Steve Distante is an Investment Banker, Impact Entrepreneur & Documentary Filmmaker. As a storyteller, he shares stories of Entrepreneurs who use their businesses to make a difference in the world to inspire, educate and celebrate fellow entrepreneurs for us all to consider our gift of entrepreneurship for good.
As Founder of Vanderbilt Financial Group, his commitment to environmental & social sustainability through Impact Investments embraces and prepares for the future by being responsible, purposeful, & impactful.
Bryan Wish: [00:00:02] Steve, welcome to The One Away show.
Steve Distante: [00:00:06] Thank you, Bryan. I am excited to share some stories right now.
Bryan Wish: [00:00:11] I’m sure you have plenty given your life and career and the important impactful things you’ve been a part of. So, Steve, why don’t you share with us the one away moment that you want to tell the audience?
Steve Distante: [00:00:24] Oh, my gosh, I’ve got a lot of them. What do I do? How do I pick? Like, you know, it’s like when you go to Christmastime, you see all these presents under the tree, which one do you grab first?
Bryan Wish: [00:00:34] Well, you can grab two or three if you want.
Steve Distante: [00:00:37] So I always like to share with people. I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life because I’m introverted. I don’t prefer to be outward. I prefer to be inward. And when I was a kid, I used to go up into the horse trails behind my house and collect horse manure and sell it to my neighbors. And that was my way of being able to communicate. I’d bring the manure down and one of my neighbors was Miss Barker and she used to say thank you for the food, for my plants to make them beautiful. And she had these great tomatoes and peppers and things. And, you know, she handed me a dollar and it just made me feel very grateful and connected to her, not because of the money exchange, but that she was excited that I was giving her something that she needed.
She could do something with it. And as the story goes, usually I’ll say something like, “and I’ve been selling shit ever since.” So it’s just been my way. I mean, like my whole life has been filled with business. So, you know, growing up, I had paper routes and I couldn’t — I wasn’t old enough to have a paper route. So, I hired people who were older than me. And then I collect the money and then I get the tips and so on. Probably the best business I ever got was a limo business where I drove my wife to her prom. She wasn’t my wife at the time, of course, and her date got fresh and I ended up about a week later after the check had cleared, going out on a date. And it’s been many years since we’re going on our 33rd year of being married. So there’ve been lots of moments in my life that I’m super grateful for and very aware of those pivot points, you know, those things that happen. And so where I am now in life is living within my unique ability, you know, like that thing that you can do for a long time and not even realize that time has passed by. And that’s been an evolution of things for me and probably the most impactful thing that happened to get me where I am is I was at a board meeting for the Entrepreneurs organization in New York City. It was a board member at this point about eight, nine years ago. His name is Chintan Pancho and he’s an attorney. And he said, hey, do you want to go out for a drink after the board meeting as I started this conversation off? I’m an introvert, so no, I want to run home and, you know, be my cave. Right. But I said, yes, you know, it was like it was the year I said yes to everything. Right. So we went out and he said, hey, Steve, so what do you do for a living and what do you do in the world? And I said, well, I own an investment firm and I do this, that. And the other thing, he says, no, what do you do? Like what he says, I like to make the world a better place. And I said, well, that’s a great question. So I said, So my building is LEED Platinum, like the highest level of environmentally friendly. I have two hundred ninety-five solar panels, that power 90 percent of my electricity. My carpets are made out of fishnets. He’s like, yeah, what else? And I said, well if you Google Tesla’s number one fan on the first hit because of my love of electric cars, it was well. And I said, well, I have a foundation of heroes against heroin because we had some falling people in our lives that needed help. And if we had done this earlier, they would have gotten the care. And he just kept pumping me for information and said, why do you keep asking these questions? He goes, Well, I’m an attorney and I represent billionaires and very wealthy millionaires that have made their money, but they invest in a thing called impact investing and they focus on investing their money. So they’ll have a bottom line that’s not only a return on their investment but also some sort of impact. And it’s my job to monitor that they’re doing these things. And my world was changed. Like at that moment, my world was changed because you got to know that. In the world of overregulation, you start to heat what you do, even though I started in the world of financial services, so I’m not a financial planner, I’ve got about 200 plus of those and we manage billions of dollars. It turned into just being, you know, guilty until proven innocent, you know, lawsuits for the stupidest things. And we didn’t do anything wrong. It was just like, that’s our industry. And I really resented being in the financial services industry. I hated it. It was always defense. And when Chintan said that there is a way of using the money for good. I was 100 percent in, so I said, so tell me more about that. And he started sharing with me, you know, different ways that people were doing it. So I made that my mission. Is that the kind of story you’re looking for, Bryan?
