For years, Dan Lee (Partner with Comvest Partners) was striving for results and results only. On every call, he was looking to make a quick win to add to his tally of success. Yet, Dan realized he was chasing success in the wrong ways. In this vulnerable and honest episode, Dan shares his biggest lessons in business so far and tells us the major mindset shifts he’s made in an effort to gain knowledge and provide more value. We begin our conversation with Dan by hearing about how the COVID pandemic was an ‘aha’ moment that lit a fire under him to make a change. He touches on how the bulk of his career was transaction-focused and why a pivot into business development changed all that for him. Delving deeper, Dan describes his shift in focus toward being a truer, more authentic version of himself. His notes capture what authenticity means to him, as we learn why the ‘all or nothing’ ethos isn’t practical, as well as Dan’s reasons for wanting to be good at several things instead of being great at just one thing. Dan is especially candid in this episode but in an inspiring and magnetic fashion. He shares the advice he’d give his 30-year self and why balance should’ve been his north star. To hear more on Dan’s impressive and evolutionary story, be sure to join us today!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Dan shares some of his ‘aha’ moments brought about since the start of the pandemic.
- What led to Dan’s fundamental mind shift.
- The importance of looking at business development as itself, and not sales.
- How Dan’s core focus has changed in recent times.
- Dan touches on focussing on things as they are, and not how they seem to be.
- Hear about the advice Dan would give his 30 year-old-version of himself.
- Dan talks about why he’d rather be good at several things than great at one thing.
- Why it is important to consistently try to improve yourself.
- Dan fills us in on how his view on competition was an unhealthy one.
- Host Alex Drost leaves listeners with a challenge for the week.
[0:00:04.5] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.
[0:00:20.5] AD: Hey everyone, welcome to Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today’s guest is Dan Lee, a partner with Comvest Partners, a multi-billion-dollar, private investment firm, providing equity and debt capital to middle-market companies. Dan shares some of the setbacks he’s faced recently, both personally and professionally and how leaning in to his authentic self has helped him overcome these challenges. I hope you all enjoy.
[0:00:46.5] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network, we are on LinkedIn, search for Connection Builders.
[0:00:53.9] AD: Dan, welcome to the Branch Out Podcast, excited to have you on here today and looking forward to a great conversation.
[0:00:58.7] DL: Likewise, thanks Alex.
[0:01:00.8] AD: Talking to our listeners for a moment, Dan and I have had a handful of conversations over the last few months around authenticity and your career and really trying to uncover some of the challenges and opportunities that being authentic and just kind of having a different perspective on what career success means and really, how to approach your career differently and how that can ultimately – while maybe seeing more difficult or a different way of thinking it first.
Ultimately leads to greater results and Dan, where I’d love to start our conversation today, maybe to share with listeners a little bit of your experience in your story around COVID and what’s led up to it and some of the “aha” moments that you’ve had since then and then we’ll take the dialog from there.
[0:01:47.3] DL: Yeah, certainly. Happy to have a chance to do so Alex, thanks for the time. For me, I look back at my – the last 10 years of my career and it’s been aligned to where COVID for me became a spark in a good way. I’m very blessed that COVID came at a time when I needed a fire lit under me. Needed to remember how blessed I am, how many – how much I’ve been given and it was time to start working for it, so I am going to start giving back, frankly.
I spent the bulk of my career business development really thinking transactionally and thinking, how can I get something from this interaction, how can I get something that’s good for me, that helps me and that’s a very narrow-minded way to come at business development and the other’s reality is I started having this realization slowly that by being more holistic and I would even say spiritual about it in the sense that helping someone when there’s nothing in it for you in the moment is going to come back to you one way or another.
Intangible knowledge, something that having them help looking to help you. I think there’s a number of different ways that when you build a community that you can use in all those different nodes, the way they connect to each other, rather than just binary that on this call right now, do you have a deal for me? Yes or no?
Just being much more, what can I take away from this interaction? How can I have them thinking about me? I was having that sort of breakthrough of the course of last three or four years because frankly, when I moved into back into business development, it was a demotion in my mind because I had been in administration. I was one of the people managing the firm and I realized, my partners made me aware that I’m not a good administrator.
