There is no failure. We don’t win or lose; we only constantly evolve and tweak ourselves to be the best version at the moment and then apply that to anything in our life. This has been the story of Danielle Rocco’s life. Danielle is a mother, wife, and lifelong entrepreneur. She grew up as a professional ballerina and worked for her family’s gymnastics school at the age of 18. After 23 years of being the CEO, Danielle left the business to follow her passion as a life coach and relationship expert. Catering to CEOs initially, she soon realized her heart and mission were serving the military and veterans. On today’s show, Danielle joins Jen Du Plessis to talk about overcoming the challenges she had during her life transitions. She also talks about the work she’s doing as a life coach in helping people get clarity on what they want to do and where they want to go.
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Life Transitions: Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself With Danielle Rocco
Welcome to the show, Dani. I am happy to have you here.
I am excited. Thank you.
Let’s dive right in. I want to find out and as you know, this show is Success to Significance: Life After Breaking Through Glass Ceilings and we’re always breaking through ceilings. Everything that we do is breaking through ceilings. I want to go back to your childhood. We don’t have to go that far back but I know that you studied ballet. Give us a flavor of what you did. We’ve already done your bio but a little flavor of how this transformed into CEO coaching that you did working in a ballet studio or a dance studio.
It was the foundation. You don’t realize when you’re a child, you go in, you have these dreams and these aspirations. There’s nothing holding you back. You want to be a princess, you are a princess. Do you want to be a ballerina? You are a ballerina. I was blessed with great genetics. First, we’ve got to go from there. My father was a collegiate gymnast, the captain at Temple Gymnastics. My mother was a professional dancer. She did modern. She was signed in companies over in Europe. I was blessed with an athletic gene pool to start with and I wanted to be a ballerina.
I went through the process. You don’t realize when you do that, that means a lot of hard work. It wasn’t even work and it wasn’t even scary. Imagine being five, you walk into this grand room with your mother. They say, “Wait here.” You go into a room with strangers. They were men. I remember one having a long beard, these massive ropes and a big staff, almost like Moses. If you could imagine a heavyset Moses. They shut the door and told me to do this, do that, criticized me and gave me praise. Five hours later, I walked out and that was my first audition for a company.
You probably have a lot of stories about ballet. I’m a dancer too but I’m not a ballerina. I can’t even talk about what I do for some reason. I just figured out what I do now because I’ve been doing it for a year because it’s been COVID. I do all the smooths, which are the waltz, ballroom, Latin and swing dancing. I do all of it. I love dancing. I’ve been doing it for years. How have you taken what you learned in the structure? I was an athlete too so I get the athletic piece of everything, dancing. How did you take that and transform that into helping your families keep their business for all those years?
There is no failure. It’s that was wrong, you need to make a tweak and redo. That’s how it is in athletes. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. It doesn’t make you a loser and it doesn’t make you a winner. It’s how you perfect things. When you’re going through, sales are down or there’s a low in enrollment, why is that? What do you need to tweak to make the change happen? That philosophy of understanding you’re not winning, you’re not losing. You’re trying to constantly evolve and tweak yourself to be the best version at that moment and then apply that to anything in your life.
That’s important because it is that way. I also played flute and piccolo in the Colorado Springs Symphony when I was in high school. It was a constant practice. That’s what it is, constant practice and perfecting even a measure, a couple of notes or transition between two notes. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t good at what you’re doing but I love that philosophy of there’s no failure. You’re not winning. You may not be losing, it’s a matter of looking at the tweaks. If you learn that, there are discipline and tenacity in being able to stick with it. Do you find that you had to help your parents transition from their school of thought to your school of thought?
I come from an Italian family. Anything you’ve ever heard about an Italian family, all the mess. They’re true. That’s us. That’s how it was. When I first came to the company, I was eighteen years old. My father said, “Do you want to be part of the family business?” I was like, “Sure. Okay. I’m done with the good Italian daughter. This is what we’re supposed to do.” I was probably fired five dozen times in the beginning. This is how he handled not moving into the next wave of technology or the next generation. I would be like, “Okay,” and I would show up the next day and we would go through this. It took a lot of me not getting my feelings hurt and understanding that he’s a hot-headed Italian. Knowing the person you’re talking to.
I’m not going to expect him to be level-headed, sweet and caring. It’s not the man that is my father. He’s a hothead. He’s going to fire. He’s going to spitball and then we’re going to move on. He’s going to act like it never happened. It was understanding that environment of who he was helped transition him out of it because then he could see that, “Profits are moving up. Enrollment is moving up. All these things I fired her over have merit to them.” That was not pretty at all.
