Brent Cassity is the author of the Book Nightmare Success: Loyalty, Betrayal, Life Behind Bars, Adapting, And Finally Breaking Free: A Memoir. He is a host of the popular podcast Nightmare Success In and Out. Brent was an innovative CEO of Forever Enterprises, a national company, which he grew from a regional company to operating in 22 states. He was recognized by the national media; TIME, CNN, FORTUNE, Forbes, WALL STREET JOURNAL, cover story of ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT to name a few. HBO even did documentary The Young and the Dead that spawned the popular HBO Series Six Feet Under. Just when he thought he had it all, he lost it all and found himself standing at the Gates of Leavenworth to serve a 5-year sentence. What happens when your worst fear becomes your reality? He has coined the phrase “Nightmare Success” because everything you want is on the other side of fear. How did the one thing that Brent most feared…the one thing he said would never happen to him…happen? Brent is an engaging storyteller that has a real-life transformational story.
Brent describes his father as a larger-than-life character that he idolized. The Dad, living in the small rural town of Buffalo Missouri, became a D-1 basketball player, graduated number 1 in his law school class, and busted onto the legal scene winning televised cases. Then growing a business empire in his late 20’s and early 30’s. Brent wanted to be just like him. At 14 years old, Brent’s Dad is indicted for tax and bank fraud and goes to prison for 6 months. Showing second chances are possible, he lands on his feet growing a company that was saved by putting the ownership in his wife and sons names. Brent joins the company 10 years later and moves to Texas and builds the fastest growing team in the company. His Dad, Doug Cassity, turns over the sales and marketing to the young 25-year-old, so he can pursue growing what he loves stocks and investments in the insurance company.
Brent’s brother Tyler enters the company, and the brothers set out to revolutionize the way people remember a life with their innovative lifestories that could be viewed on touchscreen consoles of their loved ones at the cemetery. Forever Enterprises is born and the brothers are seen as the innovative pioneers of the funeral industry unaccustomed to change. They buy several cemeteries, but none are as well-known as Hollywood Forever that was bought out of bankruptcy. The brothers begin receiving national attention, but smoke begins to rise over the hills from regulators with the Cassity’s insurance company. Their Dad was known to push the limits into the gray area. Brent is asked by his Dad to be the voice and face of the company to go meet with regulators because his Dad is a convicted felon. A six-year investigation of the company ensued and 6 people were indicted including Brent and his Dad. Plea bargains were offered, and Brent was sentenced to 5 years and his dad to 10 years.
Brent is using his experience to make a difference with people who may have lost hope or do not believe a second chance is possible. Brent speaks to audiences about his 5 survival tools that are strategies that are helping those who are stuck or are fearful to take the next step forward. His podcast Nightmare Success In and Out interviews people who have been to prison. T
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Welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff Life puts in front of you so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa epk. Let's get going. What do you do if your company inspires a hit HBO series, reaches national success, and you find out you have to go to prison? Well, unfortunately you have to go to prison, but when you get out, there's still success to be found. Brent Cassidy joins us on the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast today to share this incredible story with us. And you're not going to want to miss a single word.Melissa:
Brent, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are youBrent:
today, Melissa? I'm great. Thank you for having me on. I love this.Melissa:
I do too. Tell us a little bit about who you are andBrent:
what you do. Okay, so I am from St. Louis, I have a podcast, uh, that I host. It's called Nightmare Success in. It's all about what happens when your worst fear becomes your reality. How do you adapt, survive, overcome, set yourself free. Uh, I interview people that have gone to prison because I have gone to prison. And, um, you know, I think one of the things I was thinking when I was walking the, the path, uh, next to the barb wire fence was, is, wow, this is bad. Like, where do I go from here? This is, this is rock bottom. What do, what do I do? and I started thinking about what do I do now? Because when you get out of prison, you are an ex-felon forever. It's, it's part of who you are and how you live with that could help people or you just go and hide and you know, don't do anything with it. And, um, I decided to do something with it. I became an author. Um, I wrote a book about the journey that I was on, which I, I've, I've lived quite a journey being 56 years old of what, you know, some would say it's kind of like fiction. Um, I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't probably gone through it all. Uh, so yeah, so I've got a book that's Nightmare Success, um, loyalty, betrayal, life Behind Bars, adapting, finally Breaking Free, and that kind of spawned the idea of. I was walking the dogs with my wife and I said, you know, I think I'm gonna do a podcast. And she