Bryan Wish: [00:06:03] What’s unbelievable is you have anything else to say on Chintan before you want to pause.
Steve Distante: [00:06:10] No. I mean, so what ended up happening was I started focusing on this. It turned out it was only the only way you could invest in this is if you were accredited or wealthy. Right. You had certain levels of wealth, either income or assets or so I thought that stunk. I thought it was like, that’s not OK. I mean, a lot of people want to do good things with their money, but now it’s kind of shrouded in only wealthy people being able to do that. How do we get it out of that? And so I made that my goal and I made that my existence. Like, how do we bring impact investing to the masses? It was funny. OppenheimerFunds called me and said, we have something that clients can invest in that doesn’t require them to be accredited, nonaccredited investors, non mega-wealthy investors. And I said, amazing. Could you come in and speak about that? And I’m like, sure, I’ll talk to them. And it just became my blue ocean. If you know, I’m sure many of the people that are listening to this, I’ve heard of blue ocean versus red ocean, the blue ocean where you have no competition and that red ocean where its fees and returns and all that other stuff. And it became my primary focus. And you think about compliance anymore. I have a whole group of executives at my company that I don’t need to be doing their job. It’s just I had nothing better to do than sit there and try to protect the business because that’s what we’re set up to do. We don’t lose anything. So I was able to become hyper-vigilant at focusing on impact investing and being able to bring capital to impactful entrepreneurs to help them scale and grow. And that’s where I am today, I’ve really evolved to that. And that’s what I’ve made my primary mission in the world. The one part of the story I didn’t mention to you was the reason why I’m Tesla’s number one fan, if you Google me, is because there was a movie, a documentary film called Revenge of the Electric Car. I don’t know if you ever heard of that, but it’s a documentary about Elon Musk and how he invested in Tesla. He wasn’t the founder. He did invest in Tesla. And then he became the primary owner way back when having one of those little roadster-looking vehicles, the originals. But that became my focus. And I and I love documentary films. So I have done documentary films and all that stuff along the way. So it was that film that made a big difference to me as well. The Revenge of the Electric Car. Great, great film.
Bryan Wish: [00:08:56] So much there, Steve. Where do I even start? No, you know, I think it’s so cool you’ve followed this curiosity from a young age, right? From cow manure to paper. It’s still about investing and how that’s changed. Like it’s one curiosity after the next and one meeting during the year saying, yes, the world, the blue ocean kind of opened up to you. And just remarkable, right? Well, I would be curious about two questions. The first question is, you know, it sounds like Chintan showed you how you could be doing work that was more purposeful or more purposeful in a way that you had never thought about. So being so entrepreneurial, my first question to you would be, how come that was maybe a focal point starting out of the gate? And the second question is, and you can answer one at a time, but the second question is, once he came into your life, what were the opportunities and how you started to facilitate impact investing for the masses, for the people who weren’t just who weren’t wealthy. So we’d love to understand.
