Many follow the route of entrepreneurship to have more freedom in their lives. Unfortunately, only a few entrepreneurs are truly succeeding in achieving it. This episode’s guest is here to help. Zander Sprague interviews David Gowens, a business impact strategist known for helping entrepreneurs forge their path to freedom by increasing their visibility and expanding their ecosystem. In this episode, David discusses why he believes entrepreneurship is the last stand in the fight for freedom. He explores what it takes to be an entrepreneur today, and how building a team around you exponentially increases your success. From navigating the complexities of decision-making to understanding the essence of sacrifice and freedom, this conversation offers a wealth of wisdom for entrepreneurs and dreamers alike. Tune in as Zander and David dive into the heart of what it means to embark on an epic journey toward success and fulfillment, one step at a time.

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Entrepreneurship: The Last Stand In The Fight For Freedom With David Gowens

I am joined by David Gowens. Here’s a little about David. He’s a catalyst for freedom, a business impact strategist. David Gowens is known for helping entrepreneurs forge their path to freedom by increasing their visibility and expanding their ecosystem. He’s managed immersive brand environments and transformed audience experiences for billions of dollars nationally and internationally brands. David, I want to welcome you to the show. Tell us a little more about yourself.

I’m super excited to be here. A little bit more about me. I think journeys are really unique, so I love that you talk about Epic. It’s really fun. They say it’s not about the ending, it’s about the experience and the journey in between, and so I’m a firm believer in that. I’d say there are probably three things that represent me. If I could just put in three simple words, it would be, I’d say, environment. It would be experience and impact. I think those categorize three chapters of my life. Environment is your internal and external environment. How are those things aligned? Do we behave in ways that are in alignment with our goals, our vision, and our hopes?

I think the experience piece is the best way to connect with people through experiences. How are we engaging and connecting with those around us? Are we aware and conscious to that? I don’t know, I think experience is a powerful thing. We’ll get into it deeper as we talk. Then I’d say, impact is just what impression are we leaving on the world and how are we giving back to the source. I’d say those are some things about me.

I’m excited to have this conversation with you. I know that you’re creating all kinds of epic for the people that you work with. I’m interested to know a little about how you do that because we can all say that we’re doing these fabulous things, but it’s always interesting to find out how exactly are you doing.

Entrepreneurship: The Last Stand For Freedom

With our firm, Capital Impact, we believe that entrepreneurship is the last stand in the fight for freedom. I should probably get that dialed in. Entrepreneurship is the last stand in the fight for freedom. The way we do that is by helping businesses build an ecosystem around themselves. It helps them save on tax, helps them scale their business, or helps them sell their business and preserve it for their future. Those aren’t intended to be just fancy words. Think of it this way. Entrepreneurship is truly the cornerstone of freedom for people. If we were to look at it statistically, 5% are succeeding in the most critical vital tiers. Are they able to completely provide for their family? Oftentimes, only a small fraction of them are, even though we love it. Are they able to reduce their exposure and liability? Oftentimes, they can’t even afford an ecosystem.


EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | David Gowens | Entrepreneurship


What we do at Capital Impact is when we look at things like their finances, those are the tangible things. Then when we look at things like freedom, we’re looking at the intangible things. How do we measure both the tangible things, tax, cash flow, investments, insurance, asset protection, corporate structure, all those kinds of things that we have to and are obligated to make decisions in, but they’re not romantic or fun to deal with? That’s one of the big things we look at. On the other hand, it’s like, how is the person doing inside? How is the person themselves? I label myself as the catalyst of freedom. Then we have experts who specialize in financial skill sets that bring their best-in-class knowledge to those particular areas of tax, cash flow, corporate structure, or maybe exiting their business.