said, well, really brown, what are you gonna do as a podcast? I said, well, I've got like 50 people on my Facebook that I was at Leavenworth with. I think I'll talk to 'em about their, you know, their early life, life before prison, life in prison, life outta prison. How, what were the strategies they used to get through that? Like dark times, you know, you. Survive or you become a victim and, and how do you do it? How do you get through it? And so we started doing it and you know, I really found Melissa that it really became, after the first interview I was hooked. It was like, it became a passion of mine and I was like, oh my gosh, I love this platform. I love the idea that people can listen to this. They can maybe identify, I've been in a dark. And while they're identifying, they're like, oh my gosh, that person's maybe not as like prison creature as I thought. And maybe that would be like they could give 'em a second chance when they run across them. So there was a lot of different layers going along. But overall, I just love the idea of having a place where people can go. I believe hope doesn't go outta style. So these stories, uh, hopefully inspire people to believe that they can also.Melissa:
Brent, I love your story. I think it's a made for TV movie just waiting to happen. And I do have one request when it does happen. Yes. Obviously this interview will be featured in it. Uh, would you have Jennifer Garner play me, please?Brent:
Of course. I mean, without a doubt. And this, and, and this interview would actually lead with the beginning intro, so we'd have to have the right person going.Melissa:
I'm glad we're on the same page. It makes so much more. You do. So Brent, you don't look like a guy that would have been in prison. And that is such a stupid thing for me to say. And I don't use that S word very often because what is, what does that even mean? You don't look like a person who has been in prison. I think we have stereotypes. I know we have stereotypes. We do. Yeah. I have an image that goes along that you don't think,Brent:
take an image. I, and, and you believe it or not, Melissa, that was actually told to me by my buck mate as I was in the first minute of being in prison, uh, my buck mate came out to me. Romo sounded like a five foot, eight stocky boxer guy, Hispanic, who was also a shot collar on the yard. And uh, he should. You don't look like you've ever been here before. You're giving need a lot of help I think, yes. I am giving a lot of help and he gave me a lot of help and that's, you know, one of the things that really surprised me about prison. Um, most of us, you know, see things on TV and, and wherever we see these things, um, it's all mostly. When I was standing at the gates of Leavenworth, that's exactly what I was thinking. It's like, am I gonna survive? You know, I was thinking everything behind me is what I love and what I know. Everything in front of me is the unknown. And the unknown would seemed really scary because the next step I was taking was beyond the gate and into this 1879. Look in Shawshank building. uh, I thought, I, I thought I could die. I thought I could get raped. I thought only bad things could happen. And within, you know, once I went through the ization thing of going in those four or five hours to get into prison, um, once they got me to where I was gonna go, it was absolutely amazing how many people helped me. And I was like, I just like, took a deep breath. Like, huh, gosh. I, I do. Uh, wow. And, you know, within an. I was able to make a phone call, um, through my counselor's office to tell my family on the other line, I'm gonna be all right. Mm-hmm. I really felt that way because, you know, the night before, um, I remember I was, it was like going to give me chills to think about going back to that. But when, when I, the night before, I, I was supposed to, to, uh, voluntarily surrender. My wife and I had driven up and the sun was kind of going down and there were people. Walking around the fences and, and then you could kind of see the lights coming on in the cell block so I could kind of see in those bunk beds and plastic chairs. And the thought that went through my mind, Melissa, was I'm gonna actually be in there tomorrow night. And it wasn't like I was gonna be there for like a day. I was sentenced to five years. So he was, that's gonna be my life for a while, for a good. It was just such a deep thought because, and I didn't say anything to Julie cuz it probably would've really have freaked her out. But my thought was is I've really gotta come to grips with, this is something that I have to get, even though it's the unknown, I'm gonna have to have some strategies to work through this and, and my biggest fear was that I would lose myself, that I would become prison Brett instead of Brent. My strategies in prison were mostly to try to keep being me, you know, and, and I share those, um, the people when I talk about how do you keep being you, how do you keep stepping forward? And I think you have to almost have things that are mind hacks that keep you from falling into that institutional mindset and, and that, when I say institutionalized, I don't. that it's just prison. People on the outside clearly get institutionalized. They're, it goes back, Melissa, to what we were talking. The, when you get into that ugly routine that's comfortable for you, um, you'll leave, you'll stay in that only because it's comfortable. Mm-hmm. even though you don't like it. And that's what happens in prison. People get into these ugly routines so much so. they get close