18 Field-Tested Steps to Launching a Non-Violent Revolution for a Cause You Deeply Believe In

18 Field-Tested Steps to Launching a Non-Violent Revolution for a Cause You Deeply Believe In


“Give people something & someone to believe in. And even more… Create something to belong to.” – Jonathan Fields, Founder of RevolutionU

This post is possibly the most in-depth and actionable resource I’ve ever written – it’s a step-by-step case study and tear down of exactly how I built what’s become the Live Your Legend Revolution. It will take about 20 minutes to read, and is meant to provide a roadmap for making your own impact.

I can’t wait to see what you do with it!


What If You Could Start a Revolution around an Idea or Cause You Deeply Believed in?

Think about this for a minute or two.

What change could you make? How could you help the people around you? What could be possible if you had the support of thousands or even millions of people around the world all working toward the same cause?

It’s a crazy thing to think about.

And it’s something that’s occupied my thoughts for nearly the past two years straight.

Because if we could learn how to lead our own mini (or full-scale) revolutions, that’s when we begin to define what it means to live our legends.

And there’s no one who’s taught me more about movement and revolution dynamics than my good friend, mentor and diehard family man Jonathan Fields.

And that’s why he and I hosted a totally free online training last night all about building a revolution around your ‘crazy’ idea.

You see, for the last couple of years Jonathan has studied the world’s political revolutions (and revolutionaries). More specifically, he’s deeply studied the work of Gene Sharp, the 85-year-old, three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author of a dozen books, including From Dictatorship to Democracy.

Gene is the world’s leading expert on non-violent resistance, and his books and tools have been behind almost every political revolution and regime change in the past three decades. His tools are so effective that if you get caught with his book in Burma, you go to jail for seven years.

Gene’s work became Jonathan’s bible. And funny enough, I’ve studied his work as well – and even spent half a day in Gene’s office in East Boston earlier this year learning about revolutions. But my research barely scratched the surface compared to Jonathan’s.

Jonathan set out to answer one core question…

“Can the core ideals of political revolution be applied in a commercial context to both empower large numbers of people AND launch or grow a product, brand or company?”

Because Jonathan knew that if we could harness these types of revolution dynamics, we could tap into some pretty unbelievable possibilities. Or as he said in his presentation …

The power of a revolution

And even more importantly, you get to empower mass numbers of people to create their own new realities.

That’s where things get pretty damn interesting.

And after hundreds of hours of research, he got his answer … YES.

That’s why last night’s webinar was so much fun.

Jonathan exposed it all. And the cool thing was that since he’d taught so much of it to me as a friend and mentor over the past two years, Live Your Legend has followed almost every step of his framework almost to a T.

It’s crazy.

This process explains just about every revolution, from political to commercial. Apple and Patagonia follow it. And so does Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, TED & TEDx as well as our own revolution here at Live Your Legend.

It’s totally universal – making it ridiculously powerful.

So, as promised (and with Jonathan’s permission), I’m going to share his 18-step framework for building a revolution around your crazy idea.

And I’m going to tell you exactly how Live Your Legend has applied every step along the way.

You ready for this?

Here we go…

The 18-Step System: Tap Revolution Dynamics to Fuel Rapid Business Growth, Build an Army of Evangelists and Change the Damn World!

And how LYL applied each step to launch its own Revolution of over 50,000 Living Legends from every country in the world.

1. Who Is Your Revolution Serving?

This is the step almost everyone skips. They assume, “Since I’m the market, I already know who I’m serving.” That’s how a revolution fails before it even begins. Define the actual person you’re trying to serve – your revolutionary or avatar. Ideally, this is a real person with real problems. I remember Tim Ferriss saying he wrote The 4-Hour Workweek specifically for an investment banker friend of his who hated his job.

