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As a Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine endured a life-altering plane crash, personal challenges, and trauma from his military service – all of which he overcame to lead a highly successful business and extensive philanthropic efforts.

In this episode, we talk to Mark about what he has learned about post-traumatic growth and survivor’s guilt and how he shares those lessons with others worldwide. We also explore his perspective on burnout prevention and how his love for burpees evolved into a massive fundraising effort for fellow vets.

– Mark Divine

Raw and Real Entrepreneurship with Mark Divine

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Mark’s efforts to support veterans suffering from PTSD
  • Turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth
  • The practice of “PBTA” (Pause, Breathe, Think, Act)
  • Inclusive leadership
  • How to prevent burnout

About Mark Divine

Mark Divine was a Navy SEAL and Navy SEAL Commander for two decades, after which he made a career leap to become a renowned expert in leadership, coaching, mental management, and more. Today, Mark’s lessons are utilized by the world’s top CEOs, Olympians, Fortune 500 companies, elite universities, and other pioneering individuals, all of whom are learning from his exceptional perspective on achieving success in even the most difficult of conditions.

In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, Mark is also a respected philanthropist and founder of the Courage Foundation, which assists injured veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress.

Follow Mark Divine

Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:02
So you're exhausted and you have someone yelling at you and you think, oh, I don't even have anything left in me to give and then you know that if you don't give more, you are going to be taken out and never get another chance to be part of one of the most elite groups in the entire world. And what am I talking about? I'm talking about the navy seals. My guest today is a entrepreneur, a New York Times best selling author and an author of five best selling books. He's an underachiever, clearly. He not only had a 20 year career in the Navy SEALs, he was a Navy SEAL commander. So that's right, repeat after me, whatever language you speak in 125, or six countries that we're in now. He is the ultimate badass, there's no question there. He is also the host of the number one ranked podcast on iTunes called Unbeatable Mind. And in addition to all of this, he has helped millions and millions of people all over the world, not only with his writing, with his speaking, and with his techniques, but with his relentless, and repeat after me relentless drive to really help people achieve as much as they can, no matter what. So my guest today is the one and only Mark Divine. Mark, thank you for being here.

Mark Divine 01:23
Gosh, what an intro. By the way, you're the underachiever, not me. I mean, wow. But hey, what an honor to be here, Susan, thanks so much.

Susan Sly 01:32
Oh, my first question, just out of the gate, let's talk about burpees for a minute.

Mark Divine 01:38
I'm the only one who can say that with a smile. I actually love burpees.

Susan Sly 01:43
Okay. So the reason that's my first question is, um, you have a charity, and you, you've literally rallied a group of people together to do millions and millions of burpees. And it-- 22 million to be exact. Yeah, 22 million. So where did you get that idea? Do you just wake up in the middle of the night, you know, I want to torture people, like how did that all come to be?

Mark Divine 02:09
It does seem that way, right? I mean, I have a business that's all about torturing people called SEALFIT. So I think I just, I have this following of people who just like to do hard things. And we've learned as you know, that hard work and confronting challenges builds like a certain resiliency and mental tough-- you just can't get in any other way. And when you do that routinely, it becomes fun, righ? Your body and mind just start to look forward to it. And you might have a little resistance at first. But then once you get into the act of the challenge, whether it's doing, you know, 300 burpees every day for a year, which is what I did, or doing 24 hours of burpees non stop to break a world record, like it starts to, it's really, really fun. And if you do it with a team, or a tribe, man, you know, all sorts of greatness happens. So that's kind of where that came from. We like to do hard things for growth, not to prove how tough we are. But you know, for the growth benefits that accrue from doing hard work. The human being just absolutely thrives on doing hard work, and what I, I have a chapter in my book, The Way of the SEAL, bring the challenge to you don't wait for the challenge to come. Right? So if you go out and challenge yourself, then when the next crisis comes, which it will inevitably, you're prepared for it, like it's no big deal. So back on the, I'll make this short. But back to the charity, I, I, you know, at the time, this sounded like a fun challenge. I was just gonna do 100 burpees a day before every workout for the month of December. Now, that seems ridiculously small, but back then is like 100, burpees, non stop, you know, that can be hard. But about halfway through, I was like, Oh, I'm gonna up this to 200 burpees because this is pretty easy. And so I did that, and then three quarters away through I up to 300 burpees. And then comes, you know, toward, like, Christmas time, I'm thinking about my planning for 2022. And we're also planning for the courage Foundation, and we were talking about how 22 vets a day, on average, were committing suicide, and it's just heartbreaking for me, and for everyone to hear that, like, we got to be able to do something, you know, because the VA just wasn't really helping, maybe even hurting the situation. So I said, Well, what if we suffered for the vets to raise awareness and money? And what better thing to do, but burpees, and everybody can do burpees, right? I mean, you may not want to do burpees, but everybody can do them. So it popped in my head that maybe I would do a ton of burpees. And then I thought well, if, why just me? Let's put this out to the entire tribe. And so I thought 22, how many should we do? 22,000 each, you know, and then I said no, let's do 22 million burpees. Because I thought well, if I could, if I could find, if I could do 100,000 and I could find 220 other individuals like me. And by the way, there's not 220 individuals like me out there. I don't think so. But there were about 20 or 30, who did 100,000 with me and, but then we had football teams doing like, as many burpees as they could in three hours, we had people doing 24 hours of burpees, we had all sorts of permutations. And we ended up doing 22 million burpees, we raised $300,000 for veterans, and, and we ended up putting a number of them through a year long, post traumatic growth plan that really had almost 100% success in healing them getting them back on track. Wow. Very inspiring. So we're gonna take another whack at that program this year, but we're gonna flip the script like I told you earlier, before we started the show, instead of just a small number of people doing a mass number of burpees, we're gonna try to get a massive number of people to do a small number of burpees through kind of a viral social media challenge. Well, I'm excited. if you're interested. Join us.