Steve Distante: [00:10:12] So purposeful investment wasn’t a thing way back when, meaning that you didn’t know that you could align with your values, with your investing. It was a dark pool. It was just, you know, you invested in things and you had a certain risk tolerance and it had a certain objective. And that’s what you did. It was trending at the time and what ended up happening? I created a company called Impact, you impact the letter, you dot me, which was “Impact You Got Me” was an educational portfolio of videos and so on, on impact investing. And my thought was that I was going to attract a lot of younger advisors who were interested in becoming impact-oriented financial advisors. Well, that didn’t happen. But what ended up happening was I had billions of dollars worth of assets from other firms join me, people who were more grape nuts, you know, kind of tie tidy looking ponytail fellows and gals who had been doing this sort of investing for a very long time. And the founders of the firms weren’t really into this space. They considered, you know, these people who I love to be like LB’s outcasts and they’re doing this weird stuff. And I had this major growth in 2017, not that long ago, only three or four years ago, where all of a sudden these people joined me who was just like, yes, this is our tribe. This is what we need to do. And so I started it was interesting. So I had learned recently, you know, with this group a 360 Abundance 360, which Peter Diamandis heads up. The ideas that we have in our businesses and you have these businesses that are maybe on their way and they’re making their money, they’re pumping out revenues and. You get the leader of the organization, the CEO, the visionary, the entrepreneur, and we pull things off track often we like we screw with things, right. And this was Steve kind of screwing out there with, OK, this is the way we’re going to do it. And I almost said forever, we’re not going to accept anybody that’s not impact-oriented. And when I was at this 360 event during the pandemic not too long ago, they talked about new ideas inside your companies. And they talked about your organization’s immunity to new ideas because entrepreneurs were often idea bunnies, right? So we’re pumping out ideas, pumping out ideas. And the challenge with that is you pull people off track and your organization builds immunity to change. And it’s very healthy for founders to be able to do French-based projects. So my impact-oriented projects were considered fringe and I had been doing it already, but I’d never heard it articulated so well that you create these fringes and you either spin off a new business or you actually bring it back into the corpus of the organization. And in 2017, when all of a sudden we had people joining us with all of these advisors and all of this money. My management team realized that we were on to something. Steve’s passion for this stuff is really big, and so it got accepted into the culture of the organization. I would run off and do it either way. But because it became so lucrative from an opportunity of recruiting new people and getting new assets in, it made a lot of sense. And so that’s how I was able to really bring it into the organization as we are now when we’re going over our assets under management. A couple of weeks ago when I said, OK, so I’m curious what percentages are impact-oriented? And it was 50 percent of our organization you’re going to stand. This is billions of dollars and half of it is focused on being impactful. So there’s validity to what we’re doing. We have a lot of older advisors, never even thought about doing this. And the people who are impact-oriented people are focused on doing good things. They attract a lot of money. And that’s what’s ending up happening now. It’s just become a really great opportunity and it’s so in alignment with who I am as a human being.
Bryan Wish: [00:15:10] You know, it’s fascinating when you knew I was going to ask you the percentage difference in impact versus traditional, the fact that you’ve done 50 percent, you’ve kind of shifted the ship that quickly. And then also you attracted a herd of followers, right? It kind of probably guessed the electric batteries a bit for you. Great. You know, when we’d see when you started getting people on board to kind of follow you and to move assets under management to impact. What was the process from there where you were able to find it? Opportunities and what kind of impact investments were you able to put people into and then how are you creating opportunities for the everyday investor who maybe wasn’t accredited to also invest in your firm?
Steve Distante: [00:16:09] Yes. So that’s a big focus for me, is again, allowing the people who are not wealthy and I mean that from the perspective of as defined by the regulators to be able to be in alignment with their values. So I’ll share with you one of our recent projects. We. We worked with a company called World Tree and World Tree Grows, the world’s fastest-growing trees and the trees grow in about 10 years, world tree partners with farmers and investors can put in as little as three thousand bucks, and the projected return is 10x. They should get 10x their money. So I’m not selling. I’ll put all of the different disclaimers on this. I’m not selling. This isn’t an offer and all that other good stuff. But an acre of trees is about one hundred and ten trees. And so farmers who are typically on welfare and we say welfare from the perspective of being on government subsidies and so on, can allocate a minimum of 10 acres. They plant these trees and instead of 10 years the projection, no guarantees, but the projection is about one hundred and twenty thousand dollars worth of wood, three thousand one hundred and twenty thousand. World Tree then splits the money with the farmer. The farmer gets 60000 for those four for one acre, that’s one acre. So if it’s ten, it’s six hundred thousand dollars. They give the 60000 to the, to the farmer and then the investor and world to split the difference. So the investor would get 30 and the world to