Darrah Brustein | Networking Under 40, Burning Out & Partnering with Deepak

Darrah Brustein  7:05  

Yeah, it’s a combination, it became a profitable six, like six figure profit business almost immediately, which was great. I was spending about 10 hours a week doing it. It also fed referrals and leads back into my primary business at the time, the credit card processing company, it helped me do a great service to my community. And I got to hear all these stories of the fruit that was generated from the relationships that people sparked there. And then over time, it became something I was able to systemize take myself out of the center, and hire other people to run and then grow into these other markets to continue to perpetuate that and then ultimately, actually, to create a virtual course for it to say hey, if you’re based in Marin County, like you are and you want to run a networking event, but you want to do it for you know people in the pet industry of Marion County or whatever your location, your demographic, your audience, your whatever is, here’s the step by step paint by numbers way to do it based on everything we’ve learned. packaging it and doing it for ourselves for both. We also started an over 40 division. So for both unders and over 14, and multiple currently mid tier US markets and giving someone else those tools to do it, because about two years in we got a hit an ink magazine that I had no idea was coming. And the article was called something really egregious. Like why networking events suck. And I saw as

Unknown Speaker  8:21  

I love those titles, yeah,

Darrah Brustein  8:23  

right. And I see this Google Alert saying you’re featured in this article, and I’m thinking Holy crap, like we’re, we’re going down. And I opened the article, and it’s basically demolishing networking events. And then it says, and then there’s this little beacon of light in Atlanta, under 40 that is running these events, and here’s what they’re doing, right? And I thought, whoa, that’s so incredible. And we started getting calls from people all over the world saying, How do I do this? Help me out. And that’s when I began to systemize and package it, bring it under other cities to test it and then much more recently, offer that course to people then tell

John Corcoran  8:55  

me a little bit about what you did differently that made it stand out then maybe people appreciate and enjoy coming.

Darrah Brustein  9:02  

Yeah, it’s the culture first and foremost. And that’s hard to bottle. However, it’s really possible to replicate. And what I really mean by that is, I listened to all the things people didn’t like. And I paid attention to what I didn’t like, especially has it at the time 20 something woman, when I was involved in chambers of commerce and big groups and all these other places, feeling like there was this weird power dynamic between people who are much more seasoned in their in their careers, or even just like the male female energy that can happen. And I

John Corcoran  9:35  

totally understand before the whole me to movement when Yeah, there’s more consciousness. I mean,

Darrah Brustein  9:39  

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times myself and my friends would be in these environments. And someone a gentleman would say, let’s get together for drinks and network. And really, they were guys like boarding you into a date and you had no idea. And so I realized that my friend was totally right and that to find a place where it wasn’t just about shoving business cards. It wasn’t just about, hey, how can we transact? What can I buy for me? What can I sell to you? How do we become referral partners that we could get there. But first, we needed to become friends. And first we needed to connect. And it wasn’t going to be like a big data pool where people couldn’t feel comfortable and let their guards down. And when we set that premise from the beginning, and when I stacked the room with the 90 out of 94, people whom I knew and I could really give them that messaging directly from the beginning, that’s what codified and planted that from the beginning so that it continued to seep into the culture as it grew. And it grew into other markets where I wasn’t physically present for it to the point that other people in the group would sort of help weed out the energy that people would bring when they weren’t a part of that same vibe.

John Corcoran  10:46  

Got it. Got it. And and now how many cities you in?

Darrah Brustein  10:49  

We’re in three cities?

John Corcoran  10:51  

Mm hmm. Yeah. So it’s funny. So what in your background Do you think prepared you for either that or the payment processing business because the other funny thing about your band Is that you started a payment processing business with a background you studied Italian and religion in college.

Darrah Brustein  11:07  

Yeah. And then I went into the fashion industry so you know talk about nonlinear paths and I am no sign sales person next to that emblem. It’s interesting. I mean, in certain ways, it was a part of who I’ve always been meaning. I grew up being someone who loved to connect with people love to nurture relationships. I also had a father who ingrained those principles in me it was something he was exceptional at. And I remember being a kid and my twin brother and I going door to door selling news, you know, the, what’s it called gift wrap and candles and candy for the school fundraisers. And I would go door to door selling one of one door mine the next door his because he was so scared and bashful to go talk to someone, whereas I loved it and I love building my relationship with a stranger behind the door and seeing how I could help them and at the time, I didn’t realize that was sales or that was relationship building or any of those things. And over time, I continue to hone that unintentionally, like I was recruitment chair for my sorority and realized oh, what I was actually doing was selling an idea selling a service to thousands of women who were walking through the door and getting hundred percent retention day after day. I’m thinking, Well, I think I’m onto something here. And when I piece those back over time, I realized, Oh, these were skills that really perpetuated the things that I did later.

