Do you have some character traits that are “sharp” and perhaps could use some rounded edges?

All people have traits that aren’t their best and drag them down. I find that business owners and CEOs have higher highs and lower lows than most. It’s what allowed you to be “dumb” enough to take the risk to start or run a company. It’s tough to do those things. So you have to be a little bit crazy. That’s challenging because your crazy creates your sharp edges, which affect more people because you are the leader.

Do you have an alter ego?

I do. He has a full head of hair that is all slick back. He wears a leather jacket, rides a motorcycle with black Doc Martens boots with 2-inch soles. (scroll down to see my beautiful picture if this helps you understand why this is an alter ego).

His name is Danny Badass.

Danny Badass is the guy I turn into at work and home when I’m the extra sharp version myself. He starts as a talk track in my head that sends me into a deep rabbit hole that robs me of time with others at work and at home.

He’s the one who will say what needs to be said (or shouldn’t be said), stands for justice, expects others to bend to his will, and is righteously pissed when others don’t see it.

Danny Badass is proud. He is right.  

He is so right that he is going to think about how right he is and come up with all the scenarios where he will get the opportunity to epically share those thoughts. It will be epic. Truly epic.

Then I come down off my peak or up out of the rabbit hole. I will have wasted a fantastic amount of time listening to my friend Danny.

Am I crazy?

Perhaps. I’m sure there is a psychological diagnosis for this dangerous self-talk that goes on inside my head.

I know I’m not alone.

Others have this challenge as well. I’ve met Tommy Temper, Johnny Jackass, and Ted the Farmer (don’t ask).

As leaders, it’s hard to turn off the company thinking, shucking/jiving, and general strategizing, problem-solving, nature that made you successful. When you let that run rampant, your ego and fears can run amuck.

“Cooper, your nuts.”

No I’m not! (isn’t that what all crazy people say?)

I’m better now that I know Danny. Here’s the game.


You must understand your triggers and whether high or low, what rabbit holes you like to get caught in. The noticing is important, even if it’s after the fact. Since this is an inside the brain thing, it’s up to you to notice it.

2. Name it

Make it easy to remember, and it needs to be an alter ego. Who doesn’t want an alter ego? C’mon, this is your show. Make it a good one.

If you name it, you can recognize when it’s happening. I named mine something stupid. Danny was my name when I was in grade school. Badass is the general theme to the thoughts that head me down the rabbit hole. I can only smile when I think of him.

3. Acknowledge

I can stop mid-thought and smile now and think. “Oh … you almost got me today Danny Badass. Good one, you were really going to solve all the worlds problems this hour, weren’t you?”

4. Move on

Then I reset. Can I solve every issue, challenge, or opportunity like this? No. Then I need to find an actionable next step or pivot to something else. Worrying, angst, anxiety, self-righteousness, anger, fear, are all mind killers that rob us of our best selves and joy.

I don’t always win. At times, I’ll let Danny stew on a situation. I find the sooner I end it, my day improves and I’m a better person, man, father, husband, leader.

I am not Danny Badass.

Dan Cooper
Post by Dan Cooper
July 26, 2019
Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free. Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.