4.7To the Loyal Members of the Ruckus Maker Nation:

This is the sixth consecutive annual letter to the Ruckus Maker community. I started the tradition in 2017 as a way to update the BLBS community and reflect on the year. This practice is common for publicly traded companies and although you don’t own shares of Better Leaders Better Schools, you do invest your time, attention, and financial resources here. 

Past letters are available here:

Thank you for making 2022 the BEST year yet. 

Vision Updates

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”


Vision is everything. We’re all on the path, but are we intentional about the destination?

I am now in year three of my latest 3-year vision. If you are interested, you can read my vision here.

Reading my three year vision in preparation for writing this letter, I came to realize:

  • it’s amazing how much I’ve set out to do has come true
  • the things still undone are either something I no longer care about (e.g. growing anything outside of the BLBS domain) or are a priority for this last year (e.g. grow the mastermind to 120 leaders)

The Mastermind

In 2021 we launched three new cohorts. In 2022, we launched two new mastermind cohorts.

The two new cohorts are special to me because:

  • There is a later evening option for Pacific Time participants (Great for the West Coast and leaders in Hawaii — Mahalo!).
  • And we opened a cohort that serves Africa / Europe / Middle East … AND it’s at a sane hour where leaders can participate on Monday evenings!

At BLBS we believe “When YOU get better … Everyone wins.”

Our JUST CAUSE is “to connect, grow, and mentor every school leader who wants to level up.”

In any organization the leader is the greatest opportunity and greatest challenge.

In order to scale how we serve school leaders, I needed to get out of the way. In July, I formally stepped away from leading the mastermind groups.

This decision was extremely difficult for me and also a very important one to make. The rationale was simple. If the mastermind concept was as transformative as I believe, then it would still work without me leading each group. If the mastermind was the “Danny Show” then the movement would end soon after I stepped down.

So far the concept has been proven to be solid. Our membership grew by 6% and we have big plans for future growth.

We also added two new coaches: Jesse Rodriguez and Joe Clausi who joined the amazing group of  Karine Veldhoen, Gene Park, and Paige Kinnaird.

The mastermind is arguably the BEST professional development available for school leaders. It is transforming how admin engage in PD around the world. We literally wrote the book on the model which we call the ABCs of Powerful Professional Development ®.

Which is another highlight …

The US Patent and Trademark Office approved our application to formally trademark how we do masterminds. The ABCs of Powerful Professional Development ® is our intellectual property.

As Solution Trees is the default answer to any PLC question …

Better Leaders Better Schools is the default answer for effective leadership development.

Simply put, nobody does it better.

Our secret is being intentional creating authentic spaces, where leaders belong and are challenged. When you combine these ingredients you get leadership growth as a the result.

Leaders interested in becoming even more effective in 2023 can apply to the mastermind here: https://betterleadersbetterschools.com/mastermind-application/

How Effective Is the Mastermind?

Mastermind members are surveyed at least twice a year to make sure we are delivering on our brand promises.

The data below represents 51% of our members taking the survey. The scores are an average out of five based on a likert scale. One represented “strongly disagree” and five represented “strongly agree.”

  • Brand Promise 1: The mastermind made me a better leader this quarter. 4.5 average
  • Brand Promise 2: The mastermind challenges me to consistently take action. 4.4 average
  • Brand Promise 3: I feel that I can “talk about what I need to talk about” without fear of consequence or judgement. 4.9 average
  • Brand Promise 4: I can rely on my mastermind peers if I need help. 4.8 average
  • Brand Promise 5: The mastermind is an essential part of how I grow myself as a leader. 4.7 average
  • How many stars (out of 5) would you rate your mastermind experience. 4.7 average

We also ask three open-ended questions on the survey. They are:

  1. What is one RESULT the mastermind helped you achieve in the past three months?
  2. What is one thing that would improve the mastermind?
  3. Anything else you want us to know …

For simplicity, I’ll share three answers to the first question only. My team has yet to meet and discuss the data for mastermind improvement and I’m not going to share that data until we have consensus on what we will take action on and what we need to ignore (for now).

What is one RESULT the mastermind helped you achieve the past three months?

  • Confidence and trust in myself! My Anavah ladies have instilled this in me the past year, but specifically the last few months. I am currently conducting check ins with my staff almost daily and these have allowed me to feel more connected to staff members and the mission of my school. –Monica Cozza, AP
  • I acted on a nudge to present at our state principals conference. It went very well! I am now writing a proposal with a mastermind member for a national conference presentation. –Stacey Green, Principal
  • I am more intentional about being inclusive regarding the person across from me when I have one on one conversations. The mastermind book study gave me (us) several weeks to talk out what this looks like from the book and each members previous experiences. –Kevin Thomas, Principal

The Podcasts

As of writing this letter (Dec 28, 2022), the BLBS podcast has been downloaded 1,914,747 times.

The School Leadership Series has been downloaded 777,553 times.

I can’t remember checking download numbers before writing this letter in 2022.

Checking downloads might be more for my ego than anything else at this point. So I stopped checking.

One of the questions I often think about is “Are we measuring what matters?

Too often, the answer is NO.

Now, the podcast is the main way (and most effective way), “we get the word out.” So if we measure anything, it should be answering the question: Are we shipping consistent, valuable content for Ruckus Makers?

As long as we do that, then we are good.

The only reason I would start measuring downloads again is if it was linked to a specific growth strategy we were executing (and probably aligned to mastermind or The Principal Success Path™ growth). If you are reading this letter and are a podcast growth expert, feel free to connect with me with a detailed plan on how you can help >>> ([email protected]).


