Welcome to the Join Up Dots Podcast With Derek Lewis
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Introducing Derek Lewis
Derek Lewis is todays guest on the Join Up Dots podcast.
He is a man who was introduced to me by the great Matthew Pollard who appeared on episode of 344 of Join Up Dots.
He said “David, you have to have this great bloke on your show” and aren’t I glad I said “jump onboard”
As he has a fascinating story that started when a Brazilian missionary handed him a tattered 1979 copy of “Quest for the Best.”
And his life changed forever.
How The Dots Joined Up For Derek
As he says “While my peers were the 90s’ equivalent of “Twilight,” I was devouring books on economics, biographies, success stories, business management, entrepreneurship, and anything else business-related. I couldn’t get enough”
And did this inspire his love for everything entrepreneurial, or just help him find the thing that he could love enough to risk the old leap of faith?
Well we will find out during the show, but its true to say, that he did leap and left conventional employment to start an IT services company with a co-worker (still successfully in business today), and during the start-up phase, found he could support his family by taking on copywriting projects to bring in some extra cash
And I love this part of the story, as it links literally every episode of join up dots, as these two passions fell in love with each other, and after a quick getting to know each other stage, produced an amazing offspring.
Our guest gave birth to his fulltime career combining his two loves—business and writing—he decided to pursue a full-time career as a business writer and he hasn’t looked back since.
So was he an avid reader when he was a kid, or did he need to find the moment when the written word was right for him?
And does he see the old mantra of “find your passion and you will never work again” as true, or it is more like the passion will find you?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots, with the one and only Mr Derek Lewis
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Derek Lewis such as:
How he once put on 50 pounds in a year due to the stressful environment that he worked in, and the mad manager he had the misfortune to encounter.
Why he realises that he is so blessed, because of the flexibility that he has managed to build into his and his families life everyday.
How he still envies how salaried employees have the certainty of receiving a weekly pay cheque into their bank account every week.
How he shares his journeys down to Brazil, to become a missionary and the way that it changed his life so unexpectedly.
Why he feels that you shouldn’t chase your passion but you should chase the opportunities that life presents to us.
How To Connect With Derek Lewis
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Derek Lewis Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Today’s show is brought to you by podcast is mastery.com, the premier online community teaching you to podcast like a pro. Check us out now at podcasters mastery.com.
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:37]
Yes, hello, everybody and welcome to Join Up Dots. This is Episode 372. We’re moving on quite quickly now to the four hundreds and I’ve got some things planned around about the 500 episode and the 600 episodes. So believe me, you’re not gonna get rid of me. We’re gonna still be blasting this out to the world on almost a daily basis. Now, today’s guest is a man who was introduced to me by the great Matthew Pollard, who appeared on episode of 344 of Join Up Dots. I’m sure you would listen to that one. And he said, David, you have to have these great bloke because he’s Australian. You see, that’s why he’s got that voice that you need. You have to have these great bloke on your show. And I glad I said jump on board to him because he has a fascinating story that started when a Brazilian missionary handed him a tattered, 1979 copy of quest for the best. Now I haven’t met many Brazilian missionaries. So that’s going to be an interesting part. And from that moment, his life changed forever. As he says Walmart appears with a 90s equivalent of Twilight. I was devouring books on economics, biographies, success stories, business management, entrepreneurship, and anything else business related and I couldn’t get enough and it is inspiring. I love everything entrepreneurial, or just help him find the thing that he could love enough to risk the old leap of faith. Well, we’ll find out during the show, but it’s true to say, but he did leave and let conventional employment to start an IT services company with a co worker still successfully in business today and during the startup phase, found he could support his family by taking on copywriting projects to bring in some extra cash. And I love this part of the story as it links literally every episode of Join Up Dots, as these two passions fell in love with each other. And after a quick getting to know each other stage produced and amazing offspring. Our guest gave birth to his full time career combining these two loves business and writing. He decided to pursue a full time career as a business writer and he hasn’t looked back since. So Was he an avid reader when he was a kid? Or did he need to find the moment when the written word was right for him? And does he see the old mantra of behind your passion and you will never work again as true? Or is it more likely the passion will find you at the right time? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Derek Lewis. How are you doing?
Derek Lewis [2:55]
I’m doing fine. David, thank you for having me on the show today.
David Ralph [2:59]
You’re so I can You’ll have big buildup and you’re the most laid back relaxed person. I imagine you’re still laying in bed at the moment, cuddling up to your pillow.
Derek Lewis [3:09]
Well, if I didn’t have two kids getting ready for school, that’s exactly where I would be, but shut away at my office. So you are with the doors barred?
David Ralph [3:19]
So you all from the deep south of America, are you representative of that state? Is everybody very relaxed and laid back sounding? Or is it just that under the surface, you are moving around at the same rate as the rest of us?
Derek Lewis [3:35]
No, we’re pretty. We’re pretty slow as molasses. It’s this speech is just an embodiment of our our lifestyles. We’re pretty, we’re pretty laid back. In fact, I remember whenever I was in eighth grade, we took a trip to Washington, DC and our tour guide was a native New Yorker. And it it frustrated her to know and that all What was it 3035 of us were just as slow as molasses. She was, you know, and it was kids. So she was trying not to cuss but you could tell she was biting her tongue off every time we walked from one place to another.
David Ralph [4:14]
So that doesn’t hold you back in business sense, or does it strengthen the ability to sort of work at a slightly slower pace? Does that give you time to reflect where people in say, like New York and some of the big sort of Central hubs are actually going at it? So 100 miles an hour?
