There's a saying that you're going to hear on this episode that I absolutely love: “Joy wouldn't feel so good if it wasn't for pain.” It's a heck of a true statement, and Casanova Brooks, today's guest, has truly lived it.
I was recently on his podcast — the DreamNation Podcast — as a guest. (Here's a link.) And after that experience, I just had to have him on my podcast so he could share his story.
Casanova is from the real estate industry, but his story begins much earlier. And just a little warning upfront: there are some tough conversations and memories relived in this episode that aren't easy to digest. But like Casanova says in the episode, the things that break us down build us up stronger.
Today, he's taking us through his experience: from his tough upbringing to how he found his drive, why he decided to pursue real estate, and what he learned from a tough period sleeping next to a water heater. This one is super motivating, super inspirational, and there's a ton of solid advice in here about finding mentorship, discovering your drive, and setting goals for yourself. And the title says it all: this is the most insane journey to becoming an entrepreneur I've ever heard. Let's dig in!
Casanova Brooks is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, high-energy keynote speaker, and real estate professional.
Through his battles with adversity in many stages of his life including stage four lymphoma cancer, to losing his mother, job, and home in a matter of a couple of weeks, even with having very limited resources, Casanova learned to develop a bulletproof mindset to thrive and succeed in life and business. From producing 46 deals and $8 million in his first year in real estate to now owning multiple businesses, he has been an action-taker in every sense of the word. Casanova now focuses on empowering others to focus on developing their mindset to become the best version of themselves to thrive in their own lives.
- Casanova's wild ride through a tough upbringing and a few near-fatal moments
- Why Casanova dropped out of college and eventually pursued real estate
- What kept Casanova going when things felt weighted against him
- How to find your drive, even without challenges to motivate and propel you forward
- What drove Casanova to set his first entrepreneurial goals, and how he did it
- Why sleeping next to a water heater pushed Casanova to go after his goals even harder
- The many ways to find mentorship for your career
- How Casanova reeled Pat in to be a guest on his podcast
- The origin story of Casanova's DreamNation
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
I've heard a lot of stories, origin stories for entrepreneurs, but I've never heard a story quite like this one. Our special guest today—I was actually invited on his show first, the DreamNation Podcast. When Casanova started to introduce me, he went into a little bit of his story, and I actually just right there wanted to interview him. But of course, it was his show, so we did our thing there. Immediately after the recording was over, I said, "Casanova, I have to bring you on the SPI podcast. I'm going to squeeze you in by the end of the year here, because this is going to inspire so many people, and your story almost brought me to tears while I was a guest on your show. I think we need to have you come on."
Of course, he was very excited. We have Casanova Brooks from the DreamNation Podcast on with us today. I highly recommend you sit back and listen intently because this one is a game changer.
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast.
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. Now, your host—he's the epitome of what it means to have an abundant mindset—Pat Flynn!
What's up, y'all? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to session 451 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. As I said, I'm Pat Flynn, here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people too, and to help us today and to inspire us, motivate us, and show us the ways, we have Casanova Brooks from the DreamNation Podcast as well as CasanovaBrooks.com, where he talks about leadership. He is from the real estate industry, but he has an amazing story that takes us back to when he was a kid, and he's going to take us back there right now.
I want to warn you: there are some tough conversations that are had here. There are some memories that are relived that aren't so easy for many, and we're going to relive these today with Casanova, and have us break through those obstacles and come out even better on the other end. Because as we all know, all those challenges, the things that break us down, depending on how we react to them, they can make us stronger. They definitely made Casanova stronger. I'm so grateful he's here with us today.
Let's not wait any further. Here he is, Casanova Brooks.
Casanova, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thanks for being here, my friend.
Man, thank you for having me. It's an honor and a pleasure. You blessed my show, and I'm only hoping that I could return the same favor to you, and then also to the Smart Passive Income tribe.
Thank you so much. I was on your show recently—we'll put a link to it in the show notes. It was through that interview where, again, you were interviewing me, I learned a little bit about you and your history. It just blew me away so much how you've come from such hard times to get to where you're at no and help so many others. I knew it'd be perfect to have you on the show, so I'm really excited to dive in. I'd love to start with your story, your origin story. How did things start out for you? And then we'll just kind of see where it goes from there.
Cool, man. Well, for me, I always tell people I'm a dreamer at heart. But to get a little bit deeper into it, I'm originally from South Side of Chicago. I was raised by a single mom. I was the only child. My dad was never in my life. Last I knew, I had 13 brothers and sisters on my dad's side, but my dad never did anything to bridge the gap or the relationships between us, so it really felt like I was growing up as an only child. I did have a first cousin. We were really close, and so I'm grateful for that.
But anyway, my grandma, she stepped in early on to try to be the father figure in my life. I was their only grandson that was a boy, and she was just seeing ... Growing up in the inner city, Chicago, I grew up around everything that you see on the news today, right: drugs, gangs, violence, all of that. My mom had a lot of friends who were gang-bangers and drug dealers and all of that, so they were really in and out of my house every day. My grandma never liked that, so when she got an opportunity to really moreso mold me and take me under her wing, she did just that as many grandmothers do.