It’s funny because I used to work with my husband for seventeen years until a couple of years ago. He still works in the mortgage space and I’ve moved on but we worked together for several years and our son worked with us as well. My husband is Italian and I’m German. I’m a slow tick up onto a roller coaster, like tick, tick for a long time and then watch out. He’s like a scorpion every day. It’s constantly weird. It’s weird that you Italians.
I’m German and Italian so he’s all-Italian. My mother was German so I’m German-Italian. I have all of that chaos up in this brain. You learn how to deal with it.
What challenges do you have? We’re talking about success to significance, it’s on point. The company is doing great. Enrollment is up but now there’s something missing in my life. What challenges did you have as you were starting to think about where you were going to be going in the next phase?
For 24 years, that was my identity. I mastered it. I could do it in my sleep. It was like this. At that point I was unfulfilled. My brother and I decided we needed to move on. It wasn’t over a two-year period of time. You start to lose your passion for things and then you start to see things starting to fall apart because the company didn’t fall apart but you’re on a high, everything’s great, loving and everything comes from a state of love. All of a sudden, it’s doesn’t give you that. You show up. You’re going through the motions. You become this robot. When I left and my brother left, I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I didn’t want to be in that industry.
That was the first challenge of like, “Who am I? I’ve always been a coach. My entire life I was coaching families. I was coaching children. I was coaching husbands and wives.” That was always in my blood but I did not want to do it in the same capacity in the athletic sense that I did. It’s trying. I said yes to everything. I probably started 100 businesses, maybe not 100. That’s a little my Italian exaggeration. I kept trying things instead of looking at that failure and success. I don’t believe that you lose or you win. You move through. It might not be the best. It might not be the worst.You don’t win, and you don’t lose; you move through. Click To Tweet
I got my health certification, I started doing that and I was like, “That’s not what I want to do.” I branded myself as a health coach. I had clients as a health coach and I was like, “Don’t want to do this.” I would move and kept going until I found what stuck with me and where I was like, “This is the niche that I need to be in. This is the market,” and I started to get that fire back in myself but it stunk. It stunk going through that period because we’re humans. We do feel like failures even if it’s our choice to leave.
I always looked at it as in the same context as what you’re saying is for 35 years I was in London. I was in this comfortable, massive land. I was building this bridge to go to this little pond over here, this little island that is going to be great. All this wonderful stuff and it’s building that bridge, getting it halfway done and then tearing it down again. Is this the right island I’m going to? That’s what a lot of people are going through. It’s ironic because this show was started in 2020 not knowing COVID was going to happen. A lot of people are now at that quantum of do I make this move? Do I make this shift? Do I go back to work when we are allowed to go? We’re born free. Are we going to go back to work? Do I want to go there? What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about that and saying, “What do I do? I’m numb.” I know I got to a point where I was numb. I was like, “I can’t do this anymore. What can I do?” I know you’re giving this to your clients these days too. What are you telling, guiding or counseling them on?
It’s what I tell myself. You know what it’s like to be right where you are. Are you happy about it? Usually, the answer is no or we wouldn’t be having this conversation. All you have to do is take an action. That action might lead you right and that might not be it. If you do nothing then please do not complain about it because you know exactly the outcome that is going to happen. You’re going to be miserable. You’re going to feel stuck. You’re going to have all of these icky emotions that are going inside. Do you want to relish in that and hold on tight to it because you know exactly what the outcome is going to be? Are you going to do one thing differently, one change and then that change is going to lead to another? It’s the ripple effect of your action that makes a difference but we all know what we’re going to get by not doing anything.
Can you give us an example of an action that you’ve guided someone to do? Are we talking about an action to write in your journal so you can discover or action of pick up the phone and call ten more people? I’m sure it varies for everybody but give us some examples of some actions that would help someone start getting some clarity on where they want to go.
It’s per case. It’s per the individual. I’ll talk about myself and then I’ll talk about some other people. I’m going through this transition of where do I want to be? I’m not full-time coaching CEOs anymore. It didn’t fit my lifestyle of where I was. My personal life was causing a lot of friction. I had to make some changes and I’ve been going through this like, “What do I want to do?” The first thing for me is that it makes me say to myself there has been a change inside me. I’m not the person I was when I did that. I need to address that change because if I don’t, I’m going to be spinning my wheels and coming up with solutions that have no meaning to them because there’s no foundation to it.
