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Episode 52

Episode 52: Achieving Financial Success: Lessons from Army Veteran Turned Millionaire, David Neagle


In this episode of Veteran Led, join John as he sits down with special guest David Neagle, an Army Cold War veteran who has since become a highly sought-after speaker, best-selling author, and host of The Successful Mind podcast. David has helped countless entrepreneurs achieve 7-8 figure businesses through his coaching and personal growth company, Life is Now. In this episode, David shares his expertise on how changing your mindset can break you of the self-imposed prison that keeps people from following their dreams and achieving financial success. Don’t miss out on David’s valuable insights in this motivating episode.


David Neagle: Don’t ever trust anybody with your dream that does not have the capacity to encourage your dream, right? And not everybody does. I mean, if a person cannot help amplify what you do, you shouldn’t share those things with that person because they’ll only tear you down.

John Berry: Welcome to the Veteran Led podcast, where we talk with leaders who use their military experiences to develop great organizations and continue to serve their communities.

David Neagle: I quit high school when I was 17, so I literally had to get my GED after I went into the service during basic. Um, and it got me out. It got me into a different scenario. It taught me how to think different. But I realized because because honestly, there was this consideration that maybe I would do a whole career in the military because like I said, my my stepdad did, uh, 20 years. My biological father, uh, he was a he was a vet from Nam. They were both vets from Nam. And I was around it a lot, you know, and I was like, this is cool. You know, maybe I’ll do that or whatever. And then I got in there and I realized how limiting it was going to be for for what I wanted to accomplish in my life. So it’s like, I’m just going to do my time and get out. When I saw that it it actually it’s like all the wind came out of me because I was looking I was looking at the military number one, because I loved the idea. I love the patriotism behind it. But I was also trying to find a way to get ahead in life and so my initial thoughts matured after I was in to see what the reality of it was and what was actually, you know, the like. I wasn’t I wasn’t going to do what I wanted to do. So so it got me thinking in a, in a different direction. My, my original idea, honestly, was that, um, I wanted to fly choppers and I was and I and that is the direction that I was that I was headed. I was setting myself up to be able to go do that. And I thought to myself, if I if I continue down this road, I’m going to get stuck here for the rest of my life. This is not really what I want. So I made a right turn and, you know, started pursuing other things.

John Berry: Fair enough. But back to the military pay scale. Yeah. Do you remember it?

David Neagle: Yeah.

John Berry: And I mean, as far as your peers and the people that did stay in, I take it you probably stayed in touch with some of them. And I know that you’ve talked with other veterans. I know several of the veterans. You’ve you’ve spoken with that a lot of them get stuck in that mindset that they have to stay until they retire because someone has shown them that that is their financial future. Correct. And I shouldn’t say maybe the question isn’t how wrong is that? But how harmful can that be for someone who wants a bigger future?

David Neagle: It could be a prison for their mind because they don’t know any other way to earn money, and especially if they came from any kind of a middle class background going in there. Their only concept of earning money is to work for somebody else. They have to be promoted by that person to a next level in order to increase whatever little amount they’re actually going to get. And that becomes the reality of how money is actually earned. And it’s a huge detriment to a person, because the longer they’re in that system, the less that they believe that they can actually earn any more by themselves. And then the longer they’re, the longer they continue in it. They start to reflect, go, well, I better not do anything else because I have this much time in and I’m going to get this pension, you know. So it’s just it’s completely self-defeating for an individual that’s stuck in it, and they’re not exposed to anything else that shows them that they could earn a lot more money if they did something different.

John Berry: Absolutely. And I know the careerists, the people who want to stay in and it’s their life dream and their life goal, and that’s all they want to do. And the money doesn’t matter, and that’s great. But where I run into trouble is where I run into that superstar leader who wants to do something else, but has this, like you said, this, they’re imprisoned by their own thought that they have to stay in for the 20 years. They have to get the pension, they have to get the retirement. Because if they don’t do that, their life is going to fall apart. What they don’t seem to realize is they have all these great skills that the military has taught them that they can go out and do whatever they want to do, but for some reason, they’re they’re they’re stuck. And they, they, they have this false belief that they have to stay in even after they don’t want to. And for some of my peers, it was, hey, after their fifth or sixth deployment, they really wanted to get out and their families were being destroyed by the the separation and they just couldn’t handle it. But they said, but but what do I do? It’s only five more years till I can retire. Uh, how do you respond to that, David?

David Neagle: I respond to that that you have to ask yourself what is the underlying thought behind that? And the underlying thought is safety. We’re programmed from birth in most situations that we have to do things to be safe in life. Instead of looking at life as an adventure. And what can we really accomplish and experience here? Like you said, the the skills that a person learns in the military, if they if they could waken themselves to the idea of what they could actually do with that out in the civilian world, it’s extraordinary. It’s absolutely extraordinary what they could do because other people don’t get those skills. They don’t understand the discipline, they don’t understand the drive. They don’t understand the focus. Um, they don’t understand how to deal with other people. So those things cross over, especially into business or entrepreneurial ism in a in an absolutely fantastic way. But again, it comes down to why is it so important for you to stay in and to get that, that pension or to get that retirement or whatever it is, what’s underneath that? Is it that you don’t think you can do anything else? Is it that you don’t know? How is it that you’ve never considered that you as a person could actually break out? Because here’s. The thing. If you look at the extraordinary things that servicemen and women do when they’re in, like the bravery and the courage, the leadership that they learn, why does that not transfer over into the way that they make money when they get out? Why are they so stuck in the regiment of just making a little bit? And the underlying cause is that that there is this idea that this is what they have to do in order to be financially safe in their life, and it’s absolutely not true.

