beautiful. But we kept it very, very, casual because we're like, “Oh, we're crazy. Why would we want to like jump into a new relationship after we just both you know been in long relationships?” So, we just kept it very casual. We had a lot of fun with each other for a couple months and then we realized what are we doing? We've got this beautiful life ahead of us and all we want to do is be together. And we've got this huge mission on this planet that we are creating together and I can't wait for Dan to explain to you about The Proof. But we just looked at each other and said, “You're my person.”
Dan Lievens: There was a poster at the conference HCL, and I vividly remember it the first day reading it, and I kept reading it over and over again to let it sink in. And it asked it says, “Are you committed or are you involved?” To me, at that moment I was like you know what? I'm done. I don't want to be involved anymore. I want to be committed in everything that I do. And the things that get in the way when you're simply just being involved, and the things you get to shed when you are fully committed, there's a huge difference between those two words. I think that allowed us to kind of jump into a much deeper relationship a lot quicker because we both knew. It's like, “Okay, if we were fully committed, which we were let's be fully committed. Let's not get anything in the way of our magic that we get to create as a power couple.”
Melinda Wittstock: So, so beautiful. I love that. The involved versus the committed. The committed assumes that you're really fully in the present. You're in the here and now, and you're playing all out in life, in love, in business, in everything.
Stacey Lievens: Yeah, and I want to share a brief little story with you that I think aligns with this conversation. I had a conversation with my ex. The one I spent 23 years with in marriage. I was dating Dan at the time. My ex and I were still friendly because we owned a business together. We were on a business call and towards the end of the business call we started talking about our personal life, and I said, “You know, I kind of seeing this guy Dan, and yeah, and I really, really, like him, really, really, like him.
Stacey Lievens: And I just took the opportunity to ask my ex, I said, “Hey,” I said, “I have a favor to ask you. Can you tell me where my blind spots were as a wife?” I said, “Because I've got this guy I really like and I don't want to F it up.” I said, “Can you just be transparent with me?” And he says, “You know what Stace,” he says, “I will be transparent with you.” He goes, “I always felt like you had one foot out the door.” My blood just went cold in that moment, and I had to agree with him, and I said, “You know what? I think you're right.”
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness.
Stacey Lievens: Right?
Melinda Wittstock: You just gave me chills because I think sometimes when someone else reacts in a controlling way or whatever perhaps it's compensation. How interesting.
Stacey Lievens: Yeah. So, I just started to cry in that moment, and it was such a beautiful space, and I think it was a beautiful healing for me and my ex, that he was able to be that honest. I was in a place where I could hear him. So, I went of course, and I told my buddy, I told Dan and I told him this, and I said, “I want a relationship where I'm all in. And I think I know what it really means to be committed now. If you're ready, I'm ready.” So, we did it. We eloped. We went off to the backwoods of Philadelphia just with his two children, Stella who's 12, and Remy's who's 10, and we had a really dear friend marry us. It was just five of us in the woods, and we didn't tell anybody. It was a true elopement. It was the most beautiful space. It was the most beautiful day of our lives.
Melinda Wittstock: So, you've laid this whole foundation, this container, and both of you are highly successful people in your own right. Stacey you as a master photographer, master craftsman photographer. I mean I've seen your work. It's stunning. Dan and all the work that you have done in business, in technology, and in video. So, you have all the skills to combine in business to make something magical in business. You're already making something magical in love, and the result is The Proof. I want you to just talk about what was the spark? What was that moment when you thought, yeah, okay this is what we're going to do together?
Dan Lievens: Going back to HeartCore Leadership, and I mentioned earlier that we had to be aligned with your purpose and find something, find your calling, and apply it to something. At that moment the spark of really my personal why that I've been living by for a while is how do I assist other people in finding their calling and create a way for them to make money off of it, to monetize off of their purpose, and live a life that is on purpose? That's been my underlying theme for quite some time. So, to take this discovery and clearing process at the conference and be fully present to why I'm here I decided to really take this to the next level and there's so much noise in the world today and I'm having worked with entrepreneurs, I've got a couple co-working facilities, and I've had incubators and accelerators and always surrounded myself with early-stage entrepreneurs finding a path forward for them, the big challenge that I've seen is that entrepreneurs almost have like a loose nut in their head or something.
