Bill Dolan is the President and Creative Director of Spirit Media, an Emmy-Nominated TV & Virtual Event Director with over 10,000 Productions, respected Video Producer, Author, and Keynote Speaker. He has produced events for hundreds of thousands, directed broadcasts for millions, and has acted as a consultant for world-class organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. In 1999, Bill had a death experience that challenged his worldview and approach to communication and marketing. This event led him to years of research and eventually wrote the book, The 7 Disciplines of Relationship Marketing. Today, he is a recognized authority, national speaker, and workshop trainer of the 7DRM System. In his free time, he loves family time, CrossFit, refining his chocolate chip cookie recipes and writing with his office buddy, Marcella, their tabby cat.
For over 30 years, Bill collaborated with celebrities such as the Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5, Kenny Chesney, Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank), world leaders, and global brands. He is committed to helping great organizations flourish by impacting both heart and mind by revealing their BRAND STORY and their BRAND SOUL.
With Bill’s goal to help you multiply the impact of your work, grow your business and help you realize greater impact through your life and business, he shares information and FREE RESOURCES about the 7DRM Strategy at www.7drm.com.
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Bill Dolan Shares His Powerful Story of Finding His True Life Purpose & Brand Soul of Spirit Media
Welcome everyone to the underdog show. We have an incredible, amazing guest here with us today. Emmy nominated TV producer and incredible human being that I have here with me today that I’m so honored, Bill Dolan. How are you, my friend?
I am doing so well. And so excited to be here with you, my friend.
I’m so excited to have you, Bill. Your story and just your energy are so beautiful and radiant. I just can’t wait to hear your story in full detail today. I’ve had some beautiful clips of it now and what you’re up to in the world. But now we get to dive into it, which is super fun. And my first question to you is always the most loaded one, what led you on your journey to where you are today?
I would say I stumbled into it totally stumbled into it. And if you say what is my journey, I mean, we all have a journey. Whether it’s our personal journey, our spiritual journey, or career journey. But I’ll focus on the career journey because the spiritual family will emerge. I mean, I started out as just an only child in a blue-collar family in Portland, Oregon. It was during that time that I experienced a lot of trauma as a child. And also, my father was diagnosed with something that was going to kill him. He was in a lot of pain and he was fairly abusive verbally and physically. It’s just one of those things where I had to find a place of escape and I found my place of escape in my room where I had a TV set.
And I would get back then for those people who still read paper publications. We had a thing called TV Guide and I would read the TV Guide and see what movies are coming up. And that was where I just went to my refuge space and as I read through the TV Guide. I’d pick out the movies and that was my plan for the week. I would go on there and as I did, I didn’t realize it. But I was becoming a student of storytelling, I was becoming a student of film. I was becoming a student of episodic programming and a lot of us actually have become that. Because of our media behaviors. But I was consumed by that so much that by the time I got to high school, I thought. Okay, I think I want to be a TV reporter.
Because that’s the best thing I could think that. Maybe someone with my background and what education I could get is something I could do. But one day, the senior head of the news department at my high school asked me if I could produce the senior closing program for the year. Is it sure I’d love to because I was doing news editing and all that stuff? And I started doing the process of pulling together images. Telling stories and putting together a score and was so exciting. Even now, as I’m telling you, I’m getting chills, because I remember, it was enlightening for me to create something. But the killer, the most profound experience I had that started me on this journey was the day we showed it. And it was in the high school auditorium.
But 1500 kids and probably a lot of kids, you know. You might have had maybe one or two really close friends and maybe five or six in your circle or whatever. And then there was literally like the sea of humanity of faces that walk. Through the hallway every day that maybe were familiar, but he didn’t really know. But that morning, when we showed that program, the lights went out. And I watched all the faces go to the screen and I started out with something funny and 1500 human beings laughed. Then I took them on a journey. They smiled and they reflected and there was a point, where I got to a point at that moment and they started to get tears in their eyes and I’m still on the edge.
And I’ve got tears in my eyes because it hit me at that moment. I had the extraordinary privilege of touching these people’s hearts in such an intimate way. And even though I can put definition out the time. I can look back and say that was my defining moment. Because of my skill in using the media as a resource to touch people’s hearts. How can I make that difference in people’s lives? What kind of difference can I make in people’s lives, what kind of impact can I make in their lives, I was hooked, I was absolutely hooked and that began going to school. Then studying television production and then getting an internship.
Which is another crazy underdog story. Where the power of chocolate chip cookies led to an end internship that actually led to a job. And being hired as one of the youngest major market directors in the country at age 20. Then being mentored and trained and worked my butt off. Leading to today is having a creative agency marrying my high school sweetheart having a beautiful family. And I still get the privilege of using media, not just to touch 1500 lives. But now millions upon millions of lives and I absolutely love that.
Oh, Bill, I adore your story so much. I was getting chills the whole time, as you were telling you. This is so profound. And what I love is that you found this in high school. Yeah, I had your defining moment in high school. Which is so profound and to be able to understand that at that age. You had mentioned that your early childhood wasn’t the greatest, this was kind of your, your refuge. And this is your way of coping with the world.
