Andrew: Hey, everyone. I want to try something different here. My name is Andrew Warner. You know that. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I bring proven entrepreneurs to talk about how they built their businesses. You know that too.
What you may not be aware of is that I feel like I’ve been having much more interesting conversations in private lately than I have online. I think the reason is that my guests are a little afraid to get as open and as unguarded as they are in person because now there’s like a reputation to Mixergy and because they know that there are people listening and they know they want to fit a certain model. So they talk up their businesses and don’t let me get as personal as I would like.
Also frankly maybe a big part of it is maybe I’ve been a little bit chicken about it. I know in private I think if the conversation is not good, then who cares? I’ll meet someone else and this person will either hate me for having a bad conversation or who cares or understand that I did a good job or I was just there and trying. But in these interviews, I just don’t have that risk taking lately.
So I’ve been looking for a way to open this up. In fact, it happened to me this past Wednesday where I sat down and thought I need to find a way to do this. Then Dane and I sat yesterday and talked about what this interview could be and I said, “You know, Dane, I really liked that personal conversation we had before we started talking about what your interview on Mixergy would be.”
I said, “Dane, would you be open to just recording an hour with me which could go nowhere and we may not even publish it or it could end up being something really meaningful, really personal, really touching, really significant without even talking about the usual stuff that we’re expected to talk about on Mixergy.” And Dane was up for it, which I appreciate because I’ve always had really good conversations in private with Dane. So that’s what we’re going to do here.
Dane Maxwell is the founder of Paperless Pipeline. You might have heard him do an interview here about how he built it up in the past. It’s a bootstrap business that we’ve done at least one interview about and probably multiple. It’s software that simplifies real estate transaction management without forcing real estate offices to change the way they do business. He’s also the founder of The Foundation, where you can start an internet business even if you have no experience. And this interview is sponsored by two companies, HostGator and Toptal. I’ll tell you more about them later. Dane, good to have you here.
Dane: What’s up, man?
Andrew: Did any of what I said resonate about getting into a real space in a conversation? Did you feel that maybe in private I’m a little more open and have better conversations than you might have heard on Mixergy?
Dane: I have a sense that the energetics of a personal conversation are generally more relaxed and that allows for the soil to be more fertile to go down lower. And I was thinking when you asked me if I would do it, I have a sense that I would much rather listen to these personal conversations between high achievers than how they did things because I can learn how things are done with courses and guides.
When it comes to two people having conversations, I just want to get the energetics of what they’re talking about, hear what’s on their heart, hear what their brain thinks about, hear how they view the word. Biographies have become much more interesting to me than how to guides. For example, this feels like it’s a could be a personal biography, in a sense. If you were to do more of these, I would be pretty inclined to listen.
Andrew: I often to look behind the person in an interview and I want to look beyond the business in an interview too. So, for example, I’m looking here and it looks like you’re in a cardboard box. To me, that’s as interesting you’re in a cardboard box. To me, that’s as interesting as the business you’ve built because there’s a reason why you are where you are. Where are you and why are you there?
Dane: I’m in a legitimate monastery in the mountains of Vermont with monks.
Andrew: The weird thing is I thought if you were in a monastery, you couldn’t do a Skype conversation like this. You couldn’t text me the way you did the other day.
Dane: Yeah. I have the sense where I create my reality wherever I go. So, I told the monks they better do it. No, I’m kidding. This is an integrated monastery. They want to integrate mindfulness and meditation in your day to day life. So they allow you to stay connected to the world while you build these practices. It’s called the CenterForMindfulLearning.org or something like that.
Dane: There are 14 people here. I sleep in a bunk. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. I chant for an hour, stuff like chant. Then I sit for an hour. Then at 7:00 a.m. I have an hour to work out. I have breakfast from 8:00 to 9:00 and then from 9:00 to 1:30 I focus fully on my creations.
So, I came here for 30 days to birth a new musical album. And I have eight to ten hours a day to work on it while practicing mindfulness, while practicing meditation, while being connected to the world so that when I go home, I’ll have this integrated in my day to day life. It’s not a way to disconnect. It’s a place to connect and fully integrate mindfulness.
Andrew: I see, connect to your purpose.
Dane: Well, I already know my purpose.
Andrew: Connect to what then?
Andrew: What are you trying to do there? Why go to a monastery? Beyond the actual output of having an album, what are you trying to do there?
Dane: To find my voice.
Andrew: I always felt like you had your voice. You’re someone who used the term energetics very comfortably in a conversation. You’re someone who will end a conversation with me and say, “Andrew, I love you.” And I’m not returning that I love you back if you noticed. In fact, one time you called me on it. But you accepted it. To me it feels like you are comfortable with your voice. You have been. What’s been missing?
Dane: You may be as shocked as I am to say it, but my heart.
Andrew: What do you mean by–yeah, I am. I’m incredulous. It doesn’t jive with what I know about you. When you say you want to find your heart, what does that mean?
Dane: What you’ve seen in terms of my expression is a very small part of how much I actually love you and a very small part of how much I love the world. When I say to find my voice, it’s my best attempt to try to please you or please the audience the answer of why go to a monastery. I fucking came for enlightenment. I came to find a center. I came to practice mindfulness.
Really I came because my spiritual teacher learned from this guy. So I wanted to learn from my spiritual teacher’s meditation teacher. So every day I get to sit with this meditation guy and he sits and feels into my field and tells me exactly what I need to hear to deepen my meditation practice.
