Everyone has a moment that changed their life forever. What was that moment for you?
For Lawline CEO David Schnurman, it was witnessing 9/11 firsthand as a resident of New York City on the day our country was unalterably changed. The terrorist attacks that day fundamentally altered our nation’s trajectory.
“Everyone who was alive and old enough at the time knows where we were on 9/11. It’s one of those things that stick in your memory forever.”
Experiencing this horrific tragedy right from ground zero gave rise to a series of sobering realizations – along with a renewed sense of purpose and perspective on what truly matters in life.
In this episode of the One Away Show, David tells us about his life-changing realizations in the face of crisis and tragedy. Listen to this episode to discover how a profound moment of personal clarity helped him orient his compass towards true fulfillment and meaning in life.
After a series of fast-paced and high-energy sales roles, David ultimately realized this wasn’t the life he wanted. Such an uncertain lifestyle, especially during a precious period of economic instability, was no longer a tenable career to pursue.
He seamlessly transitioned into high-end NYC real estate, where he closed major deals with a star-studded client list that ranged from reality T.V. show stars to MTV DJs.
Despite the thrill of this dynamic business sector, David soon realized the rush of closing huge sales wasn’t where his heart really lay. What captivated him the most during that transition was the intensive period of knowledge acquisition as he prepared for the real estate exam.
This breakthrough was the first in a series of lightbulb moments that would guide him towards a business concept to empower attorneys through continuing legal education.
After a lifetime of insisting to his lawyer dad that law school was never going to be for him, David took the plunge – and the LSAT. He climbed through the ranks of law school, only to face a stark realization. Committing to a traditional legal career would have meant starting all over again at the bottom rung.
Instead of starting on the ground floor at some prestigious firm, David decided to do things a little differently. Deep down, he had always known he wanted to be an entrepreneur someday – he just hadn’t known what exactly that would look like for him.
Now, David shares his gifts with the world across numerous verticals:
“Lacking sufficient confidence in ourselves holds us back from taking action to get out of our comfort zone more often than anything else.”
As an Entrepreneur & Executive:
Currently, David is the CEO of Lawline, the leading provider of online Continuing Legal Education (CLE) in the country. Throughout its tenure, this unprecedentedly innovative company has achieved impressive milestones:
- 130,000+ attorneys served
- 3,000,000+ courses completed
- 5 million CLE credits completed on the website
As a Leader:
David’s success has earned him formal recognition from his peers in the entrepreneurship and legal industry. Currently, he serves as the president of the Entrepreneurs Organization of New York.
As a Keynote Speaker:
David is a frequent speaker at business organizations, colleges, and high schools. He has a knack for captivating and educational keynote speeches.
The material he covers includes a wide range of topics. He speaks on everything from culture to leadership and the entrepreneurial mindset and mentality.
Recently, David Schnurman gave a TEDxYouth Talk to high school students to inspire them to reach their full potential in life.
As an Author:
David published The Fast Forward Mindset: How to Be Fearless & Focused to Accelerate Your Success to widespread critical acclaim. Featuring the culmination of his extensive career insights and experiences, this book contains the formula you need to break through any barrier you encounter along your entrepreneurial path.
5 CORE LEARNINGS FROM DAVID SCHNURMAN’S ONE AWAY EXPERIENCE
1. If you make a professional U-turn, don’t lose any of the progress you’ve made so far. Repurpose, reframe, and reapply all the skills and learnings you acquired in that former role. For David, this meant the following:
2. Leverage a sales mentality to excel as an entrepreneur. If you can convincingly pitch your business concept, get buy-in, and ultimately establish the consistency and unwavering work ethic to relentlessly pursue your dream, nothing can stop you.
3. Rejection isn’t real. Learn how to take it in stride and deal with it appropriately. Ultimately, you are no different after being rejected than you were before.
4. If you feel too comfortable, you’re probably not on the best path for you. Stay attuned to your trajectory and be intentional about where you’re headed to stay on track.
