His mentees revere him as a maestro. Darren Stephens, author, coach, business strategist, marketing guru and self-made millionaire is quietly but steadfastly engineering numerous globally recognized and respected brands to reach their pinnacles.
Speaking with Gemma Acton on the latest series of Game Changers, Darren gives a tantalizing insight into how the man who left school at only 16 became a master of his own mind and destiny and how he teaches others to follow in his footsteps.
As a 13-year-old in Mildura, Victoria, Darren Stephens made chess sets and sold them for $20 in a local barbershop. Three years later he dropped out of school, then 3 years after that, he started his own company, a shopfitting and signage business in Melbourne.
So how did a kid with an entrepreneurial spirit become a wildly successful business and marketing strategist, real estate investor, author of 7 best-selling books such as “Top Franchise CEOs Secrets Revealed” and “The 10 Day Turnaround”, and the architect behind the expansion of the Mars Venus Brand, now in 150 countries and translated into 54 languages, with over a billion dollars in sales?
“I think it was starting out really young and leaving school at only 16, and then eventually starting my own company at 19. I was on this personal growth journey all that way, and I made lots of mistakes along the way. I think as you make mistakes, you learn from them, and you look for mentors to succeed,” explains Darren.
Darren is now the CEO of Successful Growth Strategies, a world-class sales, marketing and business consulting agency. He also owns the Investors International Real Estate Group and through his various enterprises, has had offices in over 11 countries including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, and North America.
From the outset, Darren was a devotee of self-development and accelerated psychological transformation programs.
“When I started out, I went to all these different seminars to learn to feed my own mind about business strategies, marketing, sales, and personal development. One of those was with Tony Robbins.”
Tony Robbins, who is one of America’s preeminent life and business strategists, had a huge influence on Darren. The two struck up a personal relationship which set Darren on course to a new level of success.
“One of the things that Tony said in his seminar that really struck home for me, was that he always sought out the very best expert in the field. He wanted to learn. I thought, well, who did he learn from? And so, he told me,” Darren says.
Darren, who was introduced to Tony Robbins by his first client John Gray, the author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” learned about the breakthrough powers in mindset training, specifically, Hypnosis and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).
“I went to Tony’s teacher and learned and studied both in America and London to further my own personal development. That also gave me a great skill set for helping others. Even though I became accomplished in business and marketing, if you’re working with people, then it’s not just about the business strategies. It’s also about their mindset. Often, we have limiting beliefs or limiting things that hold us back from achieving our goals. I was able to work with both ends of the scale,” says Darren.
Darren became a master hypnotist from studying with Tony Robbin’s mentor Dr Richard Bandler who is the creator of Neurolinguistic Programming.
“I actually won an award as being one of the world’s fastest hypnotists and while it’s terrifying for some, that has given me is a huge edge to be able to make rapid change for people. I think you can give them great business strategies but if they can’t execute on those strategies because there’s something holding them back at an unconscious level or a mindset level, then those strategies aren’t going to work anyway,” says Darren.
Darren believes his hypnotising skills lend an added dimension especially as he combines them with his entrepreneurship. He attributes hypnosis to his own personal and professional achievements.
“I learned hypnosis originally to change me so that I could grow and be successful and create wealth. I have a beautiful wife and seven children. I had to become an entrepreneur to be able to feed them all and to make enough money to put them all through school.”
For more than 25 years, Darren has taught internationally, speaking to and motivating thousands of people in over 27 countries on how to generate business, personal and financial success. A highly sought-after mentor from Hollywood to Royalty in the Gulf, Darren’s clients span a broad range of backgrounds and industries. This allows him to be selective about who he works with and prompted the creation of his Entrepreneurs Inner Circle for private clients.
“One of the things that I have found is as an entrepreneur, you think differently, and it can be a lonely place. I wanted to create an environment for CEOs or business leaders where they could think differently, be around peers with whom they could share and be vulnerable. Being in a group like that helps elevate everyone,” explains Darren.
“That’s where I’m in my element, working with people and with their different businesses. Because I’ve worked with so many businesses through my publishing company, which I eventually sold to focus on mentoring, I’m able to map across from one industry to another.”
Darren’s broad experience reflects an eclectic client base which he serves by cross pollinating from one industry to another. He says it’s a winning formula.
“What may work in, let’s say, the cosmetic industry may work just as well in the mechanic industry or mechanical. A lot of marketers don’t do that. However, because I’ve had that broad experience, I’m able to pull from all the different resources that I’ve had and create some big change for people. One of the examples I would give would be Jacine Greenwood from Roccoco Botanicals. She’s got an amazing cosmetics company. I was able to marry her up as the manufacturer for a product that I’m doing with one of my other clients, which is the Kuwaiti Royal Family. So, we’ve got a product called Royal Mist, which is a beautiful cosmetic spray.”
Another maestro touch is Darren’s 24-hour access to his mentees. Not only do they have entry into a select network through his inner circle, but on-tap access to trainings and teachings, either in person or via an app.
“One of the things that I give them with the app is that they have sort of 24 hours access. So, if they’re in the middle of the night and they come up with a question they want answered, they can shoot off a message to me. It gives them that flexibility to be able to always ask their questions and help them grow their business. We meet, obviously, three times a year and they get strategy sessions with me to help grow their brand and business. But that environment is something that we take really seriously.”
Darren also takes seriously who he works with and how they’ll fit into his community of entrepreneurs.
“People can’t just join the inner circle, they have to apply,” explains Darren. “We have an application process because I want to make sure that they’re going to be fun to work with and that they’re also someone that I can actually make a difference for. I’m a really big believer if I can’t make a difference, I would say then it’s not for them. I want to make sure that if they’re going to invest their money and their time working with me, that I can deliver. Thus, we have a criterion to make sure that that can happen.”
Darren, ever the savvy investor, doesn’t just coach some of his business leaders, he literally invests in them.
“One of the things that I’ve been lucky enough to do is when I’m helping to grow some of the businesses, often many of them are short on capital. So, I invest in them by becoming a partner and taking equity so that I can help grow it from the inside. I get a different perspective when I’m actually working in the business, rather than just giving advice about it.”
And Darren’s recently masterminded another tangent which he offers to the inner circle by obtaining a real estate licence.
“A couple of my children were interested in real estate, and I’ve always done very well financially out of real estate myself, just personally investing. I thought, well, no better way as an entrepreneur. I’m always looking how can I get the edge or get a better deal. I thought, well, if I become a real estate agent, I can then actually find those opportunities and get in on the ground floor. I did that originally just solely for selfish reasons – for myself. Then I also realised that that’s a great opportunity because the clients I help in the inner circle often end up making a lot of money and are looking for how can they invest that money. I’ve been able to help them find properties for them and things that they’ve then invested in and made money out of as well. It helps them diversify the profits they make from their companies.”
So, what’s next for the Mentor with a Midas touch? Darren says he’s just as passionate as when he started and equally motivated that his success and that of his clients trickles down to those who have less.
“I’ve donated a lot of money to the Starlight Foundation and that’s dear to my heart,” says Darren. “You can’t do that unless you are an entrepreneur or you’re generating the income to be able to donate. We’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of people who then have been able to change other’s lives by donating generously to charities.” “I love being creative,” adds Darren. “I don’t feel like I’ve ever worked a day in my life, even though I’ve worked really hard. It doesn’t feel like that for me because I’m doing something I’m passionate about and that I really love.”
You can reach out to Darren Stephens and his here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/entrepreneurs-inner-cirlce/about/