How LYL did it: Before launching LYL, I described three people that I was trying to serve. I named them, described what they looked like, what they did for fun, what their main frustrations were and on and on. One was Cindy, a high school teacher in her 30’s who loves to teach but hates her job because the bureaucracy is killing her creativity and potential. She was looking for a new way to apply her talents and passions to the world. Then I wrote and created everything for these three people.

2. Identify Shared Oppression or PAIN

What is driving your community crazy? How is it limiting their freedom and driving emotion? What is it keeping them from? And is it a pain that they currently feel or is it a deep down and now numbed pain due to so many years of discomfort? Some people become so complacent that they don’t even realize how much their toxic job is destroying their lives.

The fitness industry is a perfect example. 85% of adults don’t join gyms, yet 92% say exercise is critical. People want to exercise, but … the options are terrifying, boring, alienating, ineffective and inconvenient.

Enter CrossFit. It’s a radical take, applying community, shared suffering and refreshed thinking to fitness. As a result, it grew faster than almost any other movement in the modern world. There are now over 7,000 CrossFit gyms.

How LYL did it: Studies show that 80% of the working world doesn’t enjoy their work. Many of those people hate their job and it infects their whole life. People openly admit to this and desperately want to change. LYL aims to alleviate that pain.

3. Who Is  Your Dictator?

Yes, every revolution must have a dictator. For many of us, this won’t be an actual person. In the world of business, it’s usually a paradigm, institution, competitor trait or even an actual competitor. For CrossFit it’s the standard, boring, ineffective gym and society’s acceptance of a sedentary and processed food lifestyle. Apple’s is the status quo. And it’s not always about destroying a dictator. Gene Sharp calls it “disintegrating.” Build your revolution so that that the dictator no longer has any legs to stand on, and the dictator collapses.

How LYL did it: Our dictator is the scripted complacent life of quiet desperation. It’s society’s generic and deadly definition of superficial success: status and money. It’s doing work for work’s sake instead of finding the impact that makes you come alive.

4. Who is Your Leader?

You need a leader of some kind. It might be you or it might not be. And it doesn’t have to be the stereotypical leader that’s constantly going all Tony Robbins on stage. But there must be someone leading the charge who embodies your beliefs and revolution. The leader also must embrace humility, vulnerability, feel your shared pain, be truthful and lead with a desire to serve.

How LYL did it: I started out as the leader, back when we were a revolution of one. I had an idea and belief, and I did everything I could to share it with the world and get those who cared about it on board. But now we have well over 50,000 members of our revolution from every country in the world. We are all the leaders now – especially with our global meetup happening on January 7th. More on that below…

To the point of a leader not having to be out on stage prancing around all the time, I have lead the majority of the LYL Revolution from my desk in my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. That’s where I am right now.

5. Find or Create an Inciting Incident

You need some type of an incendiary device that ignites the cause. This could be naturally a occurring event such as new dieting research or a natural disaster. Or it could be engineered by you, such as the launch of a new experience, solution, product, brand or even a documentary or online video. The Occupy movement was born out of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a bank that the world thought could never fail. Ideally, find something that transforms the world’s belief of what’s possible.

How LYL did it: The Launch of Live Your Legend was our first catching fire point. I worked like crazy to write on blogs and sites all over the web to help spread our message during launch. I even brought in 57 Living Legends and world-changing entrepreneurs to be a part of the launch party. The launch of LYL proved that there is another way, and we were determined to provide it. Within two weeks of the launch, our community grew from 3,500 members to over 7,000.

6. Identify Your ‘Away From’ Rallying Cry

What are you rallying against or tearing down? Leverage the pain of your inciting incident. What gets your community riled up? What harnesses the desire to change? Share this issue and you’ll find that universal pain and suffering has an amazing way of uniting.

How LYL did it: I started with my own personal rallying cry. I worked for a big corporation that was sucking the life out of me, doing monkey work and wasting my life away. No one was benefiting from me being there – not me, not the company, not the world. This is a pain that so much of the world shares. Everything we do positions against complacency and monotony and towards impact and doing work that matters.

7. Identify Unifying Beliefs

Find a list of beliefs that binds you together. What are your core values? What creed defines your revolution and makes your community what it is? Draw a line in the stand. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Take a stand and be polarizing. The goal is for people to either say “Hell, yes!” or “Hell, no!”

How LYL did it: This started with The 17 Habits of People Who Change the World, which I published a week after launching Live Your Legend. That later became the 15 Rules of OUR Revolution. And now those beliefs have turned into our official Creed of Living Legends, which was actually created for free by a talented and dedicated member of our revolution…

The Creed of Living Legends

8. Identify Your ‘Toward’ Vision

What will you build to replace the old regime? Create a crystal clear vision of a new reality. Paint a monster dream of what could be possible. World-famous presentation coach Nancy Duarte calls this “The New Bliss.” This is also where you can integrate your commercial solution – your product or service. But you have to be very careful here. It cannot be forced. It must be organic, very relevant and specific to the pain your revolution is solving. Ideally, it is created, modeled and even demanded by the community.

How LYL is doing it: Our big, crazy dream is that one day that tragic statistic will be flipped on its head. Instead of 80% of people hating their jobs, we want to see 80% or more loving the work they do! What would the world look like if the great majority spent their time on work and projects that made them come alive? Think of the innovation and the way we’d treat each other. Things would start to change.

About 6 months after launching LYL, I published an Ask the Reader post where I asked all of you to answer the question: “What’s the biggest challenge or fear keeping me from doing work I love?” The post immediately exploded with responses. When an average post got a dozen or two comments, this one got hundreds. And they were full of pain and emotion. This was when I knew I had to create a deeper solution. This later became our flagship Live Off Your Passion Guided-Discovery course.

I only created it because thousands of you directly asked for it, and you told me specifically what you wanted it to include. So I built exactly that. Well, I guess you’d say we built it together.

9. Build Your Resonant Story

Frame up the reluctant hero scenario (think Luke and Star Wars). Find a therapeutic metaphor that takes your community on what Duarte calls “The Hero’s Journey.” They are the main character, not you. Move from what is to what could be and back and forth. There must be shared pain and ownership of the solution among the group. Make this story their story – OUR story.

How LYL is doing it: I try to weave the hero’s journey into every story I tell and article I write. I create everything on this site to help take you from what is to what could be – to help you live your own legend. Your are the main character. That’s why we do Reader Spotlights every few months and why so many of you have started to host your own meetups and gatherings around the world. This is OUR Revolution.

10. Craft Your Manifesto

This is where everything comes together: Away From + Unifying Beliefs + Toward + Resonant Story. The goal is to disintegrate the Dictator, to remove oppression, and in its place, build the new reality. Show and live what can actually be possible. This could be through any media – print, digital, video, audio, a documentary (like Food Matters or Stop Kony), or an event like World Domination Summit. The more senses, emotions and mediums you bring in, the better. And have a clear core purpose and slogan to go with it.

Give your revolutino a manifesto

How LYL is doing it: Everything came together when I took the TEDx stage at the de Young Museum in San Francisco and gave a talk on How to Find & Do Work You Love. My goal in giving that talk was for it to be the most powerful manifesto and rallying cry for our revolution that I was capable of giving. Our core slogan at LYL is “Do Something That Matters – both to you and to the world.” In the TEDx talk, our slogans were also “What is the work you can’t not do?” and “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it.”

My TEDx has turned out to be the single most powerful thing I’ve done in the history of my career, and certainly this revolution. The talk connected with the audience in a way I could have never dreamed. And as of this weekend, it had been viewed over 1,000,000 times and ranks #15 of over 35,000 TEDx talks. One guy on Facebook said he watched it at least 100 times, and three of those on the day he finally quit his soul-sucking job. This manifesto changed everything like I can’t describe…

11. Define the Path

Identify the behaviors and actions that will lead to the your desired dream or “new bliss.” Reverse engineer the steps toward that outcome. And determine the duration. Will it be transactional or sustained? Transactional means it will lead to a one-time action, such as sharing on social media or contributing to a campaign (Kickstarter is an amazing tool for the transactional revolution). Or do you see your revolution being a new part of the world forever?

