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Welcome to ChesterGoad.com!

Thanks for taking the time to drop by!  At ChesterGoad.com I’ve combined my three favorite topics, “Leadership, Learning, and Life”–all in one place.  I’m a leadership junkie. I read about it, I write about it, and I speak about it.  I also can’t stop learning and I’m driven to help others learn too! I’m pretty open and I enjoy sharing about my life and helping others find their purpose and meet their goals.   I can’t wait to share everything with you!  Subscribe or add me to your favorites list and visit often because I’ll be blogging, and adding new features regularly!  And of course remember if you need a speaker, writer, consultant or coach related to leadership, learning, or life, I’m your guy!  You’re going to find lots of cool stuff here. Keep leading. Keep learning. Keep living.

–All my best, all the time –Chester

p.s. Email me at chestergoad@gmail.com  or find me on your favorite social media! 

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Toothpaste, Holy Confidence & Second Chances: Big Lessons in Tiny Greatness from Mike Foster

Author, Speaker and Chief Chancer Mike Foster of People of the Second Chance speaks during a catalyst lab.

Author, Speaker and Chief Chance Officer Mike Foster of People of the Second Chance speaks during a catalyst lab. /Credit Mary Caroline Russell

Have you ever needed a second chance? How about forgiveness? Have you ever struggled with accepting yourself, or with guilt or shame? Most of us have messed up. Most of us have failed. Most of us at one time or another have found ourselves broken.  Mike Foster, author of People of the Second Chance has a question for anyone “struggling to find meaning and love”.  “What if we all started loving ourselves the way God loves us?”

Foster a pastor from San Diego is also an author, and a speaker. Lately he’s becoming more notable for encouraging others to love themselves and to love others well.

“I think we’ve all experienced toothpaste moments where the toothpaste comes squirting out of the tube and it’s like ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t plan on that’, and we realize the toothpaste is not going back in the tube.” Foster explains, “It’s messy and uncomfortable. We would never have chosen that, but it happens. Those broken things, those messy things, those things that didn’t go right can actually be leveraged for good.”

Affectionately referred to as the “Chief Chance Officer” the Founder of People of the Second Chance, (POTSC), a husband and father of two teenagers, also spends much of his time talking about grace, and second chances, for everyone, including those in leadership positions.  His encouragement for leaders is to regularly examine their own heart.

“The biggest threat to a leader is the leader himself or herself.  Speaking of myself, my number one project is to manage my own heart. I know I do right things and help people but my number one responsibility is to manage what’s going on inside of me, because if what’s inside my heart is unhealthy, or dysfunctional or feels empty or tired, then that has a ripple effect on my marriage, my kids and the things that I do. Sometimes we forget that.”

In addition to his latest book, Foster also authored a faith-based small group series called, “WonderLife” focused on owning your “not-so-perfect” personal story with all of its twists and turns, and learning from that story. And rightly so, Foster points out that leaders need forgiveness too.

“Some leaders may not like to hear this…but God is only interested in a loving relationship with us. Sometimes we forget that and we are doing all this stuff, and we forget that we too are children of God. We too need grace. We too need forgiveness. I see leaders get off course when they forget to manage their own hearts, their own health, and replenish and do self-care.”

Confronted with the notion that many people refer to him as a person of humility, and then coupled with the question, ‘which is more important boldness or humility?’ Foster laughs uncomfortably. He prefers to consider the terms “holy confidence” and “tiny greatness” and he attempts to deflect the compliment.  “I get cocky, and prideful, and arrogant, trust me. Trust me. Ask my wife,” he declares, before offering a piece of leadership wisdom as his wife Jennifer laughs in the background.  “Regarding tiny greatness, I’ve become really interested in the small things, and loving the person that’s right in front of me versus pursuing a platform.”


Foster indicates that he finds the trendy, all too common pursuit these days of building platforms and gaining influence or leading movements troubling, or maybe even “ridiculous.”  Instead he prefers a “tiny greatness” approach. “What can we do here at a table at Starbucks? How can I show up for my friends? How can I be a good dad? That’s what I’m pursuing.”  And that’s what he recommends to the leaders he comes in contact with.

