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How do you build the career and life you want—especially with chaos swirling around you, throwing out roadblocks at every turn?

Only when you understand that the world isn’t set up to optimize, can you begin the journey to uncover your best and lead your life with intention. Bottom line: life is the ultimate experience model. You don’t come with an operating manual that tells you how to be your best. You just have to figure it out to find the things that work. And the discovery is never done.

You have to stay engaged, curious and willing to admit you don’t know everything, so you can learn more to be your best. Dedicating yourself to the lifelong discipline of practice outlined in GROUNDED allows you to see what works and most importantly stay in tune with what grounds you at every turn of your journey.

The questions change as people move through their lives. In their twenties, people wonder where to begin. In their thirties, people wonder if they are headed in the right direction. In their forties, they may begin to wonder if this is all there is. And in their fifties and beyond, they wonder what should happen next chapter. This notion of being grounded isn’t about age, it’s about attitude.

Your life will have impact. Choices will be made. GROUNDED is dedicated to building the skill so you decide, not someone else. Your life is simply too important to leave it to chance. And if you choose to lead others, GROUNDED is dedicated to inspiring others to be their best because you have done the work to understand how to lead first yourself and now others.


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An Excerpt from “GROUNDED: Leading Your Life with Intention”

I’ve heard it said that to truly master anything you have to spend ten thousand hours practicing your craft—a tall order for sure, and that’s why many people fall short

Here’s the deal: skills are built through repetition, or practice. Think about something you learned. Whether it was riding a bike, mastering a school subject, excelling in a sport, or being an effective public speaker, all required practice. Sometimes you fell, or made a mistake. Welcome to the club. Other times you learned to push it further and go faster, showing yourself and others what is possible. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

This is how you develop the muscle to be intentional in your life every day. But learning to be intentional is unlike the skills you learned to ride a bike, where once you learned it, you were done. This muscle is built over a lifetime, because as the context of your life changes, you need to know how to unlearn, relearn, and learn again. Or in some cases, discover and learn it for the first time. Bottom line, you need to forever be a student of you in order to optimize both your quality and joy in life. Your focus needs to be on building the muscle and the process, not just the answers.

“And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling.”


Reviews for “GROUNDED”

“GROUNDED illustrates the power of being a great student of life. “In school, you are taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you are given a test that teaches you a lesson.” (Tom Bodett) Nancy showcases the results of life tests so that both present and future leaders can learn how to take the road less traveled in our personal and professional lives.”

– Ertugrul Tuzcu, Distinguished Service Professor, Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas, former Retail Executive

“Nancy knows the power of conversation and human connection to inspire others to be their best at any age. The readers of GROUNDED will learn to lead happier and more productive lives. Nancy’s self-deprecating style captures lessons learned in a way that benefits others and feels like she is sitting across the table from you. This is a MUST read for anyone who wants to live their life and make a difference.”

– Alice M. Richter, Corporate Board Director, Retired KPMG Partner

“Bold Leadership requires a clear sense of self and continually striving to be and do better. For those wanting a bolder, more intentional and purpose-filled path, Nancy has written a mentor’s guide to personal understanding and leadership. She speaks to you in the first person, using stories from work, family, friends, and school to pull you into the ideas. It’s as if she’s sitting across from you sharing and guiding. Reading her book is a very warm and encouraging place to be.”

– Chris LaVictoire Mahai, Managaing Partner, Aveus LLC Author of ROAR: Strengthening business performance through speed, predictability, flexibility and leverage.

“Too often we see self-betterment as a radical alteration not only of behavior but of character, a matter of becoming, in other words, a new person rather than a better version of our real selves. With illustrations drawn from professional and family life, from sales trips and snowmobile adventures, GROUNDED demonstrates that true success depends on a lifelong process of self-discover, of seeking and analyzing candid feedback, optimizing your core strengths, and bringing out the best in others. As an executive, Nancy M. Dahl has provided the collaborative, intentional leadership needed to enact transformational change; her book GROUNDED will be an inspiration whether you’re just starting out in a career or looking to sharpen your skills from a C-level office.”

– Nina Hale, advertising executive and agency founder

“By sharing her own personal stories, Nancy shows us how important the human connection is to successful leadership. GROUNDED teaches us how to learn to live and lead your life with intention. The process builds confidence you can do it even when you are in doubt. The lessons provide insights that help you know what REALLY matters in your life, confident in your ability to make it up and correct on the fly and focused on celebrating your forward movement at every turn.”

– Martha Pomerantz, Partner, Manager of Minneapolis Office, Evercore Wealth Management

“Grounded is a practical, no-nonsense approach to building the self-awareness essential to leadership excellence.”