John Berry: So how do we get them out of that mindset? And then once again, I don’t want to pull anybody out that wants to have a career, you know, of military service, hit that 30 years, be a general, be a sergeant major, I get it. But for those that that that feel stuck, that that need that safety, how do you pull them out of that? David.

David Neagle: So the first thing that I do is if somebody was to say to me, but I only got five more years to go and I get this, I would say, okay, just put the brakes on that for a second. If if you didn’t have to be concerned with that, if we could give you that money now and you could do anything that you want, what would you actually want to do? What do you really want to do? And have you given that any thought or have you limited that idea based on the futuristic outcome of what you see your income actually being? In other words, have you limited your imagination and your desire for what you want for your life based on what somebody else said your income needs to be for the rest of your life and what you need to do to attain that income? And that’s where I start with the person, because I believe unless, unless, like you’re saying, it’s a career person, they know that’s their purpose in life. That’s totally different. But for the average person that just wants to to put in their time and they want to move on with their life, what do they really want when they come out? What is it like? What is their dream that they would like to have in life? And if they don’t have one, I try to get them start starting to think about one.

John Berry: And is it difficult to to pull that out of of individuals to say what? What is your dream? What is it that you really want? Do you find that the first answer you get is the right answer, or do you really have to dig to get that.

David Neagle: 90% of the time, you have to dig to get it. And the reason is, is because from little children, we’re not taught we can have what we want. We’re taught basically this regimented system that somebody else basically gives you permission to move to the next level of life, and you have to stay within the structured system you’re being raised in. Right? So even if you don’t go in the military, the way the system is for most people is the educational system was based on the Industrial revolution, and that they needed hands, people to work in factories in order to be able to build those things. So even our education system does not teach children how to expand their mind into what they really want. They’re they’re being set up for a job and a life of just complete loyalty to that company and then eventually getting a retirement. So like the old trade off was, if you give us loyalty, we’ll give you security. But it was a lie. They it was never true. And if you look at history and only existed for a short period of time, say for maybe like the late 1800s through World War two, when we started to really expand in the United States, there was a period of time where people could do life within a decent job and make a decent living for their families, but that’s gone.

David Neagle: That is absolutely, completely gone. But they still perpetuate that lie. So what I do for a living is to really help people dig in and ask that question. And here’s this is interesting. I cannot tell you how many times somebody would say to me, I think I just needed somebody to give me permission to dream again. And I heard that so many times in the 25 years that I’ve been doing this, like one day the bell clicked on, though their mind is so stuck that they need permission for anything to advance beyond where they were. If they don’t actually learn how to take that authority back for themselves, they will stay stuck. And whatever the world tells them, you know, that they’re in. And and like you said, the longer they’re in it, the worse that it is.

John Berry: And I think that that’s key because we think we need permission because as we get older, we have responsibilities. We may have a spouse, we may have children, we may have other financial obligations. And we think, oh, well, if my wife is not okay with this, then I can’t do it. And how am I going to explain to her what I really want? She’s going to say, you’re crazy. We have stability right now. We have enough. Why would you risk it all? So how can we communicate with our loved ones? Or do we communicate with our loved ones when we know we want something more than what we have, and we know it’s a risk, and we know that they may not be receptive to what we want.

David Neagle: Right? The average person that by the time they reach me and what we do, they have done exactly what you said. They’ve established a life that has responsibility based on the old model of how they were thinking. And all of a sudden now they’re starting to wake up to question that model and what it is that they really want. The key with loved ones is, is that we teach people to create a vision for that relationship. What is the vision and the values that keep that relationship strong, healthy and moving forward in life? So I don’t think that you that you shouldn’t go tell your spouse that, but I think that you should develop the. Underlying values for what you want, the relationship in your future as a family to look like, and then bring in the idea of a dream to actually get there. Because you’re right. People get tremendous pushback. You know, you have to realize when you meet your partner in life, usually it’s when we’re young, we don’t know who we are, and we really don’t know what we want, and neither do they. So we’re really moving through those early years of our adulthood together and trying to find our way. But then kids come and mortgages come and car payments come and we get really locked into just kind of running that rat race so that we can pay those bills. And it seems like anything outside of that structure is so frowned upon in our society that they you do get the you’re absolutely crazy for doing this. The key is, is that everybody I believe everybody has a dream. I don’t think anybody has a purpose to actually just play it safe in life. But if couples get together and really start dreaming together about what they want, and they learn to grow together, right? So that they’re both on the same page of what where it is that they’re going, you’ll find that it works out generally pretty well, unless they’re completely diametrically opposed to what they want out of life, it usually works out pretty well.

John Berry: So let’s go to the point where you started making the changes in your life. And I know when we go back to the millions within, we talk or you talk about that, that that moment on the on the dock with the forklift where all of a sudden you realize, like, if I just change my attitude, I can I believe you doubled your or tripled your money one year just by a change in attitude. And so many times we want that team member that has that can do positive attitude. And you just were able to flip the switch overnight and say, this is my attitude today and this is my attitude going forward. And you and that carried with you and you saw great results until you didn’t. And then you changed again. And there was an evolution to getting where you are today. But if I could take you back to that one moment, how were you able to make that attitude switch overnight? Because as a leader, I spend years trying to make that switch in people and it never happened. So how did you do it?