My mom, while she was always in my life, we never had a distant relationship, she was always robbing Peter to pay Paul as she would say. She had a job here, a job there, and so she wasn't necessarily so hands -on. That was where my grandma took the lead on it. For me, I always let people know I'm no stranger to adversity. I think that that's big, especially for the time that we're in right now, where a lot of people are feeling adversity, but for me, I mean, I experienced that I felt like at every different stage of my life, and I continue to experience it.
But the first one was when I was eight years old. My two best friends who, we did absolutely everything together, they came over one Sunday morning, and they're like, "Hey, you know what, we're going to go to the beach," which is normal routine. I'm like, "Hey, for whatever reason, I'm not going to go this morning." They're like, "All right, cool, we'll catch you when we come back."
Well, a couple hours later, parents wind up coming over saying, "Hey, do you know where the boys are?" My mom and grandma are like, "No, Cas is in the front room." Well, come to find out they drowned that morning off of the pier at Lake Michigan. Why I wasn't right there with them, there's no rhyme or reason. Just that my creator had a better purpose for my life, and so I'm super grateful for that. Then as I started to become 10 and 11 years old again, I'm seeing more drugs, gangs, violence, and so my grandma found an opportunity to move me out of Chicago.
She moved me to Sioux City, Iowa. A huge culture change for me, of course, because I went from seeing people who only look like me to now all of a sudden, I'm seeing very few people who look like me. I always say that that was a blessing and a lesson in itself, because it allowed me to not grow up with an ignorant mindset. What do I mean by that? I feel like for a lot of people, if you've been stuck in that environment, then if you come out at 18, 19, 20 years old, where you already have these stories that you tell yourself. One of the stories that you probably tell yourself is, "If you don't look like me, there's no way you can be with me. You have to be against me."
But for me being so early on ... and it forced me to build these relationships, I really benefited from that. Again, I give all the credit to my grandmother. Then as I'm going into high school ... Well, I'm in high school, but as I'm going into my sophomore year, football is just ending, and then basketball is about to start up. I did play sports, basketball, football, track, and all of a sudden, I found myself having a hard time breathing. It was really out of nowhere because as a kid, I never had chicken pox, measles, flu, coronavirus. I never had anything.
I was always healthy, and then all of a sudden, I just come home, I'm taking naps. My mom's like, "Hey, what's up? This is unlike you." I'm like, "I don't really know." I'm telling my buddies in school when we're walking through the hallway like, "Hey, man, I'm having a hard time breathing." They're like, "Ah, it's probably just because you left football early. Basketball is starting. We're just getting into conditioning." Then all of a sudden, a couple days go by, my mom's like, "It hasn't stopped," so we're going to the emergency room.
We go to the emergency room, and they'd run some tests. Now, keep in mind that at this time, I'm 15 years old. I've never been in hospitals or anything, and my only exposure to them was what I saw on TV or if I was visiting a family member, so I didn't really know the backside of it. All I'm thinking is that I'm going to get sponge baths from hot nurses, ice cream, video games. I guess it's not going to be so bad, and then I'm going to go home and go back to school. Well, they called me back in about 11:00 that night. I'll never forget it.
They say, "Hey, you know what, we got public transportation coming. We're actually going to ship them and you all to the other side of the state to University of Iowa." I just remember my mom and grandma saying like, "What? Why? What are you talking about?" They're like, "I think it might be a little bit more serious." They're like, "What does that mean?" They're like, "We think he might have cancer." I just remember my grandma saying, "Whoa."
At that time, I didn't know what the C-word really was, but over the next 45 days, I'm in the University of Iowa. I'm laying up in the hospital bed. I have bone marrows. I have port put in my chest connected to my jugular. Everything that I'm experiencing, it's a whole new world for me, and I don't really know ... What I did know was that I had two strong women that were behind me and on side of me every step of the way. I was just rolling with the punches and seeing where it went. I've been very fortunate. I went through two years of chemo, and again, many tests and things like that. Then after that, I became in remission, which I've been fortunate ever since.
Then I really started my path to try to figure out what I was going to do with my life. At 17, I think that's what everybody's doing, so I went to college, University of Iowa, for three years. I really found though that college wasn't for me. Why? It's because I was only going to ... It's similar to your story, but for many people, I was only going to make my mom and grandma happy. No one in my family went to college, especially not a big four-year university like this, and so to go to college, I felt like I could make them proud.
But as I was there, it just was so much frustration. I was building relationships, but I just wasn't really interested in whatever path that I felt like I was going to be on. I changed my major four times, and then going into my junior year, I really came about and had the notion that just because you had a degree did not mean you're going to be successful in life. I called my mom and grandma and saying, "Hey, this isn't what I want to do anymore." Of course, I got a little bit of a scolding and disappointment but they always supported me, and they're like, "Okay, you come home. You're going to get a job."
Tried my hand at I would say probably about 19 different jobs, everything from selling Kirby vacuums, the network marketing, car … I sold everything besides crack and coke. I'm being honest. Then I decided six years ago to move here to Omaha, which is where my wife, my son, and my daughter and I live now. I was just looking for more opportunity. Before, my wife and I were going to move to Kansas City, Missouri, because I just wanted to be around big pro teams.
