New Year’s Special: Thriving at Work and in Life with Darleen “Coach Dar” Santore

January 2, 2024

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Darleen Santore, better known as “Coach Dar,” is an author, Licensed and Board-Certified Occupational Therapist, sought-after motivational speaker, plus leadership and mental skills coach to professional athletes, CEOs and business leaders around the world. Best known for her mental strength conditioning work with athletes in the NBA, MLB, PGA and NHL, she most recently worked as the mental conditioning and life coach for the Phoenix Suns. She was awarded the Most Inspiring Woman from WNBA and her #Rise-The-Bar approach shapeshifts mediocre attitudes into champion mindsets, reigniting the commitment to personal excellence and athletic stardom. She can also now add Best Selling Author to list of accomplishments, as her latest book, “The Art of Bouncing Back: Find Your Flow to Thrive at Work and in Life – Anytime You’re off your Game” hit shelves last year.

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John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian. I’m so excited and honored to have with us today. Darleen Santore is better known as Coach Dar. She’s a bestselling author and a mental skills coach. This is her book here. Welcome today, Coach Dar to The Impact Podcast.

Darleen Santore: Thank you so much for having me on. I’ve been looking forward to this, John.

John: So, before we get talking about your book and everything that you represent in terms of resilience training and mental skills coaching, I’d love you first to share the Darleen Santore story, where you grew up, and how you even got on this journey.

Darleen: I grew up in Connecticut. Right now, I’m talking to you from Scottsdale, Arizona, but my whole family is East Coast Italian. So if you could imagine the Sopranos, you would know my family.

John: I love it. So, you grew up in Connecticut, and when did you make your way out West?

Darleen: Let’s see, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee probably in 2010, full time, but I’d been going there since 2005, back and forth, and then made my way to Arizona in 2013. I’ve been here 11 years now.

John: Wow.

Darleen: Coming on 11 years in February. So, I love it. I never thought I’d love it this much, but work keeps taking me West. So, here I am in Sunny Scottsdale.

John: That’s beautiful. I wanna bring up, what started this whole journey. You had a major event in your 20s that got you on this journey.

Darleen: Right.

John: Explain to our audience and our listeners what that event was?

Darleen: I’m an occupational therapist. I was working in the hospital taking care of stroke and traumatic brain injured patients, which is my background. Neuroscience, helping people come back. It’s where the toughest of cases would come to our hospital in Connecticut, world-renowned. It’s amazing. That was what I loved doing. I was 25 at the time, married to my college sweetheart. You just think life is on this trajectory. It’s the American dream, and you’re just going to grow.

John: Right.

Darleen: That was what I thought. But then I went to see a chiropractor because I hurt my back. When I went to the chiropractor, while my back pain was fixed, I didn’t know when they manipulated my neck. They ripped the artery in my brain and I was bleeding in my brain when I went home, but didn’t know because it was a slow bleed. By the time the blood fully occluded supplied to the left, the backside of my brain, that’s when I started to have these neurological symptoms. The floor flipped upside down, the floor there was the ceiling, the ceiling was the floor. All these things started to happen and by the time I put it together over a few days, I finally went to the hospital. I was like, “Something’s wrong.”

When I got there, they misdiagnosed me. What they saw, which was now a blood clot, was because it was too late. They misdiagnosed me and told me it was a tumor. So I went home thinking I was going to treat a tumor in the back of my brain when actually it was a blood clot, which in hindsight if they had found it, we probably could have taken care of it. So the long story short on this, John, is that I was 25. I finally found out that it was a blood clot when I went to my own neurologist. But he said to me, “Dar, good news, bad news.” He said, “The bad news is that you suffered a stroke and you have a blood clot in the base of your brain, and we cannot get to it. So, if this dislodges you could die any day.” I’m thinking, there, “Wait a minute, I am the person that helps my patients with this. I’m not the one that’s supposed to go through this.”

John: Right.

Darleen: He said, “But you know over time, scar tissue could develop and hold that and you’ll be okay. But for right now, don’t cough too hard. Don’t run.” I was training for a marathon and all I heard was, “Don’t, don’t, don’t.” I thought I was not going to live this way. I’m 25. I literally looked at all my patients who almost lost their lives, and all they kept doing was telling me their regrets, right? So I was like, “I don’t want to live in regret. I want to go make the world better.” I’d always been that kind of kid. I was running in student council in 6th Grade. I was the president of my class. I don’t like cliques. I want everyone to feel they’re someone. So, I’m already that kind of person and then you tell me I could die any day. So I said, “Well, I want to go fix healthcare. So, which is silly, but that’s what got me back to school.