David Neagle: So. So when I came, when I came out of the Army, I was kind of following my stepfather and I got a job selling life insurance, uh, 1988 89, in 19. So we I got married in 88. We had a child in 89. And later in 89, I had a water skiing accident where I got sucked through a dam and I broke my back. So I had this issue that I was actually dealing with. And then the savings and loan crisis hit and everybody was dropping their life insurance policy. So my income just went right through the floor. I couldn’t even make enough sales to keep up the income that I needed to match the responsibilities. The only other I could be a cop. I had the I could do that because I was an MP, but that paid $14,000 a year. You had to work nights and you had to work and start off in bad neighborhoods in Chicago, which I didn’t want to do because of the risk associated with that. The only other skill I had was to drive a forklift and drive a truck. So that’s what I did. I had to go feed my family. So in in that time frame woke up one morning, our car was repossessed. Didn’t even realize we were three months behind on the payments. Um, uh, car was repossessed. We had to leave our apartment in the middle of the night because they wouldn’t let us out of a lease, out of the lease, and I couldn’t afford to pay it. We had to move to a bad neighborhood.

David Neagle: We lived next door to a drug dealer that used to beat his wife. So? So the picture is things are getting progressively worse. And I go, okay, what caused this? I, I finally start like really accepting responsibility for the situation and going, okay, I caused this. I asked for help. Nobody knew how to help me. They just kept telling me to work more overtime. And um, so I said, well, the problem was, was that I didn’t finish high school and get a further education, whether it was military or college or whatever. I just didn’t get a further education. Okay, so that’s the answer. I got to go back and get an education, but I didn’t have the time or the money to do this. Right. Because it’s the early 90s. There’s nothing there’s no internet, internet yet or anything like that. But I couldn’t figure out how to earn more money. And nobody there was nobody that was helping me with that either. Nobody knew how. I mean, they just didn’t know. So my attitude is getting worse and I’m getting extremely resentful. And I’m really getting into this victim mindset, and I’m not nice to people and I’m not doing a good job at work, and I’m exhausted all the time because I’m working six and a half days a week, basically two jobs, and over a period of two years of it just getting worse and worse and worse. One day I go into work. I was I was reprimanded twice before I started my shift. Everything went wrong that night.

David Neagle: It was bitterly cold in Chicago, and I just had a meltdown in the back of this trailer. While I was loading it, I broke down, I was crying, and I said, God, please show me what to do. I have no idea how to change this. I’m willing to do anything, but just please show me. And a voice in my head said, David, change your attitude. So long story short, I started focusing on that and I said, okay. I don’t even understand what this means. Change my attitude. What would I change it to? And I picked the guy that owned the company that I worked for, and the reason that I did that was because he was the largest food importer in the United States. But he started it in his garage in a suburb of Chicago. And I thought, what’s the difference between this guy and myself? Well, he must have loved what he did because I hated what I did every morning. I was like, I hate this, I can’t stand this. Life sucks. He loved what he did. He must have done a great job at it because he built this amazing company. And I don’t do a good job because I’m always getting in trouble for my my lack of work. And there was something that stood out to me that contradicted the way that I was raised. I was raised with this idea that successful people were jerks. I mean, I heard it over and over again, right? People with money, successful people, the boss. You know, you’re just a number. Nobody cares about you.

David Neagle: All this stuff. But the warehouse that I worked in was one of the first automated warehouses of its kind, and all CEOs from other companies were constantly coming in to tour this warehouse. So the owner was always walking through. Right. You got five, six people in great suits. They’re all walking through. He would never walk past an employee without acknowledging them, shaking their hand, patting him on the back. How you doing? How’s your family? And I thought to myself, that’s not what I learned about people. This guy actually cares. It’s not. It’s not an act. He really does care. So I thought, I’m going to start treating people with total respect now. I knew how to be respectful. I was in the military, for God’s sake. I knew how to be respectful to people, but I was just angry and hurt and I didn’t know what to do with that energy. So I decided, I’m going to do this for a year. I’m going to change these three things, act like I love what I do, do everything to the best of my ability. Treat everybody with complete respect. In 30 days, my income tripled, and the reason that it tripled was because in changing my attitude, it changed my perception of what I was experiencing, and I was able to see an opportunity that had been around me for two years that would have allowed me to do this at any time. But I never saw it as an opportunity because I was so angry. And so that’s how it started.

John Berry: And then once you changed your attitude, how soon before you started seeing the benefits of that? 30 days.

David Neagle: 30 days. My income tripled in 30 days. And the thing that was bizarre about it was that I was fighting this voice in my head that was being reinforced by my peer group and my family where they were going, man, you got lucky. Finally. You got lucky in your life. Don’t screw this up like you screwed everything else up. You know, you really got lucky. And I’m thinking to myself, this isn’t luck. This is not luck, right? This is. I did something, I just don’t know what I did. So I said, I’m going to study. I’m going to find out what I did. Somebody got to be talking about it or writing about it or something. And I just started diving into reading. I, I worked 100 miles away from work, so I had a 90 minute drive to work and home every day I got rid of all the music in my car. I started getting books on tape, biographies on tape, seminars on tape. I started devouring information like crazy for a period of seven years as I was, as I was slowly putting together the pieces of how could this possibly happen? Because I thought if this could happen by accident, what could I do if I knew what the hell I was actually doing? So I taught myself over a period of time, and then I had some great mentors along the way that really took me under their wing and gave me some great guidance that I didn’t get as a child. So that changed everything. And I didn’t start my business till I was 34, in 1999. So I was married, I had four children, I had a mortgage payment, I had two cars, I had the cat, the dog, the whole, the whole thing. And I had to start with knowing nothing about business. I just decided one day, that’s it, I’m done. I stopped working for the company that I was working for, and I went out and I started that business right from scratch. I had to earn money from the very first month. I didn’t have any savings or anything. So that’s what I had to do.

