Getting Comfortable with Discomfort with Danielle Falconer

1,000 Stories


Joe Mills: What shared experiences motivate today’s business leaders to keep growing and how have their unique stories impacted the way they enable others to do the same? I’m Joe Mills,

Reid Morris: and I’m Reid Morris,

Joe Mills: and we’re investigating what and who it takes to build companies that foster growth in people and business.

Reid Morris: Then we’re sharing those stories with you.

Joe Mills: This is 1,000 Stories, an original show from Element Three.

Reid Morris: Danielle is our Vice President of Strategy here.

Joe Mills: And it most often shows up in brand strategy. Danielle’s an interesting opportunity for us to learn about motivation. She seems to have this like insatiable desire to do hard stuff all the time.

So when she talks about what she’s enjoying at work, for example, she is almost always saying I have big thinky, challenging problems to solve. I feel like that’s how her whole life has been, but I’m really curious to know her background. Has she always just been driven by what’s the next hard thing I can do.

Reid Morris: Cause she’s applied that in a number of different environments, right? She’s been agency life. She’s been in house. She’s built this department that didn’t exist before. She’s had all these different experiences, but that same sort of thing came through in all those of like, yeah.

Is it true that when you were at in-house, and marketing for the banking industry, were big thinky problems still giving you energy? Then when you were at Borshoff back in the day, like picking on those different experiences and pulling that common thread.

Joe Mills: I’d even be interested, and this is mostly selfish because I was one as well, but I’d love to hear she was a college gymnast.

I was not a gymnast. I played college soccer, but that is a really hard sport. They practice forever. It’s most like swimming. It’s like four-hour long sessions, all the. So that was hard and it’s almost like fits her perfectly to be like, yeah, you’d of course would pick the hardest sport to be good at.

And of course, then you were brilliant at it. So I just think even going back beyond professionally and understanding did this same motivation show up forever. Did you learn it? One of the things we’ve heard through Darren and Tiffany so far, is that actually, I didn’t notice it until I was thinking about it later, but they have this sort of internal perspective.

That’s very articulate to them. Like they can listen to it. Darren listens to, oh, I need to go level up. I’m gonna go find my community to go level up, in Tiffany thinks about, oh, where’s there gap for me to go build the next opportunity for the messy beginnings. And so I’m interested if Danielle has a similar motivation.

Where it’s this like internal thing that tells her what to do next, this internal drive that gets her to pick the next hardest option versus maybe like “best option”.

Reid Morris: Yeah and I mean, I feel like we have a fair amount of context for her professional career and even, you know, going back to collegiate athlete and all of those things, but what even before then laid that foundation.

And I think one other thing as well, that we could maybe explore is. We sort of have this ongoing thing internally at Element Three of you bring Danielle into a room, she says words and everybody’s jaws end up on the floor.

Joe Mills: It does happen all the time,

Reid Morris: but then you talk to her and she’s like, I don’t know the things that I said, you know, like they’re just words, whatever.

But like, I feel like we could push back on that and be like, where is this coming from this ability to show up in this way.

Joe Mills: Her communication capabilities are unbelievable. Both visually and verbally. She speaks through a lot of analogies and metaphors and she speaks through pictures and then she also she’ll laugh and she says, my brain thinks in Google slides and she sort of can design the slide to say more than words ever could, which is really hard.

Reid Morris: And I wanna know where that came from.

Joe Mills: Yeah, it’s a good one to also pull on. Yeah. I’m excited for the conversation.

Reid Morris: Should be great.

Joe Mills: Danielle. Welcome.

Danielle Falconer: Thank you.

Joe Mills: Thanks so much for making time. I’m gonna start you with a really big softball. What would be your last meal?

Danielle Falconer: Oh, I’ve thought about this many times and it’s gonna surprise you. It would be a cob salad, cause it would have to include avocado. French fries, lemonade, and ice cream. Like probably have thought

Joe Mills: Like you probably have thought about this.

Danielle Falconer: I really have.

Joe Mills: Okay.Well have you had the cob at patachou?

Danielle Falconer: Have I? Yes.

Joe Mills: Just making sure.