I get bored with it, I don’t like long meetings, I don’t like spreadsheets, detail and all the different elements, the politics, I’m just not – I’m not well-suited for it but business development felt like a demotion because I’m no longer running something so I came at it with a very bitter angle.
I felt like I had been set down in the minor leagues, I’ll apologize to all the people that I was trying to do business back then. A lot of them had said, “What are you talking about? You’re such a nice guy” and that’s true but I just wasn’t developing business for them and with them, I was in it for me.
COVID made me realize, I better get my shit together because I could lose my job here. I did a bunch of restaurant deals and consumer deals that were – just looked like – they didn’t know how they were going to come out and if they hadn’t come back, that’s not a difficult decision for what to do with the guy that did those deals, it’s just the reality of our business.
I started making calls, just hammering the phones figuring out, I got to earn my job back and I might be looking for another job in a few months so I better start letting people know that I might be a resource. In the midst of that, calling when no one else was calling because there was nothing to talk about, people were really happy to hear from me and you know, “Hey, let’s talk, let’s figure out what’s going on out there, how can I help you, how can you help me” and it just started building momentum and for the first time in a long time Alex, I had fun coming to work again and that hasn’t happened in a long time.
It’s like, it doesn’t mean it’s all play time, it’s hard work, I love it, I’m just really enjoying coming and showing up and doing the work.
[0:04:56.7] AD: Why is that? What do you think changed? What made it go from maybe something that wasn’t as fun or as enjoyable to all of a sudden be more fun?
[0:05:06.2] DL: I stopped looking at business development as sales and start looking at it as business development, which is I am here, part of this community, trying to figure out how we can get some deals done together but really, the broader point and a much more important point is yeah, let’s get some deals done now but I also want to build a community because I want to figure out how to solve some problems, try to address some of these inequities at the root level.
Rather than doing it with my checkbook, which is generally the way that I’ve kind of handled it historically and just not the same level of impact, it’s the same – what’s fun about it is I’m realizing that I can and do have an impact that tangibly I’m having the best year of my career by far and I’m on the front end of what’s going to be a lot of work and a lot of fun.
I’ve got this unbelievable team that supports me and sometimes they support me by saying no. Sometimes they support me by saying, “Stop wasting your time there that’s just not a good use of your time man and we need you elsewhere, right?” They’re just best in class, absolutely blessed to have the team from top to bottom and now I’m realizing it and it’s like, getting back into the majors.
When they send guys down to the minors, you never know if they’re going to – you know, late in their career by the way, you never know if they’re going to come back. They might move often, sort of quietly go away and I wasn’t that far from doing that, Alex. I was kind of, I lost my swing big time. To be back, I’m not killing it the way some people are, don’t get me wrong but I’m having success for the first time in a long time at the kind of levels that someone with my experience and resources and the opportunities I’ve been given, I just have to do the work and it’s there.
[0:06:49.9] AD: Dan, I like that a lot. If I hear you right, a lot of this came from your kind of, new perspective was seeing the impact and recognizing the impact and tackling your job with a – you used the word wholistic I think is a good word where it wasn’t just, “What’s in it for me, what can I accomplish, how can I get this deal done, how can I generate my own bonus or paycheck?” or revenue, whatever it might be.
Rather saying, “How can I make a difference, how can I make an impact, how can I make sure that I am just going out there and doing my best and helping others and looking to add value?” knowing that at the end of the day, it will come back and the byproduct of it is, you generate deals or you find opportunities in all of these other great things that come from it but that’s not the core focus of what you’re doing. Is that a fair way of summarizing it?
[0:07:39.3] DL: Yes, that is a very good way to put it, I’ve gone from looking at a day that had 10 to 12 calls and feeling like I better have a deal at the end of the day. I better have like something to show for it. Rather than something to show for and not thinking about it as bring something to the table.