Derek Lewis [4:34]
With my own particular industry with with what I do, it’s, it’s a strength because with, with writing books, people like to, or they discover that they like to slow down and think about things in the long term. And then, for me, it’s the hard part of writing a book is not actually the writing. It’s knowing what What to write. So being able to sit down at length and think about things in parallel, and in long form writing, it works to my advantage.
David Ralph [5:08]
And in the introduction I was mentioning about the writing found you at the right time, but maybe you was a kid who used to always read under the covers with a torch at night. Were you somebody that was very into the written word, right from the very early goes.
Derek Lewis [5:24]
Oh, yeah, it was an absolute nerd. Absolutely. Yeah, I was writing, Lord of the Rings in in fourth grade, fifth and sixth grade, I was devouring all the books on mythology that our tiny little rural library had. And then, by high school, I was reading the fountainhead and For Whom the Bell Tolls and some of the classics like that. But then it was a took a trip. It was actually my senior year that I took a trip down to Brazil by myself to go visit a Brazilian mission. down there. And tea was also an avid reader and lent me his his copy like you said of Stanley Marcus his quest for the best and absolutely fell in love. I was always business oriented. In high school I was going in we had a club called the future business leaders of America. And we went to we went actually to national competition that was the first time in our little school’s history that somebody from from fbla had gone to, to the national competition in entrepreneurship. So the seeds of both of what would eventually be my career they were they were there, but it took to quite a few years until I until they’ve met each other like you said and had their their beautiful little offspring.
David Ralph [6:50]
He’s a fascinating thing though. Derrida we talk time and time again on Join Up Dots how people say find your passion, find your passion, but more often than not, we knew our passion. We knew what we liked doing when we were small kids, but for some reason or other, just kind of didn’t think it was valuable enough or didn’t think it had enough potential or producing income to us. Or maybe we just kind of moved away from it somehow and forgot all about it. But I see time and time again. But the real movers and shakers will always answer the question. Yeah, this was pretty much me when I was a kid. I was always doing these kind of things, but then sort of lost their way in the middle.
Derek Lewis [7:29]
That’s exactly what happened. David I, I loved writing. In fact, I am. I had a kind of more or less free period, and I don’t know 11th or 12th grade, and not devoted it to writing my my English teacher loved my short stories and encouraged me to, to stay with them. But I always thought that that, you know, writing books that that was something that I would do after I retired I was going to go have a conventional Career and climb the corporate ladder.
David Ralph [8:02]
Well what did you think of all this thing? was it was it what other people that told you? Was it kind of expected?
Derek Lewis [8:08]
Yeah, actually my, um
I don’t really come from a family of entrepreneurs, I come from a family of blue collar or grey collar, kind of people at best. My, my father started out as an electrician and worked his way up to being an electrical engineer. But he’s been working for the same company for almost 40 years now. And so, he and so and everybody I knew worked for, you know, work for an employer. So So having your own business and being an entrepreneur and those kinds of things, those weren’t something that successful people did. I mean, the people I knew who owned their own business, I mean, they were, you know, there were barbers or they owned a little a little guy. station or they owned maybe a little boutique store. They weren’t, you know, successful as we, as we think of success, so, yeah, it just it never really crossed my mind that, that people like, like me could just start a business and, and make you know, find income and have the kind of life that you wanted. So since that was never really on my radar, the way to success was, you know, getting good grades go into a good school though, you know, the whole, the whole plan and shebang
David Ralph [9:35]
is fascinating to me that one of the stages and I certainly went through this when I became disenchanted in my job was when I started snooping around on the internet to see what other people were doing. And looking at it and thinking, Wow, that looks a lot more fun than what I’m doing. Why not me? So do you sort of look back on that time now and think it happened at the right time that you you’ve Found your footing or could you afford the earlier if you were willing to look around a bit more?
Derek Lewis [10:07]
If Yeah, if I had been
made in fact if I could if I could go back now and rearrange, you know, some of the some of the pieces absolutely would have started copywriting and ghostwriting while I was still employed and had a nice stable income and benefits and you know, could expect a paycheck on Friday. But my catalyst for the forgotten the entrepreneurial route, was actually just having an absolute horrible boss he was he was a work of art. And I had only been working for him for about three years before I realised that Oh my God, I’ve got to get out of here. But I had to work for another year before finally event said just Guess come to come to a point where I wanted to I wanted to quit and I wouldn’t have had my wife not encouraged me. She saw how desperately unhappy I was. Looking back now I realised that I actually I was depressed. I had gained 50 pounds in one year, because I was so unhappy working for this, this crazy lunatic lobby, that’s a pound a week. Pretty much. I mean, it was it was incredibly stressful. The constant threat of being fired in the in the office there were at one point, David, I calculated it in the office, there was a 100% excuse me, yeah, 100% turnover. And the and the way that that works out mathematically that there were still you know, a few people who kept their job like me during that entire time was because in some positions there were three and four people that filled that position. During that during that 12 month period, it was an insane environment.
David Ralph [12:09]
Now, we’ve all had crappy bosses. That’s the reason I got into this. I had a boss that was a complete cow, as I talked about many times on the show, but when you look back on it now, do you think to yourself, thank God I had that awful boss otherwise I could be plodding along forever in a day it is. It is absolutely not to have.
