The Happy Engineer Podcast

081: The 6 Essential Core Values of Leadership with David Valentine | Marketing Madman and $$ Billion Dollar Leader

In this episode, you are going to meet a serial entrepreneur, investor, and marketing madman David Valentine. Dave owns 7 businesses which have generated over a billion dollars collectively for over 1000 clients including major brands and fortune 100 companies like Target, Time Magazine and American Express.

When his doctor asked him at the age of 29 “Are you prepared for your heart attack?” He realized he needed to learn how to scale businesses without the stress killing him.

Dave now runs his companies from the mountains next to a river and 3 waterfalls. What he has learned is a powerful set of core values that shape everything about how he leads and builds his company.

You will want to write these 6 values down, and an incredible insight I’ve never heard about values before.

So press play and let’s chat… you’re about to discover how to scale your career with one great impression!

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The Happy Engineer Podcast




080: Powerful 22-minute 2022 Reflection Exercise & Big News for The Happy Engineer Podcast in 2023 with Zach White




When you hear the phrase core values, what’s the first thing that actually pops into your mind? 

If you’re like a lot of engineering leaders who I’ve coached, the first thing is one of those motivational posters with a picture of a bald eagle or two people climbing a mountain where one of them is helping the other one up.

A word underneath, of course, like perseverance, courage or gratitude.

The truth is many of those things are just fine. 

But those five to eight words or phrases that they come up with don’t actually change and shape the company.

It’s too bad that lots and lots of engineering leaders experience core values in that way, and I hope that that’s not you. 

There are a lot of great organizations like Dave’s that use values as a meaningful part of the DNA and the culture of the organization, but I can also sadly report that the majority of engineers who I’ve coached at the Oasis of Courage tell me that they either don’t know what the values are, they can’t find the values of their organization, or if they do find them, they’re not lived out or understood. 

Or for many of my clients, there are no core values whatsoever. 

I want to take you back to my first real experience with understanding the power of core values, and it was after my own burnout and rock bottom experience in my engineering career.

I was doing therapy and counseling to recover from the grief and the challenge of all of the burnout I had gone through and the divorce that I had just gone through with my ex-wife, but I also was working with a coach. 

We were talking about things I could do differently to build and accelerate my career in a more balanced way. 

A core aspect of that conversation is your peers, and how you can build stronger, better relationships with them.

We were in the conversation and I got into one of those hot button topics, one of those deep points of frustration. There was someone else on the team who was really rubbing me the wrong way.

This person really aggravated me. They consistently created conflict where I felt there did not need to be conflict.

So I’m telling my coach about this and, and my coach asked me this question, “Zach, which of your core values is this person violating?”

What that revealed to me in that moment was that, “I guess I don’t really know what my core values are clearly and explicitly…”

I started trying to answer the question, but I really didn’t have the vocabulary for it. 

And as the coaching session went on, my coach explained to me for the first time in my adult life the importance of how core values truly shape this internal compass that guides our emotional reactions and our actual decisions, and consequently creating the results that we experience. 

You have in your life right now, a blueprint or compass of core values that are dictating the way you interpret the world around you.

You have a set of values, guiding principles in your life and rules about what must be true in order for those values to be honored. 

When you don’t know what those are, then you are allowing a subconscious conditioned pattern of honoring and respecting those values to drive your life rather than a conscious and proactive intention around those values. 

I’ve coached leaders with all levels of experience at all ages, from all walks of life. 

And what I’ll tell you is that a deep, authentic, vulnerable look at your core values with the intention to put specific words and rules behind those values is one of the most profound exercises that most of my clients will ever do.

We do a lot of work together in our coaching program, but this exercise is one that really, really stands out. 

I don’t have the ability to walk you through all of that in just audio here on the podcast, but I want to give you as much meat to sink your teeth into as I can. 

So let me do my best to explain a couple of the keys that you can take with you today.

The core values that are guiding your life are not the means by which you create results or get. 

Money isn’t a value. 

I get it if this makes you go “You’re absolutely wrong about that. I highly, highly value having a lot of money in my bank account.

Hear me out. It’s not the money that you value. It’s what money brings into your life that you value. Money might represent freedom to you or security or safety. 

It might represent significance, status or reputation. 

We could go through dozens of other examples, but what I want to challenge you on today is to take time coming out of this conversation with Dave Valentine and ask yourself, what do I ultimately value when my head hits the pillow at night?

Write down some of the words that describe those ends, those ultimate states you want to experience. 

And begin to seek clarity on your values and then look at your life and use these in two ways.

Core values are useful on two sides of your life. 

First is looking back on decisions that you’ve made, looking back on why you have felt the way you have felt in different situations. 

Why was I so angry yesterday? Why am I so frustrated at this person? Why do I feel so happy about what’s going on right now?

Why am I enjoying this podcast so much? 

But it’s also proactive looking ahead and making great decisions. 

Let’s say you value adventure. 

Well, if you have a choice to make, and on one side is something that will lead to a spirit of adventure, and on the other side is something that will leave you feeling trapped, bored, and without anything to look forward to, guess which one is going to take your life towards your ultimate vision and destiny in a way that will ignite you… 

It’s adventure. 

When you know these values clearly it is a ridiculously powerful blueprint for decision making, and I can’t tell you how valuable it has been for me and for my clients to get clear on this.

Seek clarity here.

If you don’t have a blueprint for your own core values, if you’ve never done the deep work and gotten underneath the layers of the onion of our lives, then I highly encourage you to consider working with a great coach who can support you in doing this work.

Of course, we’d love to support you, so please reach out if you’re interested.

I want you to keep building your career this year, balancing your life in ways that are more enjoyable and more full of energy and enthusiasm than you ever have before and more than anything, to experience a deep fulfillment, a passion, and a purpose that lights you up every morning.



Dave owns 7 businesses which have generated over a billion dollars collectively for over 1000 clients including major brands and fortune 100 companies like Target, Time Magazine and American Express. When his doctor asked him at the age of 29 “Are you prepared for your heart attack?” He realized he needed to learn how to scale businesses without the stress killing him. Dave now runs his companies from the mountains next to a river and 3 waterfalls.

Using a conscious capitalism and unconventional marketing approach he was able to rapidly grow his businesses by investing money into his people instead of paid advertising. After selling his first business, he acquired 3 companies and has invested $3 million into companies this year.

His mission is to employ over 200,000 people and revolutionize the way we reward good talent. He wants to be so big that governments can’t ignore him because his companies take up too much of their GDP. Or put simply … he wants to buy the freedom that was stolen by greedy individuals and corporations.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: All right. Happy engineers. Welcome back. I am here today with the amazing Dave Valentine. Dave, thanks for making time to be on the show. So glad to have you  here, man.

[00:00:08] David Valentine: Zach, it’s an honor man. Super excited to chat with you brother.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:11] Zach White: We had a really fun chat before we hit record about bald eagles.

[00:00:15] I won’t repeat it all, but uh, super jealous of the view out your window with the river and bald eagles flying by man. That is super cool. jealous. 

[00:00:24] David Valentine: Jealous. It’s, you know, if you can live anywhere, Zack, you might as well live somewhere that’s fun and engaging and 

[00:00:32] Zach White: true if you wanna live. True. Amen to that.

[00:00:34] Amen to that. I chose this, and to be fair, I’m only a mile from Lake Michigan, which is absolutely. Stunning. So I’m pretty blessed. But Dave, here’s where I wanna begin. There’s so many cool places in your life, but you are known for being a bit of a, a marketing madman, if you will, and getting meetings with big clients.

[00:00:53] I’ve heard that some of your methods are l let’s use the word innovative. That would be a good engineering word for that. And I’d love to hear, man, tell me like what stands out to you as that. Absolutely. Outlandish crazy thing that Dave’s ever done to get a meeting. . 

[00:01:14] David Valentine: Oh, the craziest thing I’ve ever done to get a meeting.

[00:01:17] Wow. That’s, that’s a big, that’s a big box right there, Zach. Okay. Like, that’s huge. So some, some of the things that we’ve done, in our history, It was probably seven years ago now. There were a handful of clients for my, first company that I owned that were really, really lucrative. Like we knew that they were gonna be worth at least a quarter of a million dollars a year.

[00:01:40] Probably more. And so we were like, what can we send them? What can we get to the chief marketing officers? It’s just gonna really engage ’em. So what we did was we sent them, we shipped them the full size Yeti coolers, right? They were like 400 bucks, four 50 a piece. So I can’t even know how much they’re now, they’re expensive.

[00:01:59] And we put a padlock on him, okay? And it had a note on the box and it said, Hey, have lunch with me. I’ll bring a key for the padlock and let’s talk about your digital advertising needs. And that was pretty crazy, right? We gotta, first, it’s hard to find a box that you can just ship a Yeti cooler in. I dunno if you do that, Zach, but I believe that, yeah.

[00:02:21] It’s kind of hard and, and FedEx kind of looks at you like you’re crazy when you say, Hey, I need to ship this. They’re like, is it a coffin? Like is there a person? Yeah, yeah. What’s going on here? This thing is huge . Um, but, but it was highly effective. We got four out of the five meetings. Oh, wow. I don’t know what happened to the other one by the way.

[00:02:39] It got delivered , 

[00:02:40] Zach White: I guess. I guess Bolt cutter on a, I knew . Yeah. 

[00:02:44] David Valentine: I was like, man, I, okay, cool. But yeah, so that’s, that’s a thing that we’ve done. We, we send pinatas in the mail all the time now, to get people’s attention. All right. Which is a good time. Uh, we also do messages in a bottle and tubular mail, handwritten notes.

[00:02:58] We do all sorts of stuff through snail mail. People think that that’s crazy, Zach, but like, it’s highly effective. It has a, it has a hundred percent open rate if you land, right? Everybody’s gonna open their mail. 

[00:03:09] Zach White: I like, Yeah, tell me, tell me real quick, what was inside the Yeti?

[00:03:14] Or was it simply, Hey, if you wanna be able to use the Yeti, you gotta, you wanna be able to use the Yeti key? Yeah. So the Yeti was empty. Yeah. Nothing in the Yeti. Nothing in the Yeti. There’s stuff 

[00:03:23] David Valentine: in the pinatas, which is cool. Sure, totally. But yeah, we were always trying to find something new, right? Like most people think, Hey, we.

[00:03:32] there’s this really interesting study done by Harvard and Oxford. they looked at, 2004. How many impressions did a company need to have in order for a person to remember the company’s name in a yes ish what they do? Have you heard about this, Zach? 

[00:03:47] Zach White: I, I don’t know if this exact one, but I look at these kind of stats all the time.

[00:03:51] Okay. But keep. , 

[00:03:52] David Valentine: so what they found was in 2004, you needed four impressions over the course of like 12 months to be memorable. So then they updated this in 2018, and what they found is in 2018 it was 17 touches. Wow. And so there’s this thought, right? Like, well, you just need to have more impressions. And what that does is it makes a lot of digital advertising companies and social media firms really, really wealthy.

[00:04:17] Unfortunately, what we’ve done is we’ve maximized the number of impressions instead of maximizing the intent and the potential of one great impression. Hmm. And so what if we did less work but it was more impactful? And that’s a lot of what, my SDR firm outsource sales development rep firm really triess.

[00:04:38] Zach White: What I like about this, you, you asked a moment ago is, you know, I work with engineering leaders, many of whom probably 80% of our clients are W2 employees at, some large organization has a, a big engineering team. And one thing that comes up a lot, Dave, is say you’re an engineering manager or an engineering director and you want to.

[00:05:00] Build a relationship with that CTO or that dream mentor who’s built the career that you desire to build, and you’re looking for help on those next steps. You’re looking for sponsorship and you wanna build that relationship. Lots of engineering leaders really struggle with how do I possibly, get their attention, let alone bring something of value into that first meeting.

[00:05:24] we way overthink and then don’t do. and I just love this heartbeat of maybe it’s not as hard as it seems, and just be creative and be willing to do something that might feel to, especially to an engineer, pretty outlandish, but could open that door in a unique way. So I’m curious for your perspective, like Dave, if you were an engineering director at some company and you really wanted to talk to the CTO of an organization that you’d love to work for in the future, what would be the first ideas that come to mind for you on how you’d get their a.

[00:05:54] some of the things that I’ve done in the past is, I go check out their social media. Cause a lot of people have social media that’s accessible, right. Twitter, Instagram come to mind and they’re gonna be talking about things that aren’t necessarily business related. They may be right, but, but they also may just be talking about.

[00:06:11] David Valentine: their love of a sports team or of their alma mater. Yeah. Or hey, they’re taking their kids to go see the new Star Wars movie, or whatever that is. And then I’ve found that two things are really impactful whenever you’re like, Hey, what do I do? one is if they have kids and they’re actively talking about them on social, you can do this in a non-creepy way, , you can send them a gift for their kids if you’re wanting to make an impression on a person.

[00:06:38] Give their kids a gift, right? a lot of people are listening to this have, kids or, or their, aunts and uncles or whatever, right? Mm-hmm. . And so one of the things that I’ve noticed over and over again is kids want attention. They want your time.

[00:06:51] They don’t care about your gifts. However, , if your kids or kids that you love, get a gift from someone that’s like, Hey, I’ve been working and some people. , I wanna work with or wanna work with me, sent me this gift for you that makes them feel good about what dad, mom, and uncle are up to.

[00:07:09] Zach White: that’s really clever. I like that. 

[00:07:11] David Valentine: Yeah. the other thing I’d say is that sometimes just going like, really above and beyond, like there’s this, I’ll, I’ll tell a story cuz I think it works. we had this company. this was a while ago, right? And I knew that this company was like a perfect fit for one of my companies to like represent and work with.

[00:07:27] And so I had had this great conversation with this guy and one of the things that I learned from a buddy of mine who was in Hollywood for decades, he said one of the worst things that could happen in Hollywood is you have a great meeting. Oh, okay. Okay. He was like, cuz what’ll happen is you have a great meeting and then nothing happens.

[00:07:45] Right? The project gets tabled, the script doesn’t get picked up, the money doesn’t get funded. so I took that and I went, okay. You can have great sales meetings, you can have great interviews, right? You can have these great meetings, and what’ll happen is the next step won’t be taken. So what I did with this guy was exactly what I’m talking about.

[00:08:05] I, I was like, Hey, I think this guy’s perfect. I really wanna work with this company. I know we can get them results. I wonder what he’s got on his social. So I found his Twitter and I realized that he was like a raging soccer fan. And I was like, okay, I can’t figure out what professional team he likes, but he lives in Denver, Colorado.

[00:08:22] He’s gotta be a US men’s national team fan. So I went and found like a mini soccer ball that had been signed by the US national team’s best player, cost 180 bucks. I said, Hey man, I’ve got a gift. I wanna send it to your house. It’s not, don’t worry, it’s nothing bad. It’s something cool. Can I get your address?

[00:08:39] And he was like, of course. So I sent it to him. I didn’t hear anything back for a couple weeks. And then Zach, all of a sudden I was like, Hey man, I just wanna make sure that you got the gift that I sent you. And he’s like, dude, I did. I’m so sorry I didn’t follow up and blah, blah, blah. . they became a client.

[00:08:56] They had so much success that they had to pause our marketing services because it like overwhelmed their ability to fulfill. And then they came back a few months later and they’re like, okay, let’s reengage. And they’re having great success again. And one of the things that I asked that guy was he was like, I was like, Hey, why?

[00:09:14] Why work with us? He said, no one’s ever sent me a gift that was like $200. He was like, that was so fun. And he’s like, I love it. It sits on my shelf behind me for work. And so I think it’s just having meaningful interactions with people. Yeah. Yeah. Um, is 

[00:09:28] Zach White: really the key. I love it. I love it. Well, I hope every engineering leader takes to heart the idea that if you’ll just invest a little energy upfront to get to know who that person is, what their passions might be, and get creative at token value.