Unknown Speaker  12:27  

Yeah, got it. So tell me about the

John Corcoran  12:31  

the payment processing business because you say now, it pretty much runs itself. You spend three to 5% of your time on it. Is it kind of like, you know, an annuity or like selling insurance where you sell it? And once it’s once a, you know, obviously businesses got a payment processor. It’s, it’s difficult to to change or so people are unlikely to change.

Darrah Brustein  12:52  

Yeah, exactly. It’s a residual based process. So someone sets up they stay on an average of many, many years because exactly What you said that when it’s working and you’re giving people a fair pay a fair price and a great setup and great service, then they don’t have a lot of reason to leave unless they change their financing and it’s tied to it. they close their business down, they change their hardware software, like certain things like that, that will propel it change. But it was a really beautiful accident for my brother to reach out to me after I had floundered and worked in PR and fashion and being a personal assistant and all these things for the first few years of my career and suffered multiple layoffs back to back because I graduated in 2006. And from 2006 to 2009, I was deep in the trenches of the recession, and I kept losing jobs because companies were going under and couldn’t afford anyone let alone You know, sales, which was bringing the money through the door, like and so basically as that was all going on, and my brother came to me at a certain point and he said, Listen, I’ve been studying this industry, no one has set up a brokerage model and credit card processing even though it’s tried and true. Another payment arena or another financial services arenas Why don’t we do it and I thought that sounds so tremendously boring until I really learned about it and understood how we could sort of be these Robin Hood’s amongst the thieves in the industry, frankly, that so many people are being taken advantage of intentionally because of how confusing it is and how saturated the market is. And that while at the time, I wasn’t thinking through, oh, this will be a beautiful residual passive income someday I just thought, this is a place that I could really apply my skills and interests and be of value to these business owners, and was lucky to back into something that was that residual setup so that we could both go out and spread our wings and start other things over time.

John Corcoran  14:35  

It seems like saturated markets are kind of your thing is

Unknown Speaker  14:38  

right. Now, again, not

John Corcoran  14:40  

processing and networking events. And then more recently, you and we’re kind of skipping over all the writing you’ve done I’d love to ask you about that. But we’ll also get to now you decided to go into coaching but first before we get to that. So how did you get to writing for Forbes and entrepreneur I’ve written for both as well not as much as you Have, how did you get work your way up into writing for those obligations?

Darrah Brustein  15:04  

I used to be a part of a group of new young professional business owner group called young entrepreneurs counselor why you see, and it was basically people generally around 40 and under who had million dollar plus businesses. And every time I would travel, which I do a tremendous amount of because I enjoy it so much I was out in LA many years ago, and I was meeting with a guy in the group who I’d never met. And he basically said to me, Hey, I write for entrepreneur, I saw some of the things you’ve written here and there because I had done one off pieces for some outlets. He said, I think your writings really good. Do you want me to introduce you to the editor? And I said, Absolutely. And so again, it was one of those things where I wasn’t angling for it. I wasn’t vying for it. But I had been putting some pieces in place just by following a path of stuff that I enjoyed. through writing in general, I had actually made a commitment to myself several years prior to that, that writing was something I’d always been good at. And the older I got, the more I’d let that muscle atrophy. And the only thing I was really writing was email for quite some time. So I decided that I would start exercising it again. And so when he opened that door for me, I thought, well, great, let’s see where this leads. And so I wrote for entrepreneur and then at a certain point, connected with some people who were some of the heads of Forbes. And they basically said, Hey, do you want a spot over here, and they put me sort of through the audition process, so to speak. And then I was able to leverage that. And really, actually, that dovetails really perfectly with where we started this conversation about the value of podcasts. And I have always used my writing platform and similar ways, I think, as one would use a podcast meaning at the time I did it because I wanted to elevate the stories of people who weren’t getting the spotlight as frequently as some others might. So I when I started, I was only sharing my own stuff. So some credibility building. And I was then only interviewing people who you probably never would have heard of otherwise because I wanted to give them some shine. And then over time, when I started Writing for Forbes and I started my career trajectory started to evolve. And I began, I’d written a children’s book many years before, but I decided I was going to write another book on where my life has gone now, which is about how does one intentionally design their life and define success for themselves, build a business or career to fund that life really specifically, and then build the right network to open the doors to the success that they’re seeking. And when I set out to do that, and signed with a literary agent, I thought, well, I’ve been through this process I know what the hurdles are. And a big part of that is one having your marketing and play well before the book is even done or bought by a publisher. And two, it’s having the right connections who can be interviewed in your book and or who can be people to blurb your book or help share about your book when it’s time. So I thought, Well, why don’t I start building those relationships and one of the many things I did was leverage my Forbes platform and other ones, to bring value to them just like you do with your podcast, by giving them that audience giving them that credibility. Although most of The people that you read off had more much more credibility than that. And then also get to build a relationship with them through that.