All of that is really important. As much as I dislike all of the words, tax, insurance, cashflow, all of that, that is obviously the backbone of being an entrepreneur of running a business. We need to know about these things. We need to understand what we need to do. Most importantly, I know as an entrepreneur, I’m aware of the things that I’m not as good at that I don’t like doing. My goal is to try and hire people who are good at that so that I’m freed up to do the stuff that I like and that I’m good at. I always like to use the example of, theoretically, I could change the oil in my car, but I go to the oil change place because they’re experts and they can do it faster than I can. To me, it’s worth the money to pay to go get my oil changed so I’m not spending three hours trying to do it.

It’s interesting you say that. I think entrepreneurs, one thing I love about them is they’re never afraid to engage with someone to get new ideas or to get support. I think access is not an obstacle. I think the obstacle, oftentimes, is knowing what is in alignment with what you’re trying to accomplish and knowing that they have the best interest for you to get there, not their own interests.

I found that the more that you take time and ask those questions, we should all be asking ourselves those questions of, “What is my time worth?” We should be asking ourselves, “Am I more of an engineer, an architect, or an artist?” Because each person shows up differently in the company and the business. It’s okay if you wear each of those hats, but what’s not okay is not to choose the hat that’s required that day. It’s not okay to not choose the expert that’s needed and you’re trying to do more than what you can handle. Everyone suffers and struggles because of that. Pick your sacrifices. Don’t let them beat you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

I also know through many years of being an entrepreneur and failures and stuff, two things are really true. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Because I know that I’ve spent hours trying to solve a problem. Then I put a question out either to my network or I call someone who I think, and they have the answer in five minutes. I just wasted two hours trying to solve something that I could have solved in five minutes had I simply asked for help.

Can I add a key token here for those who may have felt this before? I think of it in this way, and I ask us to lean into this. Vulnerability often sometimes gets confused with weakness. Most of us know it consciously, but when it’s in our body and we’re about to have to be vulnerable, it starts to feel like weakness. Ego starts to enter and we start to maybe try to talk ourselves into or out of something that we’re unaware of.

Here’s the key. Think of vulnerability as the conduit between weakness and strength. Vulnerability allows you to expose yourself to what is a growth opportunity and choosing to step into that growth opportunity will allow it to become a strength. Not choosing to will allow it to become a weakness. Just think of vulnerability as that conduit, that opportunity that just reveals what path are you going to choose today. When you choose vulnerability, and you choose it publicly, by the way, it’s impressive how gracious people are and how kind they are. The beginning of this, when I paused, because you had told me, “David, give a couple seconds for a pause,” and I placed my pause in the wrong area. You were still gracious enough to watch me struggle through waiting, “Am I supposed to go now or later?”


EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | David Gowens | Entrepreneurship


The other thing that I wanted to say, and again I own this, is how scary it is to bring on help when you feel that you don’t have the capital to support it yet. However, in doing so, you create a lot more opportunities for you to bring in the capital to cover the cost. For example, I’ve got a virtual assistant, and that’s been incredible, but it was a really challenging decision. Ego came into it, “I need that, but I first have to have all of this, but I can’t get to B until I’m solving A, and A required some help to free up space for me to get to B.

I think as entrepreneurs when we’re on our epic journey, it is challenging at times to say, “I have no idea how I’m going to afford to have a VA or bring on a bookkeeper or something, but that’s not my forte. I don’t like it. I tend to avoid it.” Being a professional mental health provider, I totally get that it is human nature to put off the things that we don’t enjoy.

We almost think that it’s unintentional procrastination, or we’ll define it as many experts out there will say, “I’m a perfectionist. I’m waiting until I get it just right.” But the reality is that if you leave yourself in that state of indecision is still a decision to put it simply as we’ve heard. You have to ask yourself those questions, “Do I have an expert or an ecosystem? Are they proactive or reactive? Are they strategic in nature? Do they understand my vision?” I would go through a whole list of questions, but please continue sharing your value because I know you’ve been through this as well. I imagine what that’s been like for you.

I’ve been running my own company for over 20 years. There are painful lessons. I find that failing, I don’t really see it always as a negative thing. There are negative sides, but being the eternal optimist, being the god of enthusiasm, I say, “That’s one way not to do it. What did I learn from that?” That’s hard. All have egos. We all have pride. I think successful people are the ones who look at it and say, “That didn’t work out.” I don’t know about you, but there are all kinds of great productivity software. I’ve spent money on stuff, and it wasn’t the tool for me.