Andrew: Yesterday you said two things that I ordinary wouldn’t just bring up because you said it in private, but we agreed that we can delete this if we want to. So I’m going to go for it. The first was you said that you had trouble growing up and you were still dealing with some of that. The second thing you said was that you were building businesses because you were trying to please people, people that you don’t even know. Can we talk a little about the childhood thing and then we’ll go into pleasing people? What was the issue growing up?
Dane: Well, zooming out above the issue, they’ve done research that if you grow up with constant heartbreak, you’ll dissociate and disconnect from your heart. In addition, your brain won’t fully develop. So they’re done research that shows that kids that grow up in traumatic environments where their bullied, their brain has to work extra hard to keep up. I was bullied tremendously.
Andrew: What kind of bullying?
Dane: First day at school, I walk up to my buddy, sit at the lunch table and as soon as I go to approach to sit at the lunch table next to my good friend, this other guy says with words that like cut flesh, piercing into me, “What the fuck are you doing sitting down here?” And I was like–I had never felt that kind of hatred in my life. I was home schooled up until seventh grade. I don’t know how to defend my heart.
So I kept my heart open until the pain got so great I shut it off. That moment was the first of it. I looked to my buddy for protection and his head just dropped down. Then I felt alone. I felt rejected. I had no idea what to make of it. I went home to my parents to talk to them about this and they’re deeply remorseful of this, but they didn’t really get the extent of what was happening. They were like, “Don’t worry about it, Dane. You’ll get over it after high school. It’s just high school. It’s not a big deal.”
So I was like, “Cool, I guess.” So, for seventh grade, from like 12 to 18 it was just six years of isolation, six years of loneliness, six years of getting picked on over and over and over again until I just got as far away from my heart as I possibly could.
Andrew: I used to think though that was actually helpful to feel like–I remember Mark Suster, the investor, coming on here saying he likes to invest in entrepreneurs who have a chip on their shoulder. I kind of feel like that’s the sort of thing that would make you want to puff your chest out, make you want to show the world, make you want to start a company, make you do meaningful things. Apparently it did, right? You said that one of the reasons why you started businesses was a reaction to that. Why don’t we talk about that? How did that cause you to react in business, I mean?
Dane: So keep in mind I grew up feeling lost and disoriented as my world view. So, as I’m getting attacked, as I’m getting bullied, as I’m getting picked on, I don’t know why it’s happening. I don’t have parents telling me why it’s happening. I even have teachers that are pushing me aside. I just came to some harsh conclusions about reality so I wouldn’t be fooled anymore. One, I had to decide that love doesn’t exist and love isn’t real. That was painful for me.
Andrew: Who did you love? You loved the other kids or you loved girls or you loved what?
Dane: Anyone loving me. I didn’t conceive that anyone could actually love me.
Andrew: Because they were all treating you like garbage and because your parents were supportive and finding a solution, so it meant they didn’t care as much as you thought they did or they said they did. I that it?
Andrew: Okay. I see. So you said there’s no love there.
Dane: So the people that I wanted to be valuable to were of course the kids that everyone else valued. I saw that epic achievement was what produced this result, where people were just like they liked the quarterback if he threw a good touchdown. So I found myself later in life opening my first business book, like a Napoleon Hill book, like “Think and Grow Rich.” It was actually Napoleon Hill’s thousand-page book, “The Law of Success.” For the first time, I felt guidance in my life.
So, keep in mind, this is actually one of the reasons why I think I’m so successful in just about anything I do is because I can take action in the midst of hopelessness for a long time.
Andrew: Why? It feels like maybe you take action that we all do more when we feel hopeless, that we have to break free, that we either break under it or we try to break free and maybe this was you saying, “I can’t deal with these kids constantly bullying me. I can’t deal with me feeling so insignificant. I’m going to level up by studying these books, by using what I learned, by building a business, right?
So, in that case–I see you nodding–isn’t that helpful. Shouldn’t we be encouraging that? Forget the heart, allow ourselves to be more bruised, to take insults a little bit more personally so that we fight back harder, so we create things more meaningful, so we work harder than we would otherwise.
So we show them but in the process provide for ourselves, provide for our families, provide for our customers, provide for everyone and have a richer life in every way, financially and otherwise. Isn’t that good then that you were picked on? Shouldn’t we actually try to encourage that?
Andrew: Why not?
Dane: The idea that pain is good is, in my opinion, a conceptualization of a story to kind of paint a better picture about why pain, “Oh, pain happens because we come here to learn that as our karma,” or, “Because of this pain, look at all this great stuff I created.” Well, once you actually fully deal with the pain, there is no more story around it for me.
So, it’s like, “Oh yeah, I guess I got bullied.” That’s it. That’s all that happened. It’s not like, “I got bullied so that I could be more powerful to do this.” No. Anything else has a story attached to it once I undo the energetics of it. But this gets into some pretty esoteric territory. What I stand for is everyone living as their purest, truest, essence free from pain. From that place, they create what they were born to do.
I was born to sing. I was born to play guitar. But every time–and born to play music–but every time I went to approach that, my heart just got destroyed.
Andrew: But Dane, I’ve got to say that if you had followed your heart, you might have been a penniless musician who was enjoying and expressing his heart and soul but couldn’t really live, couldn’t pay the bills, couldn’t get a place, couldn’t provide for your family, right? Isn’t that a danger? Shouldn’t we appreciate that you didn’t do that?
Dane: I don’t necessarily want to change what happened. Everything that happened, happened perfectly and I feel very happy about what’s happened in my life overall, seeing as where things are. Yeah. It’s cool. It’s just unfortunate that anybody would have to go through any kind of trauma. I wouldn’t have been a penniless musician because I’m a badass at what I do. And I know how to be potent and powerful in any industry that I enter. I would have picked up the same skills somewhere.
