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DNP 230: An ‘Insane’ Story of Overcoming Adversity to Becoming an Entrepreneur

Here’s a snapshot of a few things we talked about…

  •         How Did Things Start Out for Casanova? [00:04:44]
  •         What Kept Him Going During the Hard Times? [00:15:48]
  •         How to Find the Drive if You Didn’t Experience Challenges in Life [00:19:08]
  •         How Did He Determine His Goals Facing Setbacks Following His Move to Omaha? [00:22:34]
  •         Resources that Helped Him in His Journey, and What Can We Learn from Them? [00:28:19]
  •         How Did He Find His Mentors? [00:32:28]
  •         What is DreamNation, and What are His Future Goals? [00:44:18]

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

In this episode from the series of Casanova’s appearance as a guest on other podcasts, Casanova and host Pat Flynn talk about Casanova’s tumultuous journey to entrepreneurship, how to find your drive, and the future of DreamNation.

Casanova a dreamer at heart, grew up on the South Side of Chicago. He was the only child of a single mother, and didn’t have a father figure in his life. His grandma stepped in early on to try to be the father figure in his life. Growing up in the inner city, Chicago, he experienced adversity first-hand. Throughout this time, his grandma kept him under her wings.

He recalls losing two of his best friends at the age of eight. At age 11, his grandma moved him to Sioux City, Iowa, which was a huge culture shock for him. Living in that environment, he says that it was a blessing and a lesson in itself, because it allowed him to not grow up with an ignorant mindset.

At age 15, he suffered him another setback, and he was diagnosed with cancer. Cass battled with the disease for two years, until he was cancer free. Then, he really started his path to try to figure out what he was going to do with his life. When he went to college, he found out that college wasn’t for him. He was only going to make his mom and grandma happy.

Cass realize that having a degree does not guarantee that you are going to be successful in life. So, he moved back home and started looking for different jobs. Things did not workout great for him, so he decided to move to Omaha.

Cass worked as a digital marketing consultant, and he found success selling yellow pages in between Kansas City and Sioux City, and moved up to number eight in the entire company. Then, he wanted to try his hand at management, but he couldn’t find any open positions at his company.

Around that time, he met a mentor online, who guided him save the world of real estate investing. So, he decided to get his real estate license. Cass faced another setback, after he lost his mother within a week of moving to Omaha. He also lost his job and his home as well, all within a span of two weeks.

At this point, his wife urged him to put his real estate license to use. He jumped all in and within the next nine months, he did 46 deals, $8 million in volume, and got the Rookie of the Year in Nebraska.

Talking about what helped him get through the tumultuous times, he says that one of the first one was his mentor, who guided him after he lost his mother. Cass says that he told him that there were three other people who were still depending on him. The second thing was him having goals, and the third thing was him having a dream.

Cass adds that you don’t have to love the journey, but you have to be married to the destination. We all have desires, and dreams in life, so whatever your dream is, it’s really just understanding that if your dream was to come true, think about how many lives that you would impact. Because at the end of the day, we all want to feel valued in this world.

He says that understand that it doesn’t matter what your story is. Your story is for you, and even though you might not have the story of super hardships, there’s 100,000 or quarter million people that also don’t have a story of super hardships, but they’re still looking for a way to be able to connect their message with their audience. That’s what you can be a catalyst for.

Cass recalls the time he lost his house after losing his mother, and they had to move to a place where he slept next to a furnace and a water heater that’s kicking on 50 times a night. That painted the picture for him, of why he had the desire, why he had to get out of there, because it was like, “Man, we can’t keep living like this.”

Cass went back to something that he was good at, which was building relationships. He learned a lot from books and podcasts, he adds that if you didn’t have it written down, if you didn’t have a plan every single day, you were really failing.

For him, how he got started was that he was trying to find who could he do open houses for. He had a plan every single day. He followed through on that. His wife supported him on it, and then after a while, it took probably about a month to get the wheels turning, but when it did, it was off to the races, and it was like riding a bike.

Cass adds that books such as Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco, and The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss significantly helped him in different aspects of life and business. That’s where he also learned about the value of having virtual teams.

Mentors played a vital role in guiding him, but most of his mentors had been from afar, like Jay Morrison, who got him into real estate. He adds that with anybody looking right now or anybody’s wondering, “How can I have mentors?” There are so many different ways to have mentorship, through podcasts, through books. He adds that he has had really good, successful friends, and they say, “Casanova, the best thing that you do is you just take action.”