get 30. But didn’t tell you that world tree. Also, these trees eat 11 times the carbon of any tree on earth and when they cut the tree down on the farm, it grows back seven more times from the stump. Faster this time. And the farmer keeps all of that. These trees are worth more than their farm property will ever be worth. And they have generations now that have decided they weren’t going into farming, coming back to go farming. And so we took this. I was speaking at an event about my I have a documentary film called Igniting Impact. And I was talking about it and I met the founders of World Tree and it was an instant relationship connection. I worked with them to put together this deal. It’s a rig, a plus deal, which allows non-accredited investors to invest. And that was a great way because a great way for advisers to be able to connect with their clients who are worried about climate change, who cares about farmers, who care about gender equality, because a lot of times the farmers, women farmers would jump into these farms that their parents were working on. So it helped match our values. And that’s probably one of the biggest things I look for in these kinds of deals is what’s the value of the company. And that’s the way I do it. And now I’ve dedicated my life to focus on raising capital for impactful entrepreneurs to help them scale and grow. And what I do with that is I just want to level the playing field for entrepreneurs so they don’t get taken advantage of when they’re doing capital raises. And so I’m like taking all of my life experiences and kind of putting them forward, paying them forward by doing that. As a matter of fact, I’ve started writing a book which is coming out on September 29th this year. It’s called The Entrepreneurs Guide to Raising Capital through Storytelling. And it’s going to talk exactly about stories like World Tree, but give a whole bunch of different ways that you can raise capital, because I want to you know, I want to be a hero to entrepreneurs. You know, people ask, who do you want to be a hero to? That’s a great question, by the way, to ask yourself, who do you want to be a hero to? Because then it gives you real clarity on what you’re looking to do in this world and what kind of legacy you’re looking to leave.
Bryan Wish: [00:20:22] And while. Steve, you said something really interesting about aligning values to the investment deals, then creating opportunities for everyday people to get in on the deals, the story with the world, truly fascinating. Right. You met the founders, too, and kind of had that instant bond. How you know. When you’re you know, I can just tell your passion, right, for the space that you’re in like it’s very in front of me right now, I just feel it. Thank you. You and you’re talking to or you’re trying to create opportunities for the people at your firm for these impact deals. How are you finding them? How are you sourcing them? What are the things you value-aligned? What are the areas that you’re looking into as you think about the next 20, 30, 40, 100 years to make the world a better place and then bringing deals to the table that align with your values and the stakeholders within your company?
Steve Distante: [00:21:30] So it’s not all that difficult. So when I created my documentary film, Igniting Impact, I didn’t know what the stories were going to be when I first started. But it’s ITW entrepreneurs, five women, three men, a diverse group of people. And when I look back, I said, wow, look at this. I’ve got diversity. I’ve got gender equality. Weigh heavily weighted towards women, which is wonderful. The deal, the entrepreneur showed up. And it’s a matter of putting it out there in the universe and then suddenly people will learn what you’re doing and reach out to you or make an introduction and introductions are the best way because then there’s a certain level of accountability on the person who’s making the introduction. And so my relationship with the entrepreneurs’ organization, with Peter Diamandis, with even Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach and part of a group called Free Zone Frontier, with them like those relationships are golden because it gives them credibility from the beginning, you know, especially in the world YPO world, those are a really big deal. So I was working with the U.N. bringing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship to the U.N. and the U.N. brings me the people and deals. Oh, we got somebody. It’s looking to raise capital here or do something with that. So it’s not for lack of opportunities. It’s a matter of having the process of being able to evaluate No. One. This is the number one thing is what are the values of the organization of the company that you’re bringing in for me? You know, because I need to know there’s an alignment of values. And there was this kind of spiritual guru. His name was Wayne Dyer years ago, Wayne Dyer. And have you ever heard of him? But he said when you squeeze an orange, what do you get? And obviously, it’s orange juice. But when you squeeze an entrepreneur, what do you get meaning? When you squeeze them, they run out of capital, they’re hit with the toughest of all times, and so on. Are they going to stick with it or not? And I’m looking for an entrepreneur whose business is their life’s mission. Their purpose is tied to their business. It’s not just a money play, it’s more than that. And for most entrepreneurs, it doesn’t happen from inception. And you may have a bunch of young entrepreneurs that use that as their go-to place, but the truth is that it feels like and I’ve seen this happen over and over again, life has to happen before you can actually figure it out. And so you could start off purposeful, but it’s going to narrow over time and become really clear to you when it’s exactly right, because that thing that you’re doing, you can’t see yourself not doing for the rest of your life when it becomes super clear and then you just bring it up a whole level because it’s not chasing the money, it’s chasing the dream. And that’s where it starts to really resonate.