I think that if we go back even further, I really believe every human being should try entrepreneurship for six months to a year to learn indispensable skills, sales and marketing and creation so when they go into living their essence, expressing their pure heart in the world, they have the skills of entrepreneurship to do it. Having a discussion on, “Is this good or bad or shouldn’t people create from pain?” is not really a discussion I care to even have. It’s just kind of a pointless conversation.
Andrew: I see. And that kind of–so, if you do go back to your essence, your essence is just playing music. It is in persuasion. It is in understanding what people want and how to touch them. I noticed that when we talked yesterday and I said, “How about if we do two interviews?” And you immediately started to go into headlines for the interviews. To me, that showed that Dane, even in a very personal, very emotion conversation will go to a little bit of marketing because that’s the essence of who you are. That’s just part of it.
By the way, you were dating someone years ago and I remember you introduced her to me as like “the one” or maybe without her being there you said, “She is the one.” This is like two or three relationships ago. I have a hard time expressing that about my wife. We’re married. I always think in the back of my head if I say this is it, it’s forever, I think she’s the one for me, I think they’re going to file it away and in ten years if we ever get a divorce, they’re going to remember that and I’m going to look like a fraud.
You had none of those hesitations and then the relationship broke up. Why didn’t you have any of those hesitations and after the relationship didn’t work out, did you then at that point start to accept some hesitation and say, “I can’t keep telling people this is the one.”
Dane: I forgot about that.
Andrew: None of that? That doesn’t stick out for you at all?
Dane: No, I mean forgot about it like I think it’s just a result of immaturity, like hopeless romantic, like if I was fully honest with myself in that moment and fully connected to the heart that I ejected from to live in the business world, if I’m fully present and in my heart, then it’s going to be challenging for me to speak out of integrity. So, like when I’ve ejected from my heart, I’m achieving power and potency in business, to be valuable to the people I thought were valuable. So, I thought that was a whole completely disconnected place to begin with.
Andrew: The thing that I liked about that, the thing I admired was I said, “I’m overthinking it. I’m thinking 10 years in the future to a thought that someone’s never going to have.” That’s just bad and it causes distance right now in my relationship. Then I brought it to business because that’s where my head goes sometimes and I said the people who I really admire go out and say, “This is the greatest company.”
Think of Jason Calacanis. I’ve known him for years. Jason Calacanis when he came out with Mahalo, the first version of Mahalo was going to crush Google and he explained why Google was going to get crushed by spam and why he was going to create search results that were handmade and so they’d never get spam. They would always be better than Google. He believed it and he preached it like it was the truth and if you didn’t see it, you were missing something. He was wrong.
Then he had another vision. He started believing that and preaching that. It was like one of the next visions after that was we are going to create search results that we’re going to SEO, we’re going really game Google and show up as the first search results for a lot of these search queries. And he again said it with the same belief without at all being cowed, without at all being–without softening his presentation at all after having been wrong once.
I thought what you did in that relationship is the way we should be, just express it and say, “This is the one,” and if it fails and it doesn’t work out, go on and say, “This is the one,” for the next one. And if anyone calls you a hypocrite for having told them the first relationship was going to be forever and it didn’t, then that’s the price of doing business for you and also it’s their pain they’re just inflicting because they’re going to not express things as fully as they believed them and not allow themselves to get carried away. What do you think of all that? I just went on a little monologue, but I think that was important.
Dane: It’s often a reflection of a level of consciousness a person’s at. If you’re familiar with Ken Wilbur’s work in spiral dynamics, there’s a level of consciousness. It’s traditional consciousness. There’s a right. There’s a wrong. There’s a black and there’s a white.
There’s usually very little nuance spoken in the traditional consciousness. Much of the world lives at their traditional level of consciousness, which is there is a savior. There’s a hero. There’s a leader who saves us. It’s typically common. A lot of headlines online really appeal to “the one way to x,” like a very, very extreme because it appeals to traditional.
Now, if you go to living in the more nuanced world, you’re likely not going to be speaking in extremes like that that don’t make sense. It’s really more of a reflection of the person’s mental developmental level. Back when I was there, it was like that’s all I really–that’s how I saw the world, black and white. “She’s the one or she’s not the one,” versus, “Hey, I’m exploring things with this girl and it’s really cool. I’m open to seeing how it goes.” That would have probably been what I said if I was living more in the nuance.
Andrew: But should we be living in the nuance. Isn’t that the problem with getting older and thinking a little more clearly, that we start to see the nuance of things instead of saying, “This is the greatest. This is never going to end and it should never end,” going fully into it. But once we lose that magic, we break our super powers. I kind of think of life a lot. I talked to my wife, Olivia–
Dane: It sounds like you just want to be more bold in your life right now.
Andrew: I think I always want to be more bold in my life. Maybe I’m reading more of what I wanted out of that. Maybe I’m taking meaning from it that wasn’t there.
Dane: Well, who knows?
Andrew: Let me do a sponsorship message here and then we’ll go into something else. The sponsorship message is a company called HostGator. Do you know HostGator?
Andrew: You do?
Dane: I use them.
Andrew: You have? That’s the amazing thing. There aren’t a lot of sponsors here where I get to say the name and people say, “I use them. I use them now. I use them for my customers.” These guys are in many ways nobodies. I don’t think they’ve ever made it on the cover of Fortune Magazine or Inc. Magazine or any of this stuff. I forget what city they’re in. They’re not in San Francisco. They’re not in Austin. They’re not in places where you’d expect these guys to be and so they don’t get the respect for the impact that they’ve had.