The action that I’m taking myself and advice I’ve given to other people but I’m doing it as we speak every day is I journal. I’m religious. You don’t have to. People can use motivation. They can use whatever it is. I use scripture and I analyze it for myself. What does that mean applied to my life? Which means I better look hard at who I am. You can even do a motivational quote in the morning if that’s more your jam. If you think of that motivational quote and think outside of yourself, you’re just reading words. You can be reading a fairytale. You can be reading about the moon. There is nothing that is going to stick to you. You have to read it and then say, “How am I not applying that?”
Even if you say, “I’m applying it,” you can always apply something better. You can always apply it in a different way. You have to be able to receive what you’re reading and then put it in application to yourself. From there, look at it and be like, “How does that translate outside of myself?” You do that and it sounds simple. At first, you’re not going to feel anything. Everything is going to be the same but then eventually you’re going to start getting these a-ha moments and the heaviness off your chest is going to be gone. It doesn’t mean you have an outcome. It means you’re opening up to receive whatever experience has come your way. You’re ready to hear it and see it. That’s what I’m doing personally.
I want that. It’s funny you’re saying that because I’m paying it forward. There’s a verse in the Bible. I’m not going to quote it verbatim. It’s, “Be silent and know.” I have been focusing on those four words for the last 4 or 5 months is silencing things. It’s be silent and then get the knowledge. Get wisdom. It will come our way because we’re running around 100 miles an hour. A lot of times what you think when people are in transition, they’re trying to do what everybody else did because they’re like, “That sounds good. I should do that.” It’s a FOMO.
It’s like getting my cane. I have a FOMO issue, Fear Of Missing Out. I must do what they’re doing because that’s how I’ll be successful. That’s probably how I’m going to be happy but it is and it’s be silent and know. I had an a-ha moment like that over the weekend because I subscribed to The Miracle Morning every morning with Hal Elrod. I had that moment. That’s why I had the conversation with Greg Reid at Secret Knock for that reason. I said, “I’ve had an a-ha moment. I need your help and guidance.”
It’s amazing when you put it into that practice because sometimes you’ll read it, write and you know there’s no substance to it but you’ve got to keep doing it. You then have these small breakthroughs and you start realizing these a-ha moments and these breakthroughs come in many different levels. I’m good at supporting and giving. I can support the crap out of somebody. A lot of times it’s to my own deficit. I’m getting pain because I’m supporting. I’m going against something internally to me or giving something. Supporting and giving does not mean you’re not going to compromise and sacrifice but if you don’t have that love feeling, that means you’ve crossed some certain boundary within yourself and you need to recap what boundaries you have.
What are you telling other people? That’s what you’re doing. What are some other tactics? How about I can’t stand it? There are people that do and that’s okay.
I first tell them what I’m doing. I think you have to do it. Advice is best given when you’ve applied it yourself. I tend not to give advice if I have not some part in my 43 years used it. If I do, I’ll say like, “This worked for somebody else. I have no idea. Try it,” but I don’t have any substance behind it. There are certain things depending on what it is. If someone wants to start that new business, they’re loving it. A lot of it with the work from home, they have a product or things like that but they’re questioning it and like, “You’re not going to be great right off the bat. Most businesses fail within two years. Don’t get this delusion that you’re going to make millions within the two years but you have to start it. You have to do it. What’s your business? Selling water, let’s say. What is your plan of action? Let’s put a plan of action to start the process. That plan of action is going to change 500 times over. Three steps to start that business and do it.”
It’s a big deal. I talk about this all the time. Make a plan. You would never go to Home Depot and buy whatever you saw there like, “That looks cool. I’m going to buy that and get this,” and then take it out to a site and say, “I hope that this turns into a beautiful home.” You would never do that. We do that with our lives, careers and passions. We do that all the time. We gather shiny objects, fun stuff and hope that it comes together. Plans are a big deal.
Even in relationships. Relationships are my niche when I was CEO and everything. That’s the niche of my coaching is you better have a plan for that relationship or you are going to be grabbing at shiny objects, gifts, nice words. There’s going to be nothing behind it. Everybody out there knows when someone is like, “I love you.” You can tell if they don’t love you. They’re saying it because they’re supposed to.
