How to Daydream Your Way to Success - Steve Satterwhite

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”


You may have heard me tell the story (or watched the YouTube video) about how we lost 60% of our company’s revenue in 90 days back in 2001.

And you may have found it amusing or inspiring when my wife later said, “Get your ass out of bed, get down there and save the company”. You can read more about this in the opening chapter of my book, Above the Line.

It’s true. We did lose the revenue and the company almost went down the tubes and became another one of those 80%-of-all-businesses-fail-in-the-first-five-years statistic. The good news, we landed on the 20% who make it side.

So, how did we recover? The answer may surprise you.

Daydreaming. Yes, we simply daydreamed our way to success.

You see, in the following months after our near-death-of-the-business experience, I started a ritual of going to this Starbucks first thing in the morning to collect my thoughts and plan my day.

The truth is that it was an escape of sorts. I wanted to put off going into the office as long as possible. When I was at Starbucks, I could be anonymous. No one bothered me. No one wanted anything from me.

And I could get lost in my own world without having to worry about anything or anyone. I could think. I could breathe.

But when I left Starbucks and headed across the street to my office, the constant struggle of keeping my company out of the ditch would begin the second I walked through the front door.

So, every morning, I would arrive at Starbucks by 8 a.m., order my cappuccino and dream about the future of my business.

I bought a notebook and started bringing that to Starbucks with me. Here, I would write down my thoughts and feelings, my questions and my inspirations.

It’s where I would daydream about the future—a new future for my company where we grow into a huge company, make huge profits and employ thousands of happy, inspired and fulfilled employees.

I would make up fake budgets where we made millions. I would create huge organizational charts showing the hundreds of people we employed. I drew up charts and graphs that showed all the financial indicators moving up and to the right at a very steep angle—a sure sign of success. I still have this notebook today.

But who was I kidding?

The problem was that it was all fiction. It was only a pipe dream. It was not based on any current reality. In fact, it couldn’t have been any further from the truth from where we were then, much less the crisis we had just come out of.

Years later, I came across those notebooks from that time in 2001. I sat down one day and flipped through them. And, to my amazement, we’ve achieved or surpassed most of those daydreams from way back when.

Monica Mehta’s article in Inc Magazine (Daydream Your Way to Success. Really.) makes the point that “day dreaming with your eyes open can hold the key to realizing the seemingly unachievable”.

Visualization, she says, is important because your mind can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Even Oprah has a free, web-based application for creating a vision board for your life, your dreams, and your inspirations. Hey, if it works for Oprah, maybe it’ll work for you too!

I have fond memories of those mornings at the coffee shop. They were invaluable to me. That time allowed me to think and dream and hope about a new future despite my current reality. It allowed me an oasis of freedom before the chaos of the day started.

It allowed me pretend I was thriving before I got to my office and continued surviving. It worked for me back then. Back when I needed a breath of inspiration to keep me going.

There’s a great quote attributed to Goethe that I love: “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”

Who knew that all it takes is a notebook, some coffee, and a little imagination.

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