John Corcoran  18:07  

Yeah, absolutely. And what point do you reach out to Deepak? How did that relationship start?

Darrah Brustein  18:13  

Yeah, this one is funny because around that time when the book was in its early stages of creation and just signing with the agent before I’d written a proposal or anything. I said to myself, well, my first sort of coming out party of this new, this new incarnation of my career with the three pillars I just described, is going to be that I’m going to run a virtual summit and I had never been to a virtual summit. I had never run a virtual summit. This was kind of a couple years before they became super popular. And I said, Well, one of the people that I would dream to do this would be Deepak among I had a list of 20 people. And so I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen. But I put out a press release on herro and harrows. Such a great resource. Usually for incoming I’d never posted something to it before but herro is help a reporter out I’m sure someone on here is talking about it. Before but if you haven’t heard anyone talk about it, it’s a free email that comes in your inbox typically three times a day. And you can say what segment you want. And it’ll tell you what press outlets are looking for resources. And you can be that person, or it’s a great way to nurture relationships and send to people. Like, hey, john, this is something you should submit for us be great for you. But so I went on,

John Corcoran  19:20  

that’s actually a great way to use it actually, to keep an eye out for other people in photo label,

Darrah Brustein  19:25  

you know, nine times out of 10. It’s not going to be a fit for what your exact expertise says, but you are generally going to know someone who could be for many of the random things that it asks for. Yeah. So that’s such a simple way to be looking out for someone, especially if they get it, they’re going to be so grateful. And that goes so far in your relationship nurturing, but so I posted to there and basically just put out an application for this virtual summit that I hadn’t even started creating it. And lo and behold, I got hundreds of responses. And one was from de pocs publicist, and I was thinking to myself, someone is catfishing me there is no way this is True. But naturally, I responded. And I just said, you know, trying to vet were they real or not, and they were real. And so we got on the phone and we’re talking and they’re asking me, who else is doing it? I’m saying, Well, the only other big name I have signed on right now is Adam Grant. And they were like, great, who else? And so then I called my friend who played for the NBA and I said, my friend Ronny Turiaf doing it and they said, Great, who else? So then I got Jensen chero, who wrote the URL data series to do it and they said, Great, who else and then my friend Kat Cole, who’s CEO of focus brands, which is one of the largest billion billion dollar food brands. They run Mo’s and any ads and carville’s and Trotsky’s and many others, and they said, Great, who else is doing and I thought, Oh my gosh, like, I don’t know. So I called my friend Rebecca, who used to be depok coo. And the reason I had avoided making this phone call was because I thought I completely understand what it’s like to have these precious relationships that people are always wanting to tap into. I’m sure when you work for the Clinton administration, you got this and I’m sure many places in your life you get this and I do I didn’t want to take advantage of that, or make her feel that I was always waiting for this moment to ask for this favor. But so I called her I said, Listen, Rebecca, I’m at this precipice with the pocs team. If you feel like it would be comfortable, or you’re so inclined to just let him know that this is legit, and that we’re friends, it would mean the world to me. 15 minutes later, she sends me a text message, just a screenshot of her texts with depok basically saying that, and then 20 minutes later, I had an email from his publicist saying, Can you be in New York next week to do the interview? This was the first live interview I had ever done.

