I chuckle at the surprising vision of this Type A power player shoveling snow while the chickens crow.
“I built my first company with a $5000 loan from my parents. I built it up to a $24 million dollar company.”
With Lisa Dee surprises are the name of the game. But Lisa’s story is not the typical Type A tale of big bank accounts and big egos. It’s about much more than tarnished trophies.
From Singapore to Johannesburg to New York, this Type A serial entrepreneur has called many places home. Today, Lisa is snuggled in Vista Caballo, her remote Colorado ranch.
“Vista Caballo is company number three. I ask myself, ‘How do I want to do this one differently?’ I did a pretty good number on myself with the first two.”
Surrounded by the beauty left by the recent blizzard, Lisa begins to tell me how she traded her $24 million trophy for digging out chickens, mucking stalls and unlocking other lives trapped in success.
Lisa Dee cut her entrepreneurial teeth in the highly competitive advertising industry. Along the way she and her team weathered 9/11, ran offices in New York, Dallas and San Francisco and developed a highly successful business model that was emulated by others across the industry.
There’s no doubt she’s a Type A top gun.
I ask Lisa about her own personal experience as a Type A. She pauses and I can feel her diving deep into herself – probing, weighing and considering her answer. This is not a woman who answers quickly or casually.
When the answer arrives, it is punctuated with power and passion. As she speaks, it is easy to see Lisa running that $24M company with ease.
“The first part was just acknowledging that I was a Type A. In reflection, that was the first insight I had into the fact that maybe not everyone was wired like me. I was an A+++ personality. It was such a natural way of being that I wondered to myself, ‘What other types of people are there?’”
You can hear the sincere puzzlement in her voice as she remembers first encountering the novel idea that not everyone was like her.
I hear that so often. Type A’s rarely realize they are Type A’s. They are too busy, too driven and too focused to see who they really are.
“Honestly, the results I got were so positive, I never considered the fact that I was Type A one way or another. It was just a label that didn’t have any meaning to me.”
It’s easy to overlook the Type A warning signs when your eyes are locked on the positive results. We’ve all been down that road a time or two.
“As the stakes got higher, that’s when I started really feeling there was something happening. I didn’t recognize the collateral damage. There started to be schisms, conflicts and also…” her voice trails off, “a wonderful progression. It was confusing. I brought in consultants to help me understand what was happening with my executive team.”
I’m reminded of how hard it is to see the collateral damage when you’re the one creating it. You can’t read the label if you’re inside the bottle.
“The consultants told me – in front of my entire executive team – that I worked at mach speed with my hair on fire. Now, I was very comfortable working that way. It wasn’t a problem for me. On a Friday afternoon, I’d list 17 initiatives I wanted in motion and then wonder, on Monday morning, ‘Where are the results?’. My sense of time was different. I didn’t have weekends. I loved my work. I loved multi-tasking.”
Mix Type A power and passion with a compressed sense of time and high expectations and you’re stirring the fire with a stick of dynamite. It’s just a matter of time before it goes boom.
True to her courageous Type A self, Lisa decided to go the extra step. Little did she realize the doors that would swing open.
“I decided to put myself up for anonymous review by my entire team. I got wonderful feedback like, ‘you’re amazing, incredible, we love your vision, we love your inspiration’. I also got this… ‘But what do we do now? How do we make it happen?’ I realized then that if I was going to write in the sky, I had to build ladders to get there.”
There’s silence on the phone now. Something’s cooking.
“It was a very painful experience. It was heart breaking.”
The pain creates wrinkles in Lisa’s voice as she explains.
“After I sold my companies, I discovered there was much more collateral damage than I realized. If I had known, I would have changed it! My team and my company were my heart and soul. It was excruciating to learn the extent of it. I’m dedicated to being my best. I want to hear what’s not working.”
Isn’t it interesting that we can’t hear the message until it rips the door off the hinges?
Lisa shifts back to the present with conviction.
“I will build this company differently!”
This company is Vista Caballo. It’s Lisa’s third company and a playground for passion and power.
Vista Caballo, an experiential learning center located on a ranch in Dove Creek, Colorado, is where you find your true sense of self. It is where highly accomplished Type A’s unplug, reflect, re-calibrate and re-boot. Lisa’s horses are your teachers. The gorgeous Colorado countryside is your muse and your soul is a blank canvas.
Be warned. It’s not for the faint-hearted or the partially-committed. This isn’t where you sit poolside sipping margaritas while you fiddle with your iPhone. Nope. You’re going to be working in the dirt – both literally and figuratively.
Vista Caballo unlocks your full power and passion so you courageously step into who you are really meant to be. The transformation is positive, profound and, most importantly, permanent. Just the kind of challenging adventure that Type A’s love.
I ask Lisa what advice she has for her Type A brethren. Her answer slices through my question like a Ginsu knife.
“You’ve done it! Acknowledge you’ve done it. You can keep on the linear path. Achieve more. Make bigger creations. But… at some point… you have to recognize you’ve done it.”
The last words are hammered hard.
“I strongly encourage you to take a side-step on your life’s journey. A non-linear path reveals gifts. You can always go back to the linear way of doing things, but a non-linear life will enrich and expand your comfort zone. The linear life is where Type A burnout occurs.”
She stops and I feel her heart and head weaving words together.
“Once we Type A’s can do something with ease, we ask ourselves, ‘Now what?’ When that happens it’s time for us to expand our life. When you find power and passion on a non-linear path, you learn what life is really about.”
It’s clear that this woman who traded her $24 million trophy for digging chickens out of the snow is comfortable free-falling into life.
“The non-linear path is very humbling. The linear experience prepares us for the non-linear experience. The non-linear path is where real power emerges. The linear experience is like practicing piano scales. At some point you have to get off the scales and just play.”
I think about the thousands of Type A’s who are playing a monotonous tune day-after-day as their power and passion fade away.
“Take a chance! If there’s little inkling that there might be a different way to do something, take a chance. You can always go back. You can always say, ‘oops’. I can guarantee that you’ll be richer for that try. You’re going to open a doorway in your life that you’ll never want to close. Open the door. Take one step. It’s time to get messy.”
Lisa’s lesson is clear. Once you take your Type A power off the scale, life changing possibilities appear.
A note to my Type A tribe: Lisa Dee and I are joining forces to rock your Type A world. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement.