001: Darren White | From Backpacker to $80 Million

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Rob kicks off the Work Hard Play Hard podcast chatting in the heat of the African sun with an old chiropractic friend about how he turned his passion for wellness into a hundred million dollar company.
Dr. Darren White, CEO of Aduro, Inc. (and Rob’s best friend), talks about how traveling as a shy young man equipped him with the integrity, confidence, and curiosity to do great in business.
Hear how Darren founded a string of chiropractic offices, then transitioned without experience or training, to develop an $80 million company, rated #482 in Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing private companies in the USA.
Today, Aduro, Inc. is changing the way employees and employers think about health.
Rob and Darren discuss the mistakes, surprises, and adventures that allowed him to explore opportunities that he could not have imagined in private practice, as well as, uncover the hacks and tips that help him make the most of every minute.

In This Conversation We Cover:

  • [03:17] Darren explains the atmosphere that motivated him to start out as a chiropractor versus a traditional medical doctor, when he opted for the mindset of promoting good health rather than managing poor health.
  • [05:00] Darren talks about his decision to take time out from his degree to see the world, rather than succumbing to peer group pressure by graduating at the same time.
  • [08:30] Darren chats about how he approached traveling on a dime, and how he tackled unisex group showers and new acquaintances as a shy young man!
  • [12:54] Rob and Darren talk about the commonalities between traveling while navigating the business world, particularly his passion for overcoming obstacles and persevering in challenging situations.
  • [18:00] Darren explains how he learned to ration resources in unpredictable environments and his determination for great rewards, while utilizing those same attributes in his business and life. And he recounts a few failures, surprises and learning opportunities along the way!
  • [23:00] Darren explains how he and his wife fell in love with Vietnam and how he came to terms with his status as an American while discovering a deep respect for the Vietnamese people and their culture.
  • [25:30] Darren describes the experience of re-entry’ to American culture and his resistance to stay in one place.
  • [27:50] Darren gets into how he built Aduro, Inc.,  which began as a marketing company linked to his chiropractic, wellness centers in Seattle and this grew into a hugely successful business which helps large employers manage employee wellbeing. At the core of all his success in business was Darren’s ethic of promoting good health.
  • [31:00] What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually. Best to have those attorneys on hand to get the basics right from the outset. Darren shares some smart advice on trademarking.
  • [34:58] Darren tells us how he and his wife, Toni, created an accidental company, then gathered the experience, staff, and customers along the way. We hear how a leap of faith from their first mentor gave them the chance to learn and exceed expectations while building relationships that last.
  • [39:50] Hotels, not Hospitals: Darren explains how he scaled up Aduro, INC by recruiting sales and design teams in the first instance and why emotion and brand were so important to his business proposition.
  • [43:25] The Blind leading the Blind: As their business took off, Darren and his team of contributors had to build and learn as they went. This often meant learning, doing and leading all at the same stage, which was challenging but gave him a real motivational kick.
  • [46:36] Darren explains how recruiting his former VP of Operations and Client Services cost him some work up front, but paid off ten times over in building and training an awesome culture.
  • [48:58] Darren explains how he regularly holds offsites’ for strategic planning to guide the team for the year and how spending time away with key staff can strengthen essential personal relationships and friendships. He also talks about how avoiding a focus on rules’ generally attracts a team of people who make smart decisions and bring strong ethics.
  • [53:00] It’s not always an easy ride. Darren explains how major setbacks have tested him, but learning from partners has allowed him to stay afloat and ultimately made the company stronger. He takes us through his levers’ for managing crisis, how this has helped him innovate, and also explains how his traveling experiences have formed his strategy for tackling problems.
  • [61:00]
    Darren explains how successful behavior is intuitive. He talks about how observing competent people working unconsciously, can teach hidden lessons about the secrets to their success those that they’re not even aware of!
  • [63:38] Finding the right mindset for your tasks is essential in business and gives purpose to each step along the way: success lurks just beyond what you can see, so faith is a key player in achieving long-term goals.
  • [66:30] One person’s success is different to another. Darren explains the importance of individuality in discovering your version of success: your compass, your confidence, your journey.
  • [69:16] Planning pays off: Darren explains how he maps his thoughts, inspirations and ideas into themes and goals, then turns them into productive projects.
  • [71:49] Darren tells us how he’s working pleasure and energy into every moment, finding it in everything from the manner of dress to inspiring objects and people, even a razor his brother crafted for him! Darren’s attitude is about adding ritual and importance to the small things to help power the big ones in his life!
  • [75:39] We want what we can’t have: Darren shares how an abundance mindset freed him from the hoarding, scarcity mindset he grew up with and showed him self-worth that wasn’t dependent on material things. (Daniel Priestley The Entrepreneur Revolution)
  • [79:06] Darren explains how mastermind groups have helped him move to the next level again and again and to step across industries that can benefit from his own offering.
  • [81:50] Darren tells us about a new acquaintance who has inspired him to put his core values at the heart of every day in a big way and achieve amazing things on a grand scale.
  • [87:08] We all need to work on something, and Darren confesses how he loves a Saturday morning lie-in and a lazy start to the weekend!

Darren is Currently Reading:

Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

Darren is Currently Watching:

Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War Documentary

Resources:

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Hi, I’m Rob!

Hi, I’m Rob! It has been said “You are not what you have learned, but what you’ve overcome.”


I have overcome my share of obstacles in order to architect the life of my dreams and uncover the key to lasting, meaningful success. Growing up in Queens (literally on the wrong side of the tracks), my early years were tumultuous, marked by hardship and violence.

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