Fear of something usually is man made and something self created. Of course follow your gut and stay out of harms way, but above all don’t sit in decision-less purgatory. I always say, you can pick this path or another path and maybe only one is the right path, but not picking any path is the epitome of failure. If you take the wrong path, at least you know and you can then pick the other, but you wouldn’t know if you didn’t walk the wrong path.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Douglas Smith. Douglas is an adventurer/traveler/entrepreneur who perpetually lives outside of his comfort zone. He thrives on knowledge, especially when it comes to health and the undefined-ever changing landscape of nutrition, longevity and pushing physical limits. After watching many people around him, including himself, suffer from the negative effects of poor nutrition, he took it into his own hands to learn everything there is to know about proper nutrition and physical/mental health. Through his ongoing quest for knowledge and heightened consciousness of the effects of his own nutritional path and physical endeavors, he continues to pursue a mission to educate people on the largely untapped and immense potential of proper nutrition, physical movements and mental health.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
2 things really always pop into my mind. First, I always had a tough time working towards someone else’s dream and in this case, their drive as it comes to business. I always had my own opinions and wants/needs as it came to entrepreneurship and was/is way more motivated to convey my dream through hard work than someone elses. And second, was my personal experience and knowledge as it came to physical movement and nutrition. Doing something career wise is a catch 22, it’s super motivating to take something you personally love and mix it with career, however, the very thing that sometimes is your escape ends up also being something you ultimately need to escape from. Entrepreneurship is sometimes hard work and in the end a “job” and sometimes you need to take a breather from your job. Finding this balance has taken years to do well, and even until this day over 20 years later I fail at that harmony or balance between the two.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When first starting out with our first business, True Protein, which is now True Nutrition, we literally started with a borrowed 29.00 from my cousin to buy the URL www.trueprotein.com. The reality was, I had no money and had to figure out how to beg and borrow and above all be creative to getting me to the state we could actually sell something. In reality, the great part about grinding with somewhat reckless abandon is I really had nothing to lose. If I failed, I really lost nothing and had nothing to lose. My theory was, even if I failed, at least I tried. I knew to myself if I didn’t at least try, that ultimately would have been the biggest failure. I see so many people saying they want to start something or do something but make every excuse. When you’re young, you really have nothing to lose and have all the time to figure out all the ways not to do something. It’s all perspective, in retrospect I’ve never failed at anything, I just figured out at least a million ways not to do different tasks. Fail and fail and fail until you figure out what works. When there’s nothing really to lose or even if there is something to lose, use all the smart info you’ve attained and just do it. Sitting in mental purgatory with an idea and not acting on it, is the ultimate failure.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
In the beginning the drive came from 2 places for me. First, I needed to eat and survive hands down. And second, I refused to fail and knew I needed to figure it out on how to make it work. Currently a big driver for me is seeing how many people we can help through health and fitness and seeing people change their health for the better which really is so motivating to me. Success and money are great, but without a healthy body, mind and spirit, the success of career doesn’t really matter. Also knowing I have a responsibility to all of my team member (employees) that help me and my partner convey our dream and objectives, keep me going as well. Knowing their families and them are in a good place is extremely motivating.
So, how are things going today? How did Grit lead to your eventual success?
