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A Brief Introduction to the Alternative Leadership Philosophy

how to

without followers

Dave Ursillo

Hi, Im Dave Ursillo

and Im really honored to borrow your attention for a few minutes.

Lead Without Followers (formerly, The Quiet Leader) is what I call an alternative leadership philosophy: a radical redefinition of what it means to be a leader. In a world that desperately needs a new generation of selfless, inspired and dedicated leaders, my new book Lead Without Followers (September 2011) empowers men and women in any and every walk of life to become genuine, effective and influential leadersevery day. This philosophy is the culmination of the last 3 years of my life. Its why I started blogging. Its why I quit a job I hated, abandoned a life of unhappiness and have dedicated every minute of every day to share this positive message with the world. But youll learn more about all of that as you read on :) This e-book is a brief introduction to the Lead Without Followers philosophy. I was inspired to hire the very talented Lisa Valuyskaya of IdeaStylist to design this e-book as a free gift for my blog readers, friends and fellow World Domination Summit attendees after nearly 100 positive comments, hundreds more ReTweets and Facebook Shares of this simple, informal blog postan imaginary speech I never gave. For your warm support over the years, thank you. Rest assured: This story is just beginning. :)

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave by Dave Ursillo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave


How do you tell a conference of 500 of some of the most talented and ambitious game-changers around thatin spite of their noble aims, world-shifting aspirations

kind of going about it wrong?

Well, at Chris Guillebeaus worLd domination summit (wds) in Portland, Oregon this past June, I didnt quite get the opportunity.
You see, a few months ago I was totally surprised to have been selected as a potential speaker at WDS. All 500 conference-goers voted on about a dozen attendee-led workshop proposals, including my own. What I submitted to Chris amazing team of volunteers was called, H ow to L e ad w i tHout F oLLo wer s . Well, I never got the opportunity to present the workshop, but simply being included in that list of potential presenters (some wildly successful authors, speakers, bloggers, businesspersons and entrepreneurs) was truly an incredible and humbling honor.

and even with their current successestheyre all

And yet, as I sat in the crowd in Portland this past weekas one of five-hundred facesI couldnt help but drift into vivid daydreams of what I would say, and how I would say it, as if I was on that stage after all.

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

After red-eyeing back to Boston from Portland early one morning, I wrote the speech as it flowed to the forefront of my mind; raw and hardly-formatted, authentic and in free form. Read it in your head as you would on stage, in a group, in front of a crowd or however you please.

Whatever you do, use your imagination.

The World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

Theres truly a special feeling among the room hereand I think you feel the same thing.
its not a pat-ourselves-on-the-back sort of thing. its an indefinable, indistinguishable, impossible-to-totally-describe sensation of what brought us all here. thats what is so special about coming together for an event like this. if its here at the World Domination Summit, or at a ballgame for your hometown team, or at a fashion show you and that crowd of complete strangers are brought together for something beyond your differences.

theres a sensation of unabashed unity, a common denominator among us, a shared foundation of support and learning that makes us each a complete equal to those sitting around you. you share a passion,

an interest, a hobby, an appreciation of, and upon that humble basis you are suddenly interwoven with hundreds and thousands of amazing and unique people, in a very special way.

...but what is it about WDS that feels so special to us here today?

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

in spite of the titles and taglines of all of the wonderful workshops and spectacular speeches this weekend in Portland, you know, I really dont think that special feeling we all feel has been about attracting a following or gaining popularity or achieving mega-noticeable goals.
what has united us is far less about writing and speaking, or tweeting and SEOing.

so, what is it that brought us here?

Well, theres location-independence, lifestyle design, entrepreneurship, authorship, blogging, social media and much more, but, even still, the World Domination Summit promises to one major encouragement one special take-away one thing, one reason why were all here: to lead.

Lead in your field, lead in your line of work, lead your life, lead among your communities, lead in your industry
Dave Ursillo
How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

Yes, every one of these speakers is here to intrigue you, to entice you, to encourage you and to absolutely implore and even demand you to lead. Think to the shared message each presenter has spoken, the true reason that drew us here and that we each feel cascading and flowing between us in this room:

take personal responsibility, take the initiative, take charge, take the time, take a chance, take advantage of the moment, take hold of all of the wonderful opportunities that lay before you.

that. is. leadership.

but we dont call it that.

what im here to ask you today is.................. why not?

