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May 24, 2023

208. Defying All The Odds with Dylan Smith

208. Defying All The Odds with Dylan Smith

Happiness Solved with Sandee Sgarlata. In this episode, Sandee interviews Dylan Smith. Dylan Smith hosts the “D is for Dyslexia and Defying all Odds” podcast. Dylan Smith is truly defying all odds. Everyone you meet is battling hardship in their...

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Happiness Solved with Sandee Sgarlata. In this episode, Sandee interviews Dylan Smith. Dylan Smith hosts the “D is for Dyslexia and Defying all Odds” podcast. Dylan Smith is truly defying all odds. Everyone you meet is battling hardship in their lives, and Dylan is an example of what it means to fight through those hardships rather than use them as an excuse.

Connect with Dylan : linkedin.com/in/dylan-smith-5117991b9    

Connect with Sandee www.sandeesgarlata.com

Podcast: www.happinesssolved.com






Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining me today. I'm so happy you're here. I'm Sandee Sgarlata. I was born in Virginia Beach and raised in the Baltimore Annapolis area and had very humble and tragic beginnings. And as a result, my life was a hot mess.

Thankfully, 33 years ago, I got my act together, and since that time, I have dedicated my life to serving others and raising awareness that no matter what you've been through, you can choose happiness and live the life of your dreams. Happiness Solved is dedicated to giving you content that is empowering, motivational, inspirational, and, of course, a dose of happiness. It's my way to give back to the world and share other people's stories. This thing called life can be challenging, and my guests share their amazing stories, wisdom, and life lessons that demonstrate anyone can choose happiness. You see, happiness is a choice, and the choice is yours.

Today's episode is amazing, and I am so grateful for you. Thank you for listening and don't forget to leave a review and follow me on social media at coach. Sandee Sgarlata. Enjoy the show.

Dylan Smith. I'm so excited to see your handsome face again and to have you as a guest on my podcast. Thank you so much for being here. How's it going? It's great.

I wanted to say I appreciate you letting me be on your podcast, your platform. I'm very honored and connecting with you. Yeah. We met in New York City. You sat next to me, I don't know, 30 minutes in the conversation.

I was like, can I adopt you? Yeah. The next morning I'm going, okay. He probably thinks I'm whack. I'm a whack job.

But we just had this connection immediately, and I love everything you're doing. I look at energy as a form of currency, so I feel our energy had kind of sinked that night, and you could probably feel it as well without talking. We kind of both understood we were in the same vibration of frequency. For sure, and we speak each other's language, and that's amazing. So you host D is for Dylan and Defying All Odds podcasts, and I want to talk about that, but before we let's just start a conversation with how did you get to where you are today?

I want you to tell the audience your backstory because it's very interesting. Okay. So for reference to anybody listening, I am a baby. I'm only 22 years old. I was adopted in 2003 from Russia.

I lived in an orphanage for two years where briefly we would sleep in our pillowcases if our blankets were stolen and hide our food in them due to just fight or flight survival mode. After being adopted the first time, we ended up being adopted. We have our beautiful mother still, but we had not called father for eight years, opened a bar, drank the profits, abused us and our family ran away to Florida for ten years, didn't hear from him for ten years. And then we were adopted again in 2014 by my father now, who saved our life. And when I was seven, I was diagnosed with ADHD after a doctor talked to me and my parents for eight minutes, and they put me on Ritalin from seven to 1617 years old.

So about ten years until we found out I had Dylan. And we took that journey from 16 years old to at a 6th grade reading level in 10th grade, to graduating on time. When I graduated, I got an internship at a tech firm, and I leveraged. I did everything, man. I washed his car, I picked up his family at the airport, his dry cleaning, the office, food, lunch, whatever.

I did everything. I said, I'll work for you for free. If you like me, you'll hire me. He hired me, and then they were bought out, signed up. He called the Big Dog over in New York who's on Wall Street, and they hired me at 20 as an engineer.

Then I travel around doing tech support for all these top financial firms. And then I started running and listening to podcasts, and I said my story resonates with a lot of people with Dylan adoption, not having a father figure, and who would I be to not share that? So I started talking to my phone and just slowly but surely trusted the process and enjoyed the journey. And now here we are.

