Tracy Brinkman has gone from hitting rock bottom of drugs, divorce, bankruptcy, and even the death of an 18-month-old daughter to running, planning, and marketing some of corporate America’s finest companies, running his own company helping business owners be seen, and his own podcast, The Dark Horse Entrepreneur. Tracy is a business and success coach that realizes life isn’t fair and participation awards don’t feed your family or drive your success. This driven Dark Horse entrepreneur is looking to share all that he has learned and is still learning about starting, restarting kick-starting, and stepping up your entrepreneurial game, all while not ignoring that awesome tool between your ears.
Come share your biggest takeaways, ahas, and connect directly with Tracy 👇
[0:00] Have you ever hit rock bottom in your life? Well, today’s guest is no stranger to hitting rock bottom and using those lessons to become a dark horse entrepreneur. Tracy and I dive into his rock bottom moments, pivots and being yourself. Turn up the volume because you don’t want to miss today’s episode. And once you listened, come on over to today’s show notes and share your biggest takeaways and connect with Tracy
[2:46] Tracy’s harrowing stories of hitting rock bottom and the lessons he learned to become the Dark Horse Entrepreneur
[17:25] Tracy shares what being a dark horse means and how he helps people be seen
[20:14] Yong’s business confession
[21:39] Tracy’s advice on overcoming people-pleasing, running your own race, and building a business around your awesome
[24:48] Tracy’s process for creating content
[29:02] Connect with Tracy on his Website
Listen to his Podcast
Yong Pratt 0:00
Have you ever hit rock bottom in your life? Well, today's guest is no stranger to hitting rock bottom and using those lessons to become a dark horse entrepreneur. Tracy and I dive into his rock bottom moments, pivots and being yourself. Turn up the volume because you don't want to miss today's episode. And once you listened, come on over to today's show notes and share your biggest takeaways and connect with Tracy at www.YongPratt.com/308.
Have you ever felt like there was something missing in your business? Something holding you back from the success you're seeking? If so, you are not alone. For nearly 20 years, that's exactly how I felt as a business owner. It wasn't until I discovered human design that it all became clear. And it turns out that I was the missing piece in my own business. Join me on this journey of discovering the real me and hear stories from other business owners building businesses around all of their awesomeness. I'm Yong Pratt, and it's time my friend to Amplify Your Awesome™!
Hey everyone, welcome back to the Amplify Your Awesome™ podcast. You are in for a treat today. I've been getting to know today's guests over the past four weeks or so and he is definitely an awesome human being. He does amazing things in the world. And I cannot wait to introduce you to him. But first, let me tell you a little bit about him. Today's guest is Tracy Brinkman. Now Tracy has gone from hitting rock bottom of drugs, divorce, bankruptcy, and even the death of an 18 month old daughter to running, planning, and marketing some of corporate America's finest companies running his own company helping business owners be seen, which you all know I love to his podcast and focus on driven entrepreneurs. Tracy is a business and success coach that realizes life isn't fair and participation awards, don't feed your family or drive your success. This driven Dark Horse entrepreneur is looking to share all that he has learned and is still learning about starting, restarting kick starting and stepping up your entrepreneurial game, all while not ignoring that awesome tool between your ears. Tracy, I am so happy that you are here as today's guest Welcome.
Tracy Brinkmann 2:30
My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Yong Pratt 2:33
You have quite the background and I want to kind of go back to the beginning. Can you take us back to before you had your business, what your journey has looked like and how you made the decision to start your own business.
