Hangin’ with Daniel Ockey
Daniel Ockey is fascinated by creators, entrepreneurs, real estate, personal finance, strategy, restaurants, decision-making, and influence. His passion is to help others change their mindset regarding money, teaching them how to properly budget, invest, etc. But this all came because of his own identity around money. After accumulating a lot of money, Daniel became obsessed with appearance. He needed everyone to know he was making plenty of money. He had a nice car, treated everyone to nice dinners, left $100 tips, all while racking up tons and tons of credit card debt. But his facade was everything to him. He had to keep it going. It wasn’t until he married that his facade started to crumble. He had to come to terms with himself, realizing how much his false image of himself really cost him. Seeking help, he and his wife learned to budget together. After learning some consistent principles, he and his wife Mikayla started to see the incredible benefit of helping others change their mindset towards money as well. This has now become his passion. It was incredibly fascinating taking this journey with him. Enjoy!
To learn more about the Ockey’s approach to budgeting and money, visit www.centseifinancial.com
for free training!
Get to Know Daniel Ockey
Daniel Ockey stands out among business owners in the modern world. Within a career spanning less than a decade, Daniel has managed to work for a range of successful businesses, along with founding his own company in near-record time. Like any businessperson, though, Daniel is much more than his achievements in the world of work.
Daniel was raised in Utah and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like many business people, Daniel’s early life is hard to pin down, but it is very clear that he is a man that values family and community very highly. This makes him an excellent option for those looking for support with their personal finances, as he has had the chance to experience the challenges they face firsthand.
School and Education
Daniel first started his career in the world of business when he attended university. Starting in 2011, Daniel earned an associate of science degree. Psychology, accounting, and economics formed just a small part of his education before he graduated in 2015 with a huge range of skills under his belt. By 2017 he had also studied business management and business strategy, preparing him for a life in business and developing his skills to help others. All of Daniel’s studies were completed at Brigham Young University–Idaho.
Life as a Missionary
Like many Latter-day Saints, Daniel interrupted his university studies to dedicate two years serving as a missionary for his church. During that time he worked hard to develop many of the skills he has for helping others today.
A Career before Centsei
Before founding his current business, Daniel enjoyed a rich and varied career working for other businesses. His time with these companies accelerated his career progression, and he was able to advance to roles that would usually take far longer to achieve.
This career started with an internship working as a German-speaking digital marketing team leader for a company called the More Good Foundation. This job role lasted from 2014 to 2015 and was undertaken during his studies. Following this, Daniel found himself working as an intern for a company called FranklinCovey. He occupied two different roles for his internship, spanning between 2015 and 2016.
In 2015, Daniel founded his first company: Yuzu Digital Media. Offering marketing, design, and a range of other services, this firm gave Daniel the skills he needed to build a much larger company for himself. While he only worked at Yuzu for two years, this role was central to his development of Centsei.
Daniel hasn’t restricted his recent work to his own business, though. He also works as VP of a company called Crisp, managing their sales and strategy teams while he continues to build his own company.
By 2018, Daniel was ready to start another business. This time, Centsei wasn’t just about making a living for himself but also an idea that could help other people to improve their financial prospects.
Many of Centsei’s services are offered for free, giving couples and individuals the chance to improve their finances. This business offers free courses, along with programs that you can pay for, all with the aim of giving you the chance to improve your finances and work towards achieving goals like buying your own house.
As a family man with a lot of experience with business, finances, and the economy, Daniel is well-placed to help those who need advice and support with their money.
Daniel continues to develop his career while running his own business.
Daniel Ockey Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey, what’s going on guys? This is Charan Prabhakar with the Lemonade Stand Stories Podcast, and I’m here with Daniel Ockey, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting first through LinkedIn, I believe. We connected through LinkedIn. And then I was doing a little bit of research on him, and… Listen, I’m a creative guy. I do a lot of artsy-type stuff. Basically, I don’t think about money that much, or I don’t think about how this is going to actually sustain me. Daniel is the opposite of that. And we’re grateful that he is, because we need people like you to help people like me remain stable in life. No, I know you’re the founder of Centsei, and we talked a little bit about actually to say the name of it, so I appreciate you guiding me on that path.
Charan: But I don’t know, you were talking even to me about business strategy, and that’s what you were studying at BYU. So, I’d like to talk a little bit about your Lemonade Stand Story, why you got into this aspect of business to begin with, why it’s so important, and why we need to learn to invest properly and budget properly, and how a filmmaker like me can have a stable life, which we previously discussed that we really can’t. But yeah, I’d love to know a little bit more about your background and everything. So, yeah, tell me about your BYU days and all that good stuff.
Daniel: Absolutely. So, it kind of starts back, I think, when I really started thinking about business in general [crosstalk 00:02:55]. My dad was actually working very closely with Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Charan: Of course, and Josh Covey is a good friend of mine.
Daniel: Yeah, Josh is awesome. Awesome. So, growing up, we were kind of… The habits weren’t just a book; they were kind of a way of life for us. It was something that was really implemented into our lives. And when I was in high school, my dad was actually setting up meetings with leaders of the world for Dr. Covey to go visit and meet with them. He was accompanying him on these trips and coming back and telling me these stories of meeting with President Bush and all these people, the Dalai Lama. I started to really… That was kind of my first introduction to maybe thinking about how to live a proactive and effective life.
Charan: How old were you when you saw this happen?
Daniel: I was high school, so sophomore through senior year, 15 to 17.
Charan: See, that’s awesome that your dad set a great example for you like that and taught you all about mindset and productivity, because I think a lot of 15-, 16-year-olds — and by a lot, I mean mostly me — I didn’t think about any of that type of stuff. It was just like, how can I have fun? Or what can I do? But I love that that mindset was already ingrained in you at that young age.