Bryan Wish: [00:24:49] Well, that I just think it’s so important how you’re analyzing people for who they are, their values, and that only working with those people and not compromising on those values to live your brand mission and, you know, uphold that to the highest standard.
Steve Distante: [00:25:07] Oh, God, I never want somebody to lose their money because I didn’t do my job right. I didn’t evaluate. Sure, we can get blindsided and people understand that. Maybe they understand that things that they get involved with could lose money. But I want to do everything I can to be able to assure success. So like a reggae plus, they do audited financials as an independent CPA firm that audits its audits, the financials. So it’s a little bit different than a record, which is just your typical private placement. There’s a multitude of ways of being able to do it, you know, raise capital. But that’s one of the things I like about reggae. Plus, you have a third party that’s auditing the books and looking at them. So that was a really great assurance for me on that particular deal. I just want to empower people. I want to really help entrepreneurs that are impactful to raise capital and do it in a way that they don’t get taken advantage of.
Bryan Wish: [00:26:03] Totally Steve, you know, you’ve been here for an answer to tell you if it’s appropriate to answer, but I mean, you’ve been quite successful at what you do, but you also are managing a lot of money and for people of a high standard. And do you ever feel the weight of that on your shoulders that like ensuring know success, not screwing up because money is a delicate thing that can rip families apart and divide people and you’re at the forefront of the industry in a big way? And I’m just curious. How do you separate the emotions from the work and the incredible relationships that you’re building along the way and that people entrust you, you know, to ideally make things happen? But I’m sure there are times where it doesn’t happen the way you wish. So I’m just curious what that’s been like over the years as you’ve built your practice.
Steve Distante: [00:27:02] Well, so I don’t have a practice. I don’t have practice at all. I practiced years ago. So we have hundreds of financial advisers that work for us. And we’ve got an amazing leadership team within the organization, which allows us to scale and grow. But we use technology for a lot of what we do. So we have the technology, artificial intelligence that allows us to review all of the work that’s being done in the firm, all the trades, all of the outside business activities, inside business activities, and evaluate if there’s any sort of anomalies going on within that. So we rely heavily on technology to allow us to do that. As a matter of fact, I have an AI that is digested all of the regulators, the regulator’s regulations. And so now my regulator, I can actually tell a regulator that they are not exactly correct because we did this to it and this is what we came out with. So just being able to digest a lot of information and apply it in a way that makes sense, I think is probably my greatest contribution that I can to the industry. The other thing is, so what success rate? I don’t consider money success. I consider success to have an impact on people’s lives. One of the biggest challenges in our industry is cognitive impairment. People get older and they don’t think as clearly as some of them may like, my God bless, my dad is eighty and he’s sharp as a tack. But the reality is people get older and it leaves a bull’s eye on the back of every financial adviser out there. And I’m building a digital human that is going to be a solution for our industry to be able to interview on a regular basis people for their cognitive abilities to be able to take that and put it into our vault, our electronic vault, so that when it’s five years later and, you know, nephew, you know, comes and sues us or arbitrates against us, by the way, you lost whatever you know. Well, here’s a couple of examples of how we didn’t. And this is what happened. And everybody was very aware of what was going on. It’s so easy to make people look bad when somebody’s gone. And I want to use technology to be a hero for our industry, for the financial services industry, because it’s probably the most distrusted, maybe not the most car industry. No one has got to go talk to their manager and find out all that other good stuff. But there’s a lot of distrust in our industry. And everybody, rather, just go to some app, you know, to invest their money versus going to a financial adviser. We’ve just been painted with such a horrible brush. And so, you know, that’s why I take it very seriously. And I look at how we can fairly be able to monitor. This is really weird because we have all these financial advisors now. We’ve got to discipline them. But they’re also our employees. But they’re not our employees. They eat what they kill. It’s like such a weird relationship. But that’s how we do it. I take it just very seriously. I’m a systems-based person and I’ve got a great team that does as little manual work as possible and more. It’s looking at our dashboards, our digital dashboards to evaluate what’s going on within portfolios, turnover ratios, commissions generated, all that kind of stuff. So it’s not an elegant answer, but that’s how we do it.
