Adversity builds character … only if we understand and have the tools to use that adversity to empower ourselves. Award-winning author, high-energy keynote speaker, real estate professional, and entrepreneur, Casanova Brooks is no stranger to adversity. Through his own battles across many life phases – including stage four Lymphoma cancer, and the loss of his mother, job, and home in a matter of weeks – Casanova learned to develop a bulletproof mindset that helped him to thrive and succeed in life and business. In this episode, he joins host Adam Markel to share how we can develop that mindset ourselves to truly grow and thrive in our own lives. He also shares his 3-step approach to situations – attitude, effort, and energy – to build resilience and manage change.
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Developing The Bulletproof Mindset To Thrive And Succeed With Casanova Brooks
I’m feeling wonderful. I’ve got a smile on my face and I feel good all over. Some days you feel good all over. Some days you wake up you feel like total crap. It happens that way. I feel blessed. I always feel blessed but not always good all over. In this episode, I’ve got a great guest on the show. I can’t wait to introduce him to you. I’ll say a little bit about him and we’ll dive in a lot deeper. His name is Casanova Brooks. What a great name. Casanova Brooks is an award-winning author, high-energy keynote speaker, real estate professional and entrepreneur.
Through his battles with adversity in many stages of his life, including stage four Lymphoma cancer, losing his mother, his job and home in a matter of weeks, even with having limited resources, Casanova learned to develop a bulletproof mindset, and we’ll talk about how important that is, to thrive and succeed in life and business. From producing 46 deals and $8 million in his first year of real estate to now owning multiple businesses, he has been an action taker in every sense of the word. Casanova now focuses on empowering others to focus on developing their mindset to become the best version of themselves to thrive in their own lives. I’m happy to have you on the show, Casanova. Thanks for being with us.
Thank you for having me. It’s going to be a fun one. I can already tell.
You’ve got a killer name. Share with our folks something that’s not written in that bio that you would love for people to know about you.
That’s something that people don’t normally start off asking. I would say what’s not written in that bio is how proud I am of the father that I’ve become and I’m continuing to strive to be.
As a daddy myself of four kids that are not teeny tiny anymore, I don’t know that there’s anything that I feel better about in my life truly than how I feel about our kids and how I feel they feel about me. You’ve got young kids? I’m looking at your face and thinking maybe you’ve got some young kids around.
I’ve got my son who is eight and my daughter who’s two. As most kids are, my daughter is two, but I said to my wife that she’s four and that’s an understatement. She’s more about 6 or 7 so that’s been crazy. They’re totally two different kids. Both are good kids but my son always had a lot of energy and he’s always on the go, but my daughter imposes her will on you, whether you like it or not. To be that young, but to be that feisty and everything and how she picks up on everything so much faster than what we feel like my son ever did. My son is top of his class. He’s a smart kid, but my daughter is at a different speed. It’s a lot of fun. They’re definitely keeping my wife and I on our toes.
They’ll keep you on your growth edge for some time now. It’s so crazy because you look at your kids sometimes and not everybody has kids so you could think about this in terms of maybe your nieces, nephews or other people’s kids, but it’s hard to believe they came from the same place and came from the same parents even. Your kids can be so radically different and to dial it back to all of us, it’s not that hard to figure out how different we are. Meaning how unique we all are. Regardless if our relation is blood relation on the first or right there, or it’s these relationships that go back thousands and thousands of years. We know we’re all related anyway. I hope we know that but we’re also different.
We come from different places, different parents, different upbringings and different everything. We’re incredibly different and as much as we have a consciousness around that, globally we speak different languages. Our bodies look different. We have different accents and all that kind of thing, and yet there’s this common thread that runs through all of us. Let me ask you this. What’s been the greatest driver of growth for you other than being a dad? I know what a ridiculous driver of growth it is to be a parent because it’s humbling.
I would say the biggest driver of growth for me has been the excitement of the unknown. What does that mean? For me, I’ve had a lot of success in sales and things like that but whenever people ask me where it all stem from, I always say that before anything else, I’m the relationship builder. That’s what I’ve always tried to be because for me, especially if you know my story and my background, and you’ve already read into it but my dad was never in my life. I grew up with limited resources. What does that mean? I grew up on the south side of Chicago from my early years. I was raised by a single mom. My grandma stepped in to help lead the way of being my dad since my dad was never in my life. I was the only child. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters, or anybody who could teach me the way.