Why did I want to do that? It's because I wanted to give my son the opportunity to watch the Chiefs, the Royals, just do things with them, but we knew no one there, so my wife and I was like, "Man, can we really make KC work?" Well, I wound up getting a job opportunity as a digital marketing consultant selling yellow pages in between Kansas City and Sioux City, which was Omaha. I took that job. Then about a year in, I would find myself as number eight in the entire company, so I crushed at doing that. This is for inside sales.
Then I wanted to try my hand at management. This was another lesson that came from me where they were like, "Casanova, you're doing so great." I'm like, "Oh, cool. I want to try my hand at management." They're like, "Ah, yeah, but those positions, they're just not available right now," and then that was when I started to see like, "Oh, okay." In the corporate world, it feels like everybody could tell you no, but nobody could tell you yes. Who is the person that makes this decision, right?
I just started looking online. This is around the time that I found you, and this is also around the time that I came across a mentor, and he had said something to me. He said, "You got to find a way to be the lord of your land." I was like, "Oh, what does that mean?" Keep in mind, my parents never owned a house, car, business, nothing, and so I was like, "Okay, well, I don't know how to do that, but I want to." He was talking about real estate investing.
I was like, "Okay, well, how can I do that?" I looked deeper into his story, and I've seen that he started off as a celebrity realtor, and then he moved his way on up to investor, developer, everything else. I decided to get my license. Four months later, my mom and grandma called me up, and they say, "Hey, you know what, we want to move down to Omaha, be closer to you, Julie and CJ. There's nothing left here in Sioux City for us." I say, "Okay, cool." We moved them down here within two and a half weeks, and then within 24 hours of moving them down here, my mom winds up going to the hospital here in Omaha.
Within one week's time, I lose my mom at that hospital. Now, subsequently, I also wound up losing my job and the home that we had under contract because I was transitioning from inside sales to another job for outside sales so I could build my real estate career. All within a matter of two and a half weeks, I lose my mom, my job, my home, and I got no family, no friends, no church group, brand new city, brand new state. Well, what am I going to do?
I was going to go back and just get a regular W2 job, I'll be honest, but my wife is like, "No, you got this real estate license. You haven't done anything with it. You're going to jump out there. You're going to make something shake, or otherwise, you're going to always be wondering what-if." I was like, "Oh, man," so I jumped all in. Fast forward, within the next nine months, I did 46 deals, $8 million in volume. I got the Rookie of the Year in Nebraska. That's where my journey started to at least take off for me to build a foundation.
I'm just pausing for a moment to take all this in. I know the audience needs a moment too, because that is an incredible story with incredible challenges and obstacles coming your way. And just when things seemed to be going well, the rug gets pulled out under you. How or what kept you going blow after blow, especially having lost your mom and your job and the house during that time? It would be very easy to eventually just go, "You know what? The world's against me right now. There's no reason to keep going right now." What kept you going?
I would say there was three things. I'll be honest, when I first got into real estate of trying to build this business out, a local mentor here, he called me up—and he had tried to recruit me to another company, but I went to a different one. Well, anyway, about three months in, he still calls me up, and and he says, "Hey, how's everything going?" Long story short, I tried to make a couple of different excuses, because he's like, "How many deals have you closed? How many calls are you making? How many open houses have you done?"
All these things that I was like, "Well ..." and his exact words were, he was like, "Listen, kid, I told you when we first met, you had potential to be one of the greatest realtors that this city has ever seen if you did what you said you were going to do." He was like, "I understand you lost your mom, but I'm disappointed in you." Keep in mind, I didn't really know him like this, but I took it as constructive criticism because he was challenging me, and I knew that he was coming from the right place.
He was like, "I understand that you lost your mom." He was like, "But you got three other people right now that are still depending on you." My son, my grandma and my wife. That really eye-opened it for me and got my butt into gear, but then the second thing was me having goals, and the third thing was me having a dream. I always had big dreams. Keep in mind, for me being young, my parents just never ... They were never really able to provide. It's not that they didn't want to, it's just they could only provide at the level that they could, which was not what I wanted.
The things that really kept me going was, one, understanding that my mom would have still wanted me to persevere. She was always my biggest cheerleader. It's the saying that I learned early on that's always stuck with me, and it says, "Joy wouldn't feel so good if it wasn't for pain." Now, keep in mind, there was no joy out of losing my mom or going through any of those hardships, but I experienced a lot of pain, and while I didn't want those pains, when I came out, and now the life that I've been able to give my son and been able to give my family, my daughter as well, it's a lot of joy in that because I know that my mom would be proud.
A lot of the wins that I have now, I can't explain how I get those wins. Having you on my show, as I told you, it was a huge win for me. How did I do it? It was faith. It was luck. It was a lot of those things that when I look up, I say, "Listen, somebody is betting on me," and that person was my mom, and she still is, but then also just making sure that I had goals, and I never lost sight of having a dream. That's where the DreamNation all came from.
That's amazing. And of course, a lot of the adversity that you've experienced, even early on in life, helped shape you to become who you are today, has contributed to your success as a salesman, as a realtor. We hear these stories often of people who have gone through tough times and who've become stronger on the other side, so if you happen to be going through some tough times right now, there's always something beautiful on the other end, but you have to persevere. You can hear an example of this here.