Yeah, we had a conversation about Dylan, because while I've never been formally diagnosed, I've never seen a doctor about it. But I'll never forget the day that I learned that I had Dylan. And I'm sure like anything, there's different levels of it and different severities of it. Mine is pretty simple and kind of comical because what happened was my ex husband, we were dating at the time, I was 21 years old, we're driving. And what I would do, and I still do it to this day, although I'm more conscious of it and aware, and I try not to make the mistake, but on the fly, I'll point my hand to the right and say, Go left.

Or I'll put my left hand to the left and say, Go right. And then in my mid twenty s, I got a job as an office manager. And on the first day, they handed me the checkbook and they're like, okay, I had to manage the finances of this startup company. And that's when I noticed with numbers that I would transpose numbers. And so I became very aware of it.

And even to this day, when I'm typing numbers or writing numbers, I double check myself and triple check myself because I just have to. So that's my severity of it. And like I said, it's kind of comical when I'm going, go right, go left. And I'm pointing in the wrong direction and I just kind of laugh about it. It's funny.

How did it show up for you? It was always a fight. I just knew that didn't know what was going on in class, and if I could get one win a day in school, I could come back tomorrow. So I was always fighting and looking for that one win, whether that's figuring out one math problem or understanding one sentence or reading a page of a book and understanding what happened in that page. I attempted to read with the class.

Right. And we read. Yes, I see the words. I don't know what's in the book. I don't know we're talking about.

It's funny you said that because we were at Craig's event, and that L you saw the L in CLS kept flipping. I didn't know which way was backwards. And I was like, Are they messing with me? Because she kept moving it one way, and it floats it back the other way. And I was just amused in the back about it.

But I knew that the purple cow is what I was told by a mentor, be the purple cow, stand out. And I didn't know that I was doing it. I had to network with these teachers. I had to stand out. I had to make sure they knew I wasn't that kid in the back who didn't care and was vaping in the bathroom every two minutes.

Right. So had to go in before class, go in during lunch, stay after school, skip my gym, really ask for help, and put the effort in in each class that I could, that I was struggling, which was all of them, and make sure that they knew my effort in grid is not lacking. It's just we don't know what it was at the time, but I'm here, and let's do what we can to pass. So they're really helpful with that, because people, when you tend to see people trying and want it and going after it, you want to help them more. It's more of like halfway.

You just got to stand out, everybody. I had great relationships with all my teachers, which I didn't know were building me to be able to network in the business world. And those skills of going in early, staying late, business world transformed. And my speaking skills, having to hold myself in front of these IEP meetings and tell everybody, here's what I see, here's how I feel, here's what I think we need to do. It was all part of the journey.

It was all part of the process, and I'm grateful for all of it. Wow. Well, that's really great to hear about your teachers. And you did this, like, meeting you, and it made me think of the great David Meltzer. I heard him say, you have to meet people where they are, and many times in education.

And I don't think it's the fault of the teachers. I think it's the fault of their training that they're not always trained to meet each student where they are. I mean, you're going to have the exceptions, but I think as a whole, a lot of times and professors, college professors are the same way, they just expect you to already be there. And that's not the case for everybody because everyone learns differently, right? And it's great to acknowledge that.

I was called to see with a kid for a long time, but I really like to tell kids when I go to schools now, so I'm blessed to be able in this position to do that is like the words may be backwards, but you're not. And then I like to tell the board, like, hey, if you're in a meeting with these parents before we start yelling at each other because the board comes in on defense, parents come in on offense. No one's even talked yet. I say let's break down everything right now. Raise your hand if you have a kid in this room, right?

People on the board have kids. Of course you're in a school because you like kids and then you go with parents who have kids, raise your hand. Let's all put our parent helmets or shoes on or whatever you want to say. If this was your kid, how would you want this to go over? So now they've broken.

Both sides have broken down those barriers. They're not like, I'm here for my kid. They don't believe me. And they're not like, oh, they're going to yell at me. Jeez.

Now they're like, oh, shoot, I have a kid. Here's what I do want to happen if this was my kid. So you have a mama bear approach to a situation instead of a professional approach to something that shouldn't be professionally approached at that level. Yeah, well, and you bring up a good point. And I've had many conversations with people and I've heard others talk about this, and it can be applied to politics.