Danielle Falconer: Yes. It’s phenomenal, with the tomato artichoke soup.

Joe Mills: Delicious. What flavor of ice cream are we using?

Danielle Falconer: It would have to have some chocolate in it. Maybe coffee, chocolate chip, ice cream.

Joe Mills: You talk about food, like an athlete.

Danielle Falconer: Yeah. Our house is full of athletes and we all eat like truck drivers.

Joe Mills: Amazing.

Danielle Falconer: Like a lot of food.

Joe Mills: Well, and I mean, you grew up doing gymnastics all the way through school, so I have to imagine. I had really good friends in college who were on the gymnastics team at NC state. And their practices were like four and a half hours long. Is that what your life was like?

Danielle Falconer: It was, and now the NCAA has different rules. They don’t allow the gymnast to be in the gym. As long as we used to, we had in the preseason weight lifting three days a week at six in the morning.

Joe Mills: because who cares about sleep? It doesn’t matter for recovery.

Danielle Falconer: That’s right. Two of those days we were on Thursdays and Fridays and then Friday mornings we sprinted.

And then every day, Monday through Friday, we had four hour practices. And what was interesting about college is sometimes you’d have to leave in the middle of practice to go take an afternoon class. And so I would always show up with my hair all jacked up with. Chalk on my face, usually in sweatpants.

And so then when our season was over and I would go to class in regular clothes with like makeup and my hair done, everyone’s like, you look so nice today. I was like, yeah, this is the other real me that you never get to see.

Joe Mills:  Thanks for the backhanded compliment about how I look the rest of the year. And you must have started young I’d imagine.

Danielle Falconer: I was like almost three years old.

Joe Mills: When do you think you made the first choice to stay in it?

Danielle Falconer:  My parents couldn’t stop me from doing it. Literally. We would have dinner after I put my dishes in the sink. I would run over to the couch.

Like it was a vault. And I would vault over the couch. My parents gave me my brother’s old mattress and I kept it in the garage, propped up against the garage and I would drag it out. This is at like ages 5, 6, 7. I would drag it out to our front yard. My neighbors would come out and watch me do back handsprings across the front lawn.

And we had a really long front lawn. So it was a great environment to do that. My dad built me a single bar, like an uneven bar in our basement. He built me a little beam that wasn’t, it was wider than five inches, but literally I just couldn’t get enough. They literally couldn’t stop me from obsessing about it.

Joe Mills: Yeah. It’s really reminiscent for me for the way that I approached soccer growing up, it was all consuming. Was it all consuming for you as you were growing?

Danielle Falconer: It didn’t feel like that. It just felt like the place I wanted to be most on earth. And I had a really unique experience that my best friend growing up was also a very high caliber gymnast.

The fact that she lived down the street from me, we were best friends in school, went to the gym together, carpooled, like it’s very rare. I mean not to brag, but we were in like the top 1% of our sport. And the fact that we lived down the street from each other was such a great experience. So I had this like person who got me my whole life.

It was like, the universe brought us together to be like, you guys need to share time and energy with each other because no one else could probably want to do this quite the same way. What

Joe Mills: was the youth set up to get you recruited into a college?

Danielle Falconer: Well, Joe. I grew up before the internet, so let me just start there.

Gymnastics is a sport that’s done at the highest level. It’s exclusively in a private club environment. So I went to a gym that was just such a healthy environment. It was owned and run by a husband and wife. The wife, the head coach. She was a gymnast at Kent state university where I ultimately went, some of my coaches were gymnasts at Kent state and we practiced yeah, five days a week for my whole life.

I got serious about gymnastics, probably around age. This is gonna sound really early, but like seven, there was a former Olympic coach who was at the gym I was at before this. Who basically cornered my parents in the hallway was like, um, she’s special. And my parents know nothing about gymnastics were like, okay, and he was like, no, you need to take her somewhere else.

And so that’s when I went over to the gym where I ultimately spent my young career and the process looks like. You compete around the Midwest, which I grew up in Ohio. So around the Midwest, and then nationally, every year there was regionals and nationals and you got exposure to recruiters at that time, the old fashioned way, which was you talk to ’em and they would come to meets and they knew who was on their list that they wanted to watch.