I’ve learned a lot from that in terms of trying to understand what I’m looking for. Like anything, they’re tools that change your life the way that you’re doing your business. There are other tools that are really great, but they’re just not the tool for you. They’re not the program for you. It’s hard. When you’re hiring companies, you try and do your due diligence, “Is this person the right person for me? I need a mentor. Is this person the right mentor?” Because nothing stinks more than I’ve signed on with someone and their personality is not mine.

Or they overpromise and underdeliver, or they are too busy to execute, but they’re excellent when they do. There’s a whole bunch of ores that show up in these and you end up rowing your way down the wrong river. That’s the play of words there. I really do think there’s some merit to knowing what questions to ask yourself. I think the more that we have clarity, and sometimes we may not have complete clarity of our vision, and so we have to take a step back to vision. What do we have visibility to? I think vision is preceded by visibility, and visibility is seeing some of the external.

The external are some of those factors we talk about. It could be on the financial side, tax, cash flow, investments, insurance, asset protection, corporate structure, these things. It could be on the operational side, team, culture, brand, all these different things, marketing. It could be on the executive side. Out of all the things that you’re looking at, the question is, if you’re going to design a vision, what precedes that is your visibility. How much can I see? Because my vision is made up of what I can see externally and what I can see internally about myself.

The more clear you are on that, the easier it will be to know what to say yes and no to. I always say that there are these three things. There are opportunities you take, there are opportunities you make, and there are opportunities you miss. The opportunities you take are usually what’s presented to you. The opportunities you make are what you create, and the opportunities you miss are the ones that have passed you by because you either completely missed them and didn’t see them or you were ill-prepared to take them on. Again, it’s not about failure because failure, as you’ve talked about in one of your podcasts, is a part of the journey. It’s about choosing and being part of the decision, not letting the decision be made for you. It’s not a controlling factor as much as it is being present if that makes sense.

Analysis Paralysis

Another way to put it is you define the issue, the issue doesn’t define you. I talk about that a lot when I’m talking about the sibling loss side of my business and that the loss doesn’t define you, you define the loss. There is a lot of power there. One of the things that I’m sure that you run into all the time is we all have so many things that we want to do that we get nothing done because we don’t know where to start, we don’t create the structure. More importantly, someone’s like, “I don’t know the whole path to go down.” It’s been my experience that taking one step forward and then another step is the way that we do it. I don’t know the whole entire journey. I know that there are going to be detours along the way. There may be a roadblock.


EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | David Gowens | Entrepreneurship


Oftentimes, those roadblocks are actually a mirage. I put them in front of myself, “I can’t do this until whatever.” It’s not actually a problem. In your work, do you encounter when people are frozen in place because they’re like, “I don’t know all the steps I need to take?” Here we are on this podcast. Neither one of us knows exactly where this thing is going to go, but it doesn’t stop us from still doing it. When you get up in the morning, you don’t have all the answers to all the questions you’re going to get to. In business, what have you seen where people are like there’s a paralysis because they don’t know the whole entire path that they have to walk?

I like this question. It’s one of those things I think we’re faced with far more often than we realize. It’s the deer in the headlights. It’s the stalemate with yourself. It’s all of those aspects. I think where I’ve encountered seeing where clients feel like they’re in a stalemate or they’re deer in the headlights moments are when they are about to make a big decision that they know they need to make, and there’s fear around it or insecurity. Or that there is something that they don’t have enough information as you illustrated before, they don’t know exactly what they don’t know. The idea, especially for an entrepreneur, is I’m going to wait until I have all the information, but there’s no such thing as gathering all the information. That’s when we threaten ourselves with, “This might be a missed opportunity if I don’t properly assess early enough.”

