What were YOU doing 10 years ago at this time? It may be hard to recall or even harder to realize that 10 years have passed so quickly. For business owner and emotional intelligence expert, Brent Darnell, this past decade has been a life changing journey toward pursuing a dream, learning the raw truths of growing a business from scratch and gaining a deeper appreciation for balance in all aspects of life. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Brent Darnell International, Brent candidly answers 10 critical questions about this memorable journey:
Give us the back story. Where did you work and what did you do before 2002?
Brent Darnell: I graduated from Georgia Tech with a Mechanical Engineering Degree and worked in the construction business for 20 years before starting my own leadership development firm. I was a program manager for a leadership development program for Skanska and loved the work so much I decided to go out on my own.
What exactly is Brent Darnell International – what do you do?
BD: We teach people skills to technical people and train them like athletes. We use emotional intelligence as a foundation for all of this training along with physical peak performance. My wife, Andrea Robbins takes care of the physical side of the program.
How were you inspired to create this business – What was your “Aha” moment?
BD: I saw a huge need in the industry. Most of these technically excellent people had trouble with the “people” side of the business. This was the missing piece for them. Over time, we added the physical component because we saw the tie in between the emotional and the physical. Also, I noticed that many of these folks were overweight and under a lot of stress. That ultimately affects performance as well.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when you first started this business?
BD: Business is all about relationships.
Was there ever a moment in your childhood or early on that you knew you might do something like this for a living?
BD: It’s strange, but it seems like I’ve used all of my experience and combined it into what I do now. I quit construction and became a full time actor and writer for three years. Those experiences have served me well. We use lots of improvisation for learning, and my experience as an actor helps me with training and facilitation, and my writing experience has helped me with the books I have written.
What has been one of your most rewarding moments?
BD: I don’t know how many times people have thanked me for their experience in these programs. One man told me that he is not only a better leader and a better superintendent, but he is a better husband and father. But being named one of the Top 25 Newsmakers by Engineering News Record for 2011 was the most rewarding moment. They told us at the awards banquet that statistically, you are more likely to win an Oscar than a Top 25 Newsmaker Award. I was so humbled by being a part of that.
What is a significant obstacle you had to overcome?
BD: My second year in business, the work totally dried up. I rested on my laurels after the first year and did nothing to create connections and relationships. It was a hard, but good lesson for me.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
BD: I think everything I did, including all of the mistakes, has helped to make the company what it is today. You have to go through those setbacks to learn—and without them—you don’t grow.
What is one piece of advice you wish you could tell all other new business owners?
BD: It’s all about relationships. And don’t give up on your dream!
Now with 10 years under your belt, where would you like to see Brent Darnell International in the next 10 years?
BD: My aim isn’t to grow. It’s to deliver great service to a limited number of clients. My wife, Andrea and I also want to keep an eye on our life balance. We don’t want to take on too much work. We want to continue to make a difference. We are looking at ways to deliver this work to more people through webinars, more books, and larger groups. Technology is allowing us to explore those options.
In just 10 years, Brent has built an impressive business while still maintaining the healthy work-life balance that he has helped so many others to reach. With this experience and wisdom, it’s safe to say that Brent has graduated from “new entrepreneur” to a seasoned business owner in his own right. Congratulations Brent! There are so many companies and individuals who also wish to offer you their sincere thanks for choosing the path you did and helping to change their lives! Here are just a few…
“I think we have saved a couple of valuable employees for the company, but more importantly their home and personal lives as well. Well done my friend.”
“Thanks for helping me change my life.”
“Thanks for helping me change my life.”