John Berry: And the education piece of this is, is, is really important because a lot of us think, well, I’m just going to go out and I’m going to learn, I’m going to get that degree and for most of us, we hate the formal education. It’s boring. We have to learn stuff we don’t learn. And I can’t remember whether it was from the Millions Within or the Successful Mind podcast, but at one time you say, you know, all of a sudden I realized I enjoyed learning because I’m learning on my terms the things that I want to learn. And so you would come back from work and you would just dig in because you actually enjoyed learning for the first time. And I think once we discover what we enjoy learning, it’s actually learning does not have to be painful. How did you get to the point where you you just became so, uh, thirsty for that knowledge that you would just I mean, you were you would you wouldn’t stop. You were relentless and learning what you needed to do until you finally went off and did it. So how did you maintain that motivation or did you just because you found what you wanted, you kept wanting more and motivation wasn’t even a factor.

David Neagle: It wasn’t. It wasn’t a factor. I found purpose, that’s what changed it. I was a terrible, uh, student in in school all my school years. The teacher would bring my father in and go. David’s a pretty smart kid, but his attitude sucks when it comes to his schoolwork. He doesn’t do his homework. He doesn’t study. He’s distracted in class. He’s the class clown, all this stuff. So I spent this. I mean, all those all my childhood years were this constant contention with my father and the teachers and that type of stuff, and I just didn’t care. Um, but when I had a purpose, I all of a sudden I found myself wanting to learn. And I’ve been a voracious student since 1993, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t study. I read over 4000 books since that time. So it was I don’t have to make myself do it. I think there’s a real key there. I want to do it. I want to know more. I want to get better. But purpose is what really changed that I had a purpose to like a real drive, to go out and figure out what I had done. I was and and I have a very curious personality. I’m a very curious person.

John Berry: So we get to this point where you are curious, you’re you’re so thirsty to learn, and then you go to and I believe it was Bob Proctor. Yeah. You go to him. You want to learn from him. You don’t have enough money. And he tells you you don’t want it bad enough. So let me take you back to that moment because, you know, in the military, sometimes when we go through those challenges, right, we want to tell people, if you really want it, you’ll make it happen. But this was kind of a slap in the face moment. You done all the studying. You wanted this more than anything. And then you have someone you admire say you don’t want it enough. Yeah. How did you deal with that?

David Neagle: Well, so so the the reason that that was said to me was because I tried my hand at network marketing in the mid 90s. Right. I was looking for a way to go beyond working for somebody else. I really had the a desire to be a business owner, but I just didn’t know in what direction. So network marketing came along. It was kind of a big thing. I took a look at it and I’m like, oh, this is pretty cool. So I was doing everything that they taught me to do. But my income stalled out at like 1500 a month or something like that, which was pretty good in the mid 90s. It wasn’t too bad, but I couldn’t figure out why I was doing everything that they said that I should do. But it was. But I got stuck. So I went to this guy and I asked him. And I told him, I said first I got I got an introduction to him. He was the top leader in the company at the time, and I said, I’m doing all of these things. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half. I’m stuck at this number. I can’t figure out why I’m not moving forward. And he looked me square in the eye and he goes, because you don’t want it bad enough. And he turned around and walked away. And I was livid when he said that all of the old stories of of leaders don’t care and successful people don’t care.

David Neagle: It all started coming back up. I was at a seminar that day. I got in my car and I went home, and about halfway home a voice in my head said, what if he’s right? What if he what he told you is actually correct? And I thought. If that. If that’s if that is true. Which I was so pissed off at the time, I was having a hard time even thinking about that. But I said, but where would that show up in my life? Where would I actually see evidence that that’s true? And for the first time in my real in my life, I realized I was stopping where I felt insecure and scared. And most of it was like in sales at that time. But there were some other areas also. So I immediately went home and I because this is another this is another long story which I won’t get into. But there was a sales situation that I was confronted with where somebody told me, no, uh, because they couldn’t afford it, and yet their dog was suffering and I had something that could help the dog. So the day before they had told me, no, I went back to that house. And through just like sheer willpower at the time, which is not necessary, but I didn’t know it at the time. I got the person to actually buy from me and I was like, Holy shit, I’m sorry. I was like, Holy shit, what? Uh, this guy’s right. Like, I’m this.

David Neagle: I he’s like, I don’t want. What he meant was, I don’t want it bad enough to break through my own fear and insecurity. I’m stopping where I start to get uncomfortable. And he was absolutely right. And everything. Then again, changed from that standpoint, because I did not know how to get past my own insecurities or fears. And here’s another little thing that was wound into that. When you’re raised middle class, the values that you’re given in life about how to get through life are designed so that you’re safe at work, that you know how to interact with people on that level, and you know how to interact with your superiors to be an entrepreneur. Those values are totally opposite. It’s 180 degree difference in those values. And I realized it wasn’t rude to ask for money. It’s not rude or mean to ask for what you want. It’s not selfish to say, this is what I want in my life. So a lot of there was a lot of hidden values that were stopping me because I thought, oh, that’s actually poor behavior. But it wasn’t poor behavior. It was safe behavior. Because you can’t do that in a competitive market when you’re working for another individual, you can’t just walk into their office and say, give me a promotion or I want to make more money. But an entrepreneur can do that at any time they want to. And if they understand the skill of making money, they can raise their income whenever they want to.

John Berry: And obviously you’ve done that and done that with tremendous success. Now, having worked with over 10,000 entrepreneurs, uh, a huge financial success podcast success, you’ve published several books. There was a point where you started this journey of going out on your own, where all of a sudden you put yourself in a position where you had to sell to survive. Yes. And I believe one of them was, uh, you were you put together an event and you realized that if you didn’t fill this event, it was game over. And, uh, tell us, tell us about that, because I think the the perception is. Oh, well, David went out. He learned he had a bunch of mentors, and then he just made this work. And that’s not how it happened. You. The lessons kept coming, right?

