Hope Is Not a Strategy, but It Is the Essential First Step

Blog written by Brad Pedersen, Co-founder and Chairman at Lomi & Pela

In my past life as a toymaker, I have many memories of working with some of the most iconic and prolific entertainment brands in the world, including Disney, Universal and Warner Brothers.

We worked with these partners under licensing agreements with the mutual goal of growing great brands, leveraging robust advertising budgets, engaging with top-shelf agencies, and selling through world-class retailers. While the experience was awesome, I also have less-than-fond memories of having to review poor business results with the senior executives of these key stakeholders.

We intended for the product launches to be successful and set out strategies based on what we believed to be solid, innovative, data-informed, and growth-oriented plans. When it became clear that we had fallen short of expectations, our response needed to be equally thoughtful, taking into account the learnings and then applying the necessary course corrections.

The Transformative Power of Hope in Leadership

At no point in a monthly results review would anyone on our team have been caught dead saying one of the following:

  • “well, it didn’t go as we hoped.”
  • “sales are down, but we’re hoping for the best.”
  • “It’s been a bad month, but hopefully next month will be better.”

If we had made one of these statements, the response would have been: “Hope is not a strategy! Come back when you have something clear and tangible!”

Why Fear Hinders Progress in Business

But it is the precursor required for setting your strategy.

What do I mean?

Hope may not be an effective strategy but it is an incredibly powerful motivator. And it is a much-preferred option to its arch-rival; the ominously effective (but ultimately destructive) motivator of fear.

The power of hope

Defining Hope: A Tool for Visionary Thinking in Entrepreneurship

Fear is a natural response when we face uncertainty in our lives; however, it is not optimal. It creates a scarcity mentality that drives reactionary decisions that rarely serve our long-term well-being.

Said another way, approaching the challenges and opportunities of our daily life with a starting point of hope instead of fear will make all the difference in our outcomes.

This is not about positive thinking but a choice to approach every day, every opportunity, and every setback, in which we can choose a response fueled by hope.

Integrating Hope into Business Strategies for Success

Last year, I released StartUp Santa, a book that chronicles many of my adventures in the toy business, which ultimately transitioned to clean tech. In Chapter 5, I discuss the idea and the importance of hope, using Etch-a-Sketch as a reference point. I propose that the real magic of Etch-a-Sketch is that no matter the mess we have created in the past, there is always hope inspired by the opportunity to start again. For the sake of this conversation, let’s use this working definition of hope: Imagining a better future that instills the belief that we can, in turn, create it.

Everything in our lives is created twice: first in our minds and then through consistent effort manifested into reality. It all starts with engaging our imagination for creating a better future.

Hope cannot exist in the past; that is regret. Hope cannot exist in the present; that is experience. Hope is only something that can be built into the future, as we use this lens of abundance to project through our minds’ eyes the life we wish to create.

Hope enters every interaction with a conviction that something good can come from the event, conversation, or meeting.

The Negative Impact of Fear on Business Decisions

Fear enters every interaction with suspicion (what are they really about?), insecurity (I’m not good enough) or doubt (this will likely not go well).

Hope responds to setbacks with resiliency, knowing that challenges are part of the journey and failing doesn’t mean “I’m a failure.”

Seeing a future that is worse, is what produces the anxiety that fuels a scarcity belief system that leads to poor decisions or stalling us through indecision.

Conquering Fear: Steps to Foster Hope in Your Professional Life

Hope is a willingness to see a better future but on its own is not enough. That is why hope is the precursor to the strategy. If we hope but lack the drive to act, then we are merely creating a future that is a fantasy. Hope must be followed by courage, which is a willingness to take action despite uncertainty. The courage to act is the only way to see our hopes manifest into reality as we start to do the work to lay the building blocks that create the better future we imagined.

Fear over-values what you presently have in your hands and undervalues what you’ll gain by investing it.

Hope is a willingness to pass on the immediate good opportunity to wait and endure to build the great idea that you believe you were destined to reveal.

Fear can impulsively say yes because it believes that opportunities are scarce and time is running out.


Hope knows that your story is part of a much bigger story that is being Divinely interwoven with the lives of others. Therefore, nothing we apply our agency towards is meaningless, lost or wasted.

Fear has a short-term, here-and-now mindset, triggering our reptilian instincts that are designed to protect you from physical, mental, and emotional harm.

To be sure, fear is an excellent source of fuel. It can keep you working hard, working late, and plunging headlong into what’s next. But over the long-term fear will end up using you as fuel. It will stress your relationships, your body, your spirit, and your mind. It will make you leap when you should stay still. It will hold you back when you should go all in. It will isolate you from the people you need most.

Ask yourself, in what ways and in what areas of my life am I motivated by fear:

  • Fear of rejection.
  • Fear of not having enough.
  • Fear of being irrelevant.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Fear of missing out.
  • Fear of __________.

None of us are immune to this. And it’s impossible to rid ourselves completely of it.

Fear over Hope
Brighter Future with Hope vs Fear
But Naming our fears is the beginning of neutralizing them.

And uprooting the weeds of fear makes space for hope to be planted in its place. So, as you consider your life and the challenges and setbacks you have faced, it is important to understand the important role that hope plays. On its own, it is not enough as imagining a better future will not create it. You still need the courage to activate and put your hopes into motion. However, casting a vision and the resulting hope that doing so conjures up is an essential ingredient for any founder when starting and scaling a venture.

Learn More from Brad Pederson at the Canadian Digital Marketing Summit

This article was written by Brad Pedersen, Co-founder and Chairman at Lomi & Pela. Ester is also a distinguished speaker at our Candian Digital Marketing Summit (CDMS). If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to extend your learning with Brad Pederson at the CDM Summit on May 23rd at Kelowna’s University of British Columbia. Brad will join us for a compelling fireside chat where he will discuss “The Psychology of Sustainability in Business.” Here, we will take a deep dive into how sustainable practices can be psychologically integrated into business strategies for long-term success. Buy your tickets now.

Brad Pedersen