Get On The Bull-Unavoidable Failure
Failure’s not just unavoidable, it’s necessary, important and an unavoidable part of life. This is a common theme of the book, “Get On The Bull” – a giant leadership analogy based on bull riders. They fall a lot. They get thrown off bulls in dramatic and painful fashion. When you’re going to do stuff, you’re going to get it wrong and you’re going to mess it up. If you aren’t failing, you probably aren’t trying enough new things. The statistic for the absolute best bull riders in the world, is on average, 30% success rate when it comes to staying on the bull for eight seconds.
Honesty, integrity, accountability, forgiveness and respect, make you a better person. They help you have better relationships, develop trust, develop important skills and to be successful. Admittedly, success is very individual.
Dallin Cooper is in his mid-twenties with a young family. Time in the long run is a lot more important to him than money. “As long as I have enough money to enjoy the time.” Dallin is proof of this, he founded and sold both a marketing agency and a sustainable dog chew company.
As a millennial, work that has meaning is equally important. “If you don’t have something of meaning that you’re working towards, that isn’t just cash in the bank. I don’t know what the point is, if there isn’t something beyond that. I like taking nothing and turning it into something.”
Dallin has just launched his own podcast, “Ethics for Human”
00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host, Tesse Akpeki, and co-host Paula Okonneh. Where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This has been and continues to be a journey of discovery. Tesse and I are learning that leadership can be personal and professional. And we hope you are listeners and our guests will walk with us on this adventure. Let me tell you a bit about our awesome guest today Dallin Cooper. Dallin is a speaker, a consultant, and author of the leadership book “Get on the Bull”. He founded and sold both a marketing agency and a sustainable dog chew company. And he just launched his own podcast, “Ethics for Human”. Woohoo fellow podcaster. Now hear are some fun facts about Dallin. He grew up as a shepherd. He also lived at some point in China. And he once rehabilitated two traumatized rescues Alpacas. Our theme today however, is not about his rescue of the Alpacas. But the theme today is “Get On The Bull”. And we’ll be talking about how this applies to leadership. And with that, I want to say welcome to the show, Dallin.
00:01:35 Dallin: Thank you for having me. I wouldn’t be too sure about the Alpaca thing. I’m able to work that story into a lot of different scenarios.
00:01:45 Tesse: Hi Dallin, I am super excited to have you on the show, and thank you for saying yes. I mean, I was just kind of like couldn’t wait to meet you. And so I’m going to start off, because I’ve been reading your work and one of the things I really liked was the saying failure is more than just unavoidable. Can you say a bit more about that? That just struck me as being very interesting.
00:02:10 Paula: And unique.
00:02:11 Tesse: And unique, yeah.
00:02:13 Dallin: I’m trying to remember where I finished that. Failure’s not just unavoidable, but that it’s necessary and important, right? Like that’s a critical part of kind of everything. This is a really common theme of the book, “Get On The Bull” for the listener who may not have read it already. Is a giant leadership analogy based on bull riders, you know, think rodeo bull riders. And they fall a lot. They get thrown off of bulls a lot in dramatic and painful fashions. Like when you want to talk about eating dirt, they are the kings of eating dirt and sometimes also manure. And there’s just an unavoidable part of life, which is that you’re going to do stuff and you’re going to get it wrong and you’re going to mess it up. And so the statistic for the best bull riders in the world, the absolute best are on average, about 30% success rate when it comes to staying on the bull for eight seconds and getting a score. So that isn’t even like winning the rodeo or doing the best. That’s like just not getting thrown off on your face. 30%. Whereas most of the time, you know, in school or in other places, a 30% is like an F minus minus, right? It’s absolutely terrible to just have 30%. But for them, that’s amazing. It’s also kind of like baseball, right? If you have a 30% batting average in baseball, it’s like, wow, you are amazing. And I think that that standard is one that we should all accept more. You think about how many tries it takes to do new things successfully. And a lot of times we get really down on ourselves for messing up or failing along the way. But failing is not only part of the journey and not only an important part of the journey. And it’s not only something that will inevitably happen. But it’s kind of our job. Like what is personal growth except failing and then improving over and over. And I often get into like, this sounds weird. But I relate to parenting a lot right now because I have two little kids, right? I’ve got a two and a half year old, I’ve got an eight month old. And I look at them and it’s like they’re just disasters. Everything they do, they end up doing wrong. But that’s how they learn, right? They don’t learn by just immediately jumping up on their feet and springing across the room. They learn by falling down a bunch of different ways, and each time they learn a little bit better how to do it. And so, yeah, failure isn’t just something that’s unavoidable. It’s important, like it’s part of the job. If you aren’t failing, you probably aren’t trying enough new things.
