From making twenty-dollar chess sets at home to master-minding globally recognised and respected brands! Author and publisher of multiple international bestsellers, Darren Stephens knows his business – and now this seasoned entrepreneur motivates others to improve theirs. So is he a game changer? Let’s find out. I’m Gemma Acton, welcome to Game Changers
Gemma: Well, Darren, welcome to Game Changers. Let’s start from the very start. So, as a 13 year old, you are making chess sets and selling them for $20. If we fast forward all the way to today, you are many things. You’re an author, you’re a self publisher of multiple international bestsellers, you’re a business strategist, you do mentoring, you do coaching, you’re a self made millionaire. The list goes on and on. Was one thing just a stepping stone to the next for you?
Darren: It was starting out really young and leaving school at only 16, and then eventually at 19, started my own company. I was on this personal growth journey all that way, and I made lots of mistakes along the way. I think as you make mistakes, you learn from them and you look for mentors to succeed and that’s what I did through my life and then became a mentor for others.
Gemma: You’ve had some fascinating clients along the way. Your very first client was John Gray, the author of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”. He’s now a very successful relationship coach and through him, you also struck up a relationship with Tony Robbins, who is very well known as probably America’s preeminent life and business strategist. How did those relationships come around?
Darren: When I was on my personal growth journey, I went to all these different seminars. Every week, I’d go to a different seminar to learn and to feed my own mind about business strategies and marketing and sales and personal development. One of those was Tony Robbins and one of the things that Tony said in his seminar that really struck home for me was he said he always sought out the very best expert in the field. He wanted to learn. I thought, well, who did he learn from? And so he told me.
So then I went to his teacher to learn some of the strategies around mindset and Hypnosis and NLP, which was Neuro Linguistic Programming, all to do with the mind. I went to his teacher and learned and studied with them both in America and London to further my own personal development, but what that gave me is a great skill set for helping others. Even though I got really good with business and marketing, if you’re working with people, then it’s not just about the business strategies. It’s also about their mindset, because often we have limiting beliefs or limiting things that hold us back from achieving our goals. So I was able to work with both ends of the scale.
Gemma: So Darren, it seems as though your clients span a really broad range of industries, could you give us a couple of examples?
Darren: Yeah, one of the examples I would give would be Jacine Greenwood from Roccoco Botanicals. She’s got an amazing cosmetics company and one of the things I did was to marry her up as the manufacturer for a product that I’m doing with one of my other clients, which is the Kuwaiti Royal Family. So we’ve got a product called Royal Mist, which is a beautiful cosmetic spray.
Gemma: You also have an entrepreneur’s inner circle. This, I imagine, must be quite selective.
Darren: Yeah, it is. One of the things that I found is as an entrepreneur, you think differently, and it can be a lonely place. So what I wanted to do was create an environment for CEOs or business leaders that they could think differently, be around other peers that could also elevate their success and give them a different level of thinking that they could share and be vulnerable with.
Being in a group like that helps elevate everyone. That’s where I’m in my element, working with people, with the different businesses. Because I’ve worked with so many businesses through my publishing company that I have sold, to just doing the mentoring, I’ve seen so many different types of businesses that I can map across from one industry to another. So what may work in, let’s say, the cosmetic industry may work just as well in the mechanic industry or mechanical. A lot of marketers don’t do that and because I’ve had that broad experience, I’m able to pull from different resources that I’ve had and create some big change for people
Gemma: Not only do they get access to a community, but they also get access to your trainings and your teachings, either in person or via an app. Does that offer two different types of experiences for them?
Darren: Yeah, one of the things that I give them with the app is that they have 24 hours access. So if they’re in the middle of the night and they come up with a question they want answered, they can shoot off a message to me. So it gives them that flexibility to be able to always ask their questions and I can help them grow their business. We meet, obviously, three times a year and they get strategy sessions with me to help grow their brand and business. But that environment is something that we take really seriously. People can’t just join the inner circle, they have to apply. So we have an application process because for me, I want to make sure that they’re going to be fun to work with and that they’re also someone that I can actually make a difference for. So I’m a really big believer if I can’t make a difference, I would say then it’s not for them. I want to make sure that if they’re going to invest their money and their time working with me, then I’ve got to be able to deliver on that. So we have a criteria to make sure that that can happen.