I went back to school at night, and then I was running a healthcare company by 28, and that allowed me to continue to run businesses. Then, in 2008 is when I started my own practice and I started speaking for free, talking to people about mindset in 2008 when the recession hit, they were losing their money, losing their minds, losing their hope. I thought, I hope people overcome the most extreme odds. We got this. My father goes, “You are going to start a practice and a recession and leave a very lucrative career, and you have no health insurance. You’re just going to start on your own. I said, “Yeah, I am because I felt very called by that point to reach people in a way. Honestly, healthcare was not going to limit me. I was going to be able to help them in a way. So I started speaking for free, working with people, which has brought me to now fast forward all these years later to where now I coach pro athletes, CEOs, and world leaders, and helping them with mental capital.

John: Let’s break down a couple of things. First of all, I had heard, and I’ve gone to chiropractors most of my adult life. I have one now that I work with who has literally helped improve my life so much.

Darleen: Yeah.

John: But I heard anecdotally about what had happened to you. How common is that? Now, this is no knock against the chiropractic world.

Darleen: No.

John: But how common is that thing that happened to you? The blood clot stroke is due to the artery preparation.

Darleen: It’s actually, not something that has a high percentage, but it’s more than we would realize.

John: Wow.

Darleen: I don’t have the actual stat, but since then I’ve had 3 strokes, John. That was my first one. My second one was about 6 or 7 years ago. My third one was about 3 or 4 years ago, and that was my worst one. That took away my speech, my balance, and my fine motor. So, I wish I could say I was one and done, but I did my own rehab and I came back. That’s how I got to not only do I help people bounce back, but I’ve helped myself bounce back, which got me to writing the book about bouncing…

John: Now, you and I are not sitting physically across from each other, but we’re on this Zoom and I perceive you as unbelievably vibrant, unbelievably healthy, sharper than attack. I wouldn’t know one darn thing about any of these strokes or any of your physical challenges if you didn’t say so. Let’s go back though. When the stroke happened, you’re 25. Now, you’re trained as an occupational therapist.

Darleen: Yep.

John: That was your dream. You were excited, this is what you did, and you were in a very great place. You were doing it with some of the best in the world. Now, back then, it wasn’t the world that we live in today. There was no Jocko Willink, David Goggins, Rich Roll, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, the Self-Help Podcast world had not yet taken off.

Darleen: Right.

John: In terms of resilience, how did you draw on the resilience that you developed and the grittiness to come back? Make that comeback where many people, men and women would just say, “I’m screwed. I don’t know what to do, and I see some of my patients here, how bad they are, and that’s my future.” How did you make that choice and then forge ahead? What did your roadmap look like when it wasn’t as democratized that information wasn’t as democratized as it is today?

Darleen: You know what it was is when it first happened, I think I was almost in disbelief like, “This can’t possibly be happening.” Then, I would look at my patients like I said, “Live with regret and they wish they could have changed it.” I was like, “Okay, I’m still functioning.” I’m not in the hospital at this point, when I had recovered I said, “If I’m told I could literally die any day, then I want to go live. I want to affect change in this world.” My whole thing was, I just want to effect change. I want to leave the world better than I’m finding it. I’ve been driven that whole way. It just went on steroids as far as a passion. So, that started propelling me into this mindset because I saw people who will never get back their chance to really go.

So, I thought, it’s something, if I’m going to die, why wouldn’t I go all out? Why wouldn’t I go try this? So, I was not in the victim role. I was more in the victor like, “Let’s go see what we could do.” John, you lose fear. You completely lose fear because you’re like, “Why not?” So, that propelled me. I took risks in business. I tried things. I was 28 years old as the president of a healthcare company. I didn’t know everything I was doing, but I just was passionate. So that led me to run other businesses. Then, in 2008, when you said, “There weren’t all these podcasts on self-help.” You had Zig Ziglar, you had Jim Rohn. By the way, I knew Zig Ziglar. I didn’t know anyone else. I literally didn’t know anyone else in this space.

John: Yeah.