Mark Divine 02:43, Okay, yeah. I'm in, I'm in. The, I didn't do like, the ice bucket challenge was one thing but you know, I'm like okay, but burpees that's a whole other thing. I could use some burpees. I've just been lately in a bit of a just a cardio kind of like, all my workouts are cardio, and last night I came back from my office and I, Mark, I said, this is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, so-- I was tired, we were like getting this piece of equipment. We, you know, in our, in Radius, we have you know, different things we do with computer vision and so we're taking this piece of equipment apart and we're putting it back together, we're doing these different things. I'm looking at legal documents and you know, all this stuff, and I come in the house and I'm tired. And I said to my husband, I'm like, I should get on the peloton. But I want a glass of wine and he's like, get on the peloton. And so we were having, this big storm was rolling in and I was like, we're gonna lose power so I was like, I'm gonna do a weight workout instead and I was like, I haven't dead weights in a while. So I'm excited for the burpee challenge because it's everything. It's cardio, resistance training, and your arms are gonna look legit with a lot of burpees. The other

Susan Sly 06:34
things great about burpees is wherever you go there they, they're there, there they are, right? You can't not bring the equipment with you.

Susan Sly 07:22
Wherever you go there they are. I'm going to quote you on that one. Um, the you know, you were talking about the post traumatic stress disorder that happens with vets and it's interesting now, we're seeing a lot of people saying they have, they're using the phrase PTSD just very like oh, I went on Instagram and I have PTSD or I had a fight with my boss and I had PTSD. Can you talk about the difference between true PTSD and I just had a bad day?

Mark Divine 07:58
Sure. I see that too. And I think what they're really talking about is burnout right, which is a little bit different. Because there is a lot of burnout going on. People are burned out from the negativity and the anxiety and the you know just being locked down or being on Zoom all day long, it's uncomfortable and then they don't have the strategies and the tools to maintain balance and a positive mindset through these challenging times. So that leads to a buildup of stress which then leads to this slow degradation of your energy which then chips away your positivity which then chips away your optimism and then you think all of this sucks you know, everything's lost, everything's going to s***. Yeah, and then you get burned out, right? So that's problem but that's a little bit different than post traumatic stress. So Post Traumatic Stress is there's chronic and then there's acute, right? And they kind of work together for vets. So the chronic stress is you know, I'm training for war and I've got this extremely high risk job where literally, in training, I have more seal buddies of mine who were killed in training than in combat. It's like it's game on every day and I came close to death multiple times. I feel very blessed to be here. And so there's parts of it are survivor guilt, right? So when you see a friend pass away in front of you, I remember my my second parachute jump. You know, here comes another plane over for, it was a British SBS and they were just flown in from Dover and mountain Arizona, and they drop in this guy had a streamers. He burns in and we had two more jumps, and we're thinking there's no way we're going up in that plane, and instructors come over and they look at us, jock up, get back in the plane. They knew that if we didn't get right back on it, then we would suffer from post traumatic stress because we allow that fear of that environment of that incident to really just seep into us and we had to get through that really quickly and realize that that you know, that was just an incident that happened, it's not going to be us. But that happens again and again and again in different scenarios, right? And so that starts to really, really chip away at a vet, because those traumatic incidences just begin to imprint, imprint, imprint, right? And then you have combat itself, right? So now this takes everything up by 200 to 300%, right, because now people are actually shooting at you and trying to kill you, they're shooting your friends and killing your friends, you know, you're getting near misses, or you may have actual IEDs or explosions, you know, that go and rattle you. And so part of posttraumatic stress is actually physical trauma to the brain. And that can be micro or macro trauma. Micro would be like, just I met the gun range. And I'm, you know, for month after month, I'm just shooting 1000s and 1000s of rounds. And you know, they now know that that has an effect on your brain, or of course, like I said, a big explosion goes off and boom, you get rattled. So all this combined with the guilt of seeing your friends die, but you survive. It's all,