to getting freedom and they'll put hands on a guard or some sabotage themselves and stay in prison because freedom has now become fearful, uh, scary and unfamiliar. And that's kind of what we do on the out outside is, you know, you get that opportunity to maybe grow in your job or a new opportunity and you just don't do it because it scares you. And part of my, you know, people say, well, nightmares, success. you know, those two words don't go together, right? I'm like, aha. But they do go together because they're always together. Because if you really want to get your own success, you actually have to step into the thing that scares you, the thing that kind of makes you nervous. Uh, maybe it's a nightmare, but you gotta go over under it, around it to set yourself free to whatever you're wanting to be. And, um, so few people do that. Um, I think there's so many. I was reading this thing, Melissa, about New Year's resolution. So there's like roughly like 330 million people in the United States, roughly around 200 million people, which is like 65%. They, they want to do something different that, you know, step out of their pepper zone, make themselves proud, whatever that is, you know, I'm gonna lose weight. I'm gonna go get, you know, a better job or what, you know, whatever. I'm gonna spend more time. All those different. but we lose 25% of those people the very first week after the very first week. And then we lose 46% of those people after the month. And then you've got this eight percenter club that makes it to the end of the year. So how in the world could you start? So good end up with an eight percenter club and it's really back to that whole thing and it's a worn out thing, but it is mind deck, you know. You just say you get to that point, Melissa, and you say, I'm good. I'm sore. I don't want to really like that workout routine. I didn't really, no, I don't really like waking up earlier to do that. You know, you just, you just kind of just say, I'm good. There's a, there's a really good same, I'm a big Shaw Shake Redemption fan, one of my favorite movies, not because I went to prison. I just think it has a lot of life stories and I, and it's really weird to watch it when you're in prison, which I have, but very. But one of the things that that Morgan Freeman says in there to Andy Defra, when he is, they're looking at the wall and he says, you know, when you first get here, these walls he proceeded are to keep you in. And he says, the longer you're here, these walls put their arms around you, give you comfort. And that's kind of where we get Melissa, is in that weird mindset that these walls become your comfort zone, even though you want to be over across the other. You know, itMelissa:
is a grim perspective, but once you realize that you are, that life is a series of choosing discomfort. Mm-hmm. then you can have that moment of epiphany and choose differently. For instance, if you are, um, babbling with money as issues say it's uncomfortable to be in debt, it's also uncomfortable to climb out in debt and to save money and to. But you are choosing your discomfort.Brent:
Yeah. A great analogy. Yeah.Melissa:
Yeah. You can apply that to anything and I think once you realize that you are always choosing a discomfort again. Mm-hmm. That's from perspective, but it leads to better choices, to more informed and intentional choices. And I Action.Brent:
Yeah. And you know the, it's, I was just interviewing a guy last week and I thought, He, his story was just exactly what you said, Melissa. He had a choice to make and he was in prison. It wasn't a good, it wasn't his fault, really. It, you know, his mom was into drugs and she left a family. The dad who stayed with him dies in a motorcycle accident. He's 14 years old. He, he ends up homeless, ends up doing whatever you can do to survive, gets into drugs, and he gets, you know, two or three years in prison. But because the two parents were the black sheeps of the family, He didn't have any connection. Well, when he's in prison, one of the ants from Ohio, he's in Florida, starts reaching out to him and he has, and they, and she says, you can come live with me, which we're gonna, but we're gonna get a clean plate, you know, going forward. And he had to make a decision. I don't know these people, I don't know, Ohio. And he decided that's the only way my life is gonna work is if I choose this. And what he did with that path was, is he, he went to community college, he got some confidence, then he went to Ohio State and he got even more competence. He and he, um, graduated at the top of his class and then he couldn't get a job because of his past record. And so he didn't let that stop him. He thought, you know what, that's a problem. You know, there's, there's 25 million ex-felons. Um, I'm not the only one going through this. So he, he goes out to investors, creates a business. and he creates a company called Honest Jobs that he found. Now he's the ceo, it's the largest of its kind in the nation, and he deals with 1300, uh, companies placing over, you know, gosh knows how many people. And none of that was easy. Absolutely ab none of what I just said, from, from the time he was 14 to homeless, to prison, to going into a family that he didn't. Getting you grades, not getting you a job and starting a company. All those things were really tough, but he did it. Now, I interviewed him and it's like a total inspirational story because he didn't stop and I think so many people get so closed and they stop and they never realized that they were just right there, but they didn't give themselves the chance to go ahead and be at the top of it. That how do you fix that? I don't know.Melissa:
