Craig Stanlan Interview Highlights
After hitting rock bottom, Craig Stanland was forced to make a choice: give up or rebuild. He thought he had “it all” until he lost sight of what’s truly important and made the worst decision of his life, losing everything along the way, including his own self-worth. Through the painful, terrifying process of starting over, Craig ultimately discovered that when you have nothing, anything is possible.
About Craig Stanlan:
Craig is a Reinvention Architect & Mindset Coach, best-selling author, TEDx, and Keynote speaker.
He works 1:1 with clients so they can tap into their full potential, pursue their unfulfilled dreams and reinvent the second half of their lives with purpose, meaning, fulfillment, freedom, and peace.
His book, “Blank Canvas, How I Reinvented My Life After Prison” is available on Amazon.
Interview Summary: Riches to rags: Craig Stanlan lost everything and found himself in prison after some poor choices. But through accepting his circumstance he was able to change as he reinvented his life.
Alan Olsen: I’m visiting here today with Craig Stanlan. Craig, welcome to today’s show.
Craig Stanlan: Alan, thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to our conversation.
Alan Olsen: So Craig for the listeners here. Can you give us a update on how you got to where you are today your path in life decisions, experiences for our listening group?
Craig Stanlan: Yes, absolutely. And I’ll do kind of a 40,000 foot view. But to do that, we’ll go back to September 30 2013. I had what many would say was at all I owned multiple homes, I drove the nice cars, I wore the expensive watches, I had VIP status in some of the finest restaurants in Manhattan, and Greenwich, Connecticut. And then on October 1 2013, I had just walked into my new job, our biggest competitor wooed me away with an aggressive pay package. And I was setting my desk up for the day. And I put my cell phone down and I realized that there’s a missed call in a voicemail. So I put the phone to my ear, and this is what I heard. “Mr. Stanlan, this Special Agent McTiernan with the FBI, we are at your residence and have a warrant for your arrest, you need to call us and come home immediately. Or we will issue a warrant with the federal marshals.” October 1 2013, is the day I lost it all. For just under a year, I committed fraud against one of the largest technology companies in the world. I did two years of federal prison three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in order in excess of $800,000. I had to reinvent my life from scratch. And that is the really short version of how I found myself to where I am today.
Alan Olsen: Oh, my gosh, you know, I don’t think you were really anticipating that being a path in life, but lets pick up on the story. So you go through all this trauma, big adjustments to life, and you come out the other side to reinvent yourself. What steps did you take to keep moving forward?
Craig Stanlan: This is a wonderful question. And there are a lot of different ways that I can answer it. But I think what I’m going to do is stick with the three steps that I took while I was still in prison. And I believe that these apply to any person, I call them. I didn’t realize I was doing this at the time. But I call them my three A’s. I didn’t realize until I was writing my book that they happened in this order. But the first one was accepting reality. It was accepting the reality of my situation. I was in prison wishing that I was home, wishing I wasn’t financially ruined, wishing I didn’t make the choices I made. And I was wishing all over the place. And what I was doing was really trapping myself in the past. And I was staining my future with those colors from the past. And so what I had to do my intuition told me to just start writing down everything that I was wishing was different. I wrote, I accept that I’m getting a divorce, I accept that I’m financially ruined. And it was about three quarters of a page. In my black and white composition notebook and other ones were used in college. I hand wrote those. And it stung while I was writing them. But it gave me a baseline in which to start over. It wasn’t an optimal baseline. But I was no longer living in the past, which was no longer impacting my future. I had a starting line. So accepting reality was number one. And then number two, was right on dovetailed right after that, I was pointing fingers. And you know, at the FBI, they’ve made mistakes on their report, as I was pointing fingers here was pointing fingers there. And again, my intuition took over. And I realized there’s only one person who’s responsible for this. And that’s me. And I accepted full and extreme responsibility for my choices. And what ended up happening when I took that responsibility. I then realized I have a responsibility for the remainder of my life. And that ties into that accepting reality, say, Okay, this is my life now, what am I going to do? And then the third was accepting choice, it was understanding that every single thing that we do is a choice. And that as soon as a choice is made, there will be a consequence. And the quality of our choice impacts the quality of that consequence. So those are my first three steps that I took to start reinventing my life. And something I’ll tell you Alan something amazing happened when I did this inside prison each and every time I did one of those three A’s. I was liberated. I felt freedom inside prison.