Derek Lewis [12:32]
It is absolutely In fact, you know, a lot of the anger and bitterness that I had towards him has, has dropped off, the more that I’ve experienced success and peace in my life because David, if he had been just a little less crazy, if he had been just a little easier to work with, I’d have stayed with him and have stayed employed. And I probably I would not have stayed him forever because I was constantly looking for other job opportunities but I would have gotten another job there’s no way that I would have ever had the the guts the spark to to step out on my own. So yeah, he did me an enormous favour. He’s really fascinating this because we he comes
David Ralph [13:17]
up every single day, that your good thoughts or bad thoughts and your bad doctrine, your good thoughts and when you look back at times in your life and you go, man I was born that was really dreadful. When you get far enough away from it, you kind of got thank God, thank God for that. And I can see it time and time again in my life and every other guests can see it as well. But, of course, you’ve got to put yourself in that position because that takes you out of your comfort zone, doesn’t it? You’ve got to actually force the issue in many ways to be around but to expand and develop yourself so that you are primed for that moment when you go. I’m not doing this anymore. I’m going out on my own.
Derek Lewis [13:56]
Yeah, if it I’m telling me if it hadn’t have been
For just the degree of crazy that that he was, I would have stayed with my original plan of trying to climb the corporate ladder and have been an executive and, and I would not have the wonderful opportunities that I have today to have a business that flexes around my family. Instead of having my family have to flex around my job and career. I wouldn’t be able to, you know, pick up and go at the last minute to, you know, an event at my daughter’s school or a couple of years ago, we decided that our little girl was about to the next the following year she would have, she was going to start kindergarten. And so she’d be in regular school and so we decided, my wife was a nurse at that time. And they have what they’re called travel nursing assignments, where it’s a 13 week assignment where they have nurses come in, to fill a position may be you know, one of their regular staff His own maternity to leave or their, you know, the head somebody you know quit they’re trying to fill a position. And so have you come in for that 13 week assignment and and fill in. And so we decided, actually was after reading Timothy Ferriss the four hour workweek that that we were just gonna we’re just gonna try it. So we rented out our house to to my cousin actually, you know, I was already a full time ghostwriter, so I could work from anywhere as long as I had an internet connection. So we went and live for a winter in the middle of the the Rocky Mountains and this gorgeous little town called Steamboat Springs, Colorado. And my daughter got to play in the snow which is a novelty since I can probably count on one hand the number of times in my life and here in Louisiana, we’ve been able to play in the snow. We got to live in this gorgeous little setting. I’m in this tiny little town with So incredible it had an orchestra. It’s only like 12,000 people. It had an orchestra in a town of 12,000 people had it had a and credible writers group. It’s a gorgeous ski town. It’s it was just a wonderful experience.
David Ralph [16:19]
Why did you leave this job? why did why did you stay there? Pretty good.
Derek Lewis [16:29]
It was Have you ever heard that saying that you can. You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the board. Yeah. Well, that was it for us. He could take the southerners out of the South. She can’t take the South out of the southerners. We loved it. But David, the South you were you know, asking if the South is really you know, so different. It really is different than the rest of the United States. It is a a completely different culture. I mean, honestly, I felt more We’re at home, in in Latin America than I’ve ever felt anywhere else in the United States. It’s It’s where that it’s that alien in the deep south. It isn’t that alien to the rest of the US. So it was one of those things where while we loved visiting, it just it simply wasn’t How
David Ralph [17:19]
did you like the fall that you can literally lay your head down anywhere and that’s your home there. The fact that you as you say, as long as you’ve got a laptop, and an internet connection, you could be sitting in Bora Bora during your work.
Derek Lewis [17:33]
The idea appealed to me.
I guess I made if I think about it, it still does. But what dominates my thoughts now and my focus is, is really putting down roots. I mean, I grew up in a in a small town, where my family had been, we’d been living for three generations and we had owned land there for four And we know everybody I grew up in a very small It was a very small school I graduated with 32 people in my graduating class which for the United States is tiny. I mean that’s that’s almost almost thinking you know, little Little House on the Prairie and a one room you know, a schoolhouse wasn’t quite that that small but but it was, I loved that sense of community and and I missed it and so after going off to Steamboat Springs and enjoying it, but realising where our heart was, my my focus really now is on really putting down roots. Where we are we’re not my wife is from partly from Baton Rouge, and then partly from gorgeous little old South town on the Mississippi River called Natchez, Mississippi. She grew up divided between both both cities. So we’re here Now and we have become quite involved in our local church. It’s nice to be able to go to to the grocery store and and bump into two people that that we know. It’s nice to be able to be speaking to a stranger and then connect the dots that they work on it with somebody in Baton Rouge, we are loving the field of community and having having roots having a sense of place.
David Ralph [19:28]
You seem to be somebody that is very grounded, not just in their sort of family life but in in sort of all three areas, your business life, your entrepreneurial life, your family life. Is that been something that’s been hard to get to that point or has it naturally falling into place?
Derek Lewis [19:47]
Oh, no, no, it’s work. It is work every every day.
Fortunately, God paired me with a woman who we In many ways, we very much share some of the same ideals and goals and and coming from some of the same I guess just places where we make our decisions. And so we have I like to say that we finished growing up together. This this summer will have been married 10 years and will have been together. I say married for 10 and love for 12 you know, scores some extra brownie points whenever she’s around
David Ralph [20:30]
with people tweeting these episodes to her, so she can hear that all the time you get your favourite food when you come home at night. That’s what you want. Yeah, I want to get some brownie points. So what we’re gonna do, we’re just gonna play but words of a famous Hollywood actor that will take us seamlessly on to stage two of our conversation and this is Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [20:55]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. So he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [21:23]
So you went the kind of conservative route, you went the route that everyone does, where you go into a fixed job. Now you are entrepreneurial, and you’re developing your own income. So where’s the risk? Now? Is it riskier to be in a job where a manager turns up and you suddenly realise you hate it? Or is it more risky to be somebody that is taking control of your life, building up clients and value in the world and doing things your own way?