Melinda Wittstock: Isn't that the truth. Oh my god, well you're talking to one.
Dan Lievens: Right? And you know we thought leaders, entrepreneurs, we have this vision. We have this solution or this gift that we want to gift to the world, or problem that we are determined to fix, and we don't let anything get in the way of that. And the sacrifices that we go through, the decisions that we go through when you get offered a beautiful corporate job, and you say, “No. I'm going to continue struggling with this big [crosstalk 00:18:39, right? And so I've seen so many people drain their retirement accounts and sacrifice all sorts of things to pursue their goals. To me, I just don't think it's fair for them to have to compete with cats on Facebook to try to get their message out. You know?
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dan Lievens: So, the genesis of The Proof kind of began there to say why don't we start it, our own conversation. Why don't we build it a physical stage, and a digital stage to highlight the beauty of entrepreneurs? To us, the beauty of entrepreneurs is the sequence of what makes you do what you do and why? And really diving into the through line of everything that you've gone through in your life even as a child, the decisions that you've made throughout your entire life to lead you to who you are today and that's the inspiration. That's the energy source that entrepreneurs tap into to continue their pursuit.
Dan Lievens: So, let's talk about that story. The why, and The Proof is essentially that. We walk thought leaders and entrepreneurs through a discovery process of really peeling away all the noise of the what's and things that don't really matter and look at these decision points, look at these stories and find a though line of why they do what they do, and we send them off to write a three minute story about the inspiration, and we walk through some training and on-stage presence and what not and then they come for a beautiful, amazing photo shoot with Stacey and dress rehearsal. And we put them in front of a live audience in our stage outside of Philly. And five cameras on them and they get to declare this three-minute story to the world. To me, it's almost like a proclamation. You not only get clear messaging out of your inspiration, but you're actually physically moving yourself onto a stage, and you're proclaiming this is why I do what I do. And in a certain sense, it's like you know I'm not looking outwards and blaming others for things not working. This is why I'm taking a stand for what I'm doing.
Melinda Wittstock: I love the clarity of it and just for full disclosure I signed up for The Proof.
Stacey Lievens: Yay.
Melinda Wittstock: And I'm so excited about it because I realize you know I look back at my entrepreneur career, it's business number five now, and I guess with age you start to see these strands or what you call the “through line” in your life. But at the time, you know in business number one, or two, or three, I mean there was a very strong motivation in all of them but was I really truly conscious about it? Did I know my life purpose or why I'm here in an earth suit right now? So, I think to do this much earlier in an entrepreneur's career, or to at any time honestly, is of such service to the entrepreneur because it helps you get focused on what really is the thing. What is your inspired course of action? What is the thing that you're here to do that's going to like in Steve Jobs kind of language, “dent the universe?”
Melinda Wittstock: So, the process, having walked through this process a little bit at the beginning of it with Stacey … There was such depth to your line of questioning and being early in the process I'm so excited to see what transpires. But what an amazing, amazing, idea, and it's relatively new. So, Stacey how long have you been doing this now and what have been some of the results for the entrepreneurs that you have so far put this process?
Stacey Lievens: Wow, well, we're getting ready to have our third event in April. A little bit in a couple of weeks. So far the first 10, we call them proofers, of the first 10 we have the most beautiful testimonials from them and what's interesting is that you know it's easy to talk about the deliverables, which is you're going to get a three minute why video, and you're going to get a seven-minute what interview, and you're going to get this beautiful photo shoot, and all of these digital deliverables that you know of course is their marketing package, but honestly everybody talks about is what you just said, Melinda, is the process of the discovery, the excavation of their why, and how it's really made people rethink their life and align their purpose. We've had people say, “Oh my gosh, I'm shifting my business completely.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right. I was going to ask you whether that had happened because if you've been an entrepreneur long enough, you know, I don't know you know, Dan and Stacey whether this has ever happened to you where you're like climbing up a mountain this sort of Sisyphus thing, pushing a boulder up a mountain, and it's just actually the wrong business for you, you know?
Stacey Lievens: Right, or they can look at, oh my gosh, that's not why. Why am I focusing on this one abstract piece that's really serving nothing or nobody?