Decide and build your plan accordingly. Then meet people where they are – online, in the real world and metaphorically. Develop various levels of programming and engagement so they can take baby steps to greater and greater commitment to the cause.

Take them on a path from Consume –> Connect –> Contribute –> Commit –> Lead. And always give them a chance to allow others to join the revolution and start their own path towards leadership. Community is a fundamental component. People need to feel they have a place where they belong.

How LYL is doing it: I made it clear that this is a sustained revolution – a new world that I see for the people willing to be intentional and commit to doing what matters. Community and connection has been at the foundation since the very beginning – with blog comments, Facebook groups, private forums, our Connect with Anyone course and our local in-person meetups.

We have a long step-by-step process of how people can engage and build commitment to the cause. Start by reading our mountains of free content, then subscribing to email updates, joining one of our free private communities, purchasing a course and most recently becoming a Live Your Legend LOCAL Host & Ambassador in their hometown, making them as much the leader as me or anyone else.

12. Deepen the Tribe Mentality

Continue to bring your community closer and closer together – online, and better yet, in the real world. Remind them there is nothing wrong with them, they are not alone. Either we succeed together or we fail on our own. Use symbols and language that inspire connection and action. Brands and revolutions use colors all the time. Apple did this when they launched their white headphones in a world where every headphone was black.

How LYL is doing it: After polling hundreds of our members, we named our movement here The Revolution and decided our members should be called Living Legends. We use consistent colors and branding in everything we do. And we even have the “Do Something That Matters” LYL Field T-Shirt. It’s our uniform, of sorts. 😉

13. Assemble Your Torchbearers

Find you deepest and most dedicated true believers. Share all of these steps and ask who will stand for the cause. Bring them into the fold and empower them to lead with knowledge, support, tools and access. If you do this right, often your torchbearers will appear out of the woodwork, without you even having to seek them out. That’s ideal.

How LYL is doing it: We provide all kinds of tools in our Passionate Work Toolkit and Live Event Field Kit to give our community all they need to be their own leader. All our courses have the option for deeper involvement. All of our paid team members have come from Living Legends reaching out, asking to help and doing such an amazing job that we decide to officially bring them on. In fact, I won’t hire someone any other way. It must start with a mutual dedication to the cause and revolution.

14. Identify Key Resources and Allies

What kinds of people, money, roles, social capital, key influencers and co-ownership will help put your revolution on steroids? Environment is everything. Don’t try to go at it alone.

How LYL is doing it: Surroundings, environment and connection is at the core of everything we do. Our core flagship course is called How to Connect With Anyone. It’s designed to surround yourself with the people who refuse to let you fail. I apply its principles to LYL every day. Why do you think I’d be doing a live training with a guy like Jonathan Fields? None of this would be possible without all of their guidance and support.

15. Swarm the Launch

This is where you take the world by storm. Hit every channel possible with your message. Constantly monitor and test to see what works best. Adjust accordingly. Tap channels that your followers already trust and use. Build ubiquitous messaging and action channels. Make it nearly impossible for people not to take some action to join the movement.

Choose your online home base: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Kickstarter. And much more importantly (especially for sustained revolution), leverage the power of small groups. Like Margaret Mead says, “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Make it unbelievably easy and fun for members to host their own in-person groups and meetups.

How LYL is doing it: This is the most exciting part. LYL is in the heart of #15 as I write this! We already have meetups that happen all over the world on a routine basis – from London to Sydney, and now we’re taking it to a totally different level.