But because of them, tons of people have started businesses and grown them and allowed themselves to create new lives for themselves and their employees. It’s amazing what they did. The reason that I’m talking about them is a) they’re paying me and b) because HostGator is a really solid hosting company and I’m encouraging anyone out there who doesn’t like their hosting company to switch to a solid provider that offers really low prices.
Let me ask you this, Dane, that I’ve been asking all my interviewees. If you were stranded on a desert island and you had nothing but a HostGator hosting package and the will to build a real business, what would you build? What would you start if you had to start from scratch?
Dane: The first experience I had would be immense happiness. It’s like, “Oh man, what in the world am I going to do?” The next thing I would remember is just about every idea I’ve ever come up with has failed. So I would remember that. And then I would need a customer to focus on and I would need a customer to talk to. Before that, I couldn’t really do it. Before that I would just be guessing.
So, if I could have a telephone to talk to someone as well, I would find people to talk to and I would listen to their problems. I’d find the most painful thing and then I’d build a kickass solution for them.
Andrew: I see. You don’t even want to start with creating something. You want to start with a customer and understand their problems and then start. That explains why a lot of the people who followed your process for starting businesses will go for a while saying, “I’m starting this business.” And people go, “What’s your website?” They go, “I don’t have a website.” I know that some people say, “Then you’re not really in business. That’s not really a company if you don’t have a website.”
Dane: No, no, it’s if you don’t have a paying customer. You’re not in business until you have a paying customer.
Andrew: Until you have a paying customer. So a lot of times even people who followed your methodology will have a basic, basic webpage, a homepage that has very little on it and a contact us or ask for a quote or connect with us button. Really simple. All right. So, if you want to do that, grab yourself a phone and with HostGator you can create that really simple homepage that allows people to connect with you so you can understand your pain and then create software that solves it or other kinds of businesses that solve it.
I really like HostGator because they’re low priced. They just work and because they’ve been doing this for years. They’re giving us an incredible discount if you go to HostGator.com. I’m going to do it with you to make sure it’s all still up there–HostGator.com/Mixergy. They’re going to give you 50% off. They’re also going to give you unmetered disk space. Who cares about any of that?
Here’s what you do care about. If your site goes down, you want someone to talk to. They have 24/7/365 tech support. If you make a mistake, if you screw up and you can’t get your site back up, you want a human being. If you’re starting over with them and moving your site from someone else, you want someone to be there to help you out. They’re there. They know what you’re doing and you can contact them any time. Go to HostGator.com/Mixergy and sign up.
Dane: You know, I remember HostGator really well because I used them a lot in the beginning. Now I don’t mess with any server stuff. But when I was at the beginning, in the early days, I was on HostGator Chat a lot. I remember distinctly wanting to own HostGator instead of be paying for it. So, I started asking their live chat about the owner of the company. Who’s the owner? What’s he like? What does he do? How much money does he make?
And I’ve always been curious about like this seems like a business that I would want to own. While HostGator many people don’t know about it, I could tell you with a pretty high degree of certainty that if you owned that company, you would be doing very well for yourself.
Andrew: They are. They’re owned by a company called Endurance and Endurance now is buying a bunch of other businesses and rolling them up together and it really is a great company to own–Endurance International Group is the company.
Dane: But if you see the pattern there, I’m almost always seeking like the ideal path that I think is the ideal path at the time, finding a person that has it and then asking questions about it.
Andrew: I get that right now even, including the guru.
Dane: Almost everywhere I go. I’ve got the monastery monk here.
Andrew: Are you learning anything useful there?
Dane: Well, the first thing I would say is that you get to touch into states that you can’t conceptualize, that there aren’t words for. Every spiritual teacher that tries to describe them really fails at describing it. But specific concrete things is focus on the breath. If you have an experience coming up, for me, like I have this experience come up, my stomach turns into a rock and the only thing I can do in that moment is focus on my nostrils, in breath, out breath. Then maybe a few minutes later, it’s stronger or it’s passed or it’s changed, but I’m still there focused on my breath.
So I’ve got my guitar here and I practice my guitar and I’ve been doing and doing the mindfulness while I eat, while I practice guitar and I’ve been getting into that mindful place and letting myself dissolve. The automatic impulse action that I want to do, let myself dissolve and let myself follow what action I would take while I’m in a full state of mindfulness breathing. It’s pretty cool.
Andrew: I get it. I do that stuff a lot too. What I was reflecting on as you said it is–I’ll say it like this. How much of this way of expressing yourself is you needing to express yourself this way and how much of it is you practicing to be a cult leader for some point in the future? I was in the middle of the night last night thinking of something.
I do this exercise to fall asleep. I used to have terrible insomnia. My exercise to fall asleep is imagining myself going up in a rocket ship and then the rocket ship goes into a tunnel into another universe and then what I see in the other universe is what captures my mind and imagination and then I fall asleep.
What I realize though, Dane, is I don’t just go through it. I explain it to someone else as if I already done it. I say to someone else, “Oh yeah, I built this rocket ship in my backyard. In this rocket ship I flew up into this outer space and as I flew up, I saw a hole and then I got sucked into that hole and then I found this other universe.”
realized that I think that way because a lot of what I experience I want to then pass on as wisdom to someone else in some weird way, that I’m not even experiencing this personal fantasy as a curiosity about what do I care about in this other world. It’s more like what am I going to blow people away with when I come back to earth and tell them about it.