Unknown Speaker  21:33  

Through my startup, right there

Darrah Brustein  21:35  

myself straight in the deep end, but it wasn’t it was incredible. It was one of those surreal moments where you’re thinking, is this real life? Is this really happening? How am I here is like I said before, this is one of my intellectual heroes. And it was wonderful and I really just took it as a great gift and thought that was going to be it until fast forward. Three months later, I get a call out of the blue from Chase Bank who says we’re having a conference in Atlanta, we would love To have you be our onsite correspondent, something else I had never done before. And you’re going to interview Cam Newton, and you’re going to interview Deepak Chopra. And I laughed, and I thought, you’re kidding me three months ago, I didn’t know this man. And I’m interviewing him twice. So we saw each other again, we had a great conversation. And then lo and behold, fast forward. This was 2018 through that year, and I interviewed his daughter, and I then interviewed him again. And so this is where I think it really matters, both. Like some of the stuff I said about Rebecca around

John Corcoran  22:28  

their circle is a good strategy. Yeah,

Darrah Brustein  22:30  

right. Without it, I was like, let me help give value to your family as daughters and author, she was looking to get press out, so why not help her too. So I did all these things. So then come the day after Christmas 2018. I sent an email to Deepak and then all the other people I had collaborated with that year, like Seth Godin, the Adam grants, the Dan Pink’s, like all the people I had gotten to collaborate with through the course of that year. Just saying to them, I want to thank you again for the opportunity to collaborate and let you know how much I appreciate it. And also let you know that I’m in your court for the upcoming And beyond If you need anything, it wasn’t me asking for anything. It was me just reiterating my appreciation and being there as a resource for them. And shortly after I sent that email I heard back from Deepak who said, you know, what? I’ve been reflecting to, and I think that you can help make my work less esoteric, and more understandable for people. So what do you think? And I wrote back immediately, and I said, Well, great, what do you have in mind? And he said, I don’t know. What do you have in mind? So instantly, in that moment, I thought, well, let’s do a video series. So I wrote him back and I said, let’s do a video series. And we’ll call it diving deep with Deepak. And I’ll interview you and make your stuff look presentable in a way that people can actually digest it. We said, Great, except we’re going to call it diving deep with Deepak and Dara, and we’re going to start next week. And now 33 episodes later, and a wonderful friendship later, here we are. And you know, all of that is to say, it’s great to have an intention. It’s great to move towards something. It’s great to be really conscientious about how you use or don’t use, the relationships that you have, and how you continue to pour into them over time.

John Corcoran  23:59  

That’s a wonderful that So cool. I love that you did that. And yeah, I totally agree what you’ve been doing with Forbes. Actually, I’ve done kind of the poor man lazy version of that, basically, because I actually started doing that I did a bunch of profiles on Forbes, five or six years ago. And then I was like, and even though I’m a writer at heart, I was like, I gotta write the article, it’s too much work pockets so much easier. You know, I’m just gonna have a conversation, and then you can just upload the recording. But I admire you for sticking out and writing the articles and all that kind of stuff. So that’s really cool that you do. Tell me a little bit about the pivot to coaching because you’re someone who thought you’d never be a coach, and then you became a coach. How did that happen?

Darrah Brustein  24:43  

Yeah, it’s so funny because I’m someone who really prescribes to the idea of living with intention, yet the way so many things happened to me, were somewhat unintentional. And so this thing with coaching, it was really reticent. Like for years, people would say to me Do you coach? Are you a coach? And I would say, Nope, not a coach, there’s so many of them, I’m definitely not one of them. I give a lot of free content, like I spent years just creating, you know, the articles and the virtual summit and Instagram content and all the stuff totally for free because I wanted people to have access to the learning and the mentorship and the resources, I had had a front row seat for that not everyone was able to have. And I wanted to give it from a perspective that maybe was different than they had heard before. And so through all of that, I kept getting approached and approach an approach to the point where people were saying, what does it take for you to coach me? How much do I have to pay you? And I started saying, you know what, when the universe is throwing these pebbles, and then stones and then rocks and boulders that you pay attention. And so I thought, you know what, and the first woman was a woman named Susanna, and I said to her, you know what, Susanna, we’re friends. And if you want it this much, then this is my price. And I’m just going to tell you now like this is how we’re going to lay it out. But ultimately if we walk away at the end of this and neither of us if one or either of us didn’t enjoy this, then I’m going Gonna refund you and we’re going to walk away as friends because what I care about most is our friendship, more than I care about the financial wins or otherwise. But fortunately, she walked away so tremendously happy and satisfied, and I walked away so gratified as well because I felt like I was really flourishing in that environment. And I was so grateful for the outcomes that she was seeing. So then I took on another and another and another and got to a point where I just realized, you know what, I can’t fight this anymore. I guess I’m a coach.