Tracy Brinkmann 2:46
You know, that's a that's a good story. It's not a good story. But it's a good story. Yeah, it's one of those things where you know, wherever you've been, and whatever you've gone through, it is made you who you are today. But if I step my story way back, you know, I grew up my dad was in the military, and 23 years he served in the United States Army. So we moved all the time, which gave me some great experiences with all the people types and culture types. You know, I spent about six years growing up in Germany. And right out of high school, I joined the service myself and I went back to Europe, and serve six years there and came back out. And as soon as I came back, I went back to Southern California with a new set of skills and we're, you know, I'm going to date myself right here. This was right about the time of the.com boom, right? And so I came back with some computer skills, and I started a little computer consulting company on the side and, you know, I was doing pretty good. You know, I was, you know, making some money. However, in that making money thing, I started getting introduced to a different it's called the seedier side of the crowds, right. I had some coins that I could spend on booze, and drugs. And I ended up getting hooked on drugs for a few years to the point where it I totally gave up the business. And I went into the drug business and everything that goes with that, oh, I had people selling drugs for me and the whole nine yards. And after a probably a couple years of that I was out partying pretty heavily. And when I say that, I mean I was probably on a three day party, right? I mean, I was awake for three days and going out and you know, running the circuits shooting pool, whooping it up, just being a complete idiot. And I came back to my condo and I noticed my door had been kicked in. And when I went inside, I realized you know it wasn't it wasn't burglars a door and it was the police. Five O raided my house. And this was a wake up call for me and here's here's the real thing if you want to, if you're driving, don't do this. If you Close your eyes and picture those scenes that you've seen in the movies, you know where the furniture is tossed everywhere, clothes are strewn all over the place, pictures are knocked off the wall and rice and cereals poured all over the force. That was my place at that point. And I think if I had been by myself at that time, I probably would have made a different choice. But I had a four month old daughter, and this was now impacting her life. I had gotten the attention of the wrong kind of people. Actually, I got the attention of the right kind of people. I was the wrong kind of person. But so at that point, I made a decision to clean up my act and my life in my body. And luckily, I had some very supportive parents, and a gentleman who I've called brother until he passed away a few years ago, he wasn't really my brother, but we've known he had known each other since we were like, early teens, so he was my brother, right? And so they helped me get my, my crap back together. The The downside of that is, my psyche had taken a real kick to the head, I didn't have the self worth to step back out into the marketplace with the skills that I had. I just didn't feel like I could walk. Hey, Yong, here's all the great things I could do for you. You'd be like you didn't I just see you just down the road apiece, you know, slinging cane and stuff.
So I started doing literally day jobs, you know, working in offices filing and working in the warehouses around Southern California just to get my self confidence back up. I did that for a little while. And when I finally had the the self worth inside, I put myself back out there. And I landed a role as the Coca Cola company, which started my, my rise through corporate America. And so yeah, that was that was big turning point life turning point number one. And I think big life Turning Point number two, for me came a little bit later, as I was making my rise in the ranks of Coca Cola moved to Atlanta to go through headquarters, which was awesome, because now I can really, you know, maneuver inside the organization. And my second daughter is born. Unfortunately, she's born with what they refer to as a distended abdomen. So we've all seen the the, the alcohol or beer loving guy, it's got a big old beer belly, right? picture that on a newborn baby. That's what her belly came out looking like. And in layman's terms, what had happened is whenever arteries feeding her intestinal tract didn't develop as she was going through, probably the first trimester. And so her small intestine was only like 23 centimeters long. And we usually you're born with 200 plus, so she didn't have enough small intestines to sustain life. So over the next three months of her life, for the first three months of her life, she went through like six pretty major operations, they tried to, you know, get this portal thing just able to live. And they got her stabilized. And one of the things that they did was they put in a line right up, right delivery, it went right into her hearts. And it's called the TPN line, total parental nutrition, which is literally just the raw nutrients that we need to survive. So now, she gets those nutrients and extrusion of sorb to her bloodstream. But the body being the amazing thing that is says, Oh, well, you don't need me to filter anything, which means you don't need this liver. Right. So now our liver is deteriorating. So now she needs you know, the double transplant. So we get her stabilized and get her on the list. And we wait. And we hope and meantime, I still have my first daughter so you're trying to you're trying to be Hey, everything's okay. Right You you you trying to have that good front for you know, the the young, the older daughter while the younger one is going through everything. And about month 17 one of the one of the candy stripers, one of the nurses assistants at the hospital, drops her, no joke, on her head. She's just big, huge hematoma. And now all of her body is fighting to do this big healing exercise on top of everything else she's going through. And that starts a real quick slide downhill in her health. And she's just about 18 months old. And during all this mom in the end, Krista had to move up to Pittsburgh, because that's where the operation would have happened. They were the ones that had the right doctors, the best ones made me and my oldest daughter are in southern Atlanta. So we would fly up, you know, every weekend or so and go visit. So one of the trips up there and anyone who's a parent, you probably understand this. You walk in and you look at your child and you're just something just goes off. Something's wrong, right? And now mind you, she's been in the emergency room and you know she's in the hospital and we you get that so your baby line is different, but I walked in and you just know something's wrong, right? She's not reacting the same and all this stuff, pull the doctor aside and asked him, if you had the organs right now. Do you think she would survive the operation? I got a bunch of doctors speak. So I literally isn't no joke grabbed him by the, you know, the jacket, pulled them into a janitor's closet and close the door. Just join me. Right? Just Just tell me. And so I finally got the answer. Well, I didn't get the answer I wanted, but I got the answer that no, didn't believe she would survive the operation.