The time when I was really forced to confront that was when I was backpacking through Europe and I was on my own and I realized I was going to see museums so I could come back and say that I saw the Louvre, that I saw the Mona Lisa. I didn’t care about that. When I said, “What do I care about?” I thought that would be easy. It was really hard to figure out in a different country, what do you care about? What do I want out of this experience?
Then it was to a place where in one city I was backpacking, I got so lost in a book I didn’t want to look up from the book to see the city and I completely missed it and I had to be okay with that because that’s what I was going for. That’s the experience I wanted.
So the reason I’m asking you is when you’re explaining things about the energetics, when you’re referring back to books, do you do any of that projection where you understand it so you can pass it on to someone else because you feel born to be a leader? Do you recognize any of that?
Dane: I used to do it. Yeah. I think I do it all the time. It’s really cool to have a platform where you can actually–I’ve got this little section of a book I was going to read. I’ve got it right to the left of me. It’s like naturally wanting to teach, for sure, having an experience being like “This will make a good Facebook post,” that kind of stuff.
Dane: For sure. Now I just think in terms of songs and how I can wake people up to the energetics that they’re living in. You notice I use the word energetics a lot. The whole world is energy. A desk is vibrating energy. Once you learn how to articulate that energetic world, you are now like a creator of it instead of just a bystander victim of it. I have explanations of things that allow you to live potently and powerfully in any industry at any time.
Andrew: So then I wonder why. I know why when I think of doing something I can’t wait to tell other people about it or I experience it in a way that I can tell other people. For me it’s because similar to you, I was a nobody growing up in New York.
Can you imagine growing up in New York where there are giants all around you? The celebrities that people didn’t discover until later on like Donald Trump, they were going out there and just building these empires around me. Their kids were around me and living these incredible lives. Then of course you also have the standard hierarchy of kids, where there are some people who are naturally good at getting attention.
Dane: I had a thought as you were saying why you do this. It’s like it sounds like you’re wanting to prove your value in some way by coming back with something really kickass.
Andrew: And in some ways also reacting to who I was. I feel like a large part of who I am today is a reaction to who I wanted to be back then or who I didn’t want to be back then. Is there any connection there? Is there a connection for you?
Dane: Yeah, a connection to–yeah, fuck, of course. The worst experience for me has been so far here how backwards I’ve been about everything, like fucking everything. Like I’m watching my reality fall apart and I’m like, “Oh my god, the movie The Matrix sounds pretty spot on right now.” Like, you grew up as what you felt a nobody, which is generally you didn’t feel valued or you didn’t feel adequate, you didn’t feel significant to people.
That’s the language of the energetics to articulate that. You want to feel valued, so you go out and do this stuff. Then before long, it’s not you acting anymore. It’s like a part of you that’s trying to achieve these feelings, like what would Andrew Warner do as his pure essence? Who knows? It’s inconceivable what you would do, even to you. It’s not comprehensible what you would do.
Andrew: Have you ever experienced that yourself? I remember going to a meditation experience where the woman said with meditation, if you’ve ever seen this greatness in you for like a moment, all we’re trying to do is you’re fully living yourself and then things amaze you what you could do. All we’re trying to do is find a way to stretch that, to make it a little bit bigger, a little bit longer. Do you ever see that in yourself, maybe a moment where you did something especially incredible and you said, “I want more of that. This is who I am.” When?
Dane: Well, even the construct that you use to explain that–it has like the subtle hint of like acquisition.
Andrew: Very acquisitive? Yes.
Dane: Yeah. So, to get more greatness–it’s like the whole purpose of doing this is to become nothing and in that nothing, everything can live through you. So, that’s what I’m talking about. If what I just said made no sense to you, welcome to my world. I am doing my damndest to make sense of it.
Andrew: Do you understand though that part of this attitude could actually end up costing you The Foundation, that could end up costing you a bigger business–I see your forehead is furrowed. I’ll tell you why, for example. You’re sitting in a monastery, what is a closet in a monastery. You’re doing breathing exercises in the morning. You’re going and playing music to discover who you are. It’s distracting you from this business you built that is doing phenomenally well. We didn’t get into revenues but the revenues were strong.
But beyond that, the people who you touch through that are having meaningful changes to their lives and by trying to connect with who you are, you could be losing all of that, that that’s the fear that a lot of people have when they build up these businesses and then their kids say, “I want to go to an ashram.” It’s like, “No, you’re giving so much up.”
Dane: If you were to feel like you had a castle in your hand and then you find out it’s the size of a tiny little chicken egg compared to the galaxy–
Andrew: So what’s the galaxy here that you’re aiming for?
Dane: Music, hundreds of millions of people.
Andrew: Hundreds of millions of people being touched by your music?
Andrew: You’re willing to say this is where you’re going and that’s going to happen?
Andrew: But isn’t this then again what you were saying before about the girlfriend, “This is the one. She is the one.” You’re now saying this about music in the same heartfelt, no hesitation way, which is what I admired before but you were saying you need to be more nuanced about.
Dane: Yeah. I appreciate the reflection. It’s in part very challenging to articulate a vision like this. But I never said it was one the mission and I never said it was the end all be all. I said what happens when you feel like you have a castle and then you see your calling. You see what you were born to do. It’s like you’ve got one mission, many paths. So, this is the next path.
Andrew: What’s the big mission for Dane Maxwell?
Dane: Love everyone.
Andrew: That’s it?
Dane: Yeah. Love everyone.
Andrew: Do you need them to hear your music to be able to love them?
Dane: When people hear my music, their heart will be comforted and like when they hear my voice and they hear the innocence that I sing from and they hear the sweetness and the softness of it, they will be comforted. I had people messaging me, “I’m in tears over your song. I was suicidal and I’m not suicidal anymore. I showed your song to my mom who hasn’t felt anything in a year and when she heard your voice come on she said wow and I saw her happy for the first time in a year.”