And that's where our political system is so broken because nobody's looking each other in the eye and having that conversation human to human because they're so conditioned and invested for whatever reason in their beliefs. And the same thing is what you just described at a board meeting, at a school board meeting. The same thing is true. You have to just leave your egos at the door when you walk in and let's just have a human to human conversation and until we can do that and maybe it needs to start at the school board level and then maybe it'll work its way up. Yeah, but that's really cool.

I love that. That's the funny thing is they go in fighting for a kid. They don't have a kid in there, or the kid can't speak for themselves or every speaking. We have a kid, but no one knows what the kid's going through. So it's like, I used to walk in and be like, here's what we're going to do, guys.

We're all parents for a second and then let's proceed. Yeah. And I know I had an experience with my son, and I don't know if we talked about this or not. He was diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety disorder. And I put him on, I went to the school and I was like, I need help here, because he did so poorly in his 9th grade.

And then when you're in high school, if you have a bad year, there's no recovery in terms of your GPA. And so I got so little assistance, and it even got to the point where his college counselor said to him, don't even bother applying to college because you're not going to get in because of your GPA. And thankfully, the school secretary was like, I'm going to help you. And she just said, what do you want to get out of your college experience? And he said, I want to go to a D One college that has a good football team and basketball team.

He applied to five colleges, all with good D One sports, got into all five, right? And then he was able to choose. And that mentality, and I don't know if it's a lack mentality or if it's just that people just don't care. But why is it, do you think, in the school systems are so broken that they just aren't invested in really supporting their students that they're responsible for. They'Re not built there for the students.

They're built to push school of fish through of a system. That's it. We have class of 50 kids, 9th grade. It's like my class was very 1000 kids. We have 1000 kids this year.

We have to get through. Boom. They got finished freshman year. We have a thousand kids in sophomore. We are pushing through.

So those fish, you don't really know how to swim there. I say kind of fall to the back of the line and then the other fish go, Why aren't you keeping up? And then we look back and we're like, what do you mean? And then now we are getting bullied as well. For reference.

Everybody's listening. As a disliked kid, I probably put in double the hours that all my peers did. And I was still getting fifty s and sixty s when my peers would go to lunch, they would go to recess, they would go play sports, they would hang out after school, no tutoring, no staying after, not going in before me. And they're getting eighty s. Ninety s.

But I was the stupid kid, which is the funniest part, right? I'm doing double the work just to keep my head above water. And when we go into schools, we bring that perspective. It kills the bullying immediately. It kills the war between the parents and the board and makes the entire education system better for those kids.

And that's honestly, I'm so in love with that. I'm doing that and just the feedback that we're getting and the difference that's being changed. I saw a quote the other day that said the only people who are crazy enough to believe that one man can change the world is the ones who do that's. Right? So you got to be crazy enough to know I am outworking these people.

I am doing more than them. I remember my high school counselor. I didn't know. I felt like I was a stupid kid. I was told, it enough.

I started believing it. But I stayed the process. I got one win. I'll come back tomorrow. I got one win.

I'll come back tomorrow. That incremental growth and trusting. The process also is transferred to my professional world because I've learned to trust the process and do that incremental growth and appreciate. Four months ago, we were in a different position. Even though it's not big, it's incremental, not monumental.

And who appreciates the journey? The man who loves to run will run more than the man running for a destination. How did you get so much wisdom at such a young age? Where do you think that's coming from within you? It's a real hack, if anybody's listening, is no matter what room you're in and you think that you know something till everybody in the room, you know nothing.

And you grab everything and anything from them and you figure out how to apply it immediately. I don't care where I am. I don't care if I'm on a sold out stage. I'll get off stage and talk to five kids or five parents because they know something that I don't, that I can grow from. The idea, to me of the word perfection and never being able to touch it.

Being so close is so amazing to me. But always knowing that you've got two, three, four inches in this way. The greats are great because they do one thing. I want to be great or good at many things because if you stop at one, you have a what now? Moment growth stops.

Depression sensitive. I just want to be great in all aspects, and it's not about me. A lot of people get trapped in this entrepreneurial or rat race we call the Court World of I need a Mercedes. I need a rolex. I need a penthouse.

I need a filthy wife. No, this is for me. The difference between a great leader and a selfish leader is a great leader wants something for people not from them. And a selfish one is there for the rolex. And it's a big difference because, you'll see, the ones who want something for people will get the rolex and they didn't even ask for it.