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Or like-
Stacey Lievens: [crosstalk] back to my, my core why. And it's just bringing a lot of clarity for people moving forward and once you feel better inside, once you feel like you have all those discs aligned in your body, you can serve better and you'll be more attractive to your clients. You'll start attracting the right kind of work towards you.
Melinda Wittstock: It's a really holistic approach, I think, that really gets to the core. I mean I see so many entrepreneurs who create businesses that they think they should do or they think they should have an eight-figure business whatever and then with no conception of what that actually means, to pull off an eight or nine figure business, “Oh, I have to create a billion dollar business or I have to do this or I have to do that.” And it's kind of like a life of “should’s”. And it's not necessarily conscious what's motivating them, right? Is what's the underlying story that's motivating the type of business they create and when that business gets out of alignment with who they truly are, with all the people I work with I see that happen all the time and it's trying to kind of get people into alignment which I see that you both are doing in such a profound way.
Dan Lievens: So, Melinda, I think you just nailed it, right? So, when a businessperson or an entrepreneur is truly aligned, you know the messaging is clear, the business plan is clear, everything becomes completely clear because it is their meaning. It is their meaning that they get to live into. And that's not the question, it's not questionable. Right? There are no doubts around your true purpose. That's what you stand for. There's no wind. There's no contradiction. There are no wavering clients or contracts or anything like that when you are so aligned, when every cell in your body knows, “Hey, this is why I do what I do.” And you attract alignments around you from customers to partnerships and whatnot.
Melinda Wittstock: Isn't that interesting, that flow state, right? When you are in alignment and you start to have synchronicities in your life, like the right people show up at the right time, or just I don't know you get into this kind of flow rather than being in the hustle.
Stacey Lievens: What's interesting too is that I think this process has been quite vulnerable for a lot of people because you really get very authentic with who you are and the path of how you became this entrepreneur. So, some of the stories that are revealing are quite triggering. There's a lot of healing that we're seeing happen. And showing that, “Yeah, there was a really low point in your life but look how it served you today.” And so, we're seeing the healing right before our eyes with these people. They're realizing, “Wow, telling my story, getting on a stage in front of a live audience, having witness to my pain, to my progress,” is revolutionary to them and their business. We're finding that a lot of the testimonies we're getting now is, “Wow, I'm brave. I've got the courage now to share my stories with my clients and create them in a way that gives meaning back to the audience.”
Melinda Wittstock: Isn't it interesting that so many businesses come out of a challenge or a lack or something painful in our lives? It kind of sets up the conditions of something that we want to heal and I'm curious whether you both see this in your own life, and those that you work with? How many business owners actually are really at their best when they're solving a very personal problem, one that they've kind of overcome or are in process of overcoming and as a result want to heal that in the rest of the world?
Dan Lievens: It's really interesting, as we continue to do these discovery processes is the one thing that we notice over and over and over again is that people are really attracted and doing the things that they need most themselves. That's been a really beautiful discovery of entrepreneurship is they're trying to satiate something within themselves as a result of their past. Let's not undermine too, like initially having a business background this was kind of created initially as a platform for accelerating your bottom line. And for The Proof, it's basically a different type of conversation. It's not a, “Hey, here's a video on what I do and I'm trying to sell you something.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Dan Lievens: So, it's a whole different very visceral kind of emotional conversation designed to wake up your list. Designed to attract a much bigger following. So, from a marketing perspective, it's really working because the platform itself isn't about the platform, it's about all the speakers. It's about all the entrepreneurs and thought leaders that get on our stage and the group and the synergy and the exposure that we get to do for all these entrepreneurs has been absolutely beautiful. And as Stacey says, we've only gone through two events, five speakers per night. The first event we had two entrepreneurs and completely unrelated to what they do, they've both just been hired as keynote speakers and did really, really well and they're just opening doors for them to really pursue the amplification of their pain and solution, and their purpose.