Andrew: These are real emails?
Dane: Oh yeah.
Andrew: Am I too much of a skeptic that I have a hard time believing that, as much as I know you and I feel bad for saying it out loud?
Dane: What’s to doubt about it.
Andrew: Here’s what’s to doubt about it. When you started The Foundation you were talking about case studies and I know that you were exaggerating some of those case studies and I don’t think you were doing it maliciously. I think maybe you were getting carried away with it. But when I went back to check with the people to see how did you do this, the numbers were not what you were saying, that you were getting lost in the excitement of it.
Dane: Yeah. That’s embarrassing. Oops.
Andrew: It’s puffery, right? It’s puffery, which is an accepted marketing term, right? It’s okay to puff up your product. It’s not okay to lie about it. Is it puffery?
Dane: I regret doing that. I’m sorry to everyone.
Andrew: Are you really?
Dane: Yes, absolutely, abso-fucking-lutely because it causes damage. It causes fucking damage because then other people get excited about those numbers. They join The Foundation, they don’t reach them and now they have a self-worth crisis because they weren’t able to do what I said was possible. So it really isn’t in service to be out of integrity anywhere.
Andrew: But then you get them in the door and maybe some people who wouldn’t have gotten in otherwise end up being touched by it.
Andrew: That’s the justification for it?
Dane: Yeah. It’s a tough situation, which is why I’m very happy to not be teaching how to make money anymore. I’m just very, very happy with it. But there’s something that I wanted to say about yeah, the messages, there’s like a Facebook message, I could pull them up, copy, paste the screenshots to you. This is just like–these are just three of the messages.
I haven’t shown you a photo of a man like with his daughter walking on a log who’s like, “When you play your music, I’m listening. Thank you. Here’s my daughter. She brought my heart back to life.” I get to look at that photo and when I write my songs I get to think of him, same thing I did in business. I just found a socially acceptable way to love a lot of people.
Andrew: What does it say about me, Dane, that if I got a letter like that–and I’ve gotten some, I have them here in a folder–I would think and I do think, “That’s one. I want more of those.” I won’t think this person is going to inspire me to the next song. I would think, “Why don’t I have more of them.”
Like I’ve actually had people as I walk down the street here in San Francisco say, “I’ve listened to Mixergy. It’s been hugely impactful,” and the person next to me will be blown away by that and I’ll think a little bit of personal pride. I have no problem with pride. And then I’ll express to them the feeling that I have, which is I want more of that. I want more people like that.” I’ve been wondering whether that actually is not serving me. Maybe that attitude is actually keeping me from getting what I want. What are your thoughts on that?
Dane: You sound accurate. This is the rabbit hole that I’m mostly interested in. I get pulled in this direction. It’s like if you arrive fully present, fully as your essence, you have everything you need because–
Andrew: I need money too. I want more than that. I want money. I want good sex. I want to be loved. I want a lot of people to know me and admire what I’ve done. You’re wincing as I say that, but I’ve got to be open with you about my dickishness and about my–what did we say word was? My need for accumulation.
Dane: Acquisitory. You can want those things, but like you just said, you’re not even present when it happens. The person says like, “Hey, man, great job on Mixergy.” You’re like, “Yeah, I want more.” You’re not able to feel the present moment. Fulfillment can only be felt right now.
Andrew: Actually in that moment I think I’m not there in the moment and you’re right. I was going to disagree with you. A lot of moments I’m there but then afterwards I want more. In that moment, I think, “No, they’re putting me on.” This happened with Eric, who’s now working at 500 Startups. He’s the guy who’s finding all the startups to invest in.
He had this really great breakfast with me and then at the end he said, “If you’re looking for meaning, I listened to the course on how to do interviews and here’s how it helped my business,” and then he sold his company and said that’s partially why I’m here. I thought, “He’s being nice.” He also paid for the breakfast. He’s being nice in both of those ways. I can’t accept it in the moment.
Dane: So how personal do you want this conversation to get right now?
Andrew: So personal that I’m even going to irritate Sachit by not running his ad and the poor guy is going to get pissed because the sponsors. I want to not break the spell because I care so much. Go for it, please.
Dane: Well, do you just want to say, “Go to Toptal.com?”
Andrew: No. I think Toptal will understand. I feel like you’re going to say something that I’m going to feel in my chest with pain and be embarrassed by afterwards and that’s what I want. Don’t hold back. Be that.
Dane: It sounds to me like you struggle to feel valued or admired.
Andrew: I struggle to feel valued or admired?
Dane: Or appreciated.
Andrew: No because that would imply I put some effort into that. I feel like I’m not there yet. I always feel like I’m not there yet.
Dane: That sounds like you don’t even know that you struggle to feel valued, admired, appreciated.
Andrew: All right. Say more.
Dane: It sounds like you’re unconscious to it beyond what you know. If you get a compliment from this guy whose whole life–it sounds like a lot of his life was drastically changed by you and your response is, “He’s putting me on.” Your body is rejecting his appreciation of you. Your body is rejecting his admiration. Your body is rejecting, “Andrew, you’re a valuable person to me.” And you’re like, “Not enough.” And so it’s like that’s a painful place if that’s true, that’s a painful place to live from.
Andrew: I’ve noticed that on the other hand, a lot of people will take something that’s less significant than that, like someone will say, “I love your work,” and they will blow it up, like they’ll actually go and Facebook that. Like if Eric would have just said to someone else, “I love your work,” they would have posted a photo of the two of them on Facebook with that.
