E30: What's Next Series | David Gamble - Redefining Success After the NFL




On this episode of the What's Next Series, host Laurie Barkman talks with David Gamble, Founder of DG Coaching & Consulting, about what comes next after you achieve your dream. After an NFL Super Bowl win with the Denver Broncos, David reinvented his career by redefining success to leave a trail where there is no path. If you’re thinking about a transition, this episode may provide some inspiration to help you find your next.




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Episode transcript:


Welcome to the Succession Stories Podcast, I’m Laurie Barkman. I work with business owners to maximize value, create options for the future, and be happy in your next.

I’m excited to share the “What’s Next Series” as part of Succession Stories.

These conversations spotlight the theme of transitions.

Changes can come at you unexpectedly, or be planned. Are you ready?

After all - in business and life – succession is about transitions and how you embrace “what’s next” matters.


Subscribe to our newsletter for more resources to build value in your business and plan your transition. Visit SmallDotBig.com and sign up today.


I love having authentic conversations with people about their transitions. This episode stands out to me for a few reasons.


One, my guest, David Gamble, and I went to high school together so it was great to reconnect and learn more about his story.


Two, we talked about what comes next after you achieve your dream.


David is a former NFL player who found his calling in business inspiring teams off the field. Listen to learn more about how he reinvented himself. The key was knowing his why, and being intentional about his next steps- including launching his own business.


As David shared, defining what success looks like to you will help you leave a trail where there is no path. If you’re thinking about a transition, I hope this episode provides inspiration to help you find your next.

Laurie Barkman:

David Gamble. Good morning. How are you today?


David Gamble:

I'm doing extraordinary, Laurie. How about yourself?


Laurie Barkman:

I am doing really well. I'm super excited to have you on Succession Stories today. As we talked before the show, this is a sub series that I've launched called "What's Next.” You and I have gone to high school together, let's just tell everybody, straight up. Full disclosure, we go way back. We hadn't seen each other in a lot of years.


What I found so wonderful and so amazing about going to our high school reunion, as Gen Xers, let's talk about it. We had our 30th high school reunion about a year ago. You and I hadn't seen each other since graduation pretty much. There was no social media, we didn't know where each other went in life. There was a group of us who moved away from home and kind of lost touch. I think you and I were part of that mix. The funny thing is you were in the NFL, and on a wonderful team in Denver, which I'm of course going to ask you about. At that time, I was going to Denver quite a bit - my husband's family lived in Colorado, in the Denver area, for like 25 years. I didn't even know you were playing for this amazing team and having this amazing experience.


Anyway, flash forward, we caught up at reunion, and I learned not only about your incredible athletic career, which I want to learn more about, but also your career in Corporate America. I was so proud to see recently that you've launched a new venture.


I want to talk about all of those things, and it's in the context of the What's Next Series, because there's a lot of people out there who are dealing with change--whether it's change at work, whether it's change with their business. I work with people on change, transitions in their company. I thought it would be so wonderful to have you here today. So welcome. Please start by telling the audience because they don't know you like I do. What's your story? Where did you grow up? And tell us about your family.


David Gamble:

Well, yes, it's a fun story, I like to believe. The journey has just been awesome. But it does start from being born and raised in Albany, New York. It is kind of cool. You talked about we are Gen X and how our upbringing was. I graduated at Colonie Central High School, in Albany, New York. I'm the youngest of three boys. My two older brothers are my best friends. My mom still lives in the house that I grew up in. What's really interesting as you talked about how we reconnected, and how we have all these social media outlets to keep in contact with folks to follow folks, we didn't have that growing up. But the one thing that has been constant in my life - and I call it the foundational - is the house that I grew up in. My mom still lives there. And we still have the same phone number. There's only been one phone number in that house. If anybody ever just wanted to figure out how to get in contact with me, they can always call my mom's house, and she'll pick up and she'll forward my most recent cell phone number. So it's really, it's really cool that I could always go back home.