David Neagle: Yeah. So when I started, um, we cashed in our 401 K, which was it was not a lot of money. We used it to pay off debt except for the house. Okay. I even got rid of my new car and bought a used car, so I kept my monthly bills down. We got it down to $5,000 a month, but the deal that I made with my wife was I have to earn at least 5000 a month every month from the very first month. If I’m going to continue to, you know, live this dream and go after this business. And we agreed if there’s if the first month that I don’t do it, I have to go back and get a job because we’re not going to put my dream is not going to put the family in this kind of risk. Okay, so I agree. I agree to that, but it put the onus on me. You better get to work. You better get really serious about what it is that you’re doing. I didn’t have a list of people to talk to. I didn’t have a marketing list. I didn’t even know how to market. I knew how to sell a little bit, and I knew how to do. I knew how to. I knew how to produce the product that I was producing, but I literally had to go out and I had to cold call, and I had to knock on doors, and I had to do this day and night, seven days a week, in order to hit those numbers in the in the very beginning. And then the first thing was to put on this seminar, and the first seminar that I did had 25 people in it.

David Neagle: But when you put on a seminar, you generally have to rent the whole the ballroom or wherever it is that you’re going, you have to put cash up front in order to be able to get the space to put the seminar on. There was no zoom back then, right? So every one that I did, I had to commit to a certain number of number of people in that hotel, which means food and beverage. It means hotel nights. It means the ballroom itself, like there’s all kinds of crazy expenses that go through it. So when I made a commitment, like my mentor used to say to me, David, everything is just a decision, but you can’t turn around on that decision tomorrow because it becomes uncomfortable. You have to be committed to see it all the way through. And I was committed. So I made one decision after the next. And I and I worked on continuously trying to grow and and up that and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. But my income began to explode. After I did that. I was making 5000 a month for the first few months, and then I went. I went up to 50,000 a month, and then once I hit 50,000 a month, something let loose in my mind and I realized, oh, it’s actually easier to make more money and it’s not harder. And from there I went over a million and it’s never gone backwards since. And that was 25 years ago.

John Berry: And I think at one point you described it as almost as a child learning how to ride a bike. Once you figure out how to actually ride the bike, then it becomes easy that making money for you was the same way that once you kind of figured out how it was done, then you saw that the limits were not what you thought they were.

David Neagle: Right? Because. Because riding a bike and swimming, both of those skills are already in you. The ability to balance on a bike, the ability to float in water, is an awareness that you have to become aware of inside of yourself. You can’t read a book on how to swim and jump in the water and know how to float. You have to. You have to unveil that awareness in yourself. Well, success and especially money are the same way. Most people don’t realize that earning a lot of money is actually one of the easiest things that they’ll do. However, most of us are raised with the ethic like, you better work really hard in life, right? That’s the way to succeed. So what happens is, and I’m not against hard work, but what happens is over time. We attach the ideology of hard work to ourselves as far as who we are as a person. So when we actually go into a project that we’re doing, we make it harder than it has to be because it can’t be that easy. Otherwise, we’re not a good person. That’s literally how it how it’s wired in most people’s minds. When I set my goal to earn 50,000 a month the first two months, I worked my tail off to try to get there, and I couldn’t get any further ahead than I was. I didn’t realize I was already at my max limit of how hard I could work as a as one person, and I was already making as much as I could possibly make. So after two months of doing that, my mentor said to me, David, it’s easier to make 50,000 a month than it is to make 50,000 a year.

David Neagle: And I thought he was teasing me. And I kept thinking, he keeps saying that. He keeps saying that there must be something to it. And I thought, well, so okay, so if he’s right, if, if it’s actually easier, what would be the easiest way for me to be able to do this? And I thought, well, if I sold one client for 50,000 and instantly I was like, oh, I can’t do that, I don’t know, I’m not good enough to do that. I, I can’t charge a client for $50,000 because I didn’t know my own value, and I didn’t realize the value of what I was doing. However, I was able to increase my prices from $495 to 15,000, and I hit 50,000 in 2 weeks. And that changed everything. I was like, I got it. I totally get this now I understand. And then making money after that was was easy. There’s nothing difficult about it at all. And see, but that’s the mindset that most people coming out of the military are trapped in, right? They’re they work incredibly hard and they’re incredibly loyal, um, to what it is that they’re doing. And they’re getting paid. They’re they’re getting paid extraordinarily little amount for what it is that they’re doing. We’re supposed to be we’re not supposed to be paid for the time that we work. We’re supposed to be paid for the value of whatever it is that we’re offering actually has on the end user. When you take that responsibility on yourself, you can earn whatever it is that you want.

John Berry: Yeah. And that’s that. That is a great point. I mean, what is the value of having someone willing to risk their life to support and defend the Constitution of the United States? There is no greater value. And yet the payment is, is, is nothing, especially when we look at the level of leadership there and even our professionals, our doctors, our nurses, uh, it’s amazing to me that, you know, they take the pay cut, uh, they work just as hard, if not harder than their civilian counterparts. And then and then and then they get out and they don’t realize that. Well, I would say in the, in the medical profession, they do because they’re told. But but for most, from the leadership position perspective, that they don’t understand their worth and their value. They just can’t they have problems reframing that. And I think to get there, uh, we all have to go on our own journey. And I’ve always thought about it like a land nav course where if I’m going 100m down the road and my azimuth is off ten degrees, I’m still going to find the point. But if I have to go two clicks, 2000m and my azimuth is off 15 degrees, I’m going to miss the point entirely. And, uh, and I think you think about it differently. You think about it more as, uh, indirect fire, uh, calling for artillery. And I’d love to hear, uh, your explanation of that, because I think it’s much more realistic to how we get to where we want to go and more healthy to, than to beat us up over having the wrong azimuth, to realize we’re firing for effect and we’re going to adjust fire. So walk us through that, please. All right.

