David Daniel Coached 200+ Clients After Landing His TEDx Talk With Thought-Leader
David Daniel was always athletic. He was an excellent baseball player, ran cross country, and played backyard football and soccer. Name the sport, David played it. But despite his love for athletics, he graduated college in 1999, weighing about 40 pounds more than he weighs now.
The summer after he graduated, he looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person he was looking at. Not recognizing who he was, combined with not feeling well, helped him decide to get into running again. A couple of half-marathons and some overuse injuries later, a friend suggested doing a triathlon.
David competed in the triathlon and performed better than anticipated. Six years later, in 2005, he qualified for national championships, and in 2008, he did an Iron Man.
People started asking him: “What are you doing? You’re a different person. When I’m with you, I feel this sense of calm, peace, and contentment.” David didn’t have to go live in a cave somewhere to reach this success. Somehow he managed to be successful at work, as a husband, and a dad.
So, what was his secret?
The Questions That Started David Daniel’s Journey
Ever since David Daniel was a child, he loved understanding how people work. This fascination in people led him to call himself an amateur psychologist, and his interest in psychology, combined with his love for triathlons, manifested in becoming a certified USA Triathlon trainer.
However, in 2013, David was working a full-time job, raising a son, and coaching high-performance triathletes. As a result, his stress level was extremely high. He worked long hours, did not sleep well, and was not taking care of himself.
One night, he was lying in bed singing his son Colden to sleep and reading work emails on his phone. David started to sing another song when his son rolled over in bed and said, “Papa, you just sang that song.” Colden then rolled back over and went to sleep.
Lying next to his sleeping son, David had two thoughts: 1) Why am I not present? What is happening in my life that is making me feel so stressed? The second thought was: 2) I want to be more present as a father, as a husband, as a boss, as a friend. Three words came to him that night: Be here now. These words have become a mantra ever since.
Three words came to him that night: Be here now. These words have become a mantra ever since.
As a coach for high-performance triathletes, David was used to asking how to perform better. But after the moment with his son, he found himself asking: Is there a way to train ourselves to be more present? These questions launched David on his journey.
David and his son Colden
Overwhelmed, Overworked, and Overachieving…
At this point, David was still a relatively new dad (just three years in). For David, parenting a 3-year-old felt pretty overwhelming. After all, 3-years-old is when kids start figuring out how to become an individual. It’s just more difficult.
Aside from triathlon coaching, David also worked for the world’s largest environmental non-profit nature conservancy. He had just been promoted into a new role and was in charge of fundraising for the entire main chapter. It was overwhelming to step into that role. At roughly two decades behind those he worked with, he felt young and like he had large shoes to fill. Being a husband, a new father, a triathlon coach, getting promoted all morphed into overwhelm.
On top of all this, David grew up in a family of high achievers. He always felt this pressure to overachieve. There was this sense of never being enough, and he combatted it with wanting to do and achieve more.
Despite his hefty schedule, David Daniel’s nightly ritual remained, putting his son to bed. It was the most beautiful part of his routine. This simple bedtime opportunity was so important to him because David described it as “beautiful to see your own child sleep and grow.”
He was singing the Avett brothers when his son called him out for repeating the same, complex song. David lacked presence.
Called Out By His Three-Year-Old
When little Colden rolled over to tell him he sang the song already, David’s first feeling was shame.
“I’ve been caught by my 3-year-old not being present!”
But this feeling of shame quickly switched to determination. When David comes up against difficulties, he doesn’t tend to stay in them. Instead, he asks himself, “Okay, what is wanting to be created in his situation?” He wondered what he could learn from this moment.
Rather than rush on to the next activity on his to-do list, David spent the next hour and a half watching his son sleep. Three words kept rolling through his head:
Be here now.
David asked himself what was stopping him from being present. But he knew this question was bigger than himself.
David Daniel Competing In A Triathlon
The Blue-Sky Approach
David Daniel termed his lack of present awareness as a phrase he likes to call, “the drunken monkey.” He knew he had to do something to overcome it. To help him process, he started picturing his awareness as the blue sky.
According to David, awareness is like the sky. It never changes and is always present, but thoughts are like birds coming through quickly. They flit in and out across awareness and distract. His emotions are like clouds. They stick around a little longer, but they still come and go.
David realized he needed to be aware of his awareness. He needed to stop being so caught up in the drama of his drunken monkey. To do this he had to consciously recognize the difference between himself and his fleeting thoughts. David just needed to tap into what it is that makes him present.
Mentorship Makes All the Difference
To reach his present self and gain control of his awareness, David decided he needed a coach, someone to push him like he used to push his triathletes. He needed to be more present. This time he needed someone to:
Tell him what to do
What books to read
And how to be accountable
He sought balance and guidance from others and started to emulate what people in equally, if not more extenuating circumstances, were doing to stay present.