I know you help and you coach a lot of other people too now. How do you recommend a person have that drive if they haven't had incredibly traumatizing life experiences to learn from? This is something that I get asked a lot is like, "Well, I don't have a good story. I didn't have a ton of challenges. I struggle every once in a while, but I'm complacent and things are fine." How do you recommend a person who feels that way to be driven?
No, that's a great question. I think that the number one thing that I learned was that my story wasn't for me, right? What do I mean by that? No matter where you are in your different walk of life, you have to understand ... Let's say that you're a three right now. This was something that was told to me by a friend and mentor, and so I really understood that. Actually, she's a fellow podcaster, Patrice Washington, so give a shout out. If you know Patrice, she's amazing lady.
She's helped to just really instill so much wisdom in me as well, but it was really understanding that even if I'm a three right now, so maybe I don't have the adversity to be an eight, or nine or having a powerful story, there's still zero, ones, and twos out there and even threes that are on the same path as you that need your story to keep going. For me, I looked at that, and I tell people all the time that you don't have to love the journey, because some people, their frustration comes in the journey. That's why they quit, right?
"I don't have the story. I don't have the resources. I don't have the mentorship." You don't have to love the journey, but you have to be married to the destination, right? We all have desires. We all have dreams in life, so whatever your dream is, it's really just understanding that if your dream was to come true, think about how many lives that you would impact. Because at the end of the day, we all want to feel—in my opinion, but I believe that it's really true—we all want to feel valued in this world.
We all want to leave a legacy, and that legacy doesn't have to mean that it's going to be to an entire nation or an entire country. Can we leave that legacy in our own hometown? Can we leave that legacy in our own Facebook group, our community of people that ...
There's a story behind this, which was always powerful to me. I learned it when I first got into real estate, but someone had asked Warren Buffett, they said, "Warren, how do you know when you've truly been successful in life?" Warren said, "You'll never know how truly successful you've been until you die." Now, the backstory on that ... I've never talked to Warren personally, even though he lives here in Omaha as well. The backstory on that is that he doesn't believe in God, right? He's the straightforward reality, that's what it is. He doesn't talk afterlife, so when they heard him say that, the crowd was like, "What? Warren talking about afterlife? This is crazy," but he said, "You'll never know until you die, and then you see how many people come to your funeral. But more importantly, you'll never truly know how successful you've been until you see how many of those people cried at your funeral, because those are the people who you truly impacted their lives."
I was like, "Wow." Understand that it doesn't matter what your story is. Your story is for you, and even though you might not have the story of super hardships, there's 100,000 or quarter million people that also don't have a story of super hardships, but they're still looking for a way to be able to connect their message with their audience. That's what you can be a catalyst for.
Beautiful. I want to think back to the tough time when you moved to Omaha. You'd lost your mom. You'd lost your job. You'd lost the home. You had said that you sat down, and after getting encouragement from your wife ... She seems amazing.
You sat down and you created goals for yourself. I want to know what was going through your head when you were coming up with those goals. How did you determine what those goals were? Indeed, what were those goals during that time?
If I'm completely honest and transparent, my only goal was to get out of my current situation. What did that look like? I think it's helpful to paint the picture. Well, first, after we had our house under contract, and we lost that house, we were living in an apartment here in Omaha before because our first year in Omaha, we just got an apartment lease, and then we were going to buy. Well, we had put in our 30-day notice that, "Hey, we're buying the house. We don't need the property anymore." It's a big apartment complex.
What did they do? They went out and filled that apartment. After losing my mom at the very ... Keep in mind, I got told that I wasn't approved for the loan two days prior to me not being able to close, right? This all came, without going too much deeper into that, but yeah ... so it all came like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I didn't have time to prepare.
When it rains, it pours.
Yeah. At this time, we lose the house, and we need to find somewhere to live. We got my son. So my wife's second aunt lived here in Omaha, and she was going through a divorce. She was like, "Hey, while I'm going through this situation, you guys are more than welcome to move in here. You could just pay me 500 bucks. It'll help me. It'll help you until you guys get on your feet." She had a ranch house, and she had a big basement. It had one bedroom in it, and it had a really big storage utility room.
For me, we gave my son the bedroom, so he's living like a king, and Julie and I, we put our bed, our dresser, and our TV in that big storage utility room. Every day while I'm going to the office, when I come home, I'm sleeping next to a furnace and a water heater that's kicking on 50 times a night. That painted the picture of why I had the desire, why I had to get out of there, because it was like, "Man, we can't keep living like this." But then on top of that, the goals that I set ...
I'll be honest, I was so early in my business or entrepreneurial, really trying to figure it out way, all I wanted to do was just sell a couple houses, right? I just wanted to have enough money because my wife was supporting me, not only emotionally, but now she is supporting me financially as well. I'm like, "Okay, well, something's got to work." For me, I just looked at ... I went back to what were the things that I was good at up until this time, and the only thing that I could really pinpoint was building relationships.
I could build relationships with the best of people. With this real estate thing, I said, "Okay, well, how can I really accelerate my path on building relationships and getting people to trust me?" For me, I started out, and I was doing ... Well, first off, where I got all of my knowledge and my information, there's a couple books that I learned. There was podcasts that I found, and we could definitely get into those, but I wound up learning something that taught me the power of sales. It was really, if you didn't have it written down, if you didn't have a plan every single day, you were really failing.