David Neagle: So so let’s think about something. When a person’s in the military, what value do they take away? What value is ingrained in us uh, while we’re in the military. And then what it is that we walk away, it’s the value of sacrifice. So we get it ingrained in our mind that we have to sacrifice in order to get the good that we desire in life. So it’s not about what we contribute, it’s about what we what we can actually give away. So we don’t really see our own value. So now what happens in in Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich? There’s a little paragraph in there that says, while it may seem sound to start at the bottom and work your way to the top, the truth is, it’s the worst thing you do because people that start at the bottom can never lift their head high enough for success to recognize them. Right? That’s like the calling in artillery idea. When I first read that, I thought, well, how the hell does success recognize somebody? And and what I realized was that it’s your it’s at two completely different levels of understanding. Success is about opportunity. You have to be able to see and recognize opportunities so you can adjust yourself in order to meet that opportunity. But it starts first with your internal adjustment just to be able to see it. Otherwise, those two things don’t meet. They don’t ever come to a they don’t ever. The two ends. Never meet. They never meet in the middle. So it it has to start with a person believing that they’re worth something in order to pull in the correct thing that they would recognize as an opportunity itself.

David Neagle: Otherwise, their internal compass is looking for something that gives them the safety based on the level of understanding that they’re currently at. Right. So what ends up happening is that they think like you’re like your analogy right there. They think they’re going after one thing in life, but they’re just a little bit off from that. And then 20 years down the road, they’ve missed their purpose and their success by 100 miles, like it’s nowhere in the view of what it is that they’re doing. But I mean, like, one of the reasons that they teach us to use an azimuth in the military is so that we don’t go based on what we think about the direction that we’re going, but we actually have accurate proof of the direction that we’re going. For human beings that needs to start on the inside, that that azimuth on the inside or that compass on the inside is what do you truly desire in life and are you following that, or are you following the BS safety that people have given you as a direction for your life? What do you which what are you going to trade for in order to get what it is that you want? If you always follow that inner voice within, it’s telling you which way to go. You’ll always be you, and you’ll pull in all of the things that you want, because you’re in harmony with the next level of where it is that you want to go.

John Berry: And so we have to listen to that internal compass. And I’m sure you meet with people who don’t listen to it or their internal compass is is broken. Right. And of course, and to be fair, well, now we have electronic systems in place, but even a call for fire, you got to have that that map and that compass and that protractor and figure out where you want that, uh, round to land. Right. But but you’ve always said, you know, you may think you want it to land somewhere, and if it doesn’t get the result, you just you just you just adjust fire and you don’t you don’t take it personally. As you explained, the the fdo doesn’t get all upset that they did. The round didn’t land exactly where they wanted. It’s okay, it’s okay. Learn from it and adjust fire.

David Neagle: Exactly, exactly 100%. And you’re right, they don’t hear the the right voice on the inside. I teach people that with all the different conversations that we have in our head, there’s three main voices. There’s your voice or the voice of God, whichever you believe. And then there’s the voice of others, which makes up all the people in your history that are still chiming around in the back of your mind and telling you what to do, what not to do. Your mom’s voice, your sergeant’s voice, whoever’s whoever’s voice is in your head. And then the voice of fear, which is not a bad voice. Fear is not a bad thing. Fear is a red flag that says, pay attention to something, but we’re supposed to use our intellect to determine what it is that it’s telling us to pay attention to. It’s not telling you to stop, right. It’s saying something is wrong here or potentially wrong here. And then we’re supposed to navigate what actually that is that might be wrong. But the voice that we don’t learn to pay attention to is that quiet voice within that all life on the planet has that gives it direction.

David Neagle: People need to. People need to think about something. If you look at nature that’s undisturbed by human beings, it’s not ever confused about what it is or why it’s here or what it’s supposed to do. It does it every single day, and it doesn’t have to go to school for 20 years in order to figure out how to do that. And I started thinking to myself, why is it that God would create nature to be perfectly not get lost in life, but human beings can’t seem to get out of their own way? And I came to the conclusion that we weren’t created that way. The problem is, is that we’re never taught to listen to that voice. We’re taught to listen to the voice of somebody else that’s telling us which way to go with our life, but not our own inner sense of direction. So it takes time to start listening to it. But you can’t just listen to it. You have to act on it to actually see how it’s trying to guide you through your life. And it’s an amazing journey. Once a person starts down that journey, they rarely turn back around.

John Berry: So instead of all the head trash, we listen to our instincts, which like animals, right? The lion is going to find something, chase it, kill it, uh, eat it. And it doesn’t really matter whether the lion has three legs or four, whether the lion has been maimed and attacked by hyenas the day before. The lion doesn’t care. The lion is there to do what lions do. That’s right. And and it seems that somehow we lose that that that that killer instinct, if you will, because of all the head trash. So how do we get back to that killer instinct?

David Neagle: So here’s the thing. There’s a lot that’s been written about motivation and inspiration. I believe that when we tap into what we really want, that’s all part of it. It automatically shows up. You don’t have to do things to motivate yourself, because when you’re doing what you want in life, you want to do it. You’re not fighting the head drama that says, oh, I got to get up today and I got to do this, or I got to make myself do the other thing. But we’re taught in life that we have to do what it is that we’re told, not what we want, but but as adults, if we start listening to what we want, the motivation, the inspiration, the curiosity, the drive, all of that is there. Once we get in alignment with who we really are. So it’s not something we find on the outside. This part is not about discipline. It’s about acknowledgment of what it is that you’re here for. I believe that every human being has a purpose, and that purpose existed before we came into this lifetime, and that we’re in this lifetime to fulfill that purpose. But it’s our responsibility to find what it is.

