As the dust settled, I realized I needed to get out. So I gave away all my possessions – but for what filled a black duffle bag, gave up my San Francisco apartment, and bought a one-way ticket to Spain.
Over the next few years, I wrote, meditated, and did volunteer work in Granada, Barcelona, Edinburgh, back in San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santiago, and a bunch of places I hadn’t heard of until I was living there.
Most of the people in my previous life faded away. They’d known me as a powerful force in San Francisco. I was someone who could help, make introductions, build alliances. Then I wasn’t helpful to them anymore.
In mid-2012, I’d recently met my wife, Nathalie, and the idea for Avanoo sparked inside me. It was a simple idea: I wanted to build an organization that helped people open to their greatest potential by living out their stories and inspirations.
I was excited to turn the spark of my idea into a flame. But I was also scared. I feared others would see in me the story of an overly ambitious entrepreneur who’d tried, but failed. I feared they’d see me as unworthy of building such an organization.
“That’s not the story I see,” Nathalie insisted.
“That’s not the story I know,” Nathalie’s father reflected.
“That’s not the story I feel,” my mother shared.
“That’s not the story you are,” my friend, Prosper, told me… before he later became Avanoo’s cofounder.
In different ways, these four people reminded me that my own story is much bigger than my latest success or failure. They helped me see that my story – the one I’ve lived and the one I am living – is worthy of the organization I wanted to build.
It takes, at most, four people who care to give someone the courage to live their greatest story. It takes just four people who care to, possibly, profoundly change the course of humanity.
After the work began, it became clear that many other people saw in me the story I most feared they’d see. They saw me attempting to build an organization that was pointless… or stupid… or out of my league… or impossible.
But none of those perspectives mattered to me. Because four people cared about my story. And that was enough. For with time, those four people became six people. Then ten people. Then twenty. And today, a community.
Avanoo, today, is helping hundreds of thousands of people open to their greatest potential. And everyday – even weekends – I get to speak with teammates and clients who are working hard on behalf of the people we serve.
I try to remind myself before every conversation – no matter how tired I am, where in the world I am, or who I’m with – that the most important gift I can give… is to let the person in front of me know I care about their story.
Because I know – from experience – that it takes, at most, four people who care to give someone the courage to live their greatest story. It takes just four people who care to, possibly, profoundly change the course of humanity.
As often as I can, I want to be one of those four people.
You can be one of those four people too!
Co-Founder & CEO, Avanoo
Daniel Jacobs is the CEO and co-founder of Avanoo. Daniel’s work has been featured on Fortune, Inc. BusinessInsider, Apple News, HuffPo, and most major news publications in the United States. His company, Avanoo, uses storytelling, micro-learning, and cutting-edge technology to help many of the world’s most prominent brands drive desired change, performance, and engagement at scale and in just three minutes a day.