It’s kind of like your escape. And a lot of people talk about that. When they’re dealing with traumas and different things as they fight you find your outlet. And that could be either really good or bad, right? Some people make poor decisions there and I just love that you channeled that. And you channeled it into your passion, which is so profound. Wow. Oh, my goodness, I have so many questions for you, my friend. But that within itself is absolutely incredible. So what did you want to be when you grew up? I have to ask this question. Like when you were a TV producer?
Oh, no, I didn’t think about anything like that. When I was a kid, see, my father was a meat cutter. And my mother was a nurse. Okay, very interesting juxtapositions. I watched what my mom did and I was mentored by a lot of incredibly strong brilliant women. And my mother was one of them who not only went to school to say nursing. But I attended her graduation ceremonies as she climbed up the ladder and tried to improve herself and improve her place. Making a difference in her world, which was the world of medicine. I just sometimes look at people secretly. I’ll tell you this fact I write about in my book, I believe that what drives most of us is the desire to love and be loved.
And one of the greatest obstacles is the challenge that we have, that one person. That we want to love the most is ourselves and in many cases. The things we do and the things we’re attracted to are really, scorecards or validation that if I can get other people to love me. Maybe I can prove to myself that I’m worthy to be loved. And I think going through what I experienced in school and growing up with my dad. Everybody else wanted to be loved and what I saw in my mom was someone who’s respected. I want to be like that, I saw someone who was smart, I said, I want to be like that, I saw someone who was courageous and wanted to be like that and I saw someone who helped people.
And I said, I want to be like that and so early on, I migrated towards the idea of getting into medicine. Maybe being a doctor and that I thought, Oh, that was going to be my thing. Because it checked all the boxes around Little Billy being loved. And it was fascinating. Today, I’m still fascinated by science and medicine. But then I remember the same high school where I made that senior slide program. That changed my life when I took my first biology class. Yeah. Oh, man, I did not have an aptitude for biology. In fact, the interesting thing is you asked about what I want to be growing up. I’ve learned and I also write about this book. That there’s this, I called the authentic purpose compass that unfolds in your life.
And a lot of us would pray to God, like, give me a map, give me a map. Tell me where I’m supposed to go and I believe that God and the divine answer that with a compass. And the compass has three points on it. The first point is passion and it’s real passion, not false passion. What’s going on, if I get enough eyeballs, I’m going to feel validated. Or if I become, you know, a social media expert. I’m going to be validated or if I become a celebrity, I’m gonna know what is a real passion. Then combine that with what’s your aptitude and that was the obstacle I faced. I had a passion to be loved and I had an interest in science. But I realized I didn’t have the aptitude for it.
And that’s a critical juncture, I think, for most people. Because a lot of us pursue our passions without aptitudes and it breaks their heart. Every day as they run down this road facing failure after failure. It’s because a passion without aptitude is not a vocation, It’s a hobby and the sooner you understand that. The sooner you have the freedom to find what is that true type of vocation. And those people who have aptitudes for which they have no passion and you see this in a lot of families. Where the parents are pressuring them. They go, Oh my gosh, you’re good at accounting, so you better be an accountant. Or you’re good at this, you better be this, you’re gonna follow in the family business, but we also find that people have aptitude without passion. All they have are jobs.
But when you’re able to find the passion and the aptitude. Then the third trajectory is really the reflection that comes with experience. What have you done? That fed you is a question I asked, what feeds you and what bleeds. You don’t have to go through much life to realize the things that lead me. And sometimes we grind it, we do it for duty, but if we’re living with our teeth gritted. Because we’re constantly pressing through something that does not give us joy. That’s a tough life and my hat’s off to those people that make it through life that way. But I want to say to all those people that are gritting their teeth, right now, there’s a better way. And it is that intersection of passion, aptitude, and experience.
Then the courage to go on that journey of discovery to find, how can we manifest that? How can we live that, how can we discover that, how can we pursue that? And it’s scary, because it’s going to be a trail of failures, and missteps, and all those different things. But just as you and I’ve talked about this, the light bulb wouldn’t exist. If it weren’t for someone saying, I’m willing to fail hundreds of times to get to the right answer. And our willingness to fail is courage. That can be the breakthrough in getting you to the perfect place of your authentic purpose and your authentic journey.
Amen to that Bill. And I mean, so many people around the world now I say that COVID really took the world and shook. It took the world and it shook it, I think in more positive than negative. So a lot of people now, because for the very first time. They’ve been forced to break out of their original patterns, they’ve been forced to reflect, they’ve been forced to pause, to really sit down. And have the time to say, What am I doing? So many people have reached out to me and just said to him. I’ve sat here and I cannot believe that this is what I dedicated my life to, so a lot of people are chasing that journey of purpose.
So you mention that the company’s compass is absolutely incredible. Because a lot of people need that right now. I remember theology, my senior year, my theology teacher said everyone’s like, well, how are we supposed to find our purpose? How it was, you know, we’re gonna major in in college, what are we supposed to do with our lives? What is happening? And I remember my theology teacher said, Well, here, there’s three steps. I just want you guys to think about these three questions. Don’t overcomplicate it, because it can seem really overwhelming. But just write it down. What does the world need now? Are you good at it? And can you make money at it? Answer those three questions and see where you go.