On top of that, my parents, as my mom would always say, was robbing Peter to pay Paul. I was never deprived of love and support. I didn’t have the resources. I lacked financial knowledge. Nobody in my family owned a house, car, business, or anything like that. For me, I was always excited by the unknown. Can I do that? My favorite show growing up that I can remember was VH1’s The Fabulous Life of…. It was VH1’s version of MTV Cribs, which was popular at the time when I was a young boy. For me, I was like, “Wow.” When I would see guys like Richard Branson and he owns Virgin Islands and when I would see guys with big mega yachts and all these other things, for me, I always imagined and dreamed that one day I would love to have something like that.Understand that in your trying times and in your failures, that's where your character is built. Click To Tweet
For me, every day taking action and pushing forward on something, I didn’t allow my subconscious mind to speak those things into my conscious mind that allowed me to suffer from paralysis of analysis. That was where it was for me when it talked about what the driver is. It was always the excitement of, “He’s got that but if I go do this, what can come from it?” Whether that means I get a job, start a business, get the girl or make $10,000. You don’t know so you have to take action on something. That’s what I’ve always prided myself on.
Is that this idea of the bulletproof mindset and about how you were able to get control of your subconscious mind? Unpack that a little bit because a lot of people are driven by their default modes of being and the things that we do, we don’t even know why we do them. They’re habitual, etc., including how quickly you get angry about something or what you make things mean. We’re giant meaning-making machines and all that’s happening on a level below our consciousness often. Say a little bit more about that.
Where this came from for me was being diagnosed with stage four Lymphoma cancer.
How old were you when this happened?
I was fifteen years old.
As hard as it is to be fifteen on a good day, I can’t even imagine what that day was like for you.
It’s tough because I was never ever sick as a child. Chickenpox, measles, and coronavirus. None of that did I have when I was fifteen or even prior to that. I was always a pretty healthy kid. All of a sudden, out of nowhere in-between football season and basketball season, I found myself having a hard time to breathe. I decided I was going to go home. Almost every day for about 3 to 4 days, I would take naps and my mom saw that was unlike me. It was uncharacteristic of me. She’s like, “If this persists, we’re going to go to the emergency room.” It did.
We end up going to the hospital and they do future testing. They said, “We’ve got some public transportation. We’re going to ship you to the other side of the state.” My parents were like, “What are you talking about?” They’re like, “We think it might be a little bit more serious now.” “What does that mean?” “We think you might have cancer.” I remember my grandma bursting out. At that time still, I wasn’t familiar with what that meant. Once we got to University of Iowa, a primary physician was there and we did all this testing and they said that it was all throughout my body. I was two weeks away from death. If I would have not gone into any hospital, I could have died. That was super crazy for me. I had to go through chemotherapy for two years, all types of treatments, dyes and everything else.
That was my second storm. The first storm that I went through in my life was when I was 7 or 8 years old. I have two best friends. This is when we’re in Chicago and constantly, we’re always together. We’re the three amigos or the three musketeers. We would go to the beach a lot together, mess around, and stuff like that. One Sunday morning, they came to my house and was like, “We’re going to the beach.” I was like, “For whatever reason, I don’t want to go.” They’re like, “Cool. We’ll catch you when we get.” I was like, “Okay, cool.” A couple of hours later, their parents wind up coming into the house asking my mom knew where we all were.
Mom’s like, “Cas is in his room.” A couple of hours later, we found out that they both drowned off the pier at the beach that we’ve been at 20, 30 and 40 times. We’re all the same age, so both of them lost their kids. That was the first time that I had to ask myself, “Why me? What did I do to be so lucky? Also, what did I do to be so cursed that now I’ve lost my two best friends.” At fifteen, I had cancer and a few years ago lost everything at that point. The question always poses how do you overcome these things? How do you not allow yourself to be a victim?
What I always looked at and how I developed, what I call the bulletproof mindset is always looking at your future is brighter than ever. What does that exactly mean? When I looked at my scenarios, especially over these last few years where in a matter of weeks, losing my mom, my job, and my home, sleeping in my wife’s second aunt’s basement. At that time, my wife was supporting me, not only emotionally, but she was also supporting me financially. A few years later, look at all the things that I was able to overcome. I’ve been able to build my own $500,000 home.
There have been a lot of things, so for every stint of adversity, it’s understanding that in your trying times and in your failures, that’s where your character is built. Your future is always brighter than ever because there are more things that come out. Years ago, people would have never been able to in 24 hours essentially start their own businesses, whether it’s consulting or it’s coaching groups. They would have never been able to become a specialized person in whatever field that you’re looking for without going to college or going through 2 to 3 years of a trade school or whatever.