My oldest brother still lives in the Albany area. Matter of fact, my middle brother is moving back to the Capital district in the next few months. So I do have roots, strong roots in the Albany area, I go back frequently. I bring my children there to see mom and see uncles and nephews and nieces, and really have them experience how I was raised and where I was growing up. I bring them to the big park that I grew up in, and they've gone to my high school and things of that nature. So I really feel like I had a great upbringing. There's nothing like growing up in New York. I mean, from the cultural standpoint, the real foundation of work ethic and family values. I had a great great upbringing. And it panned out after I graduated from high school. I got a full scholarship. As you mentioned, I was a three sport athlete in high school. And I was blessed to go on and get a full scholarship to play at the University of New Hampshire, where I did start for four years and became an academic and athletic All-American there. I had the privilege and honor to pursue my goal. I think this is where the whole beginning of reinventing yourself, before you reinvent yourself, you have to know who you are.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah. And you were an amazing athlete in high school. And I'm not surprised to hear about the success you had in college and after. Did you have any doubts that you'd make it to the NFL? Did you just have that as a goal all the way through high school and just growing up? When did you decide that you were going to go for it?


David Gamble:

I talk about this a lot, Laurie, because there's a difference between a goal and a dream. So I had a dream, like my dream was just to play one down in the NFL, that was it. That was from the first time I've ever carried the ball in youth contact football, to high school when I might be in the paper, The Times Union, and then getting a lot of serious accolades in college. It never changed. I wanted to prove to myself. It was that dream to play in the NFL. So the same desire that I had at seven, I had at 17. The same desire, once I was able to get a little bit closer, and I saw the reality of it, it really didn't change. My motivation didn't change. I was inspired by the same thing. I would talk to the same circle of friends. So that never changed, even though I got closer, and it actually became a reality.


Laurie Barkman:

What was your experience on the Broncos? I know you were on some other teams. I want to focus on that because it was your last team. And there was such a great experience that you had in a very short period of time that I'd love for you to share your story about that.


David Gamble:

Yeah. So that just being on a team, I call it transferable skills. So yes, I was able to play pro ball, football, professional football, the NFL. It is a business, right. So these teams are run like a business. You have employees, you have managers, you have CEOs, you have the C-Suite, you have all these different entities that are exactly the same as Corporate America.


So that experience in Denver was absolutely phenomenal. It really taught me not only more about myself, but literally when I got done with football, what type of environment I wanted to work in. My coach, Mike Shanahan, who was the head coach at the time, was just a phenomenal mastermind. He literally treated me - which I was the 53rd man on a 53-man roster - the same way he treated John Elway who's going to be a first timer Hall of Fame ballot. We got treated the same. And you can see that team, that camaraderie, that respect that we had for one another, that accountability. It was just phenomenal. We played for each other. We had a set goal. It was: we were going to do it for each other. And when you have that type of energy, when you have that type of synergy amazing things could happen.


We were not picked to win the Super Bowl that year. We weren't even picked to win our division that year. We got in as a wildcard. It was really a great attribute to the coaching staff, to the leadership, and to the players that said we know what it takes, and we're going to go for it. And that experience like just being around those guys during that, it transformed even my philosophy after ball. When we were going through that playoff run, it was surreal. Oh it was surreal.


It was like we won the first playoff game. All of our games were on the road. So I mean, our uphill battle just to get to the Super Bowl was, we're not bad on paper. We went to Pittsburgh. No, no, we went to Kansas City. And we beat Kansas City in Kansas City and that's, they're in our division and we don't like them, they don't like us - we beat them. And I just remember calling my brother like, "Man, we I think we got something going. I think we got it." So the next game is the divisional series against Pittsburgh, at Pittsburgh. And they were actually favorites to go to the Super Bowl that year.


Laurie Barkman:

Which is of course where I live.


David Gamble:

Right, right. That's right. And you know the fans in Pittsburgh, right?


Laurie Barkman:

Oh yeah.


David Gamble:

They eat, sleep, breathe - I mean, it's serious and, and they have a tradition, right. They have a tradition of success. They have a tradition of winning those types of games. We went into Pittsburgh, and we beat Pittsburgh. I just remember looking at my brother, my family came down. And I remember looking at them, it's like, it was like one of those shrugs, like I guess, I guess we're going, right?! We're going to the Super Bowl. That whole experience, just going there...it was the last time the NFL would have two weeks - a team would go there two weeks prior to the Super Bowl. So you really get to enjoy, you get to absorb it. You get to bring your family, they get to spend a week and a half there.