One of Mike Foster’s latest projects is gaining steam and attention. Prodigal parties. These parties are events designed to celebrate the second chances that are so important to Foster’s mission in life, and to pour love into broken or hurting people from hurting friends to lonely neighbors, recovering addicts, ex-cons, or anyone being marginalized or overlooked or struggling to fit in.

It’s evident that to Mike Foster, leading people well means loving people well, and he makes a point to be thankful for the privilege of leading even through difficulties.

“I remind myself every day that I’m working in people’s brokenness.” Foster finds it an honor to be working with people and suggests that sometimes leaders fall into the trap of making it harder than it should be. “We get so caught up in the stresses and anxieties that sometimes we over-complexify things, and we take things too personally. Our identity gets too caught up in metrics.”

Finally, he emphasizes that leaders should enjoy the experience because “It’s special to be a leader, to be able to influence people, to be able to create things,” and he stresses that all of it, is “an incredible privilege” and he cautions leaders not to get to the end of a career or a life before they “start living” because he says “living starts to today.”

Mike Foster possesses the tiny greatness he talks about, but is too humble to realize it. His focus on others is contagious. He makes you want to love others and to love them well. He makes you want to lead where leadership is needed and to lead others well. He makes you want to find a prodigal and celebrate them—especially because we’re all prodigals in one way or another.  And hey, everyone needs a second chance sometime. Right?

Follow Mike Foster on Twitter: @MikeFoster

Follow Chester Goad on Twitter: @CGoad09

Check out Mike Foster’s People of the Second Chance

Mike Foster was recently a featured speaker at Catalyst.

*This article also appears at here at Huffington Post.

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Uncommon Leadership: A Conversation with Catalyst’s Tyler Reagin

Catalyst Executive Director Speaks to Attendees during a Catalyst Lab session

Catalyst Executive Director Speaks to Attendees during a Catalyst Lab session/ Credit: Mary Caroline Russell/ CatalystATL

When was the last time you went to church?  If you fall in line with most statistics it may not have been recently.  Or maybe you attend three days a week.  Even so, at best, church growth is stagnant. At worst it’s in a free fall.  Research recently released by Barna suggests that while most Americans still identify as Christian (as much as 73%), church attendance and the ways individuals practice Christianity offer a bleaker picture.  But why? Tyler Reagin, Executive Director of Catalyst Atlanta asserts the culprit is lack of leadership, and he’s committed to turning things around through encouraging, building up, and equipping leaders especially those within the Church.

Reagin readily acknowledges that the church is all over the map. “If you look at the church landscape right now, the church is not growing. No main line denomination in North America is growing. It’s not an issue of great preaching. In my opinion, it’s an issue of great leadership. Most people are walking away from faith not because of Jesus–they’re walking away, because of the people who represent Jesus. For us at Catalyst, literally our heartbeat is–we want the church to be the best run organization on the planet.”

Thousands of people attend Catalyst Leadership events each year.

Reagin is responsible for the flagship event, Catalyst Atlanta, which has grown significantly over the last 16 years and is typically held in early October.  Similar events are scheduled all over the country, but they don’t just happen.  Effectively pulling off events like Catalyst Atlanta held inside Infinite Energy Center in Northern Atlanta requires a highly finessed cooperative effort of paid staff and volunteers.  As such, effectively leading an organization dedicated to supporting faith-based leaders, and pulling off one of the nation’s largest leadership conferences takes the right kind of leadership, logistics planning, and organization.

Leadership like that takes a great deal of introspection, self-assessment, and self-acceptance.  For Tyler Reagin, it took “realizing that the way he is wired as a leader is ok”, and an understanding that the way he’s wired is purposeful and even necessary to carry out his own purpose.

As Executive Director, Reagin oversees 11 events in addition to coaching development for Catalyst staff, but the challenge doesn’t scare him. According to Reagin it’s a lot, but effective leaders set priorities. In addition to the events “there’s some fun stuff in the works,” but he maintains, “While our investment in leaders and the team takes a huge chunk of my time, I’ve got 2 boys, 9 and 6.  And my wife (Carrie), and those 2 guys is where I try and focus a lot of my extra attention.”