And my coach, the husband, in the husband-wife team, he was just the salt of the earth. He cheered me on, he was like my biggest fan. And so we would go to meets and he would sell me hard and not just like, she’s a great gymnast. He was like, she’s amazing to have in the gym. She’s a great teammate. She’s the one who will cheer loudest.

And first she’s an awesome student. You’re never gonna have to worry about her grades and her commitment to school. And so I didn’t have to do a lot of the work. I sent 17 VHS recruiting tapes.

Joe Mills: That’s awesome. So awesome.

Danielle Falconer:  Yeah. 17 tapes. I probably got five legit calls back in recruiting visits, and I really didn’t wanna go to Kent State because it was like an hour from my house.

All my coaches went there. I was like, oh, I’m not going there. And my parents took me on all of the visits and Kent was my last one. And at the end of the visit, my parents said what do you think? And I was like, I love it here so much. And I see why there was such a legacy of gymnastics at Kent. It was one of the first schools and probably strongest gymnastics programs early on.

And that legacy was still very much felt when I was there. The girls were the most welcoming of all the teams. I loved the academic path that I explored at Kent. It’s just was like the whole thing.

Joe Mills: You mentioned, I’m not going here. It’s an hour away. What about the proximity initially made you like, I don’t wanna be that close.

I’m looking for —what was the motivation?

Danielle Falconer: I had this idea in my head of what college looked like, and it was not that close to home. My esque career had taken me in a lot of places. And my mom always used to say, you know, we gave you life so you could have one. Like, my parents were very much like, go fly the little birdies, go do your thing.

And so I never felt in any way trapped.

Joe Mills: So you mentioned the academic route at Kent. So you’re in there, you’re doing athletics, which is genuinely a full time job on top of your academics, especially when you’re a gymnast.

Danielle Falconer: It felt so much easier in college, Joe, because in high school I had eight hours of high school and then I was in orchestra, student council. I was my class president national, honor society, like all the things.

And so then none of this is surprising so then I would go to practice for four hours. I would come home. I would be spent in college. I was like, oh, this is awesome. I have like three or four hours of class, four hours of practice. What do I do with the rest of my day?

Joe Mills: There’s a theme emerging here already, which was one of the things I anticipated in this conversation is that you have this interesting desire I’ll say. And tell me if I’m wrong here, to like find hard things and just want to do them. Has that always been you? Did you learn that? Where did that come from?

Danielle Falconer: Yes. I don’t know if I would’ve put the words to that when I was younger, it is looking back. Absolutely a trend of my life. My parents are the hardest workers. You know, me. I don’t like to waste time. I don’t like to churn. I don’t like to redo things I will prepare and play in ahead. To eliminate pain from my life, to eliminate mess and time wasted in my life.

And I really think that was learned from my parents. So my dad was in sales and owned his own business. And my mom had a television show when I was growing up, a public affairs television show. So both working parents, my mom would, in the morning before we went to school, before she went to work, she would set the table with like the plates out and she would write us out the kids, our older sister, younger brother, a list of things.

So fold these three baskets of clothes and put them away. This is dinner, grab the chicken out of the fridge, do this with it. At this time, turn the oven on, make the broccoli at this time, start to salad this like literally my mom could have run the military and. Quite well, and it’s not because we were like overbooked kids.

It’s just like each of us, my sister, my brother, and I, we all had different interests and my parents had full lives and my mom was like, I don’t have time for this to not be organized. And so I think I grew up with that discipline, which made it. In some ways easier for me to do hard things because the street was clear of all the friction that sometimes comes in a less organized household.

You’re right though. I think naturally I was drawn to always high performers. I was always drawn to thorough breads. I mean, I was in the. Classes with the other kids who wanted to be there, who wanted to learn, who were willing to work hard. So, yeah, I think you’re right. There was always this desire to keep reaching until I have exceeded my ability to reach further and usually found I could keep reaching. It never really ended.

Joe Mills: So coming out of Kent, you, did you go straight to agency world?

Danielle Falconer: No. My first job out of college was working in a marketing department for a very large corporate law firm based in Cleveland, Ohio, where I am from.