But that was stage one. And I feel a lot of people have issues comparing themselves to others. I tell everybody, do not do that. The only person I compare myself to is me. Yesterday, I do this all the time.

I take videos every morning and night and I tell myself what I'm proud of and what I want to attack today. And at night, I watch the morning video and I make my night video. I go, here's what we accomplished today. I'm proud of you. Let's do X, Y and Z tomorrow.

See you in the morning. And I'll watch that in the morning and then the morning video. And if you look at my video from years ago, so what I made this morning, they're two different people. Of course people are like, how do I grow? You do those videos by yourself.

Everything changes. That's where you start. A lot of people are afraid of starting, but I'm afraid of they're afraid of failing. Right. I'm afraid of not trying.

I rather regret things that I did than things I never tried and thinking, oh, what if? What if I did that? What would have happened? What are the outcomes? Well, here's the outcomes.

I'm going to try it. It doesn't hurt.

What did you say in the beginning? Because I want to repeat that for the audience. You said something about you said something to the effect of I'm this person today and I'm better than I was yesterday. What did you just say? Because you just rattled this off your tongue, which is amazing.

But I want to make sure that the audience hears myself. I don't chase anybody else. I compare myself to who I was and who I'm going to be and who I am and where I'm going. I look up to if I'm 22. Now, 32 year old Dylan has two things he's going to say.

Wait, Dylan, what did you do? You wasted X, Y and Z. Why were you not doing X, Y and Z or Dylan, thank you for doing everything you did. And no matter what I do now will still impact my family. Say I committed a big crime tonight.

Everybody involved that's ever rooted for me or said great things about me, it impacts them because it reflects back on them. If I do great things, I go to school. It reflects on them. So when people take a chance on me or people take chances on others, they look at it as an opportunity for themselves when really now you need to fulfill somebody saw on you. You can't let them down now.

It's not about you. So I have people who believe in me, like yourself, which I appreciate, and Craig and a lot of other amazing people, that now I can't perform at such a low level. I have to chase my better self, I have to grow because I have people who are speaking highly of me, are referring me, which anything me drop the ball will reflect poorly on you. And that's not who I am and that's not what I'm about. And also your kids.

I don't have kids yet, but when I do, if I tell them, Chase your dreams. They ask me why I didn't. It's like that's, right? I'm going to smoke a cigarette but tell you not to. I have friends.

Their parents smoke. They smoke. We do what we see, not what we hear. A lot of so that comes back to what community you're in. What are you surrounded by?

What's the energy? What are people around you doing? I like being around people who want more out of life because they make me want more out of life. And then we can collaborate like this, which is beautiful. And we can both figure out how to elevate each other and both verdicts.

And it's the thing is, I learned say I get 1000 views on a video. I've probably impacted 2000 people. This one person talks to five people. They share X, Y and Z. I had a gentleman reach out to me.

He's been watching me since 2020. That's when I started. He started the same page. He's from London. He's in the same point.

He was in 2020 and I'm not. He had asked me to do a video. I sent him a zoom link and he asked me, what is it? I said, I get in the room with people who have the results that I want and around the energy and people who want things out of life. We figure out how to how to do it.

And I'm more comfortable outside my comfort zone than I am inside it. Because outside is where you grow, where you learn, where you adapt, where you evolve into who you can be and who you will be. Yes, I love that. And behind me, I don't know if you can see this. I was on a friend of Mine's podcast and one day I got this in the mail.

And it was a quote that I said, which is, in order to grow, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And I keep this as a reminder because so often people don't take that leap because it's so icky. It doesn't feel good. Right? Yeah.

And that's the hardest part about growth, is that it feels icky sometimes. And it's just learning to be comfortable in that space. Because when you learn that, what you find is that when you get to the other side, it's like it's like the bright lights and things just feel so good. Yeah. I like to bring it down to a level where everybody understands it.

And that's the gym. I work out every day since I've taken my commitment to working out every day there three days ever. And I said, I listened to my doubt. I said, I'm tired. A long day.

You don't have to work out today, dawn. Every day I did that. The next morning, I regretted it. And that night I couldn't make it because X, Y and Z not an excuse because the firm or family or pop tie or whatever. So I feel like it was real life examples going this is why you do go to the gym, dawn.

And I feel right if everybody understands that if you will go to the gym, you'll work out, you'll feel good, you'll be proud of yourself, but if you don't, you regret it. That's with anything and everything. That's like taking risks in business, taking risks in life. If you don't take the risk, you'll never know. And you regret not doing it because.