Derek Lewis [21:53]
I don’t think there’s a black and white answer, David. I think that there are pros and cons to both Whenever I first became an entrepreneur, I was in love with the idea of entrepreneurship and, you know, my rose coloured glasses were on and everything was bright and lovely. And, you know, I felt sorry for those for those saps, you know, chained to their desks and working the 40 Hour Workweek, blah, blah, blah. But after having been in business for for quite a few years now, I do envy knowing that there is going to be a paycheck deposited into an account every Friday, regardless of how much you work that week or not, regardless of how, you know how hard the sales people the sales team, for a company have worked that week or not. It’s having that that certainty is something that that is quite appealing. At the same time. You know, and going back to what I said about you know, not coming from a family of entrepreneurs My my grandfather, my mother’s father, actually was an entrepreneur at the I guess he would have probably been in his earlier mid 20s probably whenever he he started his own machine shop in Southeast Texas and he was quite successful machinists, they specialised in in gears. And he had I mean, he even had jobs for the US Navy. Whenever, whenever they would have some, some things go wrong. He did jobs for all the plants around there he was. He was very skilled. He did a great job. But I think because of how hard it was, and because of the ups and downs. I mean, my grandmother one time said something about how it was it there was there was something they didn’t hardly have any food in the house except to gross things to put together like I don’t know tomatoes and peanut butter. Something made some just something odd and nobody else would would eat it. Because it was just so gross. So my grandpa they ate it and laughed at them for being so dumb. And then they got a check in the mail that that afternoon and that evening they were eating a steak dinner. So I think that uncertainty and that those ups and downs I think they really took their toll on my mother, which is why she always encouraged me to go, you know, the safe, you know, the safe route, not go the entrepreneurial route. And, you know, a generation ago David, that was probably good advice. I mean, my father’s fortunate that he you know, will, in all likelihood retire with the company that that he started with whenever he was
I guess he was 2122.
But that that just doesn’t happen anymore. I mean, we live in a day and age where companies, you know, they rise and they they fall they expanded contract, they have projects that that fail, they get bought out, they’re merged and acquired. And I would much rather have my income spread out among two or three or four ghostwriting clients, then have my entire future be in the hands of someone else. Like I said, My future be in the hands of the sales team, my future be in the hands of the CEO making a good decision. And I mean, God only knows maybe he’s just, you know, trying to raise the stock for this quarter so that he can cash out and go on to his next acquisition or his next prize. I’d much rather have my destiny in my own hands than having to rely on other people to provide for it.
David Ralph [25:53]
So So do you see the words that Jim Carrey saying that you can fail at doing something you don’t like? So you might as well take a chance Doing something that you love
Derek Lewis [26:06]
i think that
i think it’s it’s decent advice. It’s not a life mantra that i would i would live by and and if I’m if I’m getting too far ahead in the show you can you can slow me down, but
David Ralph [26:23]
slow somebody up. It was like a
Derek Lewis [26:25]
David Ralph [26:26]
a deep self taught us. We won’t be going anywhere.
Derek Lewis [26:31]
Yeah, if you slip me down way down, we just lay down and die when we’d be going back in time.
I read a great quote. Do you know, you know, Mike Rowe, the the guy who hosts the show Dirty Jobs, where he goes and interviews different blue collar workers and people across I don’t know if it’s just across the US or across the world and you know, kind of like looking at the world. Man, the people who really, you know, the cogs in the machine, if you will, the lumberjacks and the the drillers and the truckers and the teachers and cafeteria workers, maybe not cafeteria workers, but but he has become quite the proponent for the skilled trades and the vocational trades. And I read a great quote, somebody posted the other day, he said, Don’t chase your passion chase opportunity. And I think that that is the better advice. Because, David, if I had chased my passion of writing, especially earlier, I wouldn’t have known what I was what I was doing, I would have I would have fumbled and stumbled I would not have known how to turn it into income isn’t the turn. You
David Ralph [27:54]
know, Derek, isn’t that the fact that nobody knows when they start? That you know, let’s do Jobs the Branson’s, nobody’s got a flow of a when they start, they just try stuff.
Derek Lewis [28:07]
And that’s the difference. I think that we’re talking about their try stuff, which is different than deciding All right, I want to be a writer. No Steve Jobs didn’t say, you know, wake up one morning and say I want to be I don’t want to be a consumer products designer, which is I guess really ultimately what he’s which was a huge part of his of his legacy. He just he wanted to try stuff. So if I would have just tried to have been a writer, I would have failed and it would have hurt me maybe to the point that I’d have never tried it again. But as it was, I just tried things I tried opportunities as they presented themselves. And as I invested the time and the work and the effort and developed my skills, and my document, if you will, I naturally fell into into writing and the naturally progressed Writing into into ghost writing. So, for me, it was really more the idea of working and working hard and doing the best. Wherever I wherever I found myself, excuse me. And then the opportunities fell in my lap. I love that.
David Ralph [29:19]
And it’s one of the first times that that said being said in a different way, because I’ve seen that emotion in the show. I’ve seen it in many things where I’ve just been doing stuff, but I was thought was right, but I realised it was a few degrees not quite right until the opportunity came along. Now what I’ve got that opportunity if I hadn’t even started a course not and all this business about you sit on a sofa and you chant for four hours a day and things just come to work. That’s never gonna happen is in a million years. I don’t care how many people tell me that. But um, you can literally make these opportunities occur almost in a mystical way, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Revenue.