Aside from spending time with family or his extended family, (the Catalyst Team), the bulk of Reagin’s focus is spent developing leaders and finding ways to help them realize their potential contributions and purpose as leaders.

Tyler Reagin conducts an interview on the Catalyst Atlanta Stage

Tyler Reagin conducts an interview on the Catalyst Atlanta Stage/ Credit Mary Caroline Russell

Catalyst is committed to five attributes.  The most prominent and the “constant” as Reagin describes it, is obviously leadership, but the other four attributes are creativity, change, courage and unity and typically these rotate year-by-year. This year’s focal topic fell around the “Unity” attribute leading to the theme “Uncommon Fellowship,” supporting the notion that the church is stronger when it works through important issues together, and that it consists of diverse groups of people.  The agenda was packed with panels, nationally known speakers like Mike Foster, Judah Smith, Craig Groeschel, and Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, Jenny Yang, Scott Sauls, Brian Houston, and rapper and spoken word artist, Propaganda, along with intimate “lab sessions” focused around racial reconciliation, guarding against division, and other challenging issues the church is facing right now, all related to scripture and corporate worship.

Interestingly the unity theme happens to be coinciding with a particularly difficult national election, but Reagin says it wasn’t planned around that. “As believers we’ve never put our trust in government. I just watch God orchestrate this stuff all the time. It blows my mind.”  An example of that orchestration he points out is the scheduling of Simon Sinek, a much sought after leadership expert and speaker. “Simon’s one of my favorite leaders, but I had no idea once we booked him that he released a children’s book two weeks before Catalyst Atlanta, called “Together is Better.

“Honestly, I wish I could say it was more strategic. It’s a combination of being on our knees going ‘God, what do we need to talk about?’ And watching Him help us believe that together, and …a lot of hard work.”

Reagin has a passion for new and upcoming leaders and stresses the importance of having confidence, experiencing coaching, and recognizing their uniqueness in leadership and purpose.  He believes that lack of confidence often delays a leader’s potential impact. “Truthfully. Insecure leaders just don’t have followings for a long period of time.” He suggests that until they’ve become more comfortable with themselves it’s going to be harder getting to that point “when you can show up day in and day out, and be the leader you’re wanting to be and the leader they expect to show up. We’re in this, because there’s a bunch of heroes, who need to be reminded to not be insecure, because the gospel tells us we have victory in Jesus.”

Currently, Reagin leads a Catalyst team under age 40. His sense of responsibility and obligation to coach and mentor them is palpable. He stresses his responsibility, obligation, and desire to develop and coach them. “If there’s one thing I can give them as a staff at this stage in their careers, it’s to coach the heck out of them, and make them understand this is how God made them.  I want to say, ‘Are you kidding me? Did you see that? You know that came natural to you. None of us even thought about that.”

It’s his desire to take what he’s learned from past experiences and help others realize their own uniqueness.

Tyler Reagin stands speaking

Tyler Reagin Speaks at Catalyst Atlanta/ Credit Mary Caroline Russell

“My life’s message and passion is that we as Christian leaders, recognize that we are uniquely made for unique purposes.  I’ve spent the last 12 years pulling out the uniqueness of the people on my team, and pulling out the uniqueness of the people around me saying, ‘Look at that. Are you kidding me? You’re the only one on our 25 person staff that does that. We need that from you. You are loved, just exactly how you are. Now go and love other people like that.”

At the same time, Reagin laments that many leaders are chasing other people’s uniqueness and that churches are chasing other church’s uniqueness.

“They’re losing, because they’re chasing the wrong things. What I know is God has said ‘I know who you are. I put you together. I put the bone to bone, muscle to muscle. I built you. I have knit you together for a unique calling. We are his masterpieces. At the end of the day, the best leaders on the planet are the ones who are okay with themselves. Our unique calling is absolutely connected to our unique wirings and our unique purposes.”