Daniel: Yeah. To be fair, I didn’t probably think about it as much at the time as I should have, but as I got older, more of those lessons had sunk in than maybe I had realized, and I think my dad’s grateful for that, considering all the chats we had. But I realized that people… I loved people, I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know how to do that. And so, I initially kind of started on an industrial-psychology-type, helping organizations manage people better. It was kind of more what I thought I wanted to do. I was introduced to a friend who was kind of crazy about entrepreneurship, and I was not necessarily initially into that, I knew I wanted to do business of some kind, but I was still kind of… Do I want to be on the HR side of things? Do I want to help organizations? How do I want to do this?
Daniel: And he started introducing me to books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and Think and Grow Rich, and my mindset, my paradigm, started to shift more towards how do I build something that people value and create passive income to be able to build my own life? And I kind of became fixated on those things, and a lot of people do after they read those books.
Charan: Well, it’s true. I mean, I got to tell you, those things have always excited me, inspired me, even though I never was… I don’t know, I have done it, actually. I have done a little bit of it, and it tastes wonderful. Because the idea of passive income, the idea of not trading in your time for money, is a very powerful concept, and compound interest, right? And I remember reading some of these ideologies and thinking, this is how you thrive and sort of surviving. And I believe that human beings are meant to thrive. So, anyway, continue, I love this stuff.
Daniel: No, absolutely. And so, I kind of was looking at the path everyone else was going on, I did two internships for FranklinCovey. So, I went back to Munich and ran digital marketing for their office.
Daniel: And then came back and actually worked with Josh-
Charan: No, no way.
Daniel: … on a couple of SEO website projects.
Charan: That’s hilarious. We went to high school together, so I’ve known him for a long time.
Daniel: But he’s a great guy. And my dad works with him now, so-
Charan: Oh, fantastic.
Daniel: Anyway, everyone’s like, “Who is this Josh guy? He’s awesome.” So, I started to see all my classmates… And I was eventually accepted into to the strategy program, kind of felt guided to that. And I started seeing all these people who wanted to become consultants and investment bankers, and those lessons I had learned from Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Think and Grow Rich — and I was starting to devour books — I realized that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to go recruit. I didn’t want to take this other path. I wanted to… And I thought the path to do that was actually business ownership. And so, I took these lessons that I learned from my internship in Germany and started doing digital marketing for companies.
Daniel: And I noticed that everyone around me was looking for internships, and so I started to offer free digital marketing internships to all these people. I actually ended up hiring over 30 interns who ran this digital marketing agency for me in college for free. And-
Charan: That’s great.
Daniel: They liked it, because I gave them a digital marketing certification, I trained them on how to do things, and they got experience that they could then take to get actual paying jobs. And it was awesome. I loved the system. I was like, “This is what I’ve been reading about.” It’s a little bit of that taste of that in my junior and senior year of school. The problem was that I didn’t manage the money well. So, I was making more money than I’d ever made in my life-
Charan: And it was also going fast.
Daniel: And it was gone. It was leaving my pockets as fast as I made it. And one of the issues that kind of came from the mindset of reading these books is, I wanted other people to view me as rich, I wanted to be seen as wealthy, and so I started taking my friends out to dinner, I would pay the tab, I would tip 100 bucks.
Daniel: I bought a new car. And I went from having no debt and being on track to graduate college with no debt, to putting myself about 20 grand of debt in just a couple of months.
Charan: So, let me ask you a quick question about that. You said you wanted to be seen as wealthy. What was it that fueled that desire? Was it that need to feel important, the need to feel like… Was your identity kind of based off of that?
Daniel: Absolutely. I’m an Enneagram Three, so I very much care about what people think of me, more than I want to admit.
Daniel: As much as I try to suppress that, I still like to be seen, I like to be valued, I like to be respected. And that started to come out as soon as I started making money, I had this business that was working, I wanted other people to know it. And kind of like, “Hey, I don’t have to go down the same track you guys are all doing to go work 80-hour work weeks for these awesome consulting companies.” And they are, and that’s a great path, I don’t want to say that’s not… It’s just not what I wanted to do.
Daniel: And so, it totally became a part of my identity. And when I started trying to keep up that identity, I had to keep making choices that would maintain that identity.
Charan: Maintain identity. Even though it was like life-sucking, in a sense.
Daniel: Yeah. I couldn’t afford groceries. And my roommates were pretty much the only ones who knew the truth, because they would buy me food. And then, I’d go out that Friday and spend a couple of hundred dollars on dinner for everyone. And it wasn’t healthy. It was going to become a huge problem… It was becoming a huge problem very fast.
Charan: Yeah. And I think that’s a very interesting… I hope you don’t mind me-
Daniel: No, please.
Charan: … asking these questions, because I think that’s a very, very interesting perspective. And the idea of perception, the idea of other people perceiving you a certain way, because in a sense that kind of gives you value, and you will do whatever it takes to feed that image. I’ve talked to different people, not even on this podcast, but just people that are big on social media and stuff like that, and that’s kind of what drives them. It’s like a fuel almost. And I’ve talked to certain people that have created massive YouTube channels and stuff like that, but they’ve confided in me that they’ve created a monster, and now they have to feed that monster over and over again. And if they don’t feed that monster and the followers die, it’s like this huge blow to their ego, their identity; it’s like their foundation is crumbling.
Charan: A buddy of mine recently… And it was very interesting, because he’s got a big following now on the social media channels. And he was very concerned, because he was saying that he made a post about something a little while ago, and as he did, he lost 2000 followers. It was about a movie or something, but it didn’t go with the other stuff that he’s already done. And that was a big blow to him. And I remember thinking, you don’t know a single one of these people.
Daniel: It’s just a number.
Charan: It’s just a number, but it’s an illusion in your mind. So, in your own mind, I’d love to know, what was it that was like, “I have to have this image?”