Darleen: But I knew my education, my knowledge, and by this point, experience. So, I mixed leadership, psychology, and science together. I thought if I could help people understand the mindset and what they’re seeing, understand leading through tough times because I’d already been in leadership positions, psychology of human behavior. I could develop this way. I’m a therapist. I look for modalities to help people. That’s my training. Occupational therapy is helping people in the occupation of where they are. So, whether you’re in business, sports, healthcare, science, role, whatever it is, my job is to come help you in that role and achieve your highest level, your fullest potential. So, I took the cognitive mental approach only because it was more my training and my passion than I knew it would ever become what it is today. So, I was trailblazing, I guess you could say in a lot of ways, especially as a woman. You didn’t hear women doing this. Men, and then Tony Robbins, you heard about obviously later, but it was all men. It was not women that were doing this and women sure weren’t taking the practice route and speaking on mindset.

John: Sure, it wasn’t democratized. This is long before, like I said…

Darleen: Yeah, this 2008.

John: Oh my God. We were nowhere.

Darleen: No.

John: Wait a second. Where did that come from though? Was that from your immigrant? Because I’m an immigrant. My family’s immigrant.

Darleen: Yeah.

John: Armenian immigrants from the East Coast. Your Italian immigrants.

Darleen: Yeah.

John: Where did that Victor versus Victim, light switch come from?

Darleen: Yes.

John: Because it comes from somewhere, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma. Where was that from?

Darleen: That definitely came from my family and my mom. She worked 3 jobs. We didn’t have a lot. She was a barber. My dad was a tool and die maker. Everyone in our family pretty much is a tradesperson who built their own business from trades. I just saw my mom always get up and work multiple jobs. Then at 40 years old, she had a massive triple bypass. She had a heart attack.

John: Wow.

Darleen: She makes her way through that and from the time she was 40 till the time she passed just a few years ago, at 72. She had gone through almost 10 surgeries. John, I would see her get up every day after she heals from those surgeries and be back at the barbershop. She said, “If God still has me here, then I still have a purpose.” She’d say, “And plus someone needs me.” Not because it was because she was going to give the best fade or haircut.

John: Right.

Darleen: He felt very much that those who sat in her chair needed to hear. Wouldn’t you know when it came time for her celebration of life and I was giving her eulogy and I lucked out, it was standing room only, there was the governor, congressman, mayor, and priest. It was everyone. It was standing room only from this barber because of the impact.

John: How old did she make it to?

Darleen: 72.

John: 72, and at 40, she had that triple bypass situation.

Darleen: She had health problems the whole time and she never complained, John. That’s what I mean. I learned resilience and grip from my mom. My dad worked really hard. So, he was a leader, just in his own way as the Italian.

John: Yeah, exactly. Also, there’s something about that I’ve heard over and over again, and gotten to do over this with over the show, over and over again that the immigrant entrepreneur seems to have more resilience, flexibility, and grit.

Darleen: Yes.

John: One who’s just born on third base and sort of.

Darleen: Yeah.

John: No shame on them. But immigrants are just super tough human beings. It’s just in their DNA.

Darleen: We find a way, you find a way.

John: Find a way.

Darleen: You have no choice. That’s the thing. If you want to make for a better life, you have to go out and work for it.

John: Imagine what our ancestors went through to get here and to give us this opportunity.

Darleen: I know.

John: It’s honoring them to do the work that you get to do and I get to do.

Darleen: Yeah.

John: Talk a little bit about now, without getting into any personal stuff and you have the stroke. You decide to become an entrepreneur and also to become a victor and not a victim. Are you doing this with your husband? Are you doing this alone? Is this a joint entrepreneurial venture? How did that go and what was his opinion on all this?

Darleen: We ended up getting a divorce I think it was 3 years, maybe after the stroke. We could not have children. That really, really affected us. It definitely affected me.

John: Understood.

Darleen: I was not equipped. I definitely wasn’t equipped on how to handle this. I don’t think he was either. I think looking back, we could have done a better job, but you don’t know when you’re going through it.

John: You’re a kid. You’re young.

Darleen: Yeah, I just wanted to go. I was ready to go. I was ready to go change the world. I don’t know that he was ready. So, it really was a crossroads in a lot of ways. In saying that, though, I’ve been on this journey by myself. I ended up going to see a neurologist last year when I was writing the book. All these years I thought I put out children, which I still don’t know. I’m 47, I’m not, but I sat down with the neurologist and I’m in the middle of writing the chapter, “Reframing setbacks.” This new neurologist, because I was getting migraines. That’s how my last one started and he says, “Dar, did you say to me, you thought you could have children?” I said, “Doc, it’s not that I thought I was told.” He says, “I think you could have all this time.” I said to him, “I have to process this right now because you have to understand, that this changed the trajectory of my life in a lot of ways.”