I’d say the tools that an individual needs in order to traverse that landscape, I think it boils down to a couple of factors. I do think that there is a difference and I’ve said experts versus ecosystems. It’s interesting as before you’ve even hired somebody, almost you can still call them yours, meaning the data they have in their mind, I’ll put it this way. When I say ecosystem, it’s not just experts who you have and can hire. It’s that they work harmoniously in alignment with your vision and your goals. That means that in actuality, Zander is just an extension of David with a different skill set. My business partner, Garek, is just an extension of me with a different skill set.

When you start to visualize it in that way, and I don’t mean to hug trees here, but when you start to look at it as, “This is just another version of me with different skills.” It’s almost like being able to download all of that data of their history and their experience by just asking questions and being willing to be vulnerable in that moment because they have all the information you don’t have in that particular field.

When you find out that they don’t have it, someone else does. I think when you can get your confidence around the fact that even though you haven’t hired them yet, it doesn’t prevent you from being able to ask questions. It doesn’t prevent you from having to know it all because they already know what they need to know. Just the confidence that they’re just an extension of you maybe will help lean into trust a little bit more and help lean into confidence a little bit more. I think if there was a second part of that of feeling like you’re in a stalemate it’s important to give yourself first grace, and then you have to give yourself gratitude.

I think there’s no way for any of us to learn everything. Some of us I’ve seen are on a mission for that, and that’s okay. Be graceful with yourself and give yourself gratitude and say, “I’m grateful that I don’t know everything, because how would I ever connect with those around me if I knew everything?” By nature, we require community, we require resources beyond self. I think there’s power in that. I think it’s a little bit broad. I can bring it in and tighten it up.

If you feel like you’re in a stalemate, it’s important to give yourself grace and gratitude. There’s no way for any of us to learn everything.

“Not Yet”

I think that’s great. I couldn’t agree more. There are two things that come into mind. I think for me, two of the most powerful words that I have from my journey are “not yet.” Have you… not yet. First of all, for me, there’s so much optimism in not yet. It says I’m working on it, but I haven’t achieved it. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to. When I was writing EPIC Begins with 1 Step Forward, I had an idea of when the book was going to come out, but editing took a little longer. When a friend of mine said, “Have you published your book?” “Not yet.” If I said no, then it ends the conversation. The book was coming out, it just took a little longer. Think about when you’re in school, you’re in college or graduate school. Have you gotten your degree? Not yet. If you’re a freshman, your “not yet” is three years away as an undergrad. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to achieve it. It just means you’re on a long road there.

I like this. It’s funny, you’re challenging some things that I play with in my head in a different way. I actually really appreciate this. I had a conversation with somebody the other day. It makes me think of what if the grand can be boiled down to, as you talk about that one step or that first step, like what if you can simplify something to just something so small you could take action? All it is is just the “not yet” part is the patience that it will take to get there. Every day is an achievement because of the commitment to that thing, whatever it may be.

What if you can simplify the grand to something so small that you could take action?

I don’t know that I shared this with you when I met you in Arizona, but for me, EPIC stands for Every Pilgrimage Includes Commitment. I think as an entrepreneur, I am definitely on a pilgrimage. I know what I’d like to get to, but it is hard and there’s a lot of work involved, and so there’s commitment. Whether it’s growing your business, writing a book, running a marathon, whatever it is, it’s a pilgrimage. You are like, “I want to achieve this.” I know pilgrimage is generally associated with more religious stuff, but I take it more in our own life that there are things that we’re working on like earning a degree or preparing to run a marathon. I’ve done that. There’s certainly a pilgrimage. There’s a lot of commitment, a lot of work.

To me, “not yet” is so important because do I have the experts I need on my team? Not yet. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to find them. It just means that today I don’t have it, and that’s okay. It’s not an excuse not to do something. You’re right. I do talk about one step forward. That’s because that one step is not usually as difficult as people think it is. We think about the whole journey. We think about the whole thing. This isn’t my line, so I don’t know who said it, but they’re like, every marathon begins with one step. That’s true. To cover 26.2 miles, you have to take one step forward and then you take another and another and thousands more.