John Berry: How do we deal with the evolution of the purpose? And let me get specifically to your example, where you now have a larger company called Life Is Now. You’ve evolved, but you seem to have hit your purpose, you know, decades ago and and now you, but you’ve continually evolved it. So how do you know when it’s time to evolve into something bigger? How does that come to you?

David Neagle: Your desire changes, right? So I constantly ask myself, what do I want? It’s so easy in life to get sucked into what other people want. And one of the greatest, uh, skills that we can learn is how to say no as a complete sentence, right? And not start doing things that other people want us to do just because other people want us to do things right. As an adult, we’re responsible to other people, but not for them. We’re responsible both to and for ourselves. So there needs to be a constant internal. Dialogue with yourself, going, what do I really want? And we need to look at the things that we’re going to commit to and go, do I really want to do this so that we can be our word when we say that we’re going to do something? I don’t think most people want to break their word. I think that they commit to things that they don’t really want to commit to, and they can only force themselves to do it for so long, and then they end up not doing it. But if you if you’re constantly in that self-reflective stage and you’re going, this is what I want, you only need to know as far as that desire shows itself, it may only tell you what you want for the next year. Just follow it for the next year. As you get closer to the end of that accomplishment. The next the next path will be shown every time, but it won’t be shown at all if you don’t acknowledge it and make a decision to start following it. That’s all that you have to do.

John Berry: And you don’t have to tell anybody about it. You just have to do it.

David Neagle: That you have to do it. And the thing is, is I really believe this. Don’t ever trust anybody with your dream that does not have the capacity to encourage your dream. Right? And not everybody does. I mean, if a person cannot help amplify what you do, you shouldn’t share those things with that person because it’ll only tear you down. They’ll only they’ll try to reduce you to the level of their own internal limitation.

John Berry: And you’ve had to deal with that early on from friends and family members. Once they started seeing your success, they didn’t believe that it was your skill or you were doing it. They thought it was luck. They thought it was some other reason they didn’t want to believe. And so they didn’t support you. And so how do you deal with that when the people closest to you do not support what you’re doing or don’t believe in what you’re doing as much as you do.

David Neagle: They still don’t. It’s been 30 years since I started down this path, and they still have. They they cannot wrap their minds around how I’m successful. It just makes no sense to them. Now I realize that’s not everybody’s family, but that is my extended family. There’s no question about it. I had to come to terms with the fact that they are where they are in their level of maturity. I can’t expect them to be the way that I want them to be. They chose to establish their life the way that that that they established it. So I went through different incarnations of dealing with that from the perspective of we’re in relationship with people because there’s needs that we want met from different people that we’re in relationship from. And I realized I well, I didn’t just realize this. My mentor helped me with this. You’re maturing past those people in your life, so you no longer need to get your needs met from them. You’re going to get your needs met from other people that are on the same level as you. However, you don’t need to get rid of that relationship. You just need to change your position in the relationship, help them get their needs met. Don’t need to get the feedback from them that you and the encouragement that you want from somebody else on your own level, because they just don’t have the ability to give it. And if you accept that and you stand in your own maturity about what it is that you’re doing, it’s much easier to realize from a human standpoint, you’re the one that decided to grow here, right? They’re not. And it’s not wrong that they didn’t decide to grow. It’s just the way that they decided to live their life. But they can no longer fulfill your needs. So you have to seek those things out, whether it’s encouragement or love or friendship or whatever, from people that are more on the level that you’re currently on now, because they have the ability to support you.

John Berry: And one of the reasons why I started digging into your teachings is because I didn’t really understand that I came from a different place. When I was ten years old, I told my parents I wanted a Schwinn Predator bicycle, and my parents said, great, go buy one. I said, well, I don’t have money. They said, well, you can get a paper out, you can detasseled corn. And so I didn’t have curfews. I didn’t have a lot of rules. There were, you know, that there were actions and there were consequences. Oh, you stayed up late tonight and you got football practice. All too bad. I can remember when I started playing football, my mom said, okay, great, here’s the washing machine. This is where you’re going to put your uniform and you’re going to wash it. And by the way, now you’re going to wash all your clothes. But I never you know, I never had the, uh, I never hung around people with limiting beliefs. And my parents certainly led me to believe that I could do whatever I wanted so long as I understood that I would pay. Uh, you pay when you do wrong and and you get paid when you do. Right, and, uh, and I. But then as I began leading others, I realized that, well, why is this person not want to do this? Why do they not want to make more money? Why do they not want a promotion? Why do they not want a bigger future? And I started to figure out that it wasn’t me as the leader. There were things that were going on that I didn’t understand had happened in their lives that were that were holding them back. And I, like I said, so I’m grateful for your teachings to to be able to see that. Now, that being said, this being the Veteran Led podcast, we come down to the After action review, the three up, the three down. Uh, what are the three best examples of leadership that you personally experienced, uh, or led others to experience? And then what are the three worst?

David Neagle: Okay, great. So so so my mentor would not tell me how. How to do anything. Right. He he was kind of like Patton. He would tell you what to do, but he wouldn’t tell you how to do it. He would ask you a question instead of giving you the answer. So that man made me responsible for finding my own answers and figuring out how to actually do the things that I wanted to do in life. The, um, my first sergeant when I was in when I was in, I didn’t even thought about this for a long time. My first sergeant when I was at Rhein-Main Air Base, um, that when when I first got there and this is and I want to go down this road too far. There was that base was attacked the night that we were flying in from the night from North Carolina, from the United States. They put a bomb in front of the embassy. So when I got there, they shipped they were shipping everybody out because they closed the base down because it was a terrorist attack. And they shipped me off to, um, to to Berlin to work at the Checkpoint Charlie up there. And I had no idea what was going on. I was freaking out. We were hearing all different kinds of stories, and the guy said to me, he said, make sure that when you get up there, you do what you think is right. And I had no idea what he meant by that.