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

Lead Without Followers

the message Im here to deliver is an alternative leadership philosophyreally, a mindset, a different perspective on leadership and what it means to be a leaderthat we arent used to hearing on the news, or discussing with people or simply thinking about in our own heads.

i call this alternative leadership philosophy, Lead Without Followers.

......what do you think when you hear that phrase? what sensation, emotions or thoughts spring forth from within you? if youre like me when I first thought of this little phrase do you think its backwards? nonsense? a complete contradiction? outright hypocritical? to be honest, I wouldnt blame you for saying right now,
you know, guy-whose-name-Ive-already-forgotten-because-I-justheard-your-name-for-the-first-time-and-really-dont-know-who-you-are youre on stage right now, in front of a massive PowerPoint slide that reads Lead Without Followers while you stand in front of an audience of 500 f$!*&ing people!

......fair point :)

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

Before we go any further, we should step back. I want to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about my story. after all, the reason were all here is to connect with one another as human beings, and to share our human stories. my name is Dave Ursillo (since youve all probably already forgotten) Im a 25-year-old writer from Rhode Island currently living in Boston, Massachusetts. And outside of simply calling myself a writer because writing is truly my deepest passion in life, I suppose I would also call myself a leader.

Although Im not quite sure why.

when I was young, still watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and pretending to be a superhero in my backyard, my parents would tell me that my teachers said I was a leader among my peers. I had no idea what that meant, and i also didnt care much (Did Mrs. Stanley mention that I scored 2 goals in recess yesterday?!). Im not sure if hearing this as a young kid planted proverbial seeds in my head, but as I grew up and got to the age of around 12, I began taking a strong interest in government and the ways politics worked. By 13 or 14, I felt like I could actually shoulder the responsibility of being a leader, and felt that I should take a huge leap of faith and run for class president, which would take effect the following year as a freshman in high school. And then, by the age of 15, September 11th, 2001 occurred.....................

and suddenly, being the best leader that I could be in a world that appeared to so desperately need it became the single biggest, solitary priority in my young life.

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

I naturally felt the draw of a leader, a calling to leadership,

but, who was I to lead?

From this point, my story goes a little like this:
4 consecutive years of elected student government (didnt really like it) co-captain of my league champion high school lacrosse team (wasnt good enough to do anything more with that) recipient of the Military Order of the World Wars Bronze Award as an Army ROTC cadet with the Bay State Battalion in college (i write about flowers, not exactly a typical military dude) contributing writer, sectional editor, and eventual editor-in-chief of the only official student newspaper at my Alma matter, the College of the Holy Cross, and acting as one of two student-liasons to the dean of students about on-campus affairs (i got named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit, which kinda sucked) meanwhile I worked and interned in 5 federal and state governmental offices over 6 years from 2003 to 2009, including, the White House Council on Environmental Quality in 2008 (and eventually interviewing for a position in the Office of the Staff Secretary in the West Wing but a Harvard grad stole that job from me) and as a body man to a popular gubernatorial candidate in 2009 (not body double or body guard or because of my incredible, hulk-like physique.. the job woulda more accurately been called, assistant bitch )

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

i found problems and had qualms with just about every one of these experiences, and was ultimately turned away from themor simply realized i was not passionate enough to invest my entire life into them as fully as i possibly could have.

and i began to wonder what was wrong with me.

why couldnt i seem to find any true fit for my deep-rooted passions for helping people, and serving others, and doing good, and making positive change in the world? why could i not find the right field of leadership that suited my talents and skills, as well as my passions and drives?

what was wrong with me?

one night, when i was still living in washington dc (shortly after my White House internship) and as the international economy truly imploded across the globethis was even before i was a body man a few months later in 2009i found myself battling a very odd and uncharacteristic bout of insomnia.

i was sitting in my really nice apartment in the nations capital, feeling very lonely, and lost, and helpless.

and i couldnt sleep.

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

so, as a true writer, i grabbed my journal. it was a cool night but i wanted to be outside so i wheeled my computer chair onto my little cement patio, bundled up a bit and wrote to the glow of the street lights below.

what was wrong with me?

i remember looking to the stars for answers, and hearing no response. i remember looking across the street and seeing dim flickers of televisions in dark apartments and wondering who was inside what they were doing with their lives what drove them what held them back.

i remember replaying the experiences i just described to you, over and over again in my head. all those fields of leadership. politics, government, journalism, military, athletics and i tried in that moment to find the missing link.. the hiding key what was evading me so well and spinning me into a confused and desperate state at 22 years of age. and then, i remember writing,

I know in my heart that I am a leader.