Derek Lewis [30:01]
Yeah. You know talking about chanting things in a positive mental attitude. There are two books that I absolutely recommend one of them is winning through intimidation. And it’s, it is one of the best business books if not personal development books I’ve ever read in my life just down on the ground reality and the other one is the art of the con i just got finished reading it and this this the this guy who has devoted his life to learning about con artists and scams and hustlers and fakes and that kind of thing. And you know whenever you think about you know if you were to go down the down the street and somebody were to sell you, I don’t know Jade necklace and say, you know, sit on your sofa and chant for four hours a day and this Jade necklace will keep the evil spirits away and it will attract health and prosperity into your life. Okay, give me a break but You got people out there, they don’t even sell you the Jade necklace that is telling you to sit on the couch and chant you know for four hours and you will attract health and prosperity into your life and keep away the evil things that would happen to you. And we say all that must work I’m going to do that. If I just change my mental energy, I’ll attract the positive energies of of the world. Now, I mean, like on some, you know, levels, there’s what are they? What do they call this self fulfilling prophecy? Yeah. But at the same time, like we who would recognise snake oil, if it were packaged like snake oil, but we package it in, you know, montrezl and little things that you know, we change and we say, Oh, well, that that must work. And that it doesn’t work works is is trying different things and failing and falling flat on your face and then realising Oh, that didn’t work. Let me try something else. You know, there’s not whenever you’re connecting the dots. You I mean from from doing this podcast, You know, far better than I did, David, that it is not a straight line. I mean it is it’s like, I don’t know if y’all have this over there, but here we have Billy and family circus. And you’ll see like, they’ll be a playground and they’ll show like this little dotted line, and Billy will go to the swings, then he’ll go up and down the slide. Then I’ll go back to the swings, and then he’ll go walk on top of the fence. And it’s just his pad looks like this spaghetti noodle before he finally gets to where he’s going. And that’s that’s life squiggly. Isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah.
David Ralph [32:35]
And when you look at your life, is it squiggly? Because I’ve got a great theory now that it’s like a boulder spaghetti, but you then start pulling on one strand and that is your your stripe bit. So for a long while you’re just carrying around in order mix, and then suddenly you get on the right bit and it speeds through quite quickly. Well, what’s your life being because I’m fascinated by You went on a journey to see a Brazilian missionary? Because I don’t know many people that would do that. So was that part of your squiggly career? Or was that part of a fixed plan you had at that time?
Derek Lewis [33:15]
Well, that’s a
that’s a two pronged question. Yes.
I was supposed to be a missionary at some point my life. I was I was going to take they could take the gospel to, to the unwashed masses. And so to see what it was like I arranged to go see a missionary down in Brazil, whose father had been a missionary down in Brazil. And two had son who’s now in the ministry. So they had basically this entire family of missionaries that were established down in the southern part of Brazil and one wonderful people, some of my best memories are the trips that I took down down there. So yeah, that trip actually was part of a part of a well crafted plan. That all fell apart after I graduated grad school and found out that the world did not care about my carefully crafted plan and the Great Recession basically took the I guess this is how I say it that I had. I had done everything by the book. And the world forgot to tell me that they had thrown the book out the window.
David Ralph [34:38]
I know you’ve writing your own book, but aren’t you?
Derek Lewis [34:42]
Yeah, yeah, mine and mine and others. And I’m part of the some of the message that creeps in from from from other authors that I work with who have learned some of the same things
Well, basically you don’t know what life is going to bring. And so instead of instead of creating a plan, and trying to follow this plan, you know, all the way to the, to its logical conclusion is to prepare yourself with, to arm yourself, to be able to deliver value, to be able to work with people and to be able to communicate, to be able to negotiate, to have great relationships, and to have a great skill set that that people need, and arm yourself with the knowledge to navigate the world. And then no matter what the world throws at you, you’ll you’ll be prepared to to rise up to the challenge.
David Ralph [35:43]
And then do you buy into the kind of the Seth Godin tipping point? metaphor where as long as you keep on doing one thing after another after another, ultimately something is going to tip in your favour or do you think that is one of those nice images again, but we all clicked Just thinking, it gives us a focus to our productivity.
Derek Lewis [36:09]
I think that I think that it is a useful analogy. I think that we search for ways and we being people in general, we searched to make sense of things whenever an accident happens, or whenever people go through an event or they go through a lab struggle, they often try to put a put a narrative in it. Super religious people, you know, would say that, you know, will the god you know, cause this in this in this to happen, and that’s why you know, this happened. or other people will say, Well, you know, it’s because I did this in this, we had this outcome, so they try to make sense of it. Whenever much of life David really is just, it’s just crazy. It’s just coincidence and chance and things happening for no reason whatsoever. So I think having that that tool to be able to say, you know, do this, this and this and things will finally tip in your favour. I think it’s something useful for us to, to cling to. But I think that even as you’re moving forward, you have to be constantly learning constantly getting better, constantly refining your at your skill set constantly being savvier. So that so that you know, where to invest your time and you know, at one point to stop, you know, one of, I think one of Seth Godin, his best books actually is the dip, where he talks about, you know, you get to the point where you’ve, you know, been working on a project, a book, business relationship or whatever. And it just gets to that point of being bogged down, we hear, you know, so many people talk about, well, if you just stay with it, you know, eventually you’ll you’ll push through that barrier and then you Go on to higher heights. Well, he says, you know, there there are some times whenever That’s true, but at the same point, there’s some tough times, whenever you just keep on you know, putting in more and more time and you’re just getting nowhere. So you have to decide, you know, which of these things are important. So that’s at the point whenever you can’t just say, I’m going to just put my head down and, and bear through it, you’ve got to stop and actually step back and say, Is this worth my time? Is this where I want to go? Is this going to actually do something or am I just being stupid about it? I mean, they know the analogy that I like to use is like TV repairment you know I mean, think about a few years ago, you know a TV repairman if his his businesses is going down and there’s less and less business coming in. You know, is the answer you know, I need to work you know harder and then keep my shop open longer and pour more money into the into advertising and you No run all these things or is it smarter for me to step back and realise Oh, TVs have gotten to the point where people don’t repair them, they just throw them out and go buy the latest in the greatest it’s, it’s worth it to them to pay a little bit extra and have a brand new TV, then to bring their old ones to me and let me repair them. So my market is drying up, so I should probably go find something else to do.
