Dave Lakhani became an expert in applied persuasion as a result of one simple question: How was his mother persuaded to raise her children in a cult? That 35-year study has led to many breakthroughs in how people make decisions, how they're persuaded, and why they do the things they do.
Episode summary: Dave Lakhani grew up in a cult from age 6 to 16. At that point, he began his odyssey to understand why his mother chose to raise her children in that situation. This question has led to many breakthroughs in how people make decisions, how they're persuaded, why they do the things they do -- all of which has been applicable to not only the growth of his business, Bold Approach but to his clients’ businesses as well. Dave is one of the nation's most recognizable experts on applied persuasion, human influence, and business growth strategies for entrepreneurial companies.
Dave’s view on making it involves leaving the world a better place for his daughter and "giving something back to my community.” In this episode, he shares his remarkable story and the many lessons he’s learned along the way.
“The path is always in front of you, even if it's not clear, the key is to keep moving forward.” –Dave Lakhani
Dave Lakhani is one of the nation's most recognizable experts on applied persuasion, human influence, sales and marketing and cults. He is an award winning author and speaker who has spoken to more than 3 million people in 126 countries around the world over the past decade. Dave is also an Entrepreneur whose companies have made the Inc. 500 list regularly. He is the founder of Boldapproach.com
a business consulting firm and Co-Founder of GrowthFoundryDigital.com
a growth focused digital marketing agency.
Dave's background in persuasion is unique, he was raised in a cult from the time he was six until sixteen years of age when he escaped and began studying persuasion, that study continues today. He teaches businesses how to leverage psychological and biological responses to increase sales, change behavior and develop deeper relationships.
Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:
- Dave Lakhani’s books
- Guest – Dave Lakhani
- Associate producer – Danny Bermant
- Producer – Cynthia Lamb
- Executive producer – Danny Iny
- Assembled by – Geoff Govertsen
- Audio Post Supervisor: Evan Miles, Christopher Martin
- Audio Post Production by Post Office Sound
- Music soundscape: Chad Michael Snavely
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Music and SFX credits:
1. Track Title: Sweet Loving Waltz
Artist Name(s): Sounds Like Sander
Writer Name: S.L.J. Kalmeijer
2. Track Title: The Sunniest Kids
Artist Name(s): Rhythm Scott
Writer Name: Scott Roush
3. Track Title: Only The Brave
Artist Name(s): Joshua Spacht
Writer Name: Joshua Spacht
• Episode transcript: Growing up in a Cult Led to Expertise (Dave Lakhani)
[00:00:06] Dave Lakhani: I'm Dave Lakhani and you're listening to Making It. I run a business called Bold Approach and Bold Approach is a business consulting and business acceleration strategy firm that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses successfully and quickly.
Growing up in a cult from the time I was six until I was 16 gave me a sense of impermanence. I didn't know what was going to become of me or anything else. And so what it really did was shape my tolerance for change, for risk and for the unknown, which has given me a great opportunity to be able to think through business in ways that other people don't. When I left the cult, I also started saying yes to everything because I wanted to have a broad life experience. And so I would say yes to everything and I would continue down the path as far as I could go and then at some point I realized that I could say yes, but I could also say no. So if something wasn't serving me, I was able to determine that very quickly and then move back off the path onto something different that was either more interesting, more profitable or more useful.
I was involved in, prophesied in the way that from the time I was very young, six or seven years old, I would walk around and talk to people and invite them to church. I was a young boy, long black hair, full black hair, I should say not long but full black hair, big brown eyes and I would walk up to women and I would say to them, you look like a beautiful person, the kind of woman I'd love to have as a sister, somebody who would be a great mother. I can see that you really are caring and compassionate. There's only one problem: you're going to hell jezebel with your whorish makeup and your bobbed hair and your pants that are supposed to be worn by men in the 70s. That would result either in a sharp slap across the face and then grabbing you by the ear and dragging you to your mother, which was okay because mom was the closer. Or the other option was people would get so confused, they couldn't understand what was happening and why somebody would say something like that. And the question would be, where is your mother?
I've become an expert in applied persuasion as a result of a simple question, how did my mom get inspired or get convinced or persuaded to join a cult and raise myself and my two younger brothers in that kind of a situation? And that 35-year study has led to many, many breakthroughs and how people make decisions, how they're persuaded, why they do the things they do that have been very applicable to not only the growth of my business but many of my clients' businesses as well. Initially, my interest was in understanding how my mom made a decision. And so that led me to sales because I thought who is really good at persuading people? Well, salespeople are good at persuading people. Who else is good at persuading people. Well, psychologists seem to be pretty good at persuading people who else are really good at persuading people. Well, creatures seem to be pretty good to me at persuading people. And so it took me a while to really figure out that I needed to tell the story in a way that compelled people and pull them in and made them the hero of the story. Not the villain. People have to have a real reason to believe in your product, in your service, in you, and what's going to happen for them if they buy your product or service. And so that real reason to believe is the key to success in all selling and all marketing and all persuasion and all negotiating.