I was able to bring it all back together. Meaning that dream as a seven year old kid saying, hey, I just want to play one down in the NFL. Knowing that my family was there, they never missed a high school game. My brother never missed a college game. And to have them all there and spend this time in San Diego for the Super Bowl, it was surreal.


This is 2020 and a lot has happened. One of the tragic things that happened this year was the death of Kobe Bryant. And the reason why it was so fitting for me, and so touching for me because during the Super Bowl game, my mom and my brothers were sitting next to a rookie Kobe Bryant.


Laurie Barkman:

Oh, wow.


David Gamble:

Right. So this is before he's before the Mambo, before he's won anything. He's literally sitting in the stand. That's how low profile Kobe Bryant was. He's high-fiving my brother during the game. It was that type of experience. It was just a family environment. The team was a family environment. And you now what, lo and behold, we win the Super Bowl it’s an epic Super Bowl they still talk about today. To have the likes of playing along with the likes John Elway, Ed McCaffrey... I mean, we love his son now Christian McCaffrey, but I got a chance to play with Ed McCaffrey, and Terrell Davis and know a lot of these Hall of Famers, and by the way, most of them, we still keep in contact someway somehow. So having that type of real true brotherhood and me being able to just raise my hand, and say I was a part of it. That was just something you just can't explain. You don't put a quarter in in the jukebox and say, "Hey, when I grow up, I want to be a Super Bowl champ." It doesn't happen that way. But fortunately, for me, it was a little bit of luck and a lot of prayer. And I was able to experience it.


Laurie Barkman:

And family is such an important part of you, and who you are. And that's why I wanted you to talk about family when we opened the show, because I think it's important to your personal DNA and who you are. And you carried that through with your experience on the team. All great athletes' careers come to an end, right? It's just the way life goes. So your career in the NFL ended. And I wanted you to talk about that. How did you figure out what was next? How did you make that transition from the NFL to Corporate America? By the way you and I have...the answer is human resources management..and you and I have that in common. My undergraduate degree was in HR. And so as I learned about your amazing career, I think probably through LinkedIn, we got connected over time, and saw that you were in HR and thought that's a really interesting coincidence. I certainly understand where the role comes from. I always called it the psychology of business. I found it really valuable as I grew in my career in management to go back to some of those fundamentals. You're a great student, you're I'm sure you were a great student in high school and in college. So did you leverage all those things to kind of map out the “what's next” for you when you decided to leave the NFL?


David Gamble:

No, I didn't, Laurie. To be honest with you. I actually went to school, I had a dual major in business and criminal justice. So if football never worked out, I wanted to go into law enforcement. That's kind of what my direction and passion was. HR was not in the realm of things for that matter. I was blessed to play six years. The one ironic thing about my six years of playing, I played in the Canadian Football League, as well as the NFL. And there were times and experiences where I knew the air in football was going to run out. I didn't know when, but I knew it was going to run out.


So I would start to project what do I want to be when I grew up? I'm 25 years old and I'm still saying that question, what I want to be when I grow up? At that time the law enforcement avenue was shrinking for me. But then, knowing that I was going to retire soon was growing for me. So what ended up happening was I said, "well, maybe I could use more just my business degree to help me transition." So that's kind of what I was thinking about after each season.


I think I was 25, I was playing in the Canadian Football League and I made a decision that I wanted to try to go back into the NFL. If I didn't make it to the NFL, because there's some other leagues popping up, USFL, there was a Europe League, WWE had a football league, all these crazy leagues were coming out. And I was like, I'm not doing any of that. I was like, if I don't make it back in the NFL, then I'm gonna be a civilian and I'm gonna ride with that. And so I did, I had a contingent plan. Even though I said I was gonna make the Denver Broncos it was ‘96. Then if not I was going to pursue something around my business degree. So, God willing, I was able to extend my career and play in the NFL again, highlighted by the Super Bowl Championship Denver Broncos, but in doing so, it forced me to make sure I networked.