Joe Mills: Okay. So take me through the progression, like you really large. And then you went agency side and then you went private again. And then you came back to marketing consultancy world on the small end. Can you just kind of walk me through the journey a little bit?

Danielle Falconer:  Yeah. The head professor at Kent over at the PR program had spent most of his career in agency and I was enamored with agency and I knew I would always end up in agency.

I will tell you right outta college, again, this is back in the olden days where like the day after graduation, I was off my parents’ insurance. So like I had to start a job the next day. And I remember I graduated on a Sunday. I started my job on a Tuesday and I did have an offer from an agency. I’m embarrassed to tell you what the salary offer was.

I mean, it was, my dad was like, you’re worth more than this. My dad could see in, at age 22, he was like, no. And so I took this job at this corporate law firm, which did pay more. And my boss had spent her whole career in an agency and ran our department like an agency. And she, I think saw in me, he had some potential kid and she even said to me, After, like my first review, she’s like, you’re not gonna be here long.

I’m gonna tune you as much as I can and send you out into the world. Cuz you’ve got some big things ahead of you. So I just, I looked at every opportunity as an opportunity. Let me just learn as much as I can and just get all the cycles in. Just let me learn, soak it up. Be a sponge, have exposure. And starting in a corporate law firm was a great place to start.

And so I learned so much through that environment, then relocated to Indianapolis And in the move, I knew exactly which firm I wanted to work for here. And so like pursued them with all of my energy. And so when I got here soon thereafter started there and was there for 15 years. I felt like it was like Navy seals training.

I had so much exposure to like super hard problems, crisis communications, change management. Large scale campaigns, brand management. I worked with nonprofits, huge corporate entities and everything in between in agency life. You learn in dog years. And so I just feel really lucky that I have so much to draw from after 15 years there, I was hitting my head on the ceiling.

There was not immediate opportunity on partnership track there. And I was a significant producer and I knew that my ability to just grow professionally and financially was going to be stunted in that environment.

Joe Mills: I’m curious at your first major gymnastics gym, you had the husband from husband-wife team who was the champion of the group and would pump you guys up and I’m sure some of that bled into your confidence too.

You’re like, they believe in me. I can believe in myself. And then coming outta school, you mentioned your dad was like, you’re worth more than that. And then you go into your first role and you have your boss who’s like, we’re gonna groom you really well. And you’re gonna go do bigger things. Did you have anybody at your first agency in Indy?

Who was that similar position?

Danielle Falconer: Yeah, in fact, the owners who were owners when I came in there were like, three of us who were in my peer group, Leah Norton and James and Schuler. And the partners used to joke that someday this is gonna be called Faulkner Norton Schuler. So they saw early in me, but they then retired and moved on and they weren’t the ones who made the decision about the next partners in linend so I think while that was always their vision for me and hope for me in that firm, it just didn’t play out that way.

It was sad for me to know that because I really loved that place. I still do. The people are amazing and I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had. It’s a life lesson.

And I had to take what I had and say like, well, let me go see if I can do this somewhere else. And so then I went in, in house, which at that time I wasn’t really looking. They came to me and said, okay, so we’re this financial services company. We’re going through a merger, a complete rebranding we’re plan to acquire and grow.

And we keep asking people who should we hire into this role? And every person we talk to says your name and the two CEOs who are coming together, they were special. Like, you know how there are people in your life who you’re like, I just need to know you and spend time in your orbit. I felt that way about each of them.

And so, while I was only there for two and a half years, I believe that they will look back at that time and say like, we’re real grateful for the way Danielle led our brand. At that time, I nurtured it. I really cared about it and getting it off the ground really successfully after two and a half years though, once things move from hard problems and new experiences into maintenance mode. Yeah, I’m out.

Joe Mills: You did the hardest thing and there was nothing harder than that to do.

Danielle Falconer: Yeah. I don’t wanna belittle being an in-house person. Like I had taken it as far as I could take it and then it needed person with the rigor to take what was established and grow upon it. But I was partly like I had given birth to it and I was like, I gotta go give birth to something else.

