In episode 237, we chat with Daniel Blue about how it is possible to turn life struggles into personal and business success.
We cover information on how success is a terrible teacher but failure has a lot to teach us, why you should see traffic loss as a setback, but let it help you go after new opportunity then reflect on which “hard” is actually is more uncomfortable so you know what to go after.
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Bio Daniel, a Forbes contributor, and owner of a 7-figure business called Quest Education aims to empower people and provide more freedom over one’s finances. They focus on giving resources and providing education for individuals to maximize control over their money and provide customers with world-class service.
- Embrace struggles.
- If you are spending more than you’re making, you need to change the equation and learn to handle money wisely.
- Self-awareness is important and owning your actions when looking to grow and build a business.
- We are our choices.
- You need surround yourself with the right people to grow and succeed.
- Thoughtful disagreements and other points of view are important to listen to and discuss and adapt.
- Do you want to be right? Or do you want to help people and make money.
- You do have to have confidence because especially in the very beginning, not a lot of people are gonna believe in you and you have to be ultra confident that you’re going to make it happen.
- It’s ok and good to ask for help.
- When hard things happen, frame it as a setback. Then ask yourself what you can do to prepare before another setback happens and you can be more prepared.
- Love watching others succeed and see what they are up to to encourage your own path.
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0237 Daniel Blue
Intro: Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information will provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.
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Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to another episode of Eat Blog Talk. Thank you so much for joining us today. I am super excited. I have Daniel Blue with me from Quest Education, and we’re going to have a conversation about how to turn struggles into successes. Daniel is a Forbes contributor and he’s also owner of a seven figure business called Quest Education, which aims to empower people and provide more freedom over one’s finances. They focus on giving resources and providing education for individuals to maximize control over their money and provide customers with world-class service.
Super excited to chat with you today, Daniel. Thank you for your time, but first we all want to hear your fun facts.
Daniel: Fun fact, I have one kidney. I was born with what’s called a horseshoe kidney. So no one better ask me to donate a kidney because I don’t have two, I only have one.
Megan: You and my oldest son have that in common. He was also born with one kidney.
Daniel: It’s super rare.
Megan: It’s not super uncommon though. You hear randomly other people have it and it’s such a random thing, but wow. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing that. I’m so excited to talk to you today about how to turn struggles into successes, especially as a food blogger. I don’t know if you’re super familiar with food blogging, but I feel like we are constantly pummeled with all of this quote unquote bad stuff. Google algorithm changes, updates. It’s like Pinterest changed everything so every source of traffic just gets pummeled once in a while and we have to take the brunt of it. It’s hard to keep going and to see those as actually opportunities for success. So let’s dig into this. I would love it if you just talked through some of the ways that you’ve been able to take your struggles and turn them into successes.
Daniel: Yeah. One of my favorite quotes is, “success is on the side of your struggle.” Success is waiting for you. If you just picture success is waiting for you on the other side of your struggle, because we all have struggles. I’m no different. I’m not special in any way, shape or form. But I guarantee every single one of the struggles that you’re going through or you’ve been through, you’ve come out of being a stronger, wiser, better person. So when you’re going through that storm, when you’re going through that struggle, it’s easy to have the mindset of, I can’t catch a break or nothing’s going right. Or am I going to make it out of this storm? It’s easy to think like that, but you just gotta remind yourself of failure and struggles, that’s where you can really learn and get better because it’s hard to get better. Success is a bad teacher, they say. I actually believe that. For me I just happened to fail a lot when I was younger. 18 years old, I dropped out of school. I dropped out of college.
I ended up getting my daughter’s mom pregnant. So 18, 19 years old, I’m a college dropout and just had a baby girl. Then I also happened to get addicted to Oxycontin at 18 years old as well. I was a knucklehead from 18, 19, 20 making a lot of money in sales, but also spending more than what I was making, messing up my credit, owing money in back taxes. I didn’t grow up with money. So when I was making six figures, I didn’t know how to handle the money. So now I’m 32 years old. I spend way less than what I make. I have a business with 13 employees. We’re doing seven figures, but I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today had I not struggled and failed a bunch of times. We just have to embrace those struggles. We’re going to come out better.