I also have wonderful people I’ve met along the way, but I didn’t want to hold them back from not being able to have a family, because I know how big that is in my Italian family. If someone wants a family, they should have a family. So, I didn’t want to hold them back. So I’m thinking, well, I could have all this time. But here’s the thing, this happens to us in different ways in life where you hear something, you’re wondering, what if, could it, the end of the day, if it was supposed to be, it would’ve. Also, I’ve been able to help over a hundred thousand people around the world. My career has had such blessings. Definitely hard challenges. But I would not have been able to do that had I not been in the space that I was in. Honestly, had the freedom to go do it, because It fits a call in, I feel called to go help when I feel called to help.

John: For our listeners and viewers who’ve just joined us, we’ve got Darleen Santore with us today. She’s a bestselling author and mental skills coach. She wrote this book, “The Art of Bouncing Back.” You can buy it on Amazon. You can also find Coach Dar and you can hire her to help you or your team or your organization be better Coach, talked about starting to talk for free. You started to talk for free. You started to as Seth Godin would call it, “Give it away.” You were giving it away to start with to build your platform.

How did that go? How fast did that click together? How many up days did you have versus down days as a new entrepreneur? Also, as you and I know, public speaking is no easy shake. Jerry Seinfeld has a famous joke about public speaking. When they ask the public, and this is true science, what they’re most afraid of, is it death or other things? Public speaking is number one. Death is behind public speaking. So he says, “If you go to a funeral at any given time, most people would rather be the person in the casket rather than the person giving the eulogy. So, I hats off. You started public speaking. Talk about how that went.

Darleen: So true. At the beginning, when I started this, as I said, I had no business plan, no income, and no health insurance. I gave it all up.

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John: My gosh.

Darleen: Go out there.

John: You burned the boats.

Darleen: Oh, I burned them, and I moved. I couldn’t even see where the shore was. But that was almost the best thing because I was so all in on reaching people. This is not the best business strategy, but I wasn’t worried about how it was going to be profitable. I just knew if I could start to help some people ship their mindset, show up better, and find out how to recreate themselves. You might’ve lost your job, you might’ve lost your retirement, whatever it is, but you did not lose your gift and your talent. I was harnessing that and as soon as I could get enough people to realize that, I knew they would share it eventually. So, I started these things called “Nights of Inspiration” and they were free. You could come. I mean, friends opened up their restaurants, people opened up their houses, their country clubs, the library didn’t matter. I was going and just doing that enough. I tell people now, sure they see me giving these huge keynotes, but it started anywhere I could go to talk. I was honing my skills.

John: Right.

Darleen: Almost, not even consciously, I was just doing it. So I was like, “I need to tell you this information.” But I have this expression that I heard go ugly early. Meaning my first iteration of my speeches, John, and delivery and helping is nothing like what it is today. But I had to start to get better and that’s

John: … is not one public that says, “I was so proud of my first speech now.” There’s not one or even a comedian that’s working on a new hour of material. They put the bits together and they keep honing and practicing and cutting.

Darleen: Right.

John: So you started that and you burned the boats. No income and no insurance.

Darleen: No.

John: But this is also part of the entrepreneur’s journey besides being the journey of the comeback and the journey of resilience. Great entrepreneurs give themselves no outs. They’re all in. So, when did you realize, at what point were you laying in bed one night and realized, “Oh my God, I might have something here? This is going to click.” They’re starting, the demand became big enough where the people started wanting to write you checks. How long did that take?

Darleen: Probably, not until 3 years into it.

John: Wow.

Darleen: Yeah, definitely, it was probably three years into it because there were iterations. What I was doing? What is the business plan potentially? What this was going to be? How it was going to be? It was just me showing up. So it was evolving on what, and just by me showing up, I got to see where the need was. I got to see, oh what would happen is women would start to bring their husbands and say, “He is going to probably be the next CEO.” But I don’t know that he’s mentally ready. I feel he’s holding himself back. So, women started to bring my first clients, which were usually their husbands. Then athletes started to come with me over time and they were like, “I could play in a sold-out arena, but I have trouble talking one-on-one to media. Because it’s too personal. I don’t know how to handle that.” Or I’d get an artist who would say, “I could sing to a sold-out crowd, but it is so hard for me to do these interviews, or I have this anxiety, I don’t know what’s stopping me.” That’s how it started to just build.