Nowadays, because of things like podcasts, YouTube, books or eBooks, it’s allowed you to be able to move at a speed that has been so fast. One thing that we always say in my circle is, “Success loves speed.” You have to build momentum. What’s never been a better time to be able to build momentum than it is now no matter what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. With developing a bulletproof mindset, it’s first assessing what exactly puts you in this situation. You may say, “What about you, when you were fifteen? You were diagnosed with cancer? How exactly did you put yourself in that situation?” There’s always going to be, in my opinion, one-off scenarios.
There are some things that you cannot control but what you have to do is you have to say, “What are the things that I can control?” I always boil it down to number one, you can control your attitude and number two, you can control your effort. You can’t control whether you’re going into a game, whether you’re going to get a job, or whatever it is. You can’t control those things. At the end of the day, that score is going to be what that score is but how do you try to give yourself the slight edge? It’s by your energy, effort and attitude because life will happen. It happens to everyone. The one thing that you can do is to control those things and that’s the way that you give yourself the slight edge.
Your bulletproof attitude is about assessment to begin with. The way I was listening to you share that is that assessment involves getting real about why things are happening the way they are happening, or what’s happened, and that involves responding. Your attitude, effort and energy have everything to do with how you might respond to a situation. Is that correct?
Absolutely, and the next step of this is you have to decide where it is that you’re trying to go. I think of this all the time. It’s like a GPS. When you first get into your car and turn on the GPS, you can’t say, “Take me anywhere, Google.” They’re going to say, “Where do I want to go?” Understand that you do not have to love the journey, but you do have to be married to the destination. What does that mean? That means that over the course of you trying to get wherever it is in life, there are going to be different roadblocks, tolls, there are going to be flat tires and air conditioners that go out. All of these things that you cannot control. What you can control is how you respond to those things.
As long as you stay the course, stay persistent, patient, and resilient, all of those things are going to help you get there. You’ll notice that even along your path, let’s look at a map. Let’s say you’re starting from California and you’re trying to make your way down to Florida. You’re married to the destination of getting there. There are many different travel paths that you can go through. Let’s say that after two days, you’ve now found yourself that you’ve only made it to Kansas but look at how far that you’ve come. Look at how much adversity you’ve already overcome and you have to be grateful for that and you still have to stay married to that destination.
There’s something interesting about that. It’s cool about the way you flip that truism on its side, which is the truism being you have to enjoy the journey. People want to enjoy the journey and that is good wisdom, conventional. You’re saying something a little bit different, which is it’s less about loving the journey. It’s more about being married to the destination and that’s counterintuitive because there will be lots of things that come up along the way that could easily distract you or take you off course.
You could ask the questions on the opposite, which is what would happen if you aren’t married to the destination? Will you get there? What would be the case, if you didn’t have to love the journey? Would you be willing to deal with stuff the way we all have to deal with stuff sometimes to get something accomplished? There’s something worth thinking about further. I’m going to think about that further. I invite people who are reading this to do the same. It’s to assess and decide. Are there any other parts or steps in this process for you?
The last thing for me has always been after I decide, it’s about focusing on the who not the what. A lot of the time we’re focusing on what do we need to do to make this work? That is a good thing but what’s even better is who do we know that can help us get there even faster? A prime example. Let’s use a gym, for example. Remember we already said you don’t have to love the process. My doctor has already told me I need to lose 100 pounds or my health isn’t going to be in serious jeopardy. You have to go to the gym. You have to work out and eat better. You do not have to love that journey. The reality of it is, you’re committed because you need to be around longer for your kids, parents, brothers and sisters, your team or whoever it is.
If you focus on, “Here’s what’s going to happen,” if you decide, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to suck it up and I’m going to do it,” all of a sudden, you find yourself going through trial and error so much. Should I eat this food? You’re reading all the time. As human beings, we will then become overwhelmed, frustrated, and shut down. If you could find someone else who’s either already done what you’ve done, or, that’s a professional expert like a trainer, that could say, “Here’s how I can help you get the same results but get it faster, and also offer you accountability and support.”
A lot of the time, we are entrepreneurs and I always think of everyone in a sense as an entrepreneur, regardless if you’re working a 9:00 to 5:00 or if you have your own job. I think of entrepreneurs as superheroes. Constantly, we’re putting on different capes and we’re trying to fly at the speed of light and trying to get things done in a world of instant gratification and we’re trying to solve multiple problems all the time. When you think of yourself like that, you have to be thinking who exactly do I need to build relationships with that can help me get the result that I want even faster? That’s what I’ve always tried to focus on in the end.Success loves speed. Click To Tweet
Our company is the answer to the Who question for people that are wanting to get on stages, get paid to speak, get on TED stages, and things like that. Often that conversation comes from what is it that we’ve learned that we do ourselves and we’ve learned that we can convey and teach. It’s an element of mentoring. We all benefit from mentorship. In fact, it’s a chapter in the book, Pivot. It’s all about who the stakeholders are in our lives that help us to be better and uplevel. I want to plus what you said as well, in addition to who do we know or who can we be introduced to that can assist us.