Tyler Reagin is an uncommon leader, inarguably unique possessing a love for coaching and developing more leaders, particularly church leaders.  He is authentic, and funny, and dedicated, and confident, but not arrogant. It’s obvious he’s worked through the years to understand who he is so he can live out his purpose.  As long as there are leaders like Tyler Reagin committed to building up more leaders, and as long as organizations like Catalyst are building up, edifying, equipping and encouraging those faith leaders, then no matter what the media says about faith, no matter what the latest research shows, the church is most assuredly not doomed.

*This article first appeared on The Huffington Post. 

Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator, a former K12 principal and teacher, and a former US Congressional staffer. He’s also an author and blogger, and has presented from Appalachia to Africa on topics related to education, disabilities, non-profit advocacy, parenting, access, policy, and leadership. He has a heart for people and for people who help people. In addition to the Huffington Post, Chester is a contributing writer for The Good Men Project and has been quoted in major media outlets like CNBC, Washington Post, Forbes and more. He’s also the author of Purple People Leader.

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Exciting Announcement Leaderbyte Podcast Coming Soon!

Leaderbyte podcast cover art includes two mics and a chat bubble

Cover art reveal: Podcast Cover Art/logo for the new Leaderbyte Podcast

Soon I’ll be kicking off my newest venture by Hosting “The Leaderbyte Podcast” which will be available on iTunes. The first three episodes plus a supplemental intro to the podcast have already been recorded and are mixed and ready to go. Be on the lookout for how you can be involved in helping get the word out! The show is produced in an interview format, and I’ll be making unique connections between leadership, learning and life through the power of story and conversation. All topics are fair game. Leadership is a conversation worth having and I’m hoping you’ll join the discussion! In honor of the book that kicked off many of my pursuits, you’ll notice the podcast art is purple!

All my best, all the time,




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Unity? Chris Tomlin is Praying for a Miracle and You Can Join Him at a Theater Near You

chris tomlin kneeling holding guitar on stage with others kneeling

Chris Tomlin leading worship and prayer/Photo credit: Rayneutron

I had the pleasure recently of interviewing one of the world’s most notable worship leaders.  I hope you’ll find a moment to check it out below.

When and where was the last time you prayed? Chances are it wasn’t at your local movie theater. But if Chris Tomlin’s prayers are answered, on October 25th theaters across the nation will be packed with people praying for unity.

Earlier this summer, Chris Tomlin kicked off his pursuit of unity with live events intended to bring people to their knees in prayer for our nation and for Christians.

Tomlin has observed that in today’s culture, “Even in the church, we often feel divided and uncertain.” Tomlin’s Worship Night in America events that packed houses likeMadison Square Garden in New York, and The Forum in LA culminated a “heartfelt desire to host a night that had nothing to do with politics, but rather enlisted the humble spirit of prayer and worship to bring people together.”

Reflecting on the diversity of the modern church, Chris notes that while we may think and teach about God in various ways, we often sing the same songs.

Chris’s humility is inspiring. He sees himself having only played a small role. He’s Grammy-winning Chris Tomlin, and he doesn’t even know it, and that is also refreshing.

Having curated the songs with the help of others, Chris began brainstorming what it might be like to fill up arenas with what he refers to as “all the different streams of the church” singing the same songs, leading worship with the help of those same friends and fellow artists who had written and carried those songs around the world.

“I thought, what if we were leading these songs all together, at the same time, as if we were one artist and one band. I had never been a part of anything like that before, and I just kept thinking, ‘What if?”

So Tomlin enlisted the help of some his friends like Kari Jobe, Matt Redman, Matt Maher, Kim Walker-Smith, Phil Wickham and fellow stalwart, Steven Curtis Chapman. The idea is to lead songs together, songs that people have learned. Songs people love.

And so a powerful idea became even more powerful when prayer was added to the mix. “I thought—-during these moments of musical worship, what if we stopped and prayed for our nation?” He concedes that at this moment, many in our country feel confused about where we’re headed. At the same time, he believes that prayer is the antidote.

large crowd stands in prayer many covering their faces

Photo Credit: Rayneutron

After all, he says “worship and prayer go hand-in-hand” and he reminds me of the words of Saint Augustine, “He who sings, prays twice.” It’s evident the power of worship is not lost on Chris, the power of prayer is not lost on Chris, and neither is the power contained within our diversity. “Singing and praying really are synonymous with each other. When we sing and pray together, even with all of our differences, the spirit of unity that fills our individual hearts connects us to each other in one corporate heart, and that experience is powerful.”