– Mary Meehan, CEO Co-founder, Panoramix Global

“Grounded was life-giving. It was exactly the book I needed today. This handbook for intentional living provides clarity that cuts through the chaos of the modern world.
Readers can’t help but feel they have been gifted an opportunity to soar 10,000 feet above their lives and gain perspective on all that lies below.
Grounded encapsulates the wisdom and stories our generation so desparately needs and is searching for. This book could be considered the millennials’ guidebook to a fulfilling and successful life.
Our generation will thrive if we manage to live life as intentionally, fiercely and gracefully as Nancy has.”

– Kelsie Schmit, International MBA Graduate Student, IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain

“Grounded – Leading your Life with Intention is a great read and lays out how to live the life you desire rather than simply accepting what is handed to you. Nancy taught me many of the principles of leading a life with intention during the years I was under her leadership and they have made a meaningful difference in my life.”

-David A Deal, COO, Aspen Beverage Group

“Grounded captures Nancy’s broad executive experiences in an accessible way to facilitate application for you and your own career/life phases. Nancy supports your thinking and development process by breaking the process into manageable components. The reader gains insight that makes it possible to reframe your perspective and direction. Enjoy! It’s the beginning of an awesome journey called your life.”

– Grayce Belvedere-Young, Founder & CEO, Lily Pad Consulting

“Grounded is inspiring, authentic and practical! Nancy Dahl shares her wisdom in a real way that will allow you to gain momentum not only for your career growth but also for your personal growth as well.”

– Amy Langer, Co-Founder, SALO LLC

“Life lessons wrapped through storytelling is Nancy’s gift for everyone–from young professionals who are wanting to advance their career to seasoned executives considering their next chapter. Grounded is filled with wisdom that brings new insight and inspires the reader to be intentional about what they want out of life. After all, the impact of our life’s work is too important to leave to chance.”

– Jan Haeg, Director of Field Talent Development, Lifetouch

“GROUNDED enables powerful conversations to address real world issues in our personal and professional lives. The work of understanding yourself has never been more essential. You need to be fully GROUNDED to lead both yourself and others, or risk getting in your own way and stopping the very progress you are trying to lead.”

– Lori Larson, Learning Manager at a major financial services company

“Grounded provides a real-world perspective to leading your life starting with you. If you want to make the news in your life vs. just report it, GROUNDED is a must read.”

– Dan Mallin, Managing Partner/Founder Equals 3, LLC, Corporate Board Director

“Soar with Nancy on her snowmobile as you learn the steps you need to take control of your destiny in her book GROUNDED. In the contemporary digital economy, we can no longer count on a steady ascent up the career ladder. Most of us at one time or another will plunge into the unknown. Through GROUNDED connect with Nancy’s “raw courage and skill” as a guide to learn how to navigate to the next patch of solid ground.

– Stefanie Ann Lenway, Dean, Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

“I am encouraged by the growing number of school districts implementing personalized learning in their respective communities to reach every student. GROUNDED takes a similar approach to working professionals in any field who wish to take their careers to the next level and beyond. We don’t operate in a one size fits all world. Chapter by chapter, Nancy M. Dahl provides a turn-key approach to help the reader build his or her brand, professionally and personally.”

– Daniel Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators, Washington D.C.

“Lesson 11: If you are a ‘guardian of gridlock’, this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want to listen to your inner voice, think about ‘you’, and sort out your place in this big, big world of opportunity, read on. You’ll thoroughly enjoy Nancy’s thoughtful and thought-provoking approach in her book GROUNDED.”

– Jeff Prouty, Chairman and Founder, The Prouty Project

“Nancy M. Dahl’s energetic and optimistic book has ideas and advice that can serve us well throughout our personal and professional lives. Here are concepts that popped off the page for me: Mastery; Skill; Intentionality, curiosity, reflection, relationships; collaboration. You will hit the ground running after reading GROUNDED!”

– Sarah Caruso, President & CEO, Greater Twin Cities United Way

“Leading schools in the 21st century has never been as challenging as it is today, and navigating innovation and change in schools can be a lonely, difficult job. Nancy’s straightforward approach to self-discovery, self-awareness, and self-actualization is exactly what educational leaders need to be successful and to inspire others. Learning how to manage emotions, learning the value of the debrief, and learning that sometimes we need to go slow to go fast…Nancy will be your leadership coach, helping you be the best leader – and the best person – you can be. I can’t imagine how different my leadership journey would have been if I had never met Nancy. She truly walks the talk! GROUNDED is a mustread for all courageous educators ready to grow a culture of innovation in their school or district while inspiring others on their leadership journey and confronting the Guardians of No Progress!”

– Eric Schneider, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction at Minnetonka Public Schools

“Grounded is just that – a practical, no-nonsense guide to leadership.”

– David Hakensen, Senior Public Relations Executive at a global communications firm