Okay, well, do you think her health would improve to the point where she would have survived the operation? No, unfortunately, right? Just gonna cut right to the chase. And so now the choice has to be made, do we leave her on the machines or at this point, keeping her alive, you know, the respirator, what have you. And for anybody who has gone through this or is going through it or will be going through it? It's a personal choice, and I respect everyone's opinion on it. For me, I felt if I was keeping her here, it would have been selfish. Right? It would have been, she would have been keeping your hair for me. And I had been through the selfish side of things with my drug days, I was doing all that. For me, that was for nobody else. The first unselfish thing I did was walk away from that for my oldest daughter, so I wasn't going to make those kind of mistakes again. And we made the decision to disconnect her. And they wrapped her up in her favorite blanket. And I literally sat down in the rocking chair in her er room, and I rocked her to sleep one last time. And while it's a horrible thing to think of, and you know, I get wispy every time I tell the story, I was thankful for the experience, because it allowed me to tell her all the amazing lessons she had taught me in her short time here, you know, she always looked at the even with all the pain or the discomfort. I know she was going through, she was always had a big bright smile on her face. And always looking news you have children are everything is new and exciting for them. She had this thing if you've seen the movie, et where he sticks out his finger, right? Where she did the same thing, anytime she saw something new, be it a piece of food or a toy, she would put that finger at real slow and touch it once she touched it. And it was okay that it was in her mouth and she was eating and whatever was going on, you know, it was those those moments that I wanted, I chose to remember not the loss, right?
I'll always remember the loss, it will go with me forever, you don't you don't get rid of that. But to tell her thank you for teaching these lessons and I'm going to I'm going to honor them right I'm gonna remember them inside. And so threw myself into my work as a coping mechanism and into personal development. And as part of that, I learned a lot about you know, that great thing between your ears in while everything was going on with Krista I found my I'll even call it a love for public speaking, because anyone who was willing to listen and quite a few folks that weren't willing to listen, heard about Krista and heard about the benefits of being an organ donor, right? You know, small groups of five, I even got up in front of like 1500, nurses and doctors. And at that point, I wasn't afraid because I was on a mission I was gonna add telling the story. And so all that to say, you know, it's all about, we'll go, we're all going to go through Kaka right, we're all gonna go through something in our lives. And we're going to go through it more than once. I think it's all about what you glean from it. You know, I think if you can't turn around, and look at the lesson, and say, Okay, here's the stuff I need to take with me, as I go forward. The rest of that, that's the lesson learned, I'm going to leave it back there, right. And so many folks, I think, avoid dealing with a lot of it, man, they scratched the surface, but they got to dig down. And I think and then big turning point number three, and hopefully not babbling too long here. But I think big turning point number three was when I realized that the the woman I had been married to at the time, and had been for quite a few years. It was in an abusive relationship. And I don't mean this in the physical sense. Unfortunately, it did get physical a couple of times, it was more of a mental thing. You know, it was like I had all these dreams and these desires and these and you know, I these things on my battle board, here's one of the things I want to do. And, man, you can't do that. Come on back. Just do what you're doing. And you know, Coca Cola and Home Depot and the places you work. That's where you're good at, you know, keeping you inside that box. And I think so many of us. There are people in our lives and sometimes they mean well like oh, here's what you're good at, go to, right. You're good at drawing and you're good at you like houses go be an architect right or you're good at this and you're good at that. So go do this, I'm saying, Well, no, I'm really good at this over here. No, you're not? Well, you've never seen me do it, you know. So there's those those kinds of things as people will pull you back down quite often, they're meaning, they're meaning well. Other times, they're just afraid of you stepping out further than they are, you know, they're like, uncomfortable with you being better than them or, or improving yourself while they're not. Right. So it's easier for them to bash you down than it is to build themselves up. So that was a that was a pretty rough and rocky divorce. So that was a big turning point number three, it was like, Alright, I've got to step out of this, because I feel I am worth more than what I'm getting in this exchange of this relationship. So through all those learnings, I finally came to the realization, oh my god, why am I here with this person, when there's clearly someone out there that would appreciate what I have to offer. And I would definitely appreciate what they have to offer. That makes sense.