Still like the rest of us, Tomlin is not oblivious to the divisiveness in our country, and suggests that these worship and prayer events were inspired for such a time as this.

“If ever there was a time for this event to come to light, this is the moment. People are uncertain of where we are headed as a nation. We feel polarized. So having the opportunity to share the unity expressed through Worship Night in America one week before the election is important.” He strongly contends that this event has nothing to do with politics. “It’s not about voting for any particular party or President. Prayer is greater than politics. Prayer reminds us that our hope is not in government, but in God. As a Christian I think, ‘What is my role in this moment and time? This event is an opportunity to stand and say, ‘Lord, our eyes are not on Washington DC, our eyes are on You.”

Tomlin agrees that unity is definitely about bringing diverse groups of people together, but suggests that it’s bigger than that, asserting that it’s also about bringing the church together, and moreover about Jesus’ prayer for Oneness.

“I think it’s interesting His last prayer on earth was, ‘Father that my people would be one as we are one.’ (John 17:21). Jesus’ own prayer was that we would reflect the unity—the oneness—he experiences with God.”

Chris believes unity is about laying aside agendas. At Worship Night for America, “No one is vying for attention on stage. No one is saying, ‘This is my moment.’ When we cheer each other on, whether it’s artists on stage, in our communities, in our churches at home, it creates a beautiful picture of unity, and I know this is the heart of God—-to be unified.”

Chris’s sincerity is palpable. I reflect on his passion and his careful but deliberate choice of words and I find his outlook and his style to be genuine, down-to-earth, human and different. And it makes me want to see the desire of Chris’s heart come to fruition, and for Jesus’ prayer for Oneness to be realized.

Most believe that achieving the type of unity Chris Tomlin hopes for will take a miracle. Is it really possible to achieve unity in spite of everything we’re up against in the world today? Chris Tomlin seems to think so. No, he doesn’t think so. He believes so. He sums up his faith in the notion of unity like this: “I don’t think Jesus would have prayed for unity if it were not possible.”

I’m expecting to see a few good movies this year but considering much of what Hollywood is producing these days, I’ll take one ticket for unity please. And I’m expecting Chris Tomlin’s Worship Night in America on October 25th to be one heck of a blockbuster event.

Unity. That’s the ticket. Can I get an Amen?


If you’d like to be a part of a Worship Night in America with Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio,Max Lucado and friends here’s how.

If you’d like to request the WNIA event for your local theater, you can do that too. Just click here.

There’s also an option to host WNIA at your local church. Learn more here.

Worship Night in America is a special one night only event on October 25.

Follow Chris Tomlin on Twitter: @christomlin

Follow Chester Goad on Twitter: @cgoad09

This article also appears at Huffington Post. 

Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator, a former K12 principal and teacher, and a former US Congressional staffer. He’s also an author and blogger, and has presented from Appalachia to Africa on topics related to education, disabilities, non-profit advocacy, parenting, access, policy, and leadership. He has a heart for people and for people who help people. In addition to the Huffington Post, Chester is a contributing writer for The Good Men Project and has been quoted in major media outlets like CNBC, Washington Post, Forbes and more. He’s also the author of Purple People Leader.

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Protect Your Team in 2016: Five Ways Leaders Survive Election Season

workplace team meeting 3 people sitting 3 people standingDo you have friends or a co-workers who are hyper-political, easily offended or overly charged when it comes to politics? Do the folks on your team argue over state or national elections? Maybe the most opinionated person is you? It’s disconcerting when your coworkers are overzealous but what’s even more problematic is the hyper-political leader.

Political discourse at the right place, in the right company, and on the right time is a good thing. But we all know freedom of speech is never really free. Often there is a cost involved. While the right place and right time may be debatable, over-sharing your political ideologies in any work place is not best practice. Remember the old adage, “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial”?