Daniel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I had started to distance myself from what all my classmates were doing, and so I had started to brand myself as, hey, here’s this guy who’s already running a successful digital marketing agency in college, and there’s a certain image in my mind of what I projected that was supposed to look like. And so, I did not want to mess that up; I did not want to fail. I did not want to admit that I was struggling financially. There’s a lot of people in college who are struggling financially but-
Charan: Totally. Yeah. That’s the definition of college, struggling financially, I feel.
Daniel: Absolutely. And beyond sometimes from [crosstalk 00:12:07].
Daniel: It was different in the fact that it was almost because of my own intentional choices.
Daniel: And I had recognized… I knew what I was doing was wrong, in the back of my mind, but I couldn’t stop. And it took a long time for me to get over that.
Charan: So, how did you hit rock bottom in that identity phase?
Daniel: I got married.
Charan: Yeah. That’ll do it. That’ll do it, folks. If you’re all listening, get married and you will be humbled.
Daniel: Yes. So, through this time I was dating my wife, now wife, and she thought I was exactly what I was trying to make her think I was, a successful college-
Charan: So, you kind of shared that vision and she bought into that vision.
Daniel: She bought into that. Absolutely. She thought, here’s this guy, he’s got his life together. His car is clean; it’s new. He’s got all these people working for him. Things are going well. And I was taking her on all these fancy dinners and paying for everything. She had no idea that I was using credit cards to pay off other credit cards, and that it was just spiraling. So, we get engaged and three weeks before our wedding, she asked me, she goes, “Dan, are you in any debt?” And it kind of felt like the pit in your stomach just… I can’t lie. And so, yeah, “I’m in some debt, I’ve got some student loans.” And she goes, “Okay, well, how much?” And that was the next question I didn’t want to answer.
Charan: Yeah, of course.
Daniel: So, I said, “I don’t know.” And that is not-
Charan: A good answer.
Daniel: … a good answer, especially if she’s about to commit spending the rest of her life with me.
Daniel: So, she hands me a piece of paper and a pencil, and she says, “I don’t want you to leave this couch until you can tell me exactly how much debt you’re in.” And now at this point, I’m afraid, and so I start to find out how much debt I’m in. And I thought it was a couple of thousand dollars, I honestly didn’t know how much debt I was in. And six months before, I had been debt-free. I was $20,000 in debt. I did some quick calculations. I was on track to double that with the interest, because I couldn’t pay more than the minimum payments, to about $40,000 in a couple months, and that was just going to keep going based off of my spending and lifestyle.
Daniel: And so, I just said, “Hey, I’m 20 grand in debt.” And she said, “Okay, that’s normal,” kind of thing. And we said, “Well, let’s get married and we can figure this out after we get married.” So, we get married; it’s wonderful. Awesome. Two weeks from newlywed bliss. And then, she said the B-word; that’s “budget.”
Charan: Now, that’s a terrible B-word.
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. And I did not want to. The same person I was before I got married [crosstalk 00:15:04]-
Charan: Was the same person-
Daniel: … after. And so, my mindset about money… And my mindset was just something like this, I’m going to be wealthy, this business is going to work. And at some point, I’m going to make so much money that I do not have to worry about the short-term.
Charan: Like you’re doing right now.
Daniel: I don’t need to worry about it. I need to just focus on growing. I need to be buying assets. And for my wife, that wasn’t going to fly, because her mind, “No, how are we paying rent this month?” I was living more by the seat of my pants.
Charan: Seat of my pants. Yeah.
Daniel: I didn’t have any plan for the short-term, there was no security, and that’s a hard way to live coming into a relationship, especially when she had come from graduating college debt-free, she had a couple of thousand in the bank, savings. She grew up listening to Dave Ramsey. I was doing every… And her dad’s an accountant. I was doing everything that I shouldn’t have been in her mind, and we started fighting, and it carried on for a long time. I did not want to change. I’m sure it built up to this, but there was kind of a turning point when we got into another argument, and it felt like our marriage was-
Charan: On the rocks.
Daniel: … on the rocks already. I could be dramatic, but being married a couple of months, that’s what it felt like. And I walked out, slammed the door, and went on this walk. And I just remember thinking, how do people do this? How do people actually make… It’s one thing if it’s just affecting me-
Charan: Of course.
Daniel: … but this is affecting her now, and also our… Am I going to be able to make this work? How important to me is this money mindset? Is it more important than my marriage? And I didn’t have an answer, but I knew something needed to change. I knew I needed to change even though I didn’t know how. So, we go… We were at that time where all of our friends were getting married, and we go to a friend’s wedding in California, and we pay for everything on the credit, we can barely afford to get there. My business had… I wasn’t managing the business finances any better than I was managing my personal finances, so we weren’t able to take home as much. And we got to the wedding, we started talking to my friend’s parents who had been married for decades; they were financially successful. I mean, we’re talking about perception, right?
Daniel: They seemed to have it all together. And I just remember thinking, wow, if we can get there in 30 years, that’s where I want to be. So, we started asking some of the personal questions, “How did you guys do this? Where are you guys at? How did you figure things out?” And they said a couple of things that really impacted me. One, they said, “Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you know how to manage money.” And there’s kind of this expectation that once we reach adulthood, once we graduate college, get a job, do all the adult stuff, that we should just know how to budget. We should just know how to make wise financial decisions.
Daniel: And that’s not true.
Charan: It’s not.
Daniel: It’s a societal expectation that we put on ourselves.
Charan: And honestly, a lot of classes in school, like high school, or even college, they don’t really teach you how to budget properly, right? I mean, unless you specifically maybe take a course in that, there’s a lot of things that you just don’t learn, and then suddenly, it’s like, oh, now you’re going from your parents always taking care of you, to now you’re on your own-
Charan: … to figure this out. And if you didn’t develop those healthy habits beforehand, it becomes very difficult. Especially if you’re a kid and you’re like, “Oh, I want this, I’m going to buy this. I want that, I’m going to buy that.” It becomes very difficult, right? So, anyway, yeah, this is so fascinating. Keep going.
