Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
David: I was born in the same hospital as Steph Curry and Lebron James in Akron, Ohio, and while I might not be blessed with their athletic talent, I did play college football at Occidental College.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
David: After graduating from Tulane Law School, I had two offers, one to be an oil and gas litigator, and the other was from a company called Westlaw that sold online legal research when the internet was still in its infancy. I went against my mother’s advice, as she told me to be a real lawyer because the internet was a “fad,” and took the job at Westlaw. I quickly achieved extreme successful as a salesman, making my first million dollars just nine months out of law school, and the company was eventually bought out by Thomson Reuters in a multi-billion-dollar transaction.
I’m not a big fan of the term “failure,” preferring to think of challenges as successive events that have helped me get to where I am now. Once I moved on from being a part of the Thomson Reuters deal, I went on to serve as the CEO of Samsung’s first smartphone division, PC-e Phone, and several other positions in the Silicon Valley. After a chance encounter, I was eventually offered the position of COO for the famous Leigh Steinberg Sports and Entertainment Agency (Leigh was the inspiration for the movie Jerry Maguire), and eventually became CEO of the firm, which is also where I met my current business partner, Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon.
Unfortunately, I had made some bad assumptions throughout my career and surrounded myself with the wrong people and ideas. During the economic downturn, those decisions came to a head and I ultimately lost a portfolio worth over $100 million dollars and had to file for bankruptcy. Ultimately, this experience forced me to codify the principles that made me successful in the first place, and I have used those principles to rebuild my life, achieve even more success, and I utilize them in my mission to empower others to be happy.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
David: An effective leader possesses four main qualities that set them apart from the rest, which are gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication. Having gratitude allows you to be thankful for every situation that arises in leadership. It gives you a positive perspective on your past, present, and future. Empathy allows you to forgive yourself for past mistakes and move forward no matter the circumstance. You can’t give others what you don’t have for yourself, which is why you need to be forgiving of yourself in order to give forgiveness to others. Accountability empowers you to be responsible for all of your actions. It teaches you to ask two questions whenever something happens: “What did I do to attract this to myself” and “What am I supposed to learn from it?” Lastly, effective communication allows you to connect with those around you, as well as to connect with what inspires you. Being connected to inspiration will always help you to accelerate your success.
I both practice and teach these four main pillars and I have found them to be instrumental to my success as a leader, business coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur.
I would recommend that leaders and aspiring leaders focus on empowering other people with tools and strategies to be happy. When you empower others, that will in turn empower others, and that will exponentially grow and scale the impact that you make on others.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
David: My number one tip is simply to stay in business. Businesses need to evolve over time, and it is impossible for your business to evolve if you are unable to stay in business. My first priority each morning is to ensure that my company’s doors will be open tomorrow, as this is essential if you are an entrepreneur looking to not only succeed, but thrive.
My second tip is to be a student of your calendar. This doesn’t mean just looking at your calendar, you need to study your calendar every morning and night in order to be as efficient with it as you can. In particular, focus on the white space on your calendar, trying to make the most of your time, as this will allow you to maximize your productivity and accessibility each day.
In addition, many people struggle to maintain a positive outlook on life or business, which is why I encourage everyone to do what I call “The Gratitude Challenge.” It requires simply saying “thank you” when you wake up and when you go to sleep and contemplating the many things in your life that you are thankful for. Living with gratitude is one of the four main principles that I live by and consistently saying thank you to whatever it is that inspires you (twice each and every day) is a profound exercise that is one of the most effective ways to empower yourself.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
David: “Be more interested than interesting” is probably the single best piece of advice I have ever received, and it was shared with me by my brother, who is a doctor. At the time, I was visiting him at the hospital he was working at and was a pre-med student considering going to medical school myself. I told him I was thinking about becoming a doctor, like a team physician in sports or a pediatrician, but hated spending time in hospitals. Of course, he knew how much time I would need to spend in a hospital in order to become a doctor, so he told me to “be more interested than interesting” and that advice has stuck with me ever since.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
David: Living a life of service is one of the best ways to pay it forward, no matter what line of work you are in. “How can I be of service?” is one of my favorite questions to ask.
There is actually a scientific basis for the importance of paying it forward, as well. When you give to others, “feel-good” chemicals are released in your brain, as well as that of the person you are giving to. Not only that, but anyone who witnesses an act of giving has the exact same reaction in their brain!
Operating with an abundant mindset, believing that there is more than enough in the world to make everyone happy, and living a life of service will not only help you to pay it forward, but will encourage others to do the same.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
David: One of my favorite hobbies apart from spending time with my family is writing books, having published Connected to Goodness, Compassionate Capitalism, and Be Unstoppable: How to Create the Life You Love, so far. I love sharing my knowledge and insight with the world and I take pride in delivering my ideas, both pragmatic and inspirational, on paper and providing that value for others. I have a new book coming out in July called Game-Time Decision Making, which provides strategies and tools to optimize your decision-making in high-pressure situations.
I am also a big believer in the need to prioritize your health, so I spend a minimum of one hour each day on my health, whether that is just an hour of working out or a mix of working out and learning and studying about some aspect of health (like nutrition or sleep).
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
David: There is one quote I like to end all of my Instagram Live sessions on: Do good deeds and always be kind to your future self!