5. Even the most unbearable tragedies can lead us to embrace resilience, solidarity, and the perspective to expand our worldview to focus on what truly matters. One of our nation’s greatest tragedies, 9/11, was an act of senseless violence that devastated our country. Yet still, we did not succumb to the threat of terror. As individuals and as a nation, we found the strength and courage to press on.
Right now, the world is engulfed in the chaos of an unprecedented global pandemic. As a deadly disease rages through the U.S., taking countless lives all too soon, let’s channel this same spirit of resilience, community, and care. Let’s all take a moment to re-center ourselves on what we care about and value. I like to think that’s each other.
HOW DAVID SCHNURMAN HELPED ME CARVE OUT MY OWN PATH AND LAUNCH BW MISSIONS
David is such a special person, especially to me. He has played a crucial role in my own life, business, and career. As one of our very first clients, David helped us build BW Missions from the ground up.
Something I admire about David is how relentlessly he’s always pursued his own path. He put so much thought, effort, education, and years of work into making sure he was living a life where he could amplify his skills and be his truest self. He has modeled a highly intentional type of mentality that I strive to emulate in my own life.
I resonated with how David described his lifelong feeling that “he always knew he wanted something more in his life.” His dedication to changing his path – and making an impact on those around him along the way – is truly remarkable.
NEVER STOP STRIVING FOR GREATNESS, IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL OR PERSONAL LIFE
On a personal level, David currently lives in Spain with the most important people in his life: his wife, Kelli, and their three beautiful children. Outside of the entrepreneurial and legal verticals, David always seeks to achieve new and exciting heights. He spends his free time chasing adventure and discovery by taking on new challenges in such thrilling pursuits as these:
- Running marathons
- Taking flying lessons
- Hiking the stunning mountains of Patagonia
If something intriguing scares you, it’s probably worth the risk. Take David’s words to heart, and maybe you’ll find the courage you need to jump into the deep end and try something entirely new.
WHERE TO ACQUIRE MORE WISDOM FROM DAVID SCHNURMAN
David has had a fascinating life and career. If you’re hooked already, this episode is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to learn from him, and I highly encourage you to seek out as much of his thought leadership as you can.
David has written prolific articles that have been featured in notable publications. Here are such a few of the prestigious places you can read his writing for yourself:
- The Wall Street Journal
- Inc. Magazine
- Crain’s New York
- The New York Post
- The digital publication Law.com
David is also the author of The Fast Forward Mindset: How to Be Fearless & Focused to Accelerate Your Success. This book contains an actionable and reliable method to get over the most challenging hurdles that have been holding you back.
Buy his book on Amazon today to accelerate your entrepreneurial success and find the true meaning of happiness and fulfillment. Along the way, you’ll also discover how these concepts specifically pertain to what really matters to you.
This was an incredibly special episode of the One Away Show for me to produce. I hope you gain as much insight and inspiration from listening to David as I did.
If you’ve been enjoying our podcast, please consider subscribing to our channels and taking a moment to rate and review! Follow along on YouTube above, or listen on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. A full transcript is provided below for your convenience.
TRANSCRIPT – The One Away Show Featuring David Schnurman:
BRYAN WISH: Thanks for joining us today, David. Can you tell us about your One Away moment?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: Everyone who was alive and old enough at the time knows where we were on 9/11. It’s one of those things that stick in your memory forever. Personally, I remember going to work in midtown Manhattan and seeing the flames and smoke coming from the towers.
I was still having to work, regardless, and I remember thinking, “This is crazy.” You could hear jets as they were flying by. When I arrived at work, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. This is going to be a really bad day, but I’m sure they’re going to put the fire out. Everything will be somewhat normal, it’s just a really bad day.”
The moment the towers fell – a moment we’ve all read or heard about – I looked at my boss and said, “I need to leave now.” I got up to leave and didn’t come back for a couple of days. At that moment, I knew everything had changed.