Megan: Wow. Your story is inspiring. So lots of stuff early on in your young adulthood that you faced, and then you managed to turn it around. That’s so inspiring. So how did you start recognizing it? I need to actually make changes and I guess, what pulled you out of that? Did you have a moment or a combination of moments or how did that go for you?
Daniel: Yeah, so my moment was Thanksgiving 2009. My daughter was six months at the time. Keep in mind, I wasn’t even at the hospital when my daughter was born. The first two weeks, I was not in her life. I was just so high on Oxycontin. But I came back around and was in her life in the first few months. But she was six months old in November of 2009. It was Thanksgiving. I remember it just like it was yesterday. My family was at my house. We were making Turkey. I had my daughter there. I remember telling my family and I’m like, Hey, I’m just going to go to the gas station and get some gas and grab a red bull. I’ll be right back. But that was a lie. I really went to try to get some pills and I was not able to get pills that day. All of the drug dealers in town were having turkey. So they weren’t answering my phone call. I just remember in my car, just realizing I was not going to get my pills that day.
For those of you that don’t know Oxycontin, and even you’ll hear Percocet, that family of pills is called opiates. Basically heroin in the form of pills. So when you stop taking those pills, you get sick. You start sweating, you start throwing up, you really feel like you’re having the flu. But you’re just withdrawing. So I just knew what was around the corner, now that I was in my car and I wasn’t going to be able to get my fix. I just remember sitting in the car, I was like, what am I doing with my life? It was like the first time I actually had a sober conversation with myself.
I’m like, my daughter Bella is six months old. She’s not even old enough to know her dad’s a deadbeat douchebag and excuse my language, but I’m just like, man is this why God put me on earth. Is this what I’m meant to do? My daughter’s going to be five years old, 10 years old, 15 years old before I know it. Is this the example I want to set? I just remember just asking myself some deep questions and I got to a point I’m like, okay, I gotta make a change. I had tried to get cleaned probably four or five times prior to that. But I ended up making a few phone calls and I moved cities.
I know if I can get into a new city, brand new phone number, brand new friends, and just have a fresh start. I know I could get clean and I’ve been clean for 11 years now.
Megan: Oh, my gosh. That’s such a great story and good for you. Just that moment in your car that I’m sure you will never forget. Sitting there and just having a real conversation with yourself. What the heck am I doing? That was enough to turn you around, like looking into the future, thinking about your daughter. I think when kids are involved, It somehow makes it more real. We can beat ourselves up, but when we’re doing it in front of our kids, then we’re like, oh, whoa, this is not cool. Don’t you think that your daughter gave you an extra, like a little slap in the face?
Daniel: Yeah. Unfortunately though, at the same time, my mom worked in social services. She was a CPS child protective service worker. So her job was going in and out of jails and taking kids and moving from their house into shelters. So she’s dealt with a lot of drug addicts and unfortunately there’s a lot of people still abusing drugs, with kids. I was one of them. Six months ago I was still doing it with my daughter there. So yeah. I agree with you. Also, you have to be real with yourself. I was in denial for so long and people like to just mask and not look at themselves in the mirror and be honest with themselves. You don’t want to do that because you don’t want to point the finger. It’s easier to point the finger at someone else and not take responsibility. So definitely that taught me about self-awareness and just owning it. We’re responsible for where we are. If you’re not happy with where you are in your life, if you’re not where you want to be financially, with your relationships, with your business, no matter what it is, your health, it’s because of the choices that you made last year, six months ago, three years ago. We are our choices. Unless you can accept that, it’s going to be hard for you to have true growth.
Megan: Wow. Yeah, I totally agree with that. So if you talk about making those decisions, new decisions in your personal life and how they transferred over to your business. I don’t know what you were doing for work at the time, but I guess I’m asking if you believe that you need to make a decision in your business, do you start with you?
Daniel: It definitely starts with me and it ends with me. Being the, quote unquote CEO. It’s hard to call myself a CEO when I have 13 employees. I like to think of a CEO as having a board and like a hundred employees. But that could just be a limiting belief of mine. But to your question, it definitely starts with you. You do have to have the right people in your corner to get other perspectives. I don’t want to be surrounded by people in my business life and my personal life that just agree with me.