[00:09:45] That’s not about bribery or anything. It’s, it’s like, of course this is not legal advice. We’re not here from hr, but, uh, , you know, like, it’s, that’s an awesome, awesome thing. So. Well, Dave, take us back to your story. Age 29, the ripe old age of 29. And you’re hustling. You know, here you are, this serial entrepreneur going after it in life and the doctor asks you a rather stinging question, are you ready for your heart attack?

[00:10:20] not what we wanna hear at that point. So what’s going on in your life at that? and why did the doc ask you that question? 

[00:10:30] I started my first grownup business at 25 by that time, by the age of 29, I had grown it to seven figures. So it was, you know, only 7% of all businesses in the US hit seven figures.

[00:10:42] David Valentine: So by all accounts, I was successful. I was making more money than I’d ever made in my life. It was great. I had two young kids under the age of three at the house. Wife and I are married. Everything’s cool. I’m working a lot and. They did a stress test and they’re like, Hey, you’re the most stressed out person.

[00:11:00] We’ve tested. We’ve tested 4,500 people. Like you’re, you’re the wow. what had happened. Honestly, Zach is what I think happens to a lot of professionals that are driving hard. I stopped taking care of myself when I was growing up, I was a multi-sport athlete on varsity. Sure. you know, I was in good shape.

[00:11:18] And then I started a family, started a business, started climbing the ladder Stop working out, stop meditating. I stopped taking care of myself. And so I really had to, at that point, begin this journey of how do I create a business or businesses that allow me to live my life, not die young? . Yeah. And how can I make it so that I have practices that really allow me to be less stressed and.

[00:11:50] three days after that, I just would tell myself, your only goal today is to drink. a glass of water completely. Okay. And to go for a five minute walk. Right. And that sounds, this was three days 

[00:12:06] Zach White: after the stress test. This was three days after 

[00:12:08] David Valentine: just getting this stress because one of the things that people do whenever they hear something like that is they go, I’m gonna go all in. Crazy. Yeah. And it never works. . Yeah. And so you have to take a bite size approach to this and say, okay. What does it really look like for me to approach this in a relevant manner?

[00:12:26] And so it took a long time for me to build up to what I do today, but I started out with a glass of water in a five minute walk. Yes. And if I did anything more than that, you know, if I had two glasses of water that day, if I had, if whatever that, if I went for a 20 minute walk, if I went and worked out at the gym, that was extra.

[00:12:45] My only goal was five minutes in a glass of water. Well, now that’s, 

[00:12:49] Zach White: Now I, we’ll back up. Yeah. Don’t, don’t tell us about now yet. Okay. Because I wanna, I, I, we want, I know everybody wants to hear, Hey, what’s the ideal life? But what was it that actually triggered you to go do the stress test? Was there something that happened or did your spouse say like, dude, what was it that actually prompted that action?

[00:13:08] David Valentine: Yeah. It was one of those things where I, I was not feeling well. I was not sleeping well. Okay. And I also realized, you know, I haven’t had a, physical since I was like, 18 . Okay. And I’m getting close to 30. Maybe I should go do that. Right. I had been going to a chiropractor and he was like, dude, I think, I think you should go get some tests,

[00:13:29] Okay. I know. And so between my wife, my own thoughts, my chiropractor, I was like, all right. Let’s go just see what’s under the hood, you know, doc and, and so that’s really what initiated 

[00:13:40] Zach White: that. Okay. honestly, that’s awesome. So many times I hear the story and we’ve had other people on this podcast who, you know, it’s a, a rock bottom type moment or a real scare, you know, a heart attack Yeah.

[00:13:53] Or something that happens and it sounds. you managed to catch this before it had a permanent impact in your life, which is a real blessing. But I’m curious, so you mentioned it’s not sleeping well, not feeling well. What were the things, if you were to go back and you could kind of help your previous self before that awareness, what types of signs were you seeing that maybe that engineering leader listening to our chat might check their own boxes and say, am I experiencing some of those same?

[00:14:21] Yeah, 

[00:14:22] David Valentine: great question, Zach. some of those things were brain fog. even in my twenties, I was like, man, I just can’t get the right answer as quick as I should be able to. I felt extremely fatigued. Yeah, all the time. Just exhausted. Things that I used to enjoy, I just didn’t anymore.

[00:14:42] some people may even call it mild depression. I just wasn’t interested in my, hobbies. I wasn’t right enjoying work as much as I used to, and honestly, I started to use. Food and alcohol to numb some of that As and TV as well. You I was just like, I would work and work and work and then I’d be like, I need to come down off a 12 hour day.

[00:15:07] David Valentine: How do I come down off a 12 hour day? I haven’t eaten enough today, so my body’s in starvation. These are things I understand now, but I didn’t understand the time, but I was, my body’s in starvation mode. I had maybe had 300 calories all day and five cups of coffee. I was drinking too much caffeine, like absurd amounts of coffee every day.

[00:15:24] Yeah. and so I was just in, I was putting my body in this stress cycle, and then what I’d do at night is I’d go, well, now my body’s going. And I’m gonna have a couple drinks to calm myself down, and then I’m gonna watch some TV or something, play some video games, whatever, to just calm myself down.