On a personal level, everything changed for my career because I lived right next to the armory on the 27th and 3rd. I was staying with my girlfriend, who is now my wife, at her place. That was the same armory that they used for all the missing people after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Over the next couple of days, I didn’t go into work. I constantly saw all these posters plastered all over the fences surrounding the armory. Each One showed picture after picture of missing family members or friends. Now, of course, we know all of them were dead. It was such a sad scene.
I’ll never forget the “wake-up moment” I had when I got back to work a couple of days later. I worked in sales in 2001. My position at the time was my second sales job since I had graduated from college in 1999. I didn’t like what I was doing. It felt like I was just sort of going through the motions.
After 9/11, I realized that life is short. You’ve got to do what you really want to do. I saw myself 20 years into the future, working at my 7th or 8th sales job after countless years of switching back and forth.
At the company I worked for in 2001, all the senior teammates expressed a similar experience as the One I dreaded running into down the road. Many were on their 3rd, 4th, or even 5th sales job and felt stuck.
I knew, right then, that I never want to feel stuck in the same routine as a sales professional. Pretty soon thereafter, I quit my job, even though I didn’t even have another one lined up. Of course, I needed money, so I became a realtor in New York City. That decision is what shifted my career to where I am today.
BRYAN WISH: Before 9/11, were you taking a hard look in the mirror? Did you know something was off then? Or was 9/11 the moment that made you realize you should think a little more deeply about your life?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: I knew something was off before then, which is why I switched to my second job. It’s the same reason why, after every sales job I had, I worked really hard the first six months to a year and did really well and then got comfortable. I always knew I’d be successful, perhaps as an entrepreneur or something. I didn’t feel I was on the right path to achieve that goal.
My dad is a mentor to me, but sometimes dads say condescending things to you unintentionally. I remember when I was in the sales job, and it was my 3rd or 4th year, the second company, all he wanted me to do was go to law school.
He looked at me and said, “It’s going to be interesting to see where you end up.” I was like, “That’s kind of low, but yeah, I guess it will be” because I was not where I wanted to be. I enjoyed my first job. It was the perfect step-up from college, but I had to figure out how I was going to have a career rather than just a series of jobs after jobs.
BRYAN WISH: You said you noticed people who felt stuck and realized you didn’t want to get into the same situation 10-20 years down the line. How did you gain that insight?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: Honestly, I just knew deep down inside that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Working in sales had been a great experience, but I also knew that it wasn’t a stable one. That particular company alone went through three reorganizations during my time working there.
My role at the time was at a public company. They often fired people or shifted employees around. Every time, I survived and moved up. Yet, it had become so de-energizing. I was always wondering, “what’s going to happen next?”
In 1999, during the first recession after the .com bubble burst, several challenges came up. That was part of my decision to change careers, as well. I wasn’t growing enough. I just knew I had to shift my focus.
An important thing I learned early on from people who kept shifting was that every time you get a new job, you generally get a 20-30% bump. At least back then, employers would usually offer you more money than you were currently making to convince you to join their team. It was easier to make more money by shifting jobs than by getting promoted in your current company. So, that’s what I did.
BRYAN WISH: How old were you at that point?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: I was 23 or 24.
BRYAN WISH: So, what came next for you?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: I went straight into the process of becoming a real estate salesperson. Within a couple of months, I figured out how to get on Craigslist. Back then, it was just in its beginning stages. I became one of the top salespeople in the office.
Actually, one of the first apartments that I rented was to Nicky Hilton, who is Paris Hilton’s sister, and her boyfriend, Brian McFadden, who was a DJ on MTV. I got a pretty big commission from that sale and similar ones from a few other big deals.
Soon thereafter, maybe six months later, I had a similar realization as I’d had at my first job. I felt overly comfortable and noticed I wasn’t pushing myself as hard.
My big lightbulb moment came from thinking back to the real estate exam. I had gotten so much energy and enjoyment out of studying to prepare for it. A lot of the real estate exam involved the law, so I’d already been introduced to this field from a learning aspect. I really held onto that interest.