Melinda Wittstock: I love this because it's very much … there's a multiplicity of benefits to it, right? So, I look at why I signed up for it. I do a lot of speaking. I want to get on bigger stages, right? I want to do keynotes, all that kind of stuff. I need to speaker reel. So, there was that. But then I realized that there's so much more to it than that. It actually is about allowing your tribe to get to know you or really find you, around your why, around your mission, around your purpose. And that deep connection I believe right now in society everybody craves, because like you said it, Dan, there's so much noise out there. I call it like infobesity.
Stacey Lievens: I love that.
Melinda Wittstock: It's really hard to be like heard. There's all these empty information calories, right? And so, there's so much abundance of information but yet there's a scarcity. It's so hard to find exactly kind of what you want. So, it sounds, it feels like this is a really interesting way to cut through that noise and really allow your customers, your vendors, your team, like everybody, to really know you.
Stacey Lievens: Well, we created a very conscious brand. We wanted to make sure that when you're scrolling through social media and you see a black and white video of someone standing on our stage that is a very branded stage, that you're going to be able to stop and say, “Oh, that's a Proof Talk.” I've got three minutes. I want to listen to someone's why. So, we crafted it very carefully so it could be seen, and people will understand exactly that, “Oh, I get to see someone's heart for three minutes.” I can't wait to find out what this person does?” Because in your three-minute talk you're not allowed to talk about what you do. You're only supposed to talk about why you do it. So, it's been very carefully crafted so that it will stand out. So, yes, all Proof Talks are filmed in black and white so the message can be heard above all the colorful noise that's out there on social.
Melinda Wittstock: That is a different variation, I guess, on the TED Talk, that ultimately is the vision to be the why of the TED Talk?
Stacey Lievens: Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. And I love the comparison to TED. I'll take it all day long. TED is the big idea, right? So, people are getting on stage talking about a what, an idea. Proof is for the individual to get up and share their why. So, it's very different and it's a beautiful compliment to any TED speaker. In fact, on our first evening, we had a TEDx organizer as one of our speakers.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, fantastic.
Stacey Lievens: He was so excited to give his Proof Talk because he was able to finally share why he does what he does.
Melinda Wittstock: So, I want to turn the conversation a little bit to the brass tacks of how you both do the work-life balance thing, you know? Like you have business, you've got kids, you got romance, you want to make sure you're not too busy to get busy, you know all that kind of stuff. So, how does that work for you? And what kind of advice or like what have you learned along the way that'd be useful for other entrepreneurial couples or just couples generally that have a lot of the same things they need to balance in their lives?
Dan Lievens: So, I think part of the reason that we are now successful both in our relationship and our business, and our family and all the pillars that I mentioned earlier was that we stopped looking, or at least I stopped looking at life as different pillars, as different problems to solve. And when you're fully committed to a greater purpose and you find alignments in the world … so, Stacey and I are so aligned on this purpose of basically allowing people to truly shine, and how do we create platforms to amplify their beauty and their purpose through photography, through storytelling, through video, through podcasting, through all the different channels, and so you know we are both so thrilled in what we do for a living because it's so aligned on purpose.
Dan Lievens: When you're functioning from that space of purpose you don't look at different aspects of your life anymore. It's just one kind of a, as you mentioned, the flow state. And even the kids are exposed to The Proof. Our son was at our second event helping moving chairs, and sharing his thoughts and bonding with the speakers and it's become this great conversation around the dinner table and our whole lives kind of revolved around, “Hey, let's help people be heard. Let's be heard.” Even the kids are having a great time. They're talking about the meaning of life or living on purpose and all these amazing things. So, we're very aware of this flow state and we're really doing the best we can to maintain that.
Melinda Wittstock: Work-life integration, I guess.
Stacey Lievens: Absolutely. Absolutely. If I can I wanted to share this cute little story. I hope Dan doesn't mind. We have this huge whiteboard that lives in our house and we have a very tiny house. But this whiteboard is like all-consuming. In fact, we're just ready to give it a name because it just is huge. And so, one night I was out of town. I think I was on the west coast and Dan was home alone and he had written this huge formula on the whiteboard. And you were just figuring out how to create an infographic for our Proof's meaning of life, right? So, he's sketching all these beautiful formulas and creating cylinders and pie charts and all of this and so, he was working on this project. Well, I guess Remy came home from school one day and he looks at the board and he's like, “Dad, what is this?” And Dan just said, “What's my meaning of life.” And he goes, “Well, share it with me.” So, Dan is facing the board and he's explaining all the pie charts and the cylinders and the formulas and all this, and he looks back over his shoulder and there's Remy with a tear streaming down his face. He's like, “Dad, I can do that.” So, this is what this Proof language has done for our family is we are all united under the same purpose.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness. That's so, so, beautiful. See, I believe too that kids when they're really involved in this entrepreneurial process they learn so much more, so much faster about whether it's just like things like I don't know financial freedom or whatever or things like finding your purpose right from the get-go. Because kids learn more from what you do than what you say. So, them being really involved in this, how much time are you saving them? Right?