Forget what I’m going to get out of those 12 calls. I’m going to get incredible amount of acknowledge, these are people that are incredibly talented successful, senior people in their field, giving me their time and I just have to ask the right questions and I’m going to learn and there may or may not be a deal there, it rarely is. That’s the hard part, right?
It’s a numbers business. You got to come into those calls thinking, how am I going to give something to this person and how am I going to take something away and it takes something away, doesn’t need to be a deal, if it’s a deal, bonus.
That’s rare because those lines just cross so rarely. If you can end the day with thinking, “Man, I learned a lot today” and I’ve got people I’m thinking about how I could help and people I’m thinking about how I can help them move the needle for themselves, building a network like that, it’s like – I’m just seeing the impact of the network effect and realizing where else can I use that?
This is cool and I’m really just starting to understand it. It really is fun.
[0:09:04.0] AD: Well, Dan, what I hear you say and this kind of comes back to our overall theme for today around authenticity. It sounds like as we’ve talked a little before and as you’re describing it today, you’re really approaching your work with a much more authentic approach.
You’re going out there again, not self-serving, not just looking for yourself but saying, “Hey, how can I give, how can I add value?” and also, how can I gain value, right? There is – there has to be the reciprocation behind that, right? It’s part of the cycle of building relationships and – but realizing that you gaining value isn’t necessarily having a deal to show or having something in particular that you’ve accomplished but then, the knowledge you’ve gained, the insights you’ve gained.
The way you’ve helped two people and planted to see that could come back in any number of ways down the road.
[0:09:53.0] DL: That’s right, yeah. I used to think, if somebody had a deal that wasn’t a fit, I didn’t want to offend them, you know? Your baby’s ugly, right? That’s not what’s happening, I have a set of criteria that I use to invest and their deal doesn’t fit it but it fits a lot of other people’s so they’re showing me an opportunity, there’s this huge value in that. To your point, yes, I mean, it really is – I think I spent a lot –
A huge chunk of my career worrying about what I looked like rather than what I was. I wanted to be seen. I was coming from Minnesota, coming from the Midwest, I Had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about you know, I’m coming to New York, I got a show, I got to make it. If I can’t make it, I’m going to fake it and you know, that led to some – I had success, I’m not, you know, just being honest but I was way more concerned of what it looked like than what it was.
That meant I was way more focused on the numbers than the actual binary than on the wholistic. That led to some tough career hiccups, that led to lots of success on the way but then some hiccups and some – a divorce that I realized that I was more worried of my marriage looking good than being good and that’s not a good place to be and I’m just lucky t hat last four years I got my family and friends that have helped remind me how lucky I am and to just be myself, you know?
I am from Minnesota and I’m proud of that because there’s great people up there and that gave me great roots. I mean, just great family, that gave me every advantage to the world. I spent a big chunk of my life thinking I’d hit a triple when I realized, I was born on third base honestly.
I haven’t had to work that hard for what I’ve gotten and realizing that is you know, a real shake your head moment but it’s also “Thank god I found out at 48 and not 58 or 68” right?
It’s never too late but I could really have an impact now if I just remember, people connect to authenticity, right? It’s like the LinkedIn videos, still people, one of the great things about the LinkedIn videos that I’ve done and shout out to Jordan for pushing me to do those. The best part about it is, I only see the positive reactions, I don’t get to see the eye rolls, you know?
There’s sort of people that are like, “Jesus, this guy’s up there again? What’s he talking about this time?” It has been – I’ve gotten really great reaction, which in the beginning when I started, this is interesting, I hadn’t thought about it this way. In the beginning, when I started to do those videos, the reactions are what I wanted.
I wanted the likes and I wanted the comments and that’s like – what that’s what kind of fed me. Now it’s just knowing that somebody thought, “Hey that was cool.” The fact that somebody connected to it, whether they reacted or not, it’s made me realize how much I benefit from putting myself out there because of foibles and all.
Because I’m learning about my journey by doing that and then you know, I meet people like you say, can we have a conversation and I’m like, “That’s more learning man” that’s like a chance for me to get in my head and get out of my head, which is a good thing.
[0:13:07.2] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a connection builders podcast.
