Most people come to this page to learn more about who I am, how I became me, and if I’m for real. Here’s what I stand for, what I’ve done in my life, and how all those things add up to John Poelstra.

Incidentally, I share many of these same things with Anthony Ongaro on his Break the Twitch podcast.

It seems that my whole life has been about discovery, searching, questioning and clarifying. It started with managing and completing financial statement audits as a CPA, led to testing software and managing software releases as project manager, and online marketing for a well-known enterprise open source cloud computing product.

Along the way I mentored and managed teams of people while questioning what I saw, seeking to make sense of the world around me. Some people saw it as skepticism. Eventually I saw it as one of my super powers to reach the essence of things.

Half way through my career I was disillusioned with the path I was on and started working with a coach. Through a personal values exploration process I landed on part of my mission that I live into every day:

I bring order to chaos and clarity to confusion

As I lived into bringing order and clarity to the chaos and confusion of my life and career I’ve learned, and deeply believe, that we can’t get something new or change a situation until we ARE different.

By that, I mean we must live into and BE what we want to have instead of KNOW more about it through the illusive, tempting path of knowledge acquisition.

I used to have strong goals around doubling down on my own discipline to learn and consume more wisdom. Over time I realized I had become an unsatisfied consumer. I wasn’t an owner of my life, I was just renting it.

When I left my corporate job to become a full-time coach I spent a week getting clear about what I believed about life and how it works for me. It’s still true. Here’s what I wrote:

  • I know the best things in my life increase with the intensity and depth of my commitment to them.
  • I know that what I say “yes” to is just as important as what I say “no” to.
  • I know each of us experiences life and learns in different ways. I also know we can learn from each other when we are not forced into a single way.
  • I know that when I only see two choices or none, there are more I’m not seeing.
  • I know that disappointment is an unavoidable part of life. I also know that I choose my response and the meaning I give those experiences.
  • I know life is more meaningful and satisfying when I completely own it:
    • It means I am responsible for everything.
    • It means I don’t live in a victim mindset.
    • It means I lead my life instead of manage it.
    • It means I don’t use my circumstances or other people as excuses when I fall short.
    • It means I decide what I believe.
  • I know that the only person who can truly change my circumstances or my life is me. I know sometimes I forget that and fall into a victim mindset. I bet you do too.
  • I know that more is possible when I let go of how things are “supposed to be” and embrace what IS and the future I desire.
  • I know that small steps equal big steps over time. I know that the easiest way to make progress is to start with the smallest step I can think of.
  • I know that progress comes when I show up to “do the work” on a consistent basis, even when I don’t feel like it.
  • I know the stories and facts I share are less important than my actions which demonstrate what I’m really about.
  • I know taking action is hard when I lack confidence or I’m not sure which direction to go. I bet you do you too.
  • I know the path to freedom means shaking off resistance and analysis paralysis by taking action.
  • I know it’s less about having the right formulation to start and more about doing something and learning through iteration.
  • I know I get off track and have unproductive days. I bet you do too.
  • I know the path to getting back on track and making progress towards what’s important is restarting.
  • I know I do better work and get out of my own way with the help of trusted advisors, coaches and mentors who speak into my life. I know that I’m the best judge of who those people should be. You are too.
  • I know that when I get to the end of my life, I want to proudly and confidently say that I:
    • Was a light to others.
    • Brought laughter and joy.
    • Provoked thoughtful introspection and discomfort which produced growth.
    • Changed the trajectory of people’s lives.
    • Was an agent of personal transformation.

These are many of my guiding principles. I know it’s possible to just read them as aspirational words on a page, but they are not that to me, they are the things that I know, believe and have experienced.

However, if you’ve found yourself nodding with what I’ve written so far and want to experience a pivotal exercise that changed the course of my life, I’d like to invite you to watch the video below.

It could be all you ever need.

Go to a quiet, private place. Turn off all notifications and possible distractions. Go to the bathroom first if you need to. Then set aside 20 minutes and watch the video. It’s fourteen minutes long, but I want you to use the extra six minutes to sit in stillness with a piece of paper and pen and write down what comes to you and what you are going to do after watching the video. (I just watched it again myself).


If you’d like to share what you wrote down, I’d love to hear it. Let me know at

More about my professional experience is on LinkedIn