Ultimately, I realized I wanted to stop working in real estate because it was really just another sales job. My new change in trajectory was just like switching from sales. I decided that yes, I still wanted to be an entrepreneur someday. It would be better for me, however, to pursue a career that would have a clear direction and make an impact over the next 30 years.
I decided to take the LSAT and apply to law school. This was an interesting development because ever since I was in high school, all my dad had ever wanted for me was to go to law school. He came from very little money and had worked his way up to getting a scholarship to New York Law School, which ultimately enabled him to build the life he has now.
Law school, however, had never been something that interested me, growing up. It didn’t make sense for me until I was ready for it. I had to make that choice on my own. As soon as I decided to go to law school, I put all of my energy into applying. Luckily, all my efforts paid off.
BRYAN WISH: Even though you ultimately realized you didn’t want to continue, what would you say were the top 2-4 lessons you learned from your previous sales jobs? How have these learnings have helped you as an entrepreneur today?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: I always tell everybody to do a sales job for a couple of years if you can. I learned so much about myself and my skill set. Here are a couple of things that stuck out to me:
- Being a salesperson is exactly like being an entrepreneur. That’s what I liked about it. You figure out what you want. You figure out who the leads are. You make your own calls. You determine how much money you’re going to make.
- The rush of actually closing the sale is so exciting. I realized sales is a big, creative sport.
- You must learn to deal with rejection. There are a lot of self-help books that discuss how you’re no different after the rejection than you were before. Rejection is not real. We actually had Dale Carnegie training for us. The trainer would come in. He’d tell us to stand up, smile, stare at ourselves in the mirror. We used all of those techniques.
I think that these are some of the main skills I learned in sales that I still use today:
- Dealing with rejection
- Figuring out how to get through to the right person
- Savoring the rush of closing a successful deal
- Having the stamina to keep making call after call
- Continuing to iterate, like on emails, for example, until finally getting to one version that works
If you’re trying to decide whether to work in sales, I think the question really comes down to a matter of nature vs. nurture. Do the sale roles attract people who naturally like doing that, or did that help build that up? Certainly, it’s somewhere in between. Even to this day at Lawline, I still rely on old skills I acquired in sales. In fact, I still work on sales here at my current company, sometimes.
BRYAN WISH: So, you decided to go to law school. What happened next?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: When I started law school, I figured I was going to become a lawyer. All I knew is that I didn’t want to work for my dad in any way, shape, or form. I just knew it wouldn’t work. He is a personal injury lawyer, and that wasn’t an area that interested me.
My dad is very passionate about his work. I think he sees himself as a kind of Robin Hood-type figure who can get money from rich insurance companies to help the poor. He had a very specific vision, which is so smart.
All these things that he did have always registered in my head for me. There are two things that stood out to me in particular. I did two different internships; one at a judge and one at a law firm when I was in law school. I was a little bit older than most of the students because I had worked for four years. I realized law school was just an extension of college for most people.
Law school doesn’t really teach you how to be a lawyer. Instead, it mostly just teaches you arguments and case law, which isn’t entirely kind helpful. When I started internships at different law firms, I realized a lawyer who wants to be successful and grow is no different than a salesperson – except for one key ingredient.
Compared to working in sales, lawyers tend to have an extremely high workload. Of course, if you’re a transactional lawyer at a firm, it might be different. Trying to start your own law firm, however, requires a lot more work. I wasn’t shying away from the prospect of a heavy workload, but I still didn’t know where I wanted to go.
Two things happened during law school that led me to founding Lawline:
- I had a pretty negative experience working at a law firm over the summer. After I told the lawyer who I had been working under that I wasn’t going to come back, he essentially berated me. The whole office heard, and he kicked me out of the building right there and then. It was so humiliating. I remember walking out and just being like, “Damn. I never want to be treated like that again.”