00:05:03 Tesse: I’m really loving it. And Paula, you were interested in another angle, weren’t you? So I’m going to hand the baton to you now.
00:05:10 Paula: Yes, I am interested in another angle. But before I ask him this question, I remember, Tesse you and I speaking with a guest who said, “The word fail is the acronym for first attempt in learning”. So I like what you just said Dallin, about if you’re not failing then you’re not working hard enough, you know. Most people think of the reverse. I’m failing because I’m not working hard enough. You know I need to work harder. But you’re saying keep failing and working hard at failing because you keep learning from that, correct?
00:05:42 Dallin: Yeah, I mean you guys, how was the first episode you recorded of your podcast? Right? Like, do you look back at that and just cringe a little?
00:05:50 Tesse: Yes.
00:05:51 Paula: Oh boy. Yes.
00:05:52 Tesse: Oh yeah we remember it very well.
00:05:55 Paula: I shouldn’t even, I mean, and I gave myself a harder test. Because I had been podcasting for years prior to doing one with Tesse. And you know, I was like, “oh my gosh”. Well, I also knew that practice makes perfect. And you know, being together, I mean, doing a podcast with her. I mean, we had to develop our synergy, our rhythm. And of course we did make mistakes, but that made us better.
00:06:20 Tesse: Lot, made us big.
00:06:22 Dallin: That’s just part of it. I have a little YouTube channel. It’s not like a giant thing, but I enjoy it. And I made like my first 10 videos. And after the 10th one, I went and I deleted the first five. I was like, “wow, these are terrible” . I don’t want these associated with my name. And after I make some more, I’ll probably go back and look at some of the older ones and be like, “ooh, those can leave”. You just keep moving up, you keep making progress.
00:06:49 Tesse: Yeah, I think that the most important thing is to keep the passion in there. I mean, when I think of when I first started under Paula’s tutoring or coaching. I had the passion. I was extra nervous, extra anxious. Now I prepare, but I’m not as anxious as I was, and I still have the passion. So I think leadership is a purpose and the passion, and losing that I think through refinement is not an option. I mean, you just lose the passion and everything goes out the window. Paula?
00:07:22 Paula: Yeah, I agree 100%. But that leads me to the question I was supposed to ask, cause I would listen to you Dallin and I was like. So what do you mean by ethical leadership? Can you expand on that.
00:07:35 Dallin: So ethics is kind of my topic. It’s my favorite topic. Which is not something people say very often. People don’t normally get super amped about ethics. But I really like ethics. And I spent a long time trying to figure out why other people didn’t like ethics. And the full conclusions of that might be a topic for another day. But one of the things that I kept thinking of is like leadership as a topic is really popular. Everybody wants to learn how to be a better leader. And in my mind, ethics is just being a better person. So theoretically, if you are a better person, you should probably also be a better leader. I would think that better people make better leaders. And I thought, okay, so the things that we think of when it comes to personal ethics. And when I’m saying ethics, I’m not usually referring to like the philosophy type of ethics that, yeah it can get really existential and weird. And I don’t know if you guys are familiar with like the trolley problem. And some of the like, oh, but what if we were all just floating in space, and morality is an abstract concept. I don’t mean that kind of ethics. I mean more like practical every day business ethics, stuff like that. The idea of being a better person. And you often talk about things like honesty, integrity, accountability, forgiveness and respect, and things like that, that just make you a better person. They help you have better relationships. They help you develop trust. They help you develop important skills. And I thought all of the things that you normally talk about when you’re talking about ethics, are also just things that make you a good leader. And everybody wants to either be or have a leader that is honest, that is accountable, that is transparent. That has all of those same things, and it was like, okay, we should smash these together. Because the focus on leadership in let’s be effective, and often that ends up feeling a little bit more managementy, right? That’s the official term. You know, managementy. Is how do you manage people and things effectively? Time management, project management details. It ends up feeling a lot of times like strategies or tactics. Like, oh, you can talk to people this way to help them understand you better, communication skills. All things that are really great, right? Yes. Communication