[00:15:42] And I just didn’t have anything that was like, oh, that’s, that’s my creative outlet. Oh, that’s my de-stress outlet. And so those are my triggers. Now is, is like, hey, if I’m out of a routine where I’m taking care of myself, if I start to see my calorie intake, to like switch at different points of the day instead of being leveled across the board.

[00:16:06] Mm-hmm. , there are all sorts of things that I just go, all right, I can’t keep doing this. And there’s a, there’s a helpings. If you are in a season where you can see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, we know that it’s going to be slower when this project’s done and the project is going to complete in three weeks, cause we have to get it done, then you can give yourself some grace to be like, okay, for the next three, Yes, I’m in survival.

[00:16:29] Yes. Yes. And the day 22 is the day that I just go, I’m sleeping, I’m taking a nap. whatever that 

[00:16:37] Zach White: is. Yeah, I think that’s a really important distinction. one thing I see with engineering leaders a lot, Dave, is we convince ourselves that there is a day 22, but then you get to day 14. And well, we got three more weeks to go, and then you get to day 20 and next thing you know, six months, nine months, 12 months, 18 months later, you haven’t changed that pattern at all. And that’s when we get a lot of calls because that burnout derails their whole life. But the other thing I wanna highlight that I experienced was that doing the things you love and not loving it, I think that’s a really great indicator that there’s something fundamentally wrong in your body and mind when you.

[00:17:23] Yeah. For me, I remember back during my challenging time of the, my, my marriage is failing. I’m burning out. Everything is literally crashing in my world around me, and I would go out dancing, which for those who listened to the Happy Engineering Podcast, they know that I have a history in ballroom and Latin and swing dancing.

[00:17:42] I used to compete, I instructed for a while, and kept my engineering mind balanced by being a dancer. I love dancing, and during that time, Dave, I could go out dancing and just like nothing. No, no energy, no joy, no desire. rather than walking up to all these beautiful ladies and taking them out on the dance floor and having a great time, I’m having another drink at the bar.

[00:18:08] I’m sticking around by myself in the corner talking to another guy, like huge indication. Things are not working. to double down on that, if that’s you, listen to Dave, like it’s time to take action. So you have the stress test, doc says this is serious.

[00:18:25] Gotta take action. And starting with tiny habits, I love that. Approach. Tell us a little bit about your journey then, from a glass of water in five minutes of walking to where you are today. H how did that progress? What were the bumps in the road? What’d you learn? there were so many things that I learned.

[00:18:46] for a long time, I kept, driving to the gym, so I finally got through the point of time where it was like, okay. I’m exercising regularly. I want to get back into weightlifting. I was a competitive weightlifter in high school and so Nice. I’ve always find, I’ve always found enjoyment in that, it doesn’t, cardio has felt like work.

[00:19:04] David Valentine: Weightlifting feels like play, and so I started weightlifting again, but every gym that was close to me was not that close to me. I was living in Texas. , everything was a 15 minute drive at least. And there’s something weird in our, I’m sure that you’ve experienced Zach, if there’s a little bit of resistance to something that you wanna do, especially when you have a family, it makes it, amplifies it, right?

[00:19:29] So I would do this game where I’d go, well, I’ve gotta drive 15 minutes to the gym, and then I’m gonna get there and I’m gonna work out for 30, 45 minutes, and then I’m gonna have to drive 15 minutes. , which means in reality, my wife is at home with our kids by herself for an hour to an hour and a half without me, and I’ve only really worked out for 30, 45 minutes.

[00:19:57] Mm-hmm. . And so it became a hindrance because I was really, It’s hard to be a stay at-home parent with small kids. totally. Like it just is totally. I, I’ve told her many times I could not do what she has done, and so it was a burden. So one of the things I started to realize over time was I needed to have a gym in my own house, right?

[00:20:16] Like I just needed to create a space where I could work out in my own house. That was a thing that took a while to come to fruition just because, it’s not always easy when you live in a smaller house and you’re like, Hey, I need to add a gym. Oh, but we’re adding children . So I had to wait on that a bit, but it was a realization that I had for a while and it was like, well, when we move, and so when we did move, I was like, yeah, one of the rooms is, is my gym.

[00:20:40] Another thing that I realized in the process was I needed to make meditation a bigger part of my life. . I grew up, in the church and I prayed a lot. And one of the things that’s fascinating about atheists and religious people and, Christians and Buddhists, doesn’t matter what background you come from, we know that prayer and meditation, activate the same parts of our brains.

[00:21:08] And so whether you’re a religious person or not praying or meditating, everyone agrees is super helpful and healthy for our brains. So I just went, you know, I need to start doing this every day. It’s going to help me. And I just would find little spots to do that, to meditate. And sometimes I would have a guided meditation, and other times I would have, meditations that were just open-ended.

[00:21:33] There are so many more apps now than there were when I started doing this. That can help you with that. Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that I found that I love that may be interesting to people that are listening to podcasts that I use now that I find. Insanely beneficial and it’s all guided. It’s called the Gateway Experience.

[00:21:53] Have you heard of this, Zack? 