[0:13:16.9] AD: Dan, I want to touch on, you said, be yourself and you’ve learned to be yourself and everything you said there around the videos you’ve done, the work you’ve done, the changes you’ve had, really come down to a lot of – as I’m hearing it correctly, self-discovery, understanding what you’re trying to accomplish and I think all of that really does drive it to core of authenticity, right?
Being your true self and being clear about what that means to you and what you’re trying to accomplish in this world and with others. A question for you, you look back and you say, I give you a lot of props for the work you’ve put in, the self-discovery you’ve put in and the reflection you’ve put into to see some of these.
If you could step back now and say, “Okay, I can go back and have a conversation with 30-year-old Dan and tell him hey, you got to watch out for this or you have to really think about this differently.” What jumps out to you, what would you wish that you could tell the 30-year-old version of yourself?
[0:14:15.4] DL: Boy, stop worrying about what you think people think about you. That is it. That led me – that has led to so many mistakes and a compounding of mistakes and a compounding on the compounding. It’s just screwed up my priorities, it led me to relationships that I thought were nourishing but were not.
Took me down the path, I spent a long time – I would tell people, you know, 10 years ago. I used to be an athlete, I was a runner, I’m 20 pounds overweight now but I used to be like – I’m an athletic guy and finally, someone said, “Just shut the hell up, are you or are you not?” I realized yeah, that’s right, I got to go – want me to say it, I got to prove it.
I didn’t have any balance so I went from saying, “I don’t work out at all” to, “I’m going to work out for two hours a day every day, no rest days and just do crazy.” I just lost all my – it’s all or nothing, you know?
Which is just dumb. I think one of the huge things I realized in recent years, really, recent months is I used to think I want to be great. I want to be great at something and now I realized that whether that’s athletically or business, as a father and now I realized, I’m way better when I’m good at several things rather than trying to be great at something, that balance feeds me in a big way.
Getting some movement in every day, some do it – frankly, yoga rather than Muay Thai, right? I did a lot of Muay Thai in the past because I wanted to show people I could kick ass and it’s like, “No, not a fighter” just let it go man, let it go.
Yoga’s better for you or I used to be a big runner, I felt like running, not really but no, I’m a runner. I wasted a lot of calories and a lot of energy on things that didn’t really matter. Please understand, I am so far from having it figured out. I’m still making tons of mistakes, I always had days and weeks where I’m like, “Shit, I didn’t spend enough time with Griffin” my son or I didn’t get this done at work, I meant to do this.
I’m a huge work in progress but at least I’m getting better, that’s really the key for me is if you could just – I finally stopped competing with other people, you know?
[0:16:41.4] AD: Compete with yourself, Dan, right?
[0:16:43.6] DL: Yeah, that’s it, 100%. I can –
[0:16:48.6] AD: Absolutely. What I hear a lot of and it sounds like the insecurities in the past have held you back and I think we all struggle with it, right? Every one of us has, at least in my experience, we all have some kind of voice in our head, the insecurity, the thought that tells us that you can’t do that or you’re not good enough and actually, I want to dive in, you talked about the balance and this is one, I’ll just share some of my own experience and perspective around it and love to get your reaction, Dan.
I am an extreme person, friend. Anyone who knows me personally, I do a lot of things extreme and I – it’s just who I am. It’s something that I embrace about myself but I’ve also had a lot of hard lessons, especially, as time goes on, of exactly what you said around balance and recognizing that sometimes, me, trying to be too extreme is really setting unrealistic expectations for myself and what that really leads to is that it fuels the insecurities, it throws the –
It throws wood on the fire and makes me, you said you were going to do this and a great example I can give, meditation is something I’ve picked up over the last year. I jumped in and when I first started meditating, I was like, “Yeah, I’ll just meditate like 30 minutes a day every day, no big deal” good luck.
Anyone who has ever tried it, sit down and try to start there, right? It’s way more difficult than it sounds and I had to have some good lessons around that and recognizing, again, my own experience here is, it really comes down to competing with yourself instead of competing with others and constantly, every day trying to go to bed a better person than you woke up.