skills are so important for leaders and I support that. But I wanted to focus more on the personal moral development that helps a leader be a better person. Help those they lead, be better people. And often that takes care of a lot of the other problems along the way. Not all of them. But if everyone involved is trying to be a good person, trying to be responsible and honest and empathetic and care about the other people around them. Yeah, people are still going to make mistakes. Again, that’s the whole premise that we just talked about. But if we’re all on the same page of being forgiving and empathetic and trying our best, then when people make those mistakes, everyone else is also like, oh, it’s okay, we forgive you and are empathetic and everyone can learn together. So really long winded answer. But when I’m thinking about ethical leadership, I’m thinking about creating habits and systems and cultures that let all of the people grow and have the personal moral development that takes a lot of the other ethics stuff out of the equation, right? So like compliance is a really big deal, and ethics and compliance get lumped together a lot. And I am of the mind that if ethics is under control and you have a really good ethical culture and ethical leadership, compliance will almost be a non-issue. Because if you’re doing the right thing out of habit, if all of the people involved want to do the right thing, most of the time you aren’t going to be breaking the laws anyway. Like going to prison is, it’s not a concern, because you’ve moved past that. That’s not an issue. You’re working on higher level concepts. Did that answer your question at all? I just went way off there.
00:11:44 Paula: It answered my question. Thank you. I love that perspective at which you look at ethical leadership in the sense that, the definition of when we talk about ethics or we teach our children ethics, it’s to make them better people. As you said. That should trickle down to everything in our lives, and that should trickle down to leadership, and I love it. Thank you for that answer.
00:12:08 Tesse: I’m super excited by that answer actually. I’m so super excited. I’m going to go a bit deeper on this. Because I’m really curious about your take on success, and what to you is success? Cause for me, when I read a lot of the leadership books and I listen to thought leaders, et cetera. Sometimes that bottom line is about making a lot of money. It’s about being very powerful. Although power remains vague and undefined. You know, I would just love to hear from your heart, your head, your hand, what you see as success?
00:12:41 Dallin: I think that success is very individual. People are looking for different things in life. On one hand you could get like kind of a little bit spiritual of like what is the purpose of life type success? If that’s the case, then I do think it is to learn and to grow and to become better people, and be a force for good in the lives around us. But personally for me, when I think about my career goals and my life, and I hopefully got a lot of years ahead of me still. Like what do I want those to look like, to consider my life a success? I have in the grand scheme of things, a relatively low bar for success. I want to be in a spot financially where my wife and I can do the things that we want to do together without worrying about whether we can afford to. And I want to be in a spot by the time my kids are old enough to really be involved in the world, that I have enough control over my schedule that I can be at the things. If my sons play sports or if they do theater or whatever, like I want to be at opening night of the play. I want to go to their games. I want to be able to help them with their science fair project. Like I don’t ever want to have to say, I know that this thing was really big and really important to you, but you know, duty calls and I have to work late, so I guess I won’t be there this time. That’s something that I got to experience as a kid, as my parents were, they were busy doing a lot of things, but they were very much entrepreneurs, self-employed. And so they were able to make time when it mattered, even when their lives were crazy and hectic. And that’s something that I really want to be able to provide for my children and my family. Is not just a parent, but both parents who are invested and who are present in their lives. And that’s honestly what matters to me. Time in the long run is a lot more important to me than money. As long as I have enough money to enjoy the time, right? It’s really hard to enjoy the vacation if you’re like, oh, after this vacation we’re bankrupt, right? Like, that’s not a very enjoyable vacation. But I was talking to someone when I was just starting, which is not that long ago. But just starting my speaking career, and they were talking about someone