Brent, I would like to shift gears for a moment and let, would you mind sharing with us the backstory? Because you had Sure. Before prison and Yeah. What, what's the storyBrent:
there? Well, you know, I thought that I was living like a really normal life as a kid, and I was, I mean, the only thing that was different was my dad went to prison, and so dropping that bomb in there is kind of odd. My, my neighborhood, my friends, you know, we grew up Norman Rockwell, you know, but I had this dad, um, everybody's got their parents, you know, how they But my dad was like, bigger than like, you know, he was, came from a small town from a farm. He, he won a state championship in basketball. He is a valedictorian. To D one, played basketball, got out of there, he went to law school, graduated number one in his class, sprinted out of there and won some big cases, was on tv, was just kind of a known guy. And then he got into business and he was the guy with the golden touch and was like, like 14 years old at that time, thinking, man, I want to be just like him. I mean, what, what? Sign me up. And he's my dad. Yeah. And then one. As I'm thinking all this, he calls my brother and I into after dinner and he says, I got something I need to share with you boys. And he said, uh, boys, I've gotten into a heap of trouble with the bank I own. And, um, you know, I told 'em, they run the government, I run the bank and it's gone from bad to worse since then. And they've offered me a plea deal and he's talking and I'm not hearing, I'm thinking, wait, how, how does this see if I'm make any sense? The guy that. Everything, the golden touch. And by the time it's all coming back and he's telling me that he's gonna take this federal deal and he is gonna go to prison and we're gonna move, I'll take him, move, oh, and we're gonna move to St. Louis, which is like, you know, the metropolis of nowhere. And, um, I couldn't have, I, I was thinking this is the worst family meeting that you could ever have. And we moved and. It's strange to move when your dad goes to prison because you move into a new neighborhood and okay, she's not widowed, she's married, she's not divorced, where is he? And so we, there was no Google at that time, so thank God. So we just said he's out of town working. And it was true. He is two and a half hours down the road at Marion Prison and he had a kitchen job, so we were good with that, but it was a gigantic elephant in the room. I mean, moving in, you know, I was 15 years old at this time, getting ready to start a new school and nobody knew that my dad was in prison. And I remember was a couple of things when. We went to visit my dad in prison. It was one of 'em was like, we were like a pretty wealthy family and then we weren't. And it was like, we're that family now we, we go to prison on the weekends to visit my dad. And it was just kind of a thing, you kind of layer in on yourself, okay, we're that now we're, we're gonna go do this. You worry a little bit about, you know, when that person comes around the corner, it's your dad, you know, he is gonna look, he's gonna be in a prison. He Okay. Has he turned into some kind of prison creature? And he was. He looked good and he seemed like he was well, just so that made me feel more comfortable. But I remember when we left, it was like such a deep thought to me was, this'll never happen to me. No matter what happens in my life, I'll never find myself here. And what's crazy about it is jumping forward. My dad got a 10 year sentence and I got a five year sentence. So when I got out of prison, I went back to that prison that I visited him at when I was 15 years old. And that's kind of like the mind buzz of all mind buzzes that I said I'd never be in prison. I go back to the prison that dad was in and he's still at that prison. So that was really weird. But dad gets outta prison. I was kind of proud of him all over again because there was one company that survived, not a sexy company, Melissa. It was a funeral company and it prearranged funeral services before you died. So you would freeze the price, you pick out your caskets and your services and your P bees and your music, and it really did take a burden off the family. So it was a company that grew. The reason we didn't lose that company is Dad had set that company up in a family trust, so was my mom and my brother, and. And dad set it up as an attorney and there it was. So that company continued to grow. And when I got older, I was gonna be a political, well, I was, I was a political science major, theater minor, but I was doing it because I wanted to be a trial attorney. You know, those cool guys on TV that go up and do their thing. I wanted that and I made pretty good grades in college. I, I graduated at 3.4. I mean, I wasn't a 4.0 student, but not. But Melissa, when you give me a standardized test, I mean, I, I used to blame it on, in fact, I'm left-handed, but I would just register on the dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb scale. And I had to get this, I had to get past this L S A T to, to, and it was a standardized test. I just, I mean, I took the prep classes there. I just had a terrible time with it. So I really had to come to a fork in the road of my life. At that point was, this is what I planned on. and I'd always done sales over the course of, you know, college. And I kind of liked it cuz it felt like a good rhythm, you know, like I played sports, so it was like you