I want to hear another perspective. I want to hear a thoughtful disagreement. I want to hear a different way of thinking. That doesn’t mean I’m always going to change my mind. But I’ve changed my mind a bunch of times, just based on new information; just based on facts and in business you have to be willing to adapt.
Megan: I think that’s one of the key ingredients to being successful in business. Because if you just go in thinking that everything, then I feel like that is a recipe for disaster. It never works out. You do have to open your mind and be willing to see things in a different way. Do you have any tips for that? Because I think that might be more common than we think. Just based on the interactions I’ve had within the business world. A lot of people think they’re right. So what tips do you have for forcing yourself to look outside of your own opinions?
Daniel: Ask yourself this. Do you want to be right? Or do you want to help people and make money? Notice how I said help people and make money. It’s hard to make good money without helping people. So to me, those two go hand-in-hand. If I’m saying I want to make money, inherently, I’m saying I want to help people. Helping people and making money at the same time in business is the home run.
That’s what we want. So if you think you know everything, how much money do you have in your bank account? How much money are you having in your investment? Be real with yourself. What’s your credit score? What’s your network look like? Do you have amazing relationships in business? Are you struggling to keep a float? I had to get real with myself multiple times in business where my business bank account is looking really bleak. A maxed out credit card. There were definitely times where I caught myself thinking I know what I’m doing, but then no I don’t because if I did, I wouldn’t be with credit card debt.
I wouldn’t have a super low bank account, so that’s where ego comes in. But you also do have to have an ego. You do have to have confidence because especially in the very beginning, not a lot of people are gonna believe in you and you have to be ultra confident that you’re going to make it happen. You’re the best of the best and you deserve happiness, but you have to back that up. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to ask for help. I still ask for help all the time. I don’t know something, I’d rather ask somebody that is farther along than me and get good advice instead of, oh, shoot. I don’t want to ask him because then he’s going to think I’m not doing well.
Megan: Exactly. I love that. That’s a great way to frame that. I was wondering if I could give you an example of something that we, food bloggers in our world, see consistently and we consider to be quote unquote failure. But I’ve been in this world of food blogging for 11 years now. So I feel like I have different eyes where I can look back and say, oh, that was not a failure. This is actually an opportunity for growth. But I would love to get your perspective on this and just give other food bloggers, maybe some tips about how to see this differently. So I mentioned earlier that Google is sometimes a nemesis.
Google provides us a lot of traffic and it can be a really good source of revenue for a lot of us. But they are really good at changing things up consistently, which means that our traffic can go up and down. Our revenue can go up and down. It’s really frustrating because this is happening more and more often.
So a lot of food bloggers perceive those changes in Google and Pinterest, like the main platforms where we get our traffic, as being bad. They’re perceived failures. My traffic dipped and that’s a failure. From my perspective, it’s not. It’s just part of the journey and it’s an opportunity to change things up and grow and learn and evolve in different ways. So I would love to get your thoughts on that. How can we change that particular issue into something good?
Daniel: This is a setback. I wouldn’t label that as a failure, with the example you’re giving me. I would call that a setback. So what do you do? That’s not going to be the last time there was a setback. So what are you gonna do about it? Are you just gonna cry about it and complain and do nothing about it?
Or are you going to ask questions? Okay. Why did this happen? What can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen again, or what can I do if it does happen again? I’m not in the same spot or I’m relying on this one source of traffic and if it happens again, which it sounds like it probably will happen again, how can I make sure I don’t have all my eggs in one basket and I have other sources set up? Again, it’s shifting your mindset to look at it as you made the choice to rely on traffic from that one source. You’re at the mercy of that one source. If that one source changes, whatever they want to change, algorithm or whatever it is, that’s real life. That’s going to happen. What are you gonna do about it?
Megan: So really embracing it as just a part of the equation, right? You are accepting it. You chose this source of traffic and revenue, so embrace it. Then also you could use it as an opportunity to diversify and find other ways to grow.
Daniel: Yeah. Because I bet you there’s people in the food blog space that you’re looking at right now that are doing it way bigger than how you’re doing it. I love looking at people that are succeeding. I think a lot of people see success and they get triggered because they have their own insecurities. You can call it hate or shade or whatever you want to call it. They’re just not confident with themselves. So they’re projecting their biases on to others where they see them successful.