who’s very, very experienced in the speaking industry, very successful. And they’re like, are they, are you sure this is something you want to do? Because it can mean a lot of nights away from your family, a lot of time on the road, and there can be a lot of commitment there. And I told them, I don’t need to make that much money. Like, I don’t need to be speaking 18 times a month to make hundreds of thousands of dollars or whatever a year. Like, I don’t care. I don’t care if I’m making just piles of money. After a point like, I don’t know what I would do with the piles. I just want to be able to go and spend time with my wife and my kids and the times that matter without worrying about whether we’re going to eat . And I want to be able to control my schedule. And if I reach that point where I know that no matter what happens in the world, whether the economy’s good or bad or whatever. As long as I know that we are doing okay and we’re gonna be comfortable, like that’s success to me. Because the people that matter to me and spending time with them is a lot more important than the money. But a lot of times, you know, people can say that and it feels pretty cliche, because the money does matter, right? Like I said, you need a certain threshold of money to just not be worried about paying rent or losing your house or feeding the kids or whatever. After that point, I don’t understand the people who are making half a million dollars every six months and are like, you know what? I need to double it. And I’m just like, double it for what? And if that’s what brings you joy, that’s fine. Like if you, I mean, I totally get liking to build things. Like I start businesses sometimes just because they’re there and they’re cool opportunities. And I totally get just wanting to build something awesome and see it be successful. But it has to be worth the cost. And that’s something that every individual has to balance, is where is my line? Where I don’t care about more, right? This is enough. And I think everyone should have a line. They should say, “hey, this is what I need to be happy, and I’m good. I’m done. That’s enough”. Because otherwise you can end up chasing forever. There’s always more. There’s always a new thing. There’s always something else you could be doing. More money to be made, more prestige to be gained or whatever. Someone else’s number might be way different than mine. Some people, it might be, you know, 10 million in the bank. That’s way higher than my number. But I think you should have a number, or at least a lifestyle in your head if you’re pursuing success, so that it doesn’t just become one more thing.
00:17:47 Tesse: Wow. So leadership, a lifestyle, you know that number. That’s awesome. You know what I’m thinking of, is I wish I could bottle what you’re saying and put it in a little jar and remind myself of the number. And stick with the intention to say, this is it. Paula, I’m handing over to you, because I’m kind of having a lot to reflect on right now.
00:18:11 Paula: I’m reflecting here quietly in the background thinking, yeah, the summary of that is, is good to have money, but don’t let money have you. Setting your boundaries are important.
00:18:21 Dallin: And that’s just someone who, I’m saying that as someone who’s a big fan of having money. You know, if anyone’s like, Dallin should I give you money? Listener yes, feel free to give me your money. But that can’t be the end goal, right? You can’t just want money for the sake of having money. I don’t know, it sounds really nihilistic. But my wife and I have actually had that conversation. That like, I don’t know what I would do if something happened where I no longer had her and my kids. Even if I had all the success, I would have no more motivation to do anything. I sincerely do not know what I would do. Cause I have this just deep, deep drive to do stuff. We were talking about that before the show that you guys were saying like, “Dallin it seems like you are always doing things”, and I am because I enjoy it. But I do it all to reach that lifestyle. And I do it for them and for me and for the life that we want to have together. And it might not be a wife and kids for everyone. It might be, you know, friends or other family members or whatever, a dog. But if you don’t have something of meaning that you’re working towards, that isn’t just cash in the bank. I don’t know what the point is, if there isn’t something beyond that.
00:19:37 Paula: Wow. And so is that what kind of led you to write your book, “Get On The Bull”? Tell me why did you write that book?
00:19:46 Dallin: I could give you the really nice flowery poetic answer, or I could give you the hard, honest truth answer. And reality might be somewhere in the middle. Do you want both answers?
00:19:59 Paula: Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go for it.
00:20:01 Tesse: Go for it.