On January 7th, we’re hosting our first same-day global meetup, where living legends will host LYL meetups in their hometowns all over the world. As of this morning we have 219 people who have signed our official Live Your Legend LOCAL Host Agreement & Pledge and have said “Hell, yes!” to hosting their own local meetup and inviting people in their community to join in the party.

So come January 7th, it’s looking like we’ll have over 200 meetups in 41 countries all happening at the same day. Think about how freakin’ crazy that is!

And we’re giving these hosts every tool and ounce of support from the LYL HQ as possible. I’ve even hired a developer to create a totally custom app so our whole community can find a meetup closest to them and provide a community (both online and in-person) for them to meet and connect with other passionate and inspiring people in their hometown. I have an excited feeling that LYL LOCAL is going to change things for all of us in a very big way. Get ready. 🙂 And thank you all for being a part of it!

Live Your Legend LOCAL Event Map

16. Find Your Mechanisms and Milestones

Create clear and intermediate milestones to work toward.

  • Build a transparent process to foster trust and action
  • Create mechanisms for progress checks and public accountability
  • Gamify behavior that benefits the cause
  • Adapt on the fly when dashboard shows failure

How LYL is doing it: We pride ourselves in being transparent on every level possible. All members get a chance to see what other members are doing, what’s working and what’s not through our various communities and tools. We’re constantly building LYL into a team dynamic so people want to continue to support and build upon it.

17. Design for Contagion

Leverage every tool to give it the best chance possible to catch on like wildfire. Use stories and social currency (people wanting to help others by introducing them to your tools). Make the connection deeply emotional and observable. Then get your ass out of the way!

How LYL is doing it: I’d like to think we build upon this one every day.

18. Create the Ultimate Tipping Point

Reach a point were the growth of the revolution becomes self-fulfilling and auto-renewing – like rolling a snowball down a long hill with fresh snow. You’ll know you’re hitting this point when you’re getting magnitudes more output than what you’re personally putting in. Decide your optimal combustion speed – raging inferno or slow burn?

But be sure you set up systems so you can keep the momentum while also maintaining the brand, message and core idea and values.

Then watch your revolution start to become unstoppable.

How LYL is doing it: Well, LYL has yet to fully see this. And while this revolution is far from having reached its capacity, lately I’ve felt the tipping point getting closer and closer, especially as January 7th starts to approach. I have no idea what this will turn into. But with all of us in the same corner, something tells me in will be pretty fun to see and experience as it unfolds…

This slide sums it up pretty well:

The benefits of non violent commercial revolution

Here are the two big ideas that change everything…

#1. Give People Something or Someone to Believe In

(Preferably Both)


#2. Create Something to BELONG To

Jonathan said it perfectly in his closing remarks last night:

“Our greatest opportunity for impact lies not just in connecting people to us and our ideas, but in creating a safe place where people can connect with and support each other in the quest to take the sustained action that leads to profound change.”

Our world is starved for connection, for community and for a group of people who also believe that the world could be different. That possibility is everywhere. That each one of us can make an impact.

If each of us doesn’t find a community that believes in the same change and possibility that we do, then that belief begins to die.

That is why our community and Revolution here exists. To not only show you what’s possible, but to provide the community and resources that make that possibility a near certainty.

That makes it all but a given that you’ll find and do the work that makes you come alive.

That you start using your life to do things that matter – not just to you but to everyone around you.

That’s why I believe our Revolution here is changing the world.

And that’s why I’m so grateful to Jonathan Fields and Gene Sharp for providing the framework to make it all possible.

Taking a Stand is all that Matters

I don’t care whether you use Jonathan and my tools or you do it totally on your own.

All I care about is that you make the decision to get behind an idea you deeply believe in, and create some real change – both for you and those around you. That’s what life’s for.

How you do it is totally up to you.

Our community is here to support you however we can.

So I guess there’s only one question left to ask…

What revolution will YOU lead?