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Casanova Brooks of DreamNation: “This isn’t so bad after all”

The way to develop good habits is to find small wins that make you feel good. When we find those small wins that don’t take a lot of our energy or effort, we tell ourselves “this isn’t so bad after all.” From there we keep chasing those small wins and that slowly grows into the […]

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The way to develop good habits is to find small wins that make you feel good. When we find those small wins that don’t take a lot of our energy or effort, we tell ourselves “this isn’t so bad after all.” From there we keep chasing those small wins and that slowly grows into the momentum of larger wins.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewingCasanova Brooks.

Casanova Brooks is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, professional dream activator, and founder of DreamNation. No stranger to hardships and adversity, his battles in many stages of his life have helped Casanova to develop a bulletproof mindset and learn how to create frameworks to overcome those challenges and ultimately, to thrive and succeed in life and business. He is the host of the DreamNation podcast, sharing how to build financial and personal freedom and a limitless life by your own design.

Though considered a millennial, through his infectious energy and mesmerizing blend of inspiration, motivation, and success principles, Casanova has become a beacon of hope for others of all ages with a purpose to create radical change in their lives by focusing on the power of mindset and building meaningful relationships to strengthen personal brands and credibility to impact success in anyone’s future.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in the Southside of Chicago with a single mom, and my grandmother stepped in to help as I didn’t have a father figure in my life. I’ve always described myself as a dreamer but also a doer. Many people can relate to my story because they understand that I’m no stranger to adversity. I really think that’s important to talk about in today’s world since so many people are dealing with some form of uncertainty or adversity, particularly right now.

I’ve experienced losing my two best friends from childhood in a swimming accident — a trip that I was supposed to be with them on. I’ve also survived stage 4 cancer, and losing my mom, my job, and my home all within 3 weeks of each other. I know what it’s like to feel down and out and to have to keep pushing not only for myself, but also for my wife and son who were depending on me.

All in all, I like to think of myself as a dream activator. I love building relationships with others and inspiring them to believe and execute on building a life by their design.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I would say I’ve always had a passion for two things, business, and people (or, let’s say relationships with people). I believe they go hand in hand to really create the currency for all success.

For the businessman that I am today, I would say I have had many mentors mostly from afar. Because I didn’t have anyone who looked like me or that I could speak to about what the blueprint for success or even leadership looks like, I had to turn to books and podcasts. From there I was able to find mentors like Jay-Z, Jack Canfield, Dean Graziosi, Kevin Hart, and many others who allowed me to believe success didn’t come in one uniform box. I started to view success as the result of resilience,consistency in my daily habits, and the progression of my mindset.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My wife, Julie, has always been the rock in my life. There have been multiple times I didn’t feel the confidence to pivot in life, or to take on a new challenge, but she’s always been there to support me. Together we share the belief that “failure weighs ounces but regret weighs tons.”

This was the case when, after losing both my mom and my job, I set out to look for a new job. My wife said to me, “You have this real estate license that you’ve done nothing with so far. If you don’t go all in and at least try it, you’re going to always be wondering ‘what if’.” From that point I went all in and found the courage to close 46 deals within the next 9 months.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I think the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career is not listening to my own intuition to take action on my goal sooner. A lot of times we know what we’re supposed to be doing but we don’t listen to our own gut that tells us to lean in and embrace the short-term pain for the long-term success. Something I learned along my journey is that nothing happens in a day, but it won’t happen in a year either if you just let the days go by.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Understand that adversity builds character. For me, I’ve had to endure a lot of adversity but I understand without those different ingredients, I would not be where I am today. Also when all else fails, and even without money, credit, or resources, you can have relationships built on character, integrity, and abundance. That’s how you’ll be able to pivot into any new service or career and hit the ground running.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Third Door by Alex Banayan. It wasn’t the first book I read that had a significant impact on me, but It was one of the best books that had meaning in my life. It teaches about how in life there’s often 3 different roads (or doors, as how it’s described in the book.) Most successful people were not given an easy road to wealth, many had to take the road less traveled and that is the Third Door. The First Door is the main entrance, where 99 percent of people wait in line, hoping to get in. The Second Door is the VIP entrance, where the billionaires and celebrities slip through. But what no one tells you is that there is always, always . . . the Third Door. It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open the window, sneak through the kitchen — there’s always a way.

That’s been significant for me because I can remember multiple times where it seemed like there was no chance for me to turn my dream into a reality. From being brand new in the real estate business in a brand new city and state with no money, family, friends, or church group, to doing 46 deals and 8 million in volume in my first 9 months and getting rookie of the year. Also, being a lifelong die hard Duke basketball fan and figuring out how my son could meet Coach K when he came to Omaha. Everyone I knew in the city told me it wasn’t possible (not only did we meet him but Coach K asked CJ to take a picture with him and signed his basketball).

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I have many quotes I try to live my life by, but there’s one in particular that has always resonated with me, “I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” — Abraham Lincoln.