And that’s kind of always sort of stuck with me is very similar to what you were saying. Because that passion as well has to be integrated into that without a doubt. But when you meet passion and purpose at the same time, oh, my goodness, what does that do? And I know we have talked about your experience. How you were on an airplane and you had a pretty profound moment and moments following that in January of 1999. If I’m not mistaken. Oh, my goodness, can we share that?
A little bit Bill, and what happened sort of. Because that sort of led you, we can sort of get to that in a little bit. But let’s talk about your chocolate chip journey. Your story, because it’s really important for you to let everyone know how you got to where you are. So how can you get that because the media is so difficult to get into? I remember when I was in LA and I was just trying to say hi to different agencies when I was there. And everyone’s like, Oh, no, no, you know, appointment? Like, yeah, I was supposed to talk to, I don’t know. It’s very closed in history, so that’s why I’m saying you broke in there. So chocolate chips?
Well, you’re right. It is a closed industry because remember, I said about people, really, their desire to be loved is a big driver. The thing about the entertainment space or television media is that we see people in this industry. And they’re all like, looking good and cool and smiling and whatever we think I want to be that. Because if I have money for a celebrity and a bunch of people know me. My life is gonna be better. And so there’s this, I would say, artificial passion to be in this industry. Because they think that the answers to their deepest desires will be realized if they get into it, enter are good at it.
So we get a lot of tonnes of people writing and saying, look. I want to be a writer, I want to be a producer, I want to be a director, I want to do this. And I think for those of us in the industry, who have seen that, yes, sometimes we put up these barriers. Because we’re really looking for not the person who’s really to walk through the door. But the person who’s ready to break through the wall and climb over the wall to get here. Because that way, we really start filtering those People that are truly passionate about the industry. Not just those that have an interest in making themselves feel better. So I remember when I realized that I wanted to get into this industry. After my experience in high school led to me starting to take television classes.
I mean, we did have a lot of money. So I didn’t go to fancy University, anything like that, I started out at a junior college and took classes. But fortunately, my instructor was a television director, who had real-world experience. Which really helped shape a lot of my journey and I realized, I’m good at this. And I was validated by the instructor saying, You’re really good at this. You are a great director in your youth and so it was with that. I remember thinking, where do I want to work. And at that time, ABC was before Netflix and all these other things. ABC was the coolest network on the face of the earth. It really was, it had all the cool shows, it was hip and all that nice, I want to work for ABC.
One way would be the gateway through the ABC, Phil in my region. I just remember holding my heart, I want to. And it’s really important for the importance of vision. Because what happens is when you tap into something, you say, this is what I want, this is what I believe I want. It’s amazing. There’s something in our brain called the reticular activating system. That allows us to sort through those things that are consequential versus inconsequential. And when you start saying, this is really important to me. Your visual cortex in your mindset starts to open up to you to see things. It’s like, you see things you never saw before. Because you’ve heightened the intensity towards it and of course, now I’m focused, I’m thinking about this.
And a friend of mine, who was actually in the same class, got an internship at the ABC affiliate and I’m listening. How’d you get that done? Now, he was older, he was on the GI Bill, they were looking for mature people. Here I am. I’m like 20 years old. You know, I got one whisker. To me. It was just very, very kid-like, but I was so eager and so excited. But I knew I was good. And so I talked to my friend Dawn and he said. Well, hey, I can maybe get you to come in and sit in on one of the TV shows when we’re taping. You’ll see next Thursday night, I got clearance, I can bring some friends over. It’s just incredible. All quietly get to go to a real TV station.
And then the more I thought about it, the more afraid I got. I thought crap, what if I say something stupid? What if I do something silly? In the picture, the producer is going to get out of here. You’ll never work in this town again, you know, kind of thing. So I went to my life advisor, my mother, and I said, Mom, what do you think I should do? She said Billy, to be yourself. Which is the worst best advice you can ever give somebody. Because yeah, be the best you can be. But you know when you’re young. And sometimes when you’re old, it doesn’t matter. We question, are we good enough, are we prepared for this? Are we going to do something silly? I mean, we get all these fears.
And I was wrestling with all that said I remembered. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of famous Amos cookies. Yeah, famous. Well-famous Amos actually used to be a casting director in Hollywood and he started his cookies. Because he would show up on the set with a bag of his cookies and that became his signature. You’ll get a famous eight minutes, whenever you pass out cookies as he greets people. And work with people on the different casting things and roles he was working on. Let’s say you know what, I make really good chocolate chip cookies. So I’ll make some cookies, so the night was like an hour and a half before I was gonna leave for the station.
I went to the kitchen and I made a batch of hot chocolate chip cookies and put them in a bag. And then it dawned on me, my famous Amos and it took a sharpie and wrote on the bag and put famous bills. Excuse me, I put bills payments because I don’t want to be famous. No, but Bill’s famous chocolate chip cookies. And then I put a stick figure with a big cookie with a little caption to eat one. So I went to the station that night and one of my worst nightmares manifested. I’m standing my cookies, I’m 20 years old and I walk into the station and it’s not just me. It’s two other guys and there was Mike. Mike was another guy from the GI Bill older, tall, handsome, poised, and confident.