It was because people would say, “Oh, I went to this “Night of inspiration” and I heard this Coach Dar, I was just Dar then Coach Dar came later. I didn’t even make that up. People just started calling me that. But I heard this woman, Dar or Darleen, had probably, called me then, and it just got word of mouth. It was all word of mouth. Then it just started to really build some traction. That’s when it started to grow. Then a company started to utilize my services and then I was speaking on stages with 10,000 people and it just started honing its skills there. I moved from Connecticut to Nashville and then from Nashville to Scottsdale. Again, it just started growing, business speaking and then I was the Phoenix Suns Mental Skills coach. Then I was helping this player and this CEO with word of mouth. And then the speaking just kept getting bigger and bigger.

John: Wow. So, you’ve worked with professional athletes, and entertainers and talked a little bit about, as you said, wives were bringing their husbands to polish them up, so they could get the big job and make the big dove that the wives were betting on, and hoping for. Talk a little bit about through transferrable skills.

Darleen: Yeah.

John: Talk a little bit about athletes, entertainers, and then CEOs or potential C-suite people. How does that really translate and how does your coaching really work well in all the different settings that are out there?

Darleen: I love that you’re asking this because this isn’t really important.

John: Yeah.

Darleen: As I started getting going, what I started to realize, this is my education and occupational therapy and also business went back to school for business. But I used neuroscience and everything that I do, everything is the brain. Like I literally have it on my desk. These brain models. I mean, everything is the brain. So here’s the thing, I started to realize, that my niche over time became peak performers. They were the people that wanted to be the best. They still want to be the best. They don’t want to just be average, they want to be great. Whether it’s the CEO, the athlete or the artist, anyone. You know the peak, the endurance runner, it’s someone who says, “I want to attain this level.” Because it’s a personal pursuit to be able to make a greater impact or achieve this goal. Those are my people because they crave the knowledge on how to get better. Dar, how do I show up? What do I need to know? How can I lead better? How do I develop human and mental capital to be the best athlete or the best leader?

That’s where my niche over the past 15 years has really developed. But it started in the hospital because again, it all goes back to your training and your education and then how you hone that. That’s where I see as a differentiator especially being a woman, is that you hear about a lot of different coaches. But some may just be in sports and some may just be in business. I happen to be able to be in sports and business because being an occupational therapist who ran businesses as well, I bring the science, the psychology, and the leadership of business practices all together having done both. So, when I’m blessed to be able to meet with people what probably feels like a normal conversation is 27 years of practice now, being in my role of taking all this information, and knowing exactly where to direct someone. So nothing really throws me off. I’m like, “Okay, here’s a problem. Let’s see how we can fix it.

John: Wow. So, now you wrote this book. When did you write this book tell me why you decided to write this book and add this to your tool chest of tools that you could share with the people that you were coaching.

Darleen: Yeah, so I originally started to write a book in 2012. Let me just give you a quick insight. When I was a young girl, 1st and 2nd Grade, I was pulled out of class because I could not process fast enough reading comprehension. I was too slow processing.

John: Wow.

Darleen: I had a special teacher that helped me and I ended up falling in love with books. I became this bookworm and my mother used to say to me, “Someday your book’s going to be in the bookstore in a town close by us that I love.” She says, “I’ll be the first to buy it.” So, I want to say she planted the seed that I didn’t even realize. Then come 2012, I remember calling her saying, “I’m going to start writing.” I don’t know how, but I took this course, but I want to start writing. Then I started in 2018 writing about “Awakening Greatness.” I wanted to share about the patterns of greatness and what I’d been working on. But then that’s shortly after I had my third stroke and then my mom passed away.

It was so hard for me to read or write after that stroke. Thankfully, I had my sports agent. Who said to me, “Hey, you are playing too small. Do not put God in a corner. You’re meant to write.” I said, “Right, I can’t even read right now.” She says, “No.” I said, “A publisher is never going to pick me up right now.” She said, “I believe you are supposed to and you’re going to write about all the people that you’ve helped.” Sure enough, two weeks later I got a phone call from a literary agent who heard my name at an NBA all-star game, coaching players, bouncing back, all of that. She said, “I don’t know you and I don’t normally give first-time authors a chance, but I want to with you. I feel like you have a story in you.” When I sat down to really think about what was it, it was, I helped people continuously bounce back, including myself. But I never knew that when I coach people, there’s a formula.

