My Humble Human History...
September 23rd, 1965
I am born in Frederiction, New Brunswick, Canada. My full name is Dean Benedict Dwyer. Yes Benedict. Let the jokes begin.
My modeling career begins and ends with this photo. I call this move "Sexy sassy baby."
Showing zero potential as an infant, my parents hedge their bets with a second child; Edward Joseph Dwyer.
My favourite photo ever. Dean the protector. That and I find it amusing my noggin is twice the size of my brothers.
My parents hedge their bets one final time with a third child; Janet Lynn Dwyer.
I experience a gender ambiguous phase.
One of our neighbourhood friends set himself on fire trying to light a woodstove with gas. My brother and I and another friend (Clinton) throw him on the ground and put out the fire that has engulfed his Jordash jeans.
His leg is burned pretty bad, so one of the neighbours runs out and smears toothpaste on the wound. I was no Rhode Scholar, but even at twelve I knew 4 out of 5 dentists would not approve that decision. It was the first time I realized not all adults are created equal. It should be noted this was a badass fire. The garage burned to the ground and the flames came within a whisker of setting the family home ablaze.
1978: Part 1
At my grade 8 graduation I am asked to say a few inspiring words to the out-going vice principal. I nail the first 5. "I would like to thank..." Then tradegy strikes. My brain decides to shut down for the evening.
I improvise the remainder of my speech making the same sound a dentists asks you to make once he jams that oversized popsicle stick into your mouth. My fellow graduates support me during this awkward moment by laughing hysterically. I now understand why my parents had two more children.
1978: Part 2
I kiss my first girl in a game of spin the bottle. Actually I have to French kiss her. While I have never done it, I do know it involves a tongue; mine I assume. Things do not go well for her. It's like she is being "kissed" by an excited puppy.
And the girl. Her name was Eileen Twain. She later changed her name to Shania Twain1 and became one of the most successful country singers ever. True story!
I believe (falsely) that one of her hit songs, "I feel like a woman," was inspired by my French licking because that is what I thought I heard her say after I "assaulted" her with my tongue. It was that or "I feel gross." Since this is my About page, we shall go with the former.
On the bus at the end of my first day at my new highschool, I decide to stand up to my childhood bully who is spraying helpless victims with perfume. Because of the crammed space, there are no punches thrown. It's more pushing and shoving. It looks more like an aggressive waltz than a fight. To my surprise, standing up to this ding dong works. He never bothers me again. Wow!
Idea worth stealing: I can still recall every moment of that day on the bus. I was scared to death to stand up to him, but I was tired of being afraid. I decided that I would rather get ground to a pulp than continue to find ways to avoid this guy.
Looking back I only needed to be courageuous for about 30 seconds.2 But the impact of that brief act of courage changed my life. Imagine how our lives would change if we could learn to implement 30 seconds of courage into those areas where they are most needed?
In grade twelve I win the MVP award for both basketball and football. I'm at my sporting and sexual peak. Sadly the former did NOTHING to help the latter. But I think I know why.
~Hair gone wild
Fresh off my highschool graduation I find myself in a quandry. I am unsure what to do with my life. I contemplate taking a year off to travel. I also consider the army. But I ultimately decide that if I don't go to university now I will never go. I sometimes wonder how my life would have played out if I decided to take that year off to travel.
Idea worth stealing: I decided to go to university because it was the "safe" and "responsible" thing to do. But I was not excited about the opportunity. I went against every instinct I had so I could fit in with what the world expected of me. Now I follow a different mantra. If an opportunity comes along that is not a "HELL YEAH!"3 then I don't do it.
The freedom of being on my own comes with a cost. I never go to class and promptly fail out of my first year. Ouchie!
After some afternoon drinks with a few buddies, I make the mistake of going grocery shopping and convincing myself it's a good idea to shoplift two fast-fry steaks that were so thin you could see through them. I get caught and am charged with theft under $5000. In my defense, it was theft under $3. The court system can be so dramatic.
1989: Part 1
I manage to graduate with a degree in Physical and Health Education. I can't say I learned much over my 5 years, but I did come away with $15,000 in debt, 40 extra pounds of Dean and a handful of great friends who I still hang out with to this very day.
1989: Part 2
I miraculously get accepted into teacher's college even with my less than stellar marks. I honestly did not think I was going to get in. One fellow student was so enraged that I got accepted and she didn't that she called that university to complain. It worked. They let her in. I know what you are thinking. Did they kick me out? They probably should have, but thankfully they did not.
I decide that after I graduate from teaher's college I am going to work for the summer and then go to Australia. But I end up meeting a girl and decide to see if it will work out. I move to Toronto (where she lives) and get a teaching job on the first day of school. The relationship ends 3 days later. I have still not made it to Australia!
I get accepted to teach in Barranquillia, Colombia for two years. It almost doesn't happen however. Turns out those two steaks I stole for $3 are still on my record which means I can't get the police letter of clearance I need to complete my application. Long story short, I was able to get a fast-tracked pardon (for my fast-fry fiasco) and got my letter of clearance just before my application was due.
While travelling in Bogota, Colombia I get robbed of all my money (about $200 US). How did I get robbed? Well someone pretending to be a police officer told me he would need to check and see if I was "registered." This is the second time in my life my brain decides to shut down when I need it most. The fake police officer then asks to see my money so he can check to see if that too is registered. Yup you guessed it. With no brain function, that seemed like a legitimate request and so I gave him my money.