But David was still coaching triathletes at this time. His coaching was part of his overwhelm and lack of staying present. However, David didn’t want to give up coaching. He loved helping others. He decided he needed to bring more than just the physical training to his coaching, as well as his personal life.
A Wholistic Approach
Two years of studying and practicing mind-body coaching later, David transitioned into full-time leadership coaching. David had mastered the art of staying present by continually breaking himself down and building himself back up. Finally, David felt control over his awareness and his life. He developed a way to train triathlons that focused on a more holistic approach.
Don’t just train the mind. Train the body, the soul.
The athletes had benefits beyond just racing. Not only were they getting their bodies in shape, but they were getting their minds in shape as well as their spirit.
David’s Approach Spread
This new, holistic approach spread to more clients. People he had worked with referred him to others and his coaching business started to spread through word-of-mouth. But, he didn’t have much else going on marketing-wise. David had a website he considered a labor of love because it told his story. But that was the extent of his reach.
David Daniel knew his coaching style was unique. There was a depth to it, not found in other triathlon coaches. However, he still wasn’t reaching everyone he could. While David wanted more people to understand how to be present, he didn’t have a scalable strategy.
Becoming A Public Speaker
Even though David didn’t know how to market himself, he’d always enjoyed public speaking. He started looking into ways to become known as a public speaker and listening to podcasts to understand that world.
One thing David learned right away was TEDx talks mean something to people. David thought a TEDx talk would be a wonderful gift he could offer his son. David wanted Colden to understand the gift he had given his dad in helping him realize he wasn’t present. To David, a TEDx talk would help him reach others and serve as a living celebration of his son.
David Looks Into TEDx Main
When David started researching ways to do a TEDx talk, he found a local TEDx event in Maine. He went through an extensive application process to try to land a spot on stage. Despite his efforts, he never heard back. So, David threw his hands up.
“This feels like trying to find a needle in a haystack to make this work.”
David found himself praying for guidance when a few days in he heard Thought-Leader President, Taylor Conroy talk about the importance of giving a TEDx talk. David knew the importance of getting a TEDx talk, but he couldn’t get one independently. So he decided to book a call with Thought-Leader.
How Thought-Leader Helped David Daniel Land His TEDx Talk
David Daniel’s first interaction with his Thought-Leader coach was a success. She was super curious about him, his talk, and very clear about the process he needed to go through to book a talk. He felt supported.
I knew I liked Taylor’s energy. It felt like he was really trying to help people
“You know when you are going to invest money in something, you aren’t sure how it’s going to pan out, but I knew I liked Taylor’s energy. It felt like he was really trying to help people rather than just market himself.”
David shared his idea, and his Thought-Leader coach helped him transform it into a TEDx application. Having someone sit down and listen to his story helped David book a talk in Canada in 2019: Training The Mind To Live In Complexity.
Despite booking a TEDx talk the final result was not what he had hoped for. The Canadian event’s audio messed up, so David didn’t feel like the talk represented his level of success. He went back to his Thought-Leader coach, and together they worked on his new talk and found another TEDx event.
With the help of Thought-Leader, David landed a second TEDx talk. This effort speaks to David’s energy, and dedication. He knew what he wanted and didn’t give up. David worked with Thought-Leader twice to achieve his goals.
Watch David Daniel’s TEDx Talk!
David’s TEDx Talk Empowered Him to Coach Over 200+ Individuals
Since landing his TEDx talk, David has over 1,000 shares, all with zero marketing efforts. After seeing his TEDx talk, more and more individuals have become interested in David Daniel’s coaching. When prospective clients ask David to send them a bio or his website, he sends them his TEDx talk published on the TED website. It works as his calling card. Now, people can get to know him and understand what’s possible for them before even signing up for coaching (and the people David coaches love sharing his TEDx talk).
After giving his TEDx talk, David started a thorough rebranding and has coached around 200 executives and leaders alike.
“I train leaders to lead like I used to train triathletes to race.”
David’s 3-year-old son taught him that choices are based on values. So David’s new question is: “Am I doing everything I can to make the world a better place for my son?” His answer: “Yes, as long as I clear my mind, open my heart, and live as awareness.”
Eight years ago, David began training himself to be more present by asking himself a few questions. With the support of his Thought-Leader coaches, David landed a TEDx talk that went on to the TED site, started an entire rebrand, and has coached many individuals. He shares two comments to start you on your journey to awareness:
1. What do you value enough in your life?
2. Make that your why and be here now.
A 3-year-old inspired David Daniel’s journey. What will inspire yours? Clear your mind, open your heart, and live aware. Be here now.