Daniel: Yeah, no. So, I really felt that because I felt like I was… I felt dumb that I put myself in the situation because I’d read these books; I should know better.
Daniel: And I had taken a financial literacy class in high school and listened to some financial people, but until it became an actual time to implement those things… That information hadn’t been applicable at the time, because I was living with my mom and dad, I wasn’t paying taxes. If something happened, I called mom and dad and be like, “Hey, cover this.”
Daniel: Or, “Can you?” And so, that kind of made me realize this expectation that I should just know how to manage money is not true, and I need to set that aside. The second thing they said was, “It’s so powerful to get financial education from a third party, especially in a relationship, because it’s not your way or your spouse’s way; it’s a way you can come together on and move forward with.” We see it a lot with the couples that we work with, as well as individuals, but when your spouse says it to you, it’s different than when you’re together learning from somebody else. You start to try to… Nobody wants to… We have defense mechanisms in our mind to protect ourselves from our partner.
Charan: Sure, it’s an ego thing, right?
Daniel: Absolutely. So, we said, “Okay, all right, where do we start?” And they said, “Well, who does everyone start with when it comes to personal finance? Here’s a Dave Ramsey book.” So, we listened to it on the eight-hour drive home, the whole thing. We wrote down our first financial plan we’d ever made together. And we wrote it on a napkin, and we estimated that we could get out of this situation in about two years. And we started to get to work. We set aside our egos, and we got on the same page, and we said, “Let’s get rid of this debt.” So, we thought it was going to take us two year;, we ended up paying off the 20 grand in about six months, before we had graduated.
Charan: No way. Wow. Okay. Wow.
Daniel: And developed a lot of financial systems along that path that helped us get to that point that we started to carry through. And it didn’t just stop at the debt; the debt kind of catapulted us forward. And we were in our first couple of years of marriage, not making anywhere close to six figures; we were able to save over $100,000 and put that into the passive investments that I’d wanted to from the beginning. And that kind of started the process of… We felt like we were the only people struggling with money-
Charan: [crosstalk 00:21:26].
Daniel: … and so we wrote a blog article kind of about our experience and just outlined what had happened and what we’d done. And we had so many… It didn’t go viral, but it got a lot of attention. And a lot of people started reaching out, and we just started to teach people in our living room about what we had done, and that grew to online group events, and then pretty soon, we had full-on courses.
Charan: That’s incredible, man. It’s so amazing. It’s very interesting. I have been fortunate in that for a very long time, I’ve lived just debt-free. I’ve always been able to… And I don’t know what it was, I think… Actually, I do remember, there was a very specific time on my mission, actually, when… You get certain allotments every week or something, and I spent it more than I was… And I’m like, “Wait, this is terrible.” And I hated that feeling of not having enough money to spend, because I thought, “Oh, I’ve got 1500 bucks in my bank account, it’s going to be great;” 1500 bucks is not that much money as it turns out, and it went by pretty quickly. And I learned very quick, oh, I need to make some money.
Charan: But the idea of trading in time for money was always tricky, because it’s like you’d work a little bit, and you make X amount, and you’re like, “Okay, I got to save, save, save, save, save.” And it was interesting, because when I decided I want to be an actor, that was the day I decided, okay, I will live very, very cheaply for a very long time. Right? But the thing was, I had been accustomed to living joyfully without having a lot of money, that was kind of what I wanted more than anything; I just wanted to live joyfully.
Charan: So, I knew how to do that, but when I got to LA, it was a totally different game, because everything in LA was expensive, just so expensive. And I remember going to LA with maybe four or five grand saved, and very quickly that went away, and I was like, “What am I going to do?” And so, I found myself coming back to Utah a lot, taking some jobs here producing some stuff, then going back, and I was doing that for a long while. And I’m embarrassed to admit, but for a long time, I kept asking my dad for financial aid, and he’d give it, but not without the lecture that would come, like, “Charan, when are you going to get a real job?” And I’m like, “Dad, I swear this is a real job.”
Charan: And it was painful. My ego didn’t even want to ask for help because I knew that the lecture was going to come, and it was just going to be so painful, especially because I was getting older and older, and things weren’t changing. And I remember there were moments of just sheer desperation where I was like, “I don’t know what to do; my bank account keeps on dwindling.” And I’m looking on Craigslist, which is the worst place, I feel, to find a job, but I was looking for all kinds of things out there just to survive.
Charan: And for me, it was kind of a spiritual thing that happened where… I’m a man of faith, and I was kind of praying about it and things, and there was just a shift in perspective. I don’t even know how to explain it, but it was a shift in perspective of like, okay, I’m going to do the best that I can, and God is going to provide. It was just kind of like that perspective change, and I started being better at… Again, I never really spent that much money on a lot of things, especially because I knew that I didn’t make that much money, but I think because I lived like that for so long, then money started coming in, and I started booking some really cool shows.
Daniel: And you weren’t spending it.
Charan: And I wasn’t spending it because I wasn’t used to spending. And then, a lot of shows in LA are SAG jobs, meaning, when they air, and every time they air, you get paid. So, I started learning the benefits of passive income. I do the job one time and I get passive income for a long time, and I’m like, “This is awesome.” And then, I started booking more of those jobs, and then more passive income started coming.
Charan: And it’s interesting, because I look right now and I’m like, “You know what? I haven’t done this well financially as ever.” Right? But I’m very, very grateful because I realized I needed to go through some of those things, those challenges before, and learning how to have a different mindset, before I could be blessed with more finances, so I could actually handle it. I kind of feel, just even you talking to me, that more than even making the money, was the mindset needed to change with you.
