Better. Smarter. Stronger.

Dawn Zerbs Bio Headshot (2)Intro from Alana:

Years ago, a friend and mentor of mine, Denise, told me that I simply had to meet Dawn Zerbs.  For whatever reason, it took us both a long time to finally connect.  Without even realizing who the other was or that we had gone to the same school, we ultimately met at a University of Chicago Booth School of Business alumni event in Kansas City and have been having regular interactions ever since.

Dawn is Principal of Dawn Celeste LLC, a strategy execution firm that helps leaders take organizations to the next level, faster. Dawn holds an MBA from the University of Chicago with emphasis in strategic management, organizational behavior, accounting and entrepreneurship. She developed The Strategy + Execution Process – The S+EP™ – and has used it successfully in a variety of business settings for over twenty years. Before launching Dawn Celeste LLC, Dawn held various in-house roles to build and grow legal, non-profit, and financial services organizations.

When not helping clients reach their full potential, Dawn enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Her passion for the arts is fulfilled through serving on the Board of Directors for the Band of Angels (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing musical instruments and education to children in financially insecure situations.

With that, I give you Dawn Zerbs…


May We All” by Florida Georgia Line.  Guest Post by Dawn Celeste Zerbs.

I hate to admit this because I take pride in being organized, but I work better under pressure. Knowing this, I waited until 3:12 p.m. on the day of Alana’s deadline to think of a song and write a few words about it. Smart? Not at all. Simply an example of procrastination. I only have 250-500 words so let’s get to the song.

I picked “May We All” by Florida Georgia Line (FGL). To get in the right frame of mind, I dug out my FGL t-shirt with these lyrics on the back of it and listened to the song.

I hope that you’ll take a moment to listen to this song. Even – and maybe especially if – you don’t think that you like country music. The lyrics and the message in this one might be strong enough to hop across many musical genres.

May we all…

  • Do a little bit better than the first time
  • Learn a little something from the worst time
  • Get a little stronger from the hurt time

How often do we take the time and the risk to go beyond the easy and the comfortable to build or nurture a relationship? How often are we “all in” and focused and wanting to listen, ask, and learn the other person’s story (versus waiting for the appropriate time to share our elevator pitch, opinion, story, or whatever)?

If you haven’t ever gone beyond the common in a relationship-building conversation it can be hard. And awkward. But it doesn’t have to be. First, shift your mindset. When you get to that curious place in your mind, learning about others will not be hard – or awkward – and it all starts with how we show up. Sometimes there are other things distracting you. Own it. I’ve rescheduled client conversations because I knew I wouldn’t show up in a way that matched my desired intentions. As you practice you’ll get better and better at shifting your focus to others. Maybe this song can give us some thought-provoking networking questions that are not the usual? What have you gotten better at in the last few months? What have you tried and failed at recently? Tell me the story.

This song is about taking risks. It’s about living fully. And the last line is my favorite…

“You learn to fly, and if you can’t then you just free fall.”

Isn’t this what keeps life full of energy? Always learning, adjusting, adapting, and sometimes making-it-up-as-we-go-along (free falling) along the way. Enjoy learning to fly – whatever that means for you – and don’t get too caught up in and don’t overthink the intermittent free falls.

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