had a scoreboard, you won, you lost, you negotiated you, you got the deal, you didn't get the deal. It didn't matter how old you were, you could always play if you were good. So I liked that. And so I thought maybe I'll go talk to my dad about, and I really thought about it. I thought, what if I try this? With our company. I went and talked to Dad. Dad was always my biggest cheerleader. And I said, dad, I'm thinking about, you know, I'm obviously this law school, thing's gonna have to take a back burner. You know, maybe I'll come back to that, but fails. Oh, he's, oh, Brett, you'd be great. You got all Yeah. I said, but Dad, dad, I, I, I, you just cast such a big shadow. Is there anywhere I can go that I could just be me? Pass. He said, well, yeah. He said, Texas is a new state. We just find a funeral home down in Austin. Arvin Herald, funeral Home. I said, I'll take it. I'll absolutely, so I, Austin, Texas, 23 years old. Went down there, Melissa, and loved it. It was in my wheelhouse. It, it, it, it really gave me confidence again. I started building, uh, uh, a group, a sales group. We won, after a course of a year, I'd promoted myself to regional vice president. Our team had won every division in the contest, and my dad was so eager and it was, he was proud that he was so eager to hand me the keys to the car and say, you can do this sales company, Brent. And I was just 20 something kids that wanted. We had an insurance company at that time, and I had absolutely Melissa, no interest in insurance at all, but I owned it. And, um, which is part of my bad story, is don't ever do that. Don't ever own something. Just assume that it'll just be taken care of. You have to be responsible for what you have responsibility for. But arrogantly, at that time, I thought I, I can go out and create. And it's dumped over here and everything's good, and we continue to grow. Well, we did grow. We grew from three states to 25 states and my brother came into the business and we kind of created a sexy company by accident. But my brother was always kind of technology world. One of the funny things he used to do was he took take one of those recorders when you were little and he hit the play button and he would secretly record like you, you and me, Melissa. And then he played back to it. He thought it was funny. Well, he had run across the cassette tape and he had taped my grandmother and my mom at the kitchen table, just, you know, gossiping, whatever. And he found that, and it came downstairs and we listened to it as a family. And my grandmother had died three years prior to that. And we sat around thinking, wow, isn't that something that she'd only gone for three years, but you start to lose the reflection of her voice, the way she laughed and talked. And we started talking. Isn't that weird that everybody who's famous. I mean, can you imagine like Eli Queen Elizabeth dies and there's no highlight film, there's no nothing of her life. We'd say, well, where is it? Did I miss it? But if you, your grandparents, your parents, your uncles and aunt, we don't have that. So we said, why don't we become the filmmakers for everyone else? And there's an old African proverb that says, and someone dies, the library burns. And so we wanted to become the library of lives of the community, but how do we do that? So we started buying Cemter. People who own cemetery property. We went to them and we'd just basically take out their scrapbook and we'd put a camera and we'd start talking to 'em about their life. And it was fantastic. And we would take those and we'd play materials and then we'd have their own highlights 'em, and then once the internet came, we had our own, uh, forever network. But it was interesting, Alyssa, because there had never been anything done in the last 125 years in that world. And so, We just got a lot of publicity. You know, Brett Page of the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, fortune Time Magazine, um, H B O did a documentary on us, uh, called The Young and the Dead, and then that spawned the, the H B O Series Six Feet Under. So, you know, life couldn't have been any better. That was like 40 some odd years old, you know, vacation Home, country club friends, kids of private schools. And I thought, man, I'm. And then I'm filling out the gas tank one day at the gas station and a phone ringed, and it's the president of our insurance combination of Brent. I just got off the phone, the weirdest phone call from this lady from the state of Ohio when the investigative division. I'm thinking none of this sounds good. And she says that she's got information that could bring our company down. It. It was just like a cold chilling up my spine. You know, I got a cold sweat and I'd felt this before because of that. My dad telling me that night when I was 14 years old. But this felt a lot different because now I'm in this with him and I'm not really sure what she's talking about or what Randy's talking about. Well, later what had happened was is that we, as a company, the insurance company that I acted like wasn't. We would reinsure our business out. I'm not gonna get in the weeds about that. It's only that you write business, you sell it to this bigger company and they pay you commission for it. Pretty simple. We happened to have the largest reinsurance company in the world. They were at quarter out Germany, and we had done a reinsurance agreement, which was really good for us, and they had kind of gotten backwards in the market and they came to us and said, Would you guys like to renegotiate this? Well, my dad