- Many people consider Defy to be “second chance work.” We love second chances. But we’re more often in the business of creating legitimate first chances. Our gratitude for grace makes us lovers of redemption and underdogs.
Our passion originates from deep empathy for people who are affected by social inequality; those who endure unjust systems, and those who are permanently stigmatized for the mistakes they’ve already paid for.
Complaining about injustice and not taking action would be the easy way out. Instead, we take calculated steps every day to level the playing field. We bring justice by defying stereotypes and statistics, opening eyes, and fostering understanding, which leads to life-giving connections and opportunities.
- We exclusively partner with people who are committed to growth. These partnerships are marked by empathy, compassion, and strong personal ownership—not pity. We don’t give handouts. We invest when constituents are also willing to invest in their own growth. Investing and partnering means providing practical training, moral support, community, access to opportunities, and financial backing.
We consistently experience the transformational power of financial partnership: having skin in the game often results in greater ownership. Therefore, we aren’t shy about calling upon generous financial partnership from all Defy constituents—staff, volunteers, donors, and EITs alike.
- Love means we strive to act in the best interest of others, even when it’s inconvenient, annoying, expensive, or exhausting. We endure the hard stuff to break through to the amazing.
We break down emotional barriers, inspire healthy relationships, give affirmation, show gratitude, build mature trust, and develop a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence.
Some people separate “tough” and “love” into distinct roles, but we keep the two words merged and celebrate the outcome. We believe providing direct feedback is an important part of love, and withholding truth can be selfish and limiting. We work intentionally to create a safe environment in which thoughtful, constructive feedback can be offered and accepted in order to keep us moving forward.
- We exist to transform lives and to create meaningful legacies. We invest in building a better future—for our constituents and for our organization. We’re not into Band-Aid solutions. So we do the heavy lifting and sacrifice immediate gratification to get to long-term excellence. We build systems and business models that are repeatable, scalable, and sustainable.
We never aim to equip an individual to succeed, solely for his or her own sake. We provide platforms for parents, entrepreneurs, and leaders to influence their communities, with the intent of reversing entire generations of poverty, incarceration, violence, and drug abuse. We believe that every life transformed has a cascading impact on breaking these self-perpetuating cycles.
As much as we appreciate the gratification of strong metrics, part of transforming legacies is heartily investing in the immeasurable. Quantifiable metrics don’t paint the full picture of our bottom line. Relationship and character development matters even when we can’t adequately measure the impact. We observe that humans are typically hurt—and healed—in relationships, which motivates us to serve as connectors of unlikely demographics and builders of healing communities.
Our emphasis on holistic life transformation, for all our beneficiaries, binds us in positive community. We don’t just aim to impact EITs’ legacies; we intentionally provide legacy-building opportunities for our donors, volunteers, partners and staff as well.
- We bring justice from two angles. One is providing life-transforming training, opportunities, and community. The second (of equal importance to us) is correcting systemic injustice by building a social movement that opens eyes, hearts, doors, and wallets. We provoke inspiration by showcasing stereotype- and statistic-smashing success stories. Our EITs’ transformation leads audiences to examine their hearts and discover overlooked human potential.
But we’re never satisfied when all we do is inspire spectators; we like to inspire people to do something to bring justice, pledging their influence and resources.
We also challenge our own perceptions of what is possible. We paint ambitious visions that redefine our potential.
- We draw our inspiration for growth from our EITs, as they courageously expose their hearts and confront their fears, charging forth to build new legacies. We embrace vulnerability as a catalyst for growth. Those of us who support their journeys are on the same growth bandwagon—we aim for continuous transformation for all of our constituents.
Embedded in our pioneering growth mentality is constant innovation and calculated risk taking. We believe that perfection and excellence are often at odds. We’re seekers of sustained excellence. To us, excellence is an attitude; it allows and embraces failure and vulnerability on the ongoing quest for improvement. It allows for disappointment, and prioritizes progress over perfection.
Therefore, our shop is like a “justice lab.” When someone has a great idea, we test it. We’re big on rolling out minimum viable products. When ideas don’t work, we learn from the failure and adjust. Unconventional thinking and smart, speedy decisions allow us to produce the creative methods and platforms that serve our constituents so effectively.
Our hunger for growth doesn’t mean that we’re fearless. We naturally fear some changes – but we dance with the fear, and we faithfully move forward in spite of it. Courage is a muscle that grows strongest when exercised daily.
- When we make a commitment, we do our darnedest to keep it. We seek to partner with other dependable executors who are serious about keeping their word. When we screw up: see “Own mistakes.”
- We’re incredibly imperfect.
Owning our mistakes means having the inquiring minds, humility, and courage to unearth our shortcomings—before we’re caught or held accountable. We subject ourselves to rigorous analysis and self-reflection, even when the picture looks pretty on the surface.
We recognize that offering apologies can facilitate a healing and growth process. Meaningful apologies can involve the expression of regret, admission of wrongdoing, offering restitution, repentance, and asking forgiveness. Come forth with sincerity and humility, and let’s explore the solutions.
Being vulnerable and revealing our flaws cultivates integrity and builds trust, and allows us to bond in our humanity. We believe all things can be redeemed, and while failure is no fun, it’s an indispensable conduit to growth. Our mistakes don’t define us. Therefore, we choose to forgive ourselves and others, celebrate the lessons learned, and get back to work.
- Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We’re not just teachers of entrepreneurship—we embody the hustler spirit ourselves.
We started out lean and mean. Regardless of how big we’ll grow, scrappiness and an indomitable spirit are hardwired into our DNA. On our quest for excellence, we believe that being resource-constrained is not always a problem. It can squeeze out creativity.
We’re steadfast believers in good, old-fashioned persistence. We’re relentlessly driven to fulfill our mission each day. We celebrate groundbreaking results, creativity, efficiency, and initiative.
Although our work may look glamorous to onlookers, it is far from it. Failure is okay; quitting is not. We don’t easily take no for an answer. We’re resilient. Self-discipline and self-control get us to the other side of pain. Our grit is an attitude about seeking, striving, finding, and never giving up.
We take pride in our application of corporate best practices and operate as a solutions and results-oriented, fast-paced organization.