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Trade Up

Dean Niewolny

There’s a big lie out there that is so easy to believe and buy into: Money and things will make you happy and fill the longing that gnaws at your soul.

Dean Niewolny believed it and set about getting everything he could and rising as high as possible. Before too long he had it all: houses, money, cars, toys, everything.

But one day, looking out the 40th floor of his office in downtown Chicago, it finally occurred to him what all of his smoldering discontent was really asking: “Is this all there is?”


There just had to be more, and Dean began a search for more, in whatever form that might take. This time it was not about things but about a mission, a legacy. It brought him to Bob Buford’s Halftime Institute where he found answers to what would be next for him. Today, he is using all of his gifts and talents every day as CEO of the Institute, helping others figure out how to leave their legacy and make a difference.

Trade Up: How to Move from Just Making Money to Making a Difference (Baker Books, July 2017) is his story. It leaves no stone unturned and offers practical advice to the ‘seeker’ who is trying to quiet the smoldering discontent in his or her own life.

The good news if you are seeking? You can do it. CEOs, business owners and execs do it. Dean Niewolny did it. You can move from just making money to making a difference.

“Most of us start our careers hoping to change the world,” Niewolny writes. “One day we wake up and our world is about security, admiration and personal happiness. Those early dreams are compost, and our lives are in a rut.”

Yet the end of career dreams can lead to new priorities, new possibilities. Trade Up packs stories of men and women from every age and life stage, varied careers, who find new meaning in their current work or new work with more meaning. Trade Up readers learn what those leaders learned: how to assess where they are now, know their own interests and hopes, make a plan, and move past success to fingerprint-specific significance.

Along the way, Niewolny gives the inside scoop on nonprofit work, on the common misconception that “I’ll have to embrace poverty and move to Africa,” about going it alone . . . and other roadblocks to real joy.

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