Stacey Lievens: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: I'm curious about this because as we get more conscious and as conscious leaders, as conscious entrepreneurs and all of that and we have kids, right? And we're sharing this like my kids overhear my podcasts and they hear me talk about all this stuff like one day actually my son who's 12 was playing Xbox and I overheard him say to one of his friends, “You know, like look, I think you need to really improve your mindset you know around this.” I went, “Oh, my.” Wow, okay. So, there's this osmosis or there's this thing, you know going on. But it's curious, right? And I think to what extent do kids now when exposed to this higher consciousness can advance further or whatever the case, do we all have our Hero's journey or our Shero's journeys, something that we have to overcome in our lives no matter what?
Dan Lievens: Just let me give you one real quick example and going back to our son, he's 10. He overhears everything. He's probably in the other room right now listening to us talking.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, my son is hearing a lot of this too.
Dan Lievens: But the other day he came home from school and he's like, “You know, today I tried living on purpose.” And he gave me a couple of examples. One, you know, there's this little two groups of people in a playground and they don't get along and he was the one that went to the other group and basically had a conversation about their true reason for being on the playground and the result was the leader of the other little pack was like, “You're always welcome in my group.” And the other one was these tickets that he's like, “You know the smallest denomination of these tickets is 15. This person had 13. I had more than I needed so I gave him two tickets so he could get his Jolly Ranchers. So, yeah, I wish that humans, in general, were more open to picking up from where other people leave off. And that's one of the things that we do at The Proof is we ask, well, your gifts right? Your gift to the world, what does it look like if the entire world were to adopt your gift? And that's a really powerful question that doesn't require an answer. But every time that we think about their true gift and if the world were to adopt their gifts then we'd be living in a very, very, very, different place.
Melinda Wittstock: That's a really profound question because I remember Stacey asking me that and it's, God, it's hard to just come up with an answer. But it's thought-provoking, and how powerful a question because it really does focus your life. It requires you to step into your purpose. So, as we wrap up I just want to … I have such a strong sense of your vision and where you're going but do you two sit together and think, “Well, let's see, so, where are we going to be in 10 years or 20 years,” or like that?
Dan Lievens: Yeah, we do. Actually, we haven't really gone on a honeymoon yet and tomorrow actually we're leaving to go down to North Carolina to do this Quantum Leaping 7 Day Retreat. Which is all about, I think, I don't know, I'm a little bit worried about the outcome of it. We're both big visionaries. What are the possibilities out there? You know, what can the world really look like and what does it mean to step into that responsibility and that role and that vision. So, yeah, we get to figure it out next week.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that sounds magnificent. Well, I can't wait to hear all about it when I see you both next and I can't wait to do my Talk and share that with everybody.
Melinda Wittstock: So, for everybody listening to this podcast, all right you'll get a chance to see Melinda's Proof. So, I'm super excited about that. A little nervous.
Stacey Lievens: You will be great. I was so stoked when I got off the phone with you yesterday with our discovery session. I was just like, I was like doing the happy dance. I'm like, “Oh my gosh this is going to be so great.”
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, well that's lovely for you to say. I think it's just a really exciting thing and it's challenging and I think for entrepreneurs, I mean we kind of like, like challenges or at least I do. So, this is awesome.
Melinda Wittstock: I can't thank you both enough for taking the time to share all your insights and your wisdom and your beautiful story with us on 10X together.
Stacey Lievens: Thank you.
Dan Lievens: Melinda, thank you so much for the opportunity. It was a pleasure speaking with you.