He says that the first thing that he always does is to assess the end goal, and how big is the desire for that end goal? The second thing is to look at what’s the worst that could happen. When it comes time to go all in, you have to really go all in. He says that if you have the right intent, and you just have that conviction, the universe will open it up for you.

Cass recalls how he became a part of the SPI community, and his thought process of applying for and recording his response for Pat’s Black Entrepreneurs Speak, and how he got Pat on the DreamNation podcast.

Talking about the origin of DreamNation, he says that he believes that everything starts with a dream. The second piece of that is those of us who dare to dream while the rest of the world is settling for what society tells us or even deems is our reality, we’re the ones who stand to be trailblazers, changemakers, and ultimately make this world a better place.

He adds that my job is to give back to my tribe to be able to teach them whatever I can or at least have a bridge for them to be able to connect with you. That’s where the DreamNation all comes from.

Key Quotes:

  •         “I always tell people I’m a dreamer at heart…”
  •         “I always let people know I’m no stranger to adversity…”
  •         “Everything that I’m experiencing, it’s a whole new world for me, and I don’t really know … What I did know was that I had two strong women that were behind me and on side of me every step of the way…”
  •         “No one in my family went to college, especially not a big four-year university like this, and so to go to college, I felt like I could make them proud…”
  •         “Going into my junior year, I really came about and had the notion that just because you had a degree did not mean you’re going to be successful in life…”
  •         “In the corporate world, it feels like everybody could tell you no, but nobody could tell you yes. Who is the person that makes this decision, right?”
  •         “You got to find a way to be the lord of your land…”
  •         “All within a matter of two and a half weeks, I lose my mom, my job, my home, and I got no family, no friends, no church group, brand new city, brand new state.”
  •         “My wife is like, “No, you got this real estate license. You haven’t done anything with it. You’re going to jump out there. You’re going to make something shake, or otherwise, you’re going to always be wondering what-if…”
  •         “I took it as constructive criticism because he was challenging me, and I knew that he was coming from the right place…”
  •         “I experienced a lot of pain, and while I didn’t want those pains, when I came out, and now the life that I’ve been able to give my son and been able to give my family, my daughter as well, it’s a lot of joy in that because I know that my mom would be proud…”
  •         “When I look up, I say, “Listen, somebody is betting on me,” and that person was my mom, and she still is, but then also just making sure that I had goals, and I never lost sight of having a dream. That’s where the DreamNation all came from…”
  •         “I think that the number one thing that I learned was that my story wasn’t for me, right?”
  •         “I tell people all the time that you don’t have to love the journey, because some people, their frustration comes in the journey…”
  •         “We all want to leave a legacy, and that legacy doesn’t have to mean that it’s going to be to an entire nation or an entire country…”
  •         Warren said, “You’ll never know how truly successful you’ve been until you die.”
  •         “If I’m completely honest and transparent, my only goal was to get out of my current situation…”
  •         “I went back to what were the things that I was good at up until this time, and the only thing that I could really pinpoint was building relationships…”
  •         “If you fail to plan, you were planning to fail…”
  •         “There were two books that I first caught on early. The first one was Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That was huge for me in understanding the way of not only money, but understanding the way that there’s two different phases of life…”
  •         “I wound up catching a book by a guy named M.J. DeMarco, which is called The Millionaire Fastlane…”
  •         “People will try to give you their best advice. I’m telling you that advice will be sincere, and they will be and can be sincere as well, but understand that they can be sincerely wrong about the advice that they are giving you…”
  •         “I was never a big reader, but I’ve now been a super advocate. I should be an ambassador for Audible, because I use it as much as just about anybody…”
  •         “Three podcasts and those three books is what really started me being able to have the conviction that this was for me…”
  •         “For me, mentors all come from afar until I’ve gotten to the point where I can really build…”
  •         “If someone sits with you for 30 minutes a day, it’s no different than going to church…”
  •         “Even when I have super lack of clarity in a certain situation, I always find a way to take action…”
  •         “One of the best things that I’ve learned and stuck with me is they say, “If there’s no transaction, there’s no transformation”
  •         “It’s just like being on a news show. You got a certain amount of time. Are you going to rise to the occasion? Or are you going to put your tail between your legs and make excuses?”
  •         “If I didn’t have a loving father, that a loving father had to come from me. That really came if I didn’t have a wealthy family…”

Links/Resources:

  •         SPI Podcast: https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/
  •         Pat Flynn Website: https://patflynn.com/
  •       Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  •         The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
  •         The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
  •         Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
  •         Go for No! by Andrea Waltz

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