And as soon as he walks in, he goes the brothers, Hey, nice to meet you. I really like your TV station. You show us something really cool. I’m rolling my head in my eyes. Thinking I can never be like Mike, I can never be like Mike even though secretly I wanted to have his confidence. And then he turns to my friend Jeff, who’s the other guy. I was shocked that he was there and he was in the class. Excuse the term, being respectful. It was like the nerd he was the engineer guy and he immediately started going, Oh look. There’s the x pi 31 switcher and Whoa, gosh, dang, I can never be Jeff.
He’s so smart. And then the producer looked at me after hearing their little thing and all I could get out was. Hi, I’m Bill, would you like a cookie? All I said, and the producer took the bag and he could see that the outside was still a little warm. He reached out and grabbed that cookie and that chocolate chip is still melty. And he took it like this. Wow, these are really good and he calls over the technical director. They’ll say, Dale, this kid from college bought some chocolate chip cookies. You want some more? Yeah, bring them over, so I walked over my little bag, they handed it and Dale took a good go. So thanks and he looks at the bag. Bill.
And he won’t take, the audio will take one associate producer. Then he calls down the studio and goes, Hey. There’s this kid from college as props from hot chocolate chip cookies. Do you want me to come down to the studio to give you some? Yeah and I get emotional, I think about it because I walked down the stairs and into the studio and in the studio. This is the place. I’ve been watching for all my childhood with people that were like heroes of the local television scene. They’re reaching over Hey, Bill and I’m handing him cookies. And I’m like, it’s like walking into Disneyland type zone times 100 rep thinking. This is where I want to work. So I walk upstairs. By the end of the night, all my cookies are gone.
And as I’m walking out, the producer says, Hey, you come back next week. Yeah. So the next week, I come back, hot bag of chocolate chip cookies. Six weeks in a row, I come back hot bag of chocolate chip cookies and I’m not saying a lot. I’m just being professional and courteous and quiet and engaged and learning. And after that six weeks, the producer pulls me sighs. Hey, Bill, he said the summer is coming up and I’ve got stack, Internet’s about that stick. However, if I know a year, you know, you’re like family. If you’d like to be the summer intern, we’d like you to be our show intern. I said I’d be honored. So I became the summer intern.
Then I worked my butt off and I did anything they needed. I learned, I volunteered for stuff and I did that while, I was still taking some college classes and working to pay for college. But you know, it was hard, but I figured out what I needed to do. And after 91 days, they hired me that officially launch my career in television. From there, it was just being mentored by great agencies, great directors, great presence. Working with incredible talent and then traveling around the country and doing field projects. That’s what launched me and I just thank my mom for her advice. And I thank her for teaching me, how to make chocolate chip cookies.
I love that Bill, I love that. You walked in there and you were yourself. First and foremost, yourself those chocolate chip cookies spoke for you. That warmth and that desire and that happiness that you bring to the table. We’re sort of symbolized through those chocolate chips, then your consistency and everything. So anyone who’s listening right now that wants to get somewhere. Somewhere that you want to be, do things a little bit differently, being different. Just be different. Be yourself, which sounds so crazy cliche. But your mom was so right, just be yourself and look at where it got you. And I think the law of reciprocity. Hit a little bit in there, too. With the law of reciprocity, the more you give.
We gave a lot of cookies. And you know that the other thing that I take from this too, is I think like that 20-year-old, Billy. I was comparing myself with others, I was fearful of me not being good enough. In front of me was something that I desired and when you desire something that it’s natural to have fear. Because when you desire something so much, one of the things that sneak up is the fear of loss. And that’s why I’m not a big believer and you got to be fearless. Because I don’t think any of us can ever be fearless. I think if you are fearless, you’re oblivious. Yeah, but I believe all of us can rise to be courageous.
And what better to be courageous by being you and then becoming the best you can be. Because otherwise, you’re just living a lie and trying to be something you’re not. And when you can be you, then what’s really cool is that desire, we all have to really love ourselves. You start to meet somebody that you can really love and respect, as you’re becoming that person. That’s the transformation that happens throughout our whole life, but doesn’t snap a finger and happens all of our life. But it’s great to have that defining moment to say. Today, I’m going to be the best version of me. I’m going to be and I’m going to share it with the world and take the risk. Knowing that some people won’t like it, some people like it, some people are going to really love it.
I love that bill.
I love my cookies. Not everybody wanted a cookie. But that didn’t change the fact that my cookies were good.
There you go. And then that basically propelled your whole career, which, when you’ve done some amazing things and work with some incredible people throughout the years. What was your favorite experience? In your career?
I literally have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. Because I’ve had these monumental experiences, like working venues, certain venues, I mean. I’ve loved working in Europe, I’ve loved producing shows and Central Park, I’ve loved doing shows, largest show I ever did. I directed producer for a show just north of Miami for 250,000 people on the beach and doing things of large scope. Or doing large things where you know, millions of people are watching fat, quicks, I know. One of the directors who mentored me when I, when I started in television, I remember him pulling me aside. And I can’t remember he put his arm around me. But that’s how I kind of remember it and saying, Bill, you just need to know as a director. Mistakes leave here at the speed of light.