Yes, election season is upon us, and believe it or not, it is possible to survive election cycles with your leadership integrity and the trust of your team intact. Use these five practical tips to avoid sabotaging your team’s success with your own personal political biases.

Political Self-Sabotage Protection Plan

Silence Your Walls (and your desk): Don’t let furniture, frames, or bulletin boards scream at your team. Would you wear a politically charged t-shirt to work? Then why would you tack that same message to your walls? How you choose to decorate your office speaks volumes to those who visit there. A poster that reads “Visualize Whirrled Peas” is one thing, but “Vote Right or Die” or “Vote Left or Die” is never a proper welcoming message (whether 50 percent of people agree with you or not). Party pins, bumper stickers and political propaganda are better left for other venues than the professional setting. Not only can a simple bumper sticker incite negative feelings or cause mistrust in the office, it can cost you friendships, customers, clients, partners and even profits. Purposefully placed negativity in any form has no place in the leader’s toolbox.

Cut the Snark: Know when to zip it and nip it. It’s ok to have opinions. This is where the wisdom of your parents comes in handy. Remember: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” or “If you don’t have something nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Saying nothing at all has become a challenge for many people. Don’t assume everyone agrees with you and don’t give the impression that the team must think like you. Some of your team members may withhold sharing valuable work ideas or opinions because they think you may not value their opinions. A diverse team is a productive and creative team.

Reverse Your Forward Habit: Resist the urge to forward politically charged emails: That cartoon, video or meme may have made you LOL, but others may not find it so funny. Protect yourself from crossing the line or losing respect of others or even your job. Over simplifying complex problems by verbally or visually accosting those with opposing views is a bad idea. Leave that to the newspapers.

Say No to Politicking and Say Yes to Voting: The leader sets the tone. Know your policies, preferences, and best practice and discuss them with your team. Rather than focusing on specific candidates or issues during election cycles, encourage the importance of voting and good citizenship. Most people will agree that it’s important to vote. As the leader, go vote, encourage your team to do the same and leave it at that. Set a goal for 100 percent voting in your office, and celebrate the freedom we have to do so.

Mute the Media: Turn off TVs and radios or consider choosing a streaming service without the negative ads. Leaving the office tv on in the throes of election season is only asking for trouble and decreased productivity. Remember: The media no longer wants your undivided attentions. Your divided attentions are much more lucrative. Don’t fall prey to media campaign ratings games.

November will come and go. To be certain, there’s always another election around the corner. In order to avoid unnecessary divisiveness, choose to protect your team, your mission and your sanity. Doing anything otherwise will only serve to damage team trust, your leadership integrity, and quite possibly your bottom-line. None of that is worth the risk just for the sake of “being right” or “making political points”.

Check out the Purple People Leader Promo here:

Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator, a former K12 principal and teacher, and a former US Congressional staffer. He’s also an author and blogger, and has presented from Appalachia to Africa on topics related to education, disabilities, non-profit advocacy, parenting, access, policy, and leadership. He has a heart for people and for people who help people. In addition to the Huffington Post, Chester is a contributing writer for The Good Men Project and has been quoted in major media outlets like CNBC, Washington Post, Forbes and more. You can learn more about Chester at www.chestergoad.com. He’s also author of Purple People Leader and you can learn more about that at www.purplepeopleleaderbook.com. He believes you should vote your conscience in 2016 and let it go. Elections come and go. Friends are for life.

(This post was originally posted to PurplePeopleLeaderBook.com, and has been published on Huffington Post as well)


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Jeremy Cowart’s Purpose Hotel: One Man’s Dream to Help You Help the World

jeremy cowart wearing hat long sleeves and jeans

Courtesy Celebrity Photographer Jeremy Cowart

Where was your most recent hotel stay? Did you choose it because of location, its luxurious reputation, or did you choose it because it had a greater purpose? Celebrity Photographer, Jeremy Cowart wants to help you help the world.  His life impacting pursuits became more widely known through his “Voices of Reconciliation Project” where he documented the lives of those effected by the Rwandan Genocide along with filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson.   Another of Cowart’s humanitarian projects centered on the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  So what’s next?