Dane: Can I interrupt for a second?
Andrew: Yeah, keep interrupting, yes.
Dane: So I just did this yesterday. I was watching a video of The Foundation. I was like, “Fuck, I am so much better at business than I thought. I never felt like I was enough at business. I always felt fucking insecure. I always felt worthless.” Four years into The Foundation, four years into The Foundation, millionaires are being created and I’m still like, “Shit, our program might be a fraud.”
And then I watched the video and then I go number one on Reddit under entrepreneur as my AMA. I’m reading the headline on Reddit. It’s like, “Founder of The Foundation. Founder of a multimillion dollar SaaS.” I’m like, “Is that fucking me? That headline is actually me?” And then I go on Facebook and I’m like, “Hey, guys,” I puff myself up. I go on Facebook and I say, “Guys, I’m really fucking good at business, probably like the best.”
Andrew: You said that?
Dane: Yeah. I was like, “I only know a few other people like me that I recommend. I’ve created millionaires. I’ve done this. This is your last chance to work with me.” And The Foundation is not closing. It’s fine. It’s just last chance to learn from me because I’m going into music. I put this down. Interestingly enough I’ve had a lot of feminine energy come at me from that post. I’ve had women private messaging me. They’re like, “I need your help in business.”
But I had one guy underneath that really triggered me. The guy made a post, “You should write a song about this.” The other guy commented, “Yeah, he should title it ‘Humble.'” I was like, “Fuck you, bro.” And then I realized as I reflected on it, since I’m at a monastery practicing mindfulness, there is a part of me that feels worthless and I got to reflect on that and that part of me that felt worthless was like, “Shit, I am valuable. Yes. I’m the best.” And I just did it yesterday.”
So you’ve got people that get like, “Hey, I really like that one sentence.” “Oh my god, my book just got rave reviews.”
Andrew: Right. But there’s a benefit to that. Shouldn’t we be doing it? Shouldn’t we be our best PR agents? And then frankly beyond PR agents to the world, PR agents to ourselves. I think maybe I should be the opposite, that if someone says, “Hey, I like your work,” I should be going back into work going, “People like my work. They love it. Their lives are changed by it,” and like that and allow myself to get carried away with that.
Dane: What’s your point? You’re making like three points at once right now.
Andrew: My point is that I am telling you how I actually am, which is very rejecting of compliments instead of embracing them. I do that as a way of creating a space where we can all be open. I’m telling you that I’ve been considering the opposite, that I think the opposite is much more helpful, at least in this kind of–
Dane: Opposite of what?
Andrew: The opposite of hearing someone say I was changed by your work and saying, “No, he must be lying.” What I should be doing is taking small compliments, puffing them up and using that as a way to build myself up and build up the brand.
Andrew: What do you think?
Dane: Both of them are reactions. One is to reject, the other is to puff up. They’re both rejecting the actual authenticity of the moment.
Andrew: I see. So, you’re saying instead of trying to figure out how to react to this external experience, see what I really feel like I felt like when I was backpacking through Europe. Instead of saying, “I want to go to bars because I want to look cool or I want to go to museums because I want to impress my friends afterwards,” say what do I feel like and if it just means burying my head in a book, burying my head in my book is what I’m going to do.
Dane: Yes. There’s one other thing here. Your emotional system needs to update to the fact that people value, admire and appreciate you, Andrew. It must update, otherwise you’re going to live in perpetual not enoughness with these compliments. So, the value you hold and the worthlessness that you hold are in the same canister within your emotional system.
The way your emotional system works, you have one canister for value and worthless and there are other canisters, but this is one of them. So, if you felt worthless in your life, those impressions get stored. So, what happens is someone gives you a compliment, it opens up the container for the value to come in, but there’s worthlessness impressions in there, so you’re not able to receive the compliment.
This is very widespread. Just look around the entire world. How many people are able to receive a compliment? This is why. So, if you actually want to embrace and receive that, you’ve got to open up your emotional system when it’s happening. You can’t just intellectualize the appreciation. You have to live it from the emotional.
So what happens is I’d say, “Andrew, you gave me a lot of hope with Mixergy when I was lost.” You would want to say something that activates your emotional system, that feels real for you in that moment. So you would say, “I’ve genuinely struggled to feel appreciated by people and so it feels nice to try and let that in right now.”
Andrew: Interesting. So, by being open to expressing how I feel emotionally, I’m opening up my emotions and so I can pull in what they’re saying.
Andrew: So I’m a bit of a scumbag in that I’m thinking, “What’s the end goal with that?”
Andrew: It’s not enough. I’ll be happy anywhere. I really am just a person who unless I’m not sure where I’m going in life–
Dane: You think you’re happy.
Andrew: You think there’s another level of happiness.
Dane: You haven’t got a fucking clue.
Andrew: About happiness?
Dane: If you think this is happy now and you’re not able to receive a compliment. There’s so much.
Andrew: I like it. I like what you’re saying. One of the reasons why I like what you’re saying is I’ve struggled with what to respond to someone to something like that, which is really true. It’s like that means a lot to me. And it really does mean a lot to me. It also means not enough to me, but it means a lot. What I’d like to say is something a little more meaningful and personal and you’ve just given me a way to do that, which is just–
Dane: Can we up it a little bit?
Andrew: Yeah, I’d like that.
Dane: Growing up in New York, I felt really worthless compared to all these people around me. So, I swore I would become someone, but now that I have, it’s still hard for me to feel like I’m valued.
Andrew: I can do that.