[00:21:54] Zach White: No. This one’s new for me. Oh, 

[00:21:56] David Valentine: brother. I’m about to give, come on, rock my world. Let’s hear it. Yes. So back in the seventies and eighties, the CIA said, Hey, I wonder if we can Astr project if that’s a real thing. Cause that’s a thing that’s like an Eastern religious idea. And so they.

[00:22:11] Solicited a group to start putting together meditations to see if this was possible. And so the CIA as a Freedom of Information Act and because we paid for it, released all of the meditative files, like all of the files a few years ago, I think it actually happened in. early 2020 and so Interesting. Yeah.

[00:22:33] So you guys can actually go get this online. You can search the gateway experience because it’s open source, it’s our government. We can go get it anywhere you want and you can download these and they stack on top of each other. So, Every single, lesson is what they call ’em. It’s a meditation will teach you a new skill and it just allows you to start to engage.

[00:22:57] And one of the things that I’ve talked with many of my more spiritual woowoo friends is they’re like, man, some of my deepest meditations happen when I listen to this. And then I’ve had some friends that have never engaged with meditation for a second and they go, wow. If that’s what meditation’s like after just two sessions, they’re like, I want to do that.

[00:23:21] So it’s a really helpful resource. I, I meditate every day now and it’s, extremely beneficial. 

[00:23:26] Zach White: That’s amazing. And I also meditate every day. I, I love right now the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza. Uh, if so, for the Yes. People who wanna geek out Yes. And get really into it. Sometimes you need to see the science when you have that engineering brain mm-hmm.

[00:23:43] to buy into the investment of the time and energy. even if it just gets associated with woohoo, sometimes that’s like a, ah, I don’t wanna do it for the technical, science-minded person, but Dr. Joe’s. Absolutely brilliant with the brain scans and all the data and just the demonstration of that.

[00:24:01] So I, I have found that really helpful for me as to what’s actually happening in my neurochemistry and in, in my body as a result of the investment in that time. Yeah, and when you see the ROI then in your real life, after you start doing it, then it’s a no-brainer. but sometimes getting over that threshold of, do I really wanna do.

[00:24:21] You just need to see the raw data. It’s, that’s a great resource. Dave, I’m gonna find that gateway piece. We’ll put links in the show notes to that. That sounds incredible. tell me then, as you go through this journey in your own life of healing and creating balance, and, we don’t have time to go into all your successes, but like, that’s when things really took off for you in terms of the business results as well, is that,

[00:24:45] David Valentine: Yeah. it’s hilarious, Zach, if you take care of yourself, you’re able to function better, and when you function better, you get better results. Oh, go 

[00:24:51] Zach White: figure . Okay, well this is, this is a novel concept. Tell, tell me more. . it’s interesting, man. I think that one of the things that’s really hammered into our society’s codependency, right?

[00:25:06] David Valentine: We even talk about codependency as a way to describe. Romantic love and that that’s the ideal. one of the things that I started to realize is I meditated and worked out more and also went to therapy, right? Is that Sure. I had a very codependent relationship with my spouse and she is fantastic. I mean, absolutely rockstar.

[00:25:26] I outkicked my coverage on that one, right? I also needed to readjust how I was engaging with her. And so as I did, Obviously it made the relationship more challenging for a time, for probably a couple years there because we disrupted the balance that we created and it’s work worth doing. Mm-hmm. . And so what’s occurred out of that is we now just are really intense about what is going to make our kids are getting older.

[00:25:56] We realize that we only have so much time with them before they’re out of the house. It happens. So what are the rhythms? What are the habits that we wanna hold as a family? And as we look at those, and we started to really embrace those, all of a sudden the businesses just started to up level and. Some of the things that I saw in the business space was I would just show up to meetings and be so calm.

[00:26:20] My staff described, I’ve had staff that saw me back then Sure. Pre and I have staff that have seen me now and they describe those two different iterations of Dave as very different people. So they call the first go around. as Mad Men, Dave. They’re like, you were just, they’re like, it was crazy. and so, they’re like, and now , they’re like, you’re mountain hippie Dave, is how they would describe me.

[00:26:51] Zach White: Yes. And I mountain hippie Dave. 

[00:26:53] David Valentine: And I go, okay, what’s the difference? And they said, they really gave me the description. , you show up to meetings, you’re calm. You always feel grounded. The team may be having very spirited discussions about what’s best for the company that we’re talking about that I’m in the meeting for.

[00:27:13] And you just come in with the, Hey guys, everything’s fine. Nothing’s wrong here. , let’s talk about what’s best. You bring a grounding presence to everyone, and everyone feels at ease whenever you’re in the room. And so even if there is something that’s not going right with a business right this second, no one in the room is afraid because we know that we have a steady hand that’s guiding the ship.

[00:27:36] Cool. And so that’s really the big difference, right? Is that I’m able to see more just because I’m. manically chasing my tail. 

[00:27:45] Zach White: Yeah, that’s powerful . so tell me then, and I. I, I’m so passionate about this and I know that the engineering leaders who I coach in our programs share this passion as well, that not only do we wanna begin with that self-awareness and self-care and self-love to get our lives on track, so, cause we can’t give what we don’t have.

[00:28:08] But then there’s that immediate passion that triggers of, okay, now that my life is working and I’m taking care of, I wanna give that to the people I work with and the people I love and help as well. And you’ve been really successful in caring and investing in the people in your businesses as the Gateway two business success.