Yong Pratt 15:58
No, I have to say, you know, what a harrowing journey to go through all these things and come out the other side, stronger, knowing that, you know, you have the skills and the capabilities to do this, you saw in yourself, your potential, and even though people around you didn't necessarily see that, you still had to take those steps and better yourself. And I think that's why you are such a successful business person is because you understand that it's on you, people don't always see you coming, because they underestimate you, perhaps, but you're gonna you're you're up there, showing them, you know, Hey, no, watch me, I can make this happen. So I know I love the title of your podcast, the Dark Horse entrepreneur, because it's all about that. People don't expect you to rise sometimes, and the fact that you've gone through so many tumultuous points in your life. And you've, you've decided to look at what you've learned the lessons you can take and implement into your life and into your business. And to help you succeed. That's a huge story of triumph in and of itself, even separate from your business. But I know all of that leads into your business. So I want to know more about being a dark horse, what that means to you, and, and how you're helping people out in the world really be the people they're meant to be and to be seen.
Tracy Brinkmann 17:25
I think, Well, for me what being a dark horse is, it's sometimes synonymous with being an underdog, right? But for me, the dark horse is the one that nobody expects to win, except the person themself, right? Quite often no one, like, you know, you're looking, if we think about a racetrack and all the horses lined up at the gate, right? All the odds are stacked against you, right, and all sudden, this guy takes off out of the gate, like a gun, and just where this person come from, right, and everyone's looking down at their tracks going okay, I didn't bet on them. But to me, that's what the dark horse is, is the one that so many folks, you know, think is not going to win, but they have the skills, all they got to do is get out there and run their race. And and I want to emphasize that run their race, because so many times in society in general, once you to run this race over here, and you're like, No, no, this is my race right here. Here's how I'm gonna run it. And anyone that's done that if we think of all the great, you know, winning stories, you know, let's use one obvious one, like, like a Steve Jobs, right? He ran his race. He had his own unique ideas of what he wanted in the computer world, and then how to serve His people. And then and then the phones and in the iPod and etc. He ran his race. Now everyone else has spent all kinds of time trying to catch up with him. And of course, there's all kinds of weaving in everything and the side stories about what he didn't take and didn't invent anyway. But all the I think all the real unique and amazing entrepreneurs and business folks we hear out there, they ran their own race, you know, they created something that was theirs, and then they put it out there in the marketplace going. Damn, that's pretty awesome. So, you know, I tried to help folks do just that. Not just run alongside like everyone, hey, I can make you a millionaire in 60 days. All you've got to do is put up Facebook ads and Okay, yeah, you could do can run that race. But that's not always you. So finding someone and sitting down with them and say, hey, let's get clarity on what it is that makes you you, right, let's go through this process of brainstorming. What is it you're really passionate about? Because usually if you're passionate about it, you'll drive through the first wall of resistance and any business person can tell you, when you go out there and you throw yourself out there in the marketplace. You're gonna You hit a wall and having something that you're totally passionate about, as opposed to doing it like everyone else is doing it. Because that's the way you said you can make money helps you get through all the problems that you're going to encounter. Right.