They’re hating quote unquote. I love seeing other people succeed. If you’re a food blogger right now, and I’m sure you can name one or two people that are just crushing it, how are they crushing it despite the same setback and same challenges that you’re probably facing? Like you said, they’re probably finding other ways to diversify. It’s an opportunity. If they can do it, why can’t you?
Megan: So what you just said is failure, if you perceive a failure in front of you, it’s actually an opportunity. I love that.
Daniel: For sure. A failure, it’s an opportunity to learn and it’s an opportunity to shift. I failed a bunch last year. COVID was tough on my business. I had to work from working together with 13 employees and seeing each other every single day to working remotely. Had a lot of my affiliates, a lot of my sources of income, dry up. Financially I went through times where I didn’t make money.
I had to pay my employees and pay the expenses for my business and I didn’t make money for a long time. Those were setbacks. I just learned, okay, what can I do differently next time? How can I take these setbacks, take these quote, unquote failures and get better and wiser because that’s not going to be the last time I face that. Business is not easy. I think we just have to remember that. If it was so easy, everyone would be doing it. But businesses go out of business a lot. Not everyone makes it because they quit too early. It gets too hard. They have too many setbacks and they just give up.
All right. So this thing is not easy, but there’s a reason why you chose the game. You chose the game because you want time freedom. You want financial freedom. You want to be able to spend more time with your kids, your family, and go on vacation. You don’t want to have to worry about money. Oh, getting all that stuff is not going to be easy.
Megan: I love that. I think for food bloggers, anyway, speaking for us, we see those really successful food bloggers who have just absolutely killed it. They started maybe 10 years ago and they’re, honestly, millionaires and they’ve just figured it out. It’s easy for us to see those, that level of food bloggers and to just be like I can do that. If they can do it, I can do it, which I totally believe. But you’re right. There’s a part of the equation that is really necessary. That’s taking action and doing the work, doing the hard work and not giving up because it’s not an easy journey. It wasn’t easy for them. It wasn’t easy for the successful people and it won’t be easy for you. Just accepting that as truth.
Daniel: It’s going to be hard, no matter how you look at it. There’s plenty of people out there that are working for companies that they don’t like. They don’t feel appreciated. They’re not making enough money and that’s hard. All right. The alternative is having your own project, your own business. That’s hard too. Choose your hard. The harder it is, the harder the challenges, the more value is going to be on the other side. Because easy stuff that doesn’t take a lot of effort and doesn’t tax you mentally, physically, financially.
What’s on the other side of that value? It’s probably not that valuable. But the bigger the stress, the bigger the challenge, probably a bigger reward waiting for you on the other side.
Megan: I always think of this too. Hard, it’s hard to be worrying about money all the time and to be worrying about where my next revenue stream is going to come from. To be stressing about making your mortgage. That to me, is way harder than anything I do in my business.
Daniel: For sure. That’s a great perspective. You have to remind yourself of that. That’s very true.
Megan: Yeah. I almost feel like if people just mapped that out, like that concept out on paper and just put it visibly where they could see it, it would be so much easier to get through those hard stretches of business and work because you could just compare it right in front of you. Okay, this is hard. This day is hard. This week is hard. But look at the other hard. That hard sucks. I don’t want to go there.
Daniel: That’s simple. That’s connecting dots. It’s simple to understand, but we forget about it. Humans naturally like to complicate things. Another simple thing to remember too, so many people are afraid of failing. Okay. So what. If you fail and your business doesn’t make it, you’re probably just going to go back to your job that you left. You’re just going to go back to where you were before. That’s your worst case scenario. If you fail with your business, you’re just going to go back to where you work now.
Now where you were you weren’t happy, which is why you left that job, or you started this project to hopefully replace your income. But if it doesn’t work, you just go back to where you were and then go back to the drawing board and adjust and try again. So something like that too, it’s just very basic, just a simple logic way of thinking. But, we like to get ourselves worked up and base our decisions and our thinking more off of emotions instead of just facts.
Megan: Yeah. That’s something else I’ve been trying to do recently is just thinking of that worst case scenario. If this project, for example, doesn’t work, what will be the absolute worst outcome? I consider that outcome. The world is not going to end. I’m not going to lose my home. Everything is mostly going to be still intact. So then, okay. I’m willing to dig into it, knowing that is the worst possible outcome. We make things a bigger deal than they are. The world is not going to end if that project doesn’t work or if Google completely removes you from their page.