If you fail to plan, you were planning to fail. It was really as simple as that. What I did was I said, "You know what, I'm going to go to three to five coffee and lunches every single week. I'm also going to do ..." I started out doing one open house, but then I started to ramp it up, and then I was doing two open houses every single weekend on Sunday. In the beginning, I was doing 12:00 to 3:00 pm, and then I was like, "Okay, well ..." How I got started was I was trying to find who could I do open houses for.
I didn't really know anybody, so I just found builders, because builders have spec homes, and they always just want people to sit in them so people can come through the models. That was what I was doing. Well, I'm sitting ... The average home price here in Omaha is only like $187,000. At that time, it was probably more like $182,000 or something. I'm sitting in $400,000, $450,000 houses. I look like a young kid. I'm living out west, to be honest, where there's very few black people, which is really like the suburbs, and so I'm like, "Okay, well, this isn't really working. These people aren't really vibing with me."
I'm still building a little bit of relationship, but then you're getting the older crowd and things like that, so I'm like, "I got to figure something out." Here's what I thought to do. I didn't want to lose what I was already building momentum on in the bigger houses, but I said, "What I'm going to start to do is from 12:00 to 1:30, I'm going to go do something that's up to $200,000," so $100,000 to $200,000. Then from 1:30 to 3:00, then I'm going to go do something that's $250,000 to $500,000, so I could tackle both sides of it.
That was what I just tried to do, and so I had a plan every single day. I followed through on that. My wife supported me on it, and then after a while, it took probably about a month to get the wheels turning, but when it did, it was off to the races and it was like riding a bike.
Good for you. I think I want to talk about really quick ... You had mentioned and then painted a picture of where you were during this time. You were in this utility room and next to a water heater. It really helps us understand that that is really a driver for you, because you don't want to be there the entire time. I remember when I got laid off, I moved back with my parents. I love my parents, but I didn't want to be stuck at home. That felt like I was failing, so I was driven. I had, every day a reminder of why I needed to do what I was doing.
I think a lot of times when we set goals for ourselves as entrepreneurs, we consider and paint the picture of where we want to be, but we don't often have that juxtaposition or think as hard about where we are now and how either painful or much of a struggle that is, because that is what can drive you to continue to push forward into that new life. I love how you talked about planning and what every day was going to be like, how you transitioned. You adapted. Those are all very entrepreneurial traits.
I'd love to learn a little bit more about these resources in fact, because selling and building relationship is obviously really key. Some are better than others at that. What resources should we be diving into, and what were some of the things we learned or we can learn from these specific resources?
There was two books that I first caught on o early. The first one was Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That was huge for me in understanding the way of not only money, but understanding the way that there's two different phases of life, right? We all want to be a part of the 1 percent, but yet we listen to and we act like the other 99 percent of people, right? That was a big deal for me, and so understanding that I did want to have the path of rich dad, and it didn't necessarily mean that I needed to be rich, but it did mean that I wanted to be able to provide comfortably for my family.
That was the first one, and then in conjunction with that, I wound up catching a book by a guy named M.J. DeMarco, which is called The Millionaire Fastlane.
Yes. He was the early guest on the podcast.
Yeah, early on.
Then I found the forum there. This was like the world of just coming out of ... Well, I guess it wasn't just coming out of—but like AOL, Instant Messenger and different types of forums. Then all of a sudden, I find this, and it's like, "Man, people are actually active in this community. They're talking about slow lanes and fast lanes." I'm like, "Okay, so it's not that I'm crazy. There's real people that believe this as well." Then after that, I wind up catching ... which just seemed like serendipity in the time, but I wind up catching The 4-Hour Workweek, which I know has been huge in your life as well.
I caught The 4-Hour Workweek, and that book right there really taught me like, "Man, don't listen to what ... People can be ..." This is a lesson that I learned from a mentor as well, and it says, "People will try to give you their best advice. I'm telling you that advice will be sincere, and they will be and can be sincere as well, but understand that they can be sincerely wrong about the advice that they are giving you." I was like, "Man," because this was all foreign to me, so that really helped me to keep going as well and to understand the power of, if I didn't ... because the power that The 4-Hour Workweek had over me, when it really started to talk about virtual teams, right?
For me being young, I just didn't feel like I had enough substance. I didn't feel like I had enough anything to say, "Hey, I'm going to go hire these people that that are here. I'm going to get an office space, all these things that just felt like it was putting more fear onto me." I said, "Listen, I can go to Elance or Upwork or oDesk, whatever it was, and I could just talk to these people. They don't really know me. They don't know that I'm new. They don't know my backstory or anything like that."
That gave me a little bit of empowerment to feel like I could find my way to becoming a leader and just focus on my business. Those books were huge when I first got started, those three books. Of course, then I came across things like Think and Grow Rich, Richest Man in Babylon. Go for No! was huge as well, so those are all big. Then after the book world, because I'll tell you, I was never a big reader. I'm getting better, but I was never a big reader, but I've now been a super advocate. I should be an ambassador for Audible, because I use it as much as just about anybody.
But then I got into the podcasting world, and that's where I found you. I think the first three podcasts that I ever found was yours, Entrepreneurs on Fire with JLD and the School of Side Hustle. All three of those, it just felt like, was speaking to me. It felt like it was my tribe, because I was always curious. I was always like, "Oh," and so when I've seen your blog and when I've seen the videos, and I'm like, "How?" Then it just gave me ... It was everything, and it just gave me that much more hope.