Bryan Wish: [00:30:51] Well, no, it’s a great answer. Right. And I think you’re mitigating as much risk as possible by putting in the technology systems that drive very efficient and effective decision making. So in this day and age, I think a beautiful answer. Steve, what you know, I know you’ve talked about discovering his passion and find, you know, impact investing and that really shaping the core of your business today. And I’m sure or more so in the future. What would you say to the person who reads your book that’s coming out in the fall? How would you tell them to go about finding this thing, to open up their kind of passion for just fully and throwing themselves into based on your journey, your experience? Most of our audience is younger entrepreneurs out of the gate. And I think your perspective would be really beautiful.
Steve Distante: [00:31:48] Well, do something. So first and foremost, something you’re usually familiar with, something that you have a passion for. I mean, I like to dive in the deep end of the pool and make myself scared, like that’s my favorite place to be, where I’m like where I’m I’m like, now I have to do a ton of research on capital raising and finding all these stories. I like that. I like to challenge myself. So I get my best energy from challenging myself and then coming up with solutions. And if I’m sharing stories or ideas with young entrepreneurs or people who are entrepreneurially minded. Figure out who you want to be a hero too, like we said earlier, right, who is it that’s really important to you? And I think it was Biggie Smalls who said Chase the dream, not the paper. That’s really important. People get hung up on money. And when you’re younger and you’re not as established perhaps with family or stuff like houses and cars and all that other stuff, my dad had said this to me long ago, which was you can lose it all now and just rebuild afterward. And that was after I was talking about I was a partner in an accounting firm of all exciting things to do. And I was talking about taking over this investment office and becoming this manager and so on, you know, buying this office. And he said, do it now, take the risks now. Don’t wait too long because something tremendous shifts in your psychology when suddenly you’ve got a family, a spouse, a child. Oh, my gosh. A child like that’s earthshaking for stability’s sake. And if you’re well on your way, it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier ride then. Oh, now I gotta wait till they’re out of elementary school, middle school, college, whatever. And life just goes on. And being able to jump in with something that is just super exciting to you is great. And when things fail, what do we call that tuition? That’s what we did. And we’ll never do it again if it didn’t work outright. And that’s OK. Tuition is a huge education for us. And I don’t mean the kind you pay to a college or wherever. I’m talking about where you put your blood and sweat into something and it didn’t work out. That is the greatest educator of all. So I used to be a mentor for a group that would teach inner-city youth entrepreneurship, and it was great. The challenge was that none of them ever started businesses. They didn’t even do it. And as Nike says “Just do it,” get into the business, do something, try to survive, figure it out. Because if you’re not challenging yourself, it’s just an idea. Everybody has ideas. You know, we’re idea bunnies. That’s what we do. Until you actually start doing something, you will not have that visceral at heart-based centered connection to entrepreneurship. You gotta do it.
Bryan Wish: [00:35:03] You see the love in that answer. It really hits home with me, too. You know, my parents got divorced when I was younger and my dad went out and started the business. I kind of looked at that at a young age. I was like, hmm, how do I combine passion with profit and purpose, you know, before I have a family and before I have kids and before I have the, you know, responsibility is where the cycle is. You mentioned psychology changes. And so I think the advice and wisdom are beautiful. And it’s a little harder early because you have to pay a lot intuition now. But I think it is the road worth taking if you are curious and ambitious. So appreciate your perspective there.