Gemma: Now, Darren, one of the things that does give you a really unique edge is something you mentioned before, Hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming. Not every strategist can say that they have experience in these fields. How does this help you?
Darren: Well, one of the personal development things I did was learnt what can make the biggest change for people in the shifts unconsciously and that was through using hypnosis. So I went to some of the best in the world in that field. I actually won an award as being one of the world’s fastest hypnotists and terrifying for some, but what that has given me is a huge edge to be able to make rapid change for people. I think you can give them great business strategies but if they can’t execute on those strategies because there’s something holding them back at an unconscious level or a mindset level, then those strategies aren’t going to work anyway. So I’m able to change the person as well at that level so that they get that rapid growth. It served me very well. I mean, I learned it originally to change me so that I could grow and be successful and create the wealth and things because I have a beautiful wife and seven children. I had to become an entrepreneur to be able to feed them all and to make enough money to put them all through school. So that was what I did.
Gemma: It’s a very good motivation to get going. Now, you don’t just coach some of your businesses, you also invest in them. That must give you another perspective.
Darren: Yeah, one of the things that I’ve been lucky enough to do is when I’m growing the businesses and things like that, often many of them are short on capital. So I’ve invested in them as well because I know that I can help them grow the business but I’ve also then invested to become a partner and taken equity so that I can help grow it from the inside. I get a different perspective when I’m actually working in the business as well, rather than just giving advice about it. So I do that as well from time to time.
Gemma: Now, as someone who doesn’t sound like they should be bored or have any free time, you’ve actually just gone and got your real estate license as well. Why?
Darren: A couple of my children were interested in real estate and I’ve always done very well financially out of real estate myself, just personally investing. I thought, well, no better way as an entrepreneur. I’m always looking how can I get the edge or get a better deal. I thought, well, if I become a real estate agent, I can then actually find those opportunities and get in on the ground floor. I did that originally just solely for selfish reasons for myself. Then I also realised that that’s a great opportunity because the clients I help in the inner circle often end up making a lot of money and then are looking for how can they invest that money. I’ve been able to help them find properties for them and things that they’ve then invested in and made money out of as well. So it helps them diversify the profits that they make from their companies.
Gemma: Now, as we heard, you have some clients overseas. Who are some of your more interesting clients overseas?
Darren: Well, I have a number of Hollywood people from in the US, but also the royal family in Kuwait who I’ve worked with for now probably just on six years and that’s been fascinating. I love traveling around the world to different countries and different cultures and learning about their industries and marketplace, so that’s been great for me. We’ve got some exciting things we’re doing with them.
Gemma: Have you run out of things to try yet or what’s next for you?
Darren: I think for me, I love being creative. I don’t feel like I’ve ever worked a day in my life, even though I’ve worked really hard. It doesn’t feel like that for me because I’m doing something I’m actually passionate about and that I love. I love seeing being able to help someone grow the brand or their business and then profit from it and see their heights grow. I mean, we’ve helped, obviously, hundreds and hundreds of people become best-selling authors around the world and literally, they change people’s lives then and they donate money to charities. We’ve been fortunate enough, because of what I’ve achieved, I’ve donated a lot of money to the Starlight Foundation and that’s dear to my heart with some of those charities. You can’t do that unless you are an entrepreneur or you’re generating the income to be able to donate. So I love helping businesses grow, and that’s why I set up the inner circle.
Gemma: So always on the lookout for next opportunity. Yeah. It’s been wonderful talk talking to you, Darren. Thank you so much.
Darren: Thanks Gemma.
Find out about the Entrepreneurs Inner Circle here: https://www.theentrepreneursinnercircle.com/