It was everything, and so those three podcasts and those three books is what really started me being able to have the conviction that this was for me.
You also mentioned the word mentor a number of times already, and it seems like that's an important part of your life. How do you find your mentors, and how do you work with them?
Great question. I'll be honest and transparent to anybody watching or listening that for me, mentors all come from afar until I've gotten to the point where I can really build. When I talk about mentors, like my mentor that got me into real estate, his name is Jay Morrison. He's in Atlanta. He's done some really profound things, especially for the black communities. He's been great. Well, anyway, I've never met Jay Morrison in person. I did ...
This was like two and a half, three years ago. He wound up putting out a challenge or basically saying, "Hey, if I've ever impacted your life, I want you to make a testimonial video and then we're going to select one person to fly out here to be with my wife and I, da, da, da." I made the testimonial video. He didn't select me, which is fine, but my video is on the front page of his website. He still took my video, but I didn't get selected, but it was okay because, again, that was the value that he gave to me.
I still have so much wisdom from him that's allowed me to, again, grow my life, grow my impact, grow everything, and so same thing as you. I've been on shows. I've now done probably close to 100 interviews on other people's shows. I've mentioned your name I would say probably at least 40 of those times on 40 different shows when people ask.
Even in person like here locally, because it's just the impact that you've had on me. And so with anybody's looking right now or anybody's wondering, "How can I have mentors?" There are so many different ways to have mentorship, through podcasts, through books, through you going live every single day. If someone sits with you for 30 minutes a day, it's no different than going to church. They get to ask you these questions. They get to vibe with you. Maybe they're not getting you on their show yet, but you at least become to know who they are.
They become a part of your tribe, and now they can say, "Yeah, Pat's a mentor of mine." And while Pat may not say, "Hey, yeah, definitely I know him. That's my guy," he might say, "Yeah, he comes to the thing. He's always engaging with me. He seems like a really nice guy," and then he's looking for an opportunity to help you because that's what I found: the best mentors that I've ever had, they're really super selfless. I've now had the pleasure of meeting many of them, because I've developed the platform of DreamNation, but it's all been a dream come true, I'll be honest.
That's how I've gotten my mentors. I first started out of really being strategic around it too. It's funny. I just told this: I had a guy, one of the top realtors in the country. I had him on my show yesterday, and I told the story about how I got you on the show. It was really cool, but I'll tell that for anybody who's looking, because a lot of people, they would love to try to figure out, "How can I get Pat Flynn?" especially in the world of podcasting today.
If you want, I can share what my mindset was around it, and then we can go from there, or we don't have to get into that.
I was going to say if we reveal this, then everybody else is going to do the same thing, but I think it's valuable because whether you reach out to me or somebody else that you want to have on your show, a virtual mentor, I've had the same kind of mentors too. I didn't know anybody who I was learning from because that's all I could have access to. Eventually, I joined courses and things like that. But anyway, let's dive into it. I want to know how you reeled me in if you want to call it that.
I think for me, I've always started ... I've had really good, successful friends, and they say, "Casanova, the best thing that you do is you just take action." Even when I have super lack of clarity in a certain situation, I always find a way to take action. What's my framework like around that? How do I do it? Well, I think the first thing that I always do is I assess the end goal, and how big is the desire for that end goal? The second thing is I look at what's the worst that could happen.
Even if they say no or whatever, I ask myself, "Can I bounce back from that?" Nine times out of 10, you always can bounce back from it. I'm always thinking big level, and then right after that, I say, "What's the best that could happen?" Then here's how it gets going. Then every single day, I think what I do is I ask myself, because when it comes time to go all in, you have to really go all in. What that means is there's going to be risks, and if you have the risks, if you're vesting, if you're starting a podcast, if you're going to a retreat coaching, it doesn't matter what it is, there's probably going to be a financial investment involved.
One of the best things that I've learned and stuck with me is they say, "If there's no transaction, there's no transformation," right? We just don't value a lot of things that are free, not the way that we value it when we put our hard earned money into it. If there's no transaction, there's no transformation. For me, I look at that, and I say, "At the end of the day, if this all comes crashing down, and my wife is like, "Oh my God, you did this to me," did I give it everything that I had?" To just be like, "Listen, I was working every day ..."
Think of it in terms of basketball. I was working every single day. I was at the gym 6:00 am, first one there, last one to leave. I made it to the championship, but I just came up short. One, a lot of lessons to be learned. Two, it's not over. It was one season. We all go through different seasons of our lives. So transition that into how I got you on the show or how I built the relationship that I have is in the beginning, I started out with the goal. What did I want to do? Well, I understood that you had to have one of two things.
You either already had to have a big audience, or two, you had to have a platform to be able to really connect with these people, or otherwise you had to solve a major problem for them, but it's tough to get too deep into them especially when you're virtual or remote. I was like, "Okay, well, podcasting, I love podcasts. This is what I want to do." Well, for me, I've always been a go big or go home person. So right when I wrote down my dream 10 ... I know there's things like dream 100 and all the top people.