Now I started planting seeds. During the off-season, making sure I was going to networking events, whether they're golf outings, whether they were just throwing those things and saying, "hey, what does it look like for somebody who doesn't have work experience. So, six years, yes, I'm living my dreams. But I'm also losing six years of work experience, that I'm gonna have to be competing for a job with somebody who's graduated with me, has the same pedigree as myself. But they have now have six years of work experience. And that's kind of where my transition of my mindset was. If I don't have the work experience, I can have the relationship. I can start building the network in my contact list. And that's what I ended up doing.


Laurie Barkman:

Very smart. Yeah, you're ambitious, in a lot of ways. So that sounds like it wasn't easy, but you were thoughtful about it. And you eventually got into the restaurant industry, I mean, the hospitality industry, and I know, there was grocery and - but I want to fast forward a little bit to your most recent experience. You were with Cracker Barrel for over four years. Is that right?


David Gamble:

That's correct.


Laurie Barkman:

Okay. So I was hoping that you could talk about your experience with Cracker Barrel just to give a flavor of what you did from a Corporate HR standpoint. Like you mentioned, 2020 has just been a crazy, crazy year. Certainly for the hospitality industry, it's been tumultuous, with restaurants getting closed and reopened. And you were on the very, very front line of that this summer with Cracker Barrel and had to do some difficult things that needed to be done with the chain. And that was your job. I just would like you to talk a little bit about that. Your role before the pandemic, and what energized you about that. Then also, what that transition was for you through the pandemic, and then your decision to leave Cracker Barrel?


David Gamble:

Yes, so I'll just quickly just talk about my role for Cracker Barrel at the time as a Director of Field HR. So when you think about Cracker Barrel, there's over 800 store locations across the United States. I was the one - I had a colleague, there were two of us - who would literally have to go and support those 800 plus stores. What do I mean by that, Laurie? I would go to the store, I'd visit the store, and I would be their HR manager for that particular store.


If they needed staffing, I would help them devise a staffing plan. If they were losing employees, I would help to create a retention plan. I would have to do investigations, if there was any sexual harassment, just all the functions of HR, kind of in a suitcase, traveling suitcase, and I would visit these stores. I would work with leadership, whether it was the District Manager, Vice President, or even a store leadership team to help drive the culture.


So the things about HR, what I always like to talk about is, HR, in my mind, driven by two different things, either trying to be compliance driven or driving a culture. And when you have some systems in place, I can not worry about the compliance piece. I go to a store and really talk about the culture.


When you talk about the culture, it's the human in human resources. It's talking about people development, it's all talking about people placement and talking about people engagement, and how can those three aspects deliver a great experience for our customers, and that's what I would be doing for the last three years. It was awesome.


I was able to go to different regions of the United States, and not only taste the food, outside of Cracker Barrel, but really understand what makes them be complete. Because in essence and what I love about my job, and the field that we work in, is how can you make somebody feel complete about who they are and what they do? How can I bring all of myself? We talked about my family earlier. There's nothing better than having an employee, no matter what walk of life, and have them come to work and know that they'll bring in everything they believe in. They have the most pride in their work and deliver an experience, not only for their colleagues, but for the customer as well. And that would be my job, I would help perpetuate that type of behavior each and every day. So our guests could feel like, oh, my god, this server, I found that their grandmother knows...and the next thing, they leave with an experience that makes them come back over and over again. And that's what I did for Cracker Barrel.


As you mentioned, we are in 2020, and we've experienced an unprecedented time of this pandemic. In the restaurant hospitality business, I don't think there's another industry that has been hit worse. In the restaurant business it has, and for Cracker Barrel, was amongst the top of that list of how do we look at our business differently? First of all, it was more survival mode. Because when you're trying to make decisions of the unknown, you're going to make unfortunately, you're going to have to make tough decisions. And that's what Cracker Barrel had to do. So I was part of those conversations. What about our people? Whether we try to hold on and hang on, and hopefully that we find a cure, or things change immediately? Or if that same conversation, what about the last two or three years? Do we have to close down stores? Do we have to put barricades within the stores? We didn't know because we were going with information, unknown information. So we made the decision back in March to reduce our workforce 40%.