Mark Divine 11:03
let me say it this way, it builds up. And if left untreated, or unresolved, it will come out someday, in a negative way, right? It's going to, it's going to cause severe imbalances physiologically and psychologically, that then show up with these vets who are like suicidal or just completely messed up. We know that there are ways to help that both what I call pre resiliency, and this is what I was trying to do through SEALFIT, or what I do through SEALFIT, is to give them strategies to manage the stress before and during these incredibly intense experiences. Things such as breath control, attention control, being able to remain hooked to a real strong why, like so, one of the problems that vets have, when they transition out, that caused, you know, the exacerbates the situation is that they went from an environment where they had a strong sense of purpose, and mission and a team around them to all of a sudden they're out. And they're like, staring at a blank wall every day and trying to get a job and they're lost and confused, they don't have a team anymore. So they lost their purpose, they lost their mission, and they lost their team. So that, you know, they need to figure out how to get back there real quick. So we can help them with that going in. But then we can also help people, help the vets as they transition out of the military, you know, before they start to go into that abyss, right? We catch them as they transition and then give them these tools or reinforce them if they had them, help them find a new purpose and mission and vision and plug them into a team. And that has, that's called post traumatic growth, which is the antidote to post traumatic stress. But you know, everything I just talked about applies to people who are really suffering from an acute issue, like loss of a loved one during COVID-19, right, which is different than the burnout issue, right? So if you lost loved ones, or your business imploded, and you know, suddenly you're homeless, sleeping on your, your sister's couch, or your parents couch, like I think you might have done in your life, those things can also lead to this, you know, maybe not as severe as the vet who's been to combat but certainly traumatic experiences. And so there are, there are ways to get through it. And most of them, most of the ways that that the pharmacological and government wants you to do are not the right ways, right. So what does work is somatic work like yoga, massage, combined with therapy. Psychedelics are showing to having a profound effect for healing, psilocybin, ketamine, Ibogaine, in particular. And the practices come from the east. Breath control, visualization, mindfulness. And then of course, the what I mentioned earlier, having a support group, a team, and then learning how to identify the next mission in your life. Please think about that all of those are relevant for anybody who just lost their job or just lost their business, right? Or just lost a loved one. Like all those skills are like Oh yeah, I could use some help finding a new, my purpose, what is my purpose for the next phase of my life? I don't want to keep doing what I've been doing. I'm not inspired or that was a negative environment. Or, you know, and so what is my mission? And who's my team? And then you know, what are the stress management skills that are going to get my body, mind and, and attitude, and energy like really, really tuned back up so that I can go forward and just crush it? That's what I like to teach people by the way,

Susan Sly 14:48
You said so much there, Mark. And to your point, it's, it's relevant to the person who lost their restaurant in COVID or that you know, lost to your point, a loved one, or is just, you know, whatever is going on for them. A cancer diagnosis or whatever. And I think, you know, one of my places where my my heart is, and I've thought about this a lot is what can we take from military training and create a step by step system for vets to start a business? Because I have many friends who served in the military. And there, they are there right now like, just to be raw and real, they want to leave right now. They're frustrated, but they, you know, I've, you know, I've trained and been programmed to be a soldier. And so what now, right? Like, what now for me, and I don't necessarily fit into another environment, right? And so that's it, and there, there are some great opportunities out there. And sometimes part of the healing is the aspect of the healing is really to maybe do some things that might be, you know, a little bit removed from, you know, being around so many people as part of that transition. And I know that you and I spoke before the show, and I was sharing that I had been a men's maximum security prison guard. And there are things that I experienced that I'm not allowed to talk about, because probably men in suits will come arrest me. But there, there are different things or even being a 21 year old girl and reading case files from the, the serial killers in Canada, Karla Homolka, and Paul Bernardo, and seeing photos and graphic detail of what they did to the 14 year old girls that they killed. And, and thinking about that, and that stuff, that trauma that can either deflate us, or it can refine us. And one of the things I've always said is, you know, in the face of challenge, we can give up or get better. And we can choose to allow something to define us or refine us. And one of many things I love about your work, and even before the show, I was writing down Mark Divine's quotes is that, this is, you're this, this, this beacon of light who's out there who is saying there is post traumatic growth, you don't have to dwell here, it's not like you have to build your house in the trauma, it just pitch your tent, and there is a path out of there. Let me ask you this. And one of the things, I have a friend who is a very high ranking SAS Colonel, and of the, over much wine, I had asked him. I had said, you know, when, you know you're in Iraq, and there's an ID or whatever, and then your Jeep flips, What is the first thing you do? And my question for you is you work with a lot of entrepreneurs. So let's say someone's listening and or watching and they, Mark, are like, trauma just hit and it's like, out of nowhere, I wasn't expecting it. So what what can you take from, you know, your experience in the SEALs and advice to translate it to them in terms of some steps they could take?

