How to Live a No Excuses Life with David Atkins

By Yuresh Shayzer
March 19, 2024

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Welcome back to the Speak to Freedom podcast. I'm your host, Anthony Trucks. Today, we have the privilege of hosting David Adkins, a remarkable individual who shares his wisdom on various topics, ranging from sales and real estate to his experiences in law enforcement. In this episode, we dive into David's journey, from his impressive career in law enforcement to becoming a highly sought-after speaker, earning over $15,000 per keynote. Whether you're an aspiring speaker looking for insights or simply seeking engaging conversations, this episode provides a peek behind the curtain into David's strategies for success. Join us as we explore the human aspects and lessons that drive his impactful presentations onstage. 

[0:40] Could you please enlighten us on what you discuss when you step out into the world to speak?

I served as a New York State Trooper for 22 years, retiring as a state police captain overseeing operations in an entire county. Simultaneously, over the last decade of my career, I built a successful million-dollar business with Beachbody, a renowned health and wellness company famous for programs like P90X and Insanity, expanding my team to 1400 individuals globally. Recognizing my ability to inspire, Beachbody encouraged me to share my message, which initially started in small gatherings of around 20 people and steadily grew to speaking engagements in venues like the NFL Superdome, reaching audiences of 20,000. Motivated by a desire to help others overcome fear and adversity, I emphasize themes of vision, positivity, and resilience, with a central message of 'no excuses.' This journey ultimately led to the publication of my book. Throughout, my guiding principle has been to give my best effort in every endeavor, embracing opportunities as they arise, which has now led me to what feels like my true purpose: spreading my motivational message to the world.

[2:20] How did you recognize in your heart that there was something more for you? 

What really resonated with me were two key moments. Firstly, that exhilarating feeling post-workout when everything feels aligned and endorphins are flowing. I vividly recall a particular speaking engagement in front of roughly 10,000 people, where the energy exchanged was palpable. The flood of messages afterward left me moved to tears, realizing that perhaps speaking was a gift I never knew I possessed. It was akin to the high after an intense workout. This experience affirmed my calling to pursue speaking professionally. Despite having a fulfilling career with the state police and as a first responder, I reached a point where I knew I couldn't ignore this newfound passion. I distinctly remember the pivotal moment during a drive to my office, grappling with the fear of leaving behind the camaraderie of law enforcement. I realized that regardless of tenure, everyone eventually part ways with their colleagues. 

[6:05] When you went to this space, did you find yourself missing the camaraderie?

I understand the struggle, especially since speaking engagements can often be inconsistent. Recently, I even considered joining the firehouse as a volunteer, drawn to the camaraderie I miss from my time in law enforcement. However, upon reflection, I realized that as much as I miss that sense of community, it doesn't outweigh my commitment to my current path. Balancing both my direct sales business and speaking engagements proved challenging, leading me to prioritize where my passion truly lies. While it meant letting go of the familiarity of the state police, I knew it was necessary to pursue something greater. Every morning, I wake up reaffirmed in my belief that speaking is where I need to be, even if it requires sacrificing other opportunities. As the saying goes, sometimes you have to let go of the good to embrace the great. It's about growth and staying true to your purpose, even during challenging times.

[8:00] What is it that you do daily that you think most people probably aren't doing?

It's about starting where you are with what you have. I've learned over my 12 years of speaking, but professionally for the past two and a half, that comparing your journey to others can be misleading. When I began, I focused on making my presence known, even if it meant speaking for minimal compensation. I didn't stress about earning large fees early on; instead, I prioritized building my reputation and network. Even now, I approach each event with a commitment to deliver my best, knowing that my fees will naturally increase over time. It's easy to fall into the trap of comparing your beginning to someone else's middle or end. People often overlook their own starting point and the incremental progress they've made. Whether it's speaking to a small group of 17 people in a library or honing your skills over a decade without financial reward, everyone has to start somewhere. The key is to focus on your own journey and progress rather than fixating on unrealistic expectations or comparing yourself to others.

[10:30] In the business aspect, what objectives do you aim to achieve within the next 12 to 18 months?