You'Re now complacent well in going to the gym. That is such a great example, because fitness is all about pushing yourself, and it's hard. Right. I work out with a trainer now, and I've known for years because I've been a professional athlete most of my life. I mean, I've been at this for 50 years.

And the thing that I was missing and why I kept getting these little injuries was because I was not doing the strength training. And so I made a commitment to myself and I did a little mind hack to trick myself, and now I want to go to the gym. But when you're working out with that trainer, it is hard. It's hard, and you have to push yourself. And that's such a great example.

Thank you for sharing that. And I love your commitment to everything you're doing. I appreciate it. It's not about me anymore, though. When the first time somebody commented on my post, it wasn't about me anymore.

Now I have fans, I have viewers, I have supporters, I have peers who all watch it and either need it or have know somebody who need it. I have people who reach out motivational speeches, told me it changed his life, and he looks forward to the videos on Tuesdays. Okay. It's not about me. He needs it.

It's just that one person. I'll still post every Tuesday, but it's not we're not we're at a bigger level. We've got more that it's not about me. It's about those who rely on it, those who need it, those who want it, those who could use it. I just want to be a vessel for that.

You are so amazing at such a young age. And when we were in New York, did you get to meet Chef In? Yes. So I interviewed him yesterday, and now I'm interviewing you today. He's 23, you're 22.

I'm just blown away at both of you. I've just never met people like you before.

I feel like there are no coincidences. And I just want you to know that you are inspiring me in ways that I never imagined possible. So thank you for that because I'm just so excited for you, because as I was saying to Zach yesterday, you're just getting started. This is your warm up. You're just warming up.

And that's what I love about both of you, because he's doing something completely opposite, right? Yeah. And both of you are just warming up. And that just lights me up to no end. And, you know, I was like, can I adopt you?

I know you have therapy. I want to adopt you, too, because I'm proud of you and, you know, I'll always be here to support you. Thank you for everything you're doing and just talk a little bit about some of the events that you're doing because I think it's so incredible that you're creating your own events. Yes, I am. So can you share a little bit about that?

Yeah. So I host events because I get talked into them.

The lessons you learn getting pushed out of your comfort zone. Very first time I did an event, I was pushed to do it, invested some money, had three weeks to put this together. COVID hit, first venue, canceled due to size and compliance. First celebrity ever booked, canceled, how to cancel her flight, everything. And you get pushed through these adversities and these challenges to still say you need to make it happen.

You have people who bought tickets. You have people relying on you. You have a show to put on. Just go figure it out. When I started saying yes and figuring out to everything in corporate and in my business, it answered so many questions and I've always been like, this sucks.

This is painful. I wish I could I remember not sleeping nights. Like, oh, these events again goes back. Not to me. When I go in and I have people here, I host them.

I love also giving opportunity as much as I can because people give me opportunity. So if I can give it, it'll come back. And it's not about coming back. You need to give without the expectation of it coming back. The way I want to come back is those who I give do something with it.

I love when people win. I get more excited than they do for their wins and people are like, why are you so excited? I'm like, we're winning. Like you're winning. I'm so hype.

It feels like a win for me because I'm so behind them. So I get to give people those opportunities. I give them those stages. And those in the audience are crying and they're standing up and they're clapping and they're thanking me for just creating such a room of energy that will change every individual life in there. That goes back to what it's about, the platform, the lives change, the impact, the inspiring, what each and every person is going to do with it after.

And where can people learn about your event? You can look me up. Dylan Smith, Dylan on Google. Everything comes up. Or D is for Dylan.com or D is for Dylan.

19 on Instagram. I'm so happy to connect with anybody and everybody. I don't judge, I recommend. Nobody does it. I think everybody is beautiful and everybody has something to offer.

Dylan, this has been such a pleasure and an honor and thank you. So much for spending a few minutes with me this morning. I appreciate it. I appreciate you having me on your platform and putting me on the VIP list. Of course.

Well, you are a VIP. I appreciate you are too. Thank you, honey. All right. Thank you for listening, everyone.

I certainly hope that you enjoyed today's interview. Thank you so much for joining me, and as always, hope that you and your family are healthy and safe and that your lives are filled with peace, joy, and happiness. Take care, everyone.