Mark Divine 18:24
Yeah, that's such a great question. There's a couple ways we can look at it. One is like a little bit longer term, and one is the immediate now. Yeah.

Susan Sly 18:33
Let's start with immediate now. And then longer time. You know,

Mark Divine 18:37
the mortar comes in and explodes. And so you think you're under attack. And so for COVID, it could be like, the announcement for the economic shutdown, right? And, and you're going to quarantine or something like that. And whatever happened in March of 2020, that we're all going like, What the Bleep is going on here? Yeah. So that's the mortar, right? Most people will do one of two things. They'll either freeze and do nothing. And that's problematic. Because when you freeze, you literally shut down your ability to take in information, you're really not able to, you know, I'd much rather have you like send little probes out to figure out what's going on? You know what I mean, where, get some information, feedback loops starting to flow, but freezing is the worst thing to do. And close to freezing, as the worst thing to do is to just immediately react. And so a lot of people just immediately react, and yet they, the reaction might take them in a completely different direction, it might take them toward the ambush instead of away from it. So we have an acronym in the seals, PBTA. We say when the crisis hits, pause, just that act of pausing and doing nothing, even if it's just for a second, it intercepts the amygdala where, the amygdala you know is receiving this crisis information and it's immediately sending you into fight or flight. Because it's saying that's bad. The body mind has to react this way, it's triggering the sympathetic nervous system, which is sending all those hormones, adrenaline, epinephrine, everything that's just narrows your focus and send you into this like reactionary mode and you just have to act. So you pause and you intercept that, then you breathe. And this might be as simple as five deep breaths or, you know, if it's, if you have more time, it could mean like breathe into this for a few days as a team. Let's just breathe, let's not do anything reactionary. Let's not freeze up either, we're going to get a plan together, but let's just calm ourselves down. Right, let's not freak out. And so the breathing of course, is it's metaphorical, but it's actual skill. We close our mouths, and we breathe through our nostrils. And that is, you know, skill, one of basic training for breath control is always be breathing through your nostrils, unless you're in the middle of a really hard workout, or you're talking like I am right now. So nostril breathing does a lot for us. It slows the breathing down, it releases nitrous oxide, which helps get the oxygen delivered to your cells. You have more energy, it stimulates the mind because the breath goes up and stimulates the knotties or the energy channels that are you know, the kind of go behind the optical nerves and then spiral down the spine. It slows your breathing down to an ideal six breaths per minute rate. So you want to breathe like in a five count in, five count out pattern through your nose. And this has enormous benefits. Now what you're doing is you're using your diaphragm, you're getting more oxygen in which is energizing you, it's going to stimulate your brain. So you're gonna be thinking better, it's calming your nervous system down because your vagus nerve is being massaged, which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest, which counteracts that signal for fight and flight. And all of this has the effect of slowing down your mind so your thoughts aren't racing, you don't have that, like I can't, I can't get a radar lock on where to go, what to do, slows all that down. So this can happen like I said, in a minute or two, or even over the course of a day, if there's a big like, bomb is dropped in your business. Just breathe into it and calm everything down. That opens up the space for the third letter in the acronym pbta, which is let's think. Now there are strategies for thinking, of course, so we always, you know, we have some strategies for thinking. And one of them is to assess what is the,

Mark Divine 22:46
what is the most important thing right now that you can do that's going to get you away from danger and into safety? We get off the x and we move to safe ground. It may not be where you ultimately want to be, you're not going to save your business with one decision. But what can you do to get out of the danger zone and move to safe ground? And then how can you break that down into the smallest actionable chunk and do that right now? Because we have a saying that doubt is eliminated through action. Because you take that small step, and you, and you have a win. That gives you a little bit more confidence, but also brings in information. And that information, you need information. So that uncertainty and doubt starts to be eliminated as you take these little tiny micro actions, you know, that are chunked down. And in that way, you might say, Well, I think I want to go there. But I'm just going to focus on this part. Get information in this part. And by the time you get to step three, you realize that that was actually the wrong target. And you need to go over there instead. Right? So you don't invest heavily in that target. It's kind of like the idea of, you know, let's get the minimum viable, minimum viable product out for Radius AI, and then let's iterate from there because where you thought you're going to go may end up in a different direction when you take those micro steps. And then that fourth is act, right. You can't just pause, breathe, think, pause, breathe, think, pause, breathe, think. You have to actually take action. And that action has to be bold and decisive. Because once you choose, just do it and let the repercussions fall where they may. But don't waver, right? Don't hem and haw and don't second guess. Fortune favors the bold. That was yesterday.

Susan Sly 24:34
Yes, it does. I, you know, I love that, and obviously I was as taking some notes, the PBTA. The failure rate for entrepreneurs, is as you know, it's 50%. The number one reason, 83% of businesses fail because of cash flow. And I want to ask you about that whole concept of fortune favors the bold. Because the way I see it, there are people out there who jump in as entrepreneurs, and they don't know what the heck they're doing, right? And then there are people who are on the other end of the spectrum, they overthink it. How does someone find that happy meeting?