Joe Mills: I am also somebody who dislikes maintenance mode. Probably why I find myself inside of a new business role where everything’s always new and exciting and look at it’s a shiny toy. And I’ll say things to you sometimes where I’ll be like, Danielle, I kind of feel like I’m  the like puppy who’s running around and like bring you a bone.

And you’re like ‘that one’s not nice enough to go get another one. Like, okay. I’ll try to find another one. And so I love that restart. I hear you on like the, it takes a different sort of skill set to be like meticulously, rigorously holding standards all the time across something that it needs to be consistent like a brand.

Danielle Falconer: And quite honestly, what worked well for me in that role is what comes naturally to me, which is there’s comfort in being uncomfortable. Part of comfortable being uncomfortable means I am really comfortable with conflict. I love to solve. Quickly, efficiently and directly. And there was a lot of solving that needed to be like my personality style of being strategic, having the long view and the short view being willing to say, no, we’re not gonna do that.

Or have we thought about it this way? Like it really worked. My outside consultant brain really was beneficial. When the company was building a brand, the skills that are needed to maintain and grow a brand require better like what I would say, internal harmony, an ability to collaborate across the organization.

And it’s a different skillset than the person who is needed to say, like I’m gonna protect and be an ambassador of this brand that sometimes means playing bad cop and being okay with it. I’m not the personality type to just create harmony in an organization. I’m a disruptor.

Joe Mills: Yeah. I was about to say the word I would use is disrupter.

Yeah. They come in and boom, bunch of that’s energy’s ideas, thoughts, and bring sides in, but then set the direction. So you went there two and a half years, and then you ended up here after that, right? Yes. Okay. So how did that happen?

Danielle Falconer: So around two years in, I started getting calls from head CEOs of agencies going, ‘Hey, so you’ve been in house for two years.You ready come back to agency life?’ And I had had some just informal conversations with people because I wasn’t actively looking. And so I had talked with a couple of agencies and one of those agencies was a very good, reputable firm that does healthcare marketing specifically, which I have a very deep background in.

It happens to be a firm that Darren Halbig, our executive creative director had worked at early in his career. Well, Darren and I had a short stint together at Borshoff, another agency in town. So I’ve known Darren for a long time and oddly, I’m connected to different people in his family through my own life experience and so when I was starting exploring this other agency, I texted Darren and I said, Hey, can I give you a call? I’m in talks with this firm, just with like your take on it. Can I give you a call on your drive home sometime? He said, yeah, call me tomorrow. So we talked and it was great conversation, fun to catch up.

And a week later I was on spring break and he sends me a text and he’s like, Hey, so I know this is super random, but do you have any interest in being a brand strategist at Element Three? And I was. I’m open to exploring it. Just know I can’t relocate because I live in Newburg, Indiana, which is a suburb of Evansville.

He’s like, that’s fine. He said, I’m gonna have Tiffany, our CEO call you. And so that began the courtship of Tiffany and me.

Joe Mills: We sort of laugh internally. Sometimes be like, Danielle could go anywhere she wants and at that point you really could have written the ticket. And so I’m curious, you had been at a big firm, you had been in house, you had been at a large law firm. Why over small, in comparison?

Danielle Falconer: Yeah. At that time. When I was thinking about where I went next, I was very seriously considering starting my own agency or consulting business practice, even if it was small. I knew what I had was unique and could be dropped into organizations who needed someone to assemble chaos for them and create a plane forward.

So I knew what I had was special. I will tell you, I’m a thoroughbred who loves running fast with other thoroughbreds and the idea of being a part of an agency that had thorough breads, was more exciting to me than starting from scratch and building into an agency of thoroughbreds.

Part of that was just the time in my life. I have two kids who are now 17 and 15. So when I started here at E3, they would’ve been 12 and 10. And so all those things factor into decisions. And I would say too, like what I’m best at, I always say like, I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame, I’ve been interviewed on TV shows, I’ve been in commercials, I’ve been on stage, I’ve been in arenas with 10,000 people watching me, I’ve had that moment at this point in my life. What I know I’m really good at, as I’m good at being the person behind a person and setting them up for success. I do that for my clients and I actually felt like I could do that really well for Tiffany.

There’s not a stage that she hasn’t met that she didn’t like so naturally wants to do that. And I naturally felt like, I think we would be really good together.