David Ralph [39:24]
Some interesting stuff. I’m gonna play some words of a very wise lady. She’s um, she’s an American. Seems like most wise people from America bizarrely, and this is Oprah
Oprah Winfrey [39:34]
Winfrey, the way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move and the next right move and not to be overwhelmed by it because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment. You know, you’re not defined by What somebody says, is a failure for you, because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [40:07]
So how do you go through that process in your own business? Derek of deciding on what the right next move is?
Derek Lewis [40:18]
That’s a great question, David.
So if we’re painting the scenario where you know, I’ve come up against a wall, and
and I’ve got to make a decision, am I going to basically I’ve got a decision to make, am I going to go in this direction? Am I going to stay doing what I’m doing and just wait for things to turn around? Am I going to modify that plan?
There are a few key people that I’ll go to for advice.
My obviously my wife
because whatever decisions I’m making in my business, if Our life together our family together. And my family is absolutely more important than, than my business.
I’ll go to
maybe my father. He is he’s a wonderful man. Brilliant in many ways, but he’s, he’s not an entrepreneur. So it’s sometimes it’s hard for him to give me advice related to entrepreneurship because that’s because that’s not his, his strength or his experience, I guess I should say, I will go to my former business partner in the IT services business I had we were, we’re still very close. Even after I left the business, he’s he’s absolutely one of my best friends and he’s been a success in his own business. And I’ll go to my sales coach. Matt Pollard that you you talked about at the beginning of the show, and take all of their advice. And then go off and, and pray quite a bit. Journal and write and think about, you know, major decision. And then with all of that advice, I have to pick what I feel is the best course forward and then just execute to play him.
David Ralph [42:25]
So So does it come down to intuition and the bottom
Derek Lewis [42:30]
comes down to a gut feeling. Yeah.
David Ralph [42:34]
And is that one of the biggest business advice that you can get your gut feeling because I, I certainly think it is, and I think everything that I have gone for, even though it terrified me, I look at it now and go, Wow, my God, I did that. And all the stuff that I kind of went against my gut. It’s like when you sort of you go to go out with someone, a lovely lady, but you know, in your heart of hearts, she’s a lunatic and when you In that, you think to yourself, why did I not pay attention to my gut? I knew this was gonna go badly. The gut the gut is a powerful thing, isn’t it?
Derek Lewis [43:11]
Yeah, I am. I like to think about some of the examples. Malcolm Gladwell had in his book blink. And the book is really about our subconscious. It’s really about our intuition. And just how powerful that is that we receive more information than our conscious mind can process. I mean, you’ve probably seen the studies, David, that whenever people try to multitask, that what neuroscientists have discovered is that you’re not actually doing two things at the same time. Your mind can only focus on one task at a time and multitasking. You’re forcing your mind to constantly shuttle between you know, doing this and doing That having your attention on the phone having your attention on your email you we cannot literally multitask we we trick ourselves into thinking that we can. And so our rational mind can only focus on one thing at a time, but our subconscious mind our intuitive mind, which is really where we talk about our gut being can process all kinds of information that’s why whenever we go to sleep I mean there’s a you know, it’s a it’s a writing trick Actually, I learned from Dan Kennedy, the copywriting sales marketing goober talks about before you go to sleep give your your mind problem and focus on that that problem that problem being you know, need to write you know, something whenever I wake up or I need to, you know, do this, whenever you wake up you often have the the solution. And for me, you know, I tell my mind, okay, in the morning, I’m going to work on this project. And whenever I start working on that project, the next one Morning I find myself prepared to work on that project because my subconscious has been working on that problem for a good part of the of the night. And so what I take away from all of that is that our subconscious mind our intuition is far more powerful and far smarter than my rational mind can ever be. So whenever I have a gut feeling, I may not understand my subconscious minds rationale for coming to that decision for coming to that feeling. But I do know that that is the signal that must subconscious mind is trying to give my conscious mind. This is the direction that you should go. I yeah, I think absolutely. I
David Ralph [45:43]
think it’s the body’s compass, as I call it, I think it really does show you the way to go and the real scary part so only really scary because we haven’t got the knowledge base b is taking us out of our comfort zone or see welcome There’s nothing really I’m just gonna go with IMB I’m not going to force the issue. And once you get into that point, you realise that you’ve stepped forward somehow whether you’ve moved forward, where were you when you decided that you was going to be the ghost lighter? Was that a scary time for you? Did you think to yourself, can I do this? Is anybody gonna buy into what I’m writing? And although sort of bounce, rush read
Derek Lewis [46:24]
all those doubts rush to my head pretty much all the time, no matter what I’m doing, because I tend to overanalyze, but I am. I didn’t decide to be a ghostwriter. Honestly, I was a I was a copywriter, and I found an ad for an online ad for somebody who wanted a business book written and I thought, well, I’m doing all this business copy I’m, I’m writing you know, short ebooks, I’m writing you know, marketing material and email campaigns and doing all of this other business related writing so much mean shoot Allah that sounds like an interesting project. It’d be something, you know, great for my portfolio. So I you know, one the one the gig. And you know, did the did the book before I even realised that that’s what ghostwriting was. I didn’t know that I was ghostwriting, I just thought I was writing somebody else’s book.