[00:28:30] tell us about that mindset and that culture that you’ve created and maybe even specific examples of what that looks. With this idea of conscious capitalism and, and people first, and when you get that piece right, the money and the success flows, un unpack how that plays out from Dave taking care of Dave to Dave helping take care of all these amazing people in your companies.

[00:28:54] David Valentine: I started my first business with this crazy idea that if you love your people, and you treat them well, then you’re gonna get the best out of ’em. And wait, what? I know . I know. So we created, we’ve honed over the years six core values and now all eight companies that I own, embody, or own those six core values across the board.

[00:29:16] Yes. I’m actually writing a book about it that’s gonna be released in January. Fingers crossed. Awesome. We’re like in that, we’re in that last editing phase where I hate the entire book, which everybody that I know that’s written a book, Zach, is like, you’re right on tracks. Done . Yeah, you’re perfect. It’s perfect.

[00:29:31] Um, but it’s, it’s six core values that really help us navigate as a company, how we engage with our staff. order. The order of those is important. So the first one is tenacity. The second one is curiosity. The third. is initiative. The fourth is accountability. The fifth is transparency, and the sixth is humanity.

[00:29:53] And so what we say is to our general staff, Hey, listen, the order is important. You need to show up tenaciously. And if you have tenacity, it’s gonna lead to asking questions. Why did that work? Yeah, why did that not work? And then as those questions take shape and you start to get answers, you stood, you should take initiative out of those answers and it should lead to you taking an action.

[00:30:14] And then the actions that you. That could be positive. Hey, we had a win or negative. Wow, that didn’t work. You have to be accountable to, which then leads to being transparent with your supervisors and your teammates to be like, Hey, this is what we saw in the project. This is what’s going on. Which then leads to a human response, which could be, Hey, failure’s, okay, that’s how we get better.

[00:30:35] Or Hey, that’s a win. Let’s celebrate that. Right? And so there’s a flow to it. Yes. The thing that I wanna highlight here is cuz you’re asking about how we. We tell that to all of our staff, and then we have a different conversation in closed door meetings with our leaders and the different conversation is they’re in stacks of three, right?

[00:30:54] We flip the order, so we say, okay, the staff. Everybody else that’s doing the work, they have to start with tenacity, curiosity, and initiative. And that’s right. And in order for you to get into leadership, you have to have those in spades. But once you’re, you are in leadership, you actually have to lead with humanity, transparency and accountability.

[00:31:14] And so when we lead in those ways, we actually open up the doors for the people that are doing the work to embody the first three. In large dynamic ways. And so what we’ve found over and over again in different examples is that people feel seen and loved and cared for. And so they may have, their life may be on fire and they feel like I come into the digital office or the physical office.

[00:31:48] Sure. Yes. And I feel seen, known love and heard. Yes. One of the things we’d love to say, About transparency. We don’t expect you to check your life at the door because that’s a crazy idea. Yeah. And so just let’s be honest with each other about what’s going on in our lives. And what that has resulted in is people saying, Hey, I, I need to go to rehab.

[00:32:11] And being honest with their employers about where they’re at. Mm-hmm. , I need to take a leave of, I just, Uh, someone that’s like incredibly close to me, they’re my adopted father pass unexpectedly, and I thought that I could handle this after five days of bereavement leave. I can’t. And they think they have to quit and we go, actually, no.

[00:32:30] How about you just take a leave of absence? And the look on their face of pure, like absolutely shocked. Yeah. Yeah. Just astounded that we would say that. . It really breeds loyalty. And so then when people are on the team, our churn rate for employees is so low that it’s outlandish. Yeah. And yeah, and so it just, it, it fosters a really good sense of teamwork.

[00:32:59] Community. 

[00:33:01] Zach White: I’m really excited that you took that to a core values discussion. One of the things that too often, Happens, especially when I dig into these kinds of, people first topics in the career space as we look at compensation plans and we look at, all these development opportunities and training and all those things are good.

[00:33:26] and really important, and I know sometimes, you go even to the extremes in that. Dave, I’ve saw a couple examples as we were prepping for our chat today about how you’ve, tripled someone’s salary in three years and how you’ve hired really unique backgrounds for roles they aren’t qualified for because of what they bring to the table as people.

[00:33:42] And I love all that stuff, but the values conversation. It keeps coming back as so central. And what I wanna highlight is this ranking you know, it does matter the order, how they show up and the way we, we work through this in my coaching program, one of my signature programs, we go through, we talk through values in a really deep way, and we do a ranking exercise.

[00:34:04] And I get a lot of pushback from people about, well, what do you mean I have to rank order? and I, I remind them like at the end of the day, the rank matters because how you decide and what behavior you exhibit is gonna be dictated currently by the rank that you already have, and that may be something you’re subconscious or blind to.

[00:34:27] So let’s just get clear on what you actually value today, because you may tell me you value adventure, but if the truth is that you value safety or protection or security, , yeah, you might value both of those things, but clearly the rank order is safety first and adventures like number 10, 

[00:34:45] So it’s, it’s impacting your decisions and if you wanna be a different person, then we gotta get really intentional about starting to show up and act in accordance with a new order of these values I’ve never heard somebody in a company context, out of hundreds of conversations about values in companies who actually has said, here’s our five values or our seven values, or whatever, and the order matters.