Joe Mills: Well, I’m glad you felt that way, selfishly. Cause you referenced earlier. I’ll bring you into new business conversations and you’re like, oh yeah, I’ve seen that.

Oh yeah. I’ve seen that. Oh, I’ve seen that. Like, Danielle’s seen everything. People ask us questions, they’re like, so now do you all have experience in X, Y, Z, and in the back of my head, I’m always like Danielle probably does. Danielle probably does.

Danielle Falconer: Yeah. There are new emerging industries that I’m learning, just like everyone else. That’s the fun part.

Joe Mills: That’s the new hard horizon.  You had sort of a series of mentors/champions as you came through, and then you got verification from, I would say like the broad community that you have something unique. ‘Hey, you’ve been gone for two years. Do you wanna come back?’ As you look over into this chapter and now at Element Three, as you build out the brand team and you build out that discipline inside of our team and lead so many engagements, and like you say, be the person behind the person to make them better.

Have you started to play that? Has that like been a transition from being championed to being the champion?

Danielle Falconer: Yeah, I think so. Nothing satisfies me more than to help someone else step into what is their own personal best. I mean, it’s like, that is like the best day ever is when I can see a colleague grow, I can see a client leveling up in their career or in their ability to have hard conversations in their own organization.

And I just love the view to that, that we get inside of this organization because we have exposure to so many people who have so many unique stories and starting points. Absolutely. I will say I’m pretty protective of my energy. I am not a champion of all. I am a champion of those who demonstrate a desire and an accountability and a drive that is special.

 I gravitate toward developing those kinds of professionals because I feel like I can speak their language and I get them and they get me and we can run fast together and I can be like, come on, let me go show you this thing. And when someone can run alongside me fast, it’s really fun.

Joe Mills: You have this like palpable energy in your voice.

Every time you talk about running fast, being a thoroughbred, finding something special, doing something challenging and hard. It’s like invigorating. Being in the room with you when you are running fast is one of the greatest learning opportunities that I get as somebody getting to follow along and sort of see how people react to it.

And I was just thinking as we were getting ready for this conversation, that if someone were to ask me, what is that energy? It’s like a true confidence that is not half baked, nor is it cockiness. Were you like that forever? Where did that come from?

Danielle Falconer: I think it comes from preparation. I like to prepare for everything for the school year, for my kids for the day for, my life, all the things.

My workouts, I set out my workout clothes and I, before there’s a discipline. That’s consistent in my life. Confidence didn’t happen to me. I stepped into it through lots of cycles. I had that experience as a gymnast. I get more confident each time. I also am, like, I would say like willing to have an opinion and sometimes be wrong and just be the person in the room to say, I think you should do this.

And then people go, ‘oh, thank you.’ Like someone else made a decision for me. So I sometimes see, like that is my great responsibility to help someone who has so many responsibilities make decisions. And that is a gift I get to give them is to create clarity in a world where they have a million important decisions all the time.

Joe Mills: It was actually a really cool thing that just as you were talking about stepping into the challenge and being willing to have an answer and a response and be wrong, it starts to mirror to me the very first thing you were talking about when you were saying I’d be in my front yard doing back handsprings, I’d put the mattress out. I’d show up to class with my hair. All crazy. Chalk on my head.

You know? I’m guessing a torn hand a time or two blood everywhere. Tape on my ankle and find to be there. And I’m guessing that in those moments, you probably didn’t shy away from answering questions in class?

Danielle Falconer: No, it drives my kids crazy, cause I do not embarrass easily. I have fallen on my face. I have fallen on my rear end. I have fallen on my head. Like in gymnastics, you embarrass yourself like on the daily.

Joe Mills: You gain your confidence by doing it so many times and not being tied to the result in a way that allows you just to keep practicing and practicing and practicing.

And it’s like, well, I’ve done this a hundred times over what’s there not to be confident in. Right. Like I would guess it’s not like an active thing that you think about, like I’m gonna show up confidently today. Just like I’m, I’m gonna be Danielle.

Danielle Falconer: Nope. Every once in a while, if I have a really hard conversation I have to have, I will think going in, what is my intention?