David Ralph [47:22]
So so let’s bring on to the show, the man who made it all possible and actually coming to phrase in a roundabout way of Join Up Dots. Now, he said these words almost 10 years ago, and I’m always fascinated to see how they, they reflect each guest that comes on to Join Up Dots. This is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [47:41]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life karma, whatever, because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart Even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [48:15]
So does it make all the difference Derek having that faith that that trust that gut intuition?
Derek Lewis [48:23]
It does David. In fact, whenever I never I was listening to that just now. He talks about you know, trusting that those thoughts are going to to align but honestly the the bigger thing that I take away from it is what you were just pointing out in placing your trust and your faith and something external to yourself. One of the probably the best lesson that I’ve learned in in life and this directly applies to business is the the idea that practice humility and if you were to, you know, share this this particular recording with a couple people who knew me they would laugh at hearing that but that’s the big lesson that I that I take away Why? Because well because I am I’m naturally arrogant
David Ralph [49:23]
if you know that you know I
Derek Lewis [49:29]
honestly the the older that I’ve gotten and the wiser that I’ve gotten the word that that arrogance as has diminished, it was not something that I consciously cultivated it. It was a it’s basically confidence that is a little oversized. So being overly confident in the fact that I’m that I’m right. Yeah, that would be that would be arrogant. So the arrogance has has quite diminished. As I moved in more into adult life, to be replaced more with this confidence, but yeah, a lot of people still remember that, that arrogance, unfortunately. So someone
David Ralph [50:14]
would speak up. when when when you look back on everything that’s led you to this point, what would be the big dot? Would it be the the advert that you saw for the ghost writing? Would it be going down to Brazil? What would order order will Lunatik possible? what one would it be?
Derek Lewis [50:31]
Let me ask you a question two ways, David.
important thing I think would be would be my faith in God, knowing that no matter what happened, that even if I there are some people that that believe that that God controls everything that happens to us that if something some tragedy happens to us that it was God’s will. And that’s not the God that I serve. I don’t serve a God that creates personal tragedies in our lives. I believe that sometimes things just happen to us that coincidences do happen, or that other people make horrible decisions, and and God doesn’t prevent the consequences of their actions from spilling over into the people’s lives. So I don’t believe that that God did everything. I believe this, some of my decisions, just stupid decisions. But I’ve always had faith that Wherever I am, that God can find me and God can bring me into a better place. So for me, the dots worry me or worried me. But the faith that I had in something external to myself, Steve Jobs said you have to find it, whether it be you know, just live for destiny, good, the universe, karma, whatever you. You have to find that external source of faith. And I think he was right on the money. So that has, that has been the thing that has kept me on the path, a path, if you will call it that, instead of basically just breaking down and despondence and and giving up and just trying and living life in this hopeless futility. What book was it that says that all men live? All men live lives of quiet desperation. I have no idea who said that.
David Ralph [52:32]
But it sounds very profound.
Derek Lewis [52:35]
Yeah. Oh, it’s like it’s I don’t know. It’s like Warren Piece or one of the great pieces of literature. And then it is unfortunately true. Most people live lives of quiet desperation. But your question was, what’s the big what’s the big event, the turning point, and I remember it very clearly David.
I had not yet become a ghostwriter. So I was
so I still had my foot in. in it. I was had my the IT services business with with my partner. And on the side I was moonlighting as as a commercial copywriter just to make you know, some grocery money to kind of help with the bills. But at the same time, I still had my eye on conventional employment. So I
I let’s see it was it was a Friday. I think.
Let me let me try to get my facts straight. It had to been there. It was a Thursday. Okay, so it was a Thursday.
No, it was going to be Friday, so Friday after it was after close of business. I was trolling through the internet, I was looking for different jobs, because I had had kind of a low week and I found a job that was perfect for me, David, if you had looked at my resume, and if you had, from that resume, created a job description. It could not have been any more perfect. I mean, they had my exact level of education. They had my exact level of experience that had some of the exact tasks and responsibilities that I had. They had my personality, almost down to a tee. David, I’m telling you, if you would have put my resume in this job description side by side you would have thought that it was an inside job, and then they had to publicly post it because they had already decided to hire me. That is how close of a match I was. The problem however, Was that the the closing had been at five o’clock that day. So I had missed it by like a matter of hours. But I said surely once they see my resume, and once they see how closely that this is that they will, that they’ll make an exception that they’ll say, well, we’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna, you know shoehorn him in because this is just the perfect candidate. So, you know, hardly went in the house created a cover letter that was specific for that job proofread my proof read my resume once again and emailed him in. So Monday, that Monday morning I really dropped my daughter off at daycare. And then as soon as I got back in the car I called the HR department to to ask if they had received it just to make sure I didn’t want to assume and the woman informed me that Since the official closing was five o’clock on Friday, that they would not be considering my application. And I asked her if they could make an exception if there was, you know, someone that I could I could talk to, you know, try to basically politely tried to, you know, get around this almost in my mind almost arbitrary because it wasn’t a government position. It was a it’s a semi as a semi government. In fact, it was an economic development, which is what my master’s degree is in is in economic development. And so they they’re funded in large part by by the federal and state government, but they’re also kind of quasi private. So it wasn’t like a government position where they had to follow the rules that could have been the rules if they wanted to, and, and they absolutely refused. So I got off that phone call David and my heart just fell. Because here it was this perfect position, right my backyard economic development, which is what I’ve been trying to get into ever since I graduated from grad school.