I wrote down my dream 10, and I want to say you were two or three right on there, that I had to get Pat Flynn, so I started to put together my plan of like, "How could I get Pat Flynn?" I found different emails that I emailed, and they came back, and all these other things. I reached out on Twitter, all these things that I just wanted to share. Sometimes, I'll be honest, it was a little discouraging because you're like, "Maybe this isn't going to work," but you just keep going.
Here's what happens. If you have the right intent, I can't tell you how it happens, but if you have the right intent, and you just have that conviction, the universe will open it up for you. For me, I reached out to you. It was after I got my show. I really wanted to make sure that I wasn't wasting your time, and so when I reached out in the beginning, I don't think I got a response. But then I started learning even from you of how to craft different emails, how to get people on your show, so I took what I learned from you, and then I came back and I reached out around episode 90.
I was like, "Man, we got a big milestone coming up. It's going to be episode 100. I really want to feature Pat." Then you emailed back. Before that, though, I'd already been active for at least a week or a week and a half in the stream. It was right when the Coronavirus started. In the Passive Income stream on YouTube, I was already active in that. I was like, "Okay, I did my homework. I know what we got to do," and then he came back, and he's like, "Hey, sorry, no promises, da, da, da, da. I don't think he's going to be able to make it work."
I was like, "Oh, man." It just was what it was. I kept going, kept going. Then the George Floyd situation comes up, right? You and the team put out something, and you say, "Hey, you know what, we want to hear from black entrepreneurs." It was like, "Boom, bingo, we got action. I'm black. I'm an entrepreneur. I'm going to share my story. We got action." I go in there. I didn't know, I'm sure you had 50, 100 people that all reached out.
It was a lot, so I was like, "Man, I gotta make this impactful. How can I do it?" I just shared my story. Next thing I know ... I remember telling Julie, my wife, and I'm like, "Hey, Pat just put this thing out there. I just recorded it." She's like, "Yeah, you'll get it, I'm sure." Then it comes back, and it's like, "Hey, you've been selected." I'm like, "Boom, another step. We got it." It just keeps me going. Then all of a sudden, SPI, the founder pro community comes out, right?
It's like, "Okay, are you all in, or are you not?" It comes out, and it's like, "Hey, apply." Boom, right away, I applied right away. I'm like, "Now I'm going to be a part of this community, and I'm just going to make sure that he knows exactly who I am, if nothing else." I did that. I wind up getting in. Boom, bingo, we got action. Then a couple weeks later goes by, and we send out another email. It's like, "Hey, you know what, we'd still love to have Pat on the show. We've had some really big name guests, Jack Canfield, Dean Graziosi, all these people."
Then all of a sudden, a couple days go by, and it's like, "Okay, we'll see what happens. If not, we'll find another way in," but it comes back. It's like, "Yeah, Pat would love to do the show. He has an opening in the next 48 hours. Can you make it happen?" I think we recorded that on a Friday afternoon, which my recording days are on Tuesday, Thursdays. I learned from you about the power of batching, so I rarely ever ... but the lesson in that is once you get the opportunity, it's the same thing that I told my wife: don't get hyped for the moment, and then start to backpedal.
When that moment came, I embraced it. I'm like, "Friday, boom, we got action. Let's do it," and so we did it. That was always my thing. Even after we booked that time slot, the stage is set now, right? You got one hour to build a relationship with them. You might not even have one hour. You might only have 40 minutes, but it doesn't matter how much time you have. It's just like being on a news show. You got a certain amount of time. Are you going to rise to the occasion? Or are you going to put your tail between your legs and make excuses?
I rose to the occasion. That's where we are now.
Dude, this Pat Flynn guy seems playing hard to get or something. Wow, thank you. Thank you for that. Thank you for the persistence. Another thing that impacted me with our relationship is you had sent me some really quick, nice video messages on Instagram. That's what I teach in my book Superfans, and then here it is, it's making an impact on me. It's helping you stand out a little bit. Part of it is luck, but part of it is showing up when the opportunity arises. You definitely did that.
Thank you for sharing that. It was actually ... You didn't say, "Hey, well, could I be on your show too?" It was me who reached out to you because of just what we had done together on your show. It just really impressed me, and learning more about you, in fact researching you a little bit even afterwards, I was just like, "Wow, this person ... Casanova has so much to share and so much to offer."
As we wrap up here, I want to talk a little bit more about DreamNation. What is DreamNation? What is it that you do and focus on now? We've heard about your journey 'til now, and I want to know even what are your plans for the future. What are your new goals now?
I appreciate you asking about that. DreamNation, where it all started is ... Again, I said at the beginning of the show I believe that everything starts with a dream. The second piece of that is those of us who dare to dream while the rest of the world is settling for what society tells us or even deems is our reality, we're the ones who stand to be trailblazers, changemakers, and ultimately make this world a better place. For me, there was a story, a backstory—there's always a backstory that really brings these things for me.
CJ, you know CJ. The funny thing is yesterday, last night, I told Julie, I was like, "I got Pat's show tomorrow," and CJ is on his Nintendo Switch. He's on the floor, and he's in the front room. He's like, "You got Pat Flynn?" He remembered it from when we were talking, and you brought up the Fortnite and all that. I don't think he knows the name of any of my other guests, but he definitely knows your name.
I love that.