Dane: It’s only an experiment.
Andrew: That will actually allow me to take it in a little bit more if I don’t say it with a smile. I don’t know why but somehow that makes me smile. I think when I get emotional or something I smile too much and then I laugh. It’s very hard for Olivia to have an argument with me because I start to giggle like a little girl instead of. . .
The thing that goes on in my head through that is, “This is interesting. I wonder if now because I’ve expressed myself emotionally this person will then tell me more stuff like that and they’ll post it on their Facebook page and I won’t have to.” My mind keeps going to that stuff. Shouldn’t it?
Dane: Well, your mind is your friend in that regard. It’s trying to look out for you in that instance. It sounds to me like your mind is doing anything it possibly can for you to feel the feeling you wanted to feel growing up.
Andrew: Which is a sense of needing to acquire more?
Dane: Not acquire more, a sense of feeling significant, it sounds like. Acquire more to what? To feel significant, to feel valued. Keep in mind the emotional system is the most powerful of our three brains.
Andrew: What are my other two brains?
Dane: The intellectual brain, the emotional brain and the physical brain. The physical brain, when you like see a woman on the street and you’re like, “Oh, whoa,” and your biology fires up. That’s your physical brain firing up. If you’re in certain contexts, like if you’re a very avid Christian, you might be like, “Don’t look, it’s a sin to lust after other women.” You get into grey territory here. It’s how you’re wired.
What you do with that information is you no longer have to feel like guilty or anything because it’s your physical brain. So embarrassingly, interesting story–the point is, emotional brain, by far the most powerful of the brains, by far. You know what? I want to lose weight. They start to go and lose weight. They start to feel valued. Their emotional system doesn’t know how to feel valued, just like yours doesn’t know how to feel valued when you’re receiving a compliment, so then they stop working out because they’re not able to sustain the positive feeling.
The emotional brain runs the show. The thoughts that you are actually having, “Then I can do this, then I can get this, then I can get more.” That’s from repressed feelings in your emotional brain. You don’t actually change your thoughts to change how you feel. It’s not how it works. Your thoughts actually come from repressed feelings. This is totally backwards to positive psychology, but the way we live must evolve if we are to find peace.
So I’m at Berkeley and I’m around 17-year old girls and I’m feeling sexually attracted to them. I’m like, “God, this is fucking awful. I hate this.” I’m 33 and I’m sitting there talking to a 17-year old girl and I’m like, “I feel attracted to this girl,” and I’m freaking out because I don’t want her to think I am. I feel uncomfortable. Is she going to pick up that I have these sexual vibes happening with this woman?
So, because I have knowledge of the three brains and the emotional system, I created a vision with my intellectual brain, a vision of me being 33, me being a father figure, them not really being able to serve or support my role and then my physical brain tamed down and then I was able to hang out and communicate with these women. Whereas you see most powerful men fuck this up and fuck them because they don’t have knowledge of how the emotional system, the physical brain and the intellectual brain work.
So this is very significant information and it’s why I’m good at living life, one reason why I’m good at living life. You have the emotional brain, you’re not actually able to–never mind. I’ll let you say something.
Andrew: No, I was just reflecting as we were talking about, this is the kind of conversation I want to have more of. I don’t know how to do it with other people because frankly some of what I’ve said here was a little exaggerated. I don’t feel it all the time and there’s a part of me that think now people are going to think this is how I am all the time I never can accept a compliment.
So, if I’m feeling some danger from having expressed this, I can only imagine when I ask others to have this kind of open conversation the fear they’re going to have after they express something and how closed down they’ll be ten minutes into this conversation and how panicked they would be after the interview is done.
I don’t know how I can do more of this, but I want to. Do you think there’s value in this? Do you think this conversation is useful for other people other than us or was it very self-indulgent for me?
Dane: That’s a decision I’m hesitant to answer that I would like to see. The first half of this I was kind of like, “Eh . . .” and the second half of this felt pretty on. I’m only getting started, like I want to say so much more on this topic. It’s very meaningful to me and it’s kind of like I wish I would have understood this a lot sooner.
Andrew: I agree with you. I do think part of the beginning, I was setting it up and experimenting to try to figure out what we can say, how do we get to it, is it weird if we jump in. That’s interesting. I wonder if this is the kind of conversation that would need a little more editing, that could go on four two hours and once you get to the good stuff you edit out everything before. I don’t know.
You’re right. I’d like to hear what people think about this who are listening to us. I’d also like to take some time from it and reflect back. Often when something is done, I’m in a bad position to evaluate it. I can’t tell whether it was really good or am I just high on having talked for a little bit or vice versa. Was it really bad or do I feel unsure of what I said? I’ve got to let it go and see.
All right. How are you feeling about this?
Dane: I think we should do the second one now.
Andrew: I think so too. Why don’t I close this one out with an apology to Sachit and to Toptal because I could not get the other ad. I understand why so many podcasters will actually record their ads before and then slip them in, that way they don’t have to interrupt the conversation by reading it live, but that’s just not me. I really like to have a conversation.
So, sorry Toptal, that meant that we couldn’t do today’s ad. I feel bad, but I think you’ll understand. And HostGator is the sponsor I did talk about. If you want to check them out, go to HostGator.com/Mixergy and they’ll set you up with a good hosting package. What’s the URL for you guys at The Foundation?
Dane: TheFoundation.com. You can go to it. You’ll learn about that. Paperless Pipeline, if you want to see one of the software companies I built and if you’d like to learn from me for six months in business, this will be your last chance to do it via The Foundation.
Andrew: TheFoundation.com. Cool. Bye everyone.