Let’s do a little transition here because those that are reading, you’re wearing a marine red sweatshirt. You have the United States flag behind you and everything. Let’s talk about what is part of another niche that you’ve worked into. How did this come about? Probably journaling, I’m sure it’s a certain time. Share with us how you transitioned into helping CEOs and relationships in military personnel and their families.Do one thing differently. One change is going to lead to another. Click To Tweet
I had another transition where I was doing great. Here’s another thing. I was great at CEO coaching. I was changing people’s lives. It wasn’t the emotional part of it of helping these CEOs better their relationships or find love. I had a business that was self-sustaining. It took my income from before and replaced it even better. Emotionally and personally, it created this imbalance in my life. I was like, “I didn’t want to leave,” but it was like, “Do I stay married or do I keep my business?”
You look in the mirror at your own reflection is what you’re telling everybody else.
I didn’t know what to do. I was back at square one yet again and I was having lunch with a friend of mine and she said, “What do you love? What do you do that no one knows you do that you do every single day?” My son is a Marine veteran now but he was an active Marine. I’m like, “It’s my military community. It’s my military moms. It’s the veteran events, giving to them or participating in them. That’s what lights my fire.” It changed me when my son became a Marine. It was dear to my heart. I said, “Okay then. I don’t know what that means but let’s pray on it and see what happens.”
That’s how I wrote my book Devoted to a Soldier: Strengthening the Family Unit. It was my passion for wanting to help the military and veteran community. The niche that I developed became successful on the relationship side. I married them. It started with the book and from the book it led to events. It led to my own show, Devoted to a Soldier. It was the ripple effect of saying yes, constantly looking at myself and never accepting when I felt like this is not what I should be doing and I failed. I can feel that way but there’s a difference between feeling it and accepting it.
Are you helping veterans in the family unit in the relationships? Are you helping them in their businesses as well? For those that are wanting to branch out on their own, where is the real crust of what you’re helping people do?
It’s most certainly on the personal relationship side. As of now, it is more of I’m building the community. I have a large community at the event. That is my advertisement. It’s all referral-based. I’ll have people call up and say, “You’ve got to talk to this guy. He’s spiraling down. He broke up with his girl.” We’ll go on and make life changes.
PTSD, is it a lot of work in that arena as well? For those that are reading, if they have a loved one or they themselves are in that situation saying, “I’ve got to get this fixed first before I could maybe move on and transition into some other kind of work,” or chasing a passion that I have.
I’m not a clinical psychologist. I have my own thoughts and theories about it. For post-traumatic stress, I hate to say it’s a disorder because I don’t believe anything in us is a disorder or disease. Those are things that we need to work through but it’s never going to go away. You learn strategies and handle them no matter what. This theory of you’re going to wake up one day and all of this work that you’ve done will feel like heaven has come down on you. It’s never like that. It’s this up and down, constantly having to work on yourself. It’s working through things is what’s going to evolve you into being the best version of yourself whether it’s a new career, finding a career, being a good father, husband or you. It’s loving on yourself. There’s always some form of it.
There’s some form of personal development that happens anyway in anything we do. You mentioned husband and father. How many women are you working with that are in this situation as well that is the veteran?
Not a lot of women. If I had to do percentages, it would be 2%. When I coached, I coached all men. I didn’t coach women. That is what it’s translated. I have a lot of female veteran friends and we chat but it’s not professional. All I work with is men.
That comes from your personality. I know you outside of the confines of this to know your personality. That’s a lot of what I do as well. I don’t know how that happens but it does.
I was the tomboy that wears stilettos. I don’t know if you have that personality of it or I’ve had brothers. My brother is my best friend, a strong Italian father growing up. I connect the best with men. To be honest, it’s because I can’t make them cry.
You work definitely with veterans and stuff. Do you work in the charity community as well? Are you philanthropic about working with veterans as well?
Those are the events. The events that I go to when I support through emceeing at the events, I do it with a good friend of mine, Travis Partington, Oscar Mike Radio, Travis. We’ll connect and we’ll go to these different nonprofits to bring awareness to them, more spunk to the event, our characteristics to that event to bring more people in or bring more awareness. It’s not necessarily one nonprofit but it’s multiple ones but all in that veteran community. It’s all serving that community.
What does 2021 look like for you?Advice is best given when you've applied it yourself. Click To Tweet
There’s going to be a lot of change. I don’t know what it is yet but I’m going through this transitional piece of it. Things that will stay the same is I will continue doing my show. I don’t know where that’s going to go. Continue doing the events with the veteran community. I see everything growing into this next level. There’s this piece that I’m not sure what that bubble is going to be but that is going to be a huge change-maker. I don’t have words on it yet.