I was one of those folks who had to go around the country. As you know, HR...I always say this joke around saying, I've never fired an employee, they fire themselves. Unfortunately, I would have to deliver the bad news. That's my saving grace. But in this instance, letting people go for no fault, or no reason of their own is the toughest conversation that you could possibly have. Knowing that this job is supporting their family, putting food on the table, putting a roof over their head, and then saying to them, we no longer can meet your services, we think you're great, you did an awesome job, thank you for the ten plus years, but we're gonna have to let you go because we can't afford your or it's just the way things go.


I mean, we try to make it soft as we possibly can. But at the end of the day, if we no longer need your services. Unfortunately, I had to do that across the nation. It was very, very difficult. Anybody in HR, whoever had to do furloughs or or layoffs, it is the hardest thing to do. And I had to do that. Afterwards as we restructured, it's funny, you find yourself on the other side of the table. I mean, you could see it, you say well, okay, they're going to cut travel, they're going to reduce this, they're eliminating this department, they're going to take a few people from that department, and you start to say, in change management, what about me?


What are they going to do with me? And as they started making decisions, I made a decision for myself, and I think this is kind of the makeup of all the things I've always done. You don't have to tell me, I'm going to tell you, type of thing. It was a great decision and a great conversation with both of us that for me, even though there was some opportunity, I chose to leave. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the whole entire organization. But it was in my best interest to venture off and not only reinvent myself, but as you reinvent yourself, and take different directions or different paths in your journey, taking those experiences with you. And understanding what is best for you and as I told you, that example of me going into a store and trying to do an assessment and meeting the people, I honestly said, "Huh, what if I just do that on my own?"


Laurie Barkman 24:56

Right.


David Gamble:

Go to a business, go to a company. Say hello, introduce myself. Ask them what problems they may have, how can I possibly help them? Provide resources, a strategy, maybe a plan. And I could do it all by myself. I could do it on my own. And that's what launched my next venture.


Laurie Barkman:

Which is really a build up of so many things that you had been learning in your career from being on a team. What that meant being a leader on a team. Being so influenced by your family. Bringing that culture of teamwork and family into the workplace and tying it all together in a field that we call Human Resources, but it's about people. And it's clear that's really at the heart of who you are, David, and I'm just so pleased about that. Because I think it's a great example for people that are dealing with change. I know and you know, and in the audience, listeners probably know, a lot of people who have been affected by this pandemic, where they might have been furloughed, and now they're thinking about their next and what are they going to do. And they have skills, right. We at this second chapter of our career...there's a lot of us out there. I don't know if you've seen the numbers from the government that are being published every week, certainly on a monthly basis,


about small business ownership, and the number of new businesses being opened. This year versus last year is up, like 25% or more, it's an incredibly high number. We tend to think that, oh, new businesses, those are going to be tech startups and all of that. Well, the majority of these new businesses, I think, are not. It's the solopreneur, it's the person who's going to leverage their skillset in a different way in creating value. Which is, again, I think, a reason I wanted to spotlight what you're doing, also, because I believe, and it's been my experience as a CEO, and as a practitioner of trying to develop teams, because there's a value there. You hit on it earlier with culture. That culture and being really process focused in terms of your people creates value for a company. You saw it in your career in other companies, these Fortune 500 companies. You're also now seeing it with your business, which is called DG Consulting. Tell me about that, what was the inspiration to create DG Consulting? What does that stand for? And how do you help deliver value through better HR processes and culture to small businesses?


David Gamble:

Yeah, Laurie, what's interesting is, I did not set forth in the beginning to say that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and open up my own business, that was not in the cards. I mean, I didn't have that entrepreneurial spirit. I loved working in big companies, I felt comfortable. So it's ironic that I am a statistic of what you just described. It can be more purposeful and intentional about opening up your own business, and it felt better for me to do so. When I went through that transition of "Okay, what do I want to do next?" Again, asking myself, what do I want to be when I grow up? And when you start to look at your skill sets, and when you do like a resume review on yourself, like, okay, I've worked here for five years, I worked there for ten years, I did a little bit of this, I was on this, I had these many people working for me, I was on this bottom of the ladder, and you start to calculate, what is your best move? So I would say, if anyone is in that transition, it all begins with your why. To find your why. What is your purpose? What do you want to do? When I really looked at it, I said, I want to inspire people.