being the guy he was being the legal mind was, uh, wait a minute, this isn't our contract, so No, you guys can go pound 10. Not the right answer, by the way. Cause it would've been a lot easier for us to renegotiate that contract. Probably wouldn't even be telling you the story right now, Melissa. We would've done that. We didn't. And so what happened was is it goes into then arbitration. Arbitration is panel that figures out is there a solution to this. And granted, these guys are the biggest, there is. So discovery be, starts becoming extremely expensive. It hits the 2 million, 4 million, 8 million, 10 million. And so what that starts doing is it starts hitting at our capital and surplus in the insurance company. Things start to leak out. We're in 25. Regulatory, regulatory people do not like any type of smoke. And so we get a, we start getting a lot of question, and my dad comes to me and he said, Brent, we're, we're in some issues here and I can't go talk to him and I'm an ex felon, but I, we need somebody to go speak and I'd really think you'd be a good voice. And the first thing I was thinking, Damn, this is the one should have been paying attention to. And now I gotta go out and defend this. And I wanted to, you know, I was so cocky at that point in my life, you know, we had four or 500 people that were working for us and I wanted to put the cape on. I wanted to make dad show him I could do it, everybody. And I thought I could. And there were days that I thought I could, cuz we came pretty close. But ultimately we didn't. The company ended up going into receivership. Uh, then from receivership we got to federal investigation. And the only thing I say about a federal investigation is it's like being thrown into like a dark hole. And you think you've got the sides you can grab onto and each time you try to grab inside, they just keep spreading out and you keep dropping and it's dark and you go to bed fighting it. You wake up fighting. And I finally got to a point where we went through six years of just, and it was a big story and, and, uh, my daughters were teenagers and the one thing that they had me on that I couldn't get away from Melissa, cuz there's so many laws, I'm sorry, like you just pile 'em on. But I had a real one where the company was founded, I think in 79, but they passed a law in 1994 that an ex-felon couldn't work in the business of. And I owned the company and I was allowing my dad to work in the business of insurance. And I wasn't aware that that was, but I was in a position because of my position to have the responsibility to know that, and I carried at five year cent. So everything else kind of ran into the conspiracy of, you know, wire fraud, mail fraud, anything you bought was money launder. So what they do in the federal sit situation is that they stack all those and they carry like 10 to 20. And I remember as we were getting close to the end of this, I was, I was having a drink one night and I just thought, I'm gonna add this up. Cause they just stack all these, I was looking at 928 years, Hey, just like took my breath away. Like, this is so bad. And my kids said, dad, you can't go to trial. And I, and I knew that, I mean, I. they told me that, and I, you know, I'm always surrounded by my girls and my wife and I said, you can't go to trial. We lose you forever. Yeah. And I was Melissa worn out anyway. And so it was, but I, the, the, the switch, the switch gear didn't really hit me until once we decided that that's what I was gonna do and I was gonna, We had a family meeting that night and my kids and my wife, it was like around the 4th of July and they were at our vacation home. And so it was my mom, my dad, and my brother and me, we were on this call. Dad and I were gonna go down and plead guilty the next morning. And so we got off this call and it was kind of just a call, you know, we'll get help, take care of the girls, you know, they've got, they're good in the college and all, all this kind of stuff. Was the first time I, when I got off the phone, I thought, wow, I'm actually going to be a felon. I'm going to be an ex-felon for the rest of my life. Do I even want to be that? I mean, I haven't even contemplated that. Well, how do I live Is that, and B, by myself that night, which was, it's smart to be contemplating that and thinking that and going down the spiral. Really just feeling sorry for myself, patted Drake. I started thinking, you know, do all these people around me, you know, am I just a, a weight around their neck? You know this Julie, she's been such a warrior through this and such a great wife and held everything together. Doesn't she just need a clean start? And the girls, you know, can they live with the stain of a dad being an ex? I had another drink and I, I literally, I mean, I think about it today and I can't believe that I'm telling this story about myself, but I get a piece of paper out and I start writing. You know how great a wife Julie's, man, we've known each other since she was 13. I was 15. We've gone through all our stages together. She needed the queen start, the girls, all the fatherly advice, all my friends that had stuck by me, grabbed another drink and grabbed the keys, went down to the car and turned it on. I didn't know if I was gonna go run into a. or just let the car run. And Melissa, it was like something, I remember it so vividly as, as I'm telling this right now as like it happened right now, it, it's like a bolt with Jeremy is like, oh my God, bro, what are you doing? Well, what in world are you doing? You're the glass half full