Charan: And your identity needed to change a little bit. And then, it’s like, okay, cool, now that that’s changed, now everything else can kind of take care of itself, right?
Daniel Ockey Talks About the Power of Changing Your Mindset
Charan: So, I’d love to know like… Okay, you got married and everything, and your mindset changed with money, but how did you change your actual identity to be like, “I don’t need to be the guy that everyone has to see as wealthy?”
Daniel: Yeah. No, that’s a great question. And just to comment on your story, that’s awesome. I mean, I’ve never been an actor in LA, but I can only imagine that there’s a lot of stresses that come with trying to get your name out there, and get into those gigs that you’ve been able to do now. That’s awesome.
Charan: Thank you.
Daniel: Thank you, I appreciate. That was a good story.
Charan: Thank you.
Daniel: So, one of the things I’ve really seen is there’s an obsession with financial freedom, that when I will reach this level of passive income, or income, or this stage of life, I will finally do this thing that I’ve always wanted to do, teach high school, or whatever that is.
Charan: Or travel.
Daniel: Travel or-
Charan: Or whatever.
Daniel: And I totally had that mindset. I was like, “I just want to create businesses and earn passive income, so then I can actually go do things that I really care about.” But I hadn’t defined what that thing really was. It was something that I would figure out after I reached that point. And I started to kind of just question that way of thinking of, do I have to wait? Do I have to wait til I hit financial freedom to do the things that I want to do? And when I really honestly was intellectually honest with myself, and thought about it, the answer was no. I did not have to wait to build a business that I truly cared about, and helping people. We started doing these things with finances, kind of just because people were asking, but we stayed because of the meaning.
Charan: What’s the meaning for you?
Daniel: Generational impact. So, if I help a couple or an individual shift their mindset, get on track with their finances, and they’re able to live a life with… There’s never a life with no financial stress, even if you have the right systems, because you have to think about money. It’s like food and water. But if I can help them get on the same page, implement systems, and make progress, they’re going to bless their children, because they’re going to probably teach their kids how to do it the right way. They’re going to be more generous because they’re going to have more to give away, so they’re going to help more people. And the impact of one person or one couple buying our courses goes generations.
Daniel: I really thought about that when… I started to think about that when I was in a business strategy class, and I heard about a company called Aravind that’s based in India. And what Aravind is, is essentially, they fix problems that are no-brainer surgeries here in the US and Western culture, or countries, with eyes. So, cataracts, things like that. And this has become a huge problem in some parts of poor India, and so what they did, is they would send out buses to pick up anyone who had an eye issue. And then they would bring them to these tents, essentially, where these people were performing dozens of these surgeries a day, and people were only asked to pay what they could.
Daniel: And they were extremely profitable because of the efficiencies that they were able to introduce. You had surgeons who got so fast because they were doing it so fast… It wasn’t like this scheduled thing like we do here in the US: I set an appointment, I go and-
Charan: Wait and do your thing.
Daniel: Do my thing, and then it’s a scheduled time. It’s, like, every 30 minutes I’ve got a new surgery. And so, their error rates were a fourth of what we have in the US and Great Britain, and they were just able to help so many people. And I just thought, that is so powerful, the ability to use business to impact people. I mean, these people couldn’t see out of an eye or two, and now they can… I mean, that changes everything-
Charan: It’s a game-changer. It’s a complete game-changer. It’s amazing.
Daniel: It is absolutely amazing. And they were profitable. And to me, profitability means sustainable. So, they didn’t have to depend on donors; they didn’t have to go fundraise. It was all sustained. They could control how efficient they made things, and that really impacted me. It wasn’t just about making money; it was, how do I use business to create a sustainable generational impact organizational?
Charan: Man, I love that. I absolutely love that. I’m sure you’re familiar with the company, Nu Skin, right?
Charan: So, the founders of that company are friends of mine, and they were telling me about this program that they created called Nourish the Children. And they took a system to Malawi, Africa, which was a very impoverished place at the time, and it’s kind of like “you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime” type of thing. Well, that’s what they did. They taught them farming techniques, they taught them all these different things, and they literally changed thousands or millions of lives.
Daniel: Yeah, millions.
Charan: It’s incredible. It’s incredible the profound impact you can have on all societies and generations because you’re implementing systems and processes, and you’re helping people have a different, I guess, mindset altogether. And I think that is absolutely key.
Daniel: I used to believe that people didn’t take charge of their finances because they were not taking accountability for their life, and they were lazy. That used to be my belief. And after working with hundreds of people one-on-one, and through our courses, I’ve seen that that’s just not true. Most people just don’t know how to do the right things. And if they have the right knowledge, most people will take advantage of it. The ability to connect people to the right opportunities, jobs, knowledge, different mindsets, that is what I want to dedicate my life to. And this is one piece of that. There’s people like the owners of Nu Skin, who have done way more, the Roneys, who’ve done way more than me and maybe I ever will. But I don’t have to wait for financial freedom to do that, I’m doing it today, and I will continue to do so.
Charan: Yeah. That’s amazing. I always tell people like, “Hey, whatever you’re doing right now, you’re doing it more of it.” Right? And so, if you are creating a meaningful life right now, it’s going to keep expanding and expounding. But if you’re always like, “Oh, I’ll do this when this happens, I’ll do that when that happens,” then you’re always going to be left wondering when, and how, and if, and all that stuff, right? And so, for me, I love to create joy, I love to share joy, and I love doing that through comedy. It’s one of the things that has been the most, I guess, impactful thing for me. But I love to share motivational stuff through comedy as well. And so, sometimes I do these funny sketches and stuff, while I’m not doing the big productions, right?