Yeah, man, a great little guy too. Yes, so he went through a stage about a year, year-and-a-half ago, where he was afraid of the dark. When you go up in my house, we have a two-story home, but upstairs in the back room, you got his sister's room on the left, and then you got his room on the right. My daughter would already be sleeping in her bed, and then it's time for CJ to go to sleep. He would come back down, and he's like, "Dad, I heard something." I'm like, "CJ ..." Part of it was just he didn't want to go to sleep.
I'm like, "CJ, you didn't hear anything. They would have to come past us." He's like, "No, I heard something. There's someone up there." What would I have to do? I would have to go upstairs, turn on the light, walk him down the hallway, turn on the light in his room, open the doors, look under the bed and say, "Look, there's nothing to be afraid of. You're okay," and then of course, he would go to sleep. Well, the whole point in all of that is I know or I'm pretty sure that within the next year or two, my daughter might start to go through the same phase, right?
A lot of kids do when they're afraid of the dark. Now if I've done my job right, that means that I no longer have to go upstairs because big brother's going to go upstairs, turn on the light and going to say, "Hey, look, there's nothing to be afraid of." It just comes with stepping out and being a leader, going first. For me, everything starts with a dream, and why it's so powerful for me to make sure that I inspire everyone to go after their dream and a life by their design is because for me, as I was growing up, since I didn't have a foundation, I always ...
One of the stories that I heard or one of the sayings that I heard that always stuck with me was if I didn't have a loving father, that a loving father had to come from me. That really came if I didn't have a wealthy family, but that was what I tied it back to, because I didn't know, if I'm honest, why my dad, why he stood me up many times, why it just felt like he never wanted to be a part of my life and even like my children's life now, we're not asking him for anything, but it is what it is.
As I looked at that, I needed to make sure that I could protect my kids in their love but also in their dreams, because for me, since I didn't have a foundation or anybody that allowed me ... People would always tell me when I was younger—I never really had the negative people to say, "You can't make this," or whatever. My mom shielded me from that, and my grandma shielded my mindset from not really listening to it. But when they would tell me, "Casanova, you can do anything that you want to do," the problem was I never saw anyone or had a blueprint to do anything that I wanted to do.
Maybe that's why I think that the Smart Passive Income tribe was so huge for me and the show, is because it gave me the strategies, the resources and the tactics to say, "Okay, well, if you want to do this, this is how you do it." For me, with the DreamNation Podcast, I've set out to really ... That's why if you're watching, but you probably can't, but if you look at the DreamNation, there's a little bit of a bridge right here. For me, the reason why there's a bridge is so monumental and impactful is because I understand that not everybody is able to get Pat Flynn's time, right?
My responsibility, my obligation, my duty with this is the fact that I am able to get 30 minutes, 45 minutes of your time, it's my job to give back to my tribe to be able to teach them whatever I can or at least have a bridge for them to be able to connect with you. That's where the DreamNation all comes from. I think the thing that I've loved the most about it is it's just given me a platform to feel like I could really add value to not only my tribe, but how could I add value to a person like Pat when it seems like from the surface, he has everything already working for him?
Having a platform like this where I could share his message, where I could hopefully connect him with somebody that he could do exactly what he did for me, that's the whole purpose of DreamNation.
Thank you, Casanova. Where can people go to learn more about DreamNation, become a part of DreamNation?
Dreamnation.com is where you can go. I'm very proud to say that because I did just make a very large investment. Believe it or not, the domain's been owned since 2001.
The domain was owned by somebody else, and then you got it.
Yeah, by somebody else. DreamNation.com is where you can go. There's so many resources there. There's so much that we will unpack there, but you can find both the podcast, the real estate podcast as well as the DreamNation original podcast, and a lot of other resources to help you grow your mind, grow your business, and also grow your relationships.
Beautiful. The website looks great. Congrats on the domain. Thank you so much, Casanova, for spending some time with us telling us these beautiful, motivational stories and inspiring every single one of us. We appreciate you, DreamNation.com. Stick around. We're going to wrap up, but thanks, Casanova. I appreciate you.
Man, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Casanova Brooks. Again, you can find him at CasanovaBrooks.com or the DreamNation Podcast. What an amazing, incredible story. Casanova, thank you so much. I know you listen to the show. I want to speak to you really quick. Just thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you for inspiring others and continuing to lead through your example and your just amazing personality and your vibe and everything. Just, thank you so much for that. I appreciate you.
It's so good to get to know you, and build a relationship with you this year. I cannot wait to extend that relationship even further. If you'd like to follow Casanova and check him out, or check out all the other links of things that we mentioned here today, you could check out the show notes page on SmartPassiveIncome.com/session451. Again, it's SmartPassiveIncome.com/session451.
As we close it on the end of the year here, I can't help but just say this because it's true. I'm so grateful for you as a listener, wherever you listen, whether you're on a commute right now, on a walk, maybe at the gym, maybe just chilling in your living room, maybe you're even sharing this episode with your friends or your family or whoever, just thank you. Thank you so much. It's been a wonderful, over a decade of doing the podcast, and I cannot wait for the next decade with you.
Thank you for being here with me, supporting me, driving energy into me, because I'm here to drive it back to you. Subscribe, and I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers, take care. As always, Team Flynn for the win. Peace out.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at www.SmartPassiveIncome.com.
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