- Around the same time, I started working on a public access TV show called TrueNYC. We also made it available to watch online. This was the start of a new passion for me. I was trying to understand who all these entrepreneurs were who started their businesses. Being involved with that show not only helped me build out my network, but also sort of transformed me into who I am today.
At that moment, I recognized that lawyers, especially at a firm, have to start from the bottom and build their way up.
True, NYC led me to realize I could create a similar video experience, gear it towards lawyers, and turn it into courses. This was a major lightbulb moment. I took an idea my dad had tried unsuccessfully back in 1999 and turned it into a full-time business, all during my third year of law school.
BRYAN WISH: Was there any specific person on this journey who you learned the most from? Perhaps someone who saw something in you, and maybe even pushed you to start a business?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: When I first started the TV show and website, I started doing some interviews and putting it out there. A guy named Richard Banfield reached out to me. He said, “I have a web development/design company. I’m also trying to start something called Startup Business School. I love what you’re doing.”
In my opinion, he was way more successful than me. He had a real business and was doing a lot of stuff. He’s like, “I love what you’re doing, but your site sucks, and the way you’re putting it out there, it sucks. Here’s what I want to do. I believe in you. I watched one of your interviews, and it’s probably one of the best interviews I’ve seen in terms of the questions and the information you got out. I want to rebuild your website for free.”
I was like, “Okay, and what do you want in return?” He said, “Absolutely nothing. I just want you to continue doing what you’re doing.”
I was a little skeptical, but eventually, I said okay. Within a month or two, he did exactly that. Not only did he help me build my website, but we kept our relationship strong in terms of what we were doing and what I was building.
His belief in me and what I was doing with TrueNYC really pushed me to the next level because not only did the site look better, I had somebody who was successful as an entrepreneur in my corner.
A little under a year later, when I had the idea to do Lawline, I knew I had to rebuild the website. I’d never met Richard in person. We just spoke over the phone. He was in Boston, and I was in New York. I decided to get on one of those $20 buses from Chinatown and go up to Boston to meet him, but I did it under the guise that I wanted to interview him. This is a pre-podcast, by the way.
I brought my camera to interview him for the TV show, and it went really well. I wanted to make sure the guy on the phone was the same guy in person, and he was. I told him what I was trying to do with Lawline. I said, “I want to hire you to build the site.” He said yes.
Several months later, we had a mockup of our first site. As they say, the rest is history. Not only have we kept in touch – I’m in Barcelona right now. He was in Spain when I first moved here. He had traveled here with his son. I saw on Instagram that he was here. I told him I was here. He came to my apartment and was my first visitor. We were on my terrace, celebrating how our lives merged back together again.
BRYAN WISH: While you were getting your own education and interviewing all these people and figuring out how to stand out on your own, what were some of the things you were learning? How did you find people to reach out to?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: I started with my own network. I got a handful of interviews really quickly. Some people were really successful. That helped get to the next round. Before you knew it, you got to people who are pretty big like Simon Sinek.
Other people weren’t quite as well known, but here are some notable names:
Ryan Atlas sold his email provider for $170 million when he was only 25 years old. I learned a lot from all the different entrepreneurs who said yes.
Ben Lerer was just starting Thrillist at the time .I had all these really interesting people on the show. Many of them have become super successful. I suppose I take some credit, I guess, for doing the interviews, but I’m really the One who learned a lot along the way.
The interviews did tend to become formulaic in a sense. I try to get five main learnings from each of these interviews. Then, I actually apply these takeaways to my business and my life. That was a big success for me, but it wasn’t even the best part.
The best part was the networking, the connections, and the relationships that I made. I’m talking to you today because of TrueNYC and those interviews. That’s how far I’ve come down that path. Maybe another tree branch would have led us together by fate, but I really believe TrueNYC is what led us together right now.
BRYAN WISH: I kind of look at networking and building relationships like a mountain. There are people at different rungs. If you get to one rung, you get to the next and the next and the next. For those that don’t know David, David was extremely influential in helping me get our business off the ground and being a part of that. Thank you, David, for all that help.