It’s this slow-eating of an elephant, right?

Absolutely. As I say in my book, I talk about the pizza analogy. When we eat a pizza, we eat one slice at a time. You could roll the whole pizza up and try and eat it all at once, but unless you’re around teenage boys where that might be necessary to actually get me pizza, you actually do just eat one slice at a time and you don’t worry about the third slice that you may eat or the second, depending on how much you eat. As you’re eating the first one, you’re not really like, “Oh my God, what about the second slice?” Yet, in business, we get so worried about knowing the whole entire path. You don’t.

Maybe the way of simplifying it, and we’ve heard this in different ways from different influencers is if we can simplify and boil it down to one simple movement that then maybe connects to the next, or it’s the same movement over and over again over a long period of time, whatever you want to call it, maybe the connection to it is one, the commitment, and two, falling in love with it. Imagine if you fell in love with that one thing that was required or needed or necessary to get you to your ultimate goal, vision, dream, or life. If you fell in love with that thing, even through its pain, even through its heartache, I had some limiting beliefs before where I thought that sacrifice was painful.

I believed that freedom was a destination, and I’m learning, still learning today, that those two things aren’t true. Sacrifice is painful when you sacrifice what you shouldn’t have, not when you sacrifice what you should or could. Sacrifice, in my mind, is part of the equation. To avoid that would be to avoid life itself, to avoid expansion itself. If freedom is a destination, then I’m climbing a lot of hills to get to where I want to go, and it will always feel like this exhausting, daunting thing. I think of freedom more as an expansion of something.

I don’t want to get into the hugging trees pieces, but it’s that vibration. It’s that as you become more centered and connected with yourself, and the people around you, it’s not this magnetic thing, it’s because you’re focused. They see that, and they’re drawn to you. They can see where they can fill the gaps. It’s more literal than it is not. It can be the frequency and the love and all that, but it is also very literal. Let’s just use a very simple example. If you were to think of a number of people in your life and you said, “I want to buy somebody a gift.” Think of a person who you know has a love for something and buy a gift for them versus somebody who you love also, but you don’t know the things that they’re in love with. Who’s easier to buy the gift for?

EPIC Experience

Obviously, the person who you know what floats their boat, what they love. You’re like, “I’ll get them this.” They’re delighted versus the person that you love, but you’re like, “I heard you said that you rode bicycles, so I got you this bicycle balance.” Someone’s like, “I told you I rode a bike on vacation in Hawaii five years ago. I hate bicycles.” Then you’re like, “Oh, right.” Here’s a question for you, stepping out of all of our entrepreneurship. Can you share with my audience something epic that you’ve either done or a place you visited, something that’s been epic in your life?

A couple that come to mind. I think probably the most important one is surviving myself every day is an epic experience to be completely candid. That’s more than a joke. There are definite truths to that. I think many of us are trying to survive ourselves, our worst enemy, and our greatest advocates in our journeys. I would say it was really fun to have a part of my life where, and not a lot of people knew this about me because I work in business. I work with entrepreneurs and enjoy helping them grow and scale their businesses. I used to dance many years ago and had the fortunate opportunity to perform on some pretty large stages. I’ve been in the Olympics. I’ve got a chance to travel around the country. I used to produce some really large functions.

Many of us are trying to survive ourselves. We’re our worst enemy and our greatest advocates for our journeys.

One of the epic experiences, I danced with Earth, Wind & Fire, which was a childhood band that I grew up with. My dad used to have that music playing all the time on the LPs. That was fun too. His favorite band was a group that I danced for at a concert during the Olympics. That was really fun. I got a chance to meet Kiss. That was fun just to hang out with those guys and see that they literally looked like they did way back in the day. Then I used to produce some large functions. Even though I work in the world of business, finance, and entrepreneurship and helping people in those areas, I’ve actually probably attended a thousand-plus functions and events. I’ve produced dozens, maybe over 100 myself, and many of them are 20,000-, 25,000-, 30,000-person functions with A-list top performers. I’d say those are pretty epic experiences to be able to travel around the world with some of the best talent in the world and be backstage with them. That was fun.