Alan Olsen: So the process of reinventing yourself how would you define reinvention?
Craig Stanlan: It’s taken me actually quite some time to get to my definition but I believe that reinvention is connecting to our truest self embodying that and living from that place. So it’s as unique to the individual as the individual is unique.
Alan Olsen: And then What mistakes did you make early in business? And let’s just pick up, you know, from the reinvention process, you’re trying to do something completely new. You lost everything, your family, your business, I don’t know, did you lose a lot of you have friends who in the process?
Craig Stanlan: I will say my family was nothing short of extraordinary, I did lose my marriage. And I did lose a few friends along the way. But my family was just absolutely amazing. But I did lose my homes, my cars, my money, money court order barring me from my old career. So I literally had to start from square one. And I made a tremendous amount of mistakes along the way. But I’ll tell you, one of the biggest ones that I made a is, so I am I’m a reinvention architect, I have other people who will who will invent the second half of their lives into something extraordinary. And one of the biggest mistakes that I made when I first started putting myself out there, as marketing myself, was painting too broad of a picture. I didn’t niched down, I wanted to appeal to everybody. And what a tremendous mistake, that was, the moment that I got very clear on who my client is, and spoke to that person directly. That’s that was moments that doesn’t make off.
Alan Olsen: Okay, so you’re you’re in this new business, you’re trying to you got the dues, and the things that you can’t do. And, and going back any mistakes or learning experiences, you went through that process of moving forward?
Craig Stanlan: There were right when I got out of prison, I and this actually, it’s not just when I got out of prison, I’m sorry, it started when I was in prison. There’s a lot of time. So I read a great amount of material. And I focused on a lot of self help material. I mean, I consumed it, like I was on a bender. And then when I got out of prison, I had access to the internet. So I had access to that much more information. So I went on this overload. And what I found was, I would read something, he would be inspiring. And I would take the action that the author had written in those pages. And I would try it for a few days. But then I would stop because it, it wasn’t my own. It was somebody else’s wisdom. And so then I would feel guilty, I would feel shameful that oh my god, you know, this book has sold millions of copies, and it works for millions of people. Who am I why am I screwing this up? Well, let me go find another self help book. And so it’s just book after book and cycle after cycle. And there was one day where I just said, Enough, I need to be my own health. And I started figuring out my own processes and my own systems influenced by what I read. But when I turned it into my own, that was a real game changer I was on I was on the self help treadmill, and I was getting nowhere. And the second I stepped off, huge difference.
Alan Olsen: Craig did spirituality come into play is you were reinventing yourself?
Craig Stanlan: Very insightful question and absolutely! Hands down. There were and this almost ties to your first question of some of the steps that I took. There were three practices that I began while I was in prison that eight years later are really non negotiable. For me, I don’t miss a day of doing these. And it’s meditation. It is stream of conscious journaling. And it’s a gratitude practice. And those three things are extremely spiritual for me. And it was connecting with that spiritual side and understanding that I really wanted to give meaning to the suffering I caused those around me was an integral part of my journey.
Alan Olsen: Your your memoir, blank canvas was published last year and how important do you believe publishing the book is for entrepreneurs?
Craig Stanlan: I believe that a book is so I’m a writer. So I do have a little bit of a bias. I will say that but I think having a book out there is so important. It’s a business card. It establishes one as a thought leader in their field. And it really gives somebody an opportunity to demonstrate their thought leadership. It gives kind of a flag planted in the ground saying this is who I am and this is what I do with all the noise that is out there. With all the content that is out there, I think a book is a real differentiator. And I’ll add to that, that, for me writing my book, and I’m working on the second book right now, I believe that it makes me better at coaching. And at speaking, it allows me to articulate my thoughts, it allows me to process my thoughts, and then be able to use those in service to others, even if what I’m writing doesn’t make the final edit of the book.
Alan Olsen: You know, Craig, there’s a saying, by God, “I will forgive whom I will forgive, but if you is required to forgive all men.” And with that in mind, I’m going to set this question in place that person that reads your books says, Craig look at your history, you went to prison? You did time. And now you’re out in the workforce again? Why should I trust you?”
Craig Stanlan: This is a very powerful question. And it’s up to the individual. And it’s up to the individual to look at the person I am today. And to see what I’m doing today, our past cannot define us without our consent. And if somebody wants to view a single snapshot of my life, when are my lives are really their movies. And you know, we all have the same beginning, we all have the same end. We have much different in between. This is a frame of the movie, it is not who I am. And for anybody who is curious whether or not they can trust me, they have to take that leap on their own side and get to know me.