For most of us inspiration for new projects comes and goes, according to Cowart, “We all have new ideas and thoughts to try but most never do. The first few projects may be awful, but you just keep going and learn along the way,” he explains.  He calls this process “stumbling forward” and maintains that stumbling forward is awkward but way more fun than standing still in fear.”   While some projects may seem larger and more ominous than others, Jeremy Cowart refuses to let fear deny him his pursuit of passion. The same passion that has been forming over the last four years resulting in his biggest dream yet—the same dream that includes the rest of us—the Purpose Hotel.

Cowart says he only recently had what he describes as the “profound realization that his passion comes from the intersection of helping others and his own creativity”, and that if he’s just creating he asks “What’s the point? And suggests that creating alone feels vain or self-serving.  “But if I can serve people and create at the same time, then I’ve found my niche.”  Cowart believes that The Purpose Hotel holds endless possibility to do both of those, serving as the intersection of all his interests which include art, travel, photography, technology, non-profits, design, marketing and more.

So what is the purpose behind Purpose Hotel?  Cowart’s vision is for the Purpose Hotel to grow into a global hotel chain in which every aspect of the hotel benefits a cause or nonprofit, bettering the lives of those in need, and he’s dreaming big. Each room will sponsor a child’s education, internet fees will fight human trafficking, each lobby will hold a Charity Water well, and from the furniture and blankets to the soap and shampoos, everything will have purpose.  Jeremy maintains that it’s an “inward versus outward” mentality.

“Every other hotel has an inward mentality,” he explains.  “They say, ‘Stay with us. We’re the best, the coolest, the cheapest, or the most luxurious.’  They’re all about themselves” but with Purpose Hotel, our message is “Stay with us because everything you touch, see, and experience is impacting people, non-profits, and causes all over the world.”  He follows that up with another important note, “Oh, and we’re also cool, relaxing, and creative, but it’s about others first.”

As if the concept of the Purpose Hotel is not challenging enough, Jeremy has chosen for the first one to be located in

Jeremy cowart taking photos kneeling by laptop

Courtesy Celebrity Photographer Jeremy Cowart

Nashville,TN where he lives with his wife raising their four children, and where he bases his photography business. He readily admits the hotel competition in Nashville will be fierce but believes his hotel’s purpose will make the difference.  “It’s overwhelming to say the least, but I just have to remember that we are so night and day different from everyone else.”

The most immediate challenge for the Purpose Hotel is getting buy-in so everyone has a shot at being involved in this dream.  Cowart kicked off a Kickstarter Campaign this week.  His main goal is to build and establish the hotel through the internet.  “Could you imagine that? The story of thousands of people building a hotel is far more interesting than a few investors.  We’re going that route (Kickstarter campaign) first, but we already have investors who are interested in getting involved. In the end, it doesn’t matter though.  We just want to see the dream become a reality.

Time will only tell if there’s a market for the Purpose Hotel but Jeremy Cowart holds out a lot of hope and belief in people and especially in millennials and the younger generation.

“It’s the future. If brands aren’t giving back in some kind of way, then young people just aren’t going to care about that brand. That’s where things are headed. We’re giving back in endless ways, so I think the market is strong.”

Cowart says while his parents are his greatest influence, his inspiration also comes from many people he admires who’ve helped shape his approach to life, service and humanitarianism.  People like Jason Russell and his work with “Invisible Children”, Scott Harrison and his “Charity: Water” and others like Don Miller, Jon Acuff, Kyle Chowning, Michael Hyatt, and Shannon Sedgwick Davis. “The list is long” he says.

The inspiration for the name of the Purpose Hotel was his own.  “It hit me in that light bulb moment four years ago, and it sums it up just right. The word “purpose” means “the reason something exists”.  The word “hospitality” means “to treat guests well.”

So the reason we exist is to treat each other well right? To love one another. I can’t think of a better name.”

Jeremy Cowart’s greatest dream is for Purpose Hotels to crop up all over the world, “helping and serving people all over the world, while educating people of all ages of needs around the world. All done in a beautiful, fun, creative, and refreshing way.”