guy. You're the guy that's looking for the solutions. What a horrible legacy to your family and friends. Sort of quit and what do, what in the world are you thinking? And it was the first time that it really hit me and listed that there's such a difference between a survivor and a victim. Hmm. Because the survivor, well, a victim takes all your strength away. You have to find something to blame and, and you, you feel small and almost like you curl up in a fetal position. But if you even say the word survivor, you, you feel different. You stand up a little bit different. And it was that. My, I mean total rock bottom moment listed that I thought this, no matter what happens from here on that, and it was so ugly while I was coming at me, I was gonna go plead guilty tomorrow in the federal courthouse. I didn't know where I was gonna go. I didn't know how long I was gonna go, but I thought regardless of that, I am going to be somebody that my family can say that they're proud of how I'm man white in the situation to. And it that, that helped me so much, Melissa from that point, because I had so many bad things that were coming. But I handled everything in a different mindset of not feeling sorry for myself, not blaming. I, I really strapped on the whole thing that you're gonna, well, you gonna, you're gonna venture this out, Brad, you're gonna walk through it. And I felt different and everything that happened from that point forward was really scary. I. I never want to like play it down that this stuff isn't scary. It's really scary to go through losing a lot of things and going to prison and not knowing. But I will say this, for anybody who's listening out there, nothing is ever as bad as your mind. Makes it out to me, not even prison. And so you can get through it. It's just you have to be willing to. It's gonna be scary, but somehow, some way you're gonna be able to adapt to it. And so when I went through and I went to prison, I had already dealt with that moment. So I think it helped me to stand at those gates. And then when I got to my bunk bed and my plastic chair in my locker, I, I had dealt with it in that this is okay because I'm going to do whatever I have to do. Maybe if I hadn't have gone through that, Melissa, maybe it would've been different for me. Thank God I got a hold of myself that night because it, when I tell that story to you or other people, I, I really feel like I'm telling you about somebody else. I feel like I'm outside my body talking about it, cuz I am not that guy. But I kept that letter with me a long time after the fact because I wanted to remember, don't you ever let yourself get that low because that's, that's a terrible. Alternative, what do they call that? A, a, uh, permanent solution to a temporary problem. There's so many things that you need to be thinking about, but that, that you get into theological. But anyway, I got past that, Melissa. It was a, it was, uh, I don't know that you'd say it was smooth sailing, but, um, I had a different mindset.Melissa:
Brent, I have so many reactions to your story. I also wanna say, if you wanna do theological, we can do theological. Hmm. Also, I think something that came so clear to me as you were talking about victimhood versus being a survivor was an embodiment, and you just alluded to it there as well. An embodiment of hope. Yeah. And purpose and action. As long as it's not embodied in you, as long as it's outside of you happening to you, you're gonna remain a victim. Yeah, but once you are bloody that for yourself, that you can act, you can choose, you have the power to decide for yourself who you are, no matter what the circumstances say. You get to decide what you think, how you feel about yourself. And even though choices are limited, you still get to be the boss of your mind, body, and soul. That's which is.Brent:
Yeah. Which is huge because once you come to that realization, uh, the possibilities are endless. Mm-hmm. You know? Mm-hmm. that then, then you, uh, you know, that you could walk into a situation that might scare you, but you also know that you're gonna be the one that can adapt to it and top it out. You know, A lot of it, a lot of it's kind of just grit, you know? The, the, even the, even the example you gave Melissa of coming out. Debt. That's grit. You know, so many people say, well, I just can't do it, why not? I mean, you don't wanna do it, is what you're saying because you can do it. It's just not gonna be fun. It's not easy, but you, you can do it.Melissa:
You've chosen the debt instead of the discomfort of grit. Right, right. Yeah. Brent, I wanna have you back it on this. Uh, my mind is just reeling. Your story is so incredible and ripe with so many good lessons and nuances to build a life one. And I just wanna say, I'm so proud of you for making the choices you. That it would've been very easy for you to have, um, wallowed in the loss of your success. And I'm so proud that you didn't, that you had whatever rock bottom moment you needed in order to make the choices that you did. And that's such anBrent:
inspiration. I really appreciate that, Melissa. I really do. And, and I think the other thing. Something that I really found out, well, a couple of different things I found out going through all this. One is just clearly don't ever judge a book by its cover cuz some of the coolest people that I've met look a lot different than I do. And, uh, they had a lot different experiences in their life than I did, but I, they found out they were really good people. Um, the other thing that I, I, I think that, you know, as you go through this is. everybody's situation is, is relative to what they're dealing with. So I do believe everybody has prisons built up on their own mind. You know how you knock through those. Um, I feel like there's, the best way to do that is look for people that are getting it right. You know? Right. Like when I went to prison, I didn't want to say a whole lot. I was just looking around like, oh, he's got a good prison job. Or that guy's reading books that I like. he's got a good prison workout routine. I want to get in shape like that. We should do that when we're out in about here. You know, because what it does is it gives you more confidence if somebody's already getting it right. It's like getting the answers to the test before the test. You, you sure? Most people, if you just humble yourself, we'll tell you how they're getting it, right? Because they like the fact that they are getting it right. So if somebody recognizes that, they like to talk about it. Um, and I found that that was one. the big things that helped me in prison and really actually starting a company too, if I really think about it, you know, wh people that were doing things and then implementing that, uh, if people would just humble themselves enough to look around and see people, uh, hear people, uh, I think it, they can get so much that they need to put in their own life instead of trying to. Well, I could just never do that, or I'd never know how to do that. There's probably all the answers out there if you just kinda look for it. And youMelissa:
know, I also wanna encourage people religious, not religious. You don't have to be religious to have spiritual, um, practices. And it is so important to do that because as we have seen in your story, Brent, you had it. And yet you're not immune to the abyss. Right? And whatever we do, whoever we are, it's so vital to our health, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, to connect with something transcendent. However you want to name that, however you want to define that, engage in those practices because that will give. The strength and the foundation to embody your hope and your choices and yourBrent:
actions. So true. And I think the other thing that's, so what I think I see that I hope becomes less, and I don't know if it's because of social media, that everybody's living their best life, everybody's going on their best vacation, everybody's going to the best dinner party, whatever that is, and all these kids and everybody see this, so they don't think they can make a. and, you know, all the great kings of the world of business or life have made mistakes. And so they, you know, the mistakes don't define him. They make 'em wiser, and they evolve and become better from their mistake. The only way that it doesn't work on mistakes is if you, if you make this same mistake twice, that's where things get really, Jack Nicholas says, you know, you can hit, make a bad shot on a golf ball, just, but don't make two bad shots cause it methods up the hole. But as long as you know that when you make mistakes, because I really think that if how you handle a mistake makes you a winner or a loser or gets, makes you stuck or unstuck. Absolutely. And it's, it's just important to think that it's okay if we could all just give each other a break. Go do what you do and not be afraid of whatever that passion is, just blow with it and you're gonna find yourself making mistakes. Just go with it and you'll, you'll find that whatever that is, that makes you, I call it the you know, the, the anti deran. Thing that he does when he's chipping through the wall for 19 years, you know, what is it? It's the widest of the white sands, the blues and blue waters, the old fishing boat that he's gonna fix up when they're going to sit at that porch on the end and watch the sun go down. That keeps him chipping every night, and then every day gives himself a daily victory of the holes in his pocket, letting that wall out into the prison yard. We need that. And that's the thing I, to me, Melissa, I think that's the secret ingredient. That if you have that, it gives you the fuel that Z want Teneo and your soul and your what you feel, why you do it. That'll be the thing that keeps you stepping, that puts you in the eight percenter club at the end of the year because you know why you're doing it. You can feel it. You, I don't wanna get up this morning, but yeah, I do. Cuz I really, really want that really bad. That's, that's I think the secret, you know, if everybody says, Hey, what's the secret to all that? I kind of think that's a lot.Melissa:
If you want different, you have to do different. Right. Exactly. Brent, the link to your book is in the show notes. Great. I hope everyone clicks on that link. It'll take you to the website. There's all kinds of information there about Brent and you can go his book. What else would you like us to know, Brent?Brent:
Oh man, I think I, I think I talked all the way through this thing. I didn't know if I let you talk, Melissa, but I I really enjoy, uh, your show and I appreciate you having me a guest on your show. Um, you're doing good stuff and you know, that's what it's about. Getting out here and, and seeing if you can, can help somebody make a change. And when they do, that's always a great thing. And if you're a part of that, that's the fuel that puts you back out there. All right, Brent,Melissa:
thank you so much and I can't wait to interview you again. So bye for now. I lookBrent:
forward to it. Thanks, Melissa.
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