That’s all I had to say. It’s like, raise your game tiger, raise your game. Because whatever you do, you’re sharing it with the world. But probably one of the coolest things that’s been the people. I’ve had the privilege of working with, I love working with the best of the best in their field or people have achieved a lot. For example, in the entertainment space, I’ve loved directing shows like The Black Eyed Peas or Maroon 5 or some of these big bands. It’s just really they nailed their gifting and then to bring my gifting to a live show. And to collaborate with them is just always a joy because that raises my game. As I’m working with their game and they’re, they’re in the same boat I am. They’re trying to raise their game.
I particularly loved working with Gwen’s Tiffani in large part. Because she made me appreciate and cement in my head that there’s people that have the ick factor. I mean, we all have things that I think we’re, we have these gifts to do. But there’s some people that what I call the difference between the message and the messenger. There’s some people that have the gift to be a messenger that a very special. And Gwen is one of those definitely one of those people enjoyed working with her. I had probably another great lesson came with working with President Clinton. And this wasn’t a political thing. So if you’re political, it wasn’t that it wasn’t a documentary project. But that was a great, great lesson for me because you know, working with a president or former president is like a big deal.
And usually, he’s surrounded by tonnes of people. They’re dealing with calendars and he’s got this and that and we did a project because I come from the media background. I’ve got a secret service file, it’s pretty thick. Because we’ve done so many media things with different people in high-risk situations. So I got the clearance to go to his home and work with him on this documentary project. And they gave us a really tight window, boom, do it right here. This is when you do it and I go in, get everything set up, got everything lined up, and then President Clinton comes in. My producer and I there’s great to meet you, by the way. Any president wants to President they’re always president. So it’s always Mr. President, by the way, it’s not Hey, Bill, it’s Mr. President.
And then he sat down and I gave him the direction. I worked with him and here’s the thing, quick sidebar lesson. Even people that the best of their best in their craft, perform better with direction and objectivity. The best and best know that people that don’t know that are saying, Oh, I got it. God got covered with the best of the best know that they work better with objectivity and direction. And all the celebrities I’ve worked with at the highest level, including president Clinton all, realize that. So he was eager to take direction from me as to what we were doing. Just a reminder, you’re never too good not to have objectivity and direction. You’ll always raise your game with that. That’s the value of coaching. It’s the value of mentorship. Just know that.
So here, I go in and I’m doing this. And then we get through the whole project. Of course, his people, his handlers are like, oh, gosh. We got to get him in the next thing, we got to get to the next thing. And when he gets up, he turns to me. He just said, Bill. Thanks. Thank you very much. Was when you were here, did you get a chance to look around? I said, Well, no, Mr. President. Boy, we’ve just been hustling since we got here. So Hold on, let me take you around. Let me give you the tour and he begins to take an eye on this tour of his oval office complex. Tells me a story about Oh, here I was with the Dalai Lama.
They were doing this and we spent almost half hour. Just hanging out as he told me stories in one to connect. I was honored and intrigued because the stories were fabulous. And as he left, I turn to the Secret Service detail and his admin guy and I said. Does he do that all the time? Is that Yeah, you just became 100 1000s and one best friend. Because that’s what he does and I remember that. So clearly, not just because he was the president. But what he gave me was the gift of presence. And it’s so powerful when you think about and it’s part I think I mentioned in my book. About the idea that relationships aren’t just transactional. They’re transformational In that a relationship shows that you care, you genuinely care.
One of the greatest ways you can care is to give somebody an ear, your eyes, pay attention to them, don’t just transact. And I realized that his reputation for incredible charisma and warmth and all that was. Because he had mastered the gift of presence. And he realized how powerful it was even for a director that he may or may not ever work with, again.
But he gave it because it’s a high value of his. And that was a monumental moment for me. Because from that point, I realized that no matter how hurried I am. Every human being is worthy to be honored and respected and loved. And to the degree that I have the privilege of interacting with somebody means. That I want to try as hard as I can to give them the gift of presence. That’s a big one for me, a big one for me.
That’s incredible Bill, that’s incredible. Just all these different lessons and all these experiences that you’ve had are unbelievable. That leads me to the question of January 1999. And about that story that you shared with me, which was insane. I couldn’t even believe I was like, oh, my goodness, would you be open to sharing that?
Well, yeah, it did become really the driver for me to write my book about relationship marketing. And it was a profound experience, I mean, I would say I can’t remember who said it. I should find this out, but there’s someone who had said. There’s two of the most profound dates in your life is one the day you’re born. And the second is when you understand why and I think the why part tends to revolve. But definitely started to really manifest January 28, 1999. So little context, I had married my high school sweetheart, I have five kids. But the nature of my business is I travel all the time and despite all my best intentions. Had become somewhat of an absentee husband and father, I’d show for all the right moment.