After I left the cult, I was a professional fighter, I went into the United States military, was in the military for a long period of time. I worked in counter-narcotics operations in central and South America. I was a bodyguard, a police officer and also started a number of different companies. I owned a pawnshop, I owned a bar, I set up a company that did pre-employment background investigations and I was using all of these businesses to be able to help me understand how business works and how persuasion worked inside of each of those businesses and obviously also to make money. I moved back to Idaho and had my daughter and I decided I wanted to do something different and I realized that I really didn't want to do something different. I really wanted to do something in a different format. And so I started delivering the work that I used to do, where I would move to somebody's company and spend a year, 18 months. They're doing the turnaround into delivering the most important pieces, which tend to revolve around sales, marketing, negotiation of contracts, employee optimization and those kinds of things. And so that's what I set up Bold Approach around initially.
And then I also started writing my books and speaking around the world. So I've spoken in 126 countries, now, spoken to over three million people and have been able to share this message on the biggest stages in the world. The path is always in front of you. Even if it's not clear, the key is to keep moving forward and to adjust as you go, you're always going to be learning, you're always going to be trying new things and if you're not, you're stuck, nothing's going to happen. So say yes to the opportunities and say no when they no longer work for you or no longer serve you. At the end of the day, though, the most important thing you can do is continue to move forward in spite of obstacles, in spite of fear, in spite of pressure against you. If you believe in something, if you believe in what you're doing, continue to press forward, continue to learn and don't be afraid or ashamed of changing your mind. The data that you have today, the information that you have today, may be completely turned over tomorrow by something new that you learn and it's okay to adjust based on that.
Leave your ego out of your decisions. It doesn't matter what other people think. It only matters what you do, what you think, and how you deliver. You're going to fail it many, many things every single day. It could be in your job, it could be in your business, it could be in your relationship. It could be when you walk down the street and step on your shoelace and fall over at the end of the day. If you don't take those chances, if you don't do the things that you believe that you want to do that are important to you regardless of what you imagine. And I want to really underline that word. Imagine other people are going to think you're going to feel unfulfilled most of your life and you're going to probably miss out on the very best opportunities of your life. Because the other side of failure is success quite often. But when there is not on the other side of failure is learning adjustment and re-engagement.
So my advice to you is if you're thinking but I could fail, it's okay. You're already a very experienced failure as it is. You failed at so many things throughout your life. This is just a different version of that. And you've also learned because of all of those failures through your life, you've learned what to do how to do it better. Each failure is an evolution. It's not an end. Yeah, probably the most valuable advice I've ever received is that there's no future, there is no past, there's only right now. So do the things that matter most and do the things that are most important to get the result that you want. Don't wait around for the right time. Don't wait around for the right person, Don't wait around for the right opportunity, move forward, take advantage of the time that you have, and don't wait, do it now, tomorrow is not guaranteed. The past is the past. All of those cliches that come along with it, but the reality of it is there is you know, there's no time. I think the best quote I ever heard along these lines was from Henry Rollins. There's no time. There's only a lifetime go. And that's really the truth for entrepreneurs. There's no great time to start your business, there's no great time to build your business, there's no great time to grow your business, there's only now to do it.
Mhm. Yeah, I used to own a computer store and that was 20, some more than 20 years ago and it was very funny. We had an estate sale for someone who had passed away in our family and somebody walked up who I hadn't seen in more than 20 years, who used to buy computers from me and said, Dave, Why did you shut down your computer store? I've never been able to find a computer store that I've loved as much as I loved yours since I've been looking for you for 20 years, hoping that you'd open another computer store. And are you going to? And of course, my answer is no, because I've moved on to other things, but I never sold him anything. I simply developed a relationship with him that he remembered 20 years later and nobody else has ever compared with since.
Making It means to me leaving the world in a better place. And I know that sounds cliche but leaving the world in a better place for my daughter, being able to create a company that I can at some point sell. So my legacy continues beyond me to be able to provide a place for people to work that is enjoyable and lucrative and that gives them a real sense of having helped other people as well and it's giving something back to my community, however, I can do that, those kinds of things are making it to me.
I'm Dave Lakhani and you've been listening to Making It. You can find me at www dot bold approach dot com.
Making it is a Mirasee FM original production. This episode of Making It was assembled by Geoff Govertsen. Cynthia Lamb produced the episode. Danny Bermant is our associate producer and Danny Any is our executive producer. If you liked this episode, you might want to check out Just Between Coaches, the podcast that explores the really tough issues that coaches face every day. So you don't miss the great episodes that are coming up on Making It go ahead and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you're listening right now. And if you like the show, please leave us a starred review. It's the best way to help us get these ideas to more people. Thank you. We'll see you next time.