If you do that, if perpetually day after day, you continuously make your focus to just work on yourself and improve in something and do the best you can, what more can you really do, right?
[0:18:38.8] DL: Yeah, I totally agree.
[0:18:40.4] AD: In terms of authenticity, in my opinion, it really comes down to being in a position where if you are trying your best, and you’re really asking yourself, “What is my best, what does this mean, what am I trying to accomplish?” not just – I’m going to go out and go all in and be extreme but what is my best, why is it my best? What’s driving me to do this, what am I trying to accomplish, are my actions in alignment with what I’m trying to accomplish and is this moving me in the right direction as a person?
Today, tomorrow and into the future, if you can answer that every day I think that that is a huge pillar of authenticity but also, a great way to find passion and energy and excitement and finding a way to be yourself in your career.
[0:19:20.9] DL: I totally agree and it’s something I’m being honest, I’m working on it.
[0:19:24.5] AD: We all are.
[0:19:25.7] DL: I still – yeah, I have – yeah, I have things and days where you know, you think, “Shit, okay, well you know…” I love the concept of good and bad days, Tuesday was, yesterday was a bad day. I can’t tell you why, just kind of something was – anxiety. I can’t really explain it, there is something nagging at me and I just kept focusing on make the calls, do the work just, you know, sure it is not going to be your best day but for me that is a huge – it is the stick to your protocols, right? Okay, I am going to get my movement in, I am going to make my calls. I’m going to relax at night.
I am going to find some way to get myself some unwind time and then get up and do it again, right? There’s going to be days that are – it’s lower highs and higher lows, that’s the way I like to think about it, you know? It’s just figuring out how to be more consistent. I use to chase high highs like man, I would like close a deal and it’s like the biggest thing since sliced bread. “Yeah, oh my god, this is amazing” like this is freaking awesome and I’ve got a very work mentality by now.
It’s like, “Put it over there, I got to go get the next one done” you know that’s good. I am glad it got done, thank you for the partnership now let’s keep building. That’s become very rewarding to me, yeah just very rewarding to be able to see, “All right, I’m having an impact now” and I should be having a bigger impact in the past and I wasn’t. I was within, you know? I was just not and there’s just a host of reasons why but most of it was stuck in the –
I was up on a pedestal that I had created just to be clear and to thinking that now, I can do my job up here while they do the work kind of head in the clouds and I’ll tell you something that like I didn’t come down off the pedestal. I got knocked off it, you know and it was –
[0:21:23.6] AD: You’re still down. You still got off of it.
[0:21:25.9] DL: Oh man, eye opening. I mean you know, just like how did I let that happen. What happened and it’s a long answer but man, it’s fun being in the mud, you know? It’s like okay this is where let’s roll the sleeves up and get some shit done. This is the connection, I just missed the connection. I didn’t even know I was missing it. I thought that was success, I was hashtag winning when I was on my way to unceremoniously being shown the door is the honest answer.
[0:21:58.1] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.
[0:22:06.7] AD: Your point around recognizing you thought you were having success before and now you have a totally different perspective of that and I think that is really important for everyone to remember is it’s easy to define and say, “This is what success means or this is how I’m going to do that to accomplish my goals or accomplish what I want to do” but if you are not slowing down and really asking yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?”
“What is success? What does it mean to me? Where does this lead my life?” It’s very easy to totally miss exactly as you said, you thought you were crushing it until now you have a – you know, you’ve slow down, you’ve seen it, you said you got knocked off the pedestal and now as much as it may have been a painful fall hitting the ground, you now today can say, “Wow, look at how much more I see, how much different this is and how much more I enjoy what I do.”
How much more fulfilled I am, how much more impact I have, how much more passionate I am, energetic I am and all of that and it’s not like you had a radical career shift. It’s not like you threw your whole life away and started over. It is not like it sounds like so much of this really was around perspective mentality and obviously a series of events that caused you to land in a place of being introspective and thinking about that but the reality is so much of this is just mindset in its own, right?
It is just a way of thinking in a perspective on your experiences and what you do with your time and how you live your life.