Mark Divine 25:19
Well, overthinking things was okay, 20 years ago, a much slower, more linear period of time. And so that's why you have, you know, five year strategic plans. But five year strategic plan today is useless, you know, you might have a quarterly plan, that could be mostly effective. But things are changing so fast that, and everything's being disrupted so fast that we really need to come up with, what we used to do in the SEALs was we call rapid planning. And we we had an idea of where we wanted to go. But we didn't have a perfect plan, nor do we try to have a perfect plan for how to get there. We let the momentum of the mission help us determine where to go each step and how to get there. And we had contingency plans for when things we expected things to not go according to plan. So we had Plan B, Plan C, and then we had a plan to make a plan D, if necessary. And we would plan really fast. So a typical military mission, you know, would take 72 hours, or if it's a major campaign, you know, weeks or months to plan. You know, Navy SEALs that we would hit a target, we would find information on that target that would suggest that there was another target somewhere else. And we would pull out the little notebook or a napkin and make a plan in 20 minutes or half an hour, and we go execute. The reason we're able to do that is because of the relentlessness of our training around standard operating procedure. So anything that can be turned into a process, we would do it and we would drill it so that we'd have to plan that stuff. We weren't planning anything to do with like, Who's gonna drive the car and what seats you're, you know, like, if you look at an army plan for something like, they have all these little details, like, we just do it. This is why I love that I was talking to a SEAL friend. And he said this big difference between, this is, let's relate this to business afterwards. But so he's a tier one operator, you know, the equivalent of SAS in America is Delta Force or CAG. Our SEAL Team Six, or dev group, they have two names for things because they think they're being sneaky. Silly. So let's just call it SEAL team six. So the SEAL Team Six commander is there on a joint mission with the Rangers. And he's there, you know, completely silent, watching his guys operate. And the Ranger over here is saying, Okay, now, at the house, next bug, you're going to turn left, right? And then you're going to go right and I've got you over, watched over here and you know, blah, blah. Like he's directing things. And he thinks, that's what he was taught. He thinks that's the way things are done. And he looks over at the SEAL. He's like, why aren't you leading your troops? And the seal says, I am. But I'm not going to get in their way right now because this is exactly what they're trained for. And if I say one word, it's just gonna slow the down. And they'll call for my help when they need it.

Mark Divine 28:10
Isn't that interesting? So we need to train entrepreneurs and leaders now to like, unleash the fury of intelligence and creativity of their, of their troops and systematize what needs to be systematized but let their creative juices just explode and not get in their way. My book, Staring Down The Wolf, which came out last year, the week before the pandemic, mind you. So we sold so many pre copies thinking, yeah, this is a shoo in to be on New York Times bestseller list. Nope. Right? The Democratic primary was that week and then the pandemic hit and chirp, chirp, like, okay, bad timing. So Steering Down The Wolf is all about how leaders are often the inhibiting factor in their team success. So why do a lot of entrepreneurs fail, is because they don't, they try to micromanage everything. They don't trust their teams, sometimes, you know, and so they come up having to have all the answers and try to be perfect. And their conversation often shuts down creativity, because, you know, they always have to have the last word, they won't give credit where credit's due, there's all these kind of character defects that just don't fly in today's world, especially with Gen Z and millennials. They're like, No, you know, autho-- you know, authoritarian or autocratic type leadership or, you know, you being the jerk in the crowd, if you're the owner, or entrepreneur, it doesn't fly anymore. You know, people aren't, you know, people aren't accepting that. And they just leave or just wind down and they'll just go through the motions collect a paycheck, but you're not going to get the results you want. You mentioned cash flow, you know, I think there's, I used to call it like, there's visionary businesses and then there's like, traditional businesses. Like go get VC or you know, SBA loan, and then pour money into it and hope it works. Like when I started the Coronado Brewing Company as a visionary business, I'm like, I'm gonna figure out how to make cash flow. And I'm going to get the cash flow positive as fast as I can. And then I figured out how to scale it from there. And it worked. And the business is really successful today, although I'm not completely out of it. And I did the same thing with my second business. And then you know, I've gotten to a point now where I'm willing to take on capital, and we're about ready to kind of do that whole thing. Reengineer for the next phase of growth. But that mindset is to, is very adaptable, you know, very willing to change, and actually wanting to change knowing that you need to be adaptive, and evolutionary as a company, but also as a team. Right?