DAVID SCHNURMAN: Let’s be clear, though. I hired Bryan to help me market my book, The Fast Forward Mindset, when Bryan was just getting started. We connected right away. Bryan not only helped me market it, but he helped me edit the final version and really help it get to the level.
I’m forever grateful for that experience. To me, that’s like running a marathon together. We suffered together, but we put it all together successfully in the end. That meant so much to me. That’s the type of person you are. Obviously, now you’re a little busier. I don’t think you can do that for all your clients now, but at least back then, you knew what you needed to do to get it going.
BRYAN WISH: It was a wonderful experience to do it with you. Wouldn’t trade it for the world. Richard helped you build Lawline. Tell us what the company is about. Tell us about the book.
DAVID SCHNURMAN: Lawline is the largest provider of online continuing legal education in the country. To give you some depth of what that means, since 2006, we have 5 million credits that have been completed on our sites, which are what attorneys need to keep their education after they have their license, and about 150,000 attorneys have done that. Every day, we do real up-to-date content.
What the book is about was my journey as a leader and an individual growing the company. Being an entrepreneur, you’re at the forefront of stress, uncertainty, fear, focus, and all the other things you need in your life.
You’ve got to do it all at once. I realized that I had a lot of walls around me. Some of them I had broken through, yet some I couldn’t seem to overcome.
My book is about what I need to do over the next 20 years so I can look back and have no regrets. I created The Fast Forward Mindset framework around how to be as fearless as you can be on a daily basis, while also staying focused on the bigger picture.
The second thing that I found to be key is that instead of focusing on the achievements that I wanted, I started focusing on the impact that I wanted to have on others. I think now, more than ever, that making our intended impact is such a key thing that we all need to focus on.
Making an impact helps a lot. When you look at the impact you’ve made, you become so much less concerned about failure. Instead, you start thinking about the significance from the outside perspective. Then, you can shift your focus to what you can do for others.
BRYAN WISH: You were able to develop this framework based on your journey of becoming an entrepreneur because you encountered a set of walls that you had to overcome. What were three of those walls that felt the highest for you?
Tell us about those lightbulb moments that allowed you to put the book together, the way you did, with such an authentic approach and using a very specific framework?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: I’m going to choose the most prevalent walls. The first wall I had was different times I needed to take action to get out of my comfort zone. The biggest struggle I had in taking action was making a damn decision. I’d get stuck so many times ruminating about a specific decision.
So often, I was afraid I was going to make the wrong decision. You don’t know if it’s going to be wrong or right. Sometimes, you just have to wait. Weeks often go by.
I’ll share two things that will help you make decisions faster.
- Using the phrase “Good thing, bad thing, who knows.” That’s a key component and has been around for thousands of years. It’s a way to not label your decision or the outcome of your decision as good or bad. We tend to label something bad 20 times more than we label good. If you’re afraid that getting on those podcasts, or thinking to yourself, “I’m going to sound like an idiot,” or ” I’m never going to get on,” try it anyways. Do it regardless of how you sound.
- The wall that everyone faces comes into play once you’ve made that big decision. You’ve moved to Barcelona. You started your business. You’ve hired people. You’ve done the podcasts.
In the end, you’ll just have to see what happens. Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a bad thing. Who knows.
That’s a small example of how you make a decision, such as whether or not to go on a podcast.
On a personal level, one example for me was moving to Barcelona. I thought to myself, is it going to be good or bad? Who knows.
That’s how you’re able to move forward, versus, “I don’t know. I’m going to be far from my company. I’m going to be far from my family. Is it going to work? Is it not going to work?” You can move forward. Something my dad told me is in 50 years from now, whatever decision that’s in your head is going to mean nothing. It’s going to be pointless. You’re able to move that faster. You’ve got to make the decision to get out of your comfort zone. That’s the first wall that everyone faces.
