Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

August 10, 2012

One Way To Guarantee That Your Life Makes a Difference.

We all want to know that we matter. That what we do makes an impact on the world around us.  That’s a driving force that we all too often ignore.

It impacts how you look for a job, try to grow your business, or look for a soul-mate. It’s a hidden motivation that directly impacts every decision you make.

You are wired to want to feel valued.  To know that you matter.

That your life makes a difference.

Do you really want to make a difference?

That was the challenge facing Wayne Elsey.

Wayne sat on the edge his couch in early 2004 watching the breaking news of a tsunami crashing into Indonesia. Destroying miles of land. Ripping homes off their foundations. Crushing town after town in a torrent of twisted metal and anything else that the raging water swept up in its path. Utter destruction.

What caught Wayne’s attention was footage of a single shoe drifting slowing along the shoreline. It made him sick to his stomach.

Wayne had spent almost his entire life in the shoe business. He started stocking shelves for a local shoe company in Northern Virgina when he was 15. He was working full time for them when he graduated from High School.

A few later at 22, he would become the youngest Vice President for Stride Rite. Leaving some time later to become CEO of a new shoe venture where he grew the show business 400%. Wayne knew the business of shoes.

As he sat on his couch with a sinking feeling in his stomach, he had the feeling that this time he had to do more than “cut a check” to someone else. He needed to get involved. To figure out a way to make a difference.

And so he started by doing what he had spent most of his life doing — moving shoes. This time he wasn’t selling them. He was going to donate them. And ask anyone he knew to donate them.

Wayne got to work with a passion. It was times like this that his years of selling shoes would be invaluable. Wayne called dozens of executives he had made friendships with over the years. He shared his idea. And asked for help.

Over 250,000 pairs of new shoes were given to people in Indonesia. People who had lost everything now had something of their own. A gift. Not just shoes. But hope. And what a difference hope made.

A year later, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the coast of Louisiana and Texas. And Wayne got back on the phone, asking the same people to do something bigger. To give more. This time Wayne sent over one million pairs of new shoes to people in need.

That’s when Wayne realized that this needed to be something bigger. So he started Soles4Souls. A nonprofit that puts shoes on feets and hope in hearts all over the world.

Almost eight years later, Wayne has given almost 12 million pairs of shoes to needy people. Sending shoes to almost 130 different countries around the world.  Every 7 seconds someone around the world in need is handed a pair of shoes from Soles4Souls.

Did he make a difference?

Wayne will tell you that “he’s just getting started”.  It’s hard to doubt him.

Giving made the difference.

Not making more money. Not closing more deals.  Not bigger homes.  Faster cars or longer vacations.

If you want to make a difference with your life then you need to rethink giving.

It’s not just a mantra for holidays or a nice sermon topic for religion.  It’s a way of life.

Looking for ways solve the pain in the lives around you.

It’s not all about you.

When you realize that, your life, your career, your relationship — they will all start making a difference.

That’s what you have been wanting any way.  Right?

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.