Yong Pratt 20:14
So good. Yeah. And I appreciate you saying, you know, running their own race, because full disclosure, for so long I tried to do business like everybody else, I would take these courses and hire these mentors. And they would say, Okay, do it like this, and you'll be successful. And I would do all the things plus more, and I wouldn't get those same results. And then recently, I mean, take me 20 years to get here, right? But then stepping back and saying, Oh, wait, what things do I love what makes me awesome? And even though somebody else now can offer the same services and products, they've not walked in my shoes, they haven't had my experiences, they haven't had the challenges, they haven't kept the same walls. And those are the things in the marketplace that make us stand out. In here. We're all about helping people Amplify Your Awesome™. And it sounds like you're doing very much to say helping people to be seen. And I think one of the things in being seen and amplifying is having the confidence in our abilities and knowing that we're on the right track that we're enough. Now, how do you help your clients and and people who are in your tribe? How do you help them get to a place where they have enough confidence in themselves to say, Yes, I'm going to run my own race. I'm gonna do things my own way. Everyone out here says I should do it like this. But that doesn't feel right. I want to do it my way. How do you overcome that?
Tracy Brinkmann 21:39
But I think the first way I try to help them overcome it, obviously, it's, it's it's different person per person. But if we put it into this overarching umbrella, it comes back to that that clarity, right? So what is it you or you're looking to do? And there's been a number of times and you're having a discussion with someone they're like, well, I what I want to do is I want to create this course that does ABC. Okay, that's good, good, what experience you have in that? What motivates you to do that, right? We're and then as you start digging deeper and deeper, quite often, you'll find that there's some passion that that will help serve, but it doesn't do it. All right. So like, if you can, when you root around a little deeper, like Oh, so what you really want to help with is those folks that want to reach out to mompreneurs, right? You're a mom, let's just use a lady's example here for a moment, here. A mom, and you built your own business, and you want to help other moms build their business, but what you told me is you're wanting to create something for everyone, no, no, let's narrow this down. And let's get you some clarity on who it is you're going to be serving and, and why you're gonna be serving them, because now you're going to come at that with a heartfelt passion. Because I've been there, I know exactly what you're going through, and I can help you along your road and your journey. And wherever I can't help you, I'm going to bring someone in, and we're both going to learn together. So building all of that together. And usually when you can get down Well, not usually every time when you can get down to finding what's driving them at the core to create what it is that they want to create, then it starts to resonate with them and all use ideas start coming out and, and new angles and in that, that USP that unique you'll proposition for them to come and say, Okay, now, I'm not just going to create this course for entrepreneurs, I'm going to create it for mom printers, or, or teen printers, or whatever it happens to be in their case.
Yong Pratt 23:45
So good. And I love that because getting to the heart of your values and starting there, figuring out the things you love figuring out the things, you're passionate about that because without passion, it is really difficult to run a business and want to wake up every day doing the things you don't like, I've done that, that is no fun, you kind of dread getting out of bed some days. And I don't have that anymore. Because now after 20 plus years, you know, knowing that it's okay to do things in my own weird ways and to show up, you know, in my pajamas if I want to, because I really feel I really feel called to say something or share something or give an aha because people connect with people, right? They don't connect with businesses. They want to feel like they are like us, they want to trust us they want to to be able to know that there's we have something in common. So this leads me to my next question Tracy and that is when when you're creating content for your business to connect with other dark horses. How do you start that process?