Is it in business? Is this in your life?
It’s a combination. It’s going to be a combination of personal and business.
You have an older child so maybe there will be a baby.
There better not be because first they need a girlfriend or a boyfriend. We’re not making the same mistakes. We’re not repeating history. That won’t be it. I get something on my heart and it happens or I’ll see something and it happens. I can see this massive change. I don’t know what it is yet.
It’s interesting that you see that. Sometimes I feel that too and I know what you’re talking about. I’ve said it to my husband four times. It’s like, “I’m on the brink. I feel it but I don’t know what I’m on the brink of.” It feels like we’re on this positive brink. There’s something there. That’s interesting that you’re saying that’s crazy. I think that too because we all had so much time to be silent and no, be quiet now or whatever.
I think the biggest mistake people are going to make going into 2021 is that they have this feeling and when they don’t see this massive a-ha, in your face change, they’re going to forget all of that work that they did because it’s not big enough for them. We think we’re on the brink of something because we’re sitting and that when it’s not big enough, it’s not a brand-new house, car, job or 1,000 more clients, that fizzles out. You think that it was nothing and you forget all the work that you learned during that sitting part that we’ve been in for 2019 and you throw it all away because it wasn’t big enough for us.
That’s key. We need to look for the small things. One of the things Darren Hardy always says is that small, significant choices and changes have a massive impact. It’s not the big elephant. He always says it’s like this. He goes, “Have you ever been bitten by an elephant?” You’re like, “No, I haven’t.” “Have you been bitten by a mosquito?” “Yes, thousands of times.” It’s those little seemingly significant changes that have an impact on your life.
The impact we had here, not just outside but it’s the impact here. We don’t want to lose it.
Let me ask you this question. Do you have a quote that is a mantra or something that you live by? Do you have a quote that you’d like to share?
I even tattooed it on my body, “This is not how my story will end.”
That’s good for the win and the loss. It’s like, “This isn’t how my story is going to end. I’m going to keep going forward.” I like the visual of that. To me, it’s like saloon doors. Here’s the win. Here’s the loss. We go through the doors, go to the next one and move on. I love that quote. That’s awesome. Dani, it’s been fantastic having you on. I have wanted to do this for a couple of years, but we were busy, COVID happened and all that crazy stuff. I thought, “I’ll catch you next time I see you when we’re together or something.” That didn’t happen. I thought, “I better get a hold of you and make sure that we have this conversation.”
Thank you for gracing us with this beautiful knowledge that you gave to us on how you went through this. That’s what’s important about this show is that we’re all at different stages. We need to feel we’re not an island. We’re all going to these different things and somebody somewhere heard what you had to say and I know it’s going to change our lives. What is the best way for someone to get ahold of you if they want to reach out to you and say, “I need you. I need some coaching. I’m a veteran and I need some help in my relationships?”
The easiest is my website because it has my phone number and it has links to everything. Dani Rocco, I’m a girl. I’ve got all my social media links so you can listen to the resource podcast and the other podcasts on there. You can reach out. You can text me. I’m transparent. Go there, and you get everything.
Thank you for gracing us with your presence. I wish you all the best in 2021 and I know it’s going to be great for you. I have a feeling it’s going to be wonderful. Thanks for joining us.
Thank you for what you’re doing because you learn best by listening and history. We all have our own history.
Thank you. Thank you for gracing us with your presence by reading and taking time from your day to read into what we have to share. Hopefully, it made an impact in your life or will make an impact on your life. Pay this forward. Share it with other people. We look forward to talking to you the next time on the show.
- The Miracle Morning
- Devoted to a Soldier: Strengthening the Family Unit
- Devoted to a Soldier
About Danielle Rocco
Dani Rocco is a mother, wife & lifelong entrepreneur. Growing up as a professional ballerina developed her commitment and dedication to everything that life has to offer. As an adult, her athletic skills transferred and assisted in her becoming a successful business owner.
At the age of 18, she started working for her family’s gymnastics school and took the company from bankruptcy to financial abundance. The school maxed out its student capacity very quickly.
After 23 years of being the CEO, Dani left her family business to follow her passion, as a life coach & relationship expert. She started working with CEO’s but soon realized her heart and mission was serving our Military and Veterans. She is now the author “Devoted to a Soldier” & co-author with Les Brown “Own Your Dreams” & 1 Habit.
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