David Neagle: But when when I got up there, they were basically telling us that these people, these families were trying to come across the wall on a daily basis and we could do nothing to help them until they got to the other side, and they would routinely be slaughtered in the street before they actually got to the wall. And, um, he played a big role in my life in helping me make decisions. Futuristically I think he knew that I would. This was a place that I was not going to stay. So he kept me thinking in a in a different direction. And then the third one. I don’t know that I have a third one, that it’s at the top of my head. Let me tell you about the worst I when I worked for a petroleum company, um, the guy that owned the company was a family owned company. This guy owned the company, and his internal motivation in life was to make people miserable. He was a miserable old man, and, uh, he he, um. I did learn something interesting out of this. If somebody screwed up, he would call me in the office. This was after I got promoted from a truck driver to lower management. He called me in the office and he said, you know, you got to mess with this guy’s life now, right? And I’m like, what are you talking about? He’s like, well, he screwed up. He said, so for the next two weeks, figure out how you could screw him up every day.

David Neagle: Keep him out there longer. Don’t give him what he needs. Mess his route up, whatever it is you can do. And I was thinking to myself, am I actually hearing what it is that I’m hearing? So one day I finally pushed back against this guy and I said, you can’t do that. I’m like, we have a signed bargaining agreement with these. With these folks, you can’t do it. You’re you’re going to be made wrong. You’re going to get a fine, whatever. And he looked at me, he came across the table and he said to me, let me tell you something. He said, we live in the United States of America. He said, you could do whatever you want as long as you’re willing to pay the price. Now, he was right. I mean, it was one of the biggest lessons I learned for the positive. But he meant it for the negative because because he had money, he figured he could screw with people. He pays the fine. He still gets his kicks because he’s actually, um, messing with people. Uh, another another one that was really bad was I worked for ServiceMaster for about a year in the early years of my marriage, and, um, I was just I was just a hired hand, you know, I was like, doing, uh. What was it? Flood and fire restoration at the time. And the the boss had an emergency and couldn’t show up. And I was the senior person on the crew, which didn’t mean much at all.

David Neagle: So the owner passed down a message to me to tell this people that were under me to do something a certain way. And all I did was ask them to do something. Well, the person that I asked apparently went back to the owner and told the owner that I screamed at them, telling them to do something and I literally got fired. They never came to me and asked me what my side of the story was. They just believed somebody else. So I learned these little things along the way about how people lead with other people in their in their insecurities about what it is that they’re doing. And I think that, um, all of those I think I have several significant stories like this where there was an abuse of power in my life, even in my even in my childhood, where people just assumed that you were guilty before there was any evidence to prove so based on hearsay that somebody had, and then actually being abusive and how they, how they dealt with it. So it was um, I think the key point that I’m trying to make there is that I had to learn what my own self-worth was on the inside in order to be able to see past that as a character flaw in somebody else, to be able to do something significant in any kind of a leadership role, especially with myself.

John Berry: Outstanding and and I’ll push back on the on the third leadership example, obviously you’ve grown the Life is Now team and you’ve had a significant impact of those team members who have been with you for a long time. What would what would they say? David Nagel’s greatest leadership attribute is.

David Neagle: Uh, did I do what I want? I really think that’s what it is, because I’m not like a real hands on leader. Uh, my CEO does most of that work at this point. I got it to a place where I knew it wasn’t. So I know that I can be a good manager because I did it, uh, in another in another incarnation before this, when I worked for this petroleum company. I know that I can do really good at that, but I also am a kind of person that needs to be completely focused on what I’m doing. And my real passion is teaching and coaching and doing seminars and speaking with people. That’s all I really want to do. So I got to the point where it was like, I’m going to be the example of doing what I want to do to the very best of my ability, and I’m going to have somebody else come in and do the managerial stuff. You know, the CEO, the CFO, the, you know, all the, um, uh, operations, everything, so that I don’t have to do it anymore. So I’m, I’m constantly I mean, if, if, if you if you really knew me, I walk around with people all the time going, what do you want? You know, because people will ask me questions and my first response will be, well, what do you really want? What do you want? You know, because it’s like, should we do this or should we do that? And I’ll say, what do you want? Or what do you think is best? It’s kind of giving it back to them the way my mentor did with me, kind of forcing them to think and make their own decisions about what they do. And I really believe what Patton said. I was a big I still am. I’m a big fan of, uh, of Patton. Patton in the way Patton led and Patton really believed. Don’t tell people how to do stuff. Tell them what to do and let them let their own ingenuity, you know, figure out how to do it.

John Berry: And even today, the Army mission statement has the who, what, when, where and why, but does not have the how. We never tell our teams how to do things. So that lives on today. David, how can veterans or anyone listening to this podcast learn more about you life is now, uh, or your teachings.

David Neagle: So you could either go to our website, life is now, or you could go to the successful Mind podcast. It’s on all the podcast channels. You can. If you really want to get into what we’re doing, just go listen to the podcast. I mean, we’ve been doing it for seven years now. There’s a ton of free information in there. If you’d like to do something with us personally, go to our website and we’ll be happy to talk to you.

John Berry: Thanks so much, David. It’s been an honor and it’s been enlightening today.

David Neagle: Thanks, man. Thanks for having me.

John Berry: Thank you for joining us today on Veteran Led, where we pursue our mission of promoting veteran leadership in business, strengthening the veteran community, and getting veterans all of the benefits that they earn. If you know a leader who should be on the Veteran Led podcast, report to our online community by searching at Veteran Led on your favorite social channels and posting in the comments, we want to hear how your military challenges prepared you to lead your industry or community, and we will let the world know. And of course, hit subscribe and join me next time on Veteran Led.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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