00:20:01 Dallin: Okay. The flowery poetic answer, is that I wanted to write a book about ethics that would change people’s lives and really change the way they think about ethics. But I am just starting out, not a big deal. If you’re trying to write a book that’s going to change the world, writing it about ethics isn’t a great way to get on the Wall Street Time’s best seller list. It’s like writing a book about geometry. Nobody’s like, Ooh, can’t wait to get my next geometry book. Like people aren’t just amped about their next ethics purchase. So I thought, okay, I can’t lead off with a book about moral development, or nobody is going to read it. Like I have to build a name for myself first. So I need to do something that will let me teach those principles, but can do it in a way that’s more marketable and fun. And that is where “Get On The Bull” came from. It started out as a keynote speech. Because if you’re going be from the middle of nowhere Wyoming and you’re gonna have grown up in such a rural environment, you may as well lean into it and tell some bull riding stories. So my dad was a bull rider, I was raised with all of these bull riding metaphors to teach me about life. And I had a lot of connections in that world. People I could interview and I was like this, this is just a fun metaphor. Everyone does like the quarterback analogy. At least in the United States, where it’s like you’re leading the team and you have to make the calls and work together, and it’s like, that’s overdone. Nobody’s done bull riders. I’ll do that one. And so the idea was like, okay, I can teach the powerful life changing principles. But I can do it in a way where people don’t feel like they’re reading an ethics book. Because I’ll pretend it’s a leadership book and it is, right? It is a leadership book. But it kind of, let me cheat. Here’s the bad news, that’s the flowery answer. That’s the poetic one. The second Hard Truth answer is that, if you want to build a name for yourself in thought leadership, public speaking, consulting, all of that world, man, you just have to have a book. People like it when you have a book. When you can send it to someone with a pitch and you can say like, here’s my book. It lets them get a taste of your ideas. How you think, how you tell stories. It’s an important marketing tool. It’s an important personal branding tool. And like that’s a really cynical way of looking at something that I poured just my heart and soul into. But I started with this book. I’ve had so many books in my head. And I’ve said on other podcasts, I think I’ve written three or four manuscripts that I never published or did anything with. And I started with this one because I needed something fun. I needed something accessible. It’s very short. It’s very to the point. It’s something that anyone can pick up, hopefully get a few chuckles out of. Hopefully get a few deep principles out of and say, “wow, that was a nice read and maybe I’ll change a couple things in my life that make me a better person”. Because I wanted to do some way bigger things, and I’m working on my second book, which is the ethics book. And I’m really into it and it’s going to be so cool. But it is going to be probably two or three times as long, if not more so. And it’s going to have some serious frameworks and all the big change the world thoughts. And it’s going to take me quite a while to get right and to get out there and get published and get ready. And so I needed something fun and I needed something short and something I could put together and put out there that I could say, dang at world, this is me. Here you go. Have a giant bull riding metaphor about ethical leadership. Cause that’s like the most Dallin Cooper thing that’s ever been. But hopefully it changes lives. Hopefully it’s a good thing. But also, I just needed some personal branding and to seem a little cooler. When you start out, you just, you need people to be willing to take a shot on you and you need to make yourself look as cool as you can. And that is what helps.
00:24:02 Tesse: You know what I find refreshing is your honesty. It’s so refreshing. I’m like chuckling away cause you’re so honest. How’s it doing so far, Dallin? How’s it going? What are people saying about it?
00:24:15 Dallin: I’ve gotten very good reviews from the people who have read it. I don’t have the massive connections and the networks. And I have talked to some book promoters and people who are like, yeah, I’ll help you sell all the books and get on the places and do all these things. And then you talk to them about pricing and it’s like, that’ll be somewhere between 60 and a hundred thousand dollars. And I’m like, ooh that is a lot of thousands of dollars I sure don’t have. And so is it the New York Times bestseller? No. Are people reading it and liking it? Yeah. And so it’s accomplishing its job. And honestly, that’s all I can ask for at this point. Maybe the day will come that I can do all the stuff and blast it all over. I have friends on LinkedIn who do the fancy book things and they’re putting their covers up on the NASDAQ billboard, you know, in Times Square, and all the things. And it’s like, you know, I’m just not there yet. I’m in my mid twenties. I’m not at that spot in life. So I’m going to work in my sphere and I’m going to work from where I’ve got every business that I have ever owned. I bootstrapped from nothing. None of the big seed money, no massive loans, all no debt. I just put what money I had into it and then hoped I could get some out to invest it back in. And it’s a slow way to do it, but it’s my way. I like taking nothing and turning it into something. So the book has not been the explosive hit the top of all the charts things that a lot of authors look for. But I hope that it will enjoy an adventure of many years of people finding it and enjoying it. And I get to go do speaking opportunities and take it with me and take it to the audiences. Do the whole like bulk pre-purchase thing, where everybody who’s in the audience gets a copy or things like that. So there’s a lot of opportunities to share it with people, and that’s fun, right? It’s fun to just share something that you’ve really put your heart into. You guys have a podcast, you know that, right? Like podcasts don’t make you rich unless you’re like one of the 0.1% of people. But like you’re creating something cool and you get to share it with the world, and that’s a blast.