[0:23:29.0] DL: Yeah, it’s really I mean when I get knocked off the pedestal that was like a turtle on its back. I mean I just was flailing like crazy, I was just all over the place Alex because I just couldn’t figure out. It was like what – by the way, my teammates were running circles around me. Guys that were 20 years younger than me. 10 years younger than me, just absolutely lapping me and you know thankfully they weren’t making fun of me but it wasn’t fun.
You know I mean, I just lost my sense of how to do the job and it took me time and thank God they were patient with me and now we’re all going to benefit from it because I am seeing success again and I know more important than that, I know what I need to do. I know what I can do that’s what I’m excited about. I used to have people – I used to feel great when people congratulate me. When people would say, “Hey, you’re successful. You’ve done well, you’re a partner” that used to mean a lot to me.
When people say it to me this days, I feel like I am not there yet. Thank you but I’m not where I want to be. I had a really painful moment. My cousin who was crazy successful in private equity, he was named one of top 40 under 40 in Europe and I said, “Geez Tim, congratulations. That’s amazing, you know the way you’ve done it is more impressive that what you’ve done being a really good person.” He said, “Well thanks Dan, I just hope I can be as successful as you or some version of that.”
It smacked me square between the eyes and he meant it. It was sweet and genuinely replace this as he could, right? It was a compliment that he thought I deserved but I knew I didn’t deserve it and this was three years ago and I was like, “Jesus, I got to…” he has that idea of me. I need to go be it like I got to figure out how am I going to get it and it’s not going to happen tomorrow. I kept wanting it to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow, all right, next week, next week and it just took years.
It’s like training for anything worthwhile, it’s just everyday a little bit. I love taking on challenges that are going to take a year or two or three of daily effort. When there is no movement day to day, things like I want to do the splits. A crazy goal, right? What are you talking about? Well, if I don’t stretch every single day and make movement towards it, it’s never going to happen. You just got to commit to the discipline of everyday not seeing any movement.
Just the thankless work but knowing this is going to be cool and you know, it’s funny because then let’s say that I get there, so what? Right? You’ll think, okay you can do the splits. It is like part of having just a goal that said daily commitment to something that it is not going to be a PR, right? It is not going to be something that shows up tangible that people go, “That’s amazing that you did that.” It’s like I used to love stuff where I could impress people.
I just got to a point where that’s just not what I’m going for anymore. I just want like – you know I used to view competition as competing. I want to win and I get super depressed when I lost and it was like, you know I just get – I competed from an angry place and now it’s fun place. I love seeing how other people succeed. I love it and I want to learn from it. I’ve seen people doing cool stuff. I’m like, “Hey, can you fill me in? I don’t know how to do that. That is awesome.”
I would love to do a 10th of that. You know it is so much fun to view the world as full of resources that are here to help you rather than hurt you. I got there through a lot of hard work. I got to the wrong place with a lot of hard work, constructing an image, creating the reality that suited it until the pedestal fall came and it was a turtle on-the-back-time like holy cow, this is awful.
[0:27:11.8] AD: But you’re here now and if I heard you right, you’re focused on daily consistent growth. Daily consistent improvement in recognizing and this is pitfall I think many of us, I find myself in from time to time where you have this idea of success or a goal or something you are trying to accomplish and it is really this target like, “Okay, when I do this I succeeded” or when I get to whenever it might be in recognizing though that real success and real growth and kind of the real lifelong approach.
Is it necessarily about getting to that point in time? It is not about accomplishing that one specific goal. That goal or that point in time may be a mile marker that helps you see, “Okay, I’m on the right path. I am going down the right journey. I am doing the right things” but at the end of the day, the real success in my view is the journey and is the process, the daily effort to putting the time in and making that corner stone of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Circling this all back to authenticity and building in your career and everything that comes out of that, if you really want to have a career that you make an impact that you are passionate about that you enjoy and really embrace it, it comes down to constant daily effort of focusing on that exactly, that specific point right? Asking yourself this questions, putting in that hard work and making sure it’s a constant place. It’s not about, “Oh, I am going to hit this mile marker. I am going to cross this path.”