Tracy Brinkmann 24:48
You know, it usually is what I go through is what questions do I want to answer myself, right. And I think this is where a lot of folks stumble is they're so busy too. Trying to Oh God, what's Yong want to know about? What does Bob want to know? Or what is Jane want to know? No, no, stop, stop, stop. If it was you, and you were in the starter seat, what would you want to know? Or actually you can change? The question is, what did you want to know? You know, when you started off, if someone could put a post up or a video, or a blog post, or whatever, it is an Insta story. And you would go, oh, gosh,
I that's what I needed to hear, right? There's where you start at. And then you just, again, I'm a combat and it's going to be so simple. You just be yourself. You know, I think one of the one of the downsides of social media is there are so many people out there that are trying to be like everyone else, right? I've got 70,000 followers, because, okay, yeah, how much money you making? Right? And it's not like I'm making all kinds of money off Instagram or anything like that. But my point is, as long as you're being you, right? And that could be good. That could be bad, that could be indifferent. And you're always going to have haters. So you may as well be you and have haters, rather than be someone else and still have haters. I mean, there's a there's a gentleman I know who kind of reinvigorated my thought to restart a podcast, and his name is Zachary. And he started a podcast called the Underdog Empowerment. And he gets on there. And he's just him. He's raw. And he and his his core audience are alpha entrepreneurs, yoga guys, right? I'm going after it. Right. And he cusses and he throws things out there. And he's, but it's him. And it works. Because he's drawn in a following of people that are just Ah, there are those alpha guys. Oh, no chest pounding kind of fellows, right? It's not like they're like, you know, male chauvinist or anything but their does they have that that kind of guy drive? Right? You know, they're going to get out there. And they're going to carry logs, as a group out there on the beach, that kind of thing. That military almost right. So I think when it comes to come back to your question is to a whatever, whatever you're going to do, be yourself in it, right? I don't care what kind of fancy pictures you got, you won't see me doing a whole lot of flowery pictures, not a flowery guy is not gonna happen, right? I'll see color, I love color, you know, and I'll go out there and do a video, I'll go out to my backyard and take a shot there by the pond, you know, and stuff like that. I'm actually going to be stepping out now and doing lives. I've been avoiding that. But it comes back to again, what is it that you wanted to know, when you started? Or whoever it is you're serving? is usually you right earlier? So wherever they're at in their stage, when you were at that stage, what did you want to know? And you start answering those questions, and people are going to just start, I think just drawing into going, Oh my gosh, that's what I needed to hear, right? And if you don't know, tell them, say, Hey, I'm getting ready to get young on here on my next podcast episode, and she's gonna be dropping knowledge bombs. I'm gonna learn you're gonna learn, let's go do this.
Yong Pratt 28:08
So good. And I love that. It's all about asking questions, being a problem solver helping other people overcome challenges you face because like you said, most people that we serve are us at a different stage. And we just need to be able to give them the answers they need at that stage to help them get to the stage we are, and we're going to keep evolving. And then the best part about that is you said to be you now this season is all about being us and really digging in and finding the real, the real you reading the real us so that we can really amplify that in our business. Because when we show up as our real selves, and we are problem solvers, like Tracy has said, magic starts to happen. Now, Tracy, I want to make sure that everyone knows where to connect with you learn more about your podcasts and how you are serving the world. Where is the best place for them to connect with you.
Tracy Brinkmann 29:02
The best place is at our website which is dark horse schooling dot com. And then from there, you'll see the links on the upper right hand side for all the socials Facebook, Twitter, IG, and whole nine yards. I so Yeah, that'd be the best place to go. Of course, there's the podcast you can get right there. But if you want to look for that on on iTunes or any of the major platforms, including Amazon nowadays, that is the Dark Horse Entrepreneur, podcast. So we'll be dropping new episodes every Monday. Come on over and give us a listen. And make sure you give Yong a listen. Go forward and drop her subscribe and rate and review.
Yong Pratt 29:40
Thanks for that plug. That was awesome. That was such a good time. If you are loving this podcast, definitely head over to iTunes. You know, subscribe to the podcast because I have so many amazing guests like Tracy who are coming to share with you how they are building businesses based on the real them not trying to be somebody else running their own race. So, Tracy, thank you so much for being here saying yes to this podcast. I know we'll connect again, and stay connected because as fellow podcasters. And that's the amazing thing that we get to do we just get to stay connected, and chat and support one another. So I appreciate you. I appreciate you for saying yes. And thank you everyone for listening. I look forward to catching you on the next episode. Cheers.
Next week, you'll hear part two of my interview with Stacey Ho, that said no to her family business. To build a business her own way. You don't want to miss it. Until then, come on over and join me inside my Facebook community where I do live weekly trainings, sharing real world examples, showing up as your real self and using your awesome content to do so. I'll leave the link for you to join me inside my community. In today's show notes at www.YongPratt.com/308.
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Quotes & Graphics for SharingWe're all gonna go through something in our lives. And we're going to go through it more than once. I think it's all about what you glean from it.Click To Tweet There are people in our lives and sometimes they mean well but are just afraid of you stepping out further than they are. It's easier for them to bash you down than it is to build themselves up.Click To Tweet