00:26:30 Paula: Yes. Yes. And it opens up, like you said, what your book is doing for you, podcasting is doing for us. It’s given us opportunities to meet amazing people like you, for one. And to get our voice out there. Not really about ourselves because we showcase other people. So I love your authenticity. I asked you that question and you gave both answers, but they were both truthful. And it showed Dallin in the way he truly is. The flowery answer, this is the practical side. I need a book. I need a product that I can use to let the world know who I am. You’re not yet 30 for mine.
00:27:04 Dallin: 27. I’m 27 at the moment.
00:27:07 Paula: You’re young. You’re a baby. and buba. Yeah. I am very impressed. I’m impressed by you. I’m impressed by the steps you’re taking. But I’m also impressed by authenticity because it comes through. You didn’t give me the marketing answer. Well, I am doing this because, you said it as it was. So thank you for your honesty. And it is impacting people the way you want it to impact. Cause I looked up, at least on Amazon, you got five star ratings. That’s good.
00:27:37 Tesse: Amazing. Amazing. Dallin what, this honesty that Paula is talking about that you’re saying it comes across that is what struck me when I contacted you. And I said to Paula, I can’t wait to speak to Dallin. Because there’s something instinctively that I like and I don’t know what it is, but we’ll find out. Didn’t I Paula ?
00:27:57 Paula: You sure did. You sure did.
00:27:59 Tesse: Yeah. Yeah. ,
00:28:01 Dallin: I hope whatever it is that you still think I have it. .
00:28:04 Paula: Yes. What I like about you is this is the 21st century, but you come across as authentic and real. Who we see and who we are talking to, for our listening audience. We’ve never met Dallin before. This is our first time meeting him, and not only is he a cool young man but his authenticity shows through in everything he’s doing, he’s saying. I mean, looking at his eyes right now, his eyes are not going from left to right, making you think, okay, he is, uh. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So Dallin where can we find you online?
00:28:39 Dallin: You can find me on LinkedIn. The social media platform that I like actually am on. I technically have Facebook and Twitter profiles, but I’m on them once every three months. So if you go there don’t expect them to have anything there. I do have a YouTube channel, just “Dallin Cooper”. I have no clue where that thing is going. But it sure is fun. And if you want more ridiculous takes on ethics stuff, that’s where to find them. It’s a pretty niche market. People who want silly takes on ethics things. I do like pop culture stuff. Breaking down ethical dilemmas in movies or controversial topics. I’ve looked at like hunting and rodeos and different things that people are like, oh, is this okay? Just a lot of different stuff. Some business ethics things. Just, they’re fun, right? Like we were saying with the podcast, I am losing money on YouTube, but I get to create fun stuff and share it with the world, which is neat. So you can find me on YouTube. You can find me on LinkedIn. Hopefully by the time this airs, you’ll be able to find my podcast “Ethics for Humans” on all the places where podcasts are. I think that’s it. “DallinCooper.com”. “DallinCooper.com” is a website with things and someday ethics for humans.org, which exists right now, but is not super functional. Those are places where you aren’t gonna interact with me. But if you want to book me for an event. If you want to read more about my book, about things that are going on, I put all that stuff on my website, so “dallincooper.com”, LinkedIn, YouTube, hopefully podcast at this point.
00:30:21 Paula: Thank you, Dallin. You are amazing. And to our amazing audience, thank you so much for tuning in. We’d love you to head over to “Apple Podcast”, “Google Podcasts”, “Spotify”, or anywhere else where you listen to podcasts and click subscribe. And if you like what you just heard, and if you have any questions or topics you want us to cover related to leadership and governance, please send us a note. And remember, your notes can be personal or professional. And if you’d like to be a guest on the show “TesseTalks”, please head over to “tesseakpeki.com/tessetalks” to apply. Thank you, Dallin. This was awesome. You are, for a young man you are millennial. I love your attitude.
00:31:11 Tesse: Extra refreshing. Extra refreshing.
00:31:13 Paula: Yes, that’s the word.
00:31:14 Tesse: Absolutely.
00:31:15 Paula: Refreshing.
00:31:16 Dallin: Oh, thank you.