And before I met President Clinton, I wasn’t always present, you know. That my son had told me many times later as an adult. So Dad, you know, you were in the same room. But you were not in the same room. Because you always think about the next project, the next big thing, you’re always doing these big things. We all noticed that we appreciate that you showed up. But we were hurt that you didn’t show up and that was a gulp lesson. I think it was somebody was staring at me back in the 90s. And I had an opportunity to produce a documentary, I thought this could be changed for me. Because if I do this documentary, like doing the film, you pour yourself into it and you dive intensely into this project. Then it goes into distribution.
And then you make the money on distribution and all the ancillary revenue. That can come through different markets and things like that. This could be a new model for me. So I produce this documentary and behold. We pick up a distributor in Nashville and now a distributor. He’s gonna write us a big check, deposit, check for the rights of distributed, okay. All systems are firing, this is exactly the way we’re going to go. And I remember getting on that plane, January 20, 1999. With the complete sense that today, my life is going to change. It just change differently than I thought. So as I take off out of Portland, I’m with my best friend, Timothy Grandage. Who’s one of the greatest gospel singers in the world and he’s off to Nashville. Because he got some music projects and things like that.
And about 20 minutes in the flight, I started to feel weird. I couldn’t put my finger on because I never ever sick. But it was something stirring in me and it’s as if things were closing in and I remember getting really anxious. They’re crap, I don’t get sick on a plane, but it got so bad and I thought it was gonna pass out. I turned to Tim I said, Tim, something’s not right and that’s the last thing I said. And as Tim would describe it, my eyes just went back in my head. My arm just flopped by my side and my heart stopped cold in Tim at first wondering. If it was joking but realizing that something’s wrong here. He didn’t know CPR. But he didn’t know about chest compressions and stuff like that.
So he’s, I’m in the window seat and he starts beating the crap out of me. And Tim is built like an NFL linebacker, big, big guy. So his beating on me created quite a scene. Nothing happened. He then took me into the aisle and began doing chest compressions more. And as Tim described it, he said, he was just about to take his fist in like, bust my ribs. As he pulls back, I take a breath, and needless to say. It was quite the scene, they ended up doing an emergency landing in Rapid City, South Dakota. That was kind of the way the plane was trajectory.
And long story short, I ended up being diagnosed with malignant neuro cardiogenic syncope. Which malignant means you die from it. Neurons brain, cardio is heart and syncope means out of sync. And the only thing they know to fix it is to give you a pacemaker. They don’t know what causes it or anything like that. So shortly after that, I get a pacemaker put my chest, I still have a pacemaker fact. This is a pacemaker they put in my chest right here. Because they replaced it not that long ago when they did that. I said I want that thing, I paid good money for that.
But the best part was not only what’s happened in my life since then. Because I honestly wish everybody could die and then come back because it would change how you live. And in my case, my pacemaker has to go off six times a day and I go to bed. Not always knowing whether I’m going to get up the next morning. I get up every morning with a sense of wonder and awe that I get another day. And it’s with the reverent recognition that every day is a gift. But even more important, every breath is a gift. You see, when I rolled my eyes back and I left, I remember everything. I had a pretty profound after-death experience.
And I can tell you, as a kid growing up and the experiences. I had with my father and a lot of times the relationships we have in our life. We superimpose those types of relationships. Especially authority relationship as to what we perceive the divine might be God might be. And for me, I was convinced that if I ever met God, I was gonna get you screwed up. You really suck, you really are bad, you really disappointed me. I can hear the echo of all those accusations terms and by the way. One of the great dangers is even though someone said them and they’re gone, like. My father has passed away, now is the risk of letting that echo chamber live, as you repeat those voices to yourself. Especially in moments of fear, moments of concern, moments of comparison.
And to be really cautious that those voices can become an echo chamber and for me. They had become an echo chamber, even though I push through it and push through it. But when I came face to face that it was face to face with God. I didn’t meet that person. Instead, I met the total and complete embodiment of love. And it was not just the recognition of Oh, here’s someone that knows me. Here’s someone that likes me and I can say this with this by experience. I’m not a theologian at all, but I can say this with all my heart. That the creator of the universe doesn’t just love you. But the creator of the universe is madly in love with you and cares about. Every fear, every hope, every desire, every dream and has shed every tear with you have hoped every hope.
And the creator of the universe is your biggest cheerleader. Cheering for you, to the total fulfillment of all you can become and the joy and the peace and the love. It doesn’t mean that things are easy. But it does mean that there’s a process that’s going to lead to the greatest fulfillment. You could ever imagine and that’s the God I met. And it’s was in that moment that I recognized, I can trust God. I can let go of the echo chamber and replace it with the voice of the Almighty that says. You’re incredible, I love you, I believe in you, I want you to experience fulfillment. I want you to experience your greatest destiny and I need your help. Because together we’re gonna change the world. So that changed me and it’s continued to be a journey that I’ve gone.
Because you don’t just snap your fingers and get rid of old habits and old. Sometimes old beliefs and old ruts that you got yourself into. But it finally led to me applying the things that I had learned. And then applying it to what I learned in business, in marketing in media. It was out of that that I discovered the seven disciplines of a seven display call center. Disciplines of relationship marketing could be called the seven disciplines of life that from that framework. We discovered, not just a marketing plan. But the framework for creating a movement to change the world. It starts with each one of us.