Susan Sly 30:55
You're like the Dalai Lama of business, seriously. So you're, it's like,

Mark Divine 31:01
okay, yeah. It does make sense, doesn't it? Like, you can't use the same strategy and tactics has got us where we are, because obviously, they're not working. And most businesses that can't disrupt themselves, with their own ingenuity are going to get disrupted by somebody else. It all comes down to people and people all comes down to mindset, and how we learn to deal with stress, and how we learn to think and how we learn to cooperate as a team. We say in my training that every, every individual and every team is capable of 20 times more than they think they are. But you know, how do you unlock that genius, you know, you have to really, you know, the ideas of psychological safety and Brene Browns vulnerability. And this notion that the team is the new leader is what I'm implying with, is like, there's no one individual that has the answers anymore. You got to have the synergistic creative, you know, spontaneity, of a team that's firing on all cylinders, and trust and respect each other and is able to be courageous with their decision making.

Susan Sly 32:04
The team is the new leader. That's huge. And you know, as you were talking, you were talking about bringing on venture capital. So the business that collapsed that I had in, that collapsed in 2000, I had a little bit of business loans to start that. I bootstrapped the rest, and I took on some loans. And then when that one failed, I said, Never again, you know, and that is like, never again, and so I bootstrapped all my other businesses. And then with Radius, it was a traditional leg. Yes, we're gonna bring in friends and family round, and it's a different, I thank God every day, Mark, that I was a professional athlete, because when you're bringing millions of dollars of friends and family money to start a business, and they're texting you going, what's going on, you know, and I had to, there were so many times where I had to, no matter how I was feeling, I had to think about them first and not me. It's like, I have other people's money. And the advice I would give, and when startups come to me, because they're like, oh, Susan, you know how to raise money. Yeah, I do. But when they come to me, I'm like, my, one of my first questions is, you know, what is your commitment level? Because you're, you now have other people's money and that's a whole different story.

Mark Divine 33:30
Yeah, I've avoided that because the brewing company, Coronado Brewing Company was my first because I had, you know, not a ton, but 45 shareholders, family, friends, and fools. And so then we had a board of directors. And so I was always reporting to the board and always dealing exactly what you're talking about. Always having to communicate with the shareholders, it took probably 40% of my time, I'm just guessing, but it was a lot. And then some businesses that I've grown, some of you and the other direction was, I don't want to do that. So I don't have a word. I don't have any investors and 100%. But there's limitations there. Right? I mean, unless you have a unicorn, that is just scale. You know, it's like I could move a lot faster, and serve a lot more people, right? If I had capital, to hire more, all stars and to be able to invest in sales and marketing and whatnot. So I'm like, Okay, I get that. Now, the question is, what's the right type of financial partner and what's the right mechanism, right? And so I'm, I love this idea. There's two ideas that I love with regards to funding and I'm going to pursue. One is crowdsource funding. Yep. I just had a friend who raised $10 million through a crowdfund. It was a huge, huge success. Ryan Johnson runs a company called Optimize.

Susan Sly 34:41
And as an aside the, in which crowdfunding platform, so WeFunder is one I'm very familiar with because a board I sit on, we're taking them with to WeFunder. Yeah, I love, and I've met with the principals and it's such a great company. So sidebar.

Mark Divine 34:58
So we, let's just, WuFunder does a great and they're a public benefit corporation, they really care about the environment, they care about their employees, and they want to work with businesses like that. So that's the new, that ties into the second kind of piece. But first, what's cool about the crowdfund campaign is, let's say, you know, you're raising money, and you got family, friends, and people who want to participate, you say, great, you go through the crowdfunding campaign. And then all that gets rolled up, and you have one point of contact, you have one line item in your cap table, not 50, or 100. One item, there's one investor representative for that whole crowdfund group, that's one thing that's really beneficial. So then they become the conduit information to your family and friends. Anytime they send you a text, you say, you know, just go check out the portal, and there's all the information there, you know, the quarterly results, blah, blah. And then second thing is you tend to attract this insanely passionate community of people who are using your products who are evangelizing your products. And you even find capital, other capital sources like hedge funds who really are interested in your space through that crowd fund. Which brings me to point two is, there are kind of a new breed of, of I don't know if there's called hedge funds, but a new breed of capital providers who really are passionate about purpose first. And, and having this multi stakeholder, they insist on having a multi stakeholder approach to business. Good for the employees, good for the clients, good for the communities, good for the investors, good for the overall environment in the global comments. Like boom, that's a, that's a quadruple or quintuple bottom line stakeholder approach. So those types, like I have a friend who just invested in his business, and they've got an incredible product called MUD/WTR, right? It's like an alternative to coffee made out of six different types of mushrooms. And Shane Heath is the founder and I've been working with him. And they have a financial partner, they just raise money. They're like 130 million valuation now. They raise money from their first investor was one of these socially conscious hedge funds. And they insisted that everyone on the team do certain health, mental health practices as part of their investment. Right? They insisted they go on quarterly retreats, they insisted that they bring in a wellness program that included yoga and mindfulness. Like that was really cool to hear. I'm like that's so, so even the world of finance for entrepreneurs is changing dramatically. And the old paradigm of VCs is vultures, it still exists, be very careful. You know, I experienced that myself. But there's a new paradigm creeping up to crowdfunding and finding a purpose driven funder, I think, really interesting to explore.