It’s also who do we need to be? Who do we become in the process of dealing with what’s required to be dealt with on that journey? Maybe not having to love every second of that journey but ultimately, getting to our destination because we’re married to it. I love the way you unpack that. I appreciate it and I know other people are going to appreciate it as well. Casanova, talk about resilience because you are a model of resilience, but I want to get your sense of what is resilience? How do you define it? What are the elements of resilience in your experience, if you can give us your insight there? We appreciate it.
I would say resilience, when I think of the word, it’s doing what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it but doing at the highest level that you’re capable of doing it. What does that mean? A lot of the time, the reason why we don’t get through these breakthrough sessions is because it’s what’s in our head. When you’re resilient, you have to take out the emotion part of these things and that’s tough to do, because we’re human. What I would say is you have to think more on the logical side to say, “If I know that I need to lose 50 pounds again, for example, if I don’t want to do it, what’s going to happen at this time?” What’s going to happen is potentially your health gets worse, your husband or your spouse loses you, your kids don’t believe in you and all these other things.
If you could figure out a way to say, “I don’t want to do it,” and assess that and say, “Here’s why I am going to do it,” and you put an affirmation. “I’m going to do it because I’m strong. I’m going to do it because I committed to myself. I’m going to do it because I know what it can do for me in the end.” Affirmations are powerful and once you do that, you’re going to have small momentum breakthroughs. Those small momentum breakthroughs are even bigger than the big goals. The reason why I say that is because at the end of the day, we’re all looking for little inspirational wins in life. We all are. If you can create a small momentum breakthrough, that will then build into a snowball and in the end, it’s riding a bike.
When you’re doing that first pedal, it’s tough to see that you’re going to be down the street in about 45 seconds if you’re first out starting to ride a bike. After you’ve pressed one pedal, then pressed the second pedal and you’re on to the 5th, 6th and 7th, all of a sudden you look back and say, “I did it. I’m riding.” Resilience for me is never giving up, but at the same time doing what you don’t want to do because at the end of the day, once you do it, I’ve never heard anybody else that said, “I’m so glad I did that but I regret doing it.”
It’s about progress and you get to make progress and sometimes progress is ugly. It can be sloppy and painful. I couldn’t agree with you more, that you don’t want to do at times when you know you ought to do them, but you don’t want to do them, but you do them anyway. That’s the 5:00 AM wake up call for some people to get to the gym or get outside to do their run or it’s the turn down the cookies or the can of Coke or other things that they’ve committed to giving up and etc. Those are not easy moments because we know exactly how to self-soothe at times and we’ll tell ourselves a story why it’s too tough or it’s too uncomfortable or any number of other stories. Give me a sense of what are some of the things that you do on a regular basis because I would describe you as somebody that has a great attitude. I get that from you. You exude positivity and a good attitude. Has that always been the case for you? What do you do to build that on a daily basis?
Here’s a story that I learned, and this was from Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha. A lot of people think of him as the third richest man in the world. They keep fluctuating.
You live in his state, right?
Yes. He lives about fifteen minutes from me, so he’s in the heart of Omaha. Someone asked Warren Buffett, “How do you know when you’ve been successful in life?” Warren said, “You’ll never know when you truly have been successful until you die.” A lot of people know Warren Buffett, what’s been told is he’s more of an atheist. I don’t know necessarily if he’s all there, but he doesn’t talk about the afterlife, God, and things like that. That’s his thing. It was crazy when he brought that up because people are like, “What? Warren is talking about death?” He said, “You’ll never know when you’ve been successful until you die. More importantly, you’ll never know how truly successful you’ve been until you die and you see how many of those people cry at your funeral. Because those are the people that you’ve truly impacted their lives.”
For me, I’ve always thought of myself as a dreamer and I’ve always thought of myself as a relationship builder. At the end of the day, Maya Angelou has that quote that says, “People don’t care what you said, but they definitely will remember how you made them feel.” For me, how can I impact someone positively? When you say, “What do I do on a daily basis?” for me, here’s what I do. I try to focus on my energy and my efforts. What that means is I never hesitate to hold open a door for anyone. Even if we’re going in and out of a restaurant, I’m not with your party, I’ll hold open that door. Why? Because it gives me a sense of feeling good.