And so I started writing that book, it took me a long time to do it. But I finally after the death of my father and just thinking about all I experienced. I realized the last thing I wanted to do, was what I do on January 28, where I bolted out the door. And I can’t even remember if I even told the people in my life, I loved him.
I would hope that the day that any of us leave this world. Or the day that you leave the room. The last thing people remember about you, they said. You know what? They said they loved me and I never wanted anybody to not know, that they loved and respected and appreciated and honored. So that book became not only this incredible document that it’s crazy. How many people have read this book and fortune 500 companies and emerging entrepreneurs and people that are stuck? And they want to break out of it. Or they’re in a transition, say, I need a framework, they read the book and they come back and they recognize. One of the greatest things we have in this world is relationships.
And if we build businesses and enterprises that honor people. We can change the world and that’s really what the book is about. It is my love letter to you, to my family and if this is the last interview I ever do and something happens. You will have known by the way that I love and appreciate you so much. And love what you’re doing with this program. I hope people will feel that and believe that. It will share that and live that.
I love that bill, thank you so much for sharing that. Everything that you say is right in the heart, everything that you had mentioned. Oh my goodness, it’s just so profound is one of those stories that just leaves you really speechless. And you’re just in awe of the person that’s in front of you and that is you, my friend. That is you. I mean, I could feel all of it right here.
In the heart center truly presence and my goodness, so many things. And that led you on the journey to spirit media. Right, to really lead with purpose to share the brand story and the brand soul. Yeah, our this world which is so profoundly beautiful, so profoundly beautiful. And I just Wow. Well, your whole life story is just, I think you need a motion picture on you, my friend. I think there needs to be a picture.
My story is not different. I mean that some of the episodes are different. But here’s the thing, it’s so important. My story, your story. A lot of our stories really aren’t dramatically different. How we do it, what we do it the timing, we do it, but the journey and the lessons are shared. And that’s why I hope no one looks at this and go wow, I can’t be like Pam. Because she’s you know, big developer and all those different things. I can’t be like Billy’s his producer data. No, all of us are big in our own way. All of us have a unique and idea that right here, I have five fingerprints. In our retinas that we have things about us physiologically that make us unique.
You know it’s tied to our DNA, we can look at a lot of things that become our signature. Guess what, when I talk about the idea of discovering your brand soul. You are as unique as unique can be, there’s no one, no one, like you. Your story has unique power, your journey has unique impact, to inspire, to encourage. And if we can just be able to embrace the fact that you are the fingerprint of God. The profound difference you can make. Celebrate your uniqueness and quit comparing. Just be the best you can be. So yeah, it isn’t Bell and Pam are horrible. I know it’s about you, about you.
Right. And he was I mean, I speak to a lot of different healers and all types of amazing people. They talk about every person is created with a specific code that’s tied to their mission in this life. Yeah. Like, to the DNA strand, which is so amazing. You think about it and you’re sitting here on this earth and you’re like, wow. God created me exactly.
To the tee to the color of my eyes to the color of my hair, every strand of my hair. It’s amazing. When you think about it, you’re like, oh, my goodness. I’m here and look every single time Part of me was carefully designed every single part. Oh, man, I love it and a question for you. Because I feel like this is gonna be a lot. But if you had to pick one thing that your older self would tell your younger self, what would it be?
Yeah, there’s a lot of things. But the first thing that comes to mind, one is God, is worthy to be trusted. And you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Enjoy the journey, it’s going to be wild.
Bill’s Biggest Piece Of Advice
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give? Whether it’s from your book or just for anything to anybody. Who’s listening right now that might be struggling to find their purpose? Or they’re stuck in a rut in their life? What would be your biggest piece of advice?
The first thing would be able to and this is a style thing. I think all of us, especially when we’re feeling stuck or when transition or we’re stepping into the unknown. Or we’re maybe dreaming a crazy dream, maybe I could do this is don’t let anxiety rule the day. Don’t let fear because as we think about this is a really practical thing. What happens is we do tend to manifest what we focus on. For example, anticipation is one of the most powerful parts of our process in our thinking. We can anticipate something good happens or we anticipate something bad happening. And there was after my death I was raised Catholic and I remember going to catechism. But there was many scriptures and teaching that I think it was Paul wrote.
Wrote the thing about take captive, your thoughts. And the idea that he’s one of the great mindset teachers, a lot of people don’t realize this. Paul was this incredible, brilliant, highly trained Roman citizen, but ended up becoming a follower of Jesus. But he began writing very from an academic standpoint. He was one of the great first teachers about mindset and he’s a take captive, your thoughts. The idea that if you anticipate danger, natural progression of that is fear, and the product of fear is either fight, flight, or freeze. So if you say, Okay, if I’m going to anticipate bad things that lead to fear to a fight, flight freeze, guess what, that’s not an outcome we want, because those are all reactions. And they may or may not be right reactions, okay? However, the mindset, your anticipation is about good.