Susan Sly 37:53
I had Mike McDermont on the show, and he was the co founder of FreshBooks, which now has a billion dollar valuation and he had stepped down as CEO and he's chair. And we had, it was a fun. We had a fun banter because I said, When startups come to me, I always ask them, What is your exit plan? And he said, You shouldn't think about the exit plan. I said, I respectfully disagree, because if you are bringing on funding, you should know your exit plan. Every VC is going to ask you, every investor is going to ask you and you have to be clear. And to your point, Mark, if you set up your company, if you're a US company, and you set it up as a C Corp, and you have an Aesop, there are many ways you can exit. You can sell your shares back to the Aesop. I have had friends that have done that. One of my friends had a marketing agency, he exited with millions of dollars, and it's tax free to do it in many states. I have other friends who exited their Aesop with you know, multiple, seven figures and they're, you know, taking the money out. And then the employees like Southwest become owners in the company. And to your point, the team leading the leader that now they have that vested interest. So I'm a big believer in hybrid fundraising. And that's, you know, when, when start, when you know, right now, I know someone's like, oh, will you be on my board? Or will you help me fundraise or whatever, I put them through, maybe not Navy SEAL style training, but a lot of rigorous mental gymnastics and forcing them to think about things they might not be thinking about. And, and I think that, you know, that's a whole other conversation. Oh, my gosh. Like, okay, final question for you. We were talking about this before we went into recording, and I'm like, Oh my gosh, we should be recording this. I would love to get your perspective on what's going on in the world right now and where things are going, and most importantly, for entrepreneurs, where you think the the opportunities are.

Mark Divine 39:57
Man, so I have a very kind of meta perspective. And it's really grounded in my spiritual practice, right, I guess, I'll say. Not religious, by the way. I don't really subscribe to any religion per se, even though I was brought up as a Christian. So I believe that, that basically as human beings, we are vibrational energy, right? We're photonic vibrational energy. And that the darkest form of energy, you know, that exists, leads to fear and violence. And the highest fiber, racial energy that exists leads to compassion and peace, and inclusiveness or connection, lack of separation. And so everyone happens to have their little vibrational signature, and it can evolve, it can evolve through your own efforts. So we call that growth, it can evolve through a crisis, and then you coming out of the other side and saying, no more, I'm changing. And so then suddenly, your vibration, your, your thinking change, your vibration change, your body actually will change. So this is playing out at a massive level across the globe. And it started with, you know, the internet was part of it, you know, the, the ability to connect everybody, and then mobile devices. And then, of course, the Internet of things, and, and the cloud, and 5G. And now of course, starlink, and, you know, Google balloons. And so within a few years, you'll have everybody, almost everybody on the planet connected with a mobile device. So information is ubiquitous. Now information itself is just information. But there's negative information. And that's the mass media trying to control everyone so that they can consume their products, or vote for their, you know, preferred, you know, candidate or politician. And then there's information like you and I are sharing, which is positive, it's uplifting, it's leading to a higher vibrational level. And so what's happening is, is we're reaching tipping points where more and more people are accessing positive information, is resonating with them, they're committing to growth, they're committing to thinking positively, they're committing to having a positive view of the future, as opposed to a dystopian one. And this is one of, my mission is to, is to lead 100 million people to transformation into this kind of compassionate, positive and inclusive leadership. And so then imagine 100 million people vibrating at that level of impacting 10 people each, now we got a billion people who are thinking this way. The counter effect of this, and this is happening really fast, it's happening in the next 20 to 30 years, the counter effect of this is, is going to just obliterate a lot of this violence and negativity that we see in the world, which is a vestige of the last 100, 200, 500, even 1000 years of negative thinking. And so that's like my meta view. I have an extremely positive view of the future. I think that you know, a billion people thinking of, you know, Mother Earth as a necessary partner in our life will heal mother eath, there's not going to be carbon capture, you know, what I mean, or carbon credits from the United Nation, is going to be a billion people, putting their hands on the earth and healing the earth and healing the ocean, or 2 billion or 4 billion, right? It's gonna be, it's like, let me say it this way, Gandhi said, Be the change you need to see in the world, he's talking about an individual, I'm talking about that at scale. I want to, I want to have 100 million or billion people be the change that they want to see in the world. So we can now scale the evolution of consciousness to a more positive vibration. First time ever in human history. So that's extraordinary. And all these technologies like what you were working on, and others, they all have a positive application and a negative application. The negative application is inevitable, because there will always be people you know, who are greedy, and egocentric and, you know, vibrating at that negative victim and violent level. But the positive energy is so much more powerful, that it'll keep that in check. And it'll just keep on diminishing and diminishing and diminishing and then the sheep dog is the world, yours and my friends will be able to take out most of that negativity. Now, the big risk in this vision is what happens to the nuclear weapons? And, you know, how fast is this happening? You know, because global warming seems to be speeding up. I'm not as worried about global warming as I am about, you know, just some wackos, you know, going off with nuclear weapons. So we know we really need to be thoughtful about how as a global community, we hold our warlord leaders accountable

Susan Sly 44:53
And the--

Mark Divine 44:56
reduce the risk of some accident, right? Yeah,

Susan Sly 44:59
and not all warlords appear as warlords, like the wolf in sheep's clothing, right?