All of a sudden, I’m going to be authentic happy and make an impact. I am going to be excelling. All of that doesn’t just come because you hit a point. It comes because you put the effort in continuously over a lifetime and that is the success.
[0:28:57.6] DL: I couldn’t have said it better myself. There is a great saying that I love, which is, if you’re lucky, the journey gets two miles longer with each mile traveled.
[0:29:06.0] AD: I like that.
[0:29:07.5] DL: You could say that sounds depressing in the sense that it gets harder as you go further but it is just the opposite. It is like the more you – the stronger you get, the further you want to travel and that is true of anything in life like you know, there is – I like to say guide – I like to be guided by a distant star rather than a shore, right? There is no destination, there will be no exoneration. There is just hard work.
I remember I read an annual review recently where I was expecting like this was going to be my high five applause moment because I had what I thought was a great year and it was really disappointing. The reason is because they were honest with me, which I had a good end to the year but you know, I didn’t have a great year and I was like, “Oh man, okay.” What I took away from that more than being disappointed was, why did I feel the need for the exoneration, for the applause?
What is that? I don’t need that, so I let myself be very crestfallen, you know that, “Oh God I was expecting that this is going to be like big pats on the back today, way to go. It was awesome” and it just wasn’t. It was really, “Hey, good momentum. Keep it up. There is no relenting now, we got money to put to work.” Yes I think it really – that’s been part of my fitness journey is realizing and I took up swimming because I almost start doing triathlons and I was terrified of it because I’m a terrible swimmer.
I mean I can swim but I just don’t do lap swimming. I’ll swim a lap but I’m just completely gassed and I am learning to embrace what I’m not good at, which is fun, you know? It’s like I’ll get to the pool –
[0:30:45.9] AD: It’s hard. It can be challenged though.
[0:30:48.6] DL: Oh my god, I’ll get to the pool and this old lady is just like – I mean, you look like a fish, right? They’re just gliding through the water and I’m just slamming on the water like I’m getting me think where’s that other wall, you know? I just can’t find it and I am exhausted and I’m gassed. Unfortunately, I have a great swim coach who is very patient and he’s been helping me figure out, “Hey, just be in the water. Stop fighting it, just here’s how we want to be in the water.”
Get comfortable being uncomfortable, that’s where the growth is, right? It is in sort of – I am a good runner but I am not going to grow by becoming a great runner. I am going to grow by – another example, pull-ups. I hate pull-ups. I do a lot of strength training. Body wise I just feel like pull-ups are something I’ve always been and so it is just staring at me. I got this pull-up tower in my apartment and it’s like I’m going to have to go do that.
I am going to have to do that every day, humiliate myself everyday with how few pull-ups I can do. Not for the sake of humiliation but just as a reminder that you are struggling with this now because you didn’t do work and you want to do them last year, so do the work now. A year from now you can say, “Oh this is fun” right? You jump on that bar and just rip them out. Finding those limitations of those areas of I used to paper over them or kind of cover a lot but try and figure out how do I make sure no one sees this and now it is almost the opposite.
I want to find them and I want to figure out where I suck at and then figure out how to suck a little bit less at it. One day at a time to your point.
[0:32:24.0] AD: I love that and you know when all of that sounds and what I hear from it, it really comes back to you have embraced some of your weaknesses, look to shift your mindset to constantly looking for ways to grow and improve and you’ve had to face head on some of your insecurities and your own internal doubts, the competitive voice in our heads that sometimes tells us, “Hey, you’re not good enough” or you have to beat them to prove that you’re good enough.
In all of that that really just gets in the way of really being who we’re trying to be. The real success that we have so Dan, I’m going to give just a quick recap for our conversation today. Let me know if I miss anything in this but we talked a little bit about where COVID has really shifted a mindset for me. As you said, you’ve got knocked off the pedestal, which is I like that analogy. You were a turtle on your back but what really came out of it was because of the dynamics of COVID.