Daniel Ockey Talks About Overcoming Challenges
Charan: And what’s funny is, the little sketches and stuff that I can do right now, have led to the bigger things. Not that I was chasing it; it’s just the right people saw and the right people were like, “Whoa, that was great, let’s up-level you. Let’s take you to the bigger scale.” Right? And I feel like that that principle is always true. And so, as long as you’re kind of creating your best life, and creating the best things, you can make a really positive impact on people. I want to ask you a quick question. Now, you were talking a little bit about this time when your identity was shattered, would you consider that to be the lowest or hardest point of your life this far to rebuild? Or is there been another moment you’re like, “Oh yeah, that was a severe lemon?”
Daniel: Yeah. Talking about lemons, I mean, that was definitely hard, but because we were able to come out of it, I was able to get… I think the hardest lemons are the times when I felt like I haven’t been able to get out of it, then there was a solution eventually, and it came relatively quickly after we were able to make some mindset changes. When I went to Germany the second time and lived in Munich with FranklinCovey, I was living with the CEO of FranklinCovey Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, beautiful house, picked me up in a Bentley. There’s a maid, food, everything’s provided for. I could go travel Europe pretty much anytime I wanted to. And it was the loneliest time of my life. I fell into depression. I think it was more circumstantial depression than it was like a physiological, or the chemical imbalance that some people truly have, and I don’t think I comprehended that.
Daniel: But I’d go to Florence, Italy, and Rome and Venice, and I was traveling with people… Kind of people I’d met, but I would look at this amazing structure and I just felt, this is amazing, but there’s nobody to share this with. I fell into this darkness of “does my life matter?” kind of questions. That kind of downward spirals into… And I thought that after I returned home, that it would go away, and it didn’t. I got back and I lived at home, and… I’ve never said this out loud before, but there was a couple of moments where I contemplated what not existing would feel like.
Daniel: And that’s very interesting types of thoughts to have, because you’re not thinking necessarily rational; you’re thinking about what would happen. And I never took any action, but I did go there. And there’s people who’ve… I don’t want to downplay anyone else’s experience, or people who have lost people to suicide, it’s a very, very sensitive topic, but I did go to that point, and it took me months to get out of it. And what happened was I slowly was able to be consistent in things that helped me find meaning, relationships, prayer, scripture study… I’m also a man of faith, and serving other people. It’s not this easy thing to just say, “Go do these things.” I had to fight to do those things, because when you’re in that place, it’s the last thing you want to do.
Charan: It’s the last thing. Yeah. It’s so counterintuitive to what you’re existing and feeling. It’s so interesting, because I’ve met many people that have been wealthy but have felt empty, completely empty. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this, and I’ve done a lot of praying about it, and I’m like, “Well, what is it?” Because for the most part… I mean, of course, I’ve had depressive days, for sure, but for the most part, I have had a lot of joy and happiness.
Charan: And one of the things, I think, you were saying that really struck me was, you didn’t feel like you had anyone to share it with, and I will say that is the most difficult part of being an actor, for me. I’ve had incredible success in some awesome shows, and then I come home to nobody, and that sucks, to be like, “Oh my gosh, I had an incredible high,” and all I wanted to do was share it with someone that means a lot to me, and I don’t have anyone to share that with. And it’s like this painful stab of loneliness that hits you when you’re like, “Oh my gosh, does my life mean anything?” Right?
Charan: But one of the things I’ve also learned is, life is experienced right now, right? It’s experienced in the present moment. And sometimes, we have what I call, a limited experience in body. Meaning, we experience very little of what’s really happening right now, because we’re either too much in our heads-
Daniel: There’s a filter.
Charan: … or there’s a filter, or there’s too much… I don’t know, it’s like there’s so many things going on, we can’t actually experience the now-ness of it, the joy of it. But some of my greatest moments of joy, I was either with friends, and we were completely present watching a sunset.
Daniel: Or swimming in a pool.
Charan: Or swimming in a pool.
Daniel: I listened to that.
Charan: You listened to that podcast, right?
Daniel: That’s a great… Yeah. If you haven’t listened to the Levi Lindsay episode, listen to it.
Charan: Yes. Yeah. They’re swimming in a pool. Exactly. I remember another trip to India. I went with some friends of mine, and we went on this backwater tour in a place called Kerala, and the water was glass. All you could see in the horizon was glass, and you had this gentle breeze blow. These are some of my best friends, and I didn’t even want to talk to them. No one wanted to talk to each other because we didn’t want to break the silence. It was such a beautiful moment. And I feel like those moments, the more we can have those, and the more we can cherish those with our friends, the greater the happiness, right? But, man, I’m so grateful that you were able to find meaning in your own journey, and kind of get out of that feeling of like, does my life have meaning, or not?
Charan: Because so many people… Especially when COVID hit and everyone became isolated from each other, it rocked a lot of people’s meanings. When career wasn’t like the most important thing, you’re like, “Wait, what’s the most important thing now?” And then, it’s like, “Wait, do I even know my family? Do I even know my siblings?” And it becomes kind of a challenge, right?
Daniel: For sure.
Daniel Ockey Talks About Finding Joy
Charan: So, right now, what are you doing to find joy?
Daniel: Oh, man. My wife and I, along with personal finance, there’s something that we call the “frugal versus cheap” mentality. And cheap is essentially saying, “I’m not going to spend money on anything because I got to save it all.” But we found that people who are cheap actually… And there’s different variations of cheap, but people who have that mindset, they don’t get to enjoy things that you should spend money on-
Daniel: … because you’re so afraid of letting it go. And this comes from our past and our backgrounds, it’s much more complicated, and you have a problem.
Daniel: But frugal people, if you can develop a frugal mindset, it allows you to identify what does bring you joy and to spend money on those things, even if it’s expensive or what could be considered expensive.
Daniel: If you really value four-course meals, budget that in and go spend a couple of hundred dollars on that a month.
Charan: That’s awesome. It’s so funny, because I don’t buy a lot of little things, but I like to buy some big things that are expensive.