I'm determined to double my speaking income over the next 12 to 18 months. This involves a strategic approach, possibly doing fewer events but at higher fees. I've learned from facing rejection in lower-paying events, understanding that it's part of the process to grow into higher-paying opportunities. Each rejection has been a stepping stone, preparing me for larger speaking fees. I often reflect on my journey and remind myself to "grow through" each experience, understanding that becoming a $50,000 speaker, for example, requires earning that position through a process. Sometimes, we may feel ready for the next level, but it's only when we reach it that we realize the growth we've undergone. It's all part of the continuous learning curve of this profession. 

[14:28] How does your work support those unsure about launching a speaking business or considering returning to a regular job?

In my Personal Perseverance Project (P3), one of my core principles is the importance of having a clear vision for your life. Too often, people simply accept their circumstances instead of actively shaping their future. For me, this realization hit hard when my best friend, a SWAT team member, was tragically killed in the line of duty. One moment, we were planning a family trip, and the next, I was mourning his loss. It made me realize that life doesn't offer warning shots; we must seize each moment to pursue our dreams and goals without hesitation. This experience underscored the significance of having a vision and cultivating the right mindset. I've dedicated myself to personal development, immersing myself in the wisdom of mentors like Brendon Burchard and Tony Robbins, understanding that success leaves clues. Even when surrounded by negativity, I turn to books, podcasts, and other resources to fuel my growth. It's about starting where you are, reshaping your mindset, and embracing a sense of urgency. Procrastination remains a significant barrier for many, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. My mission is to inspire others to break free from this inertia, to move them emotionally, and to empower them to elevate their lives through vision, mindset, and a relentless sense of urgency.

[17:55] Does having a clear vision assist individuals in breaking free from that feeling? Or is it a factor that's tangentially related to it?

Having a clear vision is crucial, and it's something that evolves over time. Reflecting on my journey, my vision has shifted significantly. Initially, it was simply about getting financially stable and healthy for my family, especially as we faced significant debt due to past financial decisions. Now, it's grown into a desire to make a significant impact, reaching thousands through speaking engagements and perhaps even publishing another book. Vision serves as a guiding light, pulling us toward our aspirations and giving our actions purpose. Personally, I surround myself with reminders of my goals, like pictures of a beach house in my office, grounding me in my purpose each day. It's essential to regularly reassess and adjust our visions as we progress through the chapters of our lives, ensuring they remain aligned with our evolving ambitions and values.

[19:50] Where do you see mindset being the piece that plugs in?

I couldn't agree more. From my own experience, I've realized that having a clear vision is paramount. When I first started my business, I hit a plateau after a couple of years. It felt like I was spinning my wheels, unable to make significant progress. It took a mentor's insight to shake me out of that rut. They pointed out that my lack of personal growth was hindering my professional development. Initially, I brushed off the idea, thinking I didn't need motivational pep talks. However, I soon discovered that investing time in personal growth, even just 10 minutes a day of reading or listening to insightful content, had a transformative effect. It not only rejuvenated my business but also improved my marriage and expanded my impact on others. I've made it a non-negotiable part of my daily routine ever since. Mindset truly is everything. When you prioritize mental well-being and continuously seek to expand your horizons, everything else falls into place. Even exercise, which I now consider a cornerstone of my routine, contributes to this holistic approach to mindset. Ultimately, maintaining a healthy mindset and actively pursuing personal growth are the keys to success in all areas of life.

[26:00] What advice would you offer to individuals seeking to reignite their motivation and pursue higher aspirations?

Defining your message and committing to personal growth are essential first steps on the journey to success. It's crucial to recognize that the person you are today may not be equipped to achieve your future goals, and that realization serves as a wake-up call to embrace growth and development. Starting with a clear understanding of your message and being willing to evolve as a person to make an impact is key. It's about going all in without a plan B and refusing to entertain thoughts of failure. Adopting a mindset of relentless determination and giving 110% effort ensures that you stay focused and committed to your goals, with the unwavering belief that success is inevitable. This mindset forms the foundation for taking that first step toward your aspirations.

Key Quotes 

[7:08-7:10] You’ve got to give up to go up 

[24:10-24:15] What you have right now in your life is connected to who you currently are and how you currently think 

How to connect with David Atkins 


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