The reason why it’s so significant is because the reason I’ve been able to keep going every day and why I’ve been building something bigger than me, #DreamNation, is because I know every day there’s someone out there looking for me to show up, to give them the conviction to believe that it’s possible. I also know that many people did that for me when I was first trying to find my way and I had no blueprint to follow.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Building out my community of dreamers and doers on Dreamnation.com. I built it because I believe that everything starts with a dream. Everyone has a dream. Those of us who dare to continue to dream — while the rest of the world is settling for what society tells us or deems is our reality — we’re the ones who stand to be trailblazers, changemakers, and ultimately make this world a better place. My goal with the Dreamnation platform is to give people with a dream and a soul access to the brightest minds, strategies, and resources to turn their dreams into a reality.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Most of us have big goals and dreams in life, which is the bigger and long-term picture. That’s great, but the problem is those big goals or dreams won’t turn into reality overnight, they will take showing up consistently with small habits that snowball into wins and build momentum. It’s just like losing weight, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, you can’t show up and expect it to be gone in 3 days. You might first create a plan both for nutrition and exercising (both with small wins in mind) and form daily habits you carry out to reach your end goal, day by day.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

When I first started in the real estate business, I had no following, no influence, and no money, so I had to figure out how I was going to not only get my first deal but also be able to sustain business coming in on a monthly basis. The plan I made was to do three to five coffee and lunch meetings every single week, as well as host two open houses in two different price points every single Sunday. These habits allowed me to focus on lead generating, and the next step was to become consistent with my follow-up for every lead that I brought in. Within 30 days I got my first lead and within another 30 days I closed my first deal. This was how I got my first 10k commission check.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

The way to develop good habits is to find small wins that make you feel good. When we find those small wins that don’t take a lot of our energy or effort, we tell ourselves “this isn’t so bad after all.” From there we keep chasing those small wins and that slowly grows into the momentum of larger wins.

For stopping bad habits, you have to figure out what’s the true root of the problem. Most of the time it’s the story you’re telling yourself and maybe even in conjunction with what someone has said to you or you heard someone say that allowed you to think this way. After you figure out the root of the issue it’s important to latch on to another story that will trump this one in a positive way.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

In wellness, I think it’s important to take some time to figure out who you really are and what drives you. A lot of time we’re focusing so much on what we think others want to hear from us or how they want us to show up that we forget that the real reason we’re put on this earth is to be authentic and find our true self and purpose.

With many people working from home during our pandemic, it’s also important for our wellness to stay connected.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Some ways to develop those good habits are meditation, therapy, or having accountability partners.

Write down each day what you are grateful for and why. You can write on either paper, or in your phone (apple notes or google keep).

The same way you would connect in the office during work breaks or even over the lunch hour, stay connected to your colleagues and friends even when you’re working from home. Use Zoom or team video chats, facebook groups, or social media.

The more we approach each day with those goals and the abundance to love, we will have more peace and less anxiety.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

For performance, I think it’s important we continue to work out, challenge ourselves physically to release stress, and also challenge ourselves mentally. This ensures we don’t become complacent and keeps us focused on optimizing all areas of our lives.

For work specifically, especially now with so many of us working from home, try to go into each day with a plan and communicate boundaries upfront with your family and colleagues (especially bosses).

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Exercising just 30 minutes daily can build performance habits. For work, write down 2–3 things you want to accomplish each day and plan to take small breaks throughout your day. Let your family know you have meetings during certain times. Let your colleagues know you’ll only be available certain hours of the day so you don’t feel inundated with work and you can separate your work from your personal time.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Having an end goal in mind is always critical. I always say, you don’t have to love the journey, you just have to embrace it, but you also have to marry the destination. Focus on what truly matters to you in life.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Write down your destination (goal or dream) on a piece of paper, in your phone (apple notes or google keep), speak it out loud, and let your circle know what you’re working to achieve. This will hold you accountable.

For focus when working from home specifically right now, invest in noise-canceling headphones to minimize distractions.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I think it first starts with figuring out who you are and what your unique gift is in this world. We all are blessed with a superpower. For some of us it’s speaking, or maybe writing, or maybe just analyzing. The more you show up in areas where your gift is needed, the more you’ll start to develop your zone of genius and it becomes second nature.

For me it’s always been speaking, when I first started speaking in crowds I never knew it was my gift. After I finished speaking, others would always come up to me in private and say how touched they were by my ability to articulate what I was feeling and how transparent I was with the audience. I started to put myself out there more for speaking and got more and more positive feedback. Again, I didn’t build this overnight, but was consistent in showing up, looking to serve others that allowed me to be in my “flow state.”

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My movement would be around inspiring people that no dream is too small or too unrealistic, innovation is the key to all success. The world needs more innovators who are not afraid to speak up when they not only see a problem, but create a solution around that problem that can change the world. Look at Uber, AirBnB, GrubHub, and many others. The reason why these companies are so significant is because most were born during the last recession. While we’re not currently in a recession, we are in a down economy and definitely in a time of uncertainty. You have to be willing to be bold and acknowledge the importance of your dreams. Every one of those companies mentioned above started off as someone’s dream.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Wow, that’s very tough. There’s instantly three people that come to my mind who have been so inspirational to me on my journey. If I have to choose one I would say, Kevin Hart. Not only has his journey been inspiring, but I’ve seen his journey to success, including the pit stops of almost losing it all but persevering, all while holding his family at the forefront of his empire. His journey of where he comes from bears so many resemblances to my story as a young black man, but also his unapologetic authenticity has shown me it’s possible to make it no matter what your dream is.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

DreamNation

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

DreamNation Podcast

DreamNation Real Estate Podcast

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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