It just came naturally to me. So, sitting down to actually write out like, what is the formula? It was really hard to do because it just was so natural I could just sit with you and take you through this flow. But then when I sat down I was like, “Wow, there is a system here.” That’s what became this book. In the book is “9 Principle” that I literally take everyone through. I have to tell you, I put some people will say, “Don’t give all of your tips and tricks away.” I thought I could die any day and you could have it all. I want this to be the people’s book because when people are going through something challenging right now, they often aren’t equipped or don’t know what to do. But you could sure as heck give them a book and say, “I know you’re hurting or I know this is a tough time. I think this might help you.” That’s why I wrote it. I wrote it for the people.

John: When did this book come out? When did The Art of Bouncing Back…?

Darleen: February of this 2023. February 21.

John: So listeners and viewers buy it on Amazon as I did. It’s great. Are you happy with how the book has been going? Talk a little bit about how you spend your days. How much public speaking do you do? How many meetings like these coaching sessions do you do, and then how much are you already starting to dream up and think about your next book?

Darleen: You have great questions and I’ll say that, when I wrote this book, I had no idea how it would impact people, but the stories coming back. A gentleman who lost his job was on his way to go buy a gift card at Barnes and Noble for someone else to pay it forward, finds out that he has cancer, goes into Barnes and Noble because he is going to pay it forward by buying a gift card and sees my book. It’s the very thing he said that saved his life because he thought he was going to give up. A couple that was at their brink and they were done.

They both wrote bounce-back letters to each other and it saved their marriage. A young kid who was going to give up on his life read the book and wrote to me and said, “You have no idea this changed me.” A woman who said, “I just found out that I have MS, and I’m sitting there going, how am I going to do this?” After she just lost a parent she said, “I read your book and you gave me hope again.” It’s just story after story of people just letting me know. Everyone is facing everyday problems. Families are coming together, sitting around at the table and reading a chapter a night as families so that they can have their family be resilient and their kids be resilient. These are things that I didn’t even know what it could do.

I just knew, I knew it would help people. I just didn’t know the stories that would come back. So, it fuels me every day. I feel this has a long shelf life because it’s going to be that book that’s out forever and I just want people to have the tools. I’m grateful, and then you asked me what is my day to day. It’s never the same. So, right now we have MLB playoffs, I coach in all the leagues, so I have people in baseball. The NHL is back, the NBA is starting and the NFL is happening. So, right now I’m coaching individual players in all the leagues. Plus I have my executive clients that I coach. I just finished a year’s worth of, I have a couple more weeks, but pretty much I was going to three cities a week around the world, speaking every week.

John: Wow.

Darleen: I just finished a year of that.

John: Wow.

Darleen: It’s been a lot and I made it to this part of it and I’m just so grateful. Yes, I have two more books in the hopper of outlines.

John: Give me a couple of the greatest hits from the book, we’d love to give our listeners and viewers some actionable tips on this show so they could take something away without even reading the book yet and realize how good you are, what you do. You can give them a couple of things to help them make it through a difficult day, a difficult moment. Who doesn’t have difficult days? We all do rich, poor, and everyone in between.

Darleen: Right.

John: This is part of life. Having to be resilient, having to improvise, what do we say man plans and God loves. That’s pretty much life. So, what are some actionable tips from your book that you could give our listeners and viewers that you want them to remember you by when they’re thinking about buying your book?

Darleen: Number one I would say is to learn how to reframe the game. When you could reframe things, you could make it through it much better. So this book isn’t going to keep you from avoiding tough times. What’s going to happen is the more you build your skillset on this and build mental toughness, your bounce back, and the valleys get shorter. You get to the peak, the pinnacle faster. Because the valleys are not as deep. You don’t drop as far, you bounce back faster. That’s the whole goal of this and one of the principles is reframing setbacks. So, for example, a bad day does not mean a bad life. A bad year doesn’t mean a bad life. We often put a period where there was a comma intended. It’s a pause. It’s not a period, it’s not over. Anytime something happens to us, anything, we catastrophize it in our brain more often than not. I’m here to say, that when you learn to reframe it and see it for what it is not for what your emotions are screaming at that time step back, look at it, and reframe it.