Grinding and grit has led me to being more comfortable and confident with my decisions, it has also led me to have better business acumen as it comes to creating more and more success. When I was in my early 20s, you can say ego drives you to a certain degree, but in reality, you really don’t know too much of what is right or wrong or if a decision will be success or a detriment. Having success allows you to drop the ego to a certain degree and allows you to think better and process all angles. The more you do something well, the better you get at it. If you play tennis everyday for 20 years, you’re going to be a better tennis player, the same holds true with business. Keep at it and you get better.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
If I was honest I have countless mistakes I made over the years, but again, what I realized is they aren’t failures, they’re just part of the process. Not making any mistake probably means you’re not trying hard enough or taking enough risk. The higher the risk, usually the higher the reward. Finding that balance becomes easier the more mistakes you make funny enough. The biggest lesson out of all the mistakes I’ve made is, I didn’t fail, I just figured out a way not to do something. It’s this perspective that allows you to bounce back quickly. If I didn’t have this perspective, I’d be out of business and working for someone else over a decade ago. Celebrate your successes but appreciate your failures and mistakes. They make you a better entrepreneur.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think what made us stand out initially was the fact that not many companies did what we did or do. Offering customized dietary supplements, protein powders and meal replacement powders was really different to the standard dietary supplement companies out there. Although we’ve seen competition come and go, being true to our ethos and what makes us different has always made us stand out. Our business has evolved so much over the years, being fully vertically integrated from having our sourcing department, having our own distribution, our own fulfillment company and then multiple brands that fill the needs of many types of buyers, allows us to cover many basis that most companies can’t touch.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
First and foremost, enjoy what you do and believe in what you do, money and success come second. This always allows you to get perspective when your dream turns into a job and allows you to go back to why you’re doing what you’re doing. Also having a good harmony and balance between your personal life and work life is essential. Work really hard, but play just as hard.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I can thank many people (and do to this day) that helped me along the way from friends and family members that flat out helped with money or encouragement, but above all, would be my co-founder and business partner Dante. I always say we’ve been married for almost 20 years which is somewhat the truth, we have lasted through thick and thin to just make it work. We’ve had our ups and downs personally and in business but we always come out with the same objectives which has been crucial. I wouldn’t be doing this interview if I didn’t have the encouragement and above all difficult conversations only he could give because we are business partners. I’ve learned to be humble and to acknowledge everyone that has been there through all the good and bad.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Of course, this is part of our ethos in operating our businesses. We always are giving back to the best our companies can give. From sponsoring athletes to giving to the Special Olympics to giving free food/product to homeless shelters in the surrounding San Diego area. Giving back is great karma and always comes full circle. If you want more success, share your success with others.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
5 pieces of advice I can give are the following. First, you have nothing to lose I’ve found. Fear of something usually is man made and something self created. Of course follow your gut and stay out of harms way, but above all don’t sit in decision-less purgatory. I always say, you can pick this path or another path and maybe only 1 is the right path, but not picking any path is the epitome of failure. If you take the wrong path, at least you know and you can then pick the other, but you wouldn’t know if you didn’t walk the wrong path. Second, understand your surroundings and the people you have around you. What I found is, you are what you eat. If you hang out with the chickens, you eat feed, but if you hang out with the eagles, you soar. Understand doing your own thing is usually out of the norm and although family and friends on the exterior always want success and happiness for you, doing your own thing means fear for them that you will change and in some cases you do change. So many of those friends and family, although they mean well, sometimes want to keep you where they are comfortable with which is usually the non-entrepreneur. I’ve seen it with myself and other people I’ve mentored. Let them be your support system but also make sure they aren’t subconsciously sabotaging you. Third, you’re your own worst enemy. I see so many people blaming, why they didn’t do something or why something happened and blame it on other people. You’re responsible for everything and every action. You’re also responsible for how you feel and act with each of your actions. Everything has a silver lining. Every negative thing has a positive in it, or at least a lesson. Stop blaming others and look inwards, you’ll spend more time fixing the problem and moving on to success. Forth, never lose the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. Of course this changes and morphs over time, but the core ethos of the reason you’re embarking on what you’re trying to do should always stay consistent. We always laugh, because I can sometimes go back to our initial business plan and we always say if we still followed it, we’d be out of business. This is evolving and changing what must be changed to be successful but the ethos of it has never changed to provide the public with the highest quality materials and the absolute lowest price. The latter will never change. Fifth, stop making excuses. It sounds cliche’, and although it is, stop making excuses and make a decision and move. Most decisions and movement create more movement, sitting stagnant keeps you stagnant. Newton was a smart guy, a body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest. The same holds true for business. If you try to be perfect, you’ll fail, if you don’t do anything because you are waiting for perfection, your competition will do it before you.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
For me it has less to do about entrepreneurship, although doing my own thing has been so powerful and fulfilling to me. If we could finally teach the masses especially American’s who seem to get more and more unhealthy, getting the masses to switch towards health would fill me with joy. There’s so many ways that lead to success and the reality is, none is better than the other, whatever is sustainable to an individual and something they can stick with is what’s important. Going through life waiting for sickness to happen to only fix it does not work, we’ve proven this. Being proactive through proper movement and a more conscience better diet is a better path.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
The best way to follow us is through our social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.
Personal: IG @thedougsmith and FB dougsmithtncom
Business: @truenutrition @paleoproproducts @thelabsupplements
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.