Desmond Clark – Creating a Standard of Winning – Key Insights for Developing Lifelong Skills for Success (AoL 192)

As we’re getting started in this second year of potentially a two or three year pandemic “clean up” plan, there’s going to be plenty of time for us to really adjust and think about where we fit in the world. It’s a great time to develop our skills for success.

What do I mean by that?

Well, it’s a forced transition period for all of us. What might have been our identity in the past, might not work in the PAE.

That said, one group of individuals who all have to go through this major life change sometime in their career are professional athletes. Like our guest, Desmond “Dez” Clark says, if your identity was wrapped up into your job (as an athlete), you’re going to have issues when you can’t do that job anymore.

Luckily for Dez, he knew who he was before his career as a professional athlete. So when he finished up, yes, there was a transition period, but he was the same Dez who used the game as a means to get what he wanted.

In this chat with him, Ya’el and I learn a little bit of what he’s learned over the years through these transitions and how he’s been able to stay the course during his life using those experiences.



  • Where did Desmond’s early leadership mentality come from? 8:46
  • How did he develop a vision for his athletic life and able to stick to it? 12:11
  • When did Dez realize it was time to transition into a new life/identity? 17:07
  • Why does he believe his success wasn’t a coincidence? 20:50
  • How did Dez start realizing that failures aren’t necessarily endings but just learning opportunities no matter the cost? 25:00
  • How does he actively build relationships to help him and those around him get to the next level? 28:11
  • Is there a secret to gauging if a conversation is a winning conversation? 29:43
  • What’s a bad day look like to Dez? 38:25
  • What is he looking forward to in 2021? 41:06
  • Which teachers have helped him get to where he’s at today? 42:53
  • If he could ask anyone living a dead a question, who and what would he ask? 43:11
  • Which issue should be discussed more today, yet hardly anyone does? 44:01
  • What advice does he hear adults give children which he’d like to call BS on? 44:21
  • What’s the secret to achieving personal freedom? 45:02


Desmond Online: Website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
Cohost: Ya’el Johnson
Powered By: FREE GUIDE: Uncover Your Personal Mission

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Highlights from Dez’s NFL Career

Dez shares discusses his role as President of the NFL Alumni Chicago Chapter

Kevin Hicks interviews Dez

Tim Schumm interviews Dez

Thanks for Listening!

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find your passion

Find Your Passion? How About Find Your Personal Mission?

One of the subjects we’ve talked about in detail in the podcast is this topic of finding your passion. Some say that once you find and follow your passion, you’ll have it made in the shade.

Well, according to Mike Rowe and Jordan Harbinger, that’s simply not the case. In their experience, they’ve come to realize that those who find passion in their work are just as happy as those who follow their passion – if not more so.

So, if the answer is not following your passion (which author Mark Nathan discusses in detail in his book The Delusion of Passion), what’s the secret? How can someone follow the advice “If you love what you do for work, you’ll never work a day in your life.”?

This is a question that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time… and here’s what I’ve found out.

Finding Your Sweet Spot

In entrepreneurial education, many educators/experts say that to be known for our work, we need to know how to find our sweet spot. What can we do that others don’t do nearly as well?

Honestly, to me, this seems kind of vague.

So here’s what I think they mean. I figure it means we need to do a proper inventory work on ourselves.  Once we have that info, then it’s much easier to figure out what separates us from our competition and/or possible partners. In fact, if we don’t do this inventory, we’ll never know if we’re trying to be someone we’re not.

In recent years, I know I’ve made that mistake. That’s why I’ve bounced from idea to idea. And, I now realize that this is because I’ve been basing my success off of the ideas of others! Meaning, if a guest on Pat Flynn’s show talked about doing having success doing a certain thing, then I’d go try that. If it sounded like something in my wheelhouse, I’d try it. And then, as I’m learning and experimenting with a certain type of business, I’d be comparing myself to people who were already making a killing doing it.

Funny enough, comparing ourselves to others on social media (which our brains like to do) makes it even harder to be ourselves!

It was a drag.

However, once I did find my sweet spot, it was easy for me to realize what I should be doing… and life just became that much easier. That’s when I came up with my free resource, Uncover Your Personal Mission. I wanted to make sure that others wouldn’t spin their wheels trying to find something that would make their entrepreneurial career.

The Ikigai

After I published my resource, I ran across the the Ikigai. It is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word translated to English roughly means “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.”

At first I thought it was a different model altogether. But as I thought about it, I realized my guide corresponds directly with what the Ikigai illustrates.

3 P’s of a Personal Mission vs the Ikigai Model

While they might use some of the same words for different sections, what I found out about developing a personal mission lines up pretty close to this model. 

  • Your Passion (Why?) lines up with the Ikigai’s “What do you Love?” section.
  • Your Purpose (What?) lines up with the Ikigai’s “What does the World Need?” section.
  • Your Process (How?) lines up with the Ikigai’s “What you’re good at.” section.