Jeremy stops short of referring to himself as a “social entrepreneur” or an “entrepreneur.” What everyone else calls “entrepreneurism,” he calls chasing ideas, passion, and purpose and he emphasizes that it’s not only meaningful and fulfilling but also “really fun.”

Flying over the New York City skyline recently, put it all into perspective for him. “I looked at the sea of thousands and thousands of buildings, and I thought, “They all had to start somewhere, with someone. So why can’t I be one of those stories? What if that one building could truly have an impact around the world?”

*This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post. 

Check out Jeremy’s  “See University.” 

Read more about the Purpose Hotel Kickstarter Campaign

Learn more about Jeremy Cowart.

Read about Jeremy’s Voices of Reconciliation Project


To learn more about social entrepreneurship or social innovation check out the following resources:

Henry Buhl Library

Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Read the latest World Economic Forum Report on Social Innovation

Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator, a former K12 principal and teacher, and a former US Congressional staffer. He’s also an author and blogger, and has presented from Appalachia to Africa on topics related to education, disabilities, non-profit advocacy, parenting, access, policy, and leadership. He has a heart for people and for people who help people. In addition to the Huffington Post, Chester is a contributing writer for The Good Men Project and has been quoted in major media outlets like CNBC, Washington Post, Forbes and more. He’s also the author of Purple People Leader.

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Celebrate the Great Ideas: 5 Leadership Questions for Independence Day!

bald eagle flies with wings spread

Photo courtesy Malcolm McCutcheon, Anacortes, WA , July 4, 2016

There is no better day to talk about leadership than Independence Day!  Most of us who write or speak or create things, have an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong independent streak and desire to become fully independent and able to do what we love forever and full-time.  As a writer, I’ve always been drawn to the notion of freedoms—and being able to create, and do things with a level of independence.

No one was better at taking a great idea and making it extraordinary than our nation’s founders. They were true leaders who sacrificed, and dedicated their minds, souls, and lives for the very idea of this great nation. I’m thankful they were committed and determined to protect and preserve their great idea (America) with their collective wisdom resulting in our freedom, and liberty.

In honor of Independence Day and in honor of the Founders and Framers of our freedoms, here are five questions for leaders to consider:

What’s your big idea? Not all leaders are creators, or entrepreneurs, but effective leaders surround themselves chalk board reads whats your big ideawith innovators. And most leaders have big ideas about how to more efficiently and more effectively lead.  Consider your ideas, and the ideas of your team.  Are they big ideas? Could they be bigger? Are you encouraging new ideas? You should be!

What does your commitment look like in practice? Leaders are listeners, and they’re willing to change course when a good idea becomes a bad one. They’re also willing to fight for a good idea when they believe it has the potential to be great.

How determined are you to see to it that great ideas are put in motion and practice? Leaders are willing to go to the mat to ensure that good ideas (theirs or those of their team) become tangible products or practices. Nothing is more frustrating than having to watch good ideas languish, and effective leaders won’t allow that to happen.

Who’s responsible? Who’s responsible for protecting the big ideas, or the products or practices developed from those big ideas? Leaders that’s who.  If you believe in an idea, product or practice, by virtue and honor of being the leader you’re responsible for protecting and maintaining it.

Is your big idea growing or spreading?  Wise leaders find ways to improve even the greatest of ideas. And who could argue that great ideas should not be expanded or shared?

I hope you’re turning your good ideas into great ones and that ultimately your great ideas will make a difference in

the american flag and grinder house coffee sign

The  American Flag waves in the breeze outside my favorite coffee shop, GrinderHouse Coffee.

our world, just like our Founding Father’s did. Happy Independence Day!

All my best, all the time,


Who is Chester? An expert in leadership, Chester is also a leading influencer in social reputation, education, non-profit advocacy, parenting issues, access, policy, and blogging culture. Chester has been quoted in major media outlets such as CNBC, Yahoo, the Washington Post, Forbes Leadership, and others. He is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post The Good Men Project, and Edutopia. You can learn more about Chester and his Amazon #1 Best Seller at www.purplepeopleleaderbook.com or www.chestergoad.comHe and his wife live in Tennessee with their teenage son.

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