I want to compliment you on just casually saying that you danced at the Olympics. Wow. Was that the Atlanta ‘96?

No, we did the closing ceremonies in 2002, I believe it was in Salt Lake City. We did the closing ceremonies with a couple of groups. It was fun.

You and Kiss?

Me and Earth, Wind & Fire, and I got a chance to hang out with Kiss.

David is truly epic. That was cool. I’m a firm believer that we all have these epic things that until we stop and think about it, we’re like, “That is pretty epic.” When I asked you the question and I could see the wheels going, they’re like, “I produced these events for 25,000, 30,000 people and I danced with Earth, Wind & Fire at the Olympics. I’m like, “Hello. Yeah, totally epic.”

What I love about those moments when you’re in those days, and I still feel that way now, but it’s more real then, is you’re just there to have an experience. It’s about the experience you’re having. Even when you meet celebrities after you’ve seen enough of them, everyone just wants to be a human being. Everyone just wants to feel like they’re connected to someone who has depth and transparency and substance, for lack of a better term. In those moments, you don’t think of them as epic, but I appreciate you pointing that out. I just thought of them as experiences with just fun people. It was more the memory of connecting my dad’s history with my present. That was more fun for me.

Speaking of celebrities and being people, yes, they obviously are. I had the opportunity when I was in college, I was trying to drop a paper off. I went to college in Southern California and they were filming an episode of Quantum Leap. Scott Bakula, I believe, starred in that. I had to wait. Then as I went to drop my paper off, I came out and they stopped me because they were trying to set up a shot. I’m standing right next to Scott, and he’s like, “When was your paper due?” We’re just having small talk. Then I’m like, “Wow, I really love your show. What’s it like? What’s the fame like?” He said, “Honestly, the most disturbing part is people telling me my name all the time. Oh my God, you’re Scott Bakula. I’m fully aware of who I am.” Yet that’s the first thing that we all say when we meet someone famous as if they forgot.

I saw Jason Statham the other day, and all I said was, “How’s it going?” I agree with you. It’s funny, the more comfortable we become with ourselves, the more comfortable the uncomfortable will be. I know we’ve heard it before, and it’s been said for a reason you can get comfortable at the uncomfortable. I think the root of that is knowing where it begins. Can you be comfortable with yourself? I heard something, and I apologize I can’t remember who it came from, they said there are three things that make an attractive man. Let’s see if I can remember them. One was a man who was comfortable in his own skin. He has a clear path to where he wants to go. He knows where he wants to go in life. Three is he has fun going at it. I think to myself how simplified is that? I think if you just take out a man and you say human being, all of those things are still true.

David, I want to thank you so much for coming in and sharing your epic news and your epic stories. It’s really been an honor. It’s so much fun. I want to remind everyone that every week, there’s a new episode, so please subscribe and follow along. Hit that subscribe button. I want to remind people that our Stepping into Your Epic and 30 Days To A Positive Pathway are available on the website, If you want a discount, you put in EPICBEGINS, and you will have $50 off those courses. I also want to remind everyone that epic choices lead to an epic life that we all want. I’ll talk to you next week.


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About David Gowens

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | David Gowens | EntrepreneurshipCATALYST FOR FREEDOM | BUSINESS IMPACTSTRATEGIST
David Gowens is known for helping entrepreneurs forge their path to freedom by increasing their visibility and expanding their ecosystem. He has managed immersive brand environments and transformed audience experiences for billion-dollar national and international brands.

As a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), he has been a catalyst for entrepreneurs by uncovering 6 and 7 figures of opportunities hidden within their business.

When he is not volunteering as a board member of a local homeless shelter or women’s recovery center or supporting children’s organizations.

You will find him with his remarkable wife, Taylor, and their two children, a 9-year-old niece, and a 9-month-old daughter, doing their daily meditation or taking an afternoon stroll to the local park for a game of tag.