The industry that you specifically spend time in, in some of your other life events that put you in a place to have to face some of these insecurities head on, you have really shifted your mindset and try to have a much more authentic approach in what you’re doing and the way you’re doing that is one, when you’re going into meetings or you’re going into interactions, you’re not focused on just having something to show from it like to get a deal or to get something from it.
Really going to this idea of having something to bring to the table, what can I offer, what can I learn, what knowledge can I gain, what seeds can I plant in the future. You said that really comes down to asking the right questions and going into meetings with the mindset of how do I add value and really genuinely looking for ways to help and add value to other people and a big thing that helped you be able to do that better was again, putting away some of that worry about who you are.
Not being concerned with what you looked like but really what it is, what you’re accomplishing, who you are as a person and again, letting go of that and being yourself and not worrying about what other people think of you and just saying, “Hey, this is – I am being myself and I’m here to help. I’m here to do my best” and then ultimately that all leads to embracing the daily commitment of growth, the daily commitment of being an authentic version of you.
The daily commitment of continuous success and growth in your own life and I love the same that you said, you know if you’re lucky the journey will get two miles longer for every mile travelled and really meaning that the true embracing the processing, embracing the being the comfortable and uncomfortable situation, embracing the growth comes down to for every mile of growth or mile of progress you make, the hope is there is two more miles ahead of you that you get to travel.
Two more miles of additional growth that you get to go through because that means that journey is never ending and I think you and I think the same way that we really want to live a life that is authentic and impactful and all of that comes down to putting in the time and the effort to work on yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself so you can give more to others.
[0:35:33.1] DL: Yeah, no I think that’s right. That’s a good summary and it’s amazing. It’s intuitive stuff. The hard part is implementing it, right?
[0:35:42.2] AD: Execution is everything.
[0:35:43.5] DL: Yeah, this is amazing. I am exhibit A for that because I could have told you all of that five years ago and then you would have watched and said, “Ooh that’s not pretty.”
[0:35:56.1] AD: It’s deceptively easy to talk about professional growth and incredibly hard to execute into your own life and there is no way around it.
[0:36:05.2] DL: You know what’s funny Alex because I remember I went through a period of time post-divorce. I was trying to figure myself out and what went wrong and how I got shocked by it just falling apart and I figured there’s got to be an answer somewhere so if there is a podcast or a book or a seminar, something that’s going to give me the answers and I found a bunch of really great stuff but I realized it’s not going to do it. I’ve got to actually implement it, right? I’ve got to actually –
[0:36:31.9] AD: That’s step one, yes. Step one is learning.
[0:36:35.1] DL: Yeah, I’d be better off like I’d come to work and I’d be like I’ll meditate and I’ll do this and I’ll listen to this podcast and I’ll do this and at the end of the day I’ll be like, “Oh, I had an hour of work today” you know what I mean? I was just scrambling trying to find something, the answer hoping that someone would give me the answer and then finally realized the work is the answer. That’s it. You just got to do the work.
[0:36:56.1] AD: Yes, put the work in.
[0:36:56.6] DL: The connection, the connection is the real answer. Just build connections, you got to plant, you got to farm but build connections and have fun. Keep a smile in your face. We’re unbelievably lucky to do what we do.
[0:37:12.8] AD: What great words to end our show on. Dan, I really appreciate that insight and to our listeners this week, the call to action is really I want you in the next seven days to find some time to just sit down and ask yourself, what am I doing to grow? What am I doing to grow into the most authentic version of myself? Saying, “Okay, what specific steps or daily actions can I implement that will help me work towards being the most authentic version of myself?
I really encourage all of our listeners to find time in the next week to do that and for our listeners that want to get in touch with you Dan, what’s the best way to get in contact with you?
[0:37:53.2] DL: Yeah, please, I’m wide open to connecting at Daniel Lee, Daniel Charles Lee on LinkedIn at Comvest Partners.
[0:38:01.6] AD: Awesome. Dan, thank you so much. I appreciate you coming on here today and looking forward to talking again soon.
[0:38:07.8] DL: Awesome Alex, thanks for the time. I really enjoyed it.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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