And I, wanted to be heartbroken. But honestly, the bigger part of me was just mad. I was angry, that I was perfect for this position that I was the candidate that they were looking for, and that they refused to, to bend the rules to hire the perfect candidate, they would rather hire an inferior candidate. And this is maybe it’s where some of the arrogance comes in. But they would prefer to hire they wouldn’t even want to consider hiring the perfect candidate because of their almost arbitrary deadline that I had missed by just a couple of hours. Not because I had been a slacker, but just because I hadn’t come across the job posting. And then that culminated in me getting angry about all the other positions that I had, I had put in for and hadn’t heard from or or interviews that I had had that turned out to be a nothing job. I got angry about the uncertainty that I was living in, I got angry about other people deciding my fate. And I decided that I was never going to put myself in that position again, that come hell or high water, I was going to make my business happen. I out loud, I hit the steering wheel with the palm of my hand and I said To hell with them. And I at that moment decided I was going to be a self reliant, self employed man of my own. And that is whenever my my business really took off whenever I made that choice. I cut the bow lines and I sailed out to sea into uncharted waters. And I said, you know, doesn’t matter. I’m not coming back. So I’ve either got to make it work, or I’m going to go down in a blaze of glory. And thank God it worked, because I gunned down in a blaze of glory. Well, I
David Ralph [59:22]
think that is the thing, isn’t it? When you burn your bridges like that, and you make that conscious decision to just move only in one direction. And on your own terms, I do think there’s a lot to it. I do think there’s a lot of power that suddenly comes with that mindset. And we see it time and time again. so fascinating story. And it leads us nicely to the end of the show. And this is the part where we’re going to send you on another journey. Hopefully you don’t go down in a blaze of glory on this one. But this is where we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Derek, what age would you choose and what advice would you give And would the young Derek actually listen We’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fade, Europe This is the Sermon on the mic.
Derek Lewis [1:00:29]
So Derek, you’re about 17. You’re going to be going off to college this this fall. And here I am from a decade plus in the future, come back to give you a little bit of advice. I’m not going to tell you what the future holds. Because if I did, I would ruin the prizes. I’m not going to give you any hints about, about what you should do with with life. Because one of the greatest things that you get to discover is that there are no rules. There are no guidelines, there is no path. All of that’s an illusion. There’s no script. There’s no playbook you get to create life as you want it. I will say that some of the best decisions you’ve ever made, or the risks that you decided to take, if I have any regrets between where you are and where I am now, it’s that I didn’t. I didn’t take more risks. I didn’t take more adventurous I worried so much about the future and about getting things right, that I missed having such a great time and the present. So one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you is to just don’t worry. It all works out. things work out, you live a great life. You are incredibly happy, incredibly fulfilled. It turns out, okay, so stop worrying so much about it, and just enjoy the life that God’s given you enjoy the opportunities that you have. Enjoy the friendships and the family that you have. Let go of bitterness and hatred and anger, let go of the deep betrayals that you’re going to experience.
Because in the end, none of those none of those things matter.
The one thing I will tell you to do is to write You’re right, actually, right because by this time, you get ready to go off to college you’ve, you’ve stopped writing. And that’s something that you should never do. It’s something that you are blessed with. It’s a natural ability and passion that you have. And it’s something that you without me telling you this that you’re going to neglect and ignore for for many, many years and you shouldn’t, you should absolutely develop that, that God given passion and ability. I will tell you that the decisions that you know in your gut the two should make that you shouldn’t put them off. They should make them sooner. The sooner that you face those challenges, the sooner that you do what you know you should do the better off everyone will be for you having made those decisions. I will let you know that you are going to disappoint your your mother She has a very set idea of what you should do. She has done an incredible job of letting you be your own man and an incredible job of creating you creating an independence instilling an independence in you, her and dad have done a great job of forming you into the young man that you are. But whenever you whenever you leave the house, whenever you go off to college, you have to be your own man at that point, and you have to make the decisions that you know that are right for you. They won’t understand those decisions always. But you know that you’re always going to have their love and much of their respect and admiration. But in the end, you have to live life for yourself and the sooner that you realise that, the better it’s going to be for you and for everyone else, eventually. Man, I wish I could tell you about the wonderful woman that you’re going to marry. She is she’s wonderful. But if I give you any kind of hint as to who and where she is, things aren’t going to unfold with the serendipity that they did that just know that you have an awesome story whenever y’all finally get married.
Stay close to God. He loves you. Stay close to God.
David Ralph [1:05:38]
Derek, how can our audience connect with you, sir?
Derek Lewis [1:05:42]
The best way is, is my website, Derrick Lewis, calm. And there they finally get way to all the social media. But if they are interested in actually writing a business book or a thought leadership book, I run a forum on LinkedIn. has a number of authors and agents and even a couple of small house publishers. It’s called writing business books. And if they’ll go on there and join, they can ask any kind of questions that they want to and get all kinds of great answers about how to how to actually put together a great thought leadership book, LinkedIn. Just search for writing business books,
David Ralph [1:06:20]
will have all the links on the show notes. Derek, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Mr. Derrick Lewis, thank you so much.
Derek Lewis [1:06:36]
It has sincerely been my pleasure, David.
David Ralph [1:06:41]
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of Join Up Dots brought to you exclusively by podcast is mastery.com. The only resource that shows you how to create a show, build an income and still have time for the life that you love. Check out podcast is mastery.com
now David doesn’t want you to become a fated version of the brilliant self you or wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.