There are many things about religion and all that, and we’re not going to take that there. For me, this is what I say, whenever I meet my maker, my Creator at the end of my time, and regardless of if I was in the church every week or if I wasn’t, if I did all these things that the Bible says you’re supposed to do. Here’s what I would say. When I get there, I would say, “Did I do everything in my power for all the people that you allowed me to touch on a daily basis to impact their lives in a more positive way? Did I bring them good energy and good spirits?” If the case is yes, if they can’t deny it, I feel I made a good case to get it. That’s my heart.
I feel like that’s a winning argument.
It has to be. It doesn’t matter about the money. Adam and I talked, did I leave him with some type of inspiration? Did I put some type of smile on his face? Did I make him believe that your future is brighter than ever? That’s what I try to focus on every single day.
You are a light. I know that our community is eating this up. You’re primarily in real estate, but you’re an entrepreneur. You’ve got other business interests as well.
I’ve got a couple of different businesses but I’m primarily in real estate. I am a real estate agent and a real estate investor. I speak a lot as well.
I want to remind everybody as well that what you do at the beginning of the day more than anything impacts the way that day is going to go in my opinion. It’s like the first domino. You’ve set out a lot of great examples and I’m an analogy guy. You talk about momentum and I think about dominoes. I thought that the world record for the number of dominoes set up and knocked down was about a million and I was at a speaking engagement in Dallas and somebody said, “No, it’s four million.” Can you imagine four million dominoes get set up to knock them all down? I didn’t ask how long it took for that from that first domino to the last. Four million dominoes later, is it twenty minutes, an hour, six days to knock down four million dominoes?
It’s a great example visually of what momentum looks like. One thing tips into the other and the next. What’s great about that is again that you can see that one progress leads to another. What’s less known is the fact that a single domino not only has the capacity to knock down another domino of its own size but can knock down a domino that’s bigger than itself. That’s what’s beautiful. You made me think about that when you were giving your example about these little victories, the little progress every day because they lead to bigger progress.
In fact, I saw this demonstration once and you can see it on YouTube to where a little domino about 3/8 of an inch or less than 1/2 of an inch high can knock over another domino that’s about twice its size 1 or 1.5 times its size. By the time you get to the 5th or 6th domino, it’s knocking over a domino that’s 6 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds. By the time you get to the 28th domino, it’s the size of the Empire State Building. On the premise that the domino can knock over another one that’s about 1.5 its size and that’s not about momentum. That’s about the escalating level in which you can play in any arena, whether it’s in the business arena, your personal life, relationships or health, you name it. You’ve inspired that, Casanova.
You’ve got a couple of hundred thousand more days to do what you did and you get to get in. You’re going to be good.
I’m going to get in. That’s what it is. That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.
Everybody out there, what are you going to do today? What’s going to be your start of day ritual to tip that first domino, that little tiny domino? For me, I have the same little domino every morning when I wake up. I’m grateful for the fact that I’ve been given another day. I put my feet on the floor, stand up and I say these four words out loud, “I love my life.” That was a TED Talk I gave. I can’t get away from the power of that little ten-second practice. It’s like a turnaround.Those small momentum breakthroughs are even bigger than the big goals. Click To Tweet
It’s something that recalibrates me or refreshes me in the middle of the day or something when I find my mind might go off into some problem and it gets so mired in that problem that I could feel my energy get sucked in and get lowered by that thing. We need a restorative. I don’t know what your restorative might be, Casanova, or the folks that are reading this, but mine is simply to take that ten seconds and how many times can I say it and feel it. I’ll say, “I love my life,” and I go, “I could feel that. I could feel that I love my life at level three.” I say, “I love my life.” I feel it at a level six. I put my hands on my heart and smile and feel the gratitude for the fact that I’m still walking on this beautiful Earth and I say, “I love my life.” I’m going to ring that bell.
That’s what we look for are those small victories. It’s every day. It’s another day to be better, to feel better and to be brighter. I always look at things as there’s no such thing as failure, everything is a lesson. That’s been huge for me, so it’s been a lot of fun.
I want to go out on those words of what you said, Casanova, “Be brighter.” Those are the words now for me. I hope everybody out there takes those words into the rest of your day from where you are now. That’s awesome, Casanova. Thank you for that.
About Casanova Brooks
From Teenage Cancer To Losing my Job, My Home, & My Biggest Supporter All within 1 Week… To Building A 7-Figure Real Estate Business Less Than 1 Year Later. I Would Say I’ve Learned The Secrets To Persevering Through Any Adversity.
I Now Teach Others On How To Develop Their Mindset To Build Meaningful Relationships and Create Consistent Habits For Success In Life and Business.