Is there anything else, any other tips, words of wisdom you have for people listening, who might be caught up in their struggles right now in business and just feeling overwhelmed.
Daniel: If it’s a financial stress. You’re going to add a level of stress financially, if you’ve got debt weighing on you. I just know when I was working in business and doing my business, when I had a bunch of debt that was high interest, that weighed on me.
So right now, if you’ve got more than $10,000 in credit card debt and it’s high interest, then you also happen to have a 401k from an old job or an IRA. What my company does is we teach people how to access money in their retirement accounts, penalty and tax-free. So a lot of people that we’ve helped over the years, they come to us with 10, 20, $30,000 in credit card debt paying 20% interest.
Meanwhile, they have this 401k or IRA of theirs. That’s, let’s just say make 8% a year on their money. If you’re paying the banks 20% in interest on your credit card debt, and then your retirement account is making 8% a year. 8% is a lot lower than 20%, right? So you’re losing money faster than you’re making money.
On top of that, this credit card debt is probably stressing you out, probably lowering your credit score. You’re losing a lot of money and interest. So one option to look at is taking money from a retirement account penalty and tax-free. Pay off the credit card debt in one shot. Now you’re not having to worry about the credit card debt, and then there’s a way for you to replenish your retirement account. So you’re not robbing from your future. So that could be an option. Then that way you could be debt-free, kind of come above water. Catch your breath and then get back in the trenches and start working on your business.
Megan: Now your business is a financial business. Do you want to tell us just a little bit about Quest Education and what you guys do? If anyone is interested in, I don’t know, getting support from you, what can they expect?
Daniel: Yeah. So the problem that we solve in the marketplace is helping people access money in a retirement account penalty and tax-free most people, the way their .401ks or IRAs are set up, if they ever wanted to take that money out before retirement age, they’re going to pay 30%, maybe 40% in penalties and taxes to the IRS.
No one wants to do that. So most people avoid touching their retirement account for that reason, or they just think that this money is just tied up and it’s locked up. That’s not true. There are ways to legally, per the IRS, per the government rules, for you to access your own money, because it’s your money.
I feel like you should be able to touch your money when you’d like to, without having to get nailed in penalties and taxes. Because it’s your money. So we teach people how to be able to access that pot of money penalty and tax free. They could use that money to maybe pay off high interest rate credit card debt, maybe invest into their business.
A lot of our clients that needed funding for their business, were able to use their retirement account to fund their business, or maybe invest outside the stock market. Maybe you’re not a big fan of the stock market. So basically just giving people a lot more options and freedom and flexibility with the retirement accounts is what we do. We’ve got customers in all 50 states. We’ve got an awesome team that could educate people and take them by the hand and give them the tools that they need to have a lot more options.
Megan: Awesome. If anyone is interested in getting your help with that, where can they find you?
Daniel: Best place would be Danielblue.Me. That’s my main website. That website has a link to my book. I just released a book called Blueprint To Your Best Retirement. Actually it just hit best seller in five categories. So that’s a good place to start there. Just check out my book. So I have a course called The Quest Way, How To Make Money Tax-Free.
So if you’re into modules and videos and things like that, the course is a good place to start too. I’m also a link to my podcast and my podcast is called How Winners Win. Goal here is to just help people win in their personal financial business life. Been having a lot of fun and very consistent on the How Winners Win podcast.
And then a link to my company Quest Education can be found there. So if you’ve got a retirement account and the idea of accessing that money penalty and tax free, if it appeals to you, head over to Quest Education and just fill out a few basic questions and someone from my team would reach out to you and see if we’d be a good fit for each other.
Megan: That is awesome. We will put all of that together in your show notes page, Daniel. So if anyone wants to go peek at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/Danielblue. Just thank you so much for being here and thank you for sharing your story. I know it’s probably, it’s a vulnerable time to share stuff like that about your real life and what you’ve been through and some really hard stuff. Hard decisions you’ve made in your life. So just thank you for sharing all of that. We really appreciate you.
Daniel: Thank you so much for having me on your show.
Megan: Yes. Thanks again, and thank you for listening to today, Food Bloggers. I will see you next time.
Outro: We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.
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