Mark Divine 45:05
Even, even our major nation states, I consider warlords. If you're arming yourself, then you're attacking yourself, you're just and you're waiting to be attacked. Basically, this is a spiritual principle, like, straight out of the Course in Miracles. If you're defending yourself with weapons and nuclear weapons, you are attacking yourself, it's just a matter of time before you get attacked by somebody else because you're already attacking yourself. Because

Susan Sly 45:31
you're vibrating that. So we could have a whole other conversation. So I was trained in calibrated consciousness by Dr. David Hawkins himself before

Mark Divine 45:42
he died. Dr. Hawkins is one of my heroes.

Susan Sly 45:45
And he was a lovely man. And then Wayne Dyer was a good friend of mine. And so Wayne, the whole thing, and now people are like market sees it, have thought of, woo hoo, like--

Mark Divine 45:58
Woohoo, but not at all. David Hawkins is probably the most under, hast had one of the most profound impacts but nobody knows about him. Because they don't really understand his contribution. But the ability to calibrate consciousness and his skill of zero to 1000, which is what I was talking to, so you must have been rolling. Yeah, yeah, no, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's a profound contribution to humanity. Because like, with that technology, we could literally calibrate level consciousness of a world leader and say, Yeah, no, yeah. Below 400. So go away, wait until you come, you know,

Susan Sly 46:30
Or 200 as the line of integrity, right. So you know, and one of the things Dr. Hawkins, you know, in, in his training is understanding that when you have a leader, or you have a country that is below the line of integrity, it doesn't matter how much money you pour in there, and I could talk about different specific countries, and I won't, that money is always going to be used for those low conscious things that have to do with greed and deception, and you know, all sorts of horrific things that happen. And people are like, well, can't we just keep throwing money to the problem? No. You know, I've traveled in like 34 or 35 countries in the world. And I've seen some you know, I used to go, Mark, you don't know this, but I used to go undercover in brothels to do recon for IJM, right, in Cambodia in Phnom Penh, before they even had traffic lights there. Like I was like, crazy. I'm still crazy, but you know, anyway, but you know, and people would say, Well, how can you do that? And, or how can people do that? How can they traffic children? It's their level of consciousness. And until we all, not, we don't all have to, but you know, a high tide raises all ships, so to speak. So until the conscious entrepreneurs come together and create conscious businesses, and rally together and stand together, much like in SEAL training, that you know, to your point that PBTA like, we're gonna come together, we're gonna pause, we're gonna think about this, we're gonna breathe, and then we're going to act, right? Until we all come together and begin to do that, that's change at the level that it must happen to match the level of the way things are going, is not going to happen. So oh my gosh, Mark, okay-- We're best friends now.

Mark Divine 48:22
Change can happen at scale through organizations, and it can happen very rapidly when you're around, every day around people who are really committed to that level of growth and that level of interconnected or integration at a global level, right? So it doesn't mean you have to take a haircut on profits or you know, it doesn't mean you can't be wealthy No, no, you can, but we're going to be good and do good simultaneously. And not for just ourselves but for our communities and the global commons, right? And so we got to think of ourselves with this conversation a great place to kind of pin, is like we got to think of ourselves as global citizens first and still love our countries and still love our communities. Right? But you know, we hurt anything, we're hurting everything. That's the consciousness level. So we raised that level where we recognize that our actions, our thoughts, impact the world our actions, impact and even more, our words even more. And so let's elevate our thoughts, words and actions to a high vibrational level and that feels like and looks like more peaceful, more compassionate, more connecting, more inclusive, less violence, less judgment, less projection. And wow, things change really fast with that.

Susan Sly 49:41
Well, this is a good place to pin this because there's like, you know, hopefully and every, if you are listening to the show, go ahead. You know, Mark and I would love a five star review because we're leaders, we'll ask for what we want. If you are on Youtube, drop a comment below. I'm the one who, it's not my staff. YouTube is my happy place. So I'm the one responding to your comments. So Mark and I would love to hear from you. And if you go to there is a, and I wrote, I have so many notes. It's not even funny., Yes, forward slash challenge. You can go to too, but go to

Mark Divine 50:28
Both, yeah. Awesome. It's been so much fun, Susan.

Susan Sly 50:32
Well, Mark, thank you so much. Thanks for everything you're doing in the world. And I hope everyone's gonna join in in the burpee challenge. Yeah, my arms are ready for that. So with that, everyone, this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. Thanks so much for being here. I'd love for you to share the show. And I will see you in the next episode.

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Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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