Charan: That’s just kind of my style. Because I think a lot of little things just clutter my life too much, but big things like taking a trip and having an experience, dude-
Daniel: The value of that. How do you measure the value of that?
Charan: [crosstalk 00:42:11].
Daniel: What you pay for is not… You get way more in return.
Charan: Way more, I remember… The number one place I’ve always wanted to go to is New Zealand. I don’t know what it was about that place, but I wanted to go. And I was dating someone at the time, and we went to New Zealand together. Dude, I’m telling you, it was insane. There’s no way I could have put value on that trip; it was unbelievable. And we’re still good friends, and she and I still talk about that trip, we’re like, “Oh my gosh, that was an amazing time.” So, yeah, it’s perfect. So, what do you like to spend money on right now?
Daniel: Absolutely. So, I’ve also found that trips and experiences far outweigh anything else I’ve ever spent money on. When our daughter… I have two kids, she’s two now, but when she was six months, we went to Europe for two weeks.
Charan: [crosstalk 00:42:59]. And how different was this trip to Europe compared to the other time?
Daniel: I was sharing it with my girls. And we had just completed some of our first financial goals, and it was unreal. The memories from there are so much sweeter. My six-month-old making all these Parisians laugh in Paris, and every Chinese tourist stopping to take a picture. It’s all those little moments that we’ve been able to experience together, and so [crosstalk 00:43:29].
Charan: And you just described interactions, did you notice that? You just described interactions.
Daniel: Yeah, that’s true. I did.
Charan: You didn’t describe like, oh, this cool structure that I watched, you described interaction of your kids making Chinese tourists take pictures and [Peruvians 00:43:41] laugh, and stuff. Yeah.
Charan: It’s amazing.
Daniel: Yeah. It really does come down to, how do I share moments with other people and the people closest to me? And to any of your thinking, what does this guy spend money on? Material things, absolutely. Kory Stevens at Taft, you’re a genius; I love your shoes. Lululemon pants. There’s tons of things that I enjoy spending money on on that front, but we do a system that we do a weekly family activity, a monthly adventure, a quarterly getaway, and a big yearly vacation.
Charan: Come on, that’s amazing.
Daniel: There’s always something to look forward to. And not all of those things cost money. I mean, last week we went and hiked Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove as a family. But watching my two-year-old carry her stuffed bunny with a big Samoan necklace on, that she loves for some reason, up this steep hill very slowly was… Those are moments that you pay for with time and money, but you keep forever. And that system has worked really well for us. It’s allowed that connection to always be a part of our life and family. And then we can invite people because we’ve developed the systems to allow those to be consistent.
Charan: It’s so interesting. I was watching this YouTube video about these guys that do paramotoring… I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of paramotoring.
Daniel: I actually don’t know what that is.
Charan: It’s these guys that have these big backpacks with propellors, and they have a parachute, they take off from the ground, and they fly.
Charan: And the first time I saw that, I’m like, “That is insane and I have to do it.” And so, I got into this and I started taking lessons and stuff like that. And I’ve only done it a few times, I need to go back and do it again.
Daniel: Are you tandem initially?
Charan: No, you’re not tandem.
Charan: That’s the thing. You have the control and everything. You don’t fly super fast; you can fly maybe 25 miles an hour.
Daniel: But you’re high.
Charan: You can go as high as you want.
Charan: Or as low as you want. Sometimes people fly 5, 10 feet off the ground, because it’s kind of fun to fly like that. But I flew like 200 or 300 feet in the air. And I remember the first time I was up in the air just flying, and I had full control over this parachute, I remember thinking like, so little people are experiencing life the way I’m experiencing life right now. And when I was up in the air, and you really couldn’t hear any sound, because we were in the middle of nowhere doing this thing, just the gentle breeze and everything like that, I’m like, “Dude, this is it. This is what life is meant to be. It’s meant to be about all these profound experiences instead of worrying so much about all these things that don’t really matter.” Right?
Charan: So, anyway, when you talk to me about those experiences where you got to experience life through your kids’ eyes and to see how much joy they were bringing other people, and that’s what you remembered from the trips, I’m like, “Dude, that’s it right there.” And to be able to focus your money and all the things to create that type of experience, unbelievable. So, I love that.
Daniel: Every time somebody tells me, “On vacation,” I literally be like, “Heck yeah.” Because I know they’re going to go get to do something, hopefully, that [inaudible 00:46:50]. And there’s always hiccups on vacation.
Daniel: We got to Paris and it was pouring rain, an we were exhausted-
Charan: [crosstalk 00:46:58] Peruvians I meant… [crosstalk 00:46:59].
Charan: Yeah, Parisians. I apologize. Yeah, they’re Parisians.
Daniel: And if I’m saying that wrong, anyone from Paris, I apologize.
Charan: Yeah, I apologize too.
Daniel: If you’ve been debating if you should go on vacation or not, don’t go into debt; be smart but take the vacation. Especially with COVID, and we’ve all been cooped up, if you have a chance to go somewhere, take it. I know it feels like a lot of work, but it’s just so… Every time I go away for a weekend, and especially if I haven’t done in a while… I can’t do it all the time, but if I do it, at least once a month, it’s always worth it, always. Especially with people, and you get to know them better, and there’s there’s bonds and memories forged.
Charan: I just did one of those with some friends of mine a couple of weeks ago, and it was fantastic, and I got to go… It was just St. George, but through St. George, we got to go to some really cool hikes, and I’m like, “This is insane. This is insane. I can’t believe this actually exists here on planet earth, and I didn’t even know that until a week or two ago.” Right? So, I love that.
Daniel Ockey Talks About His Greatest Fear
Charan: Okay. So, quick last two questions for you, okay? What is your greatest fear right now?