Matter of fact, it was: I want to inspire. I've always been when I looked at my career, my athletic career, I was always the captain. I think I might have been the first person picked in gym class, and I was either, I was picking the people, or I was telling that person, "pick that person, or pick that person, or pick that person." So I was always in a position of either influence or authority. I took a lot of pride in it, right? It' for me, it was an honor to be the captain of a football team. It was this privilege to be a director of a department or a manager of a team. I took it seriously. So as I got it, too now again, I'm not saying the back half of my nine, right..


Laurie Barkman:

You still have more time.


David Gamble:

But what I really looked at, I said, "What is the common denominator? What drives me?" And what drives me is to inspire, whether it's people processes, or things. And that's what - that is the foundation of my next decision, as well as the fabric of my company. If we want to inspire people, whether that's a leader to do the right thing, or to change a policy or to now think about their people first, to help them create processes. Whether it's from a compliance perspective, or from a culture perspective, we wanted to inspire greatness. There's nothing better. And again, and I go back to the Bronco days. I had a phenomenal high school and college career. I mean, I had some great accolades. But there's nothing like being a part of a team, that everybody has the same accolades that you had, and even more. Like competition, it was what we called friendly competition. You want to be around the best, you want to -


Laurie Barkman:

They make you better, right?


David Gamble:

They make you better. There's no difference when you're working in an office, or you're working in an executive team, or you're working in a company, that people are, that you're getting in people with talent, diversity. Like diversity of thought, diversity of presence, and you're like, "Oh, my god, I'm going to work and I'm enthusiastic, I'm inspired." I need to be on my A game, right? So I wanted to allow, help people get to their A game and get what I say, get a championship mindset. That inspired me to create my own business, which is called DG Coaching & Consulting. So part of the coaching is for you as a business owner, or a company, to allow a consulting agency, or firm to come into your organization, we're not gonna tell you what to do, we're gonna help coach you. Just like in sports, you don't see the coach. He didn't play one down, he's not throwing a touchdown last night. The coach doesn't do that, the players do.


Laurie Barkman:

Right.


David Gamble:

If you allow as a business owner, we want to come into your organization and coach you on things that either it's best practices, whether it's foundational infrastructures, or if it's enhancing to take your organization to the next level. That's where the coaching came from. The consulting piece is, again, we leave recommendations, we leave a plan, we leave the processes to better help you as a leader to discover greatness. I always say if it's great consulting firms, we work ourselves out of a job. We tell you, we assess, we give recommendations, you start to deliver, like "I don't need DG Coaching & Consulting," and you eventually fire us. That lets me know we do a great job. That's my job.


Laurie Barkman:

Well, there's a lot of really awesome things in what you just shared there with having a championship mindset and answering the question, “what is the difference between coaching and consulting?” Now with the pandemic, what does this mean? I know you work with clients all over the country. So what does virtual training and coaching look like now? How do you make it authentic? I mean, you and I are talking over Zoom right now. And it feels great. It's awesome to see you. But we're not in person. If you're trying to coach up, and you're trying to help make organizations better, are we all zoomed out? How is this going to work virtually?


David Gamble:

Well, it's funny, I was just in a summit yesterday, and a lot of that discussion was being talked about. And again, maybe that's the next Amazon, maybe that's the next Facebook, or maybe that's the next whoever develops that "it" where you could again bring the human back into human resources or the culture back into technology. So it is an opportunity for everybody to take advantage of. Yes, we are working remotely, and we're protecting ourselves and our families. However, there is a lost art. There's something lost in getting five executives to meet in a room talking about a problem or forecasting a plan. There you're missing some element, you're missing some of that energy and that vibe.


For those that like to work with others, you're missing that element. So for us, we challenge with making sure we hit what I call three different points of contact. And it's not only verbally, but how are you doing it verbally? Is it through text? Is it through written communication? And is it through phone or Zoom communication? You don't have to do it, but you have to do it well. You really have to do it well. You have to know when you're zoomed out, right, and you need to revert back to-- now it becomes an email, or now it just becomes a phone call.