Alan Olsen: It’s beautiful. And I in that’s why I phrased this question with our requirement is to forget. But you know, I’m sure that you, you have the question as to you. Moving forward, let’s let’s move forward on this one, then how do you differentiate yourself as an individual entering into the coaching space? What is the value added that you bring to the entrepreneur?
Craig Stanlan: For me, and I know a lot of people are the same way I want somebody who have put it this way, I don’t want the neurosurgeon who has studied the technique for 1000s of hours, but has never actually practiced the technique. I want the neurosurgeon, I really don’t care what their education is. But if they’ve performed the surgery, 1000 successful times. That’s the individual I want to go to. And it’s the experiential learning that I believe is the differentiator. I had, it’s a corporate success. I had the rock bottom of suicide ideation and losing everything, and building from the ground up to what I do now, and being of service to others. So I think it really is, it’s my experience and how I leverage that experience in service of others.
Alan Olsen: Walk me through your process of a person says, Craig read your book, love everything about it. I’m rebuilding my life. And where do we start? What’s our process?
Craig Stanlan: This is, this is a very interesting one, because it is very, it’s as unique as the individual again, and there’s, there’s a framework, but it changes on the individual. But a few of the staples that I use with everybody is what are your core values? Do you know what your core values are? And if you don’t, let’s get crystal clear on that. Is family important to us creative creativity important to you peace or freedom, we need to get very crystal clear on those core values, because they are going to determine the direction that we go into. Secondly, want to look at what do you want? And I love this question. I love working with clients on this question, because I’ll ask them, What do you want? 99 times out of 100, everybody will tell me what they don’t want? Well, you know, I don’t want to work so hard. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do that. And I let them go through their whole process. And I say that’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing. But you realize you didn’t answer the question. What do you want? And it’s a very, it seems like such a simple question. But it’s a very challenging question for people to really dive deep into. So when we start peeling back the layers on what somebody wants, they want some more peace and freedom in the life. Well, when do you feel most at peace? When do you feel most free? What is preventing you from doing those activities? What perceived obstacles are in the way? Do you have fear? Do you have a limiting belief? Are you self sabotaging your efforts? So when we really get crystal clear on what we want and our core values, that sets the foundation for where we’re going to go next, and that’s really where the coaching can go in many different avenues.
Alan Olsen: Beautifully said, so for anyone looking to work with a coach, what advice would you give them so that they can maximize the investment?
Craig Stanlan: Working with a coach is it’s a significant financial investment. But it goes well beyond that it is an emotional, it is a mental and it is a spiritual investment. So you have four different categories that you’re investing substantially in, and you really need to maximize that investment. So what I would suggest is, who is the person this ties to what we were just talking about the experiential learning? Who is the person that’s coaching? Have they walked the walk that they’re coaching? I think that is critically important. Their content? How they show up online? Do you resonate with that? Does it strike a chord within you? Is it real value? Or is it only marketing? Because there’s a significant difference just because somebody is a wonderful marketer does not mean that they’re a great coach. So we want to look past the smoke and mirrors of marketing, if you will, and see if there’s really, if there’s some steak behind that sizzle, we want to look at that. And then this is this is easily the most important when you have that discovery call when you have that and have that session. Does the coach listen? Are they empathetic? Do they understand? What are the quality of the questions that they ask? Is that a genuine concern for you? Or is it a concern about making the sale? I know for me personally, I don’t like a high pressure sales environment. That doesn’t work on me. I want somebody who actually who cares and who listens, and who really wants me to get from point A to point Z. So I think those are those are what somebody should look out for when they’re going to make that massive investment.
Alan Olsen: Craig for a person looking for your services, the reinvention architect, how are they go ahead and reach out to you?
Craig Stanlan: There are a couple of different places. My website is a great place to start. Craigstanlan.com. I’m extremely prolific on LinkedIn. I’m posting every single day adding value. My TED talk is “How I learned my greatest worth in federal prison.” And then my book “Blank Canvas, how I reinvented my life after prison” that’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Alan Olsen: Beautiful, beautiful. Well, I appreciate you being with us today.
Craig Stanlan: Alan, thank you so much for the opportunity. I loved our conversation
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