[00:35:12] I, you’re the first one I’ve ever heard say that. So I, I think that’s amazing. And this idea of flipping from the leadership perspective then to say, yeah, if you’re doing the work, it goes in this flow. And when you’re leading the person, it’s the opposite. I can’t wait to read your book, Dave. Huh?

[00:35:27] Thanks brother. Hey, this is gonna be great. And so we’ll make sure, so January, it’s November 10th as we’re recording this, whenever it comes out, we’ll make sure to add a link to the, uh, Amazon card on the page, and I’d encourage every engineering leader listening go, go get a copy of Dave’s book when it comes out.

[00:35:43] Dave, tell us if there was any one. Life lesson or business lesson about leading people in a conscious way, in a values centered way, how it shows up in real life. You know, you’ve got the, the concept of the values, but the moments that matter. Is there any one thing that you would say, as a leader, get this one right, and you’ve taken a huge stride in making that come to.

[00:36:07] I think first and foremost, the conversations that I have with my leaders all the time when it comes to engaging with staff is, are we demonstrating humanity here? Are we demonstrating transparency? Are we demonstrating accountability? And the reason why that’s really important is.

[00:36:22] look, business is hard. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an engineer, a, low level admin assistant, doesn’t matter what your position is, it’s hard because at the end of the day, it’s always going to be a meritocracy, right? And so it’s challenging and it challenges us on a regular basis to make, merit-based decisions in a human.

[00:36:46] David Valentine: And in that we find new ways of talking about why we’re taking the actions that we’re taking that to some employees that are way down the pecking order. Yeah. Need to understand. And so if you start with the core values that you have in your mind, then as you make decisions, you run them through. Is this human?

[00:37:10] Is this transparent? Yes. Is this accountable? And if it’s not, how do we make it? So, and that really will help, as I like to say, the core values are the, bumpers in the bowling alley or the bowling lane. Yes. Right. And they make sure that we hit the pins down. We may not hit a perfect strike, but we’re not gonna miss everything.

[00:37:29] Zach White: I love that. So a simple action everyone can take, find the values. That your company, your team lives by, maybe your company has a very clear set of core values that you can extrapolate and run with. If not, make some, create some and ask that question. in the room. Really bring it to life. Bring the list, ask the question.

[00:37:50] I love that. Well, Dave, before we wrap up, I want you to make sure and share with everybody how can we get in touch with the work that you’re doing. If people wanna learn more or plug in with your amazing businesses, if certainly we’ll get a copy of your book Linked Up. But how can people get more Dave Valentine in their life if they want?

[00:38:09] you can find me on any social media channel. my handle is at real dal. R e a l d v a l. Uh, I had a blue mark on Twitter before Elon started selling them. So , uh, I have to say it, it’s just worth saying. Um, and then 

[00:38:28] Zach White: that’s, that’s too funny. , you heard it here. He had the blue check 

[00:38:32] David Valentine: folks. That’s right.

[00:38:33] it feels weird. Isn’t it? Um, so anyways, and then you can also go check out my website, Dave you can find me there. you can sign up for my newsletter. I’m also giving away a free e-course if someone’s in this and they’re like, Hey. I, am an engineer, but I also own a company and I need some marketing help or whatever.

[00:38:55] I’ve put together an e-course from a workshop that I’ve been teaching for a long time now, that shows people how to create what I call outrageous offers. Something that sounds too good to be true, but actually helps businesses and companies scale. They can go get that for free on my site right now after they’re listening to this.

[00:39:10] and then they can also check out when the book goes live. 

[00:39:12] Zach White: Awesome, Dave. So we’ll make sure all those links are easy to find in the show notes, and I encourage every engineering leader out there to go check it out. And even if. . you’re a manager inside a large organization and you’re not responsible for the marketing messaging going out to your clients or customers.

[00:39:30] I would still encourage you to go do Dave’s course because you’re always selling ideas as an engineering leader inside the organization and so often, Dave, the people I work with at a Waco who come to us for coaching, One of their number one barriers is that executive communication, that presence, that influence their ability to engage in audience, et cetera.

[00:39:54] And to think about selling your innovation or idea for a project in this same fashion of like, what would be an outlandish or outrageous way that you could catch that senior leader’s attention and show them the value of what you’re proposing. you could massively differentiate your. From any other engineering leader in your company.

[00:40:16] If you show up that way, I guarantee it. So please check out Dave’s course. Dave, we always end at the same place. I’m excited to hear your perspective. One of the things that I’ve seen and believe, I’m sure you’d know this as a leader in your own companies as a entrepreneur and investor. Great questions.

[00:40:35] Great answers follow. And if we want better answers in our lives, we wanna start asking better questions. So for that engineering leader who’s been tuned in with us today, you know, if they want to experience the kind of balance and success in their life that you have, or they’re wanting more of the good life, so to speak, they wanna be that happy engineer, what would be the best question that you would lead them with?

[00:41:03] Do you 

[00:41:04] David Valentine: really? Do you really love your life right now? And if not, why? Right? And so I, it’s so easy to be like, ah, my life’s great. It’s great, it’s great. Now sit with it. take a beat. Breathe. Do you really love your life?

[00:41:24] Zach White: Ooh. Gives me a little, the goosey says my one coach would call it. I love that. Dave, thank you so much for making time to be here today. This has been amazing. 

[00:41:33] David Valentine: Oh, it’s been an honor, Zack. Thanks for the chat brother.