Because you know what, I want to talk to you, but I don't want to see you because my dog is barking in the background or my kids, so I need to continue it. But what's best suited for you or for the party? So it becomes really again still building relationships, and building working relationships, that best fit the parties. So for us, we have opened up some travel and meeting some of the clients and now becomes let's do that strategically. So maybe now we only meet once a quarter, maybe once a month, just to get that human touch in. Maybe I need to go visit the office. As you're telling me, it's bad Dave, or people are not as liable, I'm gonna have to visit that and see that, smell that, for me to get my own impression. So yes, it has to be a strategic type of visit. It's not every day, we're not talking every day. However, I think creating a communication role or plan with that client, helps them and helps me either discover or uncover opportunities, but at least just fits the needs of those clients. I think everybody's got to do that. You got to be creative. You can't do the same things expecting different results, you're gonna have to do things differently.


Laurie Barkman:

Right. I had an experience recently with a client where they wanted to do strategic planning, which is normally so effective in person, but I offered to do it remote. I said, why not give it a try. They said, "No, we haven't seen each other for months, we want to meet in person". This was a compelling reason to be face to face. And this was a really small team. But they were a little bit zoomed out. And we did a social distance strategic planning session, and it was awesome to have a lunch break, we went outside and there were moments of that just feeling really connected on what we were doing together for them. And putting together this three year view of their business. A, they'd never done it before. And B, the timing just felt right for them. Because they needed to come back together. They needed that, like, as you said, this different point of communication. And because the topic was - it was strategy - it was important to really be connecting. I think we'll see some of that to where yeah, it's almost like perhaps a special event that brings teams together. But it is smart to have an overall approach. It's also I think, a good thing for leaders to be checking in with their people, like, how are you doing? There's just so much that happened in 2020. This is a year, we're ready to get rid of and move on to 2021. We could go on and on about all the things that have not worked well in 2020. I don't want to necessarily do that. My point is that I think as individuals and being authentic leaders, we do need a way to really check in with people and say, "How are you?"


David Gamble:

Yeah, you're absolutely right. I think that it's almost a lost art because A, we never had to do that. Right? So it's now coaching those leaders saying, Okay, before we want to get into business, first, check in on them personally. See how homeschooling is. If you want to bring all of them to work, we'll check on all of their important responsibilities. And I think it comes easy to folks who put people before things, but a lot of corporations put things before people. Because what we need the product, we need...on and on all the things that need to come first. But when you really put people first, and you lead people, and you manage processes, then getting to know your people and understanding that they're in a good place to deliver absolutely everything that their job requirements ask them for, that's when you're going to get the most out of people. And sometimes right now, those leaders who have made it because they were the drivers, they were the micro managers, they're gonna struggle getting the most out of their people. Folks like you and myself, they're out there just saying, hey, you're still great, you're still great at what you do. But let's check on your people first.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, for sure.


David Gamble:

Make sure they're okay.


Laurie Barkman:

Let's start to wind down here with some quick hit questions. The first one for you is if you could go back in time, and give yourself advice at any point in your career, what would you say?


David Gamble:

Oh, I would say, go for it. Just go for it. Trust your - I always say this, “Trust your dopeness.”


Laurie Barkman:

Trust your dopeness.


David Gamble:

Trust your dopeness. You're dope, you're good, you're great. And don't allow your fears to not allow you to live your dream.


Laurie Barkman:

I like that. If you could share, do you have any strange daily habits?


David Gamble:

I'm an early bird. So I get up around 4:35 every morning, and I have a dog, so we walk my dog. I have a Rottweiler. Everybody has this fear and things about a Rottweiler and he really, he's a puppy, he's a softie. But if you look at him, he looks scary. I like to walk him on a leash. So for me to walk him on leash I have to walk in the middle of night, so I don't hear neighbors complain. And the only weird thing, we do our routine. We walk about four or five miles every morning.


Laurie Barkman:

Oh, wow.


David Gamble:

Yeah, yeah, we get it in. And we get done. He's tired. I'm tired. And I think the only thing that's truly weird is when I get dressed after I workout and do my routine is I coordinate my wardrobe with my socks. I'm a sock guy, my sock game is on point, Laurie. I go anywhere to buy socks, nice funky socks to create my mood. They create my dress. So if you ever see me in person, check my sock game, it is on.