I have a tendency, I think really based on where I grew up, like Northeast, Ohio, Cleveland area, people are much more direct than they are in the Hoosier state. And I have a tendency to be more direct and as comfortable to people. And so sometimes I will tell myself, like, let’s think through what’s your intention?

How do you want this to feel on that person? But typically I don’t have to gear myself up. I just, I love being on like, I love that feeling. What do you call it, Joe?

Joe Mills: We say you float — levitate.

Danielle Falconer: Levitate. That’s what you told me. Yeah. And I, I like, I love it.

Joe Mills: The Danielle levitating is the thing, Kyler, and I will say to each other after be like, oh, Danielle was levitating today.

Danielle Falconer: That’s my favorite place to be.

Joe Mills: Well, I love it. Cause it’s learning for me. I’ll say sometimes to you afterwards and be like, Hey, can you repeat that thing that you said so I can capture it? And you be like, I don’t remember what I said.

Danielle Falconer: Yeah. I think that feeling of levitating of, for me, it’s like when I’m in the flow, it’s the intersection of preparation, confidence, and performance. Like it’s all coming together at the same time.

Joe Mills: Do you only find that feeling when you’re being stretched? Do you think that’s the thing that makes you keep coming back to being stretched is like the search of that feeling?

Danielle Falconer: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I think that’s exactly right.

Joe Mills:  It’s an interesting flow state to observe.

It’s awesome. I’ll start to wrap this up just a little bit. Sometimes I open with this question sometimes I bring it up later. So you’ve been at element three for over five years now. You’ve been helping to champion others and build the brand arm out if you will.

Professionally or personally, or anywhere else, what are you trying to grow into at this point? What’s the next iteration of Danielle growing into?

Danielle Falconer: That is such a good question. You know, earlier you asked, do you wanna be the person who champions other people? It is part of my being like, you know, I work out, so I do CrossFit. I do orange theory and I want to be that person that people are like, ah, you made me run faster.

Joe that happens to me. People will say to me, I didn’t wanna do this workout, but like you pushed me and people will say that to me a lot. I think it is a blessing and a curse in my life that I am the person who pushes people. I’m unapologetic about it. I can see talent or potential in people, and I want to maximize it every chance I have. So I would say right now I look at how do I maximize someone’s potential. I wanna maximize people’s potential at Element Three. I wanna do this for our clients. I wanna do it in the gym every day. And I wanna do it at home. I have two extraordinary girls and they’re very different. And what is each of their potential is very different.

So harnessing that, in learning how to create an environment that fosters their ability to do that is super exciting. I would say I’m also like in a season of gratitude, I started using a gratitude journal earlier this year, and it’s the first thing I do in the morning before my feet hit the floor. And that’s the last thing I do at night before I read my book and it has done something to my brain and my body that I want to keep leaning into it.

Joe Mills: Very cool. Thank you for sharing. Thanks for coming on. Thank you. I love talking to you. So thank you forgiving us your time.

Danielle Falconer:  You’re the best. This is fun.

Reid Morris: Let’s talk about your conversation with Danielle.

Joe Mills: Yeah. You were in the room. How did you feel like it went?

Reid Morris: It was really interesting. Anybody who experiences, Danielle just kind of can feel the sort of motivators that driver, even if you don’t know what they are exactly. It’s just like this energy that we sort of talked about.

And I mean, I think we even maybe mentioned this, but this concept of like Danielle just says words and people just kind of, they just sit there in awe and I feel like it’s that same experience here.

It’s like, you’re saying great things, but regardless of what you’re saying, like yes, I’m in.

Joe Mills: There’s two things that came across cause I’ve always wondered what is that she is able to bring from an energy standpoint. And I think what I learned today is that she has an incredible willingness to put herself forward and to not care about the result of that forward push, like the comfort with risk.

Reid Morris: Yeah.

Joe Mills: And yeah, and like this authentic confidence, that’s just completely okay. However the outcome is, it’s just, I’m going to be authentically me in every moment and if that’s great, great. And if that’s wrong. Okay.