So the example I gave you, I went my whole life thinking my adult life that I could not have children. The doctor tells me, I think all these years you could have, that was a very heavy moment at that time because I have changed my life around that. In that moment I could have cried, I could have wallowed in it, I could have said I could have gotten angry. I sat and I said, “It’s information.” Now, I believe the reframe is, if it was supposed to happen, it would’ve, and by the way, it spilled milk at this point. I can’t do anything to change that. To give my brain energy, I could process it by talking to someone. I talked to my closest inner circle. I did, I shared about it and I said, “This feels so heavy. But I’m going to move forward with this because it does not serve me.” So when you learn to take space from something and you reframe it, you show up better and you get back up faster, you still deal with it, but you’re just going to get back faster. If something goes wrong in business, you lose a client, something happens, and your role changes.

Remember this, the reframe is the role might have changed, but you didn’t lose your skill or your talent. You show up and you find a way where your skills and talents, could meet the world’s needs. Then one other example is, I had a player come off the ice and he says, “Dar, I suck. I’m awful.” He was so mad about the game and I said to him, “You get about two seconds to keep telling yourself that.” He said, “Did you not see the game?” I said, “Oh yeah, the game was bad, but you’re not, so stop right here. The game was bad. But you’re not, not even Wayne Gretzky had perfect games his whole career. You are going to have bad games, but you are the 1%, you are not bad.” But I want to interpret this to everyone listening. You may lose your job. It’s downsizing. You may get divorced, or you may have a health scare. Anything that starts to drop your confidence and you start to feel like you are bad. No, you’re not. It might be a tough scenario, but you’re not a bad person. As long as you’re doing the work every day to be your best to show up because you have to do that to be better every day.

John: Right.

Darleen: Then you could honor that and you could get up and you go again, this is where it’s really helping people. Give them the tools to figure out how to ship the strategy, not put a period where they’re intended to be accomplished.

John: I love it. That’s beautiful. It’s really that whole, over the years I got to meet and visit with a bunch of different coaches, both NCAA and professional coaches. I always say, “How do you get over like when something really goes wrong out on the court or on the playing field, and they always have the same two words, next play.” So, you’re just basically saying the same thing. It’s next place. No looking back, it’s always looking forward.

Darleen: Yes, that’s why the book ends with Turn the Page.

John: Turn the Page.

Darleen: It starts with embracing the suck, embrace it for what it is. I give you all the tools in between. Then the last chapter ends with Turn the Page. I put these principles in a circle because this is never-ending. We’re going to keep going through it and you’re going to need to keep going through the cycle of it. But the better you get at this, the better you show up and in the end, turn the page to write the new chapter.

John: People hire you A to do one-on-one coaching. People hire you to do organizational coaching. People hire you to do public speaking. Is that correct all three of those?

Darleen: That’s correct, yes.

John: Wow. That’s tremendous. Without giving away, and I don’t want to break anything in HIPAA or anything like that, but you had the first incident with your stroke, due to the chiropractic adjustment, the other two genetic or were there some other quirky thing, or how do you get through every day? Thinking about this is like literally practicing exactly what you preach. How do you get through everyday thinking, is there another one around the corner? How am I going to get through that one? It’s amazing.

Darleen: Statistically you’re 50% more likely to have another stroke when you’ve had one. So, the odds are against me. I think that it all comes from the narrowing of space in the back of my brain. I can’t do anything about it. So, I choose to not focus on it.

John: Got it.

Darleen: We all don’t know when our runway is ending. So, all of us are in the same boat. I have higher odds against me, but I use that as fuel to do what I’m doing right now. I want to awaken greatness in every interaction I have with someone. So, I’m living this out for as long as I’m allowed to.

John: Are there things that you do to help because you get to be around some of the best doctors and medical professionals and alternative medical professionals, Health 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, which now exists, which didn’t exist just a short 20 years ago. What are some of the techniques or strategies they could give you to live your best life given the conditions that you are burdened with? We all are burdened with genetic predispositions and other crises that hit us in the face as well. There’s nobody that I know that gets through. I’m 61 in a couple of weeks. Nobody that I know that gets through this life unscathed, nobody.

Darleen: That’s right.

John: What are some of your techniques, or to live your healthiest and best life that you use that some of our listeners could learn from?