Laurie Barkman:

Okay. Oh, wow. That's awesome. Do you have any favorite sayings or mantras whether it's about entrepreneurship or anything else?


David Gamble:

Yes, it's by one of my favorite motivational speakers, Les Brown. And I was able to read this book, I think his first book, back in 1994. And it goes, “Don't go where the path may lead, but go where there is no path and leave a trail.”


Don't go where the path may lead, but go where there is no path and leave a trail.

When you talk about success for me, another piece of not only knowing what your why is, but you also need to personally define what success looks like for you. Because success for you may not be for me. Some may be driven by money, fame, notoriety, whatever the case may be. And for me, I define success as leaving a legacy. There's nothing I'm more proud of than being in the Hall of Fame of our high school, being in the Hall of Fame of my college. Here's the footsteps that my son could always have. So when I think about that mantra of leaving a trail, it is leaving a legacy. It is having something that folks, my family could say, “Hey, that was my son, my brother, my dad, my uncle,” and you know that lives forever.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, it does work forever. That's a great quote. I'm sure there's going to be people that want to connect with you. What's the best way for folks to find you online, David?


David Gamble:

You can reach me on my website, www - here's my company website first and then I'll give you my email address - it's www.dgcoachingandconsulting.com or you could reach me at dgamble@dgcoachingandconsulting.com


Laurie Barkman:

And I'll put that in the show links so people have it too. David, thank you so much. I feel like we had our own reunion here. And thanks for not sharing any stories about me from high school.


David Gamble:

Okay, you're welcome.


Laurie Barkman:

Actually, for the listeners, because I am trying to be more authentic. This is a video for those of you that normally listen on audio this video will be on the YouTube channel for Succession Stories. Somebody that knew me way back when - what might be one thing that you would want to share with the audience about me that they might be surprised to know?


David Gamble:

Laurie, you were so, I just remember like we had the senior hall. We had a senior type of cafeteria that only the seniors could go into. If you didn't have a class, you could go there. This is the one thing I've always admired about you. I think I told you about this in our reunion. You always uphold yourself...we would sit there and I'd be around the same group of friends - the Jeff Killeany’s of the world. You'd always be studying, you always had books. You always challenged yourself. You just role modeled the behavior. I think I told you it was like, you demanded a respect because of what you did.


What I always said, “role model the behavior.” To me people who are successful, people who are doing the right thing, it's because they're doing the right thing. They created a habit of behaviors. I can't tell you I always had a book in my hand, but I always just reminisce and I remember those times. Again, we'd be sitting at these tables. It would be a time that I would always feel like, why can’t I be like her? Not only were you studious but you're fun. You knew how to have the balance. You talked about authenticity. You were authentic then, you're authentic now. Again, it begins with your behaviors, begins with who you are, begins with your why. I bet you it also has to deal with your definition of success. There's no secret, there's no secret. It was the way you carried yourself. It was very respectful. It was just awesome. I was like, oh, I’m friends with Laurie.


Laurie Barkman:

Thank you so much. That was awesome. Well, it's so great to have you on the show today, David, and have this conversation, and I look forward to staying in touch.


David Gamble:

Likewise. Thank you so much for having me.


Laurie Barkman:

Thank you



Laurie Barkman:

Innovation, transition growth, easy to say but hard to do.


If you're an entrepreneur facing these challenges, I get it.


I work with businesses from small to big to achieve your vision.


Visit smalldotbig.com to learn more. I’d love to connect with you.


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Thanks for listening!



Laurie Barkman is a Business Growth Advisor | Entrepreneurship Instructor | Host of Succession Stories Podcast| CEO of SmallDotBig. She works with owners to increase business value and achieve their transition goals. Connect with Laurie for an advisory consultation.


SmallDotBig is a strategic advisory firm for owners of small to mid-size companies. Our mission is to dramatically increase the value of your business anticipating a sale or ownership transition in the future. We help you get more freedom over your time and more happiness in your personal life. Our process combines Value Building, Executive Coaching, and Strategic Planning. Want a business and personal roadmap to achieve your dreams?  Reach out today. 

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