Even though the journey might be hard, like a lot of people’s go must be better know, the road to becoming a gold medal stand person is hard. The road to greatness is hard, the road to working through and becoming the best you can be is hard. Don’t buy into the garbage that people say, Oh, it’s hard. It must not be meant to be because that’s not that’s a lie hard is actually good in the sense that are you building muscle? Are you tearing down muscle? So are you building, are you tearing down? Are you doing those things that feed you are those things that bleed you? So that anticipation instead of leading to fear and reaction should lead to hope. Which leads to anticipation of reflection. What do I do with this?
How can I move forward? And so the outcome from reaction to reflection, from fear to hope, guess where that battle takes place. Here for all of us, you get to make that choice, and guess what. Even though it’s going to be hard and I say that in part. Because as a marketing guy, I recognize that we get 5000 to 10,000 brand impressions a day, constantly being bombarded. Whether it be social media, billboards, marketing, anything, commercials, TV, everything, product placement, it’s all there. And secretly, you know what, each one of those messages is saying you’re inadequate unless you buy this product. That’s a great risk is that subconsciously, we are being bombarded with our inadequacy, because marketers trying to sell us something. Now, if in fact, you could be better if you had a pacemaker, there’s certain practicality to that.
But most of it is not necessarily supporting you. A lot of it’s manipulative, and you have to be able to sort through that. And that’s why Paul said, take captive because you recognize that like a prisoner of war that’s trying to destroy you. Breaking into the walls of your heart and tear down the things that are inside you. So are the thoughts that can come bouncing out, so don’t be a victim of that. Instead, take captive, you be in charge of your thoughts. You be in charge of saying I’m going to focus on hope, not fear.
I’m going to be reflective and thoughtful and deliberate and not reactive. You get to do that, so I guess it’s a lot of stuff that I would say. So to my young self kind of bringing that whole thing into a bow. And it’s a practice. It’s a muscle that you develop over time, but it’s a muscle, you have to be deliberate about deciding. I’m going to exercise this and the person I become is going to be stronger. And have more stamina and have more wisdom and have more insight.
You’re So Amazing. And in the next six to 12 months, what’s up in your world? What’s up in Bill’s world?
Well, the lot of stuff going on right now. The big things kind of related to the company, I mean, spirit media agency. Which is some brand impressions back here. I’m in the studio here, we’ve just come through a crazy season of a lot of virtual events. And we are now more than ever producing interactive internet television. So, corporate communications, sales, communications, marketing, communications, entertainment, communications, fundraising. We’re doing through our studio and through live. So from the business standpoint need to communicate and connect on a really profound fun level is really growing. And so our agency is producing a lot of videos and producing a lot of virtual and hybrid events around that.
The other thing is the seven disciplines. I’m really excited to tell you that, while the book in the Kindle. And the audible has been available on Amazon for several months, now. I keep having people saying, teach me the system, walk me through it, take me by the hand. I’ve learned that I’m one of the products. If you have the opportunity of a do-it-yourself or having a mentor, get a mentor, get a director get a coach. And so we are rolling out the seven disciplines of workshop series. We’re going to take small groups, whether it’s someone that’s an emerging entrepreneur. Or it’s a business that says, Look, I’m stuck and I need to break out of it. It’s business that says I’m in transition, I want to make sure I’m on the right framework. To do this.
We’re taking people through a 10 to 12-week program. That we’re going to start launching in September, October, November, December. So we’re going to do one every month, that’s going to come out. And so anybody says, Oh, I would love to be able to do that and that will include both a video series. Then I will personally mentor the group to walk you through the seven disciplines. Because you say I want to know my brand soul. That’s what we start with.
Discover your brand’s soul and why you’re in this universe and who you’re called to serve. And how you make the biggest impact through your business in your life. So we’re excited about launching that. And I’ve never done small group workshops before. So even though the content is rock solid. You’re gonna have to put up with me learning how to go, Hey, I’m the teacher. Let’s walk. I got to tell you stories to tell you lessons. But that’s probably the big thing and we’re excited about rolling that out this year.
That’s incredible Bill. How exciting. And it sounds like a very fun workshop and then to tie it in and bring your book to life the seven disciplines of relationship marketing. I mean, that’s what better way to do it than to do it through the workshops which is amazing. Now Bill you’ve got to let everyone know where to find you and your book and everything and all your awesomeness.
Sure. Well the easiest, I mean you can find our agency is spiritmedia.com. The book I have got a landing page but very simple landing pages 7DRM.com. But if you say, boy, this workshops sound fascinate, I will give you my email. I’ll give you mine because this is just us. Okay. My personal email, it’s email@example.com. And if it’s something that you say, yeah, I’m really interested in this. I want to work with your agency, I want to learn about the seven disciplines, I want to apply it to my group or do a workshop. Just email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. And of course, the way we met, I’m very active on LinkedIn. So you find Bill Dolan on LinkedIn. I post semi-regular little things from my heart, so if you want to connect me there, boom. I’m there for you.
You’re amazing, Bill. It was such an honor to have you here today. Thank you so much for sharing your story, your wisdom, it was just incredible. I’m here in awe. And I’m sure anyone who’s listening right now is often in the same boat. So thank you for being you, and for what you bring to the world and continue to bring to the world. Thank you, Bill.
Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the amazing Bill Dolan.
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