MF 135 : Leading By Example to Move Forward, with Danny Leonard
Danny Leonard is a 19-year-old entrepreneur and founder of an internet marketing and strategy company. Today, Danny will share why he took the entrepreneurial path and what his future self would advise him today.
Successes at a glance:
19-year-old entrepreneur, focusing on internet marketing and strategy
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Danny is 19 years old. Wow! Like Marc Guberti and Deborah Olalere, Danny isn’t content with following the traditional narrative. He has made a choice to embrace uncertainty and entrepreneurship as a career path. Danny bucks the millennial stereotype as an example of ambition, creativity and sheer determination to do something other than simply get a job and collect a paycheck.
As Danny shares, he didn’t have the best grades in school and was always a different kind of thinker when compared to the rest of his classmates. What’s also interesting is that Danny does not come from a long line of entrepreneurs. Outside of his mother who ran and sold a company back in the early 2000s, this wasn’t a narrative that was deeply ingrained into him at an early age. Rather, Danny just knew that he was different, turning right when others would turn left. As he describes he was “that kid.” Despite not having the best grades, his teachers recognized a quality in him that would serve him well: adaptability. Danny was always quick to adapt to sudden changes and uncertain circumstances. This was especially evident in sports as being one of the smaller kids, Danny had to adapt to be able to hold his own against the bigger athletes.
Danny’s brand of thinking differently and adaptability led him to make the decision to not go to college and dive straight into entrepreneurship. For Danny, it was the challenge of doing something that hadn’t been done before which became his big driver and his big why. Another big driver for Danny is the thrill of closing sales, while knowing that he’s helping his clients achieve more. In particular, Danny is energized when he can help fellow entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Danny is an example of how networking and relationships are built in the 21st century. He reflects how he met one of his now business partners, by commenting on a YouTube video. Social media has become a gateway for Danny to forge new relationships and bridge new connections. It is also how he became a guest on this podcast!
Challenges and Lessons Learned:
Danny cites as his biggest challenge, teaching others the art of sales. As you’ll learn, Danny has focused a lot on developing his own skills; starting with door-to-door, “knock on door” sales. Building a team, especially with peers who are 19 and 20, presented a unique challenge to Danny. While many individuals are focused on school or having fun at this stage of life, Danny’s focus (and challenge) has been finding those individuals who are equally committed to his vision of building a company.
After hitting some obstacles with simply putting a new hire immediately into sales, Danny now puts new hires into a training program. Having come from a military family, Danny has adapted his leadership style with that of great military leaders he has studied.
So what keeps Danny on track and motivated on a daily basis? First, Danny loves the challenge of building a business. Second, Danny was taught at a young age that the decisions he makes now will have an impact in the future. Danny embraces this lesson as part of his compass for making decisions for himself and his business. Third, Danny has built up a team who now looks to him as their compass. In assuming the role of a leader, Danny takes very seriously that he is leading by example. The biggest area where this comes into play is sales. In making the charge to close sales, Danny leads by example, showing his team how it can be done. This is how Danny makes sure that he and his team are constantly moving forward.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Danny to move forward:
Gary Vaynerchuk: Danny cites him several times in this interview as one of his big sources of inspiration for entrepreneurship.
Extreme Ownership by Jacko Willink and Leif Babin: the authors are ex-Navy Seals who share how to translate battlefield leadership into the boardroom.
Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
Hootsuite: a social media management tool to schedule posts ahead of schedule.
Crowdfire: a growth hacking app for Twitter. Danny uses it to follow followers of his favorite influencers and for creating automated DMs to welcome new followers and connections.
Danny’s hack: in your automated DM invite new followers to follow you on other social media channels (Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube).
How Danny recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
For Danny, it’s physical activity and exercise: twice a day!
Read a lot.
Take a day off.
Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:
Try out Audible and move forward with two free audio books through our partnership w/ Amazon.
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Who Danny sees in 20 years; visiting his future self and advice he would receive from him:
Danny shares what his future self will look like: a successful CEO who has helped thousands of people while growing a business; someone who is now putting his efforts into a great cause such as eradicating diseases or supporting a great humanitarian effort. Finally, Danny sees someone who is eyeing a career transition into politics!
Advice from his future self: continue and keep going. Don’t listen to people who don’t have what you want or who don’t get you.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):