A month or two goes into it, and you’re like, “What have I done? I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know these two people I just hired, how to manage them.” All you want to do is retreat and go back to, “I wish I could go back to before I made that decision. I shouldn’t have hired that person.” You’ve got to nip fear in the bud. Nip is an acronym I went through, which is no, you’re not alone. You’ll get through it. You need to play the part.
Oftentimes, there’s a lot of stress involved when you’re in that moment. You wake up in the morning, and your heart starts beating. You’re sweating, you’re stressed, and yet you’re not even sure why.
There are always a couple of big inflection points in your business that are extremely stressful. What I wanted to provide people are four things you can do to get out of that on the pinch. I’m going to share one of them right now: Filling your bucket.
What I mean to say is that you need to take a pause. Look at your friend, like Bryan Wish, and say, “Bryan…” When you fill a bucket, the number one thing to do is you need to fill someone else’s bucket. By filling someone’s bucket, you actually give them positive reinforcement on how they’re doing.
Say something like, “This is a great podcast. I think you’ve done a really good job of moving it forward.” When you’re giving someone reinforcement, you actually feel positive energy yourself. Sometimes when you’re going through that stress, and you just need to remind yourself: Aren’t I the One who hired that person?
Look at the person you’ve hired. Give them positive reinforcement. This will give you positive energy during that moment to help get you through that stress.
BRYAN WISH: Tell us about the third wall you had to break through. I’d love for you to take us through an example, like your COO that you had to let go.
DAVID SCHNURMAN: The third and final is you decided not to fire the person you hired because you got through that moment of fear. Now you’re nervous because you have to focus. What’s the plan? I’m going to give one example of keeping the agreements you’ve set. It sounds simple, but we often tend to make commitments to other people, or even to ourselves, that we eventually break.
One of the things I heard early on was from Jack Canfield, The Success Principles is you need to keep your agreements as if your son’s or daughter’s life was on the line. If you keep your agreements as if a loved one’s life is on the line, you not only make fewer promises, but you also see them through to the end.
At the time when I read that, I was breaking agreements. I was canceling meetings. I wasn’t taking care of my health. I put that to the test and used that to run my first couple of marathons.
To me, that was a real example of I started doing that and applying basic goals and dates to things. It really helps you when there’s that wall in front of you. If you know you’re going to keep that agreement, it’s the number one thing to give you the focus to break through it.
For example, what’s interesting is going through my COO example. I had three different COOs in six years. Literally, every two years, a COO failure. I couldn’t figure out what was going on or why. I just knew that structure had to change. I decided that I needed to circle back and take action.
For me, that action was hiring a coach to work with my company. The main fear that I had after I hired the coach was that it costs a lot of money – more than I expected to pay. I went forward with that. As soon as I did that, I started thinking to myself, “I don’t know if this is the right thing or what we’re going to do.” Then I said, “I’m not alone.” I spoke to so many entrepreneurs that have done what I’ve done.
Finally, the coach himself provided me with the structure and focus I needed by using the scaling of the framework. This is Mark Green, by the way, who you know very well.
He provided the focus for our company and our business, which is the same thing a marathon training plan provides for a marathoner. Using that helped us build a foundation for where we are today. I go into more detail in the book about this.
BRYAN WISH: Anything else that you want to give context to?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: There are so many “frameworks” out there. I’ve realized that in my own research and talking to so many people. You’ve just got to find the right one that fits for you. The number one customer of this framework, in the process of writing this book, was me.
As soon as I started applying the framework, I became president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. This was something I’d been so afraid of doing. I had avoided it for years.
Nonetheless, I said, “Let me use the framework and do it because it’s going to have the biggest impact on entrepreneurs.” I actually wrote the book. I not only researched it. I literally applied the same framework for writing the book.
The third and final one, which is where I am today, was moving my family to Barcelona for the year. We had always had a desire to explore the world. Now, we are giving our children that opportunity.
This is all about not looking back in 20 years with regrets. Sometimes it’s the vision you have in your head, but you’re not sure how to do it.