The only thing I didn’t include as being part of a personal mission is the “What can you be paid for?” section. Why didn’t I include it in the personal mission guide? For one, I feel that culture already puts attention on this part anyway. Also, you have to know the other 3 sections before you can pick something to do and get compensated for. Sure, I understand why it’s in the Ikigai model, but I believe it makes more sense if someone’s personal mission is what someone would do even if they didn’t get paid for it. Remember, there’s a lot of unhappy people who built a career on doing work they can get paid for. Chances are, the world told them they were good at it and that’s why they chose that path… which is better than just choosing a path simply because it pays well.

Action Steps

So this idea of finding your personal mission is a bit of a conceptual exercise. I realize that. However, I truly believe that the more of the 3 P’s you’re aware of, then the easier the Profit part will be. In fact, Andy and I talked about this in great detail with Tommy Breedlove.

So be sure to check out that interview.

Also, if you haven’t yet, check out the Uncover Your Personal Mission guide. Do the exercises in there and then we can figure out what your income avenue should be.

Millennials as Entrepreneurs, Part 7 of 10: Easiest Method of Self Expression in One’s Career

In the last session of this series, I had a little tough love for our generation. But there was a reason for that. A lot of us ARE lost. Not lost as in a lost cause but lost as in confused. It is said that when people are confused, they lack clarity on what action to take – so they take none. The secret on taking action is to first find out where you are.


Just like when you’re lost geographically and you want to get somewhere, you need to know where you’re at so that if you had a map, the map could actually be of use to you.


Part of finding out who you are includes finding your personality. Another part includes finding your purpose in life. To Millennials, these are highly important. We are very self expressive. (You might not think you are personally, but then again we are the Generation of “Me!”.)


When you find your purpose in life, life gets that much easier. You start making choices that reflect where you want to go. It’s a life hack that is well worth the search.


On the other hand, when a person hasn’t found their purpose, there’s a good chance that they’ll jump from occupation to occupation or vise to vise hoping that they can fill the void in their life.


How to Find Your Purpose


Personally, I’ve learned a lot about myself since I’ve gotten out of grad school. I’ve had time to figure out what makes me tick and what I’m good at. This has helped me clear the view of what I want to accomplish in life. In other words, I’ve found my purpose.


Before you start on your path of finding your purpose, you might need to deprogram yourself. I did this with the book The Four Agreements. I highly recommend this book, however it might come off a little out there. So if you want something that’s more down to earth, try this. It has a longer list of things to remember… but it’s still useful.


Once you deprogram yourself, the first part to finding yourself is to recognize your personality. Finding your personality helps you learn how you naturally interact with the world around you. Do you live for the future? Do you live for the now? Or do you live based on where you’ve come from? How do express yourself? How do you think? These are questions that can be answered by figuring out your personality.


Once you find out who you are including your strengths and weaknesses (and acknowledging them) then you can start looking at finding your passion. Your passion is basically the concept of what you’re naturally interested in. What do you do with your spare time?


People might have similar strengths and weaknesses. They might have similar personalities. But the chances for them to have the same strengths, weaknesses, personality, AND interests is a pretty small chance. This is what makes you valuable. You just need to know where you fit. Once you’ve discovered your passions, you’ll be onto finding your purpose.


Your purpose is finding out how you fit into the world. And my biggest recommendation is: Don’t try to force it. If you’re a circle, don’t try being a triangle. If you’re a connector of people, don’t try being a super geek.


If You Don’t Program Yourself What To Think, The World Will Do it For You.


The mistake of not finding your purpose will more than likely land you in a situation you don’t want or appreciate. I’ve seen several people struggle with themselves through a midlife crisis. Yeah, you remember that phrase? It’s not used as much as it used to be, but people still go through them. Why?
Because they have been living someone else’s dream for them. They didn’t take the time to figure out what they wanted in life… until they realized they were a certain age and it wasn’t what was supposed to happen… to them. They might be really successful if compared to others, but in reality, they should have been doing something else the whole time. Have you ever heard of the expression in regards to a person’s career: “I found that I was climbing a ladder but realized that it was on the wrong building”?


Believe it or not, this has happened to a number of our parents. It’s one cause for people suddenly seeking divorce after being married a long time.


Have Full Reign to Follow Your Purpose


As an employee, we’re told what to do, when to do it, and possibly how to do it. Of course, as an employee this is what we signed up for. We’re selling our most valuable commodity, time, for money. If you have a problem with any of that… you should probably be a business owner.


However, if you’re an entrepreneur, there’s obviously risk involved. But there’s also risk if you’re an employee as well. As an entrepreneur, you might find yourself not needed. As an employee you might find yourself… not needed.


The difference? When you first started your job, you were guaranteed income. You knew you were going to get paid. As an entrepreneur, that might not be the case. However, as an entrepreneur, you have full control on your career. For some that’s a little hard to handle. Yet for others, that’s all we want to handle. We want to be personally responsible for our own success.


In the comments below, let me know if you’re on the path that you feel is right for you. If it isn’t right, say why not. If it is right, let me know how you found this path. Did you go through the above process or simply stumble into it?


Next week in part 8, we’ll be discussing Leadership by means of being an Entrepreneur. We touched briefly on this in part 6, but we’ll be looking more at why being a leader gets you closer to your ideal self.