How to be a badass like Dan Fleyshman
For those who don’t know who Dan Fleyshman is, he was the youngest person, in history, to take a company public, at age 23; he is a venture capitalist which invested in 30 companies or more and he is a professional poker player with big success in poker competitions.
I admire Dan Fleyshman for a couple of reasons. Even though I never met him and never talked to him, I like how he speaks in interviews and podcasts about the way he is running businesses; I like how he makes it seem so natural and straightforward (no over-complication, no obscure terminologies, just plain language and common sense)
…but most of all I appreciate how he makes calls to action to other people to become entrepreneurs and to “just get started”. I believe a lot of people need to hear that, especially in this day and age, when social media sometimes gives the impression that success is something that falls in your lap and you have it, or you simply don’t! This glorification of results, I believe, makes people overlook the actual work, effort, dedication and sometimes losses or disappointments which are pretty unavoidable.
Success doesn’t come by accident or on the first try. Success results from trial and error, that is how you master your craft: through practice and improvement. Also, the world is changing in a very fast pace. Nobody can predict what new piece of technology will affect human society irreversibly a year from now, let alone 5 years. The internet did that! Mobile phones did that! Social media is doing it now! The blockchain, artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, 5G, spaceships… all these are waiting at the corner. We know they are in development… Human society has never been so rapidly changing as it is today! And it’s only getting bigger!
“Just get started”
Dan says he got started into sales when he was only 4 years old. And later on in his life he was juggling 3 jobs to help out his family. He had his first huge success when he trademarked the phrase “Who’s Your Daddy” for over 300 different products(before he was 18). Then he licensed that phrase in the UK for 9.8 million dollars. And then he carried on making millions of dollars in retail sales.
So the takeaway is that you have to get started somewhere if you want to create and run a productive business. Having success is a matter of strategy and execution, but there is no way around it: You have to start somewhere!
After launching the “Who’s Your Daddy” energy drink, an energy drink that DOESN’T taste like cough syrup like all the others, Dan says that he spent the next 2 years not sleeping and travelling the USA. That is motivation and persistence at it’s finest. Most people don’t commit to writing a novel or going to the gym. Imagine spending 2 whole years pitching, making offers and closing deals!
Taking ownership of your dream and turning it from just a dream into an objective is what people long for… however most wait for the “perfect moment” and for being ready. Personally, I have never felt 100% ready in pretty much anything that I’ve done. I have had success in school, in university and some small successes in business, but in the end, the thing that stays with you is whether you gave 100% or you gave up on your dream.
…Dan had got his energy drink into 55.000 stores across the USA by the end of his 2 year run.
Don’t let failure be your downfall. Make it your best teacher
Dan’s next venture was Victory Poker.
Within only 1 year, it became the 3rd online poker brand on the market. So again he created a successful business that was a leader in it’s sector. Thousands of poker players were coming in per month. It was a craze!
Although everything was going great for Dan’s poker brand, the government passed down some laws that forced the biggest enterprises in the online poker niche to close down. Dan had to close down shop, when he was on his way to making hundreds of millions of dollars and to growing his poker brand as much as possible making a worldwide impact.
He says “don’t sit on the floor and cry about it”, and he went on to the next big thing. But he actually made use of his prestige and authority that his brand made in the poker entertainment business and did consultancy for other companies. So even though his venture failed by unpredictable means, when he was making all the right moves, he took what he could from the experience and acumen he gathered and used that to fuel his next business. He “stayed busy”.
Life often takes you on unexpected paths and throws unexpected turnouts of events at you. Some people see that as failure and they see that as the end. It doesn’t have to be. Other people see it as an invitation to grow and turn it into the beginning of something even bigger.
Make a better world
People say that “your network is you net worth”. I believe you can still screw up even in the best circumstances possible.
But how can you screw up when you are helping people and giving out value? That is one thing that is hard to grasp for people that act greedy, They are so concerned with “what will I get out of it” that they don’t take the time to see that all people want to be useful and help others …at their core, which is indeed sometimes covered with worry and self-defence mechanisms like paranoia. Hey, everybody has their highs and lows.
But you should surround yourself with people who care about your aspirations, who support you and who are there for you when you need it!
Dan has been a master of networking, working with people like Steve Aoki, David Maisel (the creator of Marvel Studios), Jordan “The Wolf of Wallstreet” Belfort and many others. He stated “I try to do whatever I can and introduce them other people, invite them to events…”.
So the takeaway is “create value for other people”. It sounds a bit spiritual and wisdom-y but I find it very natural to base business ethics on providing value to others. Isn’t that what business is all about?
And outside of business matters, Dan’s side hustle, Model Citizen Fund, is an organisation that provides food, water and other basic necessities for people in need all over the world. This organisation has a sense of ethics and is centred around helping other fellow humans in need more than respecting protocol and sometimes even the law. Sometimes people need food and water ASAP and cannot wait 11 days.
Model Citizen Fund disperses tens of thousands of backpacks with survival items every year. The purpose is to help as much people in need as possible and assist them in the battle and struggle against hunger, poverty and lack.
Dan is passionate about charity and is actively using his resources and abilities to contribute to a better world. He says that it makes sense and that he resonates with this purpose of his.
The takeaway that I took from this is that if we think and plan out what you are doing, things will start to make sense, because you see how your actions align with your purpose. Even if you aren’t clear on what your purpose is, you still have an inner feeling of what feels right to you and what is not, so you can still use that as a compass to go in the direction of what you want to achieve and, even if it isn’t something that can possibly be 100% achieved, you become more aware of the path you want to walk.
So what I took from listening to Dan Fleyshman is:
- Just get started
- Keep pushing
- Learn from failures and improve
- Make a better world (you might even find your purpose along the way)
The bad part of running a business is that you never know people’s intentions. And you never know what people you meet along the way. “Usually people are good, but the bad apples are really bad”.
I think we were supposed to go full-on on life and adapt on the way, not retreat in an artificial shelter, so I don’t think the “bad part” is unnatural. It is just seriously dangerous, because life is a game where you went all-in from the beginning.
The good part is the Freedom. The freedom of expression. The freedom of following your sense of values. The freedom of investing your time, resources and effort in things that you believe in.
Thanks for reading my article!
I’ll end it with Dan’s formula for success:
“Don’t talk about it. Be about it!”