Steve Distante: [00:35:52] Yeah, it’s all psychology, too, right? You know, it’s your biggest gift and your biggest enemy is between your ears. It’s your brain. And so is an attitude of gratitude and being able to focus on things that you’re grateful for really rises up your energy levels. And I think it’s Tony Robbins who says if you focus on the guardrail, you’re going to hit it. I say it in Tony’s voice. If you focus on the guardrail, you’re going to hit it. Right. But the reality is if you’re not focused because that’s just because how often is that bad thing going to happen? Well, it’s got a lot higher chance if you’re looking at it versus you’re looking towards where you want to go. And so mindset is a huge part of all of this. And I’ve had the gift of being able to change my mind and the way I think by focusing on gratitude, things that I’m grateful for every day, it’s it shifts you from your reptilian or your amygdala brain all the way to your prefrontal cortex or your executive function. It just functions in a different way. And most of us, especially perfectionism or perfectionists. I’m a recovering perfectionist, by the way. They have a tendency to find it difficult to find the right things. We always think about wrong things. So I’ve figured out how to get past that as well, which is great.
Bryan Wish: [00:37:21] Sure. It’s great for the people around you. Too bad.
Steve Distante: [00:37:25] Yeah. Because you know it, perfectionists are the worst people to be around because it’s the Yabut. Yeah, that’s great. You did that, but what about the things you didn’t do, like the three things you didn’t want, really?
Bryan Wish: [00:37:38] Yeah, yeah, I learned a lot about that myself growing up. Are you a perfectionist? I would say, like, I’m aware of my perfectionist qualities and working on my adaptability. You know, when you’re grown, when you grow up and it’s always, you know, like you said, a great job. But, you know, it leaves a mark. You know, it also makes you who you are, a high standard. And, you know, you’ve got to take the good and the bad, but it sounds like.
Steve Distante: [00:38:08] You can shift it.
Bryan Wish: [00:38:10] You’re right. I believe that as well. And it sounds like you’ve taken a road to change it for the better. But, you know, it’s probably helped you in ways as well at the beginning of your career, Steve, when, um, yeah, you seem like a very thoughtful, intentional person and, you know, with good values. I’m curious about your parents. Sounds like your dad had a big influence on your life. How do your mother and father shape you growing up and how do you think you may live with them in your day-to-day, week to week, year to year? Like how do they inform your decisions and who you’ve become?
Steve Distante: [00:38:54] My mom was an immigrant from Germany and artistic and smart and hardworking, and we were five kids. I’m a middle child and she would try to keep us in order as we should try to keep us going to swimming lessons and all the things that you do. She was always a good example of who we should be. Dad worked really hard. But I bring up perfectionism because he is a perfectionist. I actually asked him what I learned about the downfalls of perfectionism. I said to him, hey, dad, when did you realize that I was a perfectionist and he said to me, why do you want to do things wrong? I was like, whoa, wow. I remember the exact moment for that. And so I realized how challenging it was. And most people don’t realize how they treat the rest of the world when you are in that mode of perfectionism. So my parents did play a big part of making me who I am, who I am today. But it was also who I don’t want to be from a perspective of how I inspire others. And it’s not yet. But they inspire others. That’s awesome. Let’s celebrate our wins. And then I gave up perfectionism for 10 years, had walked into my house, and had stepped on a Lego. My three-year-old son Quintin had been playing with Legos and my wife was home and I was ready to scream because I was hurt. And I looked at my wife. I looked at my son and I said, I’m not doing this. I’m not going to yell. And I said, I’m going to give this up. And that is I was upset that it was messy. I was upset that you know, it wasn’t cleaned up and all that other stuff. And I said I’m giving up perfectionism for 10 years. And it was a very dissatisfying existence for that 10 years. And so after that ten years and literally to the day, 10 years to do everything and periods, I created a word called materialism. I used it for my documentary film. And it’s where you become very, very particular about something that matters. And that’s it, you just use your energy in a way that allows you to burn a hole in something versus just picking on every single person in the world, you know, those people who pick on the waiter because they didn’t get their order exactly right or pick on whoever out in the world. And usually, people are pointing at themselves when they do that sort of thing. So I decided that I’m going to now focus my energy in a way that will have an impact on the world. So materialism is my word. If you look it up in Webster’s, it doesn’t exist. And if you ever want to create that word in Webster’s there it exists for me because it’s a way for us perfectionists to be able to evolve and grow, to be able to inspire other people and use our energies in a very positive way to serve the world in the way we should be serving, which is using our gifts and talents and our influence in the world. So when you start to become successful, the word I use is influence. How can you influence other people to vote for good? Like how can you be an example? So when I had purchased this building I’m in right now, it’s my headquarters. The people who sold it to me own hundreds of properties. And they came to me like, that’s cool what you did. How do we do that? Well, that’s awesome. I just upstream the idea of being green and awesome, electric car chargers, all that kind of cool stuff. So that’s success to me. When you can use your role in the world that you’ve been gifted with to impact others in a positive way.