I was then decended upon by 2 other people, one, a woman who is screaming hysterically and another, a "police officer." Turns out all 3 were in on the scam and by the time I realized what was happening the first "police officer" had vanished with my money. As I ran after him I turned to see that the other two had vanished as well. I had no choice but to start laughing. The only way their plan could work is if they found the perfect idiot. They found the perfect idiot.
I decide to take an unpaid one year leave of absence in order to find myself. I want to do something else with my life but I have no clue what that is. I sell my condo, pack up my car and spend the next 6 weeks driving across Canada. I have extended stops in Sudbury, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary and finally settle in Vancouver where I live with my brother and his wife for the next 8 months. It's the greatest 8 months of their lives said neither of them.
I spend the better part of my year off reading, writing and thinking and yet do not find myself or the new career that I could launch. Running out of money I drive back to Toronto and resign from my teaching position thinking if I close that door I will be forced to get creative and find something that nourishes my soul. (Spoiler: That didn't work.)
Idea worth stealing: My mistake was thinking that I would find my purpose in a brainstorming session. That is not how people discover it! Purpose evolves from the things you do; from the things you put out into the world. And the more you do that the closer you get to finding it.
If I could go back in time here is what I would do. I would find someone doing something I think is really exciting and I would volunteer to work for them. In exchange for free labor I would ask for 1 hour a week where I could pick their brain on their business, their mindset, and their creative process.4 I would then take those lessons learned and launch the best idea I currently have while giving myself the flexibility to pivot quickly when I learn more about what I really want to do.
2001: Part 1
I take a job at a private school teaching English as a second language. SIGH! It is only a 6-week job however. YIPEE! That 6 weeks turns into 6 1/2 years. BOO!
2001: Part 2
I order a cat through the mail. OK not true. I inherited this amazing feline from a friend who found out she was allergic to cats. Her name (the cat) is Melinka, which is Polish for something I can't recall. It's not an easy name to remember. I spend the first week asking my friend, "What's my cat's name again?"
Six months later I take her (again the cat not my friend) to the vet to find out she is a he. I can tell by the look on her face, that my vet thinks I am an idiot for not knowing this. I suspect my cat thinks the same thing.
My great friends Larry (yup that one from above) and his lovely wife Christine throw a surprise 40th birthday party for me. I have no idea it's happening even though as I enter the room where everyone is waiting there is not one, but THREE signs on that door that say, "Reserved for birthday party." Once again my brain made zero effort to try and connect the dots. I begin to think my vet's suspicions may be legit.
I am desperate to find a new career. I know I can do more with my life than what I am currently doing. I begin going to a local Starbuck's at 5:30am before work each morning and spending 2 1/2 hours trying to figure out how to pry myself out of teaching. While there, I meet a guy who owns a website design company. I eventually tell him he needs to hire me and he does. I FINALLY MANAGE TO PRY MYSELF OUT OF TEACHING.
2010: Part 1
Working with the web design company ends badly. I decide to quit at Christmas with no clue what I will do next. I opt to take my online skills I have learned and pitch a friend who has a real estate investing business. He agrees and I do all the website and marketing stuff.
2010: Part 2
I grow a beard. This is significant for no reason at all unless the people from Duck Dynasty are reading this. I call this picture "Sexy, Sassy Lost Hiker."
I decide to go out on my own and try and earn an income from my own ideas. I waste a good 6 to 8 months starting and stopping at least 6 different ideas. Then I come across the greatest insight ever courtesy of Jason Fried at Basecamp.5 That insight? Solve your own problems and sell the solution. Having had success losing weight with the Paleo Diet, I decide to start a blog called "Being Primal" with a focus on mindset.
2012: Part 1
I traditionally publish my first book, "Make Shift Happen: Change how you look by changing how you think." It goes on to become a bestseller absolutely nowhere. It did have modest success. On the day it launched it broke into the Amazon 500. All told I make about $12,500 with that book. I learn that traditional publsihing is a lousy business model for most authors, but I get to scratch "author" off my bucket list.
2012: Part 2
On a whim, I launch a podcast called the Make Shift Happen Show. I have no idea what I am doing and no idea what the show is going to be about, yet I end up getting over 700,000 downloads while the show existed. Not bad for a guy no one knew anything about.
I launch my first course on Willpower. I end up spending over 500 hours making it (and remaking it). But I learn a ton that I never would have learned had I not created it. I realize a person can carve out a great income for themselves crafting courses that help people become the best version of themselves. Over 9000+ have enrolled in the course since it's launch.
I retire Being Primal and The Make Shift Happen podcast. I spend the rest of the year searching for my next opportunity. Five times I think I am ready to launch and each time I realize I am doing the safe thing as opposed to the Dean thing. Each time I start over with the expectation that if I truly want to hammer my dent into the universe then I need to create something that only I can create.
Finally, after almost a year I come up with something that is uniquely Dean. I launch a podcast and website called "Ideas Worth Stealing." That died a quick death after only 5 episodes.
I launched Successfulist.
That last about 5 weeks before I realized I once again had made a boo boo about my career path. My thinking for this site was flawed. I was creating something I thought others might want. That kind of approach just doesn't work for me. I need to build a business from the inside out meaning I need to build something that solves my own problems and then share the solutions I create. Successfulist did none of that so I quickly shut it down.