Reid Morris: I mean, she holds herself to such a high standard too. And like coming from, you know, that athletic background, somebody who puts the work in is able to just sort of step into that competence, like, listen, I’ve done the work to get the result that I want. So I’m just gonna, like, whatever happens, happens now, right? Yeah. It’s like, you can’t do more.

Joe Mills: I mean, she talks about preparation as the starting point for it, and there’s sort of a cliche saying that results are the combination of preparation and competence or something like that.

Talent and preparation, equal luck, I think is maybe the phrase I’m remembering, but hers is, I put myself into as many hard situations as I can find. I bet at some point in her life, that was hard, but it’s been so easy for her to make that choice for so long that it is more natural than to choose an easy path.

Reid Morris: We experienced the end result of all of that. I mean, you mentioned in your conversation around how, no matter what environment she’s put into what problem a client is experiencing, she has experienced that scenario and then can like show up and crush it. And obviously there was a point in time where that wasn’t the case. Right. But now the way that we see her today and experience her at Element Three is this person who has been in every environment, right.

She’s got the reps and she did the work she failed. And then she moved on and all these things. And now we sort of see that end result, which it’s just brilliant.

Joe Mills:  It’s like, if you’re in a moment of change, , if you are in a moment, an inflection point in your trajectory, Danielle can probably solve your problem is like how we experience here. Whether that have the brand arena or change management or communications or whatever. She like shows up and it’s like, we’re at a big inflection point. We’re gonna run. It’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna have a puzzle. And like every time the answer to that is yes, she gets like more excited and more like, oh, good.

I get to go investigate this. I get to go learn about it.

Reid Morris: I think one thing that’s really interesting in you guys conversation, as we’re talking about, you know, what makes people tick, where they are in their growth journey, right? She talks about how she had her 15 minutes of fame and how she now is it in this place where she wants to be behind the scenes and sort of you clipping into her that focus now is how can I elevate other people?

How can I bring other people up with me? And that I feel like is a common thread that we’ve experienced in these conversations so far is all of these individuals who are still at different points in their journey, but have made it a far away are now seeking to pay that back. I think in some capacity

Joe Mills: While continuing to fill up the cup, right? Yeah. So it’s interesting with like Danielle and Tiffany as a parallel. Danielle was saying I’m growing into these areas and helping people inside of element three, realize their maximize potential, helping her clients realize their maximum potential, helping her kids, live into their best selves.

And she mentioned her own thing. She’s like myself in the gym, like I’m loving that. And she mentioned her gratitude, journaling that she’s taking on. Like she’s doing an awesome job of understanding I can pour into people, but I can’t forget that I also have to be the fountain.

And if I’m empty, then there’s no fountain to pour into their cups. So, and Tiffany talks about a real similar thing. Like Tiffany’s flywheel of, I have to go grow and inevitably, I will teach that to others who bring it around to their groups, make a big community impact. I get more space to do it again.

And it sort of spins faster and faster each time.

Reid Morris: To them there is no finish line. Yeah.

Joe Mills: We were there’s this constant, constant, infinite game thing. Right. We were talking about this the other day when we were walking back from grabbing a cup of coffee where it was like, this doesn’t ever end. You just keep going and trying the next thing and learning from it and we love it.

It’s amazing. So who who’s next? I was talking to Karen. And Karen mentioned, Lindsay Baccato as somebody we should talk to because Lindsay runs a very extroverted business, but is apparently very introverted in her nature and she owns the business. So understanding like what’s her motivation to build a business that is on the surface potentially in contrast with what gives her energy.

Reid Morris: Yeah. It sort of demands this big personality and it’d be interesting too, like people that have to show up in that way. How she managed to do that? And if indeed we find out like, she’s this very introverted person, like yeah, why?

Joe Mills: Like watching her videos on LinkedIn? I would not guess that she’s introverted. No. Would you?

Reid Morris: No, not at all. Yeah. She’s like this super high energy individual that’s putting out like great thought leadership make you think about things. And she’s a rockstar in the local market, in the HR space. She is a big personality, I think will have a lot of interesting perspective for us to dive into.

Joe Mills: Cool. Well, I’ll reach out to her and see if we can get her on the show.

Reid Morris: Okay. That sounds great.


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