Using this framework has allowed me to take those little steps to move forward. I really hope it can do the same for other people, too. I started doing webinars. There’s actually a Fast Forward Mindset plan that takes 10 minutes to fill out. It’s designed to take 10 minutes or less to complete so you can start working on a goal right away.
BRYAN WISH: As you’ve been on this journey, what’s some content resources and materials that you’ve read over the years that have been deeply impactful to how you navigate the world?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: Books have always been super impactful on me. Looking back on my life, I make a big change about every five years or so, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I started to feel that we had this beautiful house that we bought. You’ve been there. It was really great. We were living the life. We were exactly where we wanted to be, but it started to feel too routine for me. The same thing had happened back at my earlier sales jobs.
Routine sets you free, but it also can hold you back. It’s a good guiding point for other people. Think about your life in these five-year clips. Make sure you’re keeping in mind when you look back in five years, is this: What will be different? What will you have changed structurally, or at least tried to change in those five years?
Sometimes people think they have to make every year, every day. It could be two or three big things. Book number one is “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. I have a list of all the books that have impacted me in the back of my book in the index.
Book number two is “The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.”
Book number three is “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, who actually ended up writing the forward for my book because we became close.
Due to the impact that his book had on me, I reached out to him and tried to help him share his impact with the world. He didn’t need my help because he’s sold more than a million copies of his book.
When I reached out to him, he had only sold about 10,000 copies so far. He’s come a long way in eight years. That’s my dream.
BRYAN WISH: You’ve talked about a moment with your dad sitting on the back porch. It’s this real moment of looking back on your life and what you want to tell yourself. There’s this father/son moment of being proud. I’d love for you to share that with the audience to bring us home.
DAVID SCHNURMAN: My dad has been a strong mentor for me ever since I started becoming an entrepreneur. He helped me dig deep. When I was about 40 years old, I was having one of those low moments that we all have as entrepreneurs, but rarely talk about so often.
I told my dad that I was sick of feeling like a failure every day. I thought my business should be bigger than it was. I thought I should be more accomplished by that point in my life.
He looked at me and said, “Dave, you don’t know how good you are. We’re sitting in the house of your dreams. Look at the business you built. Look what you’ve done.” When he said that to me, I sort of demurred, like, “Oh, yeah, thanks.”
Nobody does well when somebody is giving them a compliment, even if it’s coming from their dad.
He said, “You’re not listening to me. You don’t know how good you are.” When he said that again, it reminded me of a conversation I’d just had with my wife.
Literally a month before, my wife was sitting in our bedroom crying. She had to give a huge presentation for work. I knew her problem wasn’t her focus, because I’d heard her practicing it time and time again. She was perfect.
I asked her what she was afraid of. In response, she was like, “I’m afraid if I get up there, they’re going to realize that I’m a fraud, and I’ve been a fraud for the past 14 years on my job.”
Let me explain. My wife was one of the top social workers at our hospital. She was awarded social worker of the year. She was handpicked for the position she was in. I got chills when she said that. I was like, “You don’t know how good you are. You’re really good at that.”
When my dad said the same thing to me, I remember saying it to Kelli, my wife. It’s not just Kelli. It’s not just me. None of us know how good we are. That’s the imposter syndrome. Lacking sufficient confidence in ourselves holds us back from taking action to get out of our comfort zone more often than anything else.
BRYAN WISH: I got chills listening to you just now, even though I’ve heard this story before. You have been one of the most impactful people in my life. Thank you for everything you’ve done, what you represent, and what you built. Where can other people find you?
DAVID SCHNURMAN: As I started looking at other podcast interviews, clearly you have a knack for attracting mentors to you, in one form or another. You’ve had a lot of great people who have helped you out in your career. Super cool. People can learn, just from listening to these interviews, how to attract the right people and push that forward.
To find me, go to fastforwardmindset.com. Google my name, David Schnurman. I think that because of you, I have produced over 35 podcasts in the past year, maybe 40. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at David@lawline.com. Check out the book. Listen to it or buy it online. I’m here to help.