Why Exiting My Company Has Been So Damn SCARY!

I used to tell myself the story when I was in my 20’s that I was going to build my company to $10M in revenue and then sell my first company by the age of 30. I was then going to take a year off and travel around the world with my newfound wealth and freedom. I planned on taking a year off and living out of a backpack with my wife and going to far-off places, eating exotic food, meeting interesting people, and savoring the fruits of life. 

When I got back from this amazing trip, I planned to follow my passions and do whatever I wanted to do with the rest of my life since money would no longer be an issue, the choices would be mine. Maybe I would go and become an actor (my childhood heroes were Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and many others on SNL), maybe I would start my standup comedy career since I could say whatever I wanted now. Maybe I would get tattooed (this is long before getting full sleeve tattoos were as accepted as they are now…. FYI, I still have ZERO tattoos)…I was not completely sure, but I did know that I would follow my BIG dreams. 

How many of you have had a similar story you have told yourself? I have come to realize that this is a LIE.  

At 30, the opposite was true in my life. My almost 10M company imploded when I was 29 years old. I did not sell my company. I was on year 2 of a 5-year entrepreneurial purgatory sentence, and I did not have financial freedom. We shut the company down in January of 2010. This is a pretty common story for most business owners. There is a 67% chance your company will not survive past 10 years and nearly an 80% chance it will not live past 20 years. I was just a statistic and didn’t know it at the time:

Fast forward to 12 years later, at the age of 42 and I did reach that goal. I successfully built and exited my company, The Money Source in July 2020. I had time, resources, and energy to do whatever I wanted. In fact, I had left my company about 8 months before my exit in November of 2019 and had decided in February of 2019 that I was going to travel with my family for the summer of 2020 all over South America, then settle in Barcelona Spain from September 2020 until June 2021, then travel for all of summer 2021 in Europe and Northern Africa with my wife and boys. It was going to be the trip of a lifetime I had planned to take in 2008 that never happened. 

My goal was to have some time to myself to chart out the next chapter of my life post-exit. 

As luck would have it, Covid-19 came to be and this dream of living abroad and traveling the world died in March of 2020. 

There is a quote by John Lennon that best exemplifies both stories:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon.

It’s not to say we should not make plans, build bucket lists, or have goals, but getting married to these outcomes seems to be a fool’s errand. 

I grew up with a mother who has her master’s degree in social work from USC (Go Trojans), so, therapy was always promoted in our family, given my mother was/is a trained therapist. 

After leaving my position as CEO of The Money Source in November 2019, nearly 2 years ago, I decided that seeing a therapist could do me some good. I am a huge fan of therapy. It gives me an opportunity to wrestle with myself in ways that are hard to do with other self-improvement modalities. 

“Be careful what you wish for, lest it comes true!” ~ Aesop’s Fables

I was speaking to my therapist yesterday about how it feels to be on this journey since exiting my company. On one hand, I got what I wished for. I built a big company and then successfully exited. I then had the harsh reality of having to make the choice of what to do next. This may sound like a great problem to have, but it has been SCARY. 

Think about it… close your eyes… and consider that you have spent 100% of your adult life working for and doing 1 thing, having 1 goal. The goal is to be able to live out these other fantasies once you exit your company. Then all of the sudden you have the time, resources, and energy to go in a different direction…. BUT Wait…. You forgot about 1 thing…. whatever you choose to do, you are likely starting from ground zero. That was a big miss for me. I forgot what it was like when I was brand new to mortgage. When I closed my first deal with a client. When I knew nothing and floundered to find my feet. When I was clueless about how the industry worked. My lack of knowledge and experience was overbalanced with raging enthusiasm, and the excitement and newness to being an entrepreneur, plus I was 22 years old. 

Things were different this time around. I was not new. I was war-torn. I had seen a lot over the last 20 years. And my enthusiasm was different. I did not have my 22-year-old energy. 

Well, reality has a funny way of reminding us quickly. I decided I wanted to work on the things I was passionate about. My book, The Core Value Equation, and my podcast The Greatness Machine were two pet projects that soon engulfed my life. 

I went all-in on my podcast and book launch and spent close to 1500 hours in 2020 launching these two endeavors. Were they runaway successes…NO…. were they successful by a normal person’s standard…absolutely! Unfortunately, the reality was misaligned with expectations on these projects. Although I enjoyed working on the projects, they are still a big work in progress.

After the launch of my book on September 15th, 2020, and online promotions in collaboration with friends from The Marketing Heaven, I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands, and really nothing to do… again be careful what you wish for. 

Fast forward to October of last year. I was approached by a friend Kevin Daum, about helping one of his clients who was growing rapidly and needed some CEO coaching and Scale coaching. Kevin had worked with me at TMS and knew that I was the Scale Brain when it came to growing the company from 30 to 1000 employees in just 36 months. 

My initial response was “Hell No!” I wasn’t looking to be a coach. But I begrudgingly agreed and took a chance. I ended up having a call with a small company out of Baltimore MD. They had about 40 employees and were growing rapidly in the mortgage lending space. For whatever reason, that conversation was one of those divine intervention moments. Number 1, I really liked the CEO I spoke to. Number 2, and most importantly, I remembered when I was him. I remembered when I was running my first company Twin Capital, and I had 50 employees, and the place was growing like crazy and it was HARD. But I didn’t have a Darius to help me. Long story short, I felt the calling to help. 

Well, CAZLE Mortgage, became my first CEO coaching client in October 2020. Word got out that I was doing this work and 1 client quickly turned into 10 Companies, all of which had an average revenue of close to $100M. It was effortless, the biggest problem that I had was getting organized quickly enough and getting everything out of my head and into the hands of these 10 eager CEOs and their teams. This was the birth of The Scale M.A.P. Method.

I am still working with a dozen different 1 on 1 clients, and frankly, I love the work that I am doing with them. It is challenging, engaging, and I get to work with some amazing companies and leaders. The biggest issue, I found was that my SCALE Brain and my calling was to do more. This is what has led me to my newest project of The Scale M.A.P. Method Bootcamp.

I see this as an opportunity for me to take my learnings from 20 years of getting kicked in the teeth growing my companies and helping the next generation of high-growth entrepreneurs in much larger numbers. 

I am on a MISSION to help 1,000,000 entrepreneurs create massive value in the world by 2030 and the Bootcamp is my first step in helping Entrepreneurs at scale. 

The premise of the Bootcamp is to get 6 months of work done in 3 days. So, if you want to learn more, click the link and you can schedule an evaluation call with my team to see if we are a good fit to work together. 

Thanks for taking the time today to learn more about my life and my story and remember to stop and smell the roses on your journey. I am slowly learning to get better at this part. 

With Gratitude,

D

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