Bryan Wish: [00:42:47] Oh, the story on perfectionism kind of gives him chills.
Steve Distante: [00:42:51] Oh, were you wiggling?
Bryan Wish: [00:42:53] I was. The vulnerability was really good. You have to. Thank you. Yeah, I’m sure. Yeah. And also, you know, that influences the impact on the world. I love how you said when you become successful, it allows you to influence the people around you for the better. Right. And the green energy example. Right. When you’re over by your building. How do I do this for myself, for other people? It speaks volumes when you say, you know, when it’s all said and done, Steve, is we’re closing in here on time. When you say, you know, the impact you want to leave is not the same as your legacy, or would you say, you know, when it’s all said and done, you know, how would you want to be known as any different from maybe giving the gift to other people to go do good? But how would you define that for yourself?
Steve Distante: [00:43:42] So I love to give people this exercise to write their eulogy. I want people to write their eulogy of how they want to be remembered when they leave this earth, and I’ve done this exercise a few times and for me to be influential. And to help entrepreneurs scale and grow both psychologically, meaning be able to face those challenges that they’re going through and financially, like, how can you take money, food, air? That’s what we call money as an entrepreneur and do even more good with what gifts we’ve been given, you know, as entrepreneurs, a.k.a. unemployable people. That’s my legacy, my legacy is to be a huge catalyst for entrepreneurs to scale and grow in their world of being impactful but throughout that process. I, too, am doing impactful things within my business, within my life. I mean, I told you about the trees from World Tree. Well, guess what? I’m buying a plantation, 200 plus acres to plant these trees for myself so that I can have these beautiful trees that are doing great things. And I want to inspire other people. I’m learning every little part of it. And I’m able to dive so deep into these projects that it’s just it’s not only interesting to me, it’s impactful and it’s representative like my building and my electric cars and all that other good stuff that I’m not only talking the talk and walking the walk, it’s my genuineness to the world. I’m not trying to be somebody, I’m not trying to impress anybody. What I’m trying to do is inspire others to chase their dreams, the biggest dreams they could ever imagine, and make them a reality for us to be able to have a significant impact on the world. And that means so many different things to so many people. And that’s what I want to be remembered for.
Bryan Wish: [00:46:01] Well, said, Steve, you’re one to emulate, an example to follow up, and I think for the people listening, more so at the beginning kind of quarter part of their life, you know, I think you said a lot of things. I also read the eulogy in an article last year, but the same thing. Not that there’s a perfect way I did it, but I agree so wholeheartedly with, like, knowing where you want to go and why to thank Steve. Thanks for the wisdom, the insight, the just all the good, good things that you shared today about your life and your know-how, you know, people are you know, how people in their shoes can go out and make a big difference in the world. See if people want to reach out to you or find you or follow what you’re up to. What is the best place to do that?
Steve Distante: [00:46:51] Best places. Just my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Victor. Boy. Larry Thomas. So steve@vblt.Com. Also, if you want to hear any of my podcasts, look up any place you listen to podcast impacts.film and that’ll bring you to just put in impactu.film and that’ll bring you to a whole bunch of different podcasts that we’ve done. But I just want to thank you for putting together your audience and really reaching out to entrepreneurs to help them, because we need more Bryans, we need more people like you to use your gifts and talents to be able to share the story of others entrepreneurs. I don’t profess to be the best or whatever if what I say resonates with people. Wonderful. And if it doesn’t find somebody that inspires you, find somebody that challenges you, because a lot of us like to stay in our little bubble and just play it safe, get out there. You know, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much damn space.
Bryan Wish: [00:48:00] And I agree more with you, Steve. We’ll direct the audience to where to find you and find your show as well. Thank you for the kind words and it was a pleasure.
Steve Distante: [00:48:09] Pleasure’s mine. Thank you.