Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
Serial Entrepreneur: Passion, Grit and Hard Work Are Not Enough for Entrepreneurial Success - s11 ep33

Serial Entrepreneur: Passion, Grit and Hard Work Are Not Enough for Entrepreneurial Success - s11 ep33

The Lonely Entrepreneur CEO Michael Dermer Says Success Requires a Portfolio of Specialized Skills

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Devin: What is your superpower?

Michael: Looking back, I think that it's making people go, “Oh, yeah.”

Michael Dermer, CEO and founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur, built the company with a somewhat surprising–and yet perhaps obvious–premise. Passion, grit, hard work and a good idea are not enough for entrepreneurial success. Just as medicine, law and plumbing all require training and practice to achieve excellence, so does growing and leading a business.

The Great Recession of provided a testing ground for him at his first startup, Incent One. The company was about a decade old and was thriving when the financial crisis abruptly dried up much of the company’s revenue.

Scrambling, he and his team rebuilt what was lost and, in 2013, achieved a successful exit.

He launched The Lonely Entrepreneur after learning to appreciate how isolated founders often feel. He mentioned the idea to a friend in 2015, who then walked right into a Starbucks and yelled, “Who here is a lonely entrepreneur?” Everyone, he says, raised their hands. 

“Being an entrepreneur is a series of learning a whole bunch of skills that you need; the more of these skills you develop, the better at it you'll be,” Michael says.

Photo by Teddy Telles

Recognizing the sense of isolation and the need for skill-building, at The Lonely Entrepreneur, he’s scaled a business with critical educational resources, coaching and networking for entrepreneurs. 

Over his career, he’s developed a superpower or ability to help others experience an aha moment when he helps them see something vital that they’ve missed.

AI Episode Summary

  • Michael Dermer is the CEO and founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur, a platform that helps entrepreneurs succeed.

  • He started his career as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer before starting a company that rewarded people for being healthy.

  • The company faced challenges during the 2008 financial crisis but was eventually acquired.

  • The Lonely Entrepreneur was created to provide entrepreneurs with the resources and support they need to succeed.

  • The platform offers a subscription model for individuals and also partners with corporations and organizations to provide it for free to entrepreneurs.

  • The first lesson Michael shares is the importance of continuously learning and acquiring the necessary skills to succeed as an entrepreneur.

  • He emphasizes the significance of finding a unique and untapped market, or "playground," to differentiate from competitors.

  • Michael discusses how his superpower is recognizing existing movements or energy and turning them into something impactful.

  • He shares an example of overcoming challenges by getting people to buy into a bigger vision or goal.

  • Michael advises others to find their playground, understand the components of a successful business, and work hard to drive success.


How to Develop Illumination of the Unseen As a Superpower

Michael shares the story of guiding Incent One through the Great Recession, highlighting a parallel to home buyers who love the home they have a contract to buy, most often proceed to close after receiving an inspection report that identifies all its flaws:

In the middle of 2008, Devin, you know, some of the story. We literally got built up to 600-700 employees and almost got destroyed overnight. It wasn't like you just woke up the next day and said, everything's going to be fine. We went from being on top of the world to worrying about surviving

What really carried the day was the fact we said, listen, we understand what's going on in the world. We also understand that if we move the needle 1 percent, it's a $100 billion of savings for just the US alone. 

So, the fact that the business is going through some tough times because of what's going on in the world when you get people to buy into buying the house in a genuine and authentic way–when you get people to do that, solutions tend to present themselves. 

People run through walls, and it also gives you your North Star that doesn't really ever waver, which, as you know, when you go through challenges, that sometimes can be more important than anything.

His ability to communicate essential ideas in powerful ways helped get get Incent One back on track–and to build The Lonely Entrepreneur.

By following Michael’s example, you can improve your own ability to illuminate the unseen. With practice, you could make helping others have those aha moments a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.

Guest Profile

Michael Dermer (he/him):

CEO and Founder, TLE Foundation

About TLE Foundation: The Lonely Entrepreneur was born from Michael’s harrowing experience in the 2008 financial crisis. Michael watched the business he built for 10 years to over 500 employees – the first company in the US to reward for healthy behavior – nearly get destroyed in 10 days by the financial crisis of 2008. He not only survived but went on to sell his company and become an industry pioneer. Now, Michael and The Lonely Entrepreneur team are committed to helping 1 million entrepreneurs worldwide learn from his experience and turn their passion into success.


Twitter Handle: @thelonelye

Company Facebook Page:

Other URL:

Biographical Information: Michael Dermer is an entrepreneur authority, lawyer, speaker and author of The Lonely Entrepreneur®. Michael did not just found a company – he invented an industry – the industry to reward people for being healthy. His wild journey through that adventure is what led to the creation of The Lonely Entrepreneur and its mission to help entrepreneurs turn their passion into success.
The Lonely Entrepreneur was born from Michael's harrowing experience of living through the "perfect storm" – watching the company he built from scratch to over 500 people over 10 years – the first to reward people for being healthy – nearly get destroyed overnight by the 2008 financial crisis. Not only did they survive, they sold the company to a health innovator and today are considered the pioneer of the health rewards industry. No one knows more about the journey from struggle to success than Michael.
Today, Michael leads The Lonely Entrepreneur through both its for-profit and non-profit 501c3 organizations to serve the mission to help entrepreneurs turn their passion into success.

Twitter Handle: @michaelgdermer

Personal Facebook Profile:


Instagram Handle: @the_lonely_entrepreneur

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Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.