Darleen: I would say start getting into the wellness space of biohacking. So, I do infrared sauna and cold plunge. I do the red light therapy. I do brain tap, which is you could do meditation through these headphones. I do a lot of recovery. This is all recovery work. I obviously exercise multiple times a week, both cardio and lifting. I watch what I eat. As far as optimization from a health standpoint, I’m doing every alternative thing I can from a wellness biohacking space, from meditation and BrainTap to the cold plunge, the sauna, and the infrared light. I’m doing all of that because I know scientifically it helps us. So, I want every added bonus I can and then I keep my body as optimal as I can. This is our only one vessel that’s helping us. So, you have to exercise.

John: Yeah.

Darleen: You have to have strength in you so that you can have this longevity. I keep my mind obviously very active and I’m always learning. I want to keep it engaged at all times. I really believe by the time my third stroke came, I was so much better at bouncing back because I used all the tools where that I didn’t have when I was younger.

John: Coach, you wrote this book, and again, for our listeners and viewers, The Art of Bouncing Back, it’s on Amazon. Of course, you can find Coach Dar, You wrote it. You lived your dream. You dedicate it to your mom, which is just beyond beautiful. It’s here, right in the front of the book. What is on the horizon for you in the coming 2024-2025, which by the way, we’re all living in some of the weirdest and –

Darleen: I know.

John: Toughest times with the externalities that are going on around all of us, around this world right now. What are you most excited about professionally and what can you leave our listeners with that get caught up a little bit with doom scrolling and the news, and all the negativity that’s thrust upon us more than ever before?

Darleen: I am really excited because with this momentum that’s been created, I get to serve in a bigger way, which people are like, “What does that mean?” I’ll be putting out these two-day events that’ll happen four times a year that’s going to take people through an experience that will help them mentally and physically be their best. I’m going to have some top military people with me. So, look forward, look out for that and that’s why go to and sign up your email because it’s going to be great experience. The reason this is going to be important, yes, I’ll be writing more books. Yes, I’m still coaching and speaking, but I’m now taking this time to pour into people who come in this way because I want people to be ready when the hits come. Right now, we are in tough times and it’s very sad and it’s very hard. You have to be aware.

You cannot be consumed when you get so consumed, fear takes over. So, I want you to be aware, and I want you to be ready. I want you to start working on your mental capital edge and toughness right now. Because you’re going to need it to get through this time. It doesn’t change. You are still going to be empathetic, but I want you to get ready. The thing is, I asked friends of mine who went through World War II, “How did you get through it?” You know what they said? “Relationships.” They said, “We got through the war.” Obviously, our military did everything they could, but as a country, we loved our neighbor. We helped each other. Make sure you have food or do you need anything? We need to go back to loving our neighbor to be united, and to take care of each other. An Italian family and a town I grew up in, we all took of each other. They still take care of each other. Neighbors are leaving food in people’s mailboxes.

We’ve gotten very self-serving in a lot of ways that in order to make it through whatever is coming, we need to take care of each other. So, that’s what I would say to anyone listening right now, is to lean in and start getting close. Get to know your neighbors. Know the people around you because if this gets the way it possibly could, and it gets a lot harder, and we go into a potential war, whatever it may be, we are in war. But as if we do a World War III or whatever it may be, we have got to be where we are leaning on each other. That takes us getting to build a relationship now. Because we need each other to get through adversity. We can’t do it alone.

John: You’re so right. We’re living in this era of all this wonderful technology, which does help connect us, but it also helps make us more isolated than ever before.

Darleen: Yes.

John: I love your message and I know your message is right. It’s science back when Dan Buettner talks about the Blue Zones and one of the Blue Zones obviously is in Italy. It’s all about family and it’s all about community.

Darleen: Yes.

John: It’s all about that interconnectedness. You’re right, we’ve got to go back to more of that.

Darleen: Yeah.

John: I so agree with you. For our listeners and viewers, again, to buy the book, The Art of Bouncing Back, go to to find Coach Dar, to hire Coach Dar so you can be your best. Go to Coach Dar, thank you for your time today at The Impact podcast. You’re always welcome back to share some more great tips and more anecdotal stories about what’s going on in the coaching world and making people the best that they can be. Thank you for making the world a better place and thank you for making us all better people after listening to you today. Thank you again, Coach Dar.

Darleen: Thank you so much for having me on.

John: This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry with thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, live streams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect com.