But who am I to lead?

you see, ingrained in my mind was a social paradigm, a cultural meme, something that dictated i was a follower, not a leader. that i needed to work my way up to be any sort of real leader. that i needed to play the game, invest my entire life proving something to someone for some set of reasons i didnt agree with, but were (apparently) unquestionably unchangeable, static, stagnant, permanent and forever.

and when i thought of that possibility, i felt dead inside.

I refused to invest 10, 20, 30, even 40 years of my life or longer to play the game, to kiss up to powerbrokers and shake hands with assholes who think theyre better than you just for wearing a nicer suitand all for the possible opportunity to maybe, just hopefully, some day far away have barely a chance to maybe express my deeply rooted love of others and my want to serve people and my need to share kind and positive and intrinsically good messages to inspire others to live better, right now, and to help others do the same.

but everywhere i had been looking, there were rules, regulations, confinements and constrictions that made you play the game.

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave


in a system that requires you to play games with real human beings, encourages to throw out your moral character and your values. who even knows if by the point where i could have possibly done some good by elevating my way through that system, reaching some place or position of genuine power and status and influence who knows if Id still be even a shred of my former self or if Id just be another corrupted, compromised player who cut corners and cheated himself out of who he truly was just to get ahead.

i read that line over and over again in my journal:

I know in my heart that I am a leader. But who am I to lead? and in a

moment that i will always remember, without knowing what i was thinking or why, i wrote,

Is it possible for one to lead, without having others follow?

and suddenly, everything that I thought I knew about leadership changed.

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave


what is leadership? and what does it really mean for someone to be a leader?
Your drive, your passions, your talents, your loves and wishes and dreams your ability to lead your life by good example, by your own choosing and in your own unique ways...... who says we need anyone elses permission to do that?

does anyone outside of your individual self give you power or permission to take charge, to assume personal responsibility, to take positive action, to fight the status quo, to overcome acts of evil and indifference, to inspire, to take up the torch and carry it on, and on, and on, in the darkest of nights?


No. the answer is simply, no.

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave


And so for what reason would you ever allow someone to say that youre not a leader because you dont have followers?

and command an audience of hundreds? or wear a fancy suit? or get called Senator or Congressperson? or make a 6-, 7-, or 8-figure salary per year? or drive an expensive car? dont these things what I call social qualifiers of success that we all innately and often subconsciously recognize as qualifying someone as successful and powerful and influential and, thus, an expert or pro or leader arent they the very things that corrupt people, that distract our attention, and cloud our judgement, and stain the purity of our souls?

why should we rely upon these things to tell us and the world at large who are leaders when we can lead by good and noble example more purely and freely and boldly without them??

Dave Ursillo How to Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave Dave UrsilloLead Without Followers: the WorldHow to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave


.although the name of this session is how to lead without followers the truth is that here today, im not going to deliver the how part, only the why.

now is simply the time to deliver the why.

because somehow, some way,

i think i want to leave it up to you
each and every one of you, in your own unique ways, in all of your walks

of life, with your own ambitions and longings and dreams to guide you

to determine the how for yourselves.

Dave Ursillo

How to Lead Without Followers: the World Domination Summit Talk I Never Gave

ebook design by

youve gotten a taste of the why...

now you need to learn the how!

The good news? The how is here!

In spite of its How-To title, this non-speech was meant to be a tease merely an introduction to some of the compelling and powerful ideas that constitute this revolutionary alternative leadership philosophy called, Lead Without Followers.

About Dave Ursillo

Alternative Leadership Writer, Blogger & Speaker

Dave Ursillo is a 25-year-old writer, speaker and life-explorer at The former politico insider abandoned his career path in public service amid an identity crisis and depression at age 23, instead opting to pursue his dream of becoming a career-long author and speaker. As the founder of the Lead Without Followers alternative leadership philosophy, Dave teaches people how to become leaders in any walk of life by nurturing quiet, profound senses of personal leadership. Ursillo can be read throughout the web and has been featured on local and national media outlets, recently including CBS Sunday Morning. For speaking engagement inquries and interview requests, email Dave now! on Facebook Dave on Twitter Subscribe to

Psssssssst......... Are you feeling inspired?

Do you feel an empassioned fire beginning to burn deep within you? Do you want to Lead Without Followers in your life and truly become a part of our revolution to restore the meaning of leadership to its truest, purest and most potent form in todays desperate world??

Welcome. And thank you...

Ive been hoping to find you.