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The Origin of the Infusionsoft Dream Manager Program

by Brett Gilliland

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After much anticipation, Infusionsoft recently hired a Dream Manager. Continuing our series, the following post is from our former “Built to Last Champion” (now Strategic Adviser to the CEO) on how the idea came about and why Infusionsoft thought it was important to hire someone to help employees achieve their dreams.

In early 2011, one of our employees brought me a book entitled, The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly (thank you, Joey Novak!).  He said something like, “I had a friend recommend this book to me. I read it and think it goes really well with our culture at Infusionsoft.” He handed me a copy of the book and went on his way.

Book recommendations aren’t that unusual and seem to come at times when you already have several books that you are trying to read. I remember very clearly having a stack of books on my desk that I was wanting to read (some of which I still haven’t read!), but something drew me in to taking a closer look. Perhaps it was the title. Maybe it was the fable-style approach Kelly used to share the Dream Manager concepts (I’d much rather read a business fable a la Patrick Lencioni’s books than read a dry ‘textbook’ approach).

Whatever the reason for making time to check it out, it wasn’t too long before I found myself reading and not wanting to put the book down. After reading the book, I knew that Infusionsoft would one day have a Dream Manager.

But how would it happen? How would I get Infusionsoft to embrace the idea of investing in a Dream Manager? Easy. All I had to do was get Clate Mask, our CEO, to read the book. Thankfully, Clate is an avid reader and is constantly learning and pushing himself to know more and get better.

I remember really well the way I asked Clate to read the book. We were in one of our monthly meetings to discuss our culture. I slid the book across the table to him and asked him to read it. I told him I was excited to hear his thoughts about the book but didn’t tell him anything about it. I tried to make it very clear that it would be well worth his time to check it out. He agreed, set the book to one side and we continued our meeting.

A little later in the meeting, as we were talking I reached over, grabbed the book and slid it right back in front of him…giving him a not-so-subtle hint that I REALLY wanted to make sure he would read the book. He acknowledged my intent, smiled and placed it to the side again. When we were wrapping up our meeting, once more I took the book and slid it right in front of him without saying a word. He got the point and chuckled as he communicated to me that he understood that I really wanted him to read it. It was probably a couple of weeks later when I received an animated message from Clate. He had been traveling and had a chance to read The Dream Manager on an airplane. I think his exact words were, “We’re definitely going to have a Dream Manager at Infusionsoft!”

As I had hoped, Clate saw the very clear connection between the concepts shared in The Dream Manager and one of our core values at Infusionsoft — We believe in people and their dreams. Matthew Kelly did a really good job of making the case for why an organization would invest in a position dedicated to helping people articulate and pursue their dreams.

Over the next few months, many more copies of The Dream Manager circulated through the company and resulted in a growing buzz about and interest in having our own Dream Manager program. We launched a pilot program the middle of 2011, which ran through the beginning of 2012. I believe it was March 2012 when we officially posted the Dream Manager opening on our website.

Our first Dream Manager, Donavon Roberson, started two days ago (Oct. 1, 2012), about 18 months after I read The Dream Manager. Prior to early 2011, I never even imagined something like this living inside a company. It is a dream come true 18 months later and I can’t imagine a future without it.

Joey Novak left Infusionsoft fairly soon after he shared the book with me to pursue one of his dreams of starting his own business. All Infusionsoft employees from now on, including and perhaps especially Donavon, our new Dream Manager, will benefit from Joey’s book recommendation to me. And none of that would have mattered if we didn’t have a visionary, progressive leader in Clate Mask.

Image © Daniele Nicolucci via Compfight

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