John Corcoran  26:28  

And how have you liked doing it?

Darrah Brustein  26:30  

And I’ve loved it. It’s, it’s been one of those things that because it takes for me so much intention and energy to pour into someone and really be emotionally available and fully present to them. Because what I do, it’s really a mix of sort of the life stuff and the business stuff. So sometimes it’s tactical and in the weeds and other times, it’s a lot more like spiritual and mindset and otherwise, it’s a nice hybrid that we meander through and I always tell people, it’s a trust dance that we don’t always know where we’re going, but we’re in this dance of trust. Presence together. And we have to let that unfold how it unfolds. And I it’s so funny, I always walk away feeling so energized but shortly after so depleted because I’ve let it all out in those moments, so I typically only take four to five at a time. And so this year, I launched for the first time a program I had been generating in my mind for years, and it’s called mind your business. And it’s a year long virtual accelerator program for entrepreneurs who want to run businesses that don’t run their lives. Because I was the opposite for so many years and I totally drank the kool aid on hustle grind burnout sleep, when you’re dead, more is always better, you know, more revenue, more clients, more press features, more hours spent more, you name it. And yet when I looked at the macro level and thought, Hey, I say that I value travel and I say I value relationships. And I say I value growing and learning and I say I value all these other things, but I’m actually participating in any of those things. And the answer was sadly No. And so it really caused me to stop and reorient and Say, why are you not truly living into the things that you value and you’re getting on this hamster wheel? And so through many years and many different businesses, I was able to learn a lot of really great skills, both from the starting from the foundation of what is it that you really want? And how do you generate a clear picture of it, then reverse engineer that to say it costs exactly this to live the life that is success for me? And then how do we break our business down to get to that point? And then what are the tools within the business to keep generating that? And so it’s been really fun to do that in a group program so that I can share that with a group who either wouldn’t be interested in one on one or couldn’t afford it or just to be able to scale oneself because, you know, we I’d spent so long growing businesses that I could take myself out of being in the middle of and making systems and procedures for that. So it’s been really rewarding now to take so much of that learning and experimentation and failure and success, and package it up for other people.

John Corcoran  28:54  

This has been great deira I want to wrap things up. Thank you so much for talking with us. What a wrap up with the question I was asked, which is, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars or the Emmys, and you’re receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point. And what we all want to know is, you know, who do you think beyond family and friends know who are the mentors or the business partners? Who are the, you know, coaches who are the the peers who you would acknowledge in your remarks?

Darrah Brustein  29:21  

I think the first person or people I think were all the people who laid me off. At the time, I remember driving home crying each time being like the world is ending, and I’m going to foreclose on my house, and by all my friends laughing me in life, I can’t figure this shit out. But now like anything with hindsight, in retrospect, I’m so grateful to them, because I would have certainly trudged along on that nine to five path that wasn’t fulfilling me, because I was good at it. And because it’s what I was told was the way to do it. If they hadn’t pulled the rug out from under me enough times that I finally said, You know what, there’s got to be a better way for me and went on to my own journey. in another direction, so absolutely then and then on the other side, I think it’s it’s tough to boil down because it’s everything from, you know, the people who picked up the phone on the days that I was a mess because clients were yelling at me or our revenue went from here to you know, from good to zero because we had an embezzlement in our company to, you know, the people that taught me something in passing in a moment of mentorship or the mentors that have stuck by me to teach me everything from bookkeeping to you know, whatever else and there’s so many of them, like we all have these communities around us that teach us in these big and little ways. So I would hope that they would know who they are and I would be shouting them out.

John Corcoran  30:42  

Excellent. All right. deira calm ko da er h.co diving deep with Deepak and Dara is the name of the podcast. Where else can people learn more about you?

Darrah Brustein  30:53  

Now you can hit me up on Instagram. I’m there every day sharing actionable and inspirational stuff. It’s at deira be da HB and then like you said at deira co but slash freebies. There is an abundance of good stuff there everything from a free masterclass with myself and Deepak on how to get anything you want in life there is something called the shit no one tells you about starting a business the 55 best questions to ask to break the ice and really get to know someone which has been downloaded over 1.3 million times because it matters and we should be building relationships based on more than what someone does for a living. So those and many other things are on there. Please enjoy them.

Darrah Brustein  31:31  

Excellent. Alright. Thanks so much, sir. Thank you.