Daniel: Oh, man. You have to give me a minute to think about that. We already talked about identity. I think I will always try to be working on not making sure my identity becomes the most important thing. I need to have an identity, but it shouldn’t trump everything else in life. I think what I fear most is not using the time and opportunities that I feel like God has given us to bless as many people’s lives as possible, that I will confuse that and take that in sole personal gain, especially as we have started to experience some of the success we’ve had, and forget that there are people who are still stuck… When we talk about taking a vacation, they think, “Man, I would love that, but I just really can’t.” There’s more mental traps out there that I’ve learned people are carrying with them.
Daniel: And when I say “mental traps,” I mean mental burdens, things that have happened in their life that have caused them to believe certain things, that may or not be true. And I think my greatest fear is that I will stop thinking… I will forget those people, and I will only begin to think about myself. Because I’ve been in that place before, and I know that that’s not the person I want to be. It may sound like a self-righteous fear, but honestly-
Charan: No, it’s not.
Daniel: … it’s something I’m always asking myself.
Charan: Here’s the thing, that’s probably one of the reasons why I left LA, honestly. I started thinking after I was… I was doing these shows, and it was great and everything, and I certainly started feeling like… I think I’m just doing this for myself. Who am I benefiting with these shows? I mean, here’s the thing. We’re providing entertainment, and it’s great and everything. And certain people are watching it somewhere in the world, and it’s awesome. And I fulfill a role, and it’s great. But I got to a point where I would get these auditions, and I just did not want to go at all, because I was like, “I don’t feel like this is benefiting anybody, or helping anyone out.” And that feeling of thinking, “Oh, this is just about me” was killing me inside.
Charan: And I would talk to other actors, and they’re like, “Hey, did you get this part? Did you get this thing? Did you do this? Did you do that?” And it was all about bettering themselves, getting further in their career, and I just found that to be disgusting. I was like, “Ah.” It just kind of made me feel gross, because I was like, “Is this really what God had in mind for me, just to think about myself, and not help other people out?” And that was what was kind of like, “Okay, I need to re-shift this.” And I don’t necessarily say acting is bad; I don’t think that at all, or making movies is bad; it was just more of (A) I need to rethink the priorities.
Daniel: Yeah. What am I doing this for? What’s the meaning in this?
Charan: What’s the meaning behind this?
Daniel: I don’t think everyone needs to go start a nonprofit or help build a business that helps blind people-
Daniel: I think to your point, I really like how you said that, it’s “What’s my reason? What’s my why? What’s my meaning behind this? And is it really what I wanted to be?”
Charan: Because if you don’t identify those things, and you’re just kind of going through the motions, you may wind up totally depressed and discouraged and not even knowing why.
Daniel: And have the whole world essentially, figuratively, but you’re still empty.
Charan: So empty. And I’ve seen that with a lot of people. They’re on media a lot of the times, and I just definitely didn’t want that path for myself. And it sounds like you’re definitely steering clearly of that path as well, which is awesome.
Daniel: Trying. I fail at it.
Charan: We all have our thorns and our crosses to bear, right? And so, I think that’s the beautiful thing, is you have the knowledge, though, and with that knowledge you’re able to say, “Okay, I can see these tendencies happening; now I need to figure out what I can do to mitigate those things and to find meaning in the things that I should find meaning in.”
Daniel Ockey’s Advice to His Younger Self
Charan: Okay. Last question. What would you, present day Daniel Ockey, tell the younger version, the one that was so wrapped up in the identity?
Daniel: Yeah. It’s hard to think about [inaudible 00:52:53]… I know what I would want to say, but I don’t know if he would listen.
Daniel: It comes down to, I think, just the core guiding principles that I feel like can help me get to this point. I still feel like I’m at the very beginning of my journey. But consistency is more important than massive action. And that may sound pretty cliché, but I often had to believe that I just needed to do these big things, I needed to go-
Charan: All out, all the time.
Daniel: … all out, all the time, and it’s exhausting; it’s not sustainable. And I found, since that point that, it’s the consistent… Asking myself, what don’t I know that I should know? What do I think I know that I don’t actually know? What should I be doing that I’m not doing? And then, how do I find a way to consistently implement the answers to those questions sustainably? And it’s the same thing with money, it’s the same thing with relationships, it’s the same thing with meaning. How do I find ways to be consistent and not look for massive band-aid solutions? Because happiness and joy is found through the consistent daily actions and the steps on the journey, not at an arrival point.
Charan: Yeah. I love that. I love that because that is the truth, right? It’s like happiness and joy, and all those things are something that is experienced right now. And if you’re not experiencing those things right now, and constantly thinking, well, it’s going to happen down the road, then it may never come.
Charan: And you’re going to live life feeling very disappointed. So, I love that message of consistency, because it’s the same thing, it’s like, no matter what journey you do, the more consistent you are, the further along you get, and the better you get.
Daniel: And opportunities come from that consistency. It’s those little sketches and skits that you did that bring those bigger things that we desire, but you did it by consistently creating.
Charan: By consistent creating. Exactly. Well, dude, I appreciate you taking the time, and this has been so awesome and-
Daniel: Thanks for having me.
Charan: I love podcasts, and I’m loving them even more, because every single guest I have, I learn something about myself… Not even meaning to, but I learn something about myself, I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” So, half the time I’m doing these awkward pauses, but it really is just me internalizing like, “Oh, how do I improve that in my life?” So, I appreciate you taking the time and everything, because I know for sure, without even acknowledging it out loud, I’m sure I’ve had those issues with identity saying, “Oh, yeah, I want people to see me as an actor. I want people to see me as this or see me as that.”
Charan: But those things are all facades, and they go away, and it’s really just a mask, a feeling of inadequacy, right? So, I really appreciate you being vulnerable and sharing those things, and I really feel like a lot of people identify with it. So, thank you so much for coming on and being on this podcast.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand Podcast, and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use, to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback, and then reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand story, please reach out to us on social media, and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.