BLBS continued to have three sponsors in 2022. 

We continue to get many sponsor pitches, but I am happy to continue with our long term relationships with the three sponsors we’ve had for years.

The Principal Success Path™

We facilitated two cohorts of The Principal Success Path™ in 2022.

Based on participant feedback we’ve settled on a 10-week experience focused on creating 10 projects that help you:

  • LEVEL UP your mindset so that you are an even more magnetic, impactful, and effective leader …
  • Learn how to use intentional design to create an even more welcoming and inclusive environment ….
  • Follow the “clues” left by remarkable leaders that you can use to create the school culture of your dreams!
  • Absorb and practice the foundational actions that Ruckus Makers take to consistently create results you’ll be proud of …

We also shifted the program to make it more aligned with the mastermind.

Alignment is my focus in 2023.

So what makes BLBS experiences special — specifically the mastermind?

How we show up in the moment — LIVE — is MAGIC … 

Because we inetegrate the ABCs of Powerful Professional Development ® into everything we do.

As a result, The Principal Success Path™ (our trainings and challenges) will now all be taught live (versus asynchronous video and written content).

We are experts in creating spaces for school leaders that are authentic, foster belonging, and therefore, challenge our leaders to grow.

And we’ve figured out how to do that in a tiny investment of time. The Principal Success Path™ only takes about 3 hours per week.

You can apply to this program here. We will run it twice in 2023. 

Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader

Mastermind … released in 2021 and was published by Corwin and AASA.

11-months later it became a best seller 🤩

This was a professional milestone for me and I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support of the Ruckus Maker Nation ❤️

The audiobook will release in 2023 because I negotiated the “rights” to the audio version from Corwin, which means I’m adding more content to make it an even better version of the book. 

If you haven’t yet purchased a copy of Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader, you can do so here. I autograph every copy purchased from my website.

If you are interested in reading my latest book as a leadership book study and would like to make a bulk order, contact me for a great discount. 

I have started writing my third book. The first draft is nearly complete.

This book will not be available for sale anywhere and will be available (for free) to leaders enrolled in The Mastermind or The Principal Success Path™.

Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader book cover


This area has really grown now that I’m back in the states and I had a variety of opportunities to serve coast to coast.

I also invented a new approach to speaking that crowds enjoy …

When I come to a district, I offer a “menu” of options.

Essentially, I overprepare and allow people in the crowd to tell me what would serve them and that’s what we do.

How might you “steal” this approach and apply it to professional development and staff meetings?

Live Event

In July 2022 I bought a home, so no live event.

I did host a mastermind dinner in Delaware, which was a mini live event and a wonderful time.

We are hosting a live event July 14-16, 2023 in Denver this summer. Only 27 tickets remain.

Snail Mail

In 2022, I sent out a montly “print” newsletter via snail mail.

This was a fun creative project. The goal was to add more value to the mastermind membership. Inside the newsletter is inspiring and practical content. I ususally included a tool Ruckus Makers can use immediately in their leadership practice and even with their staff. 

We also featured “case studies” of our members to celebrate their wins and growth. 

5-Day Challenges

I ran two free challenges in 2022. 

The “Back to School Bootcamp” focused on creating a robust 90-day entry plan. People LOVED this content, finding it super helpful and practical.

I also ran the “Maximize Your Margin Challenge,” which was actually 6-days. Here I taught leaders how to have more “free” time in their schedule and protect their calendars to focus on “high value” vs “low value” tasks. This challenge culminated with me teaching leaders how to eliminate their email. I didn’t think it was possible, but people LOVED this challenge even more.

For now, both challenges are available for free inside our private Facebook community. If you’re not already in the Ruckus Maker Nation FB group, join us here. Go to the “guides” section if you want to see the challenge content. At some point in 2023, I’ll take this content down.

I believe my “free” content is better than many people’s paid content in the school leadership space. And I’m right …

I get text messages and emails like that all the time.

Which is a leadership lesson — how can you overdeliver in everything you do as a leader?

In 2023, I’m thinking of turning the 90-Day Plan content and the Maximize Your Margin Challenge content into short, practical books (e.g. 100 pages or less. No fluff. Read in a 2-3 hours. Do what I teach and get a result).

I am constantly thinking about how to serve Ruckus Makers more broadly and this could be it, but I won’t pursue this option until my larger goals are systematized and somewhat on autopilot or running efficiently. 

Did I accomplish what I set out to do in 2022?

Here is what I said I’d like to accomplish in 2021 (and if I did):

  • Run the The Principal Success Path™ twice in 2022.  Goal = 80 leaders. We ran the program twice although we fell short of our 80 leader goal. 
  • Grow the school leader mastermind. Goal = 150 leaders. We grew the mastermind 6% to a total of 80 leaders.
  • Publish my third book. I wrote the first draft to my third book. 
  • Execute surprises for current mastermind members. My design team took longer than anticipated on this project. We will be able to ship a “surprise” box full of goodies in 2023. However, we did ship out a monthly “print” newsletter to all mastermind members.

What’s in store for 2023?

Thank you for being a Ruckus Maker and for your faithful support over the years.

At BLBS, we believe: When YOU get better … Everyone wins.

This guides everything we do and sustains all the hours we put in supporting school leaders.

2023 is positioned to be the best year yet.

If you don’t believe that, change your mind about 2023 right now.

It’s that simple